Arrived in Monterey, to register and pick up the coveted T-shirt at 4:00pm. Of the 7 people in the parking lot at the time, 6 were from Ohio, Steve O, Dustin, Andrew C, Mark C & wife Beth and me. Arriving later were Flyin Tuna and long suffering husband Rod, Mark V, Denver Dan, Mike Murphy, Miya, Amanda, Franz, Ted M, Greg Dubois, Joe G, Kevin Swabb, Mark Waites, Mike Rea, Chuck L, Bob Stoll....I think that's everyone so 20 from central Ohio or 9% of the total cyclists at this event. Approximately 320 cyclists, unknown how many were doing the century. I think this is a fairly low turnout and I can't wonder if the fact the finish times are not posted deters some from attending? Several thousand come out for Mountains of Misery and similar rides.
I headed south to Warm Springs, a drive down a valley between mountain ridges so it's straight and fairly flat, all the way to the Inn at Gristmill Square. Neat place with restaurant and bar so can't beat that. I missed eating at one of the area's better restaurants last year so stopped at "John's Steak House" where I sat on the patio looking out over this scene and used the excuse of a high calorie burn the next day to eat lots and lots of food, dessert too!!!!
I showed up early the next morning intending to follow Ted M around and identify all the members of "The Others" who are rumored to attend this event. I figured I'd spot a secret handshake or head butting to signal a member was found. However, I could not find Ted and then whacked my forward, realizing this shadowy group would not ride with the masses on Saturday but instead would ride the route on Sunday. Later I did see Ted but he was probably just doing a double, 100 today and 100 on Sunday. Here, Flyin Tuna on the left, hubby Rod, Mark V on his Golden Jamie, Franz and Miya. This is Rod's annual opportunity to punch me for all the unflatteringly remarks I make about Cindy on this blog but in reality, I'm channeling Rod, saying things he wants to say but does not dare to. Rod is developing into quite the golfer, shooting a 33 on Thursday. Naturally, I could not let this pass without drawing on my extensive background of golf jokes, "Great Rod, that's a good score for 6 holes.", "Is that 33 with handicap?", "What was par on that course, 25?", "Were there any witnesses?" and "Did the pencil have an eraser?" Yuk, yuk, yuk.
I was going to roll out at 8:00, the official start time, but Cindy, Mark V, Andrew and Mark C wanted to depart at 7:45 so I shoved off with them. The first of 9 climbs begins immediately after the parking lot and it's not a bad idea to get up and over and avoid the mass of cyclists coming down the back side. Mark C told Cindy he would ride to support her and see that her average speed was above 15mph. What a guy, wanting to help a cycling buddy and I admired that. I found Cindy's mark of success, average speed, to be rather curious. Not total time but average speed...why not ride hard, take long and frequent breaks to recover or, sprint and stop every 10 minutes? That would keep the average speed up. Anyway, I was realistic that, with no rides of similar distance or climbing under my belt since March, except for the previous week's Ridge Runner ride at which I sucked, finishing was going to be a challenge. Therefore, I decided to ride slowly up the climbs, try to recover on the descents, limit my time at the food stops and just have enough in the tank to make it up the final climb and finish. Not an ambitious goal.
We headed up the first climb and soon Mark C left the gang and I followed. On the descent, we discussed if we should wait. I could tell Mark was conflicted but a stop light brought our gang together and we soon started up the 2nd climb. Mark pulled away from poor Cindy, to whom he had made a sacred oath that he would assist. I was shocked that this man of the cloth would so cavalierly abandon cycling friends and jettison his promise but then, since I was able to hang in there and selfishly had my own plans for using him, didn't give it too much thought. We traded pulls after the climb and reached a food stop, just before a long and nasty climb #3. I refilled, ate a peach, gobbled a GU and started up this 2.4 mile climb and the steepest on the route. Mark pulled away from me and I pleaded with him to wait, begged him, sought to appeal to his humanitarian side and all I got out of him was, "I'll just coast on the down hill so you can catch up." Oh that's rich, as if I'm going to hammer on the down hill to catch after climbing this beast. To be fair, I would not have waited either but I've always held Mark up to a much higher standard so was surprised by his behavior but was especially disappointed I was losing a drafting opportunity! There are so few cyclists participating, there is little group riding (drafting) going on. However, just as I turned south into a nasty head wind, here came a group of 7-8 that included Dustin, Steve and Mark Waites. What a break and I rode to the next rest stop with this group.
So, now I was at mile 48, with 4 climbs behind and 5 to go. My average speed was 19 and one can not help but extrapolate what the finish time would be but, I've done this ride enough times to know the next 50 miles is brutal. At the food stop, Kevin Swabb was having work performed to his bike. Later he staged for this with his authentic Italian jersey.
Leaving the 48 mile food stop, I jumped in with another group that included Mike Rea and a head turning woman with jersey zipped all the way down. I could not help but wonder what Poobah would do in this situation but figured I didn't want to end up in a ditch. We turned onto the infamous Snowy Mountain climb, a 5 mile leg buckler. I was in good shape at the top and thought, maybe I'm going to do better then I thought but noted too my average had dropped from 19 to 17, how sad. Around mile 61, I pulled into a market and drank a Monster. A couple of miles later I pulled into a food stop and consumed more, before starting up climb #6, officially 5 miles but the length of the entire climb is really 9 miles. When I reached the top of this one, my mood had changed and I cursed myself for not knowing the short cuts to get off this torture track.
About one mile from yet another well placed food stop, I remembered it was here, a year ago, where I spotted Joe G throwing up all over the ravine to the side. When I reached the food stop, who was there but Joe G again, what a coincidence and this time, sitting calmly and asking if I remembered last year's setting. He and Kevin S were encouraging me and asked me to join in as they departed but I needed time to decide if striking the sheriff, standing to the side, would get me a free ride into Monterey and anything other than an overnight stay in the jail. Soon, I shoved off, up climb #7, 3+ miles, a down hill and then immediately going up climb #8, only 1.7 miles to the top. Gawd, what a freakin grind and my speed was barely above the point at which lack of inertia forces the bike to fall over. Cramping was an issue, not the lock up kind but twinges in both legs, seeming to communicate to the brain, "What an idiot you are for putting us through this!"
The final rest stop at the bottom of the final climb, just under 2 miles to the top. A mule pulling a heavy plow would have zoomed by me on the way up but I made it to the top, coasted to the bottom, cleaned up and headed out of town.
On the way out, I passed Mark V, then Tuna, then Andrew, later passed an unsmiling Greg D and Ted M powering up the final climb, Amanda and Mike starting up climb #8, then Miya, then Dan coming down climb #7 and for the first time, drove straight through to home, arriving at 10:00pm. Note to self: Let's not think about doing this again unless I prepare for it.