Saturday, June 16 in Nevada City, California:
“The Burn of the Century”
I left early on Friday to try to beat the traffic up to Auburn, where I was staying with my folks. When I got to Auburn and unpacked my bike, it had a flat front tire – hrmpph! I replaced the tube and did a quick drivetrain lube job and stayed up way too late talking to my brother, Corey, who was doing the ride with my father, Barry, and I.
We awoke at 5:00am, I had some coffee and a Clif Bar, and we went to load up the bikes. Arrrgh – another front flat! On close inspection, there was a small tear in the sidewall of the tire. It didn’t look at all large enough for the tube to pop out of, but I guess it must’ve been, as the hole was the same shape, and in the same place as it was before. I borrowed one of my father’s spare tires and tubes and we headed out, already 1/2 hr behind schedule.
After arriving in Nevada City (a 1/2 hr drive from Auburn), we checked in. They had a bunch of goodies for us! Free DeFeet socks with “The Burn of the Century” (the motto of this ride) on them, and a free copy of Lance Armstrong’s book “Its Not About the Bike” – cool! We headed out around 7:00 and promptly took a wrong turn (along with a few other folks). It turns out the turn was marked, but the sun was shining in such a way as to obscure it. 2 flats and 1 wrong turn and we weren’t even 2 miles into the ride – not very auspicious!
After meandering through Nevada City (a lovely town if ever there was one), we turned off on a horribly surfaced road, Monroe St. I think it was, then went on Hwy 49. The 5-mile descent down Hwy 49 was awesome, with much of it spent at well over 40mph. There was very little traffic on the road at this early time, the road surface was very smooth, and the corners were banked, and had great visibility. Whee! After Hwy 49 had descended to the Yuba River, we paid for the descent with a 2’ish mile climb back out. Actually it was a very pleasant climb. I met a gentleman from Santa Rosa and we chatted for most of the climb, which always makes the miles pass faster. About 13 miles in, we turned off on Tyler Foote Rd. and rode through the Tahoe National Forest for a while before pulling into rest stop #1 in N. San Juan (19 miles). This rest stop had yummy nutbread (one of my favorite cycling foods), yogurt, bananas, etc.
Heading out from the rest stop, we descended Hwy 49 for another 3 miles, when we turned onto Moonshine Rd. This was definitely the worst road surface I’ve ever ridden on. Even worse than riding out of King City on theCalifornia AIDS Ride. A number of passing cyclists commented on the similarity to the cobblestones on the Paris-Roubaix race (not that any of us have actually been in that race, of course 🙂 Mercifully(?), Moonshine Rd. was much more up than down, so we didn’t get beat up too badly. After a couple of miles of the horrible surfacing, the road improved markedly, and we continued on it for 3 more miles until we turned off on Marysville Rd and headed out to a water stop at a vista point. I’d cleverly forgotten to bring sunscreen, but they had some genuine U.S. Army Desert Storm issue sunscreen (which I found somewhat amusing), so I applied that. There was a lovely view of some reservoir (no idea of its name), and after snapping a few pictures, we continued riding.
We went back the way we’d came on Marysville Rd. until it turned into Hwy 49. There was yet another great descent down 49 to the Yuba River (the same place we’d turned off onto Moonshine Rd. earlier), then we got to climb the same 3 miles on 49 that we’d previously descended. This was a really nice climb – not too long or steep, so I rode pretty hard up it, arriving at rest stop #2 (also at N. San Juan) well before Barry & Corey did. When they arrived 25 minutes later, we ate, stretched, and headed back out after being told that it was only about 10 miles of mostly-downhill to the lunch stop at Bridgeport. It was getting quite warm by this point – somewhere in the mid-90s, I’d guess.
It turned out to be more downhill than uphill, but there was plenty of uphill right after the rest stop. This didn’t bother me terribly, but it was taking a toll on Corey, who hadn’t been training all that much prior to this ride. After a few miles of rolling hills on Hwy 49, we got to the real downhill. This was a killer downhill into a canyon – 7 miles long, very steep (15% grades), curvy, with lovely views. It reminded me a bit of descending Mt. Diablo, except that it was steeper. By now it was getting VERY hot (low 100s), and the wind felt like a hair dryer – not very refreshing! My rear wheel, which had survived the horrible surfacing earlier, unscrewed two spokes yet again, and I had to stop and true my wheel to keep it from rubbing the chainstays. After getting the wheel true enough, we continued downward. This looked like it would be a very challenging climb the other direction (thankfully that’s not where the route went!). At the bottom of the canyon, we pulled into lunch at Bridgeport. For lunch they had turkey and roast beef sandwiches, which I devoured, and chips. I had the mechanic take a look at my wheel, and he got it true enough that it woudln’t rub the brakes or chainstays, but he said I really should have it rebuilt.
We spent a good while at lunch, mainly getting my wheel true. I thought we were all set, as I’d heard that if you were at lunch by 12:30, you’d be allowed to do the century route (the 100k & 100mi routes diverged shortly after lunch), but then, at 12:15, I found out that it was 2 miles of climbing to the cutoff point – ACK! I hammered just about as hard as I could up the searingly-hot climb, arriving at the route split point at 12:31. There was nobody there, however, so I waited for Barry and Corey. Two women I’d passed on the climb stopped as well to cool off and decide if they wanted to go 48 more miles for the century, or 13 more miles for the 100k. We hemed and hawed, and Barry arrived, but still no sign of Corey.
After waiting for another 15’ish minutes, the women and I decided to take off and try to make the 100mi route, so we took off and left Barry to find Corey (who I was pretty sure would not want to ride another 50 miles in this heat!). The women, Chris and I-forget-her-name, were from Petaluma, and we decided to ride together so we could look out for one another (gotta be careful riding long distances in 100°+ heat!). We rode through some more lovely rolling hills, past a lake, and through some more rolling hills. This countryside was really pretty (but did I mention it was HOT?), with very little traffic. About 60 miles out, a SAG wagon pulled over and said they’d have to take us back to the start, as they were starting to pack up the water stops ahead of us. We didn’t complain too terribly much, as we were running low on water (I drank most of 3 bottles in under 10 miles), and it was 10 miles to the next water stop, even if it had been open!
This was only the second time I’d ever SAG’d (the previous being an aborted first century attempt at the 2000 Lodi Sunrise Century, which was even hotter than this was!), but I didn’t feel too bad, as I knew that I could definitely have finished this ride if we’d gotten an earlier start and spent less time at the stops. The nice ladies in the SAG wagon loaded our bikes up, gave us water, and drove us back to the start in Nevada City. When we pulled in, I saw Corey sitting by the car. It turns out he decided to SAG in when he got to the route split point just after lunch. We went to get more food (unfortunately, Barry had the car keys, so I couldn’t change out of my icky jersey and bike shoes), and had yummy lasagna and salad and wonderfully cold soda. As we were leaving the dining area (the air-conditioned cafeteria of some technology company), Barry was arriving. He had done the 100k route, with a few “bonus” miles as he missed a turn or two approaching Nevada City.
I’ll definitely be doing this ride again next year – for a ride that’s only 2 years old, the support was great, the food great, and the route was just wonderful. I just hope it isn’t quite so hot next year! When I saw that the ride’s slogan was “The Burn of the Century”, I thought that was referring to the climbing (the ride was listed at 100 miles and 8000′ of climbing – pretty hilly!), but it turns out they were really referring to the fact that its usually pretty durned hot this time of year in those parts.
|Total Time:||7h 15m|
|On-bike Time:||4h 42m|
|Total Climbing:||~5000 ft|