Ray's Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2004 June 6: Sequoia Century

Even though Lauren and I aren't going
out anymore, we did this ride together.  We didn't ride the
tandem, though, which doesn't really mean anything either way, since we
weren't going out when we rode the 2004 Stawberry Fields Forever
, and we did that one on the tandem.

I'm going to interject the fact that Ed is a Western Wheeler (the club
who organizes the ride) member, and he had volunteered to provide SAG
services for the ride, so we figured we'd encounter him somewhere en route.

That's enough foreplay; it's time to get this trip report going. 
So: the ride left the VA hospital in Palo Alto and started by going
southeast on Foothill Expressway all the way into Cupertino and then up
the classic Redwood Gulch climb to Route 9.  All this was familiar
and pleasant territory, and the weather coöperated to make a nice
start to the day.  When we got to Route 9, we turned right and
headed up to Skyline, which is a medium-length gradual climb that I
think I've only travelled once before.

Somewhere on Route 9, we encountered an unhappy couple with bike
issues.  The woman's bike was upside-down, but this was more of a
symptom than the actual problem, of course.  Her chain had gotten
really wedged between her small chainring and her frame, and she was
exquisitely miserable, and kept saying things like, "I'm not really a
biker.  I don't know how to deal with this kind of thing" and "Oh,
I've damaged the frame" (there was indeed some superficial scraping
from the chain) and "I'm ruining this ride.  You should go on
without me" (I wasn't sure whether this last was addressed to me or to
the man she was riding with).

Close inspection revealed that the chain was so wedged that it was not
going to be willing to be pulled into place, so there were two
possibilities: remove the crank, or dissassemble the chain.  Since
I don't carry crank removers with me, the latter option was much more
appealing, especially after I was surprised to see that her bike had a SRAM chain.  SRAM's chains can be
easily disassembled and reassembled without even using tools, so I did
just that to fix her bike.  For good measure, I tweaked one of the
limit screws on her front derailleur so that it (hopefully!) wouldn't
cause any more trouble.

It turned out that these two were doing the metric double century ride,
which surprised me, given how unhappy the woman was and how she was
apparently only biking because she couldn't run (she called herself an
"injured runner").  Anyway, I wished them well and got back on my
bike and headed up to catch Lauren, who had gone ahead when I stopped
to play good samaritan.

I caught up with Lauren right at the first rest stop, where I proceeded
to really chow down on the plentiful fare, especially the Hobee's coffee cake.  There
were also some little frosted cookies with sprinkles, some pink and
some white, that hit the spot.

Lauren at the first rest stop

I kind of forget the details of much of the route from there.  We
climbed a bit more, and then we ran across a woman, Tina, who had
broken her chain.  Lauren went on ahead while I helped fix her
bike.  She also was running a SRAM chain, but she was somehow
missing half of her chain's PowerLink (the PowerLink is the magic that
makes SRAM's chains easy to assemble and disassemble).  I'm not
sure how her PowerLink let go, but when it did, half of it apparently
flew off to God-knows-where.  We looked around for a while, but we
just couldn't find it.

I used to carry PowerLinks
around in my under-the-seat bags (they take up no space and weigh nothing), but I
stopped doing it at some point for some (or no) reason.  Perhaps
I'll start doing so once more!  Anyway, as we walked back to our
bikes, we started asking passing cyclists if they had any spare
PowerLinks, and we struck gold!  A passing tandem had half a spare
PowerLink of the appropriate type, and so we were able to fix Tina's
bike.  Afterwards, a SAG wagon gave me water and paper towels to
wash my hands (the SAG wagon had showed up a bit earlier, but he didn't
have any PowerLinks).

All this had taken some time, so I cranked it up a bit to try to catch
Lauren again.  It was a while before I caught her at the next rest
stop, and she had already been there for some minutes.

Rest stop #2

All right, now I really forget the route details.  I remember
thinking that the whole route into Santa Cruz was really nice-- I liked it a lot more
than any other route I've ridden.  Once in Santa Cruz, we rode for
a bit on a paved trail that had some very dicey sections that were very
steep and that had a lot of pine tree debris.  This trail was in
some park (Henry W. Coe State Park?), and so was our lunch stop.

Lunch was basically sandwiches.  I fared a lot better than Lauren
did, because a vegetarian sandwich there basically meant a cheese &
lettuce sandwich, which is less than exciting.  There was some
other food available (maybe only 'tater salad, actually), but no other
real main courses.

As soon as we left the shade of the lunch stop, we found out that the
weather had turned hot.  Not fry-eggs-on-pavement hot, but
definitely somewhat-excessive hot.  Again I find that the
particulars of our journey elude me, but I remember a rather long,
gradual climb very reminiscent of the redwood forest of Tunitas
Creek.  Along the way, I saw a guy just ahead of us very rapidly
lose all the air from one of his tires, so I stopped to see if I could
be of some assistance (Lauren went on ahead).  He ("Robert") had
apparently had four (!) flats, was now out of tubes, and said that he
was just going to abort at that point.  But he jumped at my offer
of a tube and pump and said that he really would like to finish the ride if
possible.  Given his record at that point, I decided to do the
tire change for him, instead of just giving him a tube and running
off.  I did so with no issues (his rim and tire looked pretty
clean to me!) and resumed my climb, catching up with Lauren at the
water stop at the top of the climb (which was on Skyline, I believe).

Lauren headed out while I stuffed down a granola bar and refilled my
water bottles, which had both reached a more-or-less empty state. 
Then I caught up with her and we eased our way along Skyline to the
last rest stop, which was at the same location as the first rest
stop.  More coffee cake, etc.
Lauren was low on sugar, and so she was stuffing down a lot of simple
carbohydrates.  I suggested that she try some coffee cake, and was
distressed to hear her demur, saying, "I don't like coffee."  I
educated her on the meaning of "coffee cake", but I think she still
didn't try any.

The last rest stop

Last rest stop as viewed from atop a 2' stump

At the rest stop I was glad to encounter the couple I had helped out
early on in the ride.  Seemed like they had done OK; they were
almost done with their metric double century!  The woman seemed a
lot cheerier than she had earlier, but she was having a little trouble
with her front brake rubbing her rim on one side.  I adjusted it
for her, but now I was in a quandary: how could I tell the likes of Ed
that I had helped out four
people, when two of them were the same person?  "I helped four

From this last rest stop, we went a few more miles along Skyline. 
We finally saw Ed, and we chatted a bit with him as he drove abreast
us.  He had only managed so assist two people, so I was pretty
pleased with my record for the day.  Maybe I'll go join Mother
Teresa's gang-- I wonder if they need an "enforcer"?

At last we reached Page Mill Rd.  At that point, it was a very
nice (and mostly familiar) descent back to the ride HQ, where I had
some more 'tater salad and an It's-It
Boy, those It's-It ice cream sandwiches really hit the spot after
you've been doing some riding, don't they?!  They're one of many
foods I try not to eat under normal circumstances because I have to
watch my girlish figure.

This was my first ride carrying my fancy new digital
!  I managed to use my superhuman sense of aesthetics
and, over the course of more than 100 miles, I avoided taking even one nice scenic picture. 
Instead, I took just the few crappy shots at rest stops that appear
inline above.


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