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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lakeport - Take 2

6:45 Am - Almost to the Carquinez Bridge.

Bottom of Howell Mtn. Rd. above St. Helena CA - 50 miles into the ride.

When the sign said Howell Mtn. Rd. was closed because of a slide - it wasn't joking. Like good adventurers we blew past the 3 Road Closed signs, the sign specifically stating that the road was closed to vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians, and the recently constructed barricade. Honestly I wouldn't have ventured up if Vince hadn't been there. I like adventure and all, but climbing 1100' just to find out I have to go back down and up the other way is annoying. ...I gambled - less annoying with a friend.

The multiple bicycle tire tracks in the dirt skirting the barricade promoted optimism, plus the cyclist at the bottom had claimed we could get through.

And we did...

It looked like a bomb had been dropped on the road.

I was on my way to Lakeport to visit friends for the 4th of July weekend, and Vince was looking for a long ride - both of us on our last long pre-Death Ride training ride. Leaving Martinez at 6:00 AM we made reasonably good time in the cool air. 60 miles later we parted ways at a convenience store at Howell Mt. Rd. and Pope Valley Rd. where another group of riders accompanied Vince on the loop back toward home. I struck off alone toward Middletown and the Cobb Mt. climb beyond.

The south approach to Cobb Mt. up Hwy 175 was a success this time. 2 years ago on basically this same route, Highway 175 combined with 100 degree temps and the 90 previous miles, had proven too much for me and a galvanized guard rail half shaded by a scraggly oak had become a makeshift oasis. As I powered by the spot this 2nd time, I was thankful for 90 degrees and a slight breeze.

Total trip ended up being 112 miles, in 7 hours 15 minutes on the bike. 1 mile further and 15 minutes faster than last time - just over a 15 mph average speed. Elevation gain - 4,000 - 5,000 feet. Water bottles totaled around 7 plus the Coke in Middletown and the Gatorade at the top of Cobb Mtn.

And it was fun. I enjoyed the ride considerably more with a little knowledge of the countryside and rest stops that I lacked last time. It was smoking hot in the canyons, but in general the weather was spectacular for a half day on the bike.

And when my wife and girls showed up at our friend's home 30 minutes after I did, Bec popped the leftover spaghetti from home into their microwave... to keep me out of their fridge.

Vince ended up with 110 miles for the day.

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