Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 V3 Hopfest

17 September 2016

103 miles, 6200 feet total elevation

I found a ride that I have not done before that looked interesting.  The V3 Hopfest (formerly called Veteran's Victory Velo) had some roads that I had not done before, so I thought I should try it.

The ride starts and ends in the city of San Ramon, which is about a 45 minute drive away with no traffic (and the only time there is no traffic is early weekend mornings like this).  I woke up at 5:00am and ate breakfast and got ready.  When I arrived at where my navigation took me, there was no sign of a bicycle event.  It was in part of a large office park, so clearly I was in the wrong section.  I saw another car with a bicycle on its rack approach me and the driver rolled its window down.  "Do you know where we are supposed to go?", he asked.

"I'm as lost as you", I replied.  We both continued to drive around and search.  I finally retraced my steps and suspected that I turned into the complex too soon.  I continued on to the next entrance and saw ride volunteers guiding people in.  Another volunteer showed me where to park and where the registration was.  I parked, got my bicycle ready, and took care of the registration.

I was ready to go at 6:45, but they wanted all the 100 mile riders to begin together at 7:00.  Since we headed out in a large group (maybe 50 cyclists), I did not need to do much navigation.  I just followed the group.  This was good because I do not know this part of the route through town.  They gave us a route map with all the directions, but it is not practical to stop at every intersection and consult it.  I was hoping to keep it folded and stowed as much as possible.

As we got close to the South entrance to Mt Diablo, the group had spread out, but I was familiar with the road, having ridden it several times before.  And once we turn onto the road climbing the mountain, there is no need to navigate -- just stay on the road.  The route does not climb all the way to the summit (unfortunately), but goes halfway up to the junction with the North entrance road.  Here we go back down.

As the road goes back into town, I needed to navigate again.  The whole route was meant to be marked on the road with pink arrows, but I found that they were missing in some places.  I was able to follow a couple cyclists for a bit, but we were going different speeds and got separated.  As I entered a traffic circle, I did not know which exit to take since none were marked.  I stopped and was about to pull out the map, but just then one of the support cars came through.  So I just followed it.  Another rider who was stopped and confused about the directions also followed the path of the car.  We briefly chatted about the inadequate directions and how we were fortunate to see the support car to (unintentionally) guide us.

The route led to the town of Clayton for the first rest stop.  Here I had some snacks (peanut butter jelly sandwich and boiled potatoes with salt).  Although the route from Mt Diablo to the rest stop was new to me, it was not so interesting since it is just city roads.  The stretch after this rest stop was interesting.  I have read about Morgan Territory Road before but never attempted to ride it, mainly because it is a long drive from home for a weekend ride.

As the route approaches Morgan Territory Road, the development becomes more sparse and rural.  As the road begins, there are mainly just ranches beside it.  On the road, I saw some wildlife that I had never seen before -- a tarantula.  Then the road slowly becomes steeper and there is no development.  After some time the road becomes quite steep, just as it reaches the summit and the next rest stop.  The climb to the summit was mostly shaded, but the rising temperature was noticeable.  It was especially so at the rest stop which had no shade.

A tarantula walking on the road, with my water bottle as a size reference.

The section of road after the rest stop was a steep, winding descent into the town of Livermore.  I was thankful I was not headed in the opposite direction as this part of the road is completely exposed to the sun.  After the completely winding Morgan Territory Road, it was quite peculiar to be on the long straight roads on the outskirts of Livermore.  The route eventually reached the next rest stop.

The next section lead to the climb of the Altamont Pass, alongside the 580 freeway.  This is a moderately steep road, but not too long.  Normally it would not have been very taxing, but it is completely exposed and the sun was intense.  It exhausted me.  I had to go very slowly as my energy was drained.

It was another steep, winding descent after the summit, and it led into another section of long straight roads back in the valley.  This led to the next rest stop on the south side of Livermore.  This was supposed to the "lunch" stop, but the only thing different from the other rest stops food-wise was that they had turkey sandwiches, which I was not going to eat.  I had to settle for yet another peanut butter jelly sandwich.  Although I love peanut butter jelly, I had my fill at all the rest stops previous.  I had almost no appetite so I had to force myself to eat.  I needed to rest for a while as I was pretty exhausted.  I took out my iPhone and checked the local temperature -- 95°F.

The heat was affecting other riders too, and it was a primary topic of conversation at this stop.  Quite a few riders discussed taking a shortcut to return to the start and skipingp part of the route.  I thought that I would only consider that option if I felt that I could not finish the full route.  Though I was tired, it seemed that I should be able to finish.

I continued on and the route to the next rest stop was mostly flat.  However, I was struggling with a low energy level, which was a bit alarming for flat ground.  As I rolled through the city of Pleasanton, I passed a small city park with trees and shade.  I decided I needed to rest more and allow my food to digest.  I propped my bicycle against a tree, laid down in the shade, and closed my eyes.  I did not expect to fall asleep, but I ended up dozing lightly.  I woke up about 15 minutes later and felt noticeably better.  I continued on the final rest stop in the small city of Sunol.

The support workers were in the process of closing up when I came in.  They helpfully reopened some of their supplies and offered me the food and drinks they had.  I ate a few chips for the salt, and then drank as much soda as possible -- I badly needed the quickly-digesting sugar.  While I was there, one of the support cars came in and told the staffers that there was only one rider behind us on the course (there was another rider at the stop who had arrived soon after me).

The only thing left was the final segment to the starting point.  Like the previous segment, this was mostly flat.  Due to my energy-depleted state, even the minor inclines (which I would normally fly over) were a struggle.  I was getting light-headed and dizzy.  I turned at what I expected was the final return the start.  I did not see any road markings and did not expect any.  I entered back the same way I did in the morning.  It turns out I was supposed to continue a half-mile further and return a different way.  I had shaved a little distance, but was still beyond 100 miles so this was still officially a century.

There was a small festival going on, as "Hopfest" is intended to also be a beer festival.  But I had no intention of lingering.  I wanted to get back home as soon as I could.  The drive home was difficult.  I was pretty tired during the whole drive.  After getting home, I could not shower and get to bed soon enough.