My Salsa Chili con Crosso
“I’ve put together an impromptu 100 mile Paris-Roubaix inspired road event this Sunday that I’m calling the Tainthammer 100. There is a 62 mile (metric) option too. You need base miles damnit!
It’s all rough pavement, dirt roads and patched blacktop though farmlands and wildlife preserves. The route is entertaining and it’s free of washboard on the dirt sections. You’ll see, about, one million ducks during the ride. The roads are all very low traffic. It starts and ends in Patterson, CA which is on the 5 just east of Livermore. There is less than 500ft of climbing on the entire 100 mile route.
I’ll have two aid stations on course and there are two places to get water aside from that plus a couple of small towns with Quik-e-Marts. The metric option is great for people with less experience and we shuttle you ahead to the start for that so you may or may not see the 100 mile riders depending on well they organize their pace lines. If they organize it’ll be interesting to see if they pass you before the finish, which could well happen.
Murphy Mack “
With a sales pitch like that who could refuse?
At the start with Murphy explaining the route
I have just come of a real hard block of training and I was feeling pretty fatigued for Sunday’s ride. According to my coaching program I was supposed to do a 3H30m ride with only two 20 minute FTP level sessions. The “Tainthammer” really didn’t fit the profile, weighing in at probably closer to 6 hours, but I wasn’t expecting a hammerfest so I thought I would be ok. I decided to use 28mm Continental 4 season tires on my cross bike rather than proper cross tires as the balance seemed to tip in favor of the road side of the equation. I ran them at 85PSI to help avoid pinch flats but this turned out to be too hard and I was bouncing around all over the place on the rough stuff.
Only about 8 people turned up for the event and three of those were on road bikes with a similar tire setup to mine. I am really bad at remembering names so people will be referred to by their bike (actual names appear in the Strava KOM page). From a few miles into the event it became clear that these guys were serious and we were soon flying along in a 25MPH+ rotating paceline which was made more challenging by having to avoid the potholes in the road. This was a group of really strong riders and a couple of them in particular could really put down the hammer when they hit the front. I was feeling tired from yesterday’s HOP ride but I was hoping that the miles would loosen my legs up a bit by the time we hit the first dirt section.
Dirt Section number 1 was a short affair that had some pretty muddy bits that I managed to get crossed up in and immediately regretted my tire choice. I ride on dirt roads a lot but nearly always on my own and I was unhappy at how hard it was to avoid stuff and pick a good line when you are following wheels. We pretty much all stayed together through this section although we did temporarily lose Jonathon on the Cannondale CAAD10. Jonathon was testing out some product and kept sprinting off and then disappearing for short periods. We also encountered our first loose dogs of the day which was to become a reoccurring issue.
Dirt section 1 marked a dramatic degradation in the road surface and we were now well and truly into the rough stuff. The pace seemed to pick up even more and I started to have a few concerns as my legs were not feeling any better. Dirt section 2 was a sand road (Atwater – Jordan Golden Mile) and I immediately got into major difficulties. The other riders seems to be able to skate over the crust of the sand but I hit several soft sections and nearly went down a few times as my wheels dug in. I was in real difficulties and the group just disappeared with the exception of one unfortunate rider who had stopped to pick up his bottle. This sand road seemed to go on forever and by the time I hit the end of it the group was almost out of sight. As I got out of the dirt Murphy suggested a short cut for me and the other rider and we worked together to try to catch back on. I think the next section should have been called dog alley as we were chased by an endless number of pooches. There were a couple of sections of road here that it was hard to tell if you were on dirt or asphalt as they had paved it with half inch rocks (really nasty stuff). I asked my colleague (Allan I think his name was) if his specialized Roubaix was working on this stuff and he just laughed. Even with the shortcut we didn’t manage to catch the group until the first feed zone at mile 30 something. It became pretty clear to me that if you got dropped today there was not going to be anybody waiting for you. I was a little concerned at the number of matches I had burned in the chase and was seriously considering abandoning before we got too far away from the start. My legs still were not feeling any better and the wind seemed to be picking up. I felt a little better after eating some stuff at the feed zone so decided I was going to keep going. The section after the feed had a pretty good tailwind and we were really cranking along. The legs were not feeling too bad and other than the big efforts I had to put in after every junction or really rough bit I began to feel I might actually be able to hang on.
Atwater – Jordan Golden Mile :
At the first fuel stop
The next dirt section I hit at speed and went into some washboard that nearly shook my eyes out the sockets. It was a pretty hard packed gravel base so my tires coped ok although things got interesting in the muddy section near the end. On this section I started to notice a few cracks opening up in the group as it was difficult to draft effectively and dodge all the big holes. I kept up OK but it was followed by our first real extended taste of Patterson’s mighty winds. The next section was pretty fast (27MPH+) until we hit the headwind and then it became really hard and really bumpy again. We had a nice echelon working into the wind but every time I pulled through I felt just a little bit worse. It was quite a relief when we hit the next dirt section “The spiked levee” as the mud was actually smoother than the roads we had just been riding on. Dirt seemed to be the trigger to put the hammer down and pretty quickly the group split in two. I found myself in the front group and had to work hard in the dirt paceline into the wind which took quite a lot out of me. It was a huge relief to get back on normal roads with a tailwind as we made our way to the final fuel stop and the beginning of the hammer. We managed to catch up with the three ladies on this section and one of them (Chava) joined us on the paceline to fuel stop 2.
Murphy was joking at the second feed (mile 70 something) that what we had done up to now was just a warm up and the real ride was just beginning. Ahead of us was the 10 mile long rough dirt road through the Wildfowl reserve that was known as the “Tainthammer” and to make matters worse it would be accompanied by a nasty cross headwind. I was mentally a bit drained by this prospect and was getting pretty fed up of dodging potholes and the cold wind. I dropped a few PSI out of the Continentals (not enough really) and set off with trepidation on the final push.
Start of the Tainthammer…just follow the telegraph poles !
The pace was immediately fast and it was a complete nightmare trying to draft and dodge the holes and really rough bits. After a mile or so I dropped off the leaders and just concentrated on finding my path through the misery. Apparently there were lots of wildfowl to view on this section but all I could see was the 10 feet in front of me as I tried to find the smoothest line. The wind was also pretty relentless on this bit. A couple of riders dropped off the back and I ended up riding with “Allan Roubaix” from the earlier chase but only for a while before a particularly rough section split us up. I caught the super strong guy (Rob) on the road bike who did not seem to be enjoying the rough road at all but eventually I sort of blew up and drifted back to my own pace. I was mentally a lot easier to ride on your own but physically more demanding. My cranks had developed and annoying creak that was driving me mad and my brain was fried.
The tainthammer :
The “Tainthammer” eventually came to an end and it was time to fight the winds all the way to the finish. I could see 3 riders about 500m in front of me and knew there was the tall British Guy behind (john B) so I went into time trial mode to try to catch the group. John put in some really strong pulls in the morning miles so I expected him to catch me. I eventually gave up the chase as my legs were beginning to cramp and waited for my British compatriot. He was still going strong and I drafted him for a few miles before we caught up with “Allan Roubaix”. I pulled through a few times but each time I did I ended up getting dropped off the back and had to time trial on my own to get back on. I was not feeling good at all at this point. I didn’t feel like I had the bonk it was just a general feeling of extreme fatigue. The last 20 miles were horrible, I felt crap and my legs were on the cusp of cramping every time I put in a little too much effort. My left ankle started to hurt, as result of my near fall on the sand, and the creaking from my crank was driving me mad. Fortunately our little group of five riders worked together (I was past being much use as an engine at this point and felt bad about drafting so much but it was all about survival and not knowing the way home.) and the miles ticked ever so slowly by. The fast road bike guy (Rob) put in an absolute stellar and very long pull in over the last few miles and dragged us to all to the finish. I was a tired and broken man but happy to have survived the 110 miles. I don’t know if it was coincidence but 4 of the five riders in our group were on road tires.
Murphy Mack’s event was truly epic and I enjoyed the company of some really hard core riders today. The support was excellent with two vehicles just ahead of us for most of the day and the refreshments were spot on.