Knoxville Fall Classic Double Century 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

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The Knoxville Fall Classic Double Century starts and finishes at the Pena Adobe Park in Vacaville. This is not a timed event, you just have to check in at every rest stop (RS) and complete the course or DNF, and it’s that simple. The route is a big figure 8, it takes you north through Fairfield to Gordon and Wooden Valley Rds, over Mt George, dropping down to the Napa valley, over Howell Mtn to Pope Cyn and along Lake Berryessa on Knoxville Rd for 35+ miles. It continues to Lower Lake, up Siegler Cyn and Loch Lomond, down Cobb Mtn to Middletown, Pope Valley, Lake Hennessey and then back to Lake Berryessa and Pleasants Valley.

The two most challenging climbs are; the top portion of Knoxville Rd to the tunnel and the climb up Loch Lomond after lunch. There is approximately 12,600 feet of climbing within 201 miles. There are two cutoffs: 11:30 at rest stop #2 at mile 70 and 3:45 at rest stop #3 (lunch) at mile 107.

Mark and I arrive at the Pena Adobe Park a little before 4:00 AM. Registration opens at 4:30 AM and riders can leave any time after checking in. We get a numbered bib, a gel flask and a pill container. There is water and restrooms at the start. We both spot Zach Kaplan’s van and recumbent but didn’t see him out and about. We roll out of the park at 4:38 AM. Temp 61.

After exiting the park, the route takes us on a flat little loop around Lagoon Valley Park. Mark spots a rabbit hopping across the road in front of us. As we’re approaching the gate to exit, we see a volunteer standing out in the darkness ringing us along with a cowbell. The sound of the bell always makes me smile. I shout out “thank you” as we ride pass.

We continue on Lyon Rd which parallels I-80. It’s rolling terrain on this 2.3 mile stretch of road. We can feel the thermal pockets of warm air at the slightest increase in elevation and the return of the cool air as soon as we make a little descent. We then ride through the residential neighborhoods of Fairfield on Hilborn and Vista Grande. The course then takes us on Waterman Blvd and Mankas Corner. We ride a bit with GPC member, Bob Buntrock along with a small group of cyclists behind us all the way to Gordon Valley Rd. We eventually get passed by a faster group of riders and everyone that was with us rides off ahead.

It quickly becomes very quiet and I take the time to look around. I can see lots of shadows, there is a full moon above us, and the skies are clear and full of stars. I hear the sounds of crickets and can smell the wonderful scent of wild sage in the air. It’s amazing to be riding like this! The silence is occasionally broken by silly conversation and resounding laughter.

We get caught by a group of riders along Wooden Valley Rd to Hwy 121. It’s a quick climb up Mt George with David and Deborah Hoag and Chuck Bramwell along with a few other riders. I can see the sun starting to rise. It’s a fast descent down to Silverado Trail. There is a train of riders behind us including another tandem team. We pass Dick Ferrer before the turn onto Yountville Cross Rd.

We reach RS#1 at Napa River, mile 36.5 at 7:01 AM. The line for the porta-pottie is pretty long. I exchange greetings with Rita Garcia, Barb McQuinn, Scott Halversen and Lee Mitchell. I refill my Cbak with lots of ice and water, make another bottle of malto mix and take in some food before we take off.

We continue on Yountville Cross Rd to Yount Rd, then Yount Mill Rd to Hwy 29 and Oakville Cross Rd. Along the way we see multiple hot air balloons taking flight. The sun is rising and casting beautiful shadows in the valley. We stop for a brief moment to take a picture of all the balloons.

We continue on Silverado Trail for the next 6.4 miles. It’s a fun fast run on flat to rolling terrain. Daybreak is here and the scenery is spectacular! What a great reason to be out here so early in the morning; to be able to take in and enjoy all
this beauty. The air is also amazingly fresh. We catch up with Rita right before the turn onto Howell Mtn.

The climb up Howell Mtn is a little over 4 miles long and not too steep. The sun is shining brightly now and we hear the sounds of a woodpecker. We get passed by Steve Zavestoski. He makes a comment that Mark should stop to let me take my jacket off and we did just that. It was starting to warm up. We pull off to the side and take the opportunity to shed layers. I remove my jacket and knee warmers and stuff them into a tennis ball canister. I’m wearing a sleeveless GPC jersey and the warmth of the sun felt great against my bare skin. We’re back on the tandem and climbing again. Becky Berka greets us and rides on ahead. Another woman passes us and I noticed that she had a prosthetic lower right leg; she was going strong-WOW!

Once we reach the top, we cross Deer Park Rd to continue on White Cottage Rd. Temp 70. I wanted to stop for the porta-pottie but then everyone else was thinking the same thing, There was a line; forget about that, I’ll wait till we get to Pope Valley. We make the fast 2.3 mile descent on Howell Mtn Rd into Pope Valley. We make a quick pit stop at the market before continuing on. No lines!

The course then takes us out on Pope Canyon Rd for the next 8.4 miles. There are a few short climbs but we’re mostly on rolling terrain. I spot and say “hi” to Ann Trason and her husband as we roll on by. We also catch up with Kirk Hastings, Mick Jordan and Kevin Foley. We reach RS#2 at Knoxville Rd/Lake Berryessa, mile 70.6 at 9:57 AM. Temp 84. I fill my Cbak to the rim with more ice and water, replenish my malto mix and take in some food.

We head on out and continue on Knoxville Rd for the next 21.8 miles. It’s the longest remote stretch of road on this route. We ride with Kirk and Tara for a bit and catch up with Rita again. We ride over several dry creek crossings and a section with just gravel. The dryscape here has its own natural type of beauty. I find myself really appreciating the golden mountainsides. This area is also very popular for hunting. There’s quite a few big trucks parked on the side of the road with camping equipment and all the men are wearing camouflage outfits with bright orange caps. I guess the point is to hide yourself from the deer and not try to get shot by your fellow hunters. Can deer see colors? At one point, we approach some of them walking with very young Labrador retrievers, and of course they’re off leash. One dog decides to dash across the road as we’re passing by.

We continue on as the road narrows here and there. We reach a section where about 6 cyclists are in front of us, riding 2-3 abreast. I noticed a tandem team coming up on our right and can hear the female stoker yell at the male captain “why aren’t we passing them?” he replies “we’re blocked in” she in turns yells back” well, pass them on the left!” and he does! Ask and you shall receive.

The last few miles up to the tunnel is the steepest part of Knoxville Rd. I don’t think the gradient exceeds 10% but it’s hot and the area is fully exposed with no surrounding shade. There is a SAG car on the side of the road offering water. Mark shares his extra bottle of water for us to cool down; I squirt it on top of my head, back, shoulders, arms and legs. It certainly felt great for the moment. .

After we ride through the tunnel, I see Grace Cassel off her bike on the opposite side of the road. I yell out to see if she was okay and she waved us on. We reach the Water Stop on Knoxville Rd, mile 92.4 at 12:09 PM. Temp 98. I get more ice and water for my Cbak. I chug down a Lo-sodium V8. I overheard people asking why the V8 was lo-sodium, why wasn’t there any Coke or snacks. One volunteer responded by saying that this was in fact ONLY a water stop

Michael and I recently had volunteered to help with this year’s Knoxville DC pre-ride prep. It takes a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work for the organizer and its volunteers to get everything in place. There is the organizing of the equipment, buying food, sorting and distributing items to all the rest stops. We should all be so grateful that they give what they can for us. We need to learn to shift the focus on what is being provided to us as opposed to what’s

We continue on Knoxville Rd for another 15 miles. This has got to be the road that never seems to end; it goes on and on and on. You may think that’s it’s all downhill but it’s not. There’s still plenty of climbing to be done before the descent to Lower Lake. The temp creeps up to 100 and it’s pretty darn HOT! You’re fully exposed to the sun with absolutely no shade in sight.

We reach RS#3 at Lower Lake County Park, mile 107.5 at 1:14 PM. Mark parks the tandem and we both take the time to refill our Cbaks with, of course, more ice and water. The lunch menu was a hot bean and cheese burrito, ham, turkey or roast beef sandwiches. I went for half a roast beef sandwich on wheat with mustard, tomato and lettuce. I took a few swigs from a can of Sierra Mist soda and ate a few slices of orange. I can’t imagine having a bean and cheese burrito sitting in my stomach for the upcoming climbs on Siegler and Loch Lomond.

Mark also got to use his homemade ice scooper that he brought along for this ride. He was all excited telling me about it at the start of the DC but he could tell that I was not too impressed. It’s a plastic water bottle that has been cut in half and as I recall, he also put a plastic loop around it for easier handling. I think at
most of the rest stops I actually got ice faster than he did with his personal

After lunch, the route takes us 4 miles up Siegler Canyon Rd. It starts off relatively flat and increases in gradient to about 4-5%. I can hear water trickling from the stream beside us. There are a few spots of shade along this road. The temp is steadily increasing; 101, 103 and maxing out at 108!

After Seigler Cyn, we’re on Loch Lomond Rd for the next 4 miles. This is one of the longer and steeper climbs of the day. It’s a steady 9-10% grade to the top and then it levels out with a few gentle rollers in between. As we near the top, I can see that a SAG car is parked on the opposite side of the road with a few cyclists around. I overhear one of them asking the driver how much further was it to the top. Little did they know, it was fairly close, the road just seemed to continue to climb up with no end in sight.

The next turn we take is onto Hwy 175. The road has a series of little rollers before reaching Whispering Pines. A guy that was riding with us for a bit tells me that our rear saddle bag is hanging very low. I thank him and reach back to tighten the strap. He also informs us to be careful on the descent down Cobb Mtn and that the road was recently chip-sealed. At the same time, Mark tells me that he needs to pull over to the side of the road for a few minutes to wipe off some sunscreen that had gotten into his eye. We also saw Lee’s BIKEVAN filled with bikes and people. The heat was definitely making the ride more difficult for
some folks.

Mark cautiously makes the descent down Cobb Mtn. As we’re riding along the flatter section of Hwy 175, we both hear a loud “POP” and Mark is able to stop safely on the side of the road. He decides to walk the tandem across the road to a wider section to work on the flat. Only after stopping and examining the tire did we both realize that the rear tire had a large 2 inch slash on it. It wasn’t a
flat at all but a tire blow out. Mark was going to put a large boot on it as I
watch out for a SAG car to come by. In the meanwhile, plenty of cyclists are
riding pass us. Eventually I wave at a passing SAG van, but it continued on. A
few minutes later, the van pulls over and stops to help us. The driver had to
find a safe place to turn around for us. He gives us a new tire, tube and the
use of a floor pump. What service! I saw numerous SAG vehicles throughout
today’s course. They are certainly there when you need them. THANK YOU! We
stopped at 3:27 PM at mile 128.3 and were able to get back on the road at 3:58

Yeah, we’re back in action! We catch up with Jack Joseph on Butts Canyon Rd. It’s a fast flat run all the way to the next rest stop. We reach RS#4 at Detert Reservoir/Pelican Lake, mile 134.5 at 4:26 PM. I see Gabrielle and Veronica sitting in the shade eating strawberry Twizzlers.

We continue on Butts Canyon Rd for the next 15+ miles. It’s mostly rolling terrain with a longish climb but it’s nothing too steep. The dryscape here seems to reflect the changing of the season. It’s all very visually appealing.

Butts Canyon Rd eventually becomes Pope Valley Rd. We ride pass the Hubcap Ranch and the General Market at Pope Valley. The next few miles on rolling terrain takes us pass more vineyards. As we’re riding along, we see a tandem and a woman sitting off the side of the road. We ask if everything is okay and the man tells us that she is having stomach issues. I noticed it was the same tandem team that passed us earlier on Knoxville Rd. It must be the heat again! Temp 87. The descent to Lake Hennessey is fun and fast. I occasionally turn my head back to check for traffic and the one time that I did, there was a cyclist face to face to me. That’s way too close for my comfort, I motion for him to back off and he does. He thanks us for the pull as we approach the rest stop.

We reach RS#5 at Lake Hennessey, mile 160.1 at 6:20 PM. Temp 93. I see Bill M and exchanged greetings. I refill my Cbak with more ice and water and take the time to eat a chicken cup o’ noodle while Mark eats a chili dog and banter around with Doug Goodwin, the Nevada Lee look-alike BIKE VAN guy. The lights for the tandem are in a drop bag and Mark is attaching the lights while I take some pictures of the lake. I also get greeted by the same female volunteer that was at Mulholland and DMD, she likes my lipstick!

Now it’s only 40 miles to the finish. We continue on Hwy 128 for the next 12 miles. We both see a SAG car pass us by and Mark noticed that one of the bikes in the back was a orange Litespeed that belonged to Jay Klebenoff. Jay and Jack from Diablo Cyclists rode with us on and off throughout the day. They had both passed us on the climb up Butts Canyon.

I take a minute to exchange the lens on my glasses. It’ll be getting dark soon. The sun is setting and the mountainside takes on a rich reddish hue. What a gorgeous sight to see! Hwy 128 is a series of climbs and descents. We ride until dusk and stop to put on our layers. I have my jacket and knee warmers. The temp drops down to 77 and it still feels quite warm.

As we approach the Hwy 128/Hwy 121 Junction, we notice that there was a whole barrage of large trucks, some pulling boats coming back from a day at the lake. Some of them didn’t want to yield to us. It was the diciest part of the ride! We manage to make the left turn to continue on Hwy 128. There’s definitely more climbing on the way. We still have to climb the backside of Cardiac Hill to Monticello Dam. As we get up to the dam, I look up and there it is again, a full moon. We’re back to where we started in the morning, in the dark, riding under the moonlight.

The descent on Hwy 128 is a blast! We’re rolling along at a very good clip with several riders behind us. They eventually drop off as we hit it hard on all the rollers all the way to Pleasants Valley Rd.

We reach RS#6 at the Pardehsa Store, mile 187.7 at 8:54 PM. I wait with the tandem as Mark refills his water bottle. I still have enough to get me to the finish. There are cyclists lingering around this rest stop.

The last 12+ miles on Pleasants Valley Rd is on rolling terrain. Mark and I have enough energy in our reserves for a very fast and fun run back to Pena Adobe Park. It was great to be able to have a strong finish to a long day of riding..

We pull into the park at 9:43 PM. Temp 61. We both check in and the volunteers are there to cheer us on for completing the ride. What a day!

Boy, was I ready to eat some REAL food! Here’s what I had for my post ride meal: Penne with Red Meat Sauce, thickly sliced fresh tomato salad and a green salad, garlic bread and a cup of sparkling apple cider. I also saw Lisa McPhate at dinner. I was starting to get a slight headache; I think it’s from lack of sleep. I was only able to get in 4 hours of sleep prior to the start of the ride. I will have to remember to catch more Z’s next time.

Much thanks to Mark for pulling me for over 200 miles! He did a great job piloting the tandem with great care and attention throughout the day and night. It can’t be easy. THANK YOU! The Knoxville DC was a great finale to a fine season of riding Double Centuries. A big “THANKS” goes to Scott and all the volunteer Quacks for supporting all the riders out on the course. SAG was seen everywhere through the day. The volunteers at all the rest stops were all friendly and helpful. Thank you, you’re all fabulous! Another thanks goes to Tara for contributing a few pics of us riding on Knoxville Rd.

Tandem Stats:
Miles: 204.61
Avg Speed: 14.28 mph
Elevation Gain: ~12,600′
Total Time: 17:05
Ride Time: 14:27
NRT: 2:38

Weather: Sunny and HOT. Morning temp in the low 60’s reaching a high of 108 on Siegler Cyn Rd. Evening temp back to the low 60’s but the real feel temp was much higher.

Nutrition: Lots of water and ice, Maltodextrin mix, Enduralytes, 1/3 banana, a couple of strawberries, a slice of watermelon, 1/2 slice of canteloupe, a small bunch of grapes, 1/2 orange, 10 pcs herb potatoes, 1/2 PBJ, 1/2 roast beef sandwich, 1 small can of V8, a few sips of Sierra Mist and a cup o’noodles.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>GOTTA KEEP MOVING!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

This is the Knoxville Fall Double route:


  1. Nancy – Thanks for reposting this. I am riding the Knoxvillve Double next weekend and enjoyed the preview. What kind of glasses are you using? I like the interchangable lenses? As always thanks for the great write up.


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