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30th Anniversary Terrible Two takes the long way home
On Saturday, June 25, the Santa Rosa Cycling Club staged the 30th Anniversary* edition of the Terrible Two double century. To commemmorate that anniversary, we reprised our traditional long course, last used in 1994. For years we listed the long course as 211 miles, but new GPS mapping software has helped us to refine our numbers, and we have now discovered that a 3-mile error crept into our route slips around 1989, and that in fact the long course is only 208 miles and our standard course is only 197 miles! Regardless of that error, the fact remains that the long course is almost 11 miles longer than the regular course most of us know.
We figured the 11 extra milesup along the Annapolis Road and down an extra stretch of Hwy 1would be worth about 45 minutes (or more) for most participants. While it bypasses the dreaded Rancheria Wall, it includes several substantial climbs, and in fact has more elevation gain than the shorter course.
227 bikes (including five tandems) took the start out of Willowside School at 5:30 am, led through the sleepy morning streets of Santa Rosa by a pace vehicle. Those near the front said the lead pace was slower than usual this year, even after the pace car pulled away at the far side of town and let the dogs loose. No one had an explanation for the lazy pace. The weather could not have been friendlier for fast riding: overcast and almost chilly, with the sun making only a few brief but spectacular appearances later in the day, and with temps rarely even reaching the high 70s.
The relatively slow tempo seemed especially surprising in light of the fact that this was the first chance in over ten years for the fast folks to take a shot at the long-course records. We had heard that many of the usual suspects had been training hard just for this assault on the record books. In the end, this proved a mixed bag: Brian Andersonwho is getting to be Mr. Terrible Twofinished first on the ride for the fourth year in a row, but his time of 11:47 was well off the 11:19 time set by Victor Czech in 1994. Andersons times for those previous three rides were 10:50 (the short-course record), 11:13, and 10:59, so factoring in another 45 minutes seems to have been an accurate prediction. It gives us a new appreciation for the blistering ride Czech laid down in 94. Conditions that year were also relatively benign, although we recorded a high of 95° on Skaggs that time around.
While toppling Victor Victorious from his lofty perch had seemed a tall order right from the start, Lea Brooks womens record (14:06, 1984) appeared more vulnerable, as many women have logged times at least 45 minutes quicker than that on the short course. (Cat Berge holds that record at 11:35, but she was busy elsewhere this year, completing an awesome performance at RAAM.) For whatever reason, none of the women entered came close to the record. Erika Floric of Camp Meeker was the fastest woman not on a stoker seat, with a time of 14:55.
Speaking of stokers... There we finally do see some new records. There had never been a two-man tandem record on the old course. None had ever finished it (although some had tried). This year, the short-course record holders took care of that. Paul McKenzie and Ray Plumhoff did a fabulous job on a course not at all suited to the big bikes. They chased Brian Anderson hard all daystill with him until the first big climb on the Annapolis Roadand they brought their tandem in second overall in a snappy time of 11:58. They had been challenged early by Rick Ashabranner and Ish Makk, but those boys hot-rimmed it on the backside of the Geysers and laid it down, busting up a rim and themselves in the worst crash of the day. (They were not seriously hurt, but did have to abandon.)
Tom and Cindy Long of Piedmont, veterans of many, many doubles and other long-haul events, copped the co-ed tandem record held by Tom and Terry Dempster (13:50, 1981) with a very impressive 13:38. Robert and Brenda Fletcher of Vacaville finished not too far behind at 13:58. No recumbents finished, so Eric Houses record of 12:53 from 1994 still stands (and anyway, its still faster than the short-course bent record).
Overall, the mild weather contributed to an easy, almost boring day for our sag drivers, as 187 out of 227 riders finished. But the extra miles took their toll: 36 of those finishers came in after the traditional 10:00 pm I Did It! cut-off (meaning 66% made it by ten...typical for the old course).
Aside from the under-employed sag drivers, the volunteer support teamnearly 150 workers for 227 riders!worked its collective fannies off all day to provide the top-notch support for which the TT is well-known. Thanks to one and all for once again making the Terrible Two somewhat less than terrible (and a grateful bow to the weather gods for doing their part).
*As the TT was cancelled in 1991, that makes only 29 TTs so far. But in its first year (1976), it was run twice: first as a test run in June, and then as the official event in August. So there really have been 30 TTs.