Bonnie Doon – Stage 3 Launch Window

Lance on the early slopes of Bonnie Doon

Today I placed a single photographic bet on the decisive move of the day playing out on Bonnie Doon Road once again. When the race arrived Radio Shack were on the front with Horner and Armstrong doing a strong tempo to try and launch Levi. No doubt you'll already know it didn't quite work out as planned. Dave Z proved he could hang with Levi and won the race by a wheel over Rogers in Santa Cruz.

This time it was television camera bikes, race marshals and the vagaries of the chosen line that made this more difficult. I had no real shot at Levi from my side of the road but I did get several good frames of Lance. When I got home I tuned in to the recorded Versus coverage and couldn't believe that they cut away from the race inside the last mile for a hockey pregame show. I'm sure Phil Liggett was secretly infuriated by that move. Terrible decision on Versus' part and one which set cycling forums alight with incendiary comments.

Levi, Chris and Lance at the head of the race

Bissell's Paul Mach was fighting hard to minimize his losses on the tough climb and I love the intensity of the Quickstep rider's look and the ripped base layer that appears to be torn to allow his good luck piece to float free. The last pic is of my pal Willy Nevin who rode over on that gorgeous Vanilla to hang out with me. Thanks Willy.

Bissell's Paul Mach had a tougher time on the climb today Quickstep rider seems to say don't take my picture Willy on the very choice Vanilla

26 Responses to Bonnie Doon – Stage 3 Launch Window

  1. Irv says:

    Great shots as always – Velodramatic continues to be my favourite site for cycling photography / jornalism. My one criticism? You don’t have an iPhone icon, so my homepage looks better ;-)

  2. brett says:

    after work i rushed to the grocery and to day care to pick up my son and then home to catch the last few minutes of stage 3, only to have the last mile and a half cut from the show.

    i guess that’s cable tv for you.

  3. Jon Moss says:

    I’ve got stage 3 to watch later today…..

    Top shots Michael, and love that guy’s look as well – ‘you lookin’ at me!?’.

    I see Willy is a Rapha fan too :-)

  4. Bryan says:

    Great photos. I see the gold dolphins on Willy’s handlebar bag. He an ex-submariner?

  5. D'ohboy says:

    Michael – Why bother with Versus when you can watch this: ?

    It has a great feed and all the data you could possibly want.

    By the way, love the photography and gear reviews. You’ve contributed much to my nascent Rapha addiction.

  6. Great pics Michael. Better weather than the downpour we got on Tunitas. Fun nevertheless.

  7. Stephen says:

    Yup – I sneaked in my viewing at the office on the tour tracker. No hockey there!

  8. willy in pacifica says:


    My dad was a submariner when I was a kid in grammar school. We lived in San Diego and whenever my dad had to go to “The Office” we would get a couple of the neighbor kids to tag along since his office was inside the sub. We always entered the sub into the torpedo room which for a kid was very cool. My dad even arranged for us to have Thanksgiving dinner on the sub one year.

    After conventional subs my dad became the skipper of the Trieste and in 1969 he was in charge of diving down to the remains of the Scorpion. Back in 1969 diving down thousands of feet under water was very risky business and they would call my mom whenever they came back up to the surface, but never before they went down.

    On the outside of the Trieste they had cages where they would put things like styrophome cups and on the way down the cups would compress to the size of a Dixie coup. Last year it turns out one of my relatives neighbors dated a guy who was on the Trieste after my dad and she gave me a cup he gave her. I gave it to my dad for his Bday as he never thought to keep any for himself.

    • Bryan says:

      Awesome story, thanks. I served on submarines for 6 of my 20 years in the Navy. I worked back aft in the engineering department on the nuclear plant. My wife and kids would come visit sometimes when I had duty and have dinner. They always thought it was so cool.

      The compression you describe when diving at depth is so true. The pressures at those depths is mind-blowing.

      • willy in pacifica says:

        My dad was the skipper of the Trieste just after it made its historic dive to 35,000 feet. But he would go down 1,000s of feet to where there was no light. At the same time he was also the skipper of the White Sands which was the floating dry dock which carried the Trieste and was pulled by a tug called the Apache.

        So he did’nt get into record books for the deepest dive but almost got in the record books for the longest communication. They were out diving on the Scorpion in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. They were going to radio each other when the Trieste was underwater but the weather did not cooperate.

  9. willy in pacifica says:

    Sure, I do not look as spry as the other riders in the photos but in my defense I had two mugs of coffee and a burito in my handlebar bag. And no ordinary burrito but a super carne asada burrito.

  10. willy in pacifica says:

    So it looks like Radio Shack is using Sram componants, Trek frames & Botrager wheels/bars/stems.

    Other sponsors are Nike and of course Radio Shack

    Does that mean they are an all american team?

    So why the Nissan cars? So close.

  11. W.icked says:

    What is the commuter rig Willy is navigating in the last photo of the series?
    Looks very respectable.

    • Yes, it’s a beautiful Vanilla from Portland’s Sacha White. If Willy sees your note, I’m sure he’ll respond with more details. Don’t know if he commutes on it, but he certainly logs some incredible mileage with it in radonee events. I believe he had it made to ride PBP.

      • willy in pacifica says:

        The Vanilla was built for long distance cycling but not touring. It was built specifically for Paris Brest Paris in 2007 which is a 1,200k. I also put tons of commuter miles on it as I ride from Pacifica to San Francisco a couple times a week which is about 42 miles round trip. This past weekend I lived on it for 600k as we rode the San Francisco 600k from SF north to Ft Bragg and back. Lots of headwind on the way out but at least it did not rain as expected. But we did get some great tail wind on the way back.
        In the picture you will notice the front hub powers my two LED hedlights and I have disc brakes for bad weather. With that bar bag and a small underseat bag I have ridden all the way to San Diego. It is not that hard when you only stop once or twice. All you really need is a change of bike clothes.

        On the 600k about 60 riders started and I was in a great group of 5. It is not about speed for me it is more about a good efficient group that gets along and works well together. All it takes is one person getting to the front and ramping it up just a bit to screw everything up.

        This ride has long sections on Hwy 128 heading to the coast and on the return trip for some reason I get sleepy. Granted it is 3AM and I have been riding for 23 hours but I can usually ride thru to sunrise where you wake right up. Along Hwy 128 there is nothing open but there are lots of little towns so you jsut find the next post office and crash out for an hour or so to rest your eyes and wait for the sun to come up.

        The 600k was dedicated to a friend who passed away a month ago while riding up Mt Hamilton on the Devil Mt Double. I met Tom at PBP and we stuck together for the first day to keep an eye on each other sinec it is a night time start and it rained all night. I rode with him on a 400k the weekend before he died. He had signed up for the SF 600k so a few of us carried his brevet card on the trip so he would finish his brevet series (200k, 300k, 400k & 600k) I rode the entire way with his girl friend who I had only met once. By the end of the 600k we became life long friends and it was good to talk about Tom with someone who knew him well. But it was a tough ride as my legs were very tired. In the past 7 weeks I raced a 24 hour time trial and rode two 400k’s and two 600k’s.

        Next up is a 230k night time ride (wow, only 140 miles) then a 1,000k at the end of June.

  12. Willy,

    Sorry to hear about your friend Tom. Your mileage never fails to amaze. Should have had you along for the Tour adventure in July.


    • willy in pacifica says:


      Anytime you have one of your bike/photo adventures let me know as I would love to come along even if it means no riding. Especially things like the Specialized Las Vegas ride.

    • willy in pacifica says:

      Tom was the inventor of the Sella An Atomica saddle. Without that saddle there would be many a randonneur with sore butts. Without a doubt that saddle is the holly grail of cycling. I have one on each of my three Vanillas which are the bikes I use for my longer rides.

      He literally saved my ass.

  13. Deb Banks says:

    I just spent the weekend with Willy battling those headwinds and sleeping in a post office in Boonville for an hour. We had a great time talking about my sweetie, Tom, and travel, whether it be in Europe on or off a bike or in an RV!

    The Vanilla lit up the road at night. I was amazed at how little he had on – that Rapha rain jacket kept him warm (I am pissed that Rapha has such a lame line for women, to date).

    Velodramatic, I love your site, Willy and I struck up a conversation about that too while riding. The pic of the track racer at Hellyer is outta this world. I had turned Tom onto your site as well, and wanted to get him to hire you for some photos for his site. Maybe we can still make that happen.

    As for riding with Willy – it is a pleasure. Even after 37 straight hours together! Looking forward to the next adventure.

    • Hi Deb,

      Nice to hear from you. I’m so sorry for your loss I would have liked to have met Tom, those saddles of his have helped countless cyclists and given them all an extra push to reach their goals. Willy is great company and full of amazing stories isn’t he? I’ll have a good thought for Tom next time I’m on Mt. Hamilton.


    • willy in pacifica says:

      I had plenty on and it did keep me warm.

      To start I wore a pair of shorts under a pair of Rapha bib-shorts, thick leg warmers and wool socks. Up top I had on a LS thin base, a SS wool jersey and the Rapha rain jacket. I had to decide between the rain jacket and the Stowaway and since it was supposed to rain I took the rain jacket. It is only slightly warmer than the Stowaway.

      When the sun started to set and we hit the drop bag I changed from the rain jacket to the Lighweight Softshell and added a pair of thick Rapha bib knickers over the whole lower section and a second pair of wool socks. So I now had three pair of shorts/knickers on. But in the campground I did now want to strip down so just threw them on over everything. We were going to be back in 50 miles so could make any changes if it bothered me.

      It started to bother me around mile 260 in Cloverdale so I removed the regular shorts at Starbucks and the remaining two Rapha items worked fine until the end.

      The real issue for me is that with what I was wearing I actualy got a bit warm once moving. It would cause me to sweat just enough to not be a problem except when you stopped it would start to evaporate and I would get the chills and start to shiver so to stay warm I would actually have to take things off once we stopped.

      I have a long ride report I could post if you have the room Michael.

  14. Great tale of the race Michael. In forty odd years in newspapers I never met a cop who called it right, they always got it upside down. We have a name for them in Scotland, “jobsworth”… it’s more then my jobs worth to let you park there, sit there, stop there, take a picture there.
    Give a man a clipboard and you make a normal person a pain in the ass, his voice becomes louder and sounds as if he knows what he’s talking about.(only to himself).
    Many years ago covering a golf tournament in Scotland another photographer and myself were way ahead of the pack looking for position. A man pulling a rope came out of the bushes shouting at us that you can’t go there, this is for press only, as we were carrying many thousands of £’s worth of cameras and lenses, he missed the point. My colleague and I just kept out of his reach and Bert casually said, “don’t let go of that rope or you’re in deep shit Son”.
    Moments like that are gems to be remebered and passed on down the line of history.

    Keep doing what you’re doing it’s very good Michael.

    • Douglas,

      No question newspaper photographers have the best stories. I’m slowly becoming initiated into the brotherhood with more of these assignments. I’ve said to you before there’s a book for you to write about all those adventures and the characters like jobsworth(s).

      How was your shoot on Harris?


  15. willy in pacifica says:

    OK you asked for it. There is just no way to make a 36 hour ride report short.

    This past weekend wrapped up an extremely tough month and a half of riding and my legs are feeling it. Over the past 7 weeks I have ridden a 300 mile time trial, two 400k’s and two 600k’s. I have never ridden this many long rides this close together and I can really feel it in my legs. Mostly going uphills.

    About 60 of us took off from the GG Bridge at 6AM Saturday morning after taking the “don’t do dumb stuff” pledge from Rob the RBA. This ride was dedicated to Tom Milton who was signed up for the ride but passed away on the Devil Mountain Double 4 weeks earlier. His girl friend was riding it and a few of us would be carrying his brevet card throughout the ride as this was the only ride he was missing in order to complete the full series. (200k, 300k, 400k, 600k). Rob also had a bunch of black wrist bands which had “Remembering Tom Milton” on them for those that wanted to wear them.

    We all rode the usual way north thru all the small Marin towns out to Fairfax. From there we thankfully ride straight to Pt Reyes as I get a bit tired of riding thru Nicassio. I am riding with Debra (Tom’s girlfriend) and a couple other riders. In the early part of these rides you will ride with the group until the first hill. That is when the group usually breaks up with the faster/stronger riders getting ahead and slower riders falling back. Eventually you just kind of fall into a like group of riders who are all have about the same pace. Usually these are the riders you have ridden with on many rides and you know them well. Some you may enjoy riding with and others maybe not. We all have to stop in Pt Reyes to get a receipt to prove we were there. I grab chocolate milk and am ready to go. We will be back here in over a day from now so I dream of hitting Pt Reyes again with only 35 miles to go.

    We are now heading to Petaluma for a stop at Peets then to Healdsburg for lunch at Safeway. I am still riding with Debra and we have picked up Bill and Don. During each leg we get away from each other here and there but we all meet up again at the controls and leave together. The further into the ride you go the more the groups start to form and riders then stick together thru thick and thin. If you get caught up in a fast group you tend to ride faster but you will pay for it. If you ride with a slower group you will end up pulling more and again you will pay for it. I am looking for a group with riders of about my ability to make the ride more enjoyable. Our group of Bill, Debra, Don, Alex and myself makes for a great group but there are other riders that join us here and there along the route. Sometimes you will get a strong rider in the group who when they get to the front think they are doing everyone a favor by ramping the pace up a bit or more. But actually they are putting some of the riders in distress and breaking the group up. I have to remember that this is a 375 mile ride and going 1 to 2 MPH faster will not make much difference now and I may end up paying for it later. Sometimes you can talk the person into going slower or sometimes you just let them ride away. You have to remember to keep an eye out for the folks behind you if you want to be a part of the group. But it is still early so the groups are not official yet.

    After we leave Petaluma we are fighting a decent headwind as we head to Healdsburg. This is typical for this section on our 300k but the 300k turns back in Healdsburg and we are heading further north. I am not looking forward to 140 miles of headwind but keep telling myself that we should get help on our return on Sunday. Plus I would rather deal with headwinds first if I was guaranteed to get tailwinds later. But of course there are no guarantees in brevets.

    At Healdsburg we hit the Safeway and I grab a bowl of soup and a drink. Whenever you get to a control the first thing I do is get myself ready to leave as you do not want to delay your group especially this early in the ride (80 miles) as others may not consider you part of the official group yet. I turn my route sheet, get my bottles filled, get my receipt and put it securely in my card and into my bag then hit the restroom if I have to. Then I am good to eat. I cannot tell you how important this is because if you forget any of these tasks you may find yourself on your own.

    Debra, Bill, Don, Alex and myself have officially become a gang by now as we head toward Cloverdale 30 mile further north. This is a flat section and we make good time even with the headwind. Cloverdale is not an official control on the outbound leg but will be on the inbound leg. Controls are required if there is a way to shortcut the course. By requiring a receipt it proves you did not take the shortcut. Since from Healdsburg all the way out to Ft Bragg there is no shorter route there need not be a control along the way. However it is 100 miles to the turn around so we hit Cloverdale to refill bottles etc. since it will be a tough 30 miles up and over Hwy 128 to the next town of Boonville.

    We leave Cloverdale for the pisser hill ahead on Hwy 128. It is not that bad but at 3 miles it will be our longest. But worse are the constant rollers along the ridge that go on for 15 miles before you finally head official out of the hill at Boonville. On the way up the hill Alex hit my rear wheel and he and Bill hit the deck. We were only going about 5-6 MPH so it was a slow speed crash so no harm. Except Alex’s front brake was not working. We undid his cable and he would ride the remainder of his ride one braked. We finally made it to Boonville and stopped again to refill bottles and take a break. We have another 25 miles to get to the Paul Dimmick Park where there is a bag drop and a group of volunteers with food and supplies. They have also set up a small shrine to Tom and Champagne is promised to toast Tom.

    This is a long stretch for some reason, perhaps since the wind is still in our face. Also, you ride thru small town after small town on this Hwy so of course I am obliged to race to each city limit sign. I am always on the lookout and Don is my main competition. I can usually win the sprint because I pay attention to the road sings and am on my toes when I know we are getting close. It doesn’t hurt to draw Don’s attention away at the right moment by mentioning that his tire looks low or yelling car back even if there is not one : )

    I think I won about 80% of these sprints and boy did my legs feel it after each one. I think by the end of the ride this had a major impact on my legs.

    We hit Dimmick park and there are volunteers who will ask if they can take your bike, what you want to eat and will get you your drop bag. The first thing I do is order cup-o-noodles so it will start to cool. Then I get my bottles ready, sit down, relax and eat up. We have been hanging around controls longer than I usually do but with this wind killing us it just feels good to not be moving. I change jackets to a warmer one and add some think bib knickers over my shorts. It is supposed to get cold tonight and I want to be prepared. Since we will be passing here 50 miles from now this is a good time to experiment since I can make adjustments when I return if needed.

    We now have 8 miles to the coast then 10 miles to Mendocino and another 10 miles to the turn around in Ft Bragg. Now you are actually not so upset that you have been fighting headwinds since mile 40ish. Now you would be pissed off if they actually went away as you are so close to turning around and getting their benefit. But even no wind would feel like a tailwind at this point as we have had zero tailwind and fought headwinds the entire way.

    We all get ready for night time riding by turning on lights and donning our required reflective gear. We hit the road and it seems like we are moving along better than before. Being in the forest has kept the winds at bay and we are soon at the big hill where Hwy 1 meets Hwy 128. It is here that we lose Alex. He mentioned he is not feeling well and told us if he falls off to just go ahead. We wait at the top for a while but assume he turned around to go back to the camp ground.

    There are four more city limit signs along Hwy 1 and I get 3 on the way out and maybe all four on the way back. It is now dark when we hit Safeway in Ft Bragg. I get myself ready for the return then grab some food. Unfortunately the deli is closed which is a bit hit at all the Safeways.

    We are now at mile 182 and have 193 to get home. Once the sun goes down things tend to slow down. There is no need to hurry to beat the sunset so we dilly dally a bit at Safeway then head south back to Dimmick park. We now have a decent tailwind and it feels fantastic. We have not seen Alex but pick up Veronica along Hwy 1 so we are back to a gang of five.

    We make good time back to Dimmick Park where I order another Cup-o-Noodles and now sit by the fire to warm up. No one has heard from Alex so I am a bit worried. Now my thinking is that he found a place to hang out ad called a relative to pick him up as we did not see him on the return ride. We make a toast to Tom and sip champagne then after a lengthy stay we reluctantly leave the fire and head out into the cold morning. We are about 20 miles back to Boonville but Debra has a room five miles before then in Philo. We again have the wind at our backs and are making decent time, for night time riding, but the monotony of Hwy 128 is making me sleepy. If there were turns every so often it would help me stay awake but my eyes are drooping. I can usually make it to sunrise on these rides but this is the second year I have had problem on this ride. We were planning to use Debra’s room to take a short nap but we missed the town so decided to continue to Boonville and hit the Post Office. In small towns the PO is usually open 24 hours and sure enough we found it open and warm. But warm is relative and although it was warm compared to the outside temp it was not warm after a few minutes. I throw a bit of junk mail on the floor and sit down to close my eyes. I think I may have gotten a few 5 minute naps between our 3:30 to 5:00 stop. Once we saw a bit of light we took off to tackle the upcoming 20 miles of hills and rollers back to Cloverdale.

    We finally get over the hills and roll into the Starbucks in Cloverdale. The sun is up and warming us up nicely. We all grab a big coffee drink and we all take over the bathrooms to make morning adjustments to clothing. I now had on a pair of shorts, bib shorts and the bib knickers. It was getting to my butt so I decided to make a bit of a switch as I did not want to ride the final 115 miles with a sore butt. Luckily it worked and I was fairly comfy till the end.

    We are now heading back to Healdsburg but not stopping until we hit another Safeway in Guerneville along the Russian River. We hit it at lunch time and I have a sandwich and go thru my stop ritual to get ready for the next leg thru Occidental and Valley Ford on the way to Pt Reyes. We have a big hill into Occidental but then it is smooth sailing all the way to Pt Reyes with helpful tailwinds most of the way. There were a few brutal headwinds as we were riding thru the turns south of Tamales that stopped us in our tracks. When we rolled into Pt Reyes the wind was blowing things all over the town. We hit the store for our last receipt and had only the usual 35 mile ride back thru Nicassio. I hate the hills out of Nicassio but knowing I was almost done they went down a bit easier. We then hit the city streets starting in Fairfax and before I knew it we were on Chapman hill which was really getting to my legs. I have a feeling it was all the sprints along the way when I kicked Don’s ass but now I am thinking I may not work so hard next year. We ride thru Sausalito and up to the GG Bridge. I have to use the restroom so I plan to ride the west side of the bridge and check out the restroom beforehand. The others are waiting for me on the bike side wondering what happened. As I head across at about 6:30 pm there is little pedestrian traffic and the others see me head off. So we are now on opposite sides of the bridge and Don lives in Napa so has no clue that the first tower is the last count line sign. I manage to take him on the final sprint without him even knowing it until I rub it in at the finish. We all pull in at 6:50PM Sunday after 36 hours and 50 minutes.

    We check in and say our good buys. I wanted to get home ASAP as I have not seen my girls all weekend and expected to be home much earlier.

    So now I have a 230k in a couple of weeks (wow, only 140 miles) then a 1,000k at the end of June. The tailwinds on Sunday saved the ride from being a brutal ride and of course the company was fantastic. It isn’t very often that you get a group that works so well together and looks after each other. I would be happy to ride with these five again anytime.

    Thanks again Don, Bill, Alex, Veronica and of course Debra. And I can’t forget to mention that many of us were riding with Tom in our hearts and know he would have loved to be out there pulling us along.

    Willy in Pacifica