Thursday, April 17, 2014

Patterson Pass 2x on Paris Roubaix Day (2014)

(April 13, 2014)  Patterson Pass 2x, solo (first 25 miles with Diablo Cyclists), 113 miles, 5,300' climbing, 15 mph

Another Saturday (long) ride done on a Sunday (short ride day.)  The day before the family and Ward went to AT&T Lousy Internet, Pac Bell Park--the Disneyland of the north, to catch a Giants game.  It was tote bag giveaway day--which the Giants only give to half their fans, so loads of folks including us were there hours before the game.  The Giants hitters must have also had to line up to get their tote bags early, as during the game they were half asleep.  Game so-so but lots of fun at the ball yard


So the next day needed to put in miles, legs were fresh, and I wanted to do something special.  Today is Paris Roubaix--the hardest cycling race.    Last weeks Tour of Flanders over short semi smooth cobbled hills may be a better race when its dry--but Paris Roubaix over little used flat farm roads, where the (as one cyclist put it) the cobbles look like they were dropped in by helicopter, is the greatest race when its wet.  Paris Roubaix is the race I watched when I got hooked doing hard cycling rides.  So today I had to do something grueling.
Day started off like the shits.   Tried to watch a live stream feed of Paris Roubaix over the computer (only the Masters program show, Master commentary, Masters green jack fashion show, Insurance Commercials brought to you by the Masters are on TV)  which usually got me a frustrating 40 seconds of action before the computer grinded to a halt for 20 seconds rebuffering.    I thought it was my computers faulty computer which is a pretty good laptop, so I hit too many keys while downloading programs it said I needed---resulting in my computer shutting down.   The computer died with 20km to go with a large group in the lead and when my computer finally rebooted  there was one surprise winner on the finishing velodrome himself.  How did he get there???
Even when streaming I'm getting popup ads and update reminders galore.
Later I found out from Ward who has a state of the art computer that the same stuff happens to him--its AT&T net's crappy streaming.   (At the end of the day I had to delete all the crap phishing programs I downloaded.)
Nice weather and group at the start,  Jack's inaugural ride on a new Volagi, which caught everyones interest.  Our club certainly has a collection of interesting bikes--in my old club seemingly everyone had Treks and you best buy from the "in" dealer or half the Club didn't talk to you.
Captain Jack and his new Volagi
Trouble is that Ward is still recovering from injury and months of inactivity, can't get Don off his fixed gear, and Christine, Dr. Dave and Mike all did metric+'s yesterday.  So when I said I was going to do the great Patterson Pass loop twice there were no takers.   Christine, resplendent in her Pink Floyd jersey thought about it, then regained here senses.  I should have convinced her that the rainbows on the sleeve meant she was the world champion.
Two years ago I did Patterson Pass 2x with Toby and Ward and I fell apart on the second climb.  It was at the end of my great 2012 cycling year--I was trying out high compression socks for a developing calf problem, and on the final 11%+ of the second loop my legs just gave out.  I always blamed it on the compression socks but today we'd find out. 
The first 25 miles was our Club's fast Sunday ride to the trees.   Lots of talk about Pink Floyd, which I really know nothing about except that I didn't much care for the ubiquitous "The Wall" growing up.  Conversation got me curious so will borrow some CD's.  (update--not enough rhythm, just melody and weirdness, I'll pass)    Last week I put on some Howlin Wolf CD that I rarely listened too and amazed how good he was and how many of his songs were covered by early Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Doors.... 



My usual partners in crime
When we got off the main road and onto secluded Collier Canyon, the music bsing stopped and  everyone turned it up a notch.  We soon had a nice long paceline of all the old timers off the front.  Ward reminded me that I should take it easy as I was going long, but it was too much fun.
We had to tell Mike it was Paris Roubaix day and he should put his SF Giants flag away.  I'm celebrating by wearing the jersey of the greatest Paris Roubaix team ever--Domo Farm Frites
Regroup at the trees and the Diablo Cyclists headed South towards Livermore--at the first split I took the road going East toward Livermore .   The rest of the day was a solo Century ride.
Windmills on the hills weren't turning much--which is a good sign for the Patterson Pass climb.   Before the climb would be the great Altamont run in--a dozen miles of great road surface, virtually no traffic, windmills and other strange man made objects, and usually a tailwind.
Start of the wonderful Altamont to Patterson Pass--great road--virtually no traffic--strange scenery--tailwind pushing you up a gentle climb

My 1st and 2nd time going by the Summit Garage
Today not much of a tailwind at the start--more of a crosswind from the North.  This dampened the speed of the Altamont run in but would be beneficial on the Patterson Pass climb as any tailwind now becomes a fierce headwind on the climb.   In any event I wasn't trying to go fast--as no clubmates from the Diablo Cyclists Ansel Adam's Division I had to perfect the art of taking selfies.   If you find the selfies real crappy--blame Dr. Dave, Christine and Mike for leaving me alone with a camera.

Altamont Run In--The Valley of the Windmills
By the time I reached the end of the Altamont run in--the right turn off Altamont to Midway and its short rollers, the weather was beautiful.  No need for arm warmers or t-shirt.  I only had a 1/4 bottle left.  So instead of going right onto Patterson Pass, I went 2 miles past the start and to the stores around the highway that suddenly materializes in the middle of nowhere.  Want to be fully liquored up for the 5 1/2 mile climb.

Past the Altamont Speedway the first time I noticed a Pink Floyd sign--second time around I pulled in to check out what was going on.  Christine missed the concert.
So it was past the Altamont Speedway (is that a sign for a Pink Floyd concert?), a series of rollers among windmills, and down to the 7-11 for water, ice pop and to shed some clothes.

(above) Start of the 1st Patterson Pass climb goes by the electric grid (below) 2nd time around grid is still there to greet

The climbing is about to begin.  Hmmm-always a headwind here; today just hot with a slight breeze coming in from the right.
Back up to the start of Patterson Pass and a constant head wind coming in from the North at the start.   But as soon as the road turns West and the climbing starts the hills killed most of the crosswind--it was very breezeless and very warm.   Near the top the normal headwind picked up slightly; it was very gentle and helped cool things off on the series of 11%+ sections.   Patterson Pass was deserted--maybe two cyclists came down while I was climbing and one vehicle passed me.  
False flat with about a mile to go.  A 11% grade ends in a short downhill and then two-three more 11% sections where the headwind usually picks up.

Yep--11% grade.  I should have the speed in Kh, I would seemingly be going faster

Near the top of Patterson Pass 1st time around

The real finishing climb
Patterson Pass #1 is in the bag
Christine ("don't take kneewarmers") would be proud as I didn't put on the vest for the downhill.    Instead of taking the "shortcut" back to Altamont that Ward/ Toby and I did two years ago (some shortcut--its a series of sharp rollers), I went all the way back downhill.  This way I  could hit a gas station for more water so I wouldn't have to cycle past the Patterson Pass turnoff to stock up again.  Gas station 7-11 was empty but counter lady gave me a hard time for bringing my bike in the store--if there was an alternative nearby I just would have dumped the water and banana on the spot but unfortunately no other choices.  Feasted on the rest of my biscotti.
Start of the Altamont run in is right around the corner.   Motocross Park--huge trestle--climb up to elevated bridge for highway that is REALLY elevated and then disappears.  About 1/4 mile ahead was a cyclist so from here on in (except for another selfie or two) my photos had been taken on the 1st loop and I tried to catch him .   After the highway bridge the road becomes fast and cyclist would put some distance on me on the fast parts. I'd make up lots of ground on the fast rollers past the Summit Garage when we hit windmill-land.   I was only about 200' behind when we hit the Midway turnoff but he went straight back to the farm belt and I turned for the climb.  May have not been the wisest thing to ride so hard here but the Altamont section was seemingly over in no time.
Near the top of Patterson Pass #2--hey taking all those selfies strained my arm--hard to keep the camera straight

Climb #2 is done

Oh--you want to see another selfie from loop #2

The last climb looking down from the top of Patterson Pass.
Rollers past the speedway (yeah, I do hear "the Wall"), pass two guys in cowboy duds riding horses, two rollers and then its the right turn in to the Patterson Pass climb.  Same cross breeze at the beginning.  Just a touch more wind that in the morning, also warmer, but NO complaints.   I was only a minute slower than my morning effort and same power output (173 watts) for the half hour effort.  Surprisingly (as I'm worried about elevate cardiac creep)  my average heart rate actually was DOWN a bit.    I'm trying to sit and spin (or something akin to spinning) more on climbs--and I think I was more consistent by keeping my butt in the saddle except for brief reprieves and on the steep finishing sections.    With my moderating power at the beginning and just a gentle headwind, the final 11% sections were no problem at all. 
Of course I was not sure how to get back to Walnut Creek from the bottom of Patterson Pass.  Most of Livermore's East-West streets dead end so I weaved in and out of many of them.  Long ride on East Street--a main street I had never been on.  I wound up in downtown so eventually I was reversing the morning route.
Another 7-11 stop for iced fruit bar and water.  When I left the Garmin wasn't registering power data--oh crap, I just changed the battery a few weeks ago in the power hub.  Then I noticed my cadence was continually 50---now I have a much better spin and have been known to break 60 on occasion.  For some reason it was not reading the power meter or cadence sensor???  At least the satellite connection for speed and distance still worked, and my heart rate monitor didn't crap out.
Nice ride back to Blackhawk--road was deserted.  Usually a popular cycling route-late in the day saw no one.   As a holy day I started singing the opening lines of Patti Smith's rendition of Alan Ginberg's Holy...  "Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, The bike is holy, the powertap is holy, the helmet is holy.  Everything is holy-Paris Roubaix is holy.  Museeuw is holy....."
Hey--if I'm by myself I automatically win the sprint for the County Line
When I get back to Blackhawk and the numerous red lights a tri guy passes me on a light change.  I get on his wheel and he isn't happy--he just goes through the next solid red light.
I meet up with nicer cyclists later on--I join a couple where I get a pull from the guy for a few minutes--just enough to recharge my batteries.  Its around 5:30 and I've been riding solo for about 6 hours.   His wife starts talking with me about all the good rides in the area but they have small kids so they have a hard time getting out to ride.  She wants to do the Death Ride for the cool jersey.  I remember when I wanted to do that.
Its been a long day and maybe I should have driven to Livermore to start the ride.  Then I could have tried Patterson pass 3x and then driven home when done.   Hmmm, idea for future ride and the best dozen miles in the Bay Area, which is then followed by a wonderful climb.
Congrats to Niki Terpstra for winning Paris Roubaix--the first Dutchman since.....Servis!!!  Kudos to Bradley Wiggings for being the first tour de France champ since Greg LeMond for showing up!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mines Road-Mt Hamilton Century (2014)

(Sat, April 5, 2014) Mines Road-Mt Hamilton out and back.  With Cisco Dave.  Jack up Hammy and then continued on the Sierra Road loop.  Diablo Cyclists to the Junction Café.  94 miles, 7,770' climbing, 14.2mph.
Need to make protein+coconut biscotti for the ride.  Only took two--should have taken 4 for the ride.

This is the beginning of the greatest two weekends of cycling, with the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) starting us off.   (Of course in America you would never know it with ESPN focused on a bunch of paunchy insurance pitchmen fighting over a green jacket .)  So I wanted to do something special.  With the Diablo (Devil) Cyclist club ride scheduled to do the remote 30 mile climb up Mines Road, and then the even more desolate 13 miles of stiff rollers in the San Antonio Valley, there was a good bonus possibility.  Past the San Antonio Valley bridge starts a grueling 5 1/2 mile climb up Mt. Hamilton with grades frequently double digits.
Dave and I at the start hoisting up the colors.

The next day--a lot warmer at the start of our ride.

Though lack of clubmates, the day turned out almost perfect as Cisco Dave pulled my ass around the course.   Ten more degrees and we would have had a perfect ride.

On the @5 miles of flats to the start of the Mines Road climb.

Day started out with an underwhelming club turnout for this popular ride.  This was not the ride for anyone recovering from injury as there is almost instant climbing from the start.  There were a bunch of competing organized rides from the Santa Cruz 300 brevet to the all girls Cinderella ride nearby.  So we just had a little over a half dozen riders.  Don wanted to make the hard ride even harder so he was on a fixie.

Day started out strangely as we had to ride a half mile on the Cinderella all girl route.   I pulled out my camera to take photos of our group, and then had trouble finding my pocket with my extra long vest.  A woman came by and said "on your left"--I was still f'ing around with putting the camera away so I didn't move over much.  Lady comes by and says "I said on your left-you should move over."  She was right but I still hoped Christine or Jeanne would chase her down.  (They didn't)

Sandy got a @15 minute and @3 mile headstart to the 30 miles to the Junction Café, and it was Cisco Dave's mission to catch her.   The hard climbing is early, and early in the day I kept knocking my power below 250 watts on the climbs (how come at the end of the day I'd struggle to go reach 175??) so a bunch of us could stay together.  This worked as Christine and New Bob and I pacelined together when the climb flattened out--and eventually young Andy on the fastest looking bike in the group (deeeeep rimmed wheels suitable for billboard advertising) time trialed back to us.

The start of Mines Road offers the steepest section.


Somehow Coach Andy got Durianrider to make a short training video for us--critiquing the group up Mines Road and the next day on a recovery ride.

During the ride Christine and I laughing at an Aussie Youtube of a cyclist imparting good power meter cycling tips while being all full of himself.  Later on Cisco Dave would frequently imitate the narration and yell out "the riders are getting F-R-I-S-K-Y, getting F-R-I-S-K-Y."

Along the way we passed a couple I hadn't seen in years, Bob & Leticia, and I slowed for awhile to chat.   Bob is a well respected bike rider who helped me out when I was new to cycling and helped reorient my view of what good cyclists do. Short version of long story:

Back in 2002 I was coming off of knee surgery and could never climb hills, and my old bike club was scheduled to do the hilly Tunitas Creek loop--which had me nervous.   We were set to meet up with Bob's riding group and I was warned they were very fast.
Bob of the Three Musketeers/ Tunitas Creek area.   He and his group help me a lot when I was first starting out.

The fast riders in my old club always were trying to prove how fast they were and drop my ass.    Bob's club was from the Tunitas area--when we met up they told us there was an art show on Tunitas Creek so we couldn't go up it--and we had to do the even harder Alpine Road climb.  Oh joy.  Meanwhile it was 90+ degrees and our club president told me he was happy I showed up so he wouldn't be last on the climbs.  Can the day get any better??. 

Well, Bob's group pulled us around the fast part of the course, ameliorating the pace so everyone could stay together.  On the climbs someone from his group would wait for the last rider (I was motivated to keep ahead of our president, which I did for the first time)  or ride back down to us.   My first time on Tunitas Creek turned out to be a great ride because of Bob and his group.  I last saw him at the start of the Terrible Two's about 6 years ago.

Bob told me he retired from Doubles about a year before I did, and his old group--"the Three Muskeeteers" grew old, disbanded......We bs'd for awhile and then Bob went back for his wife and I continued on with Christine, New Bob and Young Andy.
The gentle uphill portion is about to come to an end, with two short steep climbs and long downhills to follow.

Mines Road starts out real steep, levels out to a gentle grade , and then ends with two short/ semi steep climbs that turn into long downhills (which become long uphills from the Junction café on the return trip.)  I always do crappy on the long downhills, and our QOM downhiller Christine was in our group.  So I told them I needed to take off on the uphills, which I did.  Christine caught me at the bottom of the first downhill and led me into the second uphill--yelling "take it easy."  Oh hell, I love that last sharp uphill so I went over that hard and then escaped before anyone caught me on the downhill.

The Junction Café is under new management, so no more waiting 45 minutes for a grilled cheese sandwich.  Hell, the antiquated cash register has been replaced by I-pads.   New owners real friendly and had lots of water-sports drink-bananas for cyclists as well as the heavier grub for the  huge crowd of motorcyclists.
Training table at the Junction Café.

At the Junction had some biscotti that I baked at 5:30 that morning.   By now frozen bottle of Perpetuem with shot of Hammergel mixed with coconut water were thawed out and ready to drink cold.   I started the ride with Scratch sports drink (good flavor, not very salty tasting, but low in carbs per bulk) and had Gatorade Powder as reinforcement.

Sun was out but a cool breeze--funny, I'm usually the cold wuzz but I felt fine.    Maybe I needed more calories in the low 60 degree weather, later I'd feel a little carbo deficient which almost never happens (turns out I expended 800 more calories than I ate/ drank--and I gained 2 lbs on the ride??)   Wondered how Sandy, who is relatively new to cycling, is such a speedburner on downhills--found out she rides motorcycles.   In my next life I ignore my "everything is dangerous" upbringing and get a motorcycle when I'm 18.

Like a month ago everyone begged off going any further up the road other than Cisco, Jack and myself.  I lied to Sandy--I told her it was 13 miles of rollers out to the end of the San Antonio Valley, and it  was more beautiful and desolate with less traffic than what we just rode through  The beautiful and desolate part is right--but two of the rollers are really two sharp hills at the end of a series of sharp rollers. 

Even thought I did Devil Mountain Double four times, and remember many sections well--my memory of the San Antonio Valley has faded--except for my first DMD when I raced to the Junction well, promptly fell apart, and limped along the rest of the ride.  Or when I did the ride solo and I hit the steep hill in the San Antonio Valley and thought I was on Mt. Hamilton--NO--Mt. Hamilton starts a half dozen miles away. 

Today Cisco, Jack and I started out together when two guys (one with a Go-Pro on his helmet) from the Junction who were training for DMD roared past on a flat section.  That got my and Cisco Dave's dander up and on the first uphill roller we roared past these guys and continued hard to the Bridge at the end of San Antonio Valley --though Cisco had to slow down a number of times so I could keep up.   On the way I told him I had a nutty idea.  "Turn back" he asked.  Oh no, "Mt Hamilton."  Yeah--it would be a cold downhill and maybe cold at the top but I was psyched.
Dave needs to wash dishes so he has to get his sponge that blew under the barbed wire.

At the bridge there was a van with a flat tire stuck basically in the middle of nowhere.  Its about 40-50 hilly miles in any direction to civilization.   Cisco Dave dropped a sponge out of his top tube bag, which instantly was swept across the road by a gust of wind--an empty  road suddenly filled with motorcycles and bicycles that prevent Dave from retrieving the sponge.   When the excitement settled the sponge was about 3' past a barbed wire fence--Cisco was determined to retrieve it so the stuff in his bag wouldn't rattle around.

Guys with Go-Pros came along and stopped 200' past us.  Jack trailed them.  Cisco and I waited for Jack and we all started up the climb together.  Trying to ride to power I tried keeping at 200 watts. I need to sit and spin more--sitting I can keep watts fairly constant, when I stand they yo-yo.    I've had faster Mt Hamilton climbs but this was among the most fun--never felt winded and could tackle the sudden double digit steep sections easily.   Dave cramped a little at the top which was the only time I rode ahead of him all day.

Two of me climbing the steep 5 1/2 miles up Mt. Hamilton (Cisco Dave)

Dave about to pass one of the DMD practice riders.
The top of Mt Hamilton and Observatory--suddenly it looks cold.
At the top there was a guy with a medium format (FILM!!!) camera, and I asked him not to laugh to loudly if he minded taking Cisco and my picture with my puny little digital camera.  He was more than happy to and spend some time composing the shot--when you only have a 12 roll of film every snap of the camera is valuable.  We then went to the Courtyard patio where Jack would know to find us.
Dave and I at the top of Mt. Hamilton

The Courtyard patio was in full sun and the 3 sides walls blocking any wind made it feel we were in Miami.    Cisco went inside the observatory to get water and Jack arrived, causing trouble. 

Jack always wears the DIABLO CYCLISTS Club kit--named as our backyard training ground is the great Mt. Diablo.  A lady sees this and crankily asks "do you know what Diablo is named after?," as she scowls.
PC- "Yes-the Devil, and that's a good thing"
Lady-"You think that's a good thing"
PC- "It's a VERY good thing."

I wish Ward was on the ride so he could fight with the religious nuts.
47 miles back to Livermore

Jack announces he is not going to do an out and back--he's going to do the circular Century route that will take him over Sierra Road, which is just as hard as the Mt. Hamilton Climb.   Dave and I will have a little easier time doing the out and back, as we've already done 75% of the climbing.  Dave and I are faster and we can paceline but Jack wouldn't stop for a break, so it will be interesting who gets back to the cars first.

The downhill off Mt. Hamilton SUCKS--steep with frequent turns and shallow grey pothole/ reflector ditches hidden in the grey pavement.    It was cold on the downhill and my hand started hurting from the cold and all the breaking I did.  Warmed up in the San Antonio Valley but I had a massive power/ energy lull was over the rollers back to the junction.   As noted earlier was was real hungry--something that never happens. 

Return to the much less crowded Junction Café with just a few cyclists and motorcyclists.  I scored the last yellow banana and a Diet Coke.  Had a nice chat with friendly new owners--the cyclists we talked to outside were impressed with the service at the "New" Junction Café.  Decided to keep my vest/ arm warmers off for the climb out of the Junction--which proved to be a bad (cold) decision after the climb ended but I think the briskness kept my energy up for the ride back.
Inside the Junction Café.

Climb out of the Junction was OK--Dave circled back for me a few times.  Our trip would be 94 miles and he was hoping to get 6 bonus miles for an OFFICIAL century ride.  On the long downhill we had a mild headwind--Dave did about 80% of the pulling.  We were going rapidly--the huge mile markers painted on the ground (so they can be seen by helicopter in emergency) rapidly flashed by.  There is a long but shallow uphill roller on the way back and I told Dave I'd lead him into it.  I did and then Dave just went flying up the roller at mile 80-90.
Artwork on Mines Road

At the bottom Dave wanted to do Del Valle--to get his 100 miles, but I just wanted to get back to the car and get warm inside.   Heck--forecast is for 80 degrees in two day but today we were lucky when it was 60 degrees.

Kind of depressing about the "theme" for this years Ronde van Vlaanderen.  The two best riders of the Belgium Classics in the last decade are Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellera.    Much of the writing about the race is how the younger generation is now nipping at their heels and its time for the "new" guard.  Shit--Boonen and Cancellera are....33 year olds.  My riding buddies and I are ancient.

**Calorie note--I ate @2430 calories and 535 carbs for the 7 hours of actual riding time.  Garmin said I used 3524 calories.  

**A great article in Velonews about Fabian Cancellera, the best cyclist of the last 5 years.   Though the best his sprint was weak so in the offseason he spent time training his weakness.  We could all learn from that--maybe I should learn to sit and spin...