Saturday, March 7, 2009

MINES ROAD DOUBLE METRIC CENTURY (Walnut Creek to the Junction)

(March 7, 2009) 120 miles, w/ Ward, Jack, Don, Brian, Cris, Tom & Dr. Dave on Recumbents. Joined by Paul, Beth, June 10 miles in and about two dozen Diablo Cyclists 30 miles in. @6000', 15.7 *184 rating*

"Sometimes Things Just Don't Go Exactly As Planned"-Paul Sherwin

Highly anticipated ride that went off very strangely.

Started off with me thinking ride started at 7:30--luckily I always get to starts early so I can leisurely get ready. Got at a call at 7:00--"where am I. Oops, blew the start time. Nice group waited for me in the freezing cold and we finally lifted off at 7:15.

We had a good working group from Walnut Creek to Livermore--as Ward later noted we weren't dead at the end as there wasn't any nonsense (aka NY lingo "no fuckin around")--no attacks and counterattacks to kill time. With Steve B. retired no one pushing the pace if we all started bsing. It was overcast, dreary and it felt much colder than the supposed 55 degrees. Cursed that I decided not to bring toe covers. I had trouble getting warm all day. Pace was moderate--only time pace quickened was when two tall tri guys raced past and Ward sprinted up to catch them on a fast part (slight downhill) of the course while few people remarked that I showed restraint. Restraint went out the window when we hit a slow portion (slight uphill) portion of the course and I led a charge past the tri guys--most of our Club sped past. Later, on a straight portion the tri guys passed again and a few of us jumped and hung on their wheel, Paul was disappointed when they turned off before the next climb so he still led a charge over it.

Thanks to my not being able to tell time we got to Livermore at 9:15 to hook up with our compatriots--we were supposed to get there at 9:00 but most folks were still in the bsing stage. Meanwhile a few of us went to whizz--no bathrooms so a secluded spot in the community garden had to do. Thought we were busted when a cop soon stopped Ward, but only to admonish us not to ride the wrong way on the sidewalk.

Two dozen cyclists set to leave when someone realizes that Don/ Brian not there--Don had a flat down the road. They hurriedly pull in and we're off in waves. At one point I'm pulling the paceline and when I rotate back and spot a gap in the line I set to pullin and see someone sprinting like crazy filling the space. What. It's Brian's Brother, Craig, the Patron Saint of Beginning Cyclists. He's out of breath but wanted to tell someone in the front group that Don had another flat. I circle back and we spend a long time inspecting Don's tire for the cause of the problems--by the time we're set to go we have little chance to catch anyone but the slowest rides on the 28 mile, mostly gentle climb with some short but notable parts , rural Mines Road. Devil Mountain Double (one of the two hardest) is in 6 weeks and this is one of the many climbs on the course, Don and I are still on the fence but I'm a little further off it and ready to send in an appy than Don.

Don/I/Brian mostly stay together as the larger front group did. A few large houses to the side, otherwise very rustic in the valley with a stream off to the side running full force due to recent rains. Minimal traffic but always annoying when a rice rocket shoots by on the curvy unstripped portions and the driver leans so far over he almost winds up in ones lap. Got wet going through the proverbial 2nd runoff puddle that covers the road with 3-6" of water. Unfortunately even though 80% of the ride is a climb, and the sun finally came out, a chill was always in the air.

The Junction usually has a nice warm garden spot next to the "Cafe" which you share with smoking motorcyclists, but today a non stay inducing chill was in the air. Most of the pelaton had been at the Junction for a half hour and ready to go, and did while I was jamming down a home made pbj sandwich. Damn--if I carried it I'm gonna eat it. Of the first group, Ward waited for me while Don and Brian looked like they'd stay for just a few more minutes. The hardest hill on the ride is the climb out of the Junction before starting the 20+ mile downhill. As the pelaton had left 10+ minutes before us the only hope we had was to catch the recumbents, when we didn't see them and we hit the downhill section we knew we wouldn't catch anyone. When we hit the first "lake" on the road, and not wanting a wet butt gingerly rode through it this time, we decided to wait for Don and Brian. Nice picturesque place, not a building in sight on a desolate country road--with a car passing by every few minutes a creating a big splash as it went through the water. Sunny out but a real chill in the air. Hands and toes weren't frozen like the morning but you just felt the chill. After 10 minutes Ward tried calling--no phone service. After 20 minutes the lost boys showed up, they had waited for the last two people before setting out.

Sow another 30 minutes behind the pelaton. It stayed chilled for about half the descent but a few funny things happened near the bottom. The grade kicks up for the last 5-6 miles and I used to be scared of this descent but now handled it real well. And I was having such a good time on the descent that I didn't notice that it had warmed up nicely. Now full of energy took a long pull back to the library, where the pelaton was probably wondering how I got lost this time.

The 120 milers + June and Beth started back and we kept together nicely. There are some rollers and we had a nice rotation worked out with Dave and Tom on their recumbents--someone on a normal bike would lead the charge up an incline and one of them would shoot to the front as soon as the road leveled off or started going downhill. Cris was hammering this part--when I commented that she was no ready for the Cinderella (goofy beginner women's only century ride,) she laughed but might have been ready to throw something at me.

The pace back was high; we kept losing 1-2 riders so we had a few extra regroups, but now they were in full sun and some heat which was nice. The "Postal Situation" (attack by an unknown rider) never materialized down Danville Blvd; though at mile 117 we all worked for recumbent Dr. Dave to catch recumbent upstart Tom when he tried a breakaway.

Great group ride to and from Walnut Creek to Livermore and back. For the Mines Road part I had a Paris Roubaix moment--Servais Knaven chasing the pelaton with Freddie Rodriguez and Hans DeClerq and falling further away from the action.

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