Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mt. Diablo Recap-Put off another Year of Aging-2009

Unfortunately one of the great standard rides just ended--riding up Mt. Diablo after work. I did it almost every Tuesday and Wednesday during daylight savings time. On Tuesday Ward and I loosened up bs'ing (one quote of the year, we passed a rider and he said "how can you guys talk and go so fast.") and on Wednesday the Diablo Cyclists time trial to the Junction. On Wednesday usually cut off 6-8 minutes from the day before, continue up to the top if it was warm or if there was a need to train for an event. We'd return down the "easy" South Side to paceline back through Danville and Walnut Creek, creating a loop that made the ride longer. Diablo Cyclists going up on Wednesday catching riders who started before us. Local cyclocross camp Mark probably is already at the Junction reading a newspaper. (Diablo Scott photo) After Diablo Cyclists pass Diablo Scott en masse, he takes photo and has a great caption on his blog "And in an instant my passed-em : passed-me ratio goes down the crapper."

On weekends the road is congested with cars going up and down and yahoos trying to pass on blind turns, but during the week Mt. Diablo is quiet--almost one big bicycle path going up. Early and late in the season with the sun setting early, we go 2/3rds up to the Junction; (from North Gate-the "Hard Side") 6.55 miles and 2,159' climbing. Later on, we continue on to the top which makes the climb 11.19 miles and 3,849'. Though the extension is shorter the road gets steeper so it almost doubles riding time. The last section to the top-the ramp--is 16-19%, and the rule is we have to do it twice. Going down the South side and looping back from the Junction gives us almost a 30 mile ride, from the top almost 40.
Diablo Scott took this great photo of the ending ramp last year. Unless we have a doctor's note, we have to do it twice.

As the club wimp I usually refuse to go to the top unless it is 83 or over at the base. It is freezing when going down when it is cooler. Conversely, I may be the only person enjoying the climb when it is 95 degrees+ and descending in just a sleeveless vest is priceless. But as I trained for the early Devil Mountain Double this year it meant going up Mt. Diablo when it was still cold--the lowlight may have been descending Mt. Diablo when it was in the mid 30's. F.

Interesting year, with an ebb and flow of people rounding into form different times of the year. Like every year local cyclocross champ Mark always takes off and gets to the Junction at 30m; beneficial to me when new people try to chase Mark, riding the heaviest bike, and then blow up down the road. Otherwise, this year joined by many fast climbers. Early on I'd drop James on the steep sections but he'd use his sprint (he almost hit 40 mph on the blvd) to roar past me when the road leveled off within 200 feet of the junction—damn. We also had to put up with young mountain bike racer Justin zooming by while complaining that he was out of shape.

In the spring I'd be dropped if I hit the 1000' sign at 15:05—by the end of the summer I di get there at13:40. Drew and Specialized Dave much faster than me, but when it got hot they suffered more than I did and I was able to get by them. Near the end of the summer a new person, Chris, showed up, and if I worked hard to drop Drew on a hot day Chris would go by. The best times were tangling with Dr. Dave when he got off the recumbent and onto a regular bike—I'd have to get far away on the steep sections as he'd easily spin by me when the road started to level off.

(above) Ward finishing the ramp the second time. (below) I'm at the top with the San Ramon Valley behind me.I've become a better descender the last couple of years (well, I couldn't have gotten any worse) but was getting slower and slower on the climbs. Five years ago, when the Death Ride and other unknown rides "scared" me, it was incentive not to eat and to go balls out on every climb--and lost this motivation over time. But the good news is that after breaking 36:00 to the Junction only 2 times from 2006-08 I did it 6 times this year and after breaking 70:00 to the top last in 2005 I did it again in 2009.

Breaking 36:00 to the Junction (from North Gate)

2003 (3x, fastest 33:13), 2004 (1x, 33:51), 2005 (1x 35:50), 2006 (0x 36:34), 2007 (0x, 36:08), 2008 (2x, 35:37), 2009 (6x, 34:39)*

Yea!, I hadn't seen anything in the 34:00's until this year since 2004.

Breaking 70:00 to the Top (from North Gate)

2003 (2x, fastest 66:25), 2004 (1x, 67:55), 2005 (1x, 69:25), 2006 (0x, 75:52), 2007 (0x 70:49), 2008 (0x, 72:52), 2009 (1x, 69:01)**

*In mid summer there is a race up the North (Hard) side to a point about 1 1/2 minutes short of the Junction. Taking my best time (33:09) I would have come in 20th of 60 35+ Cat 4/5, 18th of 34 45+ open, and 115th of 237 men combined.

An interesting toy is the Bicycle Power Calculator. Figuring a 35:00 time up the 5.35% climb to the Junction, I estimate that I can put out 255 watts.

**In the fall there is a race up the South (Easy) side to the top. Estimating it takes 5 minutes less to ride up the South side than the North, with my best time (@64:01) I would have finished 263rd of 896 total riders (which includes some unicyclists.) I never do this race--I figure my race up Mt. Diablo is the Devil Mountain Double, which afterwards has 180 bonus miles thrown in.

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