Monday, August 30, 2010

Garden & Giants & Finally the Top of the Muir De Crockett

Odds and ends (or odds and odds) A few posts ago I whined how summer never arrived for good in the San Francisco Bay Area. Well, Tuesday and Wednesday we finally got back to back days of 100 degrees--PERFECT for riding down Mt. Diablo without lugging up numerous layers of extra clothes. One little problem


which closed Mt. Diablo for the week. And so it goes.
On the gardening front...which has been neglected due to cycling...
Redwood box had been filled with burnt out horsetail rush--can't get enough water. Pulled out and azaleas/ camillas put in. Burma cast statue by David Jaap who does a great job running aid/ supplies and education for the poor over there.

Trim back hedges that were growing over the bbq area--at least they are alive despite neglect.
Lots of dead plants next to walk under Raywood Ash/ Cork Oak trees. I vowed not to plant anything new and was looking for statuary and pots--what do you know--when I pulled up the dead stuff (drip line clogged) I had a bunch of ceramic pots. OK--new drip line and 1 gallon shrubs.

Far corner of yard was supposed to be veggie garden but I'm too lazy to go downstairs and walk to the back when I needed something. Lots of weeds and crap were growing out of them. Weeded area. Don't know what to put in Half Barrel's, just threw some sunflower seeds in for now--hopefully they'll come up in a couple of weeks.
Giant weed had grown in the center/ rear of yard--and set out bamboo like stalks before dying back--sawzall is great.

My wife points out that after neglecting the yard for 3 years (probably more like 5) I've done my usual maniac thing and did a few years of yard work in one month--probably a result of seeing my brother in law and neighbors yard last month--though the deck is stacked as they all have gardeners. Straight back from the fountain was a 30' weed clump that had died years ago with thick stalks--it was one of the many things I sawzalled out (I have a huge pile ready to fill up the green can on the bi-weekly recycling pickup, that may go on until New Years.) I patched up the drip line and planted a few 1 gallon plants in containers that had been holding dead stuff, and I remembered my promise to put more statuary in the yard, as I can't kill statuary, with the latest addition being the carbon fibre fu dog to the right of the fountain.

Chicken rooster finally gone, not before I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper after they ran an article about how Antioch Animal Control is underfunded and split from the County years ago--my letter cc'd to the city council--Antioch Animal Control is USELESS.

Meanwhile Jessie came home and we finally hit another Giants game--the last one being the evening before Donna flew back when her mom went into intensive care. Giants going down the toilet quickly--last season fans expected 75 wins so 86 was positive--this year they expected 90 so 86 will be a disappointment. Starting pitching, after losing so many 3-2 games at the beginning of the season, are now getting shelled in 9-7 losses. Earlier in the week the Giants had pounded first place Cincinnati in 2 games and a sweep would have been a big accomplishment. In the final game they got behind 1-10 and then CAME BACK to lead 11-10 in the last inning. In a pennant winning year this would be a game that would become a legend, alas the Giants lost the game in the final inning 11-12. The announcers played it up as a great comeback but this team is very short on magic, regardless of what their ad campaign pimps out.

Thing weird about the game was that it honored (complete with bobblehead) hated Yankee Joe DiMaggio. When I was growing up whitebread Yankee fans would whine away that Mickey Mantle was better than Willie Mays. When it was clearly shown how absurd that position was the Yankee crowd would suddenly flip the argument and say "Well, forget about Mantle, DiMaggio was better than Mays!" So DiMaggio was never a favorite of mine, and strange the Giants honoring him. Well, if they honor Jackie Robinson who went out of his way to hate the Giants and put down Willie Mays, anything is possible. One day the DNC may honor Sarah Palin.
Two who flunked Camp Panda weight reduction training. Hopefully Pablo will work harder in the offseason.

Donnie cracks up when I say "Lets Go Giants" in the 9th inning. I'm not that funny.
*** Jessie with her first ballpark beer--though I didn't raise her well as its a Bud Light.

Giants were blown out but good time at the game. We sat in Row 41--last row of lower deck but behind us was back of food booths so seats were warm, and could stand without blocking anyone. One guy spent 7 innings yelling "LETS GO GIANTS" and clapping at the top of his lungs, finally woman in front of him asked him nicely to tone it down--and he stops. We're 6 seats away but Donna relieved--it sounded like guy was next to her. So we get to 9th inning, 1 out, and I yell "LETS GO GIANTS" to start uo the guy, Donna doubles over laughing. Meanwhile Jessie proud that she bought her own ball park beer--until a peanut shell flys into the cup and she's done drinking for the night.

I signed up for my first and only "Double" of the year--Knoxville, though afraid to sign up in this year of everything going down the toilet. We did the Crockett Loop and I again attempted the Muir De Crockett with the steep 1/2 block turn which I could never do. (If the Mt. Diablo ramp is 17-18% the straight 3-4 block part of the Muir De Crockett must be 19-20% and the 1/2 block turn must be 21-25%.) I FINALLY DID IT--YIPPIE!! After the turn almost fell over half way up so stomping on the pedals even harder to make it was a survival technique.

Two photos from last year when I first stalled on "the turn"--come up 2nd street wall and a steeper wall lurks beyond the turn.

Looking back at the final 1/2 block--its so steep you can't see 2nd Avenue or the intersection we turned on.

Great view of the old Crockett Bridge and the new Frank Zappa Bridge. Now how the hell do I get down.

Jack, Ward, Don and Brian come around a turn on a road closed to cars because of major disrepair.

Later Ward and I do bonus miles on "de Bears"--never saw this fence topped with shells on the approach to the Bears--the shells are actually white--but somehow I got a vision of Jason Hockey Masks...
Postscript-It was finally 100 on a club Wednesday night Mt. Diablo time trial--which goes 6 1/2 miles, half way up the mountain. Well, it was 95 but that is as good as it will get. My chance to beat the racers who have been zooming up ahead of me all year--a group of nice guys who are 20 years younger and incredibly fast. On most Wednesdays I'll usually pick up the slowest one while 2-3 finish ahead of me. On the last Wednesday the two best climbers showed up and they set an incredible pace. I was behind by 100' when we started the steep climb to the 1000' level--I went as hard as I could up it, passed them and hit the 1000' sign at 14:30. I can't go any faster. From then on I thought they were on my ass, and I hit the steeper hairpins as hard as I could. I was slowed in the heat but usually everyone else is slowed down more. I pulled into the junction, threw Christine some reflective tape, and continued to the summit-half dead. Christine later told me that I got there about a minute ahead of the two chasing racers. It felt good and I guarantee with cooler weather coming in I wouldn't be close to them the rest of the year. It was worth $1,000,000,000 riding down with no need for a vest or arm warmers.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fun Interval of the Year

Cisco Dave, County Line Chris, Dr. Dave, Stephen, Ward and I going up a gentle but longish climb, Pinehurst Road-Redwood Road, towards the Oakland Hills. Stephen used to race for all county lines but he, Ward and I had a truce since early spring when we were getting too competitive. Last week Christine went for a county line herself, celebrated excessively, and new rider Cisco Dave dubbed her "County Line Chris." I'd go for county line signs just to give Stephen a workout, but usually I ignore them and get motivated when an unfriendly rider passes or we see another rider moving at a good pace up ahead and try to catch.

Sooooo, yesterday we start up Pinehurst and there is a county line somewhere; Stephen probably knows the exact spot. We are all riding in a pace and all of a sudden I see a rider about 500' ahead (and a slower rider off the back) so I turn on the gas. I soon get away from our group, good climbers all, and pass the rider off the back, female, so I assume she's riding with the guy setting a nice pace ahead. Supposedly I passed the county line first ??, but aim was to reach the rider up ahead before we reached the top. A fun interval.

Get closer and rider ahead is a thin woman, riding a nice looking Merckx bike, who I reach and pull in behind. Dr. Dave, Cisco Dave and Stephen soon join and everyone says something innocuous--I think I said something like "nice pace, and nice Merckx bike--the bike of Domo Farm Frites." Finally woman turns around and says slowly in a real nice voice....

Sorry no photo of coed, but Ward Industries Photo Spy Satellite is on the blink, needs to be retrofitted as it couldn't take the stress loads and has to add lateral bracing. Ad for Limar Helmets will have to stand in.

"If I knew we were racing I would have given you guys a workout"

Thursday, August 19, 2010


(April 21, 2010) Calaveras Century, start w/ Diablo Cyclists, w. Jack, Ward, Christina, Dr. Dave, Cisco Dave, 101 miles, @17 mph

Besides injury and family death, the summer had been real cold. Baseball season has been interesting.

Orioles wear their Pumpkincycle throwback uniforms (AP) SUMMERTIME driving from East to Central County for a Diablo cyclist ride. Fog hanging over the usually sunny Central County whereas it looks like the San Francisco sunset district in the morning.
Fog will usually clear by afternoon, but while it gets warm it is rarely hot. Here the Orioles team train comes in to Sunol. (wardophoto)
Usually have a casual ride up Mt. Diablo on Tuesday with Ward, and the Diablo Cyclist balls out ride on Wednesday--now frequented by too many young racers who are too fast (but great training trying to keep up to the Junction.) Unless in training I try NEVER to go to the top unless it is 83 degrees at the bottom (as to will be -20 less, and with wind chill it will almost feel -30.) In past years, in the Summer it was almost always 83 degrees, with half the time 90+. This year....well, last week it was 77 on Tuesday and 70! on Wednesday, this week was 82 both days. Dr. Dave, Ward and I had a nice ride going to the junction until Ward subliminally instructed me to chase someone who had passed us--Big Jim, who likes this lousy weather, waiting for us at the Junction after he came up the other side.

Donna getting back on the bike, she meets up with Tea Party Mary and other friends to start the ride where the Diablo Cyclist ride would start.
We had a fast ride to Pleasanton with little climbing--Dr. Dave kept getting the bent off the front and some of the motivated riders would dig in and try to stay with him. It was cloudy, with a cold cross wind, and I was definitely unmotivated.
Loads of cyclists out--we passed a huge group of the House of Pain ride as they waited to regroup at a turnaround and on Calavares we passed a big group of Oakland Yellowjackets. Cisco Dave got excited when he saw some riders wearing a Cisco kit.

Ward would make all the flat breaks with Dr. Dave, and Christine and Cisco Dave hammered Calaveras both ways--with Christine almost penalized 15 yards for excessive celebrating after she Thor'd (celebrate after being only person to sprint) the County Line sign.
Meanwhile the we'd have a tailwind for 500 feet, a sudden cross wind for 1000 feet, and then a block headwind (repeat, repeat, repeat)

Jack gets a flat on rustic Highland-Collier Canyon run in--Ward and Steve offer technical assistance. Luckily one spot it was sunny and sheltered from the wind. A windswept, flat ride to Sunol, the bonus mile group continued onto Calaveras.
Last week Christine got a flat on an aero rim, and only had a tube with a short stem that couldn't be pumped up. She proclaimed that "she likes guys with long stems."
Christine didn't take a position on "guys cycling with bluetooths." Ward liked this so much he grabbed the camera and took a series of em'. (Ward-o-photo)

At the end of Calaveras we went down "The Wall" to do the short but very steep reclimb. Christina coming up "The Wall."

Ward doing the bonus "Wall" climb. I wound up doing the Wall twice.
Tomorrow is The Tour of Napa Valley, the quintessential crowded clustefuck ride that eventually brings all routes together on a narrow shoulder passed by cars darting from winery to winery; while slower riders ride 3 across and block the road shoulder. After what happened in Santa Rosa I had no interest in this--hopefully Stephen will run one of his great Napa rides for the club soon, I already have on the books our self supported ORIGINAL Sierra Century.

Monday, August 9, 2010

NYC (2001)

One of the 2 stops to New York--early morning in DC.

Booking flight for the funeral was a clusterfuck; of course United had no record of the credit from our cancelled tickets earl;y last month when Donna's mom wound up in intensive care and we cancelled trip to New York. And bereavement discount is a joke (@$75 off.) Faire on US Air wound up costing almost 2x as much as my daughter's flying out of LAX while I was leaving from Oakland--and she had 1 stop each way and I had 2. (Also paid $10-15 more each connection to get a CHOICE seat, which just meant not sitting in the middle seat.) Later, when my flight back home was delayed and I raced from LaGuardia to Newark to get on the last plane of the day, that every flight now is 10% overbooked. The beauty of air travel.
I've been back to NYC once in the last 20 years--forget if this is the Whitestone or Throgs Neck. To college I went over one of these bridges daily. I thought dats Da Bronx in the background, Dr. Dave indicates its really Long Island.

The two most important landmarks in New York when I was growing up were Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium (NEVER saw the hallowed Polo Grounds as when I was a kid train upstate passed under a bluff so Polo Grounds were hidden and it was torn down by time I was a teen) Ironically, landed near where Shea used to be and trip to upstate passes by Yankee Stadium--both stadiums were replaced by newer versions in the last couple of years.
Arrival started off with a bang. Car that was supposed to pick up daughter/ me at airport was no where to be found and driver/ company could barely speak English. When finally spotted guy waving cell phone 6 islands over, cab almost mowed us down in the crosswalk which had me slam my hand into its side. Driver then had no idea where Donna's aunt lived--who had hired them.
Driving follies continued the next day when limo service got lost going to the cemetery.
Luckily found someone who could drive when I was going home and flight at LaGuardia (Queens) was delayed and I couldn't make connecting flights, so US Air sent me to Newark (New Jersey.) Only problem is that in a direct line Manhattan lays in the middle, and car driver told me we'd never make it if he had to try to get thru Manhattan and the tunnel's, we'd need to circumnavigate Manhattan, which we did, but had good conversation with older Spanish gentleman and he got me to Newark beautifully.
New York City was MUCH cleaner than I had ever seen it, and I was shocked at the "$350 fine for honking" signs all around--as honking while driving was ingrained in NY'ers when I was growing up. Maybe next year I'll have to go back for a real visit--I still have my walking tour plans from last month.
Hudson sure gets rustic just a half hour North of New York City.

Something you don't see alot of in California--brick and stone structures are everywhere.
In the last week Donna was at hopsital when her mom was taken off of life support, and then there were problems flying the body up to New York--though burial arrangements were supposely all prearranged and prepaid (not nearly all). Funeral was hard on Donna but after the last few months of false hopes and scrambling every time things took a downturn, she handled everything well. Having our daughters around sure helped, along with brother-in-law putting everyone up and was great host in a trying time.

Large backyard near my brother-in-law has some interesting things in the front yard.

Quiet time with Donna with her brother a few days after funeral and after the well wishers left.

Cute dog that added needed levity to the stay at brother-in-laws house.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Triple Crown-2010

I got all my registrations in/ motel rooms booked in Early Spring, and this was going to be a great cycling year. Wouldn't do 6 doubles like last year, but trained hard to survive the Alta Alpina 8 (Death Ride + 50%), and planned to continue to train hard so again could do real well in the Mt Tam Double.

Soooo, how many things did I have to cancel this year:

1- Alta Alpina 8 after breaking shoulder blade.
2- Davis Double due to same accident.
3-Anniversary trip with wife cycling around Crater Lake due to same accident.

4-We then rebooked to go vacationing/ catch baseball/ go to Cooperstown. This trip didn't get off the ground as wife's mom went into intensive care.

5-Now mother-in-law passed on and its a funeral instead of the Mt. Tam Double.

As someone who usually focuses on end results, thus has been a real shitty year (and quadrupled for my wife.) But squeezed in between all the cycling events that went down the toilet were great self supported century rides, usually with other Diablo Cyclists--but all the "training" all for naught. Or did it?

After being spent trying to get a last minute airflight back East without 7 connections/ leaving at lousy times/ and selling a car to pay for the flight/ (getting all three are impossible) I vegetated today. Read a quirky book "Miracle Ball," written in the Hunter Thompson author directly puts himself in the story style; it involves the author's search for the Bobby Thompson 1951 home run ball as mental therapy. An interesting search unfolds--and unfolds--and unfolds, and ultimately leads to NO BALL. But though finding the ball was the aim of the author, the strange events regarding what happened to it are flushed out. In the end its NOT the ultimate result of finding the ball that is important--but the journey is.

Quick reflection. Yeah, I'd have loved doing Alta Alipina 8(I think), and Mt Tam Double--but as Paul Sherwin says "sometimes things don't go as planned. " And in the end, its good to have wacky goals as motivation for the training, but the training rides, the journey, are important in themselves.From one of our Mt. Tam self supported century rides along the Mt. Tam Double Route. I would had probably been real happy dropping down to Alpine Lake (above-1st photo) where the "real" climb up Mt. Tam then begins. (above-2nd photo) But though I like the Mt Tam ride, a part I dislike is when we drop down off the top and into the fog bank below. Then (below) coming off the Big Rock climb there is a nice finishing straightaway to the Mt Tam Double--but usually I'm going too hard to look around and have NEVER spotted the yard with the Indian Statuary until the last ride---you miss somethings when just focusing on the end game and not the journey.