Sunday, March 13, 2011

OPENING DAY 2011--Mines Road

(March 12, 2011) Walnut Creek to Mines Road Junction, 120 miles. w/ Jack, Jeanie, Tom. Dr. Dave, Stephen, Christine joined on the return trip. 16.1 mph

The Diablo Cyclists ride up Mines Road is opening day of the long distance cycling season. Even during my great trip w/ CA Mike around Hawaii, it felt weird missing this traditional start of the cycling season. The bonus mile group starts 2 hours early and 30 miles of flats/ rollers away from the base of Mines Road; we meet the Diablo Cyclists for the long but gentle 30 mile up (1900' elevation gain) and 30 mile back down Mines Road, and then the 30 mile trip back to Walnut Creek.

Unfortunately my "posse" wasn't going to be on hand at the start. Christine, Dr. Dave and Ward all coming off the injured reserved list so they'd start in Livermore. CA Mike off doing his 300th brevet of the year (or maybe its his 6th 300k brevet of the year). So apart from Jack it was a crapshoot who would be at the Walnut Creek start. I pulled in 6:50 and was the first person for the 7:00 start. Then five minutes later two new guys showed up saying Christine told them she'd be on the ride--bad news, 1) she's not starting here and 2) you have 5 minutes to get ready. I pictured getting lost dragging these guys along when luckily Jack and Tom cycled in--Tom is a well respected rider who used to do doubles and now he's getting back into long distance riding; he and Jack are as steady as they come. Ironically Tom is on a Litespeed with tri-bars, last person on a Litespeed w/ tri bars on this ride was Uncle Steve who'd attack and attack and hammer the flats like crazy all day; a few years ago he and I just started the day attacking and counterattcking each other. Today Tom just kept us in a paceline (we were pulling around the newbies), Jeanie joined us a few miles out.
What--no going downhill past the fire station and having to go balls out when Dr. Dave on the 'bent or the fn tandem flys by; what--no sprinting for the end of the Trees, which is done on each ride. In an organized paceline with very little wind I felt like I just got started when we coasted into Livermore.
Opening day--the President is at hand throw out the first pitch and Dr. Dave getting inpatient with Jack for dawdling at the rest stop.
Rolled into Livermore about 8:55--great first view of fountain fronting some restored buildings. Some years there is soap bubbles sudzing up, some years the water is dyed green (St. Patty Day.) I always wanted a picture of the fountain mid morning so I pulled off and took a few--then to my surprise parking lot was jammed with Diablo Cyclists--another great turnout for this popular ride. I figured that with such a large crowd the ride would start a 9:15--so I went over to the secret organic garden to see how the plants were doing and get water--when I returned the pelaton had left and was down the road.
I scurried to catch back on and looped around the back of the group that was busily bs'ing--the riders who'd have some urgency getting to the Junction had massed at the front. So unfortunately didn't see many people who were on the ride--just spotted the Ward-Dave-Christine-Colin group near the front and slipped in with them.
After a few miles of flat road Mines Road goes up san any intersections for 30 miles. Except for the occasional speeding motorcycle very desolate where the center line goes in and out. Hard to believe you are in the populated Bay Area.
Route "Highlights" are"
1. First @5 miles of the climb are the hardest, my guess 5-6%
2. Next 20 miles probably 1-2% with an occasional kick of 3%. Goal after the climb is to regroup and paceline this portion EXCEPT through the 2 stream/ puddles that are always running across the road--last one close to the County Line.
3. Last @5 miles after the County line varied and technical--attention getting uphill rollers leading to a 1/2 mile 6-7% climb, and a similar downhill. Then a short, 1/4 mile 8-9% climb with a longer curvy downhill that is too long for my liking--ending with a tiny bump uphill--fire station and then Junction Cafe. Mt. Hamilton "the hard way" is beyond.
Plan is to help one of my compatriots get to the downhill section (where I'd lose time) before anyone else, but no annoying person on ride we really want to drop today.
Colin, Dr. Dave, Matt and I go over the initial hard climb together--we all did the brevet together last week. Dave notes that my "64 bracket" (no not NCAA--best 64 rock songs of all time)--only has 1 song written in the last 20 years. Christine (Junction winner in 2009) a little off the pace, no sight of Ward who had the worst injuries of the group. Matt hasn't ridden with us much; when the rest of us slow so Christine can hook on Matt keeps driving so we just get on his wheel. We're zooming past alot of cycling groups that are on Mines Road.
We get to (guess) mile marker 12 and hear Christine hooking back on--but as soon as she does Colin yells "Postal." A racer on a tri bar setup shoots ahead of us. I get on his wheel, someone gets on mine (I thought Colin but it was Matt.)
Tri-guy was real steady and was calling out hazards (some falling rocks.) but he was hammering. We were on a flat part and I was getting killed, I figured I just had to hang on until the road went up a little and tri-guy would slow more than me and I could recover. WRONG. He may have slowed but not enough for me to recover. This nonsense went on for 4 1/2 miles, I hung on for dear life until miles 16 1/2 marker where I dropped off and Matt hung on for another 1/2 mile.
In fact when I dropped off a Diablo Cyclist rider/ vest up ahead on an UGLY GOLD & GREEN bike, but I was so f'd up I needed a minute to recover and then I recognized and joined Rusty; one of the funniest guys on a bike, and one of the great downhill bike handlers. He had left a little before everyone else at the start. After Rusty assured me he wouldn't attack on the ending downhill I rode and bs'd with him--another person I know who says they now feel old. Fuck. He's been off the bike all winter--been cross country skiing (probably training for a biathlon where he can take out some Lake Tahoe bears.) Caught back to Matt and while we were all bsing Colin and Dr. Dave joined in. OK--good group to come in together. MMMM, no.
Get close to county line--before the hills become serious, and tri guy had pulled off to turn around. I'd like to think that if I knew he was going to stop at the county line, @8 miles short of the Junction, I would have hung on his wheel, but best thing was that I dropped off so I could recover. Uphill, county line in sight, slow so Matt can go past it first as he hung on tri guys wheel the longest when Colin and Dr. Dave do a mad dash past us. This gets my dander up so I go hard up the rest of the hill--hit a flat section and Matt luckily joins me so we can get away from Colin and whoever he brings up. Matt and I go over the next section together--saving grace is he doesn't like downhills anymore than I do. After downhill we get to short but steep climb which I love, I go max effort so Colin, Dr. Dave or Rusty don't catch on the long downhill. Downhill seemed to take forever to complete but up the ending hill and 1st to the Junction BABY!!!!
At the Junction, Christine trying to pass out Soilent Green, I mean Perpetuem Chalk Tablets.
Dr. Dave practicing making animal hand shadows for his class.

Relaxing at the Junction, most of the club will arrive 15 minutes after our lead group. Its sunny and warm so the bonus rest stop time is great.

Rusty and Jim--two of the strongmen of the pelaton.

Pulled Pork and Buffalo Burgers--the specials of the day at the Junction Cafe.

I love the trip getting to the Junction-all uphill with some steep pitches at the end--a nice slow course. So of course the trip back is on a nice fast course which I don't like. usually takes max effort to hang with the speedy return pelaton and I'll get sawed off on the ending portion when the downhill becomes steep.
We had a few of the strong riders--Colin, Ward, Stephen, in our return group but for once everyone was taking it easy, and the reduced speed made it easy to hang with until the end. Well, everyone was taking it easy until we came back to the County Line--there a mad dash ensured--except for Stephen who usually takes it out and me--after all after BEING 1st TO THE JUNCTION I don't have to participate in mundane sprints to the County line. (I think this is going to my head.)

Our group on the return trip; June wanted to get in the photo so she flashed by when the photo was taken.

Colin, Christine, Ward at regroup at base of Mines Road.

At base of Mines Road a few of us ride back about a mile to wait for other riders coming down. Tom and Jack from our bonus mile group arrive so I turn around but do it after everyone else and suddenly everyone is down the road. I put in a big dig to catch up and now I'm wound up--Christine dropped off the back to help me regroup but my dander is up and I shoot by the front. Colin--our fastest rider--catches me and we just hammer and hammer the few miles of flat road doing a two man. I'm trying my best to kill myself before the 30 mile return trip.
Get water at the Livermore Library where a big welcome crowd is in front. No not for us--it is very cool--they have a sister city program with Japan and families are housing some school aged kids. Also cool--Dr. Dave, Stephen and Christine will join our bonus mile group back to Walnut Creek (somewhere we lost the two new guys from this AM who got car rides back.) Our group has 4 different Diablo Cyclist color jerseys on the ride back.
Wind had picked up a little so extra bonus mile riders appreciated. Stephen, who is probably the fastest person in our group did a great job keeping the pace down so everyone could stay together. On one fast section Dr. Dave forgot he wasn't on the recumbent and still took the lead hammering away.
Last bit of fun was on Diablo Blvd, close to Walnut Creek. We had 115 miles in when a guy with legs like tree trunks came by--Dave has seen him on racer training rides. I jump on his wheel for the sprint point at the end of the road but I have to no chance in hell. About 500' to go and Stephen shoots by, racer looks back at me as if I'm going to try chasing "no buddy--I'm just marking you now." Sprinter/ racer jumps up--pulls away from me but to late- down the road Stephen flashes past the Walnut Creek sign.
Great ride and I feel good. It had gotten a tad cool--if any warmer I would have gone half way up Mt. Diablo. Big difference for a few years ago when I lagged back into Walnut Creek and promptly slept in the car for a couple of hours. Oh did I mention (absent Super Joe or Cyclocross Mark) 1st to the Junction!!

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