Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walnut Creek to Del Valle-2011

(March 27, 2011) w/ Diablo Cyclists for 30 miles, then w/ Ward, Jack, Christine, Stephen, Jeannie via Flynn Road to Del Valle climb and back. 93 miles, @15.6mph, 4575' climbing. Ward Industries--the home of the honest Garmin (Still trying to figure out how Colin's and Matt's Garmins had 30% difference in elevation for Davis 200k brevet, CA Mike theorizes its because Colin is taller and his bike is higher) *** Yesterday was supposed to be the great 300k brevet in Davis. But it did what it did all last weekend and every Wednesday (and Monday, Tuesday....) night since daylight savings time 2 weeks ago--it rained--hard. So the morning was spent on the fn trainer and when we were down to a drizzle in the afternoon I got the homemade Earthtainer tomato planters out--and worked on a lightweight MP3/ speaker combo for the Alta Alpina 8--whereas I just got my induction notice: *** Dear ----- Congratulations, you have successfully registered for the Alta Alpina Challenge--The World's Toughest Double Century. We received your entrance fee and there is no turning back. You signed up to ride (8 passes) *** Riding the trainer for an 1 1/4--no matter how hard, wasn't really going to cut it. So even though the weather forecast was for 25% chance of rain, and overnite it hit 40 (the tomatoes under empty water jugs) I was sky high for the Sunday club ride, which felt more like a Saturday where we go harder and extend ourselves. Many people felt that way as BIG turnout under heavily overcast skies. I took the beer truck as club ride was relatively flat through the rich neighborhood bordering Blackhawk--and this is when the aggressive riding/ attacks would be at their worst. Later--even if the bonus mile group decided to do some climbing, we ride more of a hang together pace and riding a heavy bike on climbs would be good training. *** The big group of Diablo Cyclists started in a nice paceline, but the ride to "the Trees," is a short (40 mile) and relatively flat which means that after Blackhawk there will be attack after attack at two points--on the long downhill right after Blackhawk, and after a turn at a controlled intersection (busy so we stop and regroup) another hammer fest to the end of the road. Usually half way down out of Blackhawk Dave, the recumbent doctor, or the fn tandem, shoot by and we are all left gasping for air trying to hang on--though Dave is nice enough to shout out a warning--sometimes. Today I keep looking back and Dave is sitting near the rear of the pelaton very content--knowing he can blow by whenever he wants to. I look back again and Dave almost looks bored--either he is thinking about Stanford Basketball or he wants to look real disinterested before he makes his move. So on one of the only rises I shoot out--maybe it was watching to much of Paris Roubaix 2000 video this week or energizing punk song "In Shreds" pops onto my mini speakers, and I keep going hard solo till the first turn. After the regroup I'm fried and I can't stay on Cyclocross Champ Mark's wheel over the steep pitches (but even if I was feeling OK I couldn't) and couldn't stay on Stephen and Darrell's wheel when they powered past on the flats. Good training once again--get beaten up before we do the bonus miles. This is new song I discovered--GREAT beginning of dueling guitars and middle, though the end really collapses. After the trees most turn around but six of us push on after a quick stop on the outskirts of Livermore. Any blue has disappeared from the sky and the windmills as we climb are definitely turning--a headwind awaits on Patterson Pass. We get near the Flynn cutoff and decision time--can go on to Patterson Pass and have a long solo ride back, or do Mt. Diablo at the end of the ride--when it will be cold....or can do something special further on the ride. Flynn is a series of short steep climbs--a local Tour of Flanders, and then a long downhill into Livermore. The sun is back out. In Livermore we'll pass Mines Road--the 30 mile drag out which we did two weeks ago--and in two weeks we'll do it and continue onto Mt. Hamilton. Today would be a crappy day to do that as there are usually a couple of spots of deep runoff on the road--after recent downpours they might be rivers. But there is another option--one I haven't done since 2003 when I was learning to climb. There is a 6 mile out to to Del Valle Regional Park--recently in the news as the water level is so high they had to release water and flood a neighborhood park. I fully expected to do this alone, but when we hit the intersection and I said I was going to Del Valle everyone joined right in. About 3 miles of slight uphill, then by the Mines Road cutoff the other fork becomes a 1 1/2 mile 600' climb, which then has a 1 1/2 mile drop down (which we'll have to reclimb) to the lake. Lake area is virtually deserted--only 1 other cyclist in the big picnic grounds Restarted the MP3 player for the climb out--it worked nicely--small speaker but aimed right at me for when Dancing Barefoot came on--perfect climbing song. (above) Ward and Jeannie in front of Lake Del Valle. Water level is pretty high. (below) Jeannie is pensive and I'm tired--put back MP3/ speaker rig (orange on handlebars) for the climb out. (Ward-o-photo) This year I finally learned how to ride to Livermore--but Stephen had to muck up my newfound knowledge by suggesting a new way back to Walnut Creek. Actually, his alternate route was good--a little less traffic and we had a constant tailwind. We stayed on uncrowded back roads for as long as possible before reentering the Blackhawk area--instead of hammering as we did in the morning we had our usual cooperative bonus milegroup paceline. Back in Walnut Creek the sun came out full bore (of course--had worn glove liners most of the day.) But great century ride, did lots of work early, and it really felt like a Saturday.

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