Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Calaveras-Mt Diablo Century-Tapering Ride-2011

(L) Capo Jacket (R) Shower Pass. First a product review. Worried about sudden rain on Alta Alpina. I have a few rain jackets but its like having a good big digital SLR camera via a limited pocket one--there is a tipping point where you say "I don't want to carry it around" and its better to have the pocket camera than nothing. Due less to weight than bulk--gotta use a handlebar bag if I take the rain jacket so why bother--bulky rain jacket I'm NOT carrying useless unless starting out in the rain, which I almost never do.

Conversely, I have a paper thin Pearl Isumi Optic Jacket which folds real small--but it only stops one from getting wet if a small bird spits. I just got the Shower Pass Pro Tech ST jacket--supposedly fully waterproof (I hope I don't have to find out). Can easily fit in jersey pocket. Lugged it around on Saturday ride (25% chance of rain)--never had to use it. Used it on Sunday (12% chance of rain) when rain was moderate-light, jacket kept me dry and breathed as well as I'd hope--not well but good for being bundled up.

Pearl Isumi Optic Jacket----86 grams (not waterproof & flops around)

OZ RSI--117 grams (light but puffs up due to air pockets in material)

Capo--274 grams (rainproof)

Shower Pass Pro Tech ST--149 grams (waterproof, breathable, folds small)

by way of comparison

Volar Vest--141 grams

Castelli Vest--58 grams

(4/23/2011) Calaveras and bonus Mt. Diablo to Ranger Station. @108 miles, 5,800' elevation gain, 16.7 mph so we cut back on the hills. Full ride with Ward, albeit Diablo with Jack, Stephen, Jeanne, Colin, Jim, Cisco Dave. To Sunol with Diablo Cyclist pelaton.

.This doesn't resemble any actress profile (Ward Industries)

3 double metrics in a row. Three weeks ago woke up early to do Morgan/ Sierra (8,650' climbing.) Two weeks ago woke up early to do 150 miles of Mines/ Patterson (7,200'.) Last week woke up early for Diablo/ Morgan/ Patterson pass/ Diablo (9,700'.) I feel fully trained up now for DMD--all that prep work and training for WAKING UP EARLY!!! Worst part of a double is waking up in an ungodly hour. This past week actually started the Club ride at 9PM, avoid too many hills, and rode at a nice tapering constant pace. (most of the time)

It's 59 degrees at the start--start with sock liner/ tee shirt/ knee warmers/ arm warmers/ glove liners. By 10:00 it was a partially sunny 61 and there was no need for glove liners or sock liners. High for the day was 68--and if a little warmer of sunnier could lose the tee shirt & knee warmers. Looks like a high of 76 predicted for next weeks Devil Mountain Double so after the early morning Diablo descent can lose most of my outerwear. Luckily Christine lives near the route so I'll drop stuff off with her.

Colin, Jack and I tapering for DMD, so an easy 100 miler is cool. Club ride is out to Sunol, and the gentle and rustic climb through Calaveras is always a favorite, so the bonus mile group decides we'll do that.

We have a big group going down to Sunol--the 15 miles South to Dublin (with lots of traffic controls) is usually done at a nice warm up pace--I take the opportunity to spin in the small ring for most of it. Proof positive that Ward is friendlier than me--we get to a red light and someone asks him "where's Christine? "A second later another voice asks him "Is she OK?, she wasn't at the gym on ___." A few seconds later, "what's Christine doing today?" Her fan club was out in full force--I think next time Ward will distribute a press release.

Fun disappears into serious business as we cross the highway and the next 10 miles into Sunol are rollers that eventually go flat (and fast) with minimal traffic controls/ cross streets--with a final attention getting short climb into Sunol. We have our usual fast moving rotating paceline and then everyone goes for the climb. The key word is rotating, today we notice a passenger who always seem to be slotted into 3rd wheel, never pulls, and will go for the final hill sprint. With apologies to that great cyclist (he's thin enough to be a TdF hill climber)--IGGY POP, and the best song I heard in Italy.

The Wheel Sucking Passenger
click on above to see Iggy at his best

'I am the Passenger and I ride and I ride...I ride behind Colin's and Ward's and Stephen's backsides...I see the sprint point come out of the sky...Yeah the bright and hollow sky...You know victory looks so good tonight....

I am the Passenger...I stay under glass...I look through at the sprint point so bright...I see the stars come out tonight...I see the bright and hollow finish line...I sneakily jump off of everyones backsides....And everything looks good being dropped tonight...I'm singing laa la la la la la la la, laa la la la la la la la...."

We get to the fla lead in to teh final hill and Ward and Stephen indicate they'll set me up--Ward goes hard to get the line strung out and Stephen leads me into the hill but we're to far away when he pulls off so I have to take over with 200' before we hit the base of the hill. The Passenger is right behind me. I go up hard and am eventually followed by Stephen who rode on my flank to prevent the Passenger from going by. This is the usually fun and games we have before the bonus mile group takes off and rides more sanely as we watch out for each other.

After a long rest stop in Sunol we start the slight uphill, slight headwind (its 2x as fast coming in from the other way) when BOOM, we have a flat in our group. The bonus milers stay while the flat is repaired--good time to bs with Hawaii Mike who has been off doing a brevet series and Cisco Dave, getting back into cycling. Flat at the beginning of the run in to Calaveras. (Ward-o-photo)

We pass the turnoff for steep Welch Creek Road, a climb I have never done. Colin and I start agitating for Jack to put it on the ride schedule while Ward tells stories about last time he did it and how steep it is. We have a good four man form on Calaveras as we dig in to catch up to everyone who didn't stop for the flat repair. We do--and at the end Ward, Colin, Stephen and I go down and up the "Wall," which is a piece of cake as we ain't going near Sierra Road.

Long long break at the Calaveras turnaround--we'd be taking long (20-30 minute) breaks all day, next week on DMD 10 minutes is too long. At our stop near the Livermore Airfield Colin is telling us about his home made sports drink--but it seemed lacking in sodium or potassium. The group had the idea that he needs to create a topical patch that could dispense these essential ingredient's and butt butter. Another cycling conversation going down the toilet.

Outside Sunol another long break--Mike and I bsing away when Jack getting into semi-time to go mode. (Ward-o-photo)

On Collier (lightly traveled rustic road with no cross traffic) I pulled a Knaven and launched 2 km from the County line--its a sprint I never take out even if I try as I'm one of the slowest riders on the flats in the group. We had some speedy time trialers/ sprinters--I hear Jim finally started chasing but when he stopped no one jumped in, while training partner Ward completely defended my position (take note Dr. Dave) by probably yelling things out like "guys, we need to slow for Jack and Jeanne." In any event Colin started hammering but to was to late as I crossed the line with him closing fast but far behind.

When we get to turn off to Diablo most of the group looks tired and though a beautiful day found reasons not to do Diablo--the usual suspects yell out "tapering." Ward and I continue on and go at a nice pace, first taking note of the potholes before entering the state park. We ride up about 3' from the right side of the road which has no shoulder--just a severe drop off. All of a sudden an SUV comes by a straight section shaving us--Ward pissed off more than I am.

Riding up Diablo South Side -- I'm approaching stupidass driver who pulled off on the side of the road.

We go by and stupidass and Ward have words, driver says he's a cyclist and its ok to shave us as were weren't tightly against the right side of the road. Love when folks say "I'm a cyclist" to justify their position, hell, I'm a driver--and I bet I drive more miles a year than stupidass, and I have no need to shave cyclists. This gets my dander up and we have an angry exchange. I hope stupidass reads John Forester's Effective Cycling.

On narrow roads, ride generally just inside the traffic lane, allowing room for a car to pass you by going partially over the far lane line....This is true on two-lane roads with good sight distance and little oncoming traffic. When the lane is so narrow that an overtaking motorist must use the next lane over, then openly take the whole lane by riding down its center. (295)

David Miklasevich Stupidass driver on Diablo

After 100 miles enjoying a short rest at the Ranger Station on Diablo.


Some drivers passing on blind curves or squeezing by on the narrow road a hazard on the weekend but all and all nice trip up to the Junction. We meet two young guys at the junction that are real enthused about cycling, even though one's half dead from the climb, and their energy is great. Weather is now perfect (at least for the uphill) and we have to peek into the Ranger Station to see temperature--the outside thermometer disappeared a year ago and was never replaced. Hell, California going though a budget crisis so we got a replacement thermometer for the Ranger Station. On our Tuesday ride we plan to give it to the Ranger--Junction is vacant and surprise, after a year a thermometer is again outside, so we just hang up our contribution. Who knows--the Mt Diablo Ranger Station Junction may become a thermometer shrine. Great ride. Hope I feel this good on DMD next week.

It better get warmer (circa 75) before I ride to the top--start of thermometer shrine on Mt. Diablo. Our contribution has an important message.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Taste of the Devil (2011)

(May 16, 2011) A Taste of the Devil Redux (aka "We Forgot to Sign Up For the Terra Bella"-WI), w/ Ward and Christine (-20 miles) and Diablo Cyclists mid ride, @119 miles, @9700' climbing, 14.6 mph.

Some of our club's long distance crazies are doing the Tierra Bella, a challenging double metric, nice route, good support, which also entails a long drive to Gilroy. Somehow the whole does not equal the sum of its pats-IMO not nearly as nice as The Chico Wildflower, Santa Rosa Wine Country, or the king of them all, the now defunct (Plymouth-Slug Gulch) Sierra Century. But Jack, Jeanne and Dr. Dave would represent our Club well on the Tierra Bella.
Ward Industries profile of the 4 climbs on our route. NG is Mt Diablo from the North gate side, SG is from the easy, South gate side. Patterson Pass may profile as the shortest climb but it is probably the hardest, always with a steady headwind.

Meanwhile the Diablo Cyclists had on the schedule the 60 mile Morgan Territory loop--which is the best club ride to do the Junction on Diablo early. Real good as the route features serious rollers leading to a big climb, additionally for some reason there is a rest stop after 9 miles we blow through--so good route to get back to the Club if 15-20 minutes behind. But it has to be warm as its no fun going down Diablo when its 55 outside (which means 49 at the Junction, wind chill of 42)

Weather forecast was finally getting out of the sub Artic range so doing Diablo early seemed promising. And after Morgan there were endless possibilities to extend the ride--Patterson Pass to the West, Mines Road and Mt Hammy to the South. All which are part of the Upcoming Devil Mountain Double and was a substantial part of the route when "A Taste of the Devil" Doible Metric used to be offered. I also wanted to get back to Mt. Diablo and come up from the South gate side--which we'd be doing at 5:30 am on the DMD. The south climb is the easy side of Diablo but the private road leading to the park stinks, its directly related to Paris Roubaix coupled with Sonoma County's worst--and we'd be doing it in near darkness. So I wanted to do a survey when you could see the toilet bowl sized potholes.

I tinkered with version #4 of the bike stereo--now resting MP3 player and speaker on old tyre that will sit on top tube. (full setup 208 grams) I figured I may be doing most of this ride solo so testing stereo out on climbs for Alta Alpina on rough road (Morgan lead in also not the best though not total shit like Diablo Road)--this setup would be great if speaker/ MP3 don't shake loose as old tyre adds almost no weight.

Bike Speaker Mount #4. Version #3 was a phony cap over water bottle but couldn't access 2nd bottle on the fly and mini speaker was to far away. #1 & #2 were mounts that went into light brackets but the plastic tubes were bulky and relatively heavy with wires running all over the place. Apart from taking away the possibility of carrying a light, great sound when in the drops but lost alot when standing. So Version 4 will be much improved if everything stays intact.

Surprisingly, my crazy training compadre, Chairman Ward, expressed interest in doing Diablo early. Crazy as he's not training for an event, he just likes to ride, whereas I wouldn't be waking up early to do extendo mountain miles if I didn't have things like Devil Mountain Double and Alta Alpina on the schedule.

Was 54 degrees in Walnut Creek 1 1/2 hours before the Diablo Cyclists would leave for their ride--nice compared to the last few weeks but still to Fn cold and I was bundled up. I was psyched that i got the Litespeed back from being tuned up so I had instantly dropped 7 lbs, so I didn't want to carry a handlebar bag. (had a 5! scoop Perpetuem bottle) Conversely, after having a handlebar bag or rack brevet bag with me the last few weeks, I had to stuff and restuff my pockets with food and jacket for the downhill and hence left 5 minutes late into the cool fog. I was also bundled up with clothes which I luckily was wearing.

Quick review-another big change--after Bike Accident (2003) when I flipped out of SPD's and went over the bars I switched to road pedals--went with Time Impacts as review indicated cleats are good to walk on, almost impossible to accidental clip out of!, and were the pedals of Domo Farm Frites. I bought one good pair and a few cheaper sets--as they came with cleats the cheaper versions weren't much more costly than cleats alone. Eventually all my bikes got outfitted with Time Impacts. But after 2 years Time took them off the market, which pissed me off and when I needed another pair I'd have to scout far and low (Arizona and Northern Ireland.) I finally made the jump to Time RXS, the pedals that replaced Impacts--the cost has gone down the last few years and I bought the "least expensive." In any event, the Time Impacts replaced, which were the basic model were 169g per pedal and cleats are 61g. The Time RXS's are 123g per pedal and cleats are 49g--so weight is 25% less. On the first ride they seemed to transmit a little more road noise than the Impacts

The whole way to Mt. Diablo's North Gate I was happy I was wearing glove/ sock liners, tee shirt and vest. Ward waiting for me at the gate and as usual got warm as we went uphill. Also got warm as inversion layer sitting low--we came out of the fog and into full sun at about 800'. We were being passed alot--by SUV's driving up to the top for Earth Day ceremonies. (no comment)

We came around a curve and apparently a young guy had just finished taking a whizz. He passed us until the steep section at 1000' where I passed him, rode with him for awhile as he set a blistering pace, and then went clear on the next steep section. Meanwhile my tee shirt and glove liners soaked--with sweat. Solo'd to about 500' to the Junction where it levels off and as the sprinters usually do he came back and roared past--and thanked me for making him work.

(above) Climb #1=View from right under the Junction on Mt. Diablo--early morning. Foggy at lower levels in the West but we are going East. (below) Climb #4-almost same view-8 hours later.

When Ward joined he suggested we take a detour to his compound and drop off the excess clothes. Sweating bullets seemed like everything I was wearing was excess clothes, going downhill there was still a chill in the air. Also strange as we usually go down South side at night to make the Mt. Diablo ride longer, so wasn't used to the sharper turns on the North side--need to practice before DMD. As carrying around tons of clothes when it hit 70 wasn't appealing we took a 30 minute detour to Ward Industries Headquarters where the sun was hitting the employee parking lot just right so the tee shirt, jacket and glove liners could stay behind. Still kept the knee warmers as Morgan climb is shaded, but could have lost this.

We're now 35 minutes behind where we should be--it will be a hard chase back but we figure with big group stopping at early rest stop we could pick off the non climbers on Morgan.

On lead in on road to Morgan Territory events conspired against us--we passed a girl's cycling group which meant Ward slowed down. He even stopped at the WELL MARKED intersection to make sure they didn't miss the turn. Another 5 minutes down the toilet. Waiting for Ward I turn on bike stereo for the climb. Ward rejoins and he makes up for delay by setting a time trial pace up Morgan--frankly kept waiting to see one of our Club cyclist's around every turn, and when I didn't I just got puzzled and just rode tempo. Where the F is everyone? When we got 20' from the top we finally got back to one of our Club riders--and only a few Diablo Cyclists were resting at the top--good climbers all. Turns out that many in the Club decided to do an alternate flat ride, so there were no flatlanders to catch up to. BBQ at the rest stop on top of Morgan--better than anything on the Tierra Bella. OK--it wasn't for us--they were cooking for Trailhead Volunteers.

Relatively still on the top of Morgan, so I indicate that I'm going out to Patterson Pass. Ward and Christine say they'll go along with me, Stephen, June, Andy and new Steve indicate they'll ride part way to where we're going. So we paceline through the Livemore Valley-following the DMD course markings (and some markings from something called the Diablo Century which doesn't actually go on Mt. Diablo.)

View from Climb #2-Going down the smooth but fast and often windy south side of Morgan. View of Livermore Valley.

Eventually we take a short break at Vasco Road Buck-Bucks, go through a short subdivision when suddenly you are near 'nuttin except a dirt bike part and along a freeway that is elevated far away from where we are riding so it doesn't seem nearby. Stephen and June indicate they'd love to go along but the HAVE TO GET BACK EARLY TO COOK DINNER (a ruse, we later find out.)

Ward, Christine and I have fun going up the gradual uphill at 20 mph, which means a nice tailwind, but also means a headwind when we circle about and hit the steeper Patterson Pass. Half the windmills are not moving which is a good thing.

Pass Altamont, circle through some high voltage lines, and we circle into Patterson Pass. It is now 70+ and feels warmer--I pull knee warmers down around my ankles and tuck them in the right so they wouldn't get stuck on the chain. Bike stereo sounds great--Christine doesn't think its clear as first as she can't understand a word--but its the "MUSEEUW SONG" in Flemish. "POP MUSIC" is a big hit, good climbing pace--then the goddess of Rock, Patti Smith, comes on with a concert version of "HORSES/ LAND" (I have the part on the MP3 that kicks in @2:45)--nice and long. Wind picks up at the top of Patterson Pass so we don't stay long.
Ward climbing Patterson Pass.

Top of climb #3-Dr. Dave is on Ward and Christine's mind as he missed out on his favorite recumbent friendly climb. Wind farms, where we came from, in background.

Where we are heading from Patterson Pass-west to Livermore.

Nice easy ride to Livermore--fast/ long downhill punctuated by 1-2 steep rollers where we all take a break to finally take off arm warmers and knee warmers for good so they can keep handlebars warm.

Where we are heading from Livermore--View of Mt. Diablo far in background through vineyyards.

Ride is now relatively flat as we depart from DMD course going South up Mines Road and we head North. Last time here Stephen, our resident route tinkerer, devised a great alternate route that took us off busy streets and through and older residential neighborhood which looks great until we come to a bunch of low rise office buildings that Ward dubbed "neo out house architecture (look like the bathroom buildings found in every 1950's designed park.")

Now stop for a long time at Buck Bucks-Livermore International Airport. Finally eat the PBJ sandwich I had carried along all day. A mom with teenage kids asks what we had done--she is impressed, and we're impressed that she said she did Trinity Grade with her family last year--she liked it/ they didn't. I also decided that ride was too easy so I was going to poison myself--instead of bringing extra HEED I had taken an old CYTOMAX packet and mixed it full strength.

Now my retraction--I make fun of HAMMER products as seemingly every month they come up with something new and ESSENTIAL, and keep pimping why they don't put alot of stuff in their products besides to make more $$$$. But HEED only has 40mg sodium for 105 calories, CYTOMAX 120mg sodium 90 calories-almost 3x more. I suddenly remember what felt like salt poisoning on the Davis Double years ago--since any time I use Cytomax I only use 1/4 scoop for flavor and now I used two scoops. The MP3 player should have had Zappa's 'Valley Girl' on it ("BARF ME OUT")

Sufficiently dying of thirst we continued on where we were going to ride close to the South side of Mt. Diablo. I was kinda out of it at mile 90 when another rider came along and said something and I was slightly surprised/ startled. Christine says there was no relation but the road turned uphill and she started motoring in the front and had us drop the new rider who had caught us on the flats. Soon near ritzy Blackkhawk where, guaranteed, the self entitled folks out there will hit the horn of their pseudo sports car when passing a bike on the way to the plastic surgeon.

I told the group that I was going up Mt. Diablo to survey the potholes on the run in road--again surprised and happy that Christine an Ward still up for another climb. (If it was cool I wouldn't have done another climb but weather was perfect now.) We needed to take a rest before going up and decided to stop off at Stephen's house where he'd be busy cooking dinner. We got there--no Stephen, no June, no dinner (or cold water to wash down the Cytomax) though we enjoyed sitting on his lawn and using the school's restroom.

Outside we see two cyclists stretching, one looks like he is trying to pull a utility pole out of the ground. Ward made a loud crack which didn't seeming endear our group to these guys. (Payback--Next time we're in a sprint, Ward's speciality, I'm going to get other rider's PO'd so they'll try harder in the sprint) I stop to take a few pothole photos (which is on the steepest section of the Southgate climb though still outside the park)--along comes these guys, I get back to Ward/ Christine and these guys fly past as soon as we enter the park.


Bike stereo comes on and of course I have to jump and ride at these guys pace. One guy is setting a blistering pace and his friend falls off. I'd like to blame the Cytomax but 100 miles of climbing has taken its toll, less on my legs than my heart rate which is super elevated. Soon the guy I was riding with takes off and I can't respond.

When I get to the South Gate toll station, that is 1/2 way up to the Junction, the guy who took off has stopped to either recover or wait for his friend. I'm not going to stop and find out, though I slow a little as it feels like my heart is going to jump and run off. This is good to see how I recover from too hard an effort--one of my new favorite songs "IN SHREDS" is on the MP3 and I hit the replay button 8-10x to hear the fast guitar of the first 2/3rd of the tune and keep going. I was dead at the Ranger Station but surprised at my good time to the Junction, quickly circled back and rode back up with my group that had the intelligence not to chase.

Ward gave us the bad news, 10,000' of climbing wasn't in the cards. Thoughts of stealing his Garmin and going to the top--but 9,700' would do as we finally got a WARM downhill in Mt. Diablo. Perfect--so was the frozen yogert dinner as needed something cold and easy to digest.

Great ride--favorite of the year.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mines-Patterson-Double Metric + (2011)

(Paris Roubaix Eve 2011) Walnut Creek-Mines Road-Patterson-Mines Road-Livermore, Diablo Cyclist ride up Mines Road, +30 miles done earlier, and bonus miles to Patterson and back w/ Ward, Christine, Jack. 146 miles, @7,200' climbing, 15.6 (its always 15.6) mph Ward profile of Pamela Anderson upper body modified for ride elevation.

Wanted to do something special this weekend--10 year anniversary of the greatest team victory ever, Domo Farm Frites' 1-2-3/ Servais Knaven Paris Roubaix, and 10 years ago I couldn't walk this week after getting undercut by a dog and tearing my ACL & meniscus. Club ride was supposed to go up Mines Road, Mt. Hammy from the hard side, and Sierra Road, but with a predicted HIGH of 50 at the top of Mt. Hamilton that was probably going to be called. It was freezing when coming down Mt. Diablo on Wednesday night (first time to the top this year--it was actually freezing going up) , but Friday afternoon it was warm in the office with the sun streaming in--so doing 30 early morning miles riding to our club's ride seemed like a good idea.

The good idea went to hell at 7am Saturday morning, when 48 at my house dropped to 40 at Heather Farms. I was so fn cold, and didn't have a thermal cycling vest, so left on my "street" fleece vest. Bundled up I couldn't get over 16mph on the boulevard where we regularly fly to breakfast in 1 19-21 mph paceline.

At Blackhawk (15 mile) pit stop, the fleece vest finally came off but it filled up handlebar bag (after last week took off bike rack and brevet bag), so all the "stuff" in the handlebar bag went into my pockets***, with the bike stereo going on the handlebars for the next 15 miles of rustic rollers.

(***handlebar bag was 915 grams, with Exposure Light 105 grams and bike stereo 225 grams. Food in bike bag: 3 extra scoops of Heed, 3 extra scoops of Perpetuem, one Pumpkin butter/ Peanut butter sandwich, two (2) Odswalla bars, one Cliff bar, 2 Cliff Shots, 2 oz of Hammergel. At least less tan 1500 grams the bike rack and brevet bag carried last week)

Enjoyed the music coming over the homemade light mount sound system, though have to remember to use lock nuts as speaker was turning over every bump. Was now putting in some speed but figured I'd arrive around at 9:10--just when the 9:00 ride usually leaves on Saturday (it leaves 9:20 on Sunday.) I want to ditch the fleece vest and stereo before the club ride, and if the pelaton left I'm screwed--and left to stuff fleece vest onto Ward's roof rack. I also need to eat and get water and transfer crap back from pockets to handlebar bag. I keep thinking about running late and all the things I have to do when Jeannie/ Jim drive past. Soon I'm in Livermore and sprinting for every yellow light.

Group is still in parking lot when i pull in at 9:10, and I look for a bonus mile familiar face I can dump my stuff in their car, and start the checklist of everything else I need to do. I'm all wound up. Timing is everything in life; Craig, who may be funny but has no sense of timing as he triesto joke the second he sees you starts making a crack about the bike stereo and music so I scream at him, though I'm sorry I did as soon as I do an apologize. Do have time to calm down and luckily quick bathroom stop to get more water.

Two Ward-o-phot action shots put together but essentially what the beginning of Mines Road looked like--I'm sticking behind Jim when he flies through the gradual grade.

Now a touch of warmth (just a touch) with sun in the air. I get into a long paceline for the first 4 flat miles to Mines Road. I'm riding with Darrell, nice guy but he takes microscopically short pulls at the front (blink and you may miss it) then revs up at sprint points. When we get to mile 4 and the road starts going up Big Jim goes out from the group and I/ Ward follow--we look like Thor following Fabian the next day. It starts getting steeper and Jim drops off, we ride up to mile8 at a good pace and Dave-Ward-Christine and I are together along with Darrell and Darrell's friend (for Newhart purposes we'll also call him Darrell.)

After mile 8 some climbing pitches but nothing long or terrible. I put in a few few digs on the uphills so the Darrell's will have to go to the front and work to get back to me as I'M SURE Ward, Christine and Dave will take advantage and sit in.

Now about mile 16 of the @32 mile trip out to the Junctiondrome. One last uphill roller and then the road basically flattens out for @10-12 miles. I put in another dig and get off the front, I'M SURE Ward, Christine and Dave will just sit in and the Darrell's will have to work. I'm not Colin so soloing time trialing 16 miles is out, and I'm not going to go balls out so I'll have something left for the finishing hill when I'm caught. And a few miles later I'm caught--BUT WITH DR. DAVE leading the charge back to me (its moves like this why the Belgium Riders left the Italian Mapei squad and formed Domo Farm Frites.)

Now a big speeding paceline--Christine took a long turn and when she rotated back a slight uphill followed and Darrell-Darrell upped the speed. She was unhooked, I asked them to slow, they did and from then on we rode cooperatively to the hills--doubly so when Ward tested the drop- ability of his camera.

The last 2-4 miles, after the County line, has a steep roller, a short but steep uphill followed with a long downhill, and a shorter but steeper roller followed by a longer downhill--with one last short uphill leading into the Juctiondrome. . I told the group I'd go hard on the uphill as they'd catch me on the twisty downhill--I didn't go at the County line like I did a few weeks earlier but waited until the next uphill. Felt someone come back to me on the downhill section that follows, which motivated me to go up the steepest uphill HARD. Went over very alone but almost down I knew someone was behind me. I looked before the Junctiondrome roller and it was Christine--it was apparent she could have passed me on the downhill at any time, so I eased up and we started riding the last 200' together when whoosh--Darrell flew by with Dave on his heels. Christine and I both pissed and slowed some more, me at myself for not continuing to go hard--though in better mood the next day when I found out that teammate Dave had whizzed past at the top of the hill and been the first to arrive at the Junctiondrome.

It was nice when sunny at the Junction, but the occasional cloud passing by cemented the fact that Mt. Hammy wasn't a good idea. Dave and Jeannie need to make time, so they were going to ride the 10-15 miles to the base of Mt Hamilton and back. Ward-Christine-Jack and I decided to ride down Del Puerto Canyon to Patterson--the Highway 5-gas station-Denny's strip mall exit that has an actual town hidden behind the Highway prop.

As 30 mile downhill along rustic Del Puerto Canyon Road, steep downhill at first which soon levels off--not the greatest pavement but would be one of the better roads in Napa County. A half dozen cattle guards and some falling rocks thrown in. A camp site half way down--otherwise nuttin. Saw a few cyclists going up in the other direction, a few cars UNTIL the Porche Club that had been dining at the Junction Cafe decides to pass much faster than the posted 20-35 mph. All give us room though a few knuckleheads pass on a hairpin turn. Lucky for them most Hummers in Patterson have been repossessed with the new subdivision foreclosures.. Jack and I in front of the spectators lining Del Puerto Road (Ward-o-photo)

I'm with Christine and Jack going down Del Puerto Canyon Road towards Patterson (Ward-o-photo--his dropped camera takes a lickin and keeps on tickin)
Ward leading the three man paceline.

In Patterson we went past the Highway strip mall of fast food restaurants-gas stations-past the new subdivisions whose home prices have died as people realized they are NOT "just 1 hour away" from San Francisco as the builders had promised. We finally reached to old part of town--Ward raced around the center traffic circle a couple of times--a few more times and he would have lapped me. The Patterson Museum sits in the center of the traffic circle.

Patterson Museum was a throwback to the 1950's. Someone from the museum came out and brought us all cold bottled water. Inside he had a group of teenagers fixing up the place. Museum artwork? photos of Patterson High School graduating classes from the 1950's when everyone dresses in sports coats and dresses and either bee hives or crew cuts. It was nice and warm on the lawn outside as we had a really nice break. Everyone else now at a metric century--I'm at mile 90.

A message from our team manager--Christine can do some more miles... See, Christine and Jack have risen! In front of the Patterson Museum.

Trip back up Del Puerto to the Junction did not have nearly the energy as our earlier race up Mines Road. It was still sunny but a cold headwind was blowing against us as we did the gradual uphill. Relived my glory when passing the stone wall I remember from the the Patterson Road Race done 7 years ago. For the last few miles the grade kicks up significantly, which was OK as at least it was warm and the wind was no longer a factor.

Christine gets through the steepest portion of Del Puerto Canyon Road, past the county line near the Junction.

The Junction was now deserted and is cool. We all looked half dead (sitting on 90-120 miles.) Refortified my Heed/ Perpetuem mixes but still felt a little hungry and colder than I should, especially noticeable when still cold as we climbed out of the Junction where I should easily get warmed up. Can't say we had a headwind the whole way down--sometimes a cross wind and a few smattering stretches with tailwind but wind was always COLD. At that point I decided that I'd call it a day in Livermore-no fun riding back when cold.

I told Christine that our average speed was going to be 15.5--it seems it always is 15.5, if its way over we've ridden too much in the flats and we choose some lousy climbs to do. Sure enough, we we pulled back into Livermore and Christine's new Garmin indicated--15.5--so it must be set up correctly.

Getting into a car at mile 146 was a good move. It was cold loading up Ward's car and colder still when we reached my car 30 miles away. Good course, good group, but crap weather. It's supposed to be SPRINGTIME, it would be warmer the next day in Northern France for the greatest race of the year.

"If I would have stopped for coffee-everyone would have stopped as well"-Fabian Cancellara

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Morgan-Calavaras-Sierra Rd-2011-Tour of Flanders Metric Century 2011

(April 3, 2011) Morgan-Calavaras-Sierra Road Metric Century, 115 miles; Jack, Ward, Christine more; Colin , Jeanne, Todd less. 8,500', 15mph. Did secret hill training. Baby daughter (almost college graduate) in town and had to work on a project, so took the Saturday (usually hard ride day) off and we walked around Chinatown in San Francisco & Oakland.

As was not riding Saturday, planned to do a super long ride on Sunday, when bike club usually does a short ride to breakfast and then some bonus miles afterwards. The bonus mile group will have ridden the day before, and Colin doing another 300k brevet (last week he enjoyed one in the steady rain.) So I figured I'd do 30 hilly bonus miles before meeting up with my gang and get a little tired before we join up. Only problem is that my compadres are also crazy--and Jack-Ward-Christine jumped in for the early morning 7am start. Colin said after 300k he'd skip the early morning bonus miles (slacker) but join us for a long hilly ride like Patterson Pass. To make it a little harder I loaded up the GT bike (+5 lbs than the Litespeed) with a brevet bag stuffed with clothes, food, and mini bike stereo (rack & full bag +3.5 lbs) making it @7 lbs heavier than usual (I'd have some stuff in my pockets.) Mr. Rivendell is full of crap when he opines that bike weight doesn't matter.

Ward, Jack and Christine did the above route--I had a mechanical 20 miles from the end. Todd & Jeanne joined us 40 miles into the ride. (Ward-O-Stats)

So Jack and I met up at the usually ride start at 7am. After (finally) a nice warm week the temperature dropped enough for it to be chilly in the morning though sun was out full bore. We did the Ygnacio Valley hills at an ez pace--unusual as this is the springboard to stay in front of the screaming downhillers on the Morgan Territory ride. While still in suburbia we met up with Ward and Christine and continued on to the rustic Morgan Territory climb.

Going at a nice pace when Jack pulled off for a Sierra Club dedication, and when we slowed two guys shot past. Jack said he knew then he'd never get back to us. Christine and Ward followed the 2nd guy and I followed the pace of 1st rider ("CAL guy") up the road, and stayed with him until the last steep section. The GT beer truck takes awhile and too much effort to accelerate on hills.

Looking forward to staying on top of Morgan for awhile with their nice picnic area. Colin had figured out midweek that we could really take our time to meet up with the breakfast group. Unfortunately a cold breeze was shooting through the picnic area so we were motivated to get going after a short rest. Much nicer when we hit the bottom of a usually lousy descent-steep with crosswind and lots of oncoming traffic, but today wind wasn't that bad and in early morning no traffic at all. At the base they were setting up for a film shoot. A tank was on display-Ward quipped that they used it the day before (on the beginner woman's Cinderella Ride that had gone by here) to keep the 4 across chatter groups on one side of the road.

We regroup at the base of Morgan in front of an old classic car and tank. Didn't know if these were film props or to enforce road etiquette the day before.

Nice ride through mini rollers to Blackhawk, Christine wasn't kicking everyone's butt so she thought something wrong. Downhill next to Blackhawk we kept seeing loads of cyclists on the other side of the road but no Diablo Cyclists--though we saw one big guy in a yellow jersey and everyone swore it was Colin--not. @40 miles from the start we made it to Danville breakfast which the gang had just gotten to.

Colin was there, the tallest guy in the group now had the smallest bike--a Bike Friday. He had done well on 300k the day before and now was looking to do an epic climb. He is also signed up for Devil mountain Double. Jeanne signed up for Davis Double, she sounds like an old bonus group member as she complained that the 75 mile ride the day before was too short. Todd also wanted to do bonus miles. No one from the early group motivated to backtrack and do windy Patterson Pass as we already knew a cold wind was blowing in the East. I yelled out we should do Calavaras to the south--a nice gradual climb and we'd get some good miles in --and who knew if we'd go on once at the end of Calavaras.

Jeanne arrives as the steam train is ready to depart Sunol.

Good paceline down to Sunol and then on Calavaras. Colin said he wanted some rider to come along and try to pass and he'd crank up the Bike Friday (looks real funny but he is riding strong on it.) Soon he gets his wish--about 800' up the road is a big group of cyclists so Ward and I kick it into high gear with Colin right behind and behind a blind curve or to they are suddenly 50' in front of us. Colin gets his wish as he sets to race past---oh crap the group is "Team in Training." At least someone clued them in that they should ride single file. Now that we had picked up the speed we continue going hard through Calavaras, a small group of Team in Training is always around the next bend and we joke that Colin got his (cheap thrills) wish.

Colin on the pygmy bike in front of me, Todd right behind, on Calavaras (Ward-O-Photo)Homage to Ward-o-photo--pelaton steaming to Sierra Road.

We get to the end of Calavaras and discuss what to do next. In reality it is either go back or ....Sierra Road, the worst climb in the Bay Area. Colin yells it out--Todd and Jeanne, the two riders extending themselves the most don't make a fuss, so Sierra it is. Screaming downhill to the flatlands--first stop halfway down is the regional park to get water and I start cluing Jeanne in as to what to expect--the initial part of the 3 3/4 mile climb is the worst, steep with no recovery sections, and a small false flat at the top--but THE VIEWS ARE GREAT. Ward yells out while the views may be great you can't see anything with all the sweat pouring down one's face.

First time we've seen surburbia for hours for the couple of miles of spinning out before Sierra Road. Suddenly we are at the left turn, Jeanne yells "oh shit" when she sees the straight up first section and the fun begins.

Jeanne and Colin on the first section of Sierra Road, which may be the worst and certainly looks the worst.

Note the brevet bag setup and speaker mount on my bike, San Jose is in the background. We're already high up but haven't gone more than halfway, even if that. (Ward-o-photo)

After stopping on the first section to take photos of our group I pushed a little to get back to Ward, who had slowed to take photos while he was riding. I had mounted the bike stereo and the climb was better than usual as 1) my back didn't go out like it did every time a few years back, 2) it was warm but not hot, which really affects this wide open climb, and, 3) it was great climbing to Light My Fire and When the Music's Over. Climb took a little over 35 minutes and then rode back to follow Christine and Jeanne up.

Christine near the top of Sierra Road, Jeanne and I are in the background. (Ward-o-photo)
Colin on the kids bike, after doing 300k the day before, on the false flat at the top of Sierra Road. The beach/ bikini club to the right will open with DMD (Ward-o-photo)

A little breezy and cool at the top of Sierra Road so we didn't stay long, so we didn't stand around to admire San Jose to one side and Mt. Hamilton on the other. Long fast downhill punctuated (thank god) with some rollers--if we miss the turn to Calavaras we go shooting back downhill. And when me make the sudden right turn we are faced with the feared "Wall"--which isn't feared at all once you do Sierra Road.

Ward leading the pelaton up "The Wall."

Ride was great back over Calavaras, and the fast course back to Sunol--with a slight tailwind and slight downhill it always takes about 1/2 the time to get back to our favorite rest stop.

From Sunol a nice 10-12 miles back with few controlled intersections, then we hit the highway and cross into to dense surburban corridor. Just when I thought that ride was great and wouldn't mind skipping the next section--flat tire. It was pointed out--over and over--that I should have changed the treadless tire during the Bush administration. We start out with a few donated boots in the tire and BAM, tire blows. OK, my ride is over. Luckily Colin lives a 1/2 hour away, so I just park myself on a bench and wait for him to go home and get his car and give me a lift. Worst part of the course but would have liked to get the 10-15 remaining miles. Timing is everything in life, I'd have been screwed if this happened the day before on the brevet or earlier on our ride. Ditto Ward, two days later on Mt. Diablo the sole of his riding shoe ripped off.

Take that Dr. Bill-Chris' favorite recovery drink--chocolate milk.