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.
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.