Saturday, June 4, 2011

Brian's Two Bridge Slog Century (2011)

(May 28, 2011) Brian's Two Bridge Ride with Mt. Diablo Ranger Station added on, 90+ miles with Ward (60 miles with Diablo Cyclists) (WI)

Relatively flat ride over the Al Zampa (Frank Zappa) Bridge through the picturesque hamlet of old suburbia Vallejo, then crossing new subdivision and a bike path/ service road on the side of the interstate, back over the Benecia/ Martinez bridge directly through the Perpetuem Refineries.

Brian leads a beautiful ride around rural Solano County--one of our better Club rides. Well, this one was "not the best." Ward/ I left cameras at home, so have to borrow shots below to replicate the scenic beauty of this ride. (click on caption to get photo source)

We had a big group and ride started out on the long gradual uphill with a headwind toward Crockett. Cyclocross Mark with us he could have blown everyone out of the water, but he kept a steady pace and the usual victims did their share of pulling. When I came off the front sitting in the rear of the paceline was "the Passenger"--a new guy who never takes a pull and then tries sprinting off near the end of a climb. A few weeks ago after a bunch of us boxed him in on the last hill after such chicanery on the run in to Sunol I told him he'd piss everyone off if he just stayed in and never took a pull.

Highlight of this ride might have been working "2001" to perfection--named after Paris Roubaix when US Postal George Hincapie goes off the front of the pelation with Domo Farm Frites Johan Musseuw and Servais Knaven in tow--and then starts waiving frantically for them to come forward and do some work while they just coast (4:20 into film clip) . After all, Domo Farm Frites Wilfred Peters is well up the road (while George's teammate Lancypooh is somewhere in Texas avoiding Paris Roubaix once again.)

So I come off the front and slow to drop behind a half dozen of our best climbers. To get here everyone in line had taken a turn at the front except for "The Passenger." Now Christine is 2nd to last and "The Passenger" in the rear. When a slight gap opens up behind Christine I squeeze in and keep the tempo of the paceline for a minute or two--then I start to soft pedal so suddenly I'm 5' behind Christine...then 10', then...... Now "The Passenger" either can keep sitting behind me or has to come to the front and do some work. When the paceline is about 75' up the road "the Passenger" finally goes around me and frantically tries to catch up--and he almost does to 10', with me now in tow--and then he blows up. The 10' gap starts getting larger and larger--and which point I could have sprinted past to rejoin the paceline but I had some buddies in the 2nd group, and it was cheap thrills watching "the Passenger" finally having to work.

We crossed the Frank Zappa Bridge, and we could have gotten a good picturesque shot here but no one had a camera and the cold wind wasn't conducive to stopping. Frank Zappa Bridge I Think

And it would be the last picturesque shot we'd see for hours, we started looping old, dilapidated housing tracts with "Check Cashing" strip malls and lots of traffic controls. I think we rode through some of the following...Affordable Housing Institute

Photo taken by Ward Industries Security Satellite--now hired by Brian's neighbors to keep the riff raff off the lawn.

Eventually we headed East--went through a huge regional park, and more "greenery." Cool moment was when we stopped at the park and Ca/Hawaii Mike started throwing the football around (in bike cleats) with neighborhood kids. Went by Marine World-Africa--now a roller coaster park, and eventually hit a steep bike path and service road on the side of the freeway. Sun was now out, wind had died, everyone's mood had brightened when one rider cracked his wheel--luckily Brian's house just a few miles away so we rode over for a wheel replacement.

We then did a big loop and headed West towards the second bridge--another long uphill and into a stronger headwind than in the morning. On this run in the group really split up. Ward doing much of the work blocking the wind in the front--at one point wondering why Ward was doing all the pulling, so I came off the back to take a long turn. Later Ward indicated that he pulled to the side for someone else to come through and only Christine did. Meanwhile Mark giving "pickup technique" lessons in the back as he pushed his wife up the hill, maneuvering his hand downward. It again was getting cold--and the sun had disappeared, and though many signs promised "Scenic View Ahead" we'd just see the back of warehouses, and cross numerous train tracks with the Mothball Fleet leaking asbestos and lead into the water below. And the view from the bridge...what soon as we regrouped and started over the bridge it started RAINING.


Just when we thought the ride couldn't get any better the bridge dumped us out right at the the start of the Petroleum & Perpetuem Refineries. (Christine swore she saw a sign that said Perpetuem Pellets made here)


Then back behind the Contra Costa Sewer Plant, and bike trails back to the start, at least the sun came back out. Next time this ugly ride is on the schedule I'll be at Tunitas Creek. When we reached where the ride began Ward and I simultaneously thought that we didn't ride enough--though with the headwind the 60 mile ride did seem longer. So we rode to Danville with Jeanne and planned to go up the South ("easy") side of Diablo to the Junction.

Trouble is it got colder and colder as we got to the base of Diablo--and while one can keep warm while climbing--when we got to the Junction with just a light vest in reserve--we realized we were f'd for the 55 degree downhill with darkened skys. Luckily a free newspaper was offered at the Junction and it is the first time I ever stuffed a newspaper under my Jersey to keep warm--and it kinda worked though I have to get more proficient in folding technique next time. 5 minutes after getting back to the car it started raining again (This is California--it is not supposed to rain during baseball season.) (WI Memorial Day Celebration photo)

Next day was the nicest of the Memorial Day Holiday weekend and we did the Bears (nice climbing route in Contra Costa with little traffic through parkland) and took the fast way back. When we almost got back we passed Oakmont Cemetery--with a young woman handing out American flags to cars entering. We went over to get one and she said only if we climb the hill to the top of the cemetery (where Newspaper Baron Dean Lescher has a mausoleum.) We used to almost always do this--great view at the top of Mt. Diablo and the two bridges we traversed yesterday--so did it again. Felt strange as this is weekend my dad died 7 years ago. Came back down and got the flag--little too long to fit in a pocket.

Looking forward to next weekend where I wouldn't do the Club ride on Saturday as a bunch of us signed up for the hilly Sequoia Century on Sunday--and then a week later is the 8 Death Ride Pass Alta Alpina 200. Postscript-weather is F'd all over California. Saturday/ Sunday set June records for rain in Northern California so most of us bailed in the Sequoia. Meanwhile, on Friday 6/3 at 4:18am (I'm starting Alta Alpina at 4am next week) it was 28 fn degrees!!

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