Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cruella Challenge-2011

(October 22, 2011) Cruella Challenge, w/ Ward, Dr. Dave, Toby, sometimes with Jack, never with Christine, 101 miles, 15.1 mph

Elevation chart and most cool photos courtesy of Ward Industries.

Usually our long riding season ends with Foxy's Fall (or Riverbank No Wine and Cheese) Century last weekend, but this year a few of us signed up for a local century on roads we frequently do. One of our cycling club's "strongmen"--Johnna (she of a tooth 23 cassette for the Death Ride, and Boston Marathon finisher) has jumped ship and joined an all woman's Multisport Club. She contends her new teammates are "cuter" than our group. Her new group puts on a Century where Mt. Diablo is climbed halfway twice, in between they do the Bears and Skyline in the Oakland Hills--which is one of the favorite routes of our bonus mile group.

I was looking forward to this ride until I suddenly got a bad head cold the day after Foxy's. No riding Sunday or Tuesday (usual training day) and no work on Monday. On Wednesday I cut the training ride short when I started sweating bullets on a cool night. So though cold peaked a couple of days before the Cruella--a week of mild fever, scratchy throat, bad sleep, low energy and stuffed nose took its toll--and stuffed nose was still lingering.

At least I didn't get yelled at (like at the Foxy's last week) the evening before checkin at a great local store--Sports Basement. Fee for this Century was high as a good % donated to girls sports groups, and nice swag included a pair of cycling socks and two instant savings coupons at Sports Basement that basically kicked back $15 of the entrance fee.

Ward getting checked in by Diablo MULTIsport Connection. Ward'ss trying to sign up for the workers ride. We'd learn that MULTIsport really means many different and strange sports(PC)

I hardly saw anyone during the week, and start time was suddenly kicked around via email the night before. Recommended start time is 7:00, sunrise is about 7:15. Jack and Toby are cycling to the ride so later is better. My 2 cents was a mild suggestion for7:00- but I was so fn tired that the consensus of 7:30 (more sleep) seemed appealing though we'd start at the back of the ride. Except for Christine, who was scared our group would drop her on the hills (stupid girl--she usually drops many of us) decided to start at 7:00. We never see her on the course...

I was mildly surprised when I turned into a jammed parking lot--I didn't expect a crowd except that every time we saw the DMC Women on Diablo they always told us that the event wasn't nearly sold out. Lots of local racers--Wells Fargo and Taleo--cuing up. Also lots of people with this year's Barney colored Death Ride jersey. Most people started from 7:00-7:15. Our group did numerous outhouse inspections, and left at @7:40. It wasn't that cold outside but I was fn freezing.

A few miles to Mt. Diablo--we pass Stephen's (of "lets start rides at 10am fame") house and yell for him to wake up. Toby is new to the area, but both a competitive triathlete and ultra distance runner; and we remind him of the crappy private road before we get into Mt. Diablo. And crappy it is--much worse than the beginning of Spring when Jack and I started in the dark for the 200 mile Devil Mountain Double. Now it's light and its almost impossible to avoid potholes--on some places they are solidly across the road. DMC outlined potholes and cracks on the course in white, in some places it looks like Pablo Picasso did the job.

After 'safely in Mt. Diablo' we had a great surprise--inversion layer at 500'. It quickly got warm--on the way up it seemed like we wouldn't need to be bundled up on the way down.

Actually 'safely in Mt Diablo' is a misnomer. During the week after work there is little traffic in Mt. Diablo and it just seems like an uphill bike path. But today is Saturday where idiots in cars abound. On one early hairpin a County Sheriff's car passed us in the middle of the road--we would have seen a crash if another car was coming down, or a splat if a cyclist was descending close to the center line. Later there was a car in back of us on a hairpin--I was in front and could see a cyclist coming down so I held out my arm-palm back to indicate "stop." No dice--car passed our single file going uphill, crossed the center line, and almost took out descending cyclist.

Dr. Dave starting up Diablo in the wee hours--and what is that other guy doing on the wrong side of the road?? (PC)

It's getting warm and I'm overdressed like usual. Pocket full of coughdrops. But its beautiful outside (WI)

Toby enjoying is morning on Diablo. He might run up Mt. Diablo after the Century.(WI)

Dr. Dave may not enjoy this ride. He's done his "bucket list" of rides this Summer including Cycle Oregon, Alpe D'Huez and Mt. Vetoux but since the Springtime Alta Alpina he hasn't done a ride of over 75 mile or over 5,000' climbing. He's also back at work but we're totally unsympathetic to that complaint after he was off all summer.(WI)

Dr. Dave (wearing bright orange vest I want to buy off of him) and I at Ranger Station half way up Diablo in the AM--safely in the traffic island (important to note) (WI)

Toby and I pushing a little to much to the Ranger Station-- I get a warning when I push too too hard--my nose starts dripping down my throat and out like a faucet. This will be a problem all day. Another problem will be stupid cyclists--I go over to talk to Dave and some stupidass comes by and snaps that we are blocking the road while we're not on the road but a painted traffic island. My respiratory problem has put me in a foul mood and I snap something back.

Thinking of leaving off the vest for the downhill; going down the other side so we don't have to worry about potholes at the bottom. Lucky I kept vest on--below 500' it gets very cool again. First rest stop is at the foot of Mt. Diablo--only 17 miles into the ride. Plenty of rest stops and great support today. Here DMC has drop bags and we could dump all excess clothes--I left t- shirt on but knee/ arm warmers sent packing. They had soft tostada shells wrapped around eggs and bacon--smelled great, and would have been a killer for the rest of the ride--so its cough drops and a tostada shell. I start to dream about the BBQ steak dinner at the finish.


We're now going to continue on a very familiar route--in fact our bike club, the Diablo Cyclists are starting their ride around now a few stone throws away. We're taking the same route our Club would take when riding out to Berkeley. Some flat suburban streets eventually become suburban attention getting rollers--with suburbia gradually disappearing when short but serious rollers appear before the @ 6 mile 4 tiered climb of the Pig climb and the 3 Bears.

Road is really well marked--but half way into the ride Toby will complain he hasn't seen any road markings. Strange. He's been looking for ribbons/ flags stuck on trees, not on the ground. Runners...

I get my dander up at the first light at a major intersection. A large group is already at the red light--we tuck in right behind them, with most other folks cuing up behind us. Then three guys arrive and shoal the line--jumping to the front of everyone waiting. When we leave I mark them and stay right behind on the flats--we'd jump ahead of them once they stalled out on the rollers.

We cue up behind group already at Ygnacio Valley intersection when 3 shoalers come along and jump the line. (PC)

OK--now ahead of the shoalers and the serious action began. A coed tri team passed coming off the first gentle roller, I jumped ahead of the woman on the next serious uphill, and then she sped past on the flats with me hanging on while all the crap from my nose drained down my throat on exertion. She got back to the tri guy who had slowed--then he put in a dig. I stayed on the wheel of the slowest of the pair. On once hand the road eventually necessitates more climbing so I'd be Ok if I stay with them on the shallow sections where they were both faster than me. On the hand, not feeling well and this was insanity with 80 miles to go--and for once I am going to be smart and drop off. I started to drop off but Toby zoomed by and put in a dig, which rev'd up both triathletes--and got me chasing to help Toby out.

Caught up when the rollers became serious--and expected another tri dig when the road flattens out before the Pig climb which I expected to die on--so led out Toby to the Pig climb. The tri folks never came back--Toby zoomed up the climb and waiting for me so we could two man and stay out ahead on a fast section to the 2nd rest stop at mile 32.

Pulled in and I was gassed, but clubmate and Death Ride rider extraordinaire (on 23 tooth cogset) Johnna working this rest stop, which brightens the mood. Johnna now training for a marathon--she promises she'll ride with our club again next year. Ward and Dave pull in and we start taking loads of group photos.

Someone in this photo promises to wear their Diablo Cyclist club jersey again in 2012. (DMC) Toby constantly texting on his 4G phone and Ward texting on his 3G jell packet (PC)

Bears start and Toby takes off. Ward, Dave and I pace each other up--eventually Ward and I wind up ahead of Dave. On the uphill we pass one guy shooting video--I just got a mini video camera that may debut next month. The guy zooms on the downhill and we have to crank it up to repass him on the next uphill. Papa Bear--final downhill that slowly curves clockwise and then counterclockwise that used to scare the crap out of me. Video guy shoots by again--Ward slows so I can stay on his wheel for the downhill which helped alot--could keep the video guy in sight and then caught him on the short section of gentle uphill which turns into a steep uphill for about 500'. More fun and games and ANOTHER REST STOP. The 3rd one at mile 40.

Ward on da Bears (PC)

Greeted by DMC at rest stop at the end of the Bears--another rest stop in a place our Club regroups on our rides. (PC)

We'd now hit the 6 mile climb that goes up Tilden Park, first half is semi steep and eventually levels off. We all start up when someone whizzes by--I'm determined to kill myself so I try to keep pace with the guy as crap again flows down my nose and throat. Half way up I have to back off and I wait at the top and regroup with Ward, Toby and Dave. The bike doctor is starting to get low on energy and when Jack gets to the top he keeps going. From this point on Ward, Toby, Dave and I would usually be riding at the pace of our slowest rider (albeit a few digs or Toby taking off if I yelled "Postal") with Jack usually out of rest stops/ regroups ahead of us and he'd disappear for long stretches until we caught up with him.

We paceline through the big Regional Park and then out of Tilden we go into neighborhood gentle rollers--the houses on the sides eventually disappear and Oakland lays far below. Sometimes weather is -20 cooler here but today is sunny and clear with no dip in temperature. Mile 56--another rest stop--another place our Club usually regroups.

DMC stands for Diablo MULTIsport Connection--here some DMC girls show one of the MULTIsports--the two jug toss. (PC)

Readers of this blog know that Dr. Dave has been practicing this pose for years (DMC Official Photo)

Toby doing a commercial for Apricot sports drink (DMC Official photo)

I stop with Ward and Toby to take photos on the Oakland Hills. Downtown Oakland is over my right shoulder San Francisco across the Bay. Mt. Tam over Toby's left shoulder. Great clear day. Next year we want Johnna up her to take photos with our motley crew. (? Good Samaritan)Jack leading us out--most of the climbing save Mt. Diablo at the end is done. (WI)

Toby trying to get Ward to take a right turn down the hill into Oakland (PC)

Fast downhill where we loop rustic Redwood Road, some uphill and then a twisty downhill that will dump us out near Moraga. This is my least favorite way to come back on a club ride--more surburban riding. But first yet another rest stop at mile 67 (5th of the day) at another park our Bike club usually regroups.

Alright--I'm thinking about great BBQ steak dinner at the end but here are HOMEMADE RICE KRISPIE TREATS--made with three different vegtables (rice, marshmellows and corn syrup)

From here we head back toward the start--which is now another rest stop before we go over Mt. Diablo again. Here the ride departs from the usual long straightaway into Walnut Creek, we take a turn and ride over some attention getting rollers. Here we all pacelined on the flats and a few guys sat and drafted behind us--when we hit the rollers they took off. Toby and I were game but Dave zapped and Ward about to take an army of Advil for knee problems so we amilorated our speed and kept together into the start/ finish rest stop at mile 81. Any talk of catching Christine had long ceased.

At the last rest stop (start/ finish) the day starting to drag before we go up Mt. Diablo again, so I reach into the bag-o-tricks, and put the bike stereo on my top tube. Quick liquid refill for the warm climb, and see the tents where the BBQ food is being cooked. One guy is running around with a changing kilt on and he ain't changing clothes..

Dr. Dave following the great Route Markers on the way to Mt. Diablo again (WI with Turner Colorization.)

Yeah-we caught Christine on Mt. Diablo...oh, she's going downhill off Diablo and we're still going up (WI)

Dr. Dave didn't want to listen to music he heard on Alta Alpina, so he's riding up behind Ward and I. (WI)

The Dr. is in the house--Dr. Dave arrives at the South Gate entrance (PC)

OK--we get through the crap road outside Mt. Diablo unscathed--but have to be far to the right and not aggressively dodge potholes as cars coming down in the center. Nice and warm now--and best I've felt all day; not over excerting myself must be helping. Toby goes on ahead, Ward and I ride together and bs about Ohio, the Revenge of Vera Gemini (secret GREAT guest background female vocalist) and other tunes. Now not many riders on the climb. Give Dr. Dave a GU Chomps, which I like more than Cliff Shots--more flavor but more salt. Dave takes one Chomp and suddenly does a huge spit that would make a tobacco chewing manager proud.

Bike stereo on front of top tube--I'm dreaming of the steak BBQ. (WI)

Dr. Dave and Toby at the Junction (WI)

Ward gets his prize--stash bag made from recycled tires, from another enthuistaic DMC worker. (PC)

Group photo at the Junction (DMC photo)

OK--almost all downhill back to the finish--lets get some BBQ steak!!! But we are almost hit on a curve when an SUV goes over the center line passing riders on the Cruella first coming up.

I'm laughing with Toby that Christine thought we'd ever catch her (WI)

Another Diablo MULTIsport Connection sports--the two candy/ nut plate relay race--nicely brought over while we wait for emergency food. (WI)

A group of starving cyclists (except for Christine--she already had BBQ while waiting for us)

Like when Ralph Kramden locked in apartment starving with no food--Dr. Dave hallucinates a T-Bone steak. (WI)

And the Diablo MULTIsport Conection winner in the multi pizza toss. No wonder Johnna trains with them instead of us.(WI)

Roll back to start/ finish--Christine waiting for us. OK lets eat and bs about the ride. First DMC misstep all day THERE IS NO BBQ FOOD LEFT. Outback Steakhouse ran out of food--packed up their tent and left. We sit around and bs while apologetic DMC workers bring over candy and nuts while others go out and eventually bring back (greasy) pizza for us and riders coming in after. We're entertained by a hippy trippy new age 60's lady who was working one of the health booths and ran a "oh wow, like cycling is...." monolog and a woman still in her cyclingkit waiting for a friend but wearing go go boots.

Next day our club Jagass swarmily asks "well, how was it paying to ride on roads you always do, hoo hoo hoo?" Actually it felt great not carrying tons of food around and getting assisted by exuberant people all day. Weather and scenery was great. Very different trying to ride at a higher intensity than a Club ride with so many good cyclists on the road. Only bad thing was that I couldn't easily breath and couldn't ride as hard as I wanted too.

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