Our Diablo Cyclists club ride was a fast track to Sunol and back-60 miles and only 1,500' climbing. Instead of (turning left) coming back from Sunol, going to Calaveras (turning right) seemed like a natural add on. Calavares is a heavily tree lined-rustic road, light traffic, with a reservoir off to one side and a gentle climb most of the way out. A good fixed gear climb. A fun ride. We do it often, and someone in our club is having too much fun and suggests dropping down to the Fremont flatlands and coming back on Sxxxxx Road, the climb that should remain unsaid, the oppressive 5.7 km climb that goes up 545 meters--average grade 9.5% (Toby killed this climb so we have to use the funny measures he prefers).
OK--I'm over hyping. It is only 15 minute climb. Of course your name has to be Andy Schleck to make it a 15 minute climb.
Of course me being a smartass hinted at Sierra Road a few days before the club ride. Of course Toby and Cisco Dave, the fastest riders in the Club said "lets do Sierra Road--we've never done it." I was hoping for some sanity from Captain Jack like "its too early in the year." But he basically said "why not." F. I quickly took off my x25 winter wheel and threw on a light x27 wheel.
Another beautiful Saturday--typical 40 degrees at 9am that quickly warms up caused by the typical warming during the day (eventually 65 degrees), and, early on, our businesslike pace. Toby and Cisco told me they did a killer metric midweek-South Park (which I did years ago training for the Death Ride)--Centennial --and Hiller. I never did Hiller and they reported its tougher than the two other climbs I had done. So they wouldn't be scared when we turned onto Sierra Road and the street went straight up.
Dr. Dave wasn't putting up with all this foolishness--though we hadn't done a Century this month. He showed up with the bent', which precluded Sierra Road. Christine said she'd go to the end of Calaveras with Dr. Dave. Ward still extending himself would ride the first 15 miles out with us. Nice paceline down to the Highway/ first rest stop--Danville Blvd not bad in the morning as not to many cars, so not to many red lights being tripped. Toby riding nearby with a new guy from Ireland--listening them BS made me feel like I was on a European Vacation. Lots of glass in the bike land/ shoulder--so Dr. Dave got the sacrificial flat--but it was near the first rest stop so luckily it had warmed up--getting a flat when we first start out with cold hands would really suck.
From the highway overpass to Sunol is about 10 miles, with just a couple of traffic controls, and light traffic. Some ez rollers where the peloton breaks up and then the front group races to Sunol with a steep but short three tiered climb before our final objective. After our group split the new guy from Ireland pulled alot, we passed a group on the road about a 1/4 mile before the last hill who looked liked like they wanted to hook on, so I went to the front to up the speed though this would mean suicide on the climb. We hit the climb and I got out of the way but could hear someone coming in fast so I retooled and....familiar voice--it was Beth who used to ride with us. So good company going into Sunol.
In Sunol Dr. Dave/ Christine announced they'd go to the end of Calavares so a few other people decided to join us to extend the ride. Toby, Jack and Cisco Dave (albeit a litany of hypochondriac conditions that kept his speed down to 27 instead of 28 mph) were still in for Sierra Road. So half the group turned to head back while we started out. We had a nice paceline going for the miles it is slightly uphill--when "slightly" was replaced by "noticeable" Toby, Cisco, Christine and I took off--Toby and Cisco ameliorating the pace to keep Christine in the group, and I also slowing so she wouldn't kick my butt when she's fully recovered from injury. We soon met and passed the Beth group that has started out @10 minutes before us--and they were good riders so even though we weren't going at a killer pace it must have been a nice tempo. Nice swooping down into a sudden hairpin, though you have to stay to the extreme outside of the road as the road isn't stripped and the occasional motorcycle or car coming in from the other way have a habit of being right in the center of the road. Near the end I had some energy so I drove to the front and kept an intense pace of diving over the hairpin rollers--it was a killer for me--I hope Toby registered over 25w on his power meter.
We regrouped at the end of the road where Jack and Dr. Dave pull in (a few more people still way behind them.) Dr. Dave assures us that he and Christine will go the alternate way to Sierra Road where they come in at the top--and will meet us after we climb it. Next time I get it in writing. Then the crazy people took off before everyone arrived as we'd be fighting daylight today.
Long long downhill into Milpitas/Fremont--though we first stopped at (Ed Levin) park to get water. The downhill was almost cold--but from past experience I knew I'd want to strip down before climbing Sierra Road. Then a couple of miles through suburbia until the sudden dramatic left turn where SIERRA ROAD appears as a sudden wall. Well, not dramatic as Jack and I stopped to take off t-shirts, arm warmers etc, Cisco Dave had suffered through the morning freeze and he was already a minimalist. Toby kept his leg warmers on--poor guy.
The poor guy was in so much discomfort that he shot up the initial wall and soon we didn't see Toby again. I was happy with my climb-2 minutes slower than last April but its only February, and my back didn't give out. Toby/ Cisco Dave happy--they said grades on Hillar just as bad but Sierra climb longer. Good view of the San Jose basin and the observatories on top of Mt. Hamilton. Only disappointment Dr. Dave/ Christine not there. (Well, also disappointed that it wasn't the Mt. Tan climb which I love, but that would be too picky) Final stats
Dave..................somewhere between Toby and Me
|Toby and I on top of Sierra Road--Toby looks bored as he waited for me for 8 minutes (Cisco Dave photo)|
|We expected to see Dr. Dave & Christine on top of Sierra Road...instead we got........(Cisco Dave photo)|
You can see the brutality on my film CRAZY DIABLO CYCLISTS DO SIERRA ROAD
My computer is tied up downloading podcasts of book readings which is perfect for my 1 1/4 hr commute--CUNY, UC Berkeley and Seattle Public Library are all good sites for these but the best is Philadelphia Free Library.
I put t-shirt and knee warmers back on, and I'd alternatively question what I was thinking when we hit places like the sun drenched "the Wall" (mediocre short climb that starts Calavaras which terrorizes new riders), and commended my good sense when in the hairpin shade of Calaveras where it suddenly got real cold. Fast downhill back to Calavares where Cisco Dave broke Ward's long held record. Beautiful day so Cisco took out his 12g I-Phone XXII and started snapping photos--his great photos grace this blog. Unfortunately some of his riding was on the wrong side of the road and a car suddenly appeared that got Jack's dander up, and he issued a loud and stern warning last heard when Ward did the same thing.
|Fast downhill off of Sierra Road back to Calavares (Cisco Dave photo)|
|Cisco Dave self portrait coming off Sierra Road (Cisco Dave Portrait Studio insurance NOT underwritten by Captain Jack)|
Luckily we got in an honest 100 miles. Good paceline back--near the sprint point I felt good so I pulled at 24-25 mph. Toby felt better, he soon passed at 27. Cisco, despite any claims to the contrary, felt great as after 95 miles he sprinted out at 32mph. Good ride--better if we would have had enough daylight for a more rustic return (and 10 more miles), and if our injured compatriots could have joined in the suffering.
Next day stayed local on the fixed gear, and rode with Donna and her club, the Delta Pedalers. If central county is Tour de France Territory with loads of hills, east county is Paris Roubaix with windswept flatlands through farms. Saws many people I hadn't seen in years--nice recovery ride.
|(above) Donna being photogenic (below) I am not the President for life Dave riding past a Brentwood Pumpkin (far below) Mt Diablo from East County|