Sunday, November 25, 2012

Calaveras and Tour of Livermore Century (2012)

I'm falling apart so Good god, is this my future in cycling??   Photo thanks (I think) to Dr. Dave who can't keep out of trouble after pouting with the President and his favorite athlete McKayla.

Century #36 (November 24, 2012) Calaveras Reservoir and Tour of Livermore to Collier, 102 miles, 10' climbing (or so it seemed) 16.5 mph.  w/ Jack and Stephen.  Calaveras section with Ward, Mike, Eri, Fresno Kim, Jose

This was a perfect ride to appear on club schedule.  Not much climbing (80 miles, 2,000' climbing.)  We had a group kept the pace down which was fine by me.  Good news is that my back is better than it has been for a month--the bad news is that its only at 70% and hurts when starting from a dead stop, climbing, or hitting the gas hard--so this ride was what the chiropractor ordered.

Ok, its November but was still fn cold when we started.  At 9:03 (per National Weather Service) it was 45 degrees in Walnut Creek.   OK--I know that the folks in Yakutsk think this is summer weather--but this is why I live in California.   With my brain frozen I forgot my official Lance drug kit (tums, endurolytes, lip balm), and didn't bother to take a light as I didn't expect to go 100 miles and finish 30 minutes before nightfall.  I need to go on more century rides--maybe by year end I'll get the hang of getting ready.

I did remember to break out the toe warmers and arm warmers but I was not happy--though full sun it was fn cold when we started out.  Woman visiting from Fresno, Kim, had done Climb to Kaiser so we bs'd about the ride.  New rider Eri is fast on flats so she'd like the route.  Mike only got to play a half day of hooky so he could only join us for part of the ride.  We started off with about a dozen riders but we'd eventually split into three groups.

Riding out Danville Blvd-San Ramon Valley Blvd in the morning isn't bad--not enough cars to turn every traffic light red as usually happens later in the day.  Group kept a nice paceline going.   Huge Frostys (the Giants of Roubaix?) springing up on vacant lots now becoming X-mas Tree Farms. 

(above) Ward on the run in to Sunol (below) Jack, Stephen, Mike on Foothill (PC)

Eventually warm enough where I could pull of glove liners-toe warmers and vest.  Was wearing an orange and black Museeuw Bike jersey--unfortunately it is mostly black and has one of those real short short zippers, so when there is even a hint of warmth it is useless.  But for the rest of the day (well, until the last half hour when we rapidly lost the sun), the black jersey with a thin wool undershirt was perfect except for some of the densely shaded tree hairpins on Calaveras.

After San Ramon we continued on Foothill Blvd which has little traffic and traffic controls--then our paceline started revving up the speed.  Ward pulled me into the hill before Sunol but Stephen and I must be getting old--we used to beat each other up on this hill, now we just rode up together.  All along I was pleasantly surprised how well I felt.

We now need a special wrench for formerly free water tap in Sunol so I went to park across the street from the general store--we've never been there as entrance is around the corner.  Man, we've been missing out on some fine art. 

Here we lost the "Mike Group" who turned around, and the rest of us continued onto Calavaras.  Eri and Kim never had ridden it--always nice to ride a great section with a first timer and see their reaction.  I remember long ago (actually Paris Roubaix day in 2003) riding the nondescript Primavera Century--but the highlight was going over Calavaras for the first time.  Its a gentle climb along a narrow forested road with sudden hairpins --its actually a perfect fixed gear route going South.  Ward has perfected the art of looking across the road before hitting a hairpin so we can spot the occasional motorcycle, or bicycle flying in from the other direction.  Real important to keep way to the right on this road.

Statue in Sunol Park--we've gone to Sunol for years--first time we saw it (PC)  
One or two regroups--one where everyone seemed like they were looking into a nudist colony, but it was a bald eagle nest on  a transmission tower --but at least 300' away.  Downhill to the turnaround at the end of Calaveras but Ward, Jose and I rode about 2000' past the turnaround so we could continue the Brother Vic tradition of going down and then back up THE WALL.  This is a short but steep climb which scared most Primavera riders.  No one proposed Sierra Road today--the real WALL to the 10th power--which was very very good.

Eri and Ward on Calaveras (PC)
Only takes about half the time to fly back to Sunol as now mostly slightly downhill with a tailwind.  Fond memories of being on this section on the Devil Mountain Double, with Jack last year and Cisco Dave this year, with Ward stopped on the side of the road taking photos ("your here early"--which was great to hear.)   Two or three times ago here on DMD 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' popped in my head going back to Sunol and now it gets recalled again. 

I think Jack a little freaked by the whirleygigs (PC)

The peloton leaving Sunol before we split up (PC)
Seemed early when we got to a corner store in Sunol---but Ward was going to lead a group back on Danville Blvd.  Meanwhile Jack and Stephen were devising a route looping Livermore that would bypass the sections with lots of traffic.    Though I couldn't match a sudden acceleration to the county line earlier I felt good enough to say I'd do the longer route.  Besides getting a century in we'd be coming back on rustic Collier Canyon with no traffic controls. 

Jack, Stephen and I did the customary Happy Valley Loop then out to Vineyard.  But instead of turning on Isabel that passes the local airport and all the motor traffic usually surrounding an airport--we continued out on Vineyard, turned on Vallecitos (only place with a no control lots of traffic intersection) and eventually circled back to Murrietta.  Basically, instead of taking the direct rout out of town we circled far to the East and then after traveling North we came back East.

At this point we had @30 miles to go and I mistakenly thought I was down to two Chomps (I did have a ZBar buried between all the clothes I had taken off.)   So when "Hate To Stop" Jack got stuck at a light--I rolled into a convenience store with Stephen and grabbed the great cycling food Rice Krispie Treat.  

After crossing the highway we were almost on Collier Canyon and it was great riding on rustic Collier.  Sun was setting a bit but still very bright--no worries (the modern catchphrase) of losing daylight.  Stephen and I continued our cooperative ride and passed by another county line sign together without any hi jinx.  Mostly we were bsing about the clubs future--older membership and noticeably less riders on seminal rides this year.    Soon on the hill up to Blackhawk where......Jack got a flat tire.

OK, any thoughts of finishing the ride much earlier than sunset now gone. 

Of course a flat near the end of the ride--Stephen looks like he could be in Presidential Photo next to Dr. Dave (PC)

Downhill from Blackhawk was nice--we hit mostly green lights.  Stephen turned off to go home.  When we got to Danville the sun was now low and long shadows on Danville Blvd--at all other times we would have run lights but neither of us had front lights and my back light needed to get charged.  Also temperature seemed to have dropped 20 degrees.  F-though about Mike's emergency blinking light he had on his bars--I gotta get one.  Jack has the magic ability to ride his fastest at the end of a ride and he was hammering down the boulevard.  

Jack turned off to go home while I had to navigate through the shopping district in Walnut Creek.   I didn't want to temp fate and get hit by something thinking about Neiman Markup so for once I jumped on the bike trail early which was still crowded at twilight.  Got back to the car at about 4:50--a half hour before full darkness.

Good ride, very very glad for the easy route and steady pace.  Next week is our club ride up Morgan Territory which means-----Salvador Dali's  Patterson Pass. 

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