Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thank god Michele Bachmann isn't President Day--The Hell of Patterson Pass Century (2012)

(February 18, 2012) Patterson Pass & the Base of Mt. Diablo Century, 97 miles, 5370' climbing in a mild tropical breeze.  w/ Ward, Cisco Dave, Rebecca, Blinky Ray, 16 mph


Q.President's Day Quiz Question--What President's Ranking Has Improved the Most Re Surveys/ Rankings by Historians Taken after 2004?  Answer at the end 
Great three day weekend weather forecast with Saturday touching a high of 70 in full sun, Sunday a few degrees less in full sun, President's Day supposed to be a few degrees less.  First two days were great.  So today, President's Day, it's forecast for about 64, with partially sunny conditions and 5-10 mph winds.  The President's Day forecast was about as accurate as Michele Bachmann on slavery and the founding fathers.

Early morning out of Walnut Creek--Rebecca in front of the paceline, Chairman Ward follows (PC)
So it was a high in the low mid 50's, constantly overcast (except over the Great Altamont Speedway), and high winds (30 mph) while we were riding through and climbing up over the Patterson Pass wind farms.   Meanwhile no one had jackets, Rebecca didn't bring toe warmers, Dave didn't have knee warmers, and I had on a thin summer t-shirt.  Nice.  But as Ray cheerfully said "at least its not raining."

Group paceline down to Livermore--if the windmills are turning we are turning around, yeah right (PC)
Cisco Dave sans knee warmers isn't afraid of a little cold (WI)

Best place to ride is along side Blinky Ray so you don't see the lighthouse attached to the back of his bike (WI)
In any event, Ward and I did our utmost to make this less than a successful ride by doing a Century two days before and not really having a recovery ride in between.  Any thought of recovery on this ride disappeared with Rebecca, Cisco Dave, and Blinky Ray making up the group--all incredibly quick and the later two training for Devil Mountain Double.   Luckily Cisco Dave slowed down a little and pulled the group around for most of the day when he wasn't making clothing out of newspapers (always the SF Chronicle, those weekly shoppers and hippie papers have ink that run onto your clothes)

Though my legs were screaming, I didn't mind the fast pace out--as that was the only way to keep warm.  We had Don and Jack with us at the start, but Don declared he hated Patterson Pass so he stopped at the Trees, and Jack didn't like the caffeinated pace so he turned towards Livermore.  For half the ride I couldn't understand why anyone hated Patterson Pass--the run in on Altamont Pass is the greatest.  Hell, with the strong tailwind we were coasting uphill at 30.  If course this meant that later my odometer would hit 3 against the head/ crosswind on the climb.

Rebecca and I are on the best 12 miles of riding in the East Bay--THE Altamont Speedway to the Altamont Speedway.   Nicely paved, almost no cars.  Hell, almost no people.  One stop sign.  Today a tailwind letting us coast on the gentle uphill at 30 mph, which was too slow for Cisco Dave and Blinky Ray who were far down the road. (WI) 

Motoring past the Summit Garage (WI)

I love the trestle in the middle of nowhere (WI)

Only true sun of the day.  Turning windmills ahead--still photos don't do them justice.  All this fun means that we'll be screwed on the turnaround climb up Patterson Pass (WI)

A group of cyclists much smarter than our group---they aren't going over Patterson Pass (WI)
When we turned from the Altamont speedway (fast road) towards the Altamont Speedway (Rolling Stones Concert) the tailwind became a crosswind.  We'd turn again onto Patterson Pass so it would become a headwind that would hammer us for the next 45 minutes.    Instead of going into Tracy to refuel I think everyone wanted to get the climb over QUICKLY, so we all started up.  Rebecca had been a little nervous as last time she blew up on the climb on a windy day--and today the wind was even worse.  She must be a Patterson Pass jinx--we've had beautiful weather the dozen times we've done Patterson Pass without her.    But fueling at the bottom and pacing herself on the climb got her up nicely,  just behind Cisco Dave who is going to kill DMD.   Meanwhile, I couldn't stand in the cross/ headwind, and wanted to get some movies of the windmills I've never seen turning so fast.  I dared NOT take two hands off the bars  WATCH THE U-TUBE OF THE RIDE   --coming attraction below -- so between being slow and stopping for movies I was the final rider.

Cisco Dave turning on Midway.  The small rollers are no problem--but the wind shift is. (WI)

Cisco and I questioning our sanity as we approach the Patterson Pass climb (WI)

I want to thank Ward--on the 4th take he unzipped his vest for dramatic effect (PC) 

The last 1/4 mile of Patterson Pass is the steepest and whatever wind is blowing is intensified through the narrow pass at the top--so I just had my head down grinding it out.  When I got to the top the gruppo was near the edge of the top to check on my progress--I felt that if I stopped I'd blow down the hill so I went @50' forward.  I then turned around and saw the group WALKING their bikes toward me while the wind attacked them.  Dave held his bike out and it flew around like a kite.

No group photo today--Ward got a quick one of me and then it's less get the hell out of here before we are blown off the hill.  Some guy had come up from the other side so he had a jetstream tailwind assisted climb and he quickly turned around--it looked like he was trying to set a gale assisted Strava time. 

Group photo cancelled as Jack not here and he had the special President's Day Banner (WI/PC)
As a change of pace here is some readable stuff.  This is Ward's account of the ride:

I was tired and leg sore this morning right from the house. Then I felt a couple of drops of precipitation on the way to Heather Farms so I felt like going back to bed. After we hit the blvd I felt a few twinges in my knee and that started an internal debate about turning around at Livorna. Having looked at the wind forecast for Livermore did nothing to encourage me to continue the ride. But stupidity won out and I continued. It really helped that the line kept together well with everyone taking steady pulls.

Maybe expecting a death ride is a good way to approach these things. Anything but pure shit will be a pleasant surprise.

Patterson was a bit windy. I played back the video on my camera and it looks pretty good with Dave's bike trying to fly away from him. Good thing those cows were tied down otherwise they'd have been blowing around and (trust me on this) flying cows are very hard to dodge. And if you think birds can mess up a windshield you won't want to even try to image what happens if you pass under a flying cow.

Well done everyone. Thanks for the pain.

And here is Rebecca's story:

The first time Patterson Pass and I met, we didn't get along so great. In fact, after I made it up to the top of the "false summit" and saw the real one, I Just about puked and passed out on my handlebars. That was last summer.

So, today when the team suggested a President's Day ride up Patterson I thought they were joking. It was cold. It was windy (in Walnut Creek. And if it's windy in Walnut Creek, you can imagine how windy it will be in Tracy where the windmills are on the tops of those hills because it's windy there MOST OF THE TIME.)

However, I'm not the sort of person to let a mere mountain defeat me. So, I told myself no matter what, I'm not stopping until I reach the top.

This was the windiest it's ever been... for any of us. There were times when I looked down at my odometer and it registered a mere 5 mph while my heart rate was 186.  

But today, I didn't stop, I didn't get off the bike. I climbed the entire hill.  

I ended up riding a bit over 94 miles today; the longest ride I've ever done in February. I wasn't super fast; but I didn't stop and I didn't get off. And that is enough for me!.

This was the windiest it's ever been... for any of us. There were times when I looked down at my odometer and it registered a mere 5 mph while my heart rate was 186.

But today, I didn't stop, I didn't get off the bike. I climbed the entire hill.

I ended up riding a bit over 94 miles today; the longest ride I've ever done in February. I wasn't super fast; but I didn't stop and I didn't get off. And that is enough for me!

A little shaky on the downhill with sudden crosswind, I was ready for the bike to start oscillating as it had done years ago off Carson on a windy Death Ride, but it didn't.  We hadn't taken a real break since the traditional morning pee break early on, and when Ray mentioned HOT coffee it sounded like the greatest idea in the world.  Ward got us to the Four-Bucks by the Livermore Airport and it was indeed the greatest cup of coffee ever at Four-Bucks.  As usual they had no decaf ready but made one HOT cup fresh in a drip filter.

From there it was back on Collier Canyon where we had a slight tailwind.   I was weary as shit.  Through Blackhawk we got most of the lights.  Isn't that how it always works--when you feel great and can hammer ever intersection has a red light, when you need a rest all the lights are go go green.

Cisco Dave endorsed recyclable sportswear (WI)
When we return on Collier Canyon we meet up with Jack.  (WI)
Back to Walnut Creek, Dave, Ray and Rebecca head west while Ward and I go east.  Only about 85 miles as we didn't go over Morgan or ride around Tracy.   Now there are some stupid rules for this blog.

1) Ride reports only for epic rides, which mean century rides, or minimally the mid 90's (after all the Chico Wildflower is 95 miles and the  Solvang Double is 190 miles.)
2) You can't add miles by doing something mindless, like going around the parking lot 5x.  You have to go to a destination.

Ward cheated--he was riding those magic wheels not affected by high winds (WI)
So I told Ward for a brutal ride like this there has to be a write up so we need 10 more miles--so lets go to the foot of Mt. Diablo.  I think he was trying to punish me for organizing this ride when he smirked "hills" and led me to Mt Diablo looping around on every fn hill in any subdivision.  We got to Mt. Diablo wth me half dead and trying to coast uphill.

But we got a punishing 95 miles in so that means I can punish everyone with an account of this epic ride that wouldn't soon be forgotten.

Answer to Quiz Question-Southern Historians Stopped Dominating as they did at the middle of the 20th century and US Grant aggregate ranking of 37th moved to 25th re the five surveys taken after 2004.   I can't believe that away that Woodrow Wilson is ranked 6th (both aggregate and post 2004.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Missing Link Collier-Sunol-Palomares Century (2013)

February 16, 2013 Moraga Canyon Turnaround for Bike Exchange (24 miles), then Collier, Sunol, Palomares Climb, w/ Ward, 104 miles, 16.3 mph

Another weird ride--luckily no one got hurt this week except a Shimano Chain link.

Touch of warmth at beginning of the Diablo Cyclists ride--yippie.  I was feeling the best I had in months which put me in a distinct minority.  Dr. Dave and Christine seeing doctors for medical issues, CA Mike who intends to sign up for long distance brevets wasn't sure if he'd even have the energy to do the metric Club ride out to Castro Valley.  When Rebecca pulled in Mike yelled out "Rebecca, get some of your friends to join the Club, we have too many old people who have medical issues."

Out of Lafayette we have two choices to get to Moraga--the long but gradually inclined bike path or the super steep road--must be 1/4 mile at @16%.   I've been avoiding the climb for months but Todd turned on it so I followed with Ward and Jack.   This temporary pain assures we'd be at the first rest stop 5-10 minutes before the rest of the Club, where we bet that Rebecca would be the first to arrive from the bikepath group and she was.

Now down and then up to Redwood Road, which is a rustic road that gets us to Castro Valley.  At least that was the plan.  Ward got in trouble chasing girls again, on the first roller he went to catch up with Rebecca and next thing he was on the side of the road with a dropped chain.

We ask Ward for a photo of Mr. T's chain and he sends us this (WI)
Ward can get a chain back on 3x faster than me so I continued on with the Club downhill to the start of Redwood Road.  At the bottom we all waited for Ward to get back while Tom read the new graffiti tags on traffic signs.  Tom ran out of reading material before Ward appeared.  We waited a few more minutes--no Ward, so I said I'd go back up  to see what happened.

At the top Dr. Dave standing near Ward who was adjusting bike.  Chain had fell off--caused by two links deciding they wanted to bend and form an 'L."   Dave luckily had a chain tool, Ward took the bad links out and put in a 9 speed Connex link Dave had--trouble is that Ward has a 10 speed bike and his chain was now 1-2 links too short.  OK to ride as long as you stayed out of the big-big ring combo--do that and the derailleur blows us.

Knowing that Ward decided to ride home, grab another bike and do ?.  We were 12 hilly miles from the start and Ward cycles to the start.  I said I'd go back with him, then we could drive to his house, so we could save 30-45 minutes.   Even with mechanical hard to be in a really bad mood--was slowly getting to promised high of 70 and the vests soon would not ne needed.   Spring was definitely in the air--tons of cyclists were out.

Get back to the start, 24 miles in the bank--load the bike on my roof rack--drive to Ward's house (hell, we could have set a Strava time), grab a banana.  Now what to do???  We'll never catch up to the Club and traffic out through Walnut Creek-Lafayette-Moraga would now be heavy. 

Well, we could catch the Club on their return route from Castro Valley.  SURELY on such a warm, beautiful day--the first springlike day, the first day of a three day weekend, they'd add bonus miles.  The bonus miles were self evident--from Castro Valley they'd go over the Palomares Climb, then up to Sunol.  No one likes returning on busy, suburban Danville Boulevard in the afternoon so NO DOUBT they'd do what we do almost every Saturday and add miles and loop around Livermore to rustic Collier Canyon.  Ward pulled out his heavy steel bike as we weren't going to do hills.

It's springtime--bikes are blooming from the trees in Danville (PC)
So Ward and I, restarted and went down toward Collier Canyon.  It was right before noon and Danville had tons of cyclists now sitting around Peets.  Definitely not as many cyclists on the road now.  Soon on Collier which is great almost no traffic on a nicely surfaced road.  Ward and I spent the time trading pulls where we bs'd about lots of interesting things.  I learned the best way to pay off an unjust parking ticket, we discovered that Dave Matthews had both turn off KFOG with their incessant playing of him and other mellow rock (to be fair this was brought up when I opined that Dave Matthews' 'Two Step' has some life in it), and I got a rundown on the need for I-Tunes if you get an Apple product.  Before I knew it we were in Livermore.

Ward rides by the fake Wylands (PC)
Both of us were unsure of how we now loop Livermore to avoid the more direct but very busy Isabel/ Airport  Corridor.  We figured the Club wouldn't be near here yet so we took the Isabel/ Airport Corridor, with its shoulder obliterated by construction.  Luckily soon on familiar Vineyard, and we saw the Kettle Corn Man putting his stuff away from downtown Pleasanton Park.  Good--usually when the Club comes in from the opposite direction the Kettle Corn Man is gone.

Now just a short loop of Happy Valley Road before we head to Sunol--this is where we;d probably see our group.  Now 2:30.  So we do Happy Valley Road--see some cyclists approaching---not our group.  Head down to Sunol--see some cyclist approaching--not our group.  Shit, they are slow today, must be lounging around the general store.

Get to the general store--no one around.  So I call Christine "oh, we are back at the start drinking coffee--no one wanted to do bonus miles today."  "SLACKERS" Ward and I yelled in unison.

The text says "We-have-done-our-10-miles-now-time-to drink-a-Cinnamon-Dolce-Frappuccino" (PC)
It's nice and hot by the Sunol train depot, I don't want to leave (WI)
From there we figured WTF, and Ward suggested doing the Palomares Climb, which we did.  The ride down Niles Canyon and up Palomares was uneventful except when the "Welcome to Fremont" sign is in dead shade surrounded by large trees at the bottom of Niles Canyon, and the temperature must suddenly have dropped 20 degrees.  We quickly warmed up back on the Palomares Climb.  Then through Schaefer Ranch and the long slog back down suburbia/ Danville Blvd.  Actually it wasn't THAT bad, we caught more green lights than usual for an afternoon.

OK-I guess the bonus mile group isn't on Palomaras either-time to go home (PC)
Hope to do another century in two days, on President's Day, recreate Teddy Roosevelt's charge up Patterson Pass Hill.    Usually on Sunday I stay local which means repeats in the Los Vaquaros Watershed area on a fixed gear, but Ward said he'd join me so I figured we two man around the same route my old Club has done 10000000x every Sunday.  Mrs. Pumpkin would leave with the old club 30 minutes before us--we'd catch them en route and I'd ride with my wife.   Now East County is virtually flat but usually a stiff breeze blowing out of the West across the farmland, so though we were two manning it made for a hard recovery ride.  At one point we saw a bunch of fluorescent vests up ahead and I thought we caught up with my wife, but it was two cyclists on recumbents.   Where the hell are they???, we should have caught up to them by now.

Ward riding under the Downtown Brentwood Mt Diablo arch (PC)

The bleakness of East County (PC)

That's not the Mrs. Pumpkin group (PC)

Things didn't work out as anticipated, when we got to the last rise before dropping down to the Los Vaquaros watershed we went over it and at the same time Donna's club was coming up from the opposite direction.  After 10000000x of not changing the route (unless two bike shops were at war so the starting location was changed), they decided to do the route in reverse direction today.

A Belgium cyclocross racer would slide down the stair rail (PC)

Los Vaquaros (PC)
The new United States cycling team.  Not disgraced US Postal.  It's US Army (PC)
This was not a good weekend for predictions.  Can't wait to see how we lose the group on tomorrow's holiday "show and go."

I missed seeing the secret cycling power food in the Brentwood Bagel shop (WI)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Accident and Calaveras Century (2013)

Febuary 9, 2013, Calaveras - Collier Canyon Century, 102 1/2 miles, w Ward, Christine, Jack, Todd

Should have been a great day but it sucked.  We had just left Walnut Creek, whole club still intact.  When Bill took a flier off the front.  He touched his front wheel to a rear wheel at 27mph, and went flying off his bike.

As usual paramedics and firemen were saints.  Many great people trying to calm Bill down, who needed to lay still but wanted to roll around.  As I know, damn, its hard.  Danville cops did a nice job controlling the mayhem.  Bill relatively new to the club and I felt like a turkey when a copy asked for his last name, contact information-------DUH.     Many of us ride with road-ID or info in bike wallets, but even the old timers have no ideas who has what. 

 Made me think back to my four ambulance rides--actually I can only remember 2 and one was in a helicopter.  That one ever four years I've been cycling.  My car pool buddy, Melissa, who used to do triathlons, mater of factly says what do you expect--if you do  athletics enough you are going to get hurt.  My mom and grandma opined--if you do nothing you are perfectly safe.  They used to tell this to me when I visited and most of their neighbors, who also believed this, were on hypertension or cardiac or diabetes medication. 

On the other hand I once came back from an organized Century where a woman crashed badly and fractured her face.  I came home telling my wife that it was awful just thinking about it, and Mrs. Pumpkin said--don't you remember, that's what you did last year. (I didn't remember)

So we should avoid anything dangerous, eh?  In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, 5x as many people died in automobile crashes than in the war.  It could have been 20x--I don't think anyone would have avoided getting into a car.    

In any way our illusion of having a protective shield, of being safe, is again shattered.   It sucks for Bill, who now has to suffer with broken ribs and a punctured lung--crap, eventually the morphine wears off.   The worst thing thought may be the concussion--hopefully its mild--I thought that was worse than any broken bones.    Hopefully he can come back stronger than ever -- the only positive from these major accidents is you miss the adrenaline rush, the camaraderie, the fun so much (first question: "doctor--when can i go back on the trainer?") your enthusiasm gets rekindled again.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dyer Road-Patterson Pass (2013)

(February 2, 2013), Patterson Pass Loop with Dyer Road out and back.   94 miles, 4,450 climbing.   w/ Ward, Christine, Jack, Arizona Bill, Todd
Strava Profile (WI)
Our bike club, the Diablo Cyclists, have a great ride system.  Instead of having (and begging) for ride leaders, we have @a dozen Saturday (our long day) metric routes that Jack shuffles around.  I joke that Jack footnotes the rides, so that any that go South or Southeast, say 1-bonus mile group will go on to Patterson Pass.   As we don't have many rides that go North, about a third of our in-town rides have a Patterson Pass possibility. 

Diablo Cyclist Saturday Ride Schedule
This week the Club ride was a fast track, one going Southeast through the rural flatlands before reaching the Livermore suburbs--perfect.   Doing the Patterson Pass Loop is about 88 miles, so we've lately been adding some farm country on the Tracy outskirts.    Looking at Google Earth a side road off the Altamont run-in to Patterson Pass (the BEST 15 miles of cycling in the East Bay)--Dyer Road, looked intriguing.  It looked like a gradual climb among windmill farms which eventually dead ends, though I saw it turned into a gravel road near the end and Ward thought he spotted a fence blocking the road.  

My back felt great, so I've finally been able to start winter weight training two months late.  (Us advanced aged folks lose muscle mass.)  Elbow is almost all healed.  Feeling good--so of course I caught head cold from Mrs. Pumpkincycle who should have been quarantined weeks ago.  But though a tad overcast there was the promise of the first time 60 degree temperatures and we had a big  turnout.

Early talk was on how the Santa Rosa Wine Country Century closed out in less than one day--it being the best century in the immediate Bay Area (despite the lack of food at the end and the crap pavement in the Santa Rosa Area.)  I had registered at 1:30 am-1 1/2 hours after registration opened.  Christine got in and so did new rider Bill, who is strong on the flats and small rollers, so he'll like the Santa Rosa Course.   It's a shame how quickly it closed--ride is lots of fun as we can keep the Club together.   Hopefully my other partners in trouble making will be able to secure a ticket.

The beginning of our Club ride on the fast course turned into a free for all.  We had a rider who occasionally joins us--good guy, I like talking to him--and is always trying to ride second wheel before attacking any sprint point or hill after doing no work.  If he's winds up at the front he's off it in 5 seconds.  This gets my dander up.  So Ward launched a few attacks off the front, Dr. Dave gave it full gas, and then I marked Rider X so he couldn't get back into the pack, left put in the wind,  and couldn't catch Ward or Dave.   Christine right behind us was cracking up.   Fun and games as Big Todd took out the sprint.

When we got to the end Jack had an alternate route to Patterson Pass in mind, but as he "unsubscribed" to our weekly email blather, he didn't know that we had been talking about Dyer Road.  I wasn't sure who was doing Patterson Pass and was considering the Jack route when Christine declared ''we said we are doing Dyer Road so lets do it."  So we did.

As usual, once our bonus mile group departs the main pack we work together.  In fact when we first set out all of a sudden we looked back and saw someone chasing us far down the road--so we slowed.  Bill joined us--he had been in the front of the large group when we turned off and wasn't sure where we would leave the main field for the bonus miles.   He wasn't even sure what we were doing but he was game.

Gruppo starts up the magic Altamont Run in--the best dozen cycling miles in the East Bay (PC)
Usually a tailwind on the easterly Altamont run in, which is then bad news when we return West on the Patterson Pass climb.  But today a mild headwind which would bode well later on.  As usual Altamont deserted--we were passed by one stinky garbage truck that I could smell through my congested nose, maybe one other car, and we passed a small group of cyclists.  That's it for miles.

We were soon at the Dyer Road cutoff and made the sudden left turn under another prehistoric trestle.   Road was well paved, had almost no traffic, and we were riding up a gentle grade among wind farms.    At one point we passed a geodesic dome house.    Unfortunately after 2 miles--about 4 miles before the road truly ended, the pavement turned to gravel.  

Start of the Dyer Avenue out and back---could have sworn there was a train station here (PC)

Ward & Christine on Dyer Avenue (PC)
Bill off the front trying for KOM points as we go up Dyer Avenue (PC)

After only 2 miles this is not a good sign (PC)

Jack returning from where Dyer Avenue ends (PC)

It's a good idea we didn't hop the fence (PC)

Geodesic Dome house on Dyer Road (PC)

I arrive from the return trip down Dyer Road.  Where is the narrow subway train? (WI)
We then returned, consensus was that the bonus 4 miles was too short to be worthwhile to do again, and continued on the Altamont Run in.   Dual tandems were ahead of us up the road, on the slightly slow course.   Bill decided we needed to chase and get up there with them.  We caught up just about when the wind shifted and the course became slightly fast and the tandems decided they didn't want company--so all hell broke loose.   Bill and Todd led the chase, I hung on for dear life in the back with the only time my head cold f'ing up my breathing.  Luckily the tandems eventually diverted towards Tracy as we continued towards Patterson Pass. 

Looking back past the Summit Garage-there is nuttin out there (WI)

Gruppo passing the Summit Garage (WI)
As when we passed the Patterson Pass cutoff a big bike club was looming; looked like they just came down or had done a loop from Tracy and had stopped to regroup.      We continued on past the cutoff for our long stop of the day--the huge 7-Eleven by the highway.  It was only about two miles away, and when we got near the highway overpass suddenly the big bike club was roaring past.  Or at least the fast members of the big bike club, which didn't bode well as they were on our left and we had to make a left turn.  We slowed so they could safely pass, made the left, and then watched as the cyclists that they had ostensibly waited for were now dropped again and frantically chasing their mates.

The 7-Eleven is huge with big glass window in the front.   A Subway is next door--if Stephen would have known he probably would have gone with us.  Bathroom is huge and deluxe and has a 5 watt bulb--I think they are going for the Safeway mood lighting.

We take staggered turns at rest stops so someone is always with the bikes.  When Christine came out she said that the girls behind the counter were all enamored with "the tall guy"--Todd.   I think when we left they all ran to the window to get another look at Todd.

The 7-Eleven of Tracy with Todd's fan club looking for him(CB/PC)
The great thing about cycling is there is a part of the course for everyone.  Toby and Bill had their fun during the fast run in towards Patterson Pass, now Christine, Ward and I were enjoying the 35 minute+ climb.   There was absolutely no headwind so it was closer to 30 minutes and everyone enjoyed it.  Jack was riding the best he had in months and was not far behind on the climb.  This had him relax so he didn't take off ahead of the group like he's been wont to do lately.

Ward starting up Patterson Pass--distraught that the telephone pole ruined the view of the windmills (PC)

Bill having fun on his maiden voyage up Patterson Pass (PC)

Christine on Upper Patterson Pass--right before starting the final steep section.  She's happy that once again she dropped the boys.   (PC)
Ward on final section of Patterson Pass (PC)

Bill and Todd near the top of Patterson Pass (WI)

I'm at the top of Patterson Pass (WI)

Film auteur Christine makes her Patterson Pass I-nemascope film (WI)

We all celebrated finishing Patterson Pass with a toast of beer--except for Jack.  He was upset that we didn't bring a banner or signs to hold up as we usually do.   (WI/PC)
I usually don't care how we return, but I had mapped out an alternate return for this ride.  To get out of Livermore back to the rustic area that lies between it and Blackhawk, we used to go by the airport which is very busy.   So is cutting through downtown Livermore.   We have another route that has us stop at the library and then zig zag around town to avoid traffic--I've only done it 100000x and still don't know the route albeit it involves a left turn a busy uncontrolled intersection.  So instead of turning off the rustic Patterson Pass descent I planned that we stay on it even when it becomes a suburban street.  This worked out well.  It has us go through a light industrial park that was well paved with a wide bike lane and very few cars.  We then had to make a few suburban right turns and only one left.  We took a break at strip mall with a Buck-Bucks/ Jamba Juice and a waxing place which led to some stories by Bill.   OK--good we were finished eating.

Cyclist with flip flops and cool bike shorts.  I want them.  I think they are endorsed by the 7-Eleven girls (PC)

Todd and Ward at the last rest stop (PC)

So three rest stops for a 100 mile ride, not bad--though one more than Jose and I had last time we did the Patterson Pass loop.  After some self congratulations, Ward pointed out that once it gets warm we wouldn't be able to stop enough as we'll down our water bottles at an accelerated rate.
Uneventful ride back where we all stayed together and had a nice working paceline.  Uneventful until Ward pulled a Jack when we hit town, he saw someone on a strange cycling device, and had to follow them.    The rest of us continued on with 90 miles in our legs when some guy had to pass us red faced (extreme effort.)  F--jumped on his wheel, he was soon slowing quickly and our line passed and shot him off the back.  Todd threw away a water bottle preparing for the sprint and Christine took out the sprint for good measure.
Nice day--good group.  Just need it to be 10 degrees warmer with NO fn personal ailments.  Checked out Jack's Corral Hollow to Patterson Pass route and it looks interesting.  But next weekend is the Club ride out to Calaveras--which is fine until some nut suggests we add Sierra Road.

Don't know if Ward was trying to get a photo of the 'cyclist' or the jogger's shorts (WI)

It's Not About the Drugs

The Lying Lance Affair finally caused some personel consternation. No not the drug portion   The "other stuff."   Like Watergate, where the coverup and political machinations dwarfed the burglary, it is more "impressive" how Lance successfully slandered and marginalized everyone who pointed to his drug use, and got away with it. Part of the Lance machine was his payoffs -- which included $100,000 to cycling governing body--the UCI. Wonder what commentators would say if Jose Cancesco had made a sizable donation to the Baseball Commissioners Office.

Which gets us to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, cycling's prime commentators. I fell in love with them in 2003 when I was scared shitless after signing up for a hilly double metric, and would watch their telecast of 2002 Paris Roubaix over and over again--with Johan Museeuw flying through the muddy cobblestones to calm me down.  Not only was Museeuw's performance great--but Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin were so lyrical. Their call of 2002 Paris Roubaix, and then 2001 which I saw afterwards, made these races such special epics.**1**

I always wanted to attend a talk they gave and ask them two questions. One isn't Lance related**2** The second is Lance related but nothing about drugs. As I talked about in an earlier post, each year US Postal got their butt kicked at Paris Roubaix, the biggest one day classic that most multiple Tour de France winners used to do. Lance Armstrong NEVER did.  Paul and Phil would decry that Museeuw's Domo Farm Frites beat up George Hincapie of US Postal, who lost ONLY because Domo had lots of riders at the end and George was all alone.

 A 3rd grader hearing this would ask "where was Lance Armstrong of US Postal, the world's greatest cyclist??,"  just as any kid would ask where was Barry Bonds if he sat out games against Randy Johnson or Kareem if he sat out games against Wilt Chamberlain.  Paul and Phil somehow never noted this and made the connection when US Postal lost again. They were conspicuously silent. In fact one year they raved that Lance was actually watching the race from his home in Texas before his team went down in flames again.  

So I wanted to ask Phil and Paul that don't they think that Lance should have done Paris Roubaix to help Hincapie and his team, and why they never mentioned this if they did.     Up till now I thought the reason Phil and Paul avoided any criticism of Lance was they were  trying to build up the sport in America.    As such they weren't going to ever criticise the only cyclist most American's knew about.   Their praise of Lance, racing or not, was so over the top that the network they were on, OLN, became known as the "Only Lance Network."    But I wanted to find out from them.

Turns out--no need to. I just came across a news story from 2002 that is seemingly innocuous when published until we jump to the present day--when we find out that one of Lance's tactics was to buy off anyone of importance/ influence. Turns out when Paul Sherwin's Gold Mine needed a cash infusion so there was Lance with $$$$, and he became a business partner with Paul and Phil.

By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2002

Successful sportsmen invest in many diverse businesses but three-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong surely has put his money in one of the least likely – a gold mine in Uganda.

The 30-year-old American, who will set out on Saturday bidding for a fourth successive Tour de France crown, was persuaded to invest in it by former English professional cyclist Paul Sherwen, who is now the managing director of the mine.

Armstrong was following in the footsteps of former Motorola team-mate Ron Kiefel, Mike Plant, a director of the Goodwill Games, and Jim Ochowicz, former managing director of Motorola, who had all visited Sherwen in Uganda.

The trio along with Sherwen invested enough to secure a 2 percent holding in the mine which the Englishman says came in very handy at the time.

“Of course everybody, Lance included, invested because they were friends, but they did it at a time when we badly needed money,” Sherwen said.

Imagine if Tony LaRussa or Bill Belichick invested in a business run by Joe Buck, and then did something so strange that called for obvious criticism but Buck didn't say anything. What if we found out that the Bush family invested in FOX news? That would explain alot.   In any event I no longer have to ask Phil or Paul why they never criticised their business partner, Mr. Lance Armstrong. What a shame, a complete and utter shame.

**1** 2001 Paris Roubaix is the greatest cycling team performance I ever saw, 2002 the greatest individual performance.  Get the DVD if you can.

**2** Question is asking Sherwen to finish his sentence about Johan Museeuw during Museeuw's last race--Paris Roubaix-- before retirement when Museeuw suddenly flatted with 5k to go while in the lead group.   Paul was saying "last week when I saw Museeuw at the Tour of Flanders he was..........MUSEEUW HAS A FLAT TIRE...MUSEEUW HAS A FLAT TIRE."    Paul and Phil's call of this tragedy was very dramatic, incredible--Phil's voice cracked while Paul kept saying "what a shame, a complete and utter shame."  What was Paul going to say right before the flat, did he think Museeuw was going to win???