Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Disaster Again on Mines Road Double Metric (2013)

(March 9, 2013) OPENING DAY--Walnut Creek Mines Road Double Metric, 129 miles, Ward, Rebecca, Cisco Dave, Todd, Blinky Ray, Jack.  Some guy bailed out with a busted pedal at mile 90.  Sag support and great company for 60 miles provided by Christine and Dr. Dave.  Don also provided good company but he can't fit anything but a spare tube in his new sports car so he's useless at SAG support unless you have a Bike Friday.

Vintage Diablo Cyclist photo of Opening Day circa 1908 (PC)
Mines Road Altitude (WI)
The Diablo Cyclist's Mines Road ride is traditionally opening day of the long distance cycling season.  Usually a handful of folks start 2 hours early and ride the 30 miles from Walnut Creek to Livermore, and meet up with the bigger club en masse (2 dozen or is my overly rosy recollection .)    Then it was a race up the mostly gentle (though about initially 3 steep miles) 25 mile climb to the Junction, almost patting passing motorcycles on the helmet as they pass closely while leaning into the turn on narrow roads.    The uphill I really enjoyed.  Not so much the return trip--after a 2 mile climb out of the Junction it was almost all downhill with the big mashers in setting a torrid pace.  After the return trip to Livermore, 90 miles done, the bonus mile group straggles back the last 30 miles on the flat, gentle rollers while our compatriots jump in their cars.

Looked forward to this year's ride, though in the past few years the new long distance cycling training starts right after the New Year.  I'm not training for anything--as such my concession is to no longer to try to beat myself up and stay with the leader in an attempt to make the ride as hard as possible.  Now I just enjoy going the long miles and at a much more relaxed pace.  Unfortunately, by the end of this ride I was going at a much much much more relaxed pace than I intended.

We had a nice group of bonus mile riders in Walnut Creek, seven which is a nice size.  The promise is that we'd touch a high of 70 under sunny skies--but at 7:00am it is freezing under sunny skies.  The temperature wasn't THAT cold, mid 40's, but when Ward arrive he said his fingers were numb--and 1 minute into our start, w/o glove liners I felt the same way.   Our group was chilled until we hit the Blackhawk area--about 12 miles into the ride.

We also had another problem.  At 7am the Heather Farm bathrooms were locked.  So there was an urgent calling to get to our traditional first rest stop/ gas station @15 miles away.

Side note: Hey look--I didn't do 100 miles so I wasn't going to write anything but Cisco Dave said I had to or he wouldn't dance to Ganga Style while riding the bike anymore.    So you get what you get--even bathroom humor.

(top) Leaving Blackhawk and suburbia (PC); (2) On Collier--it looks like it is going to be a sunny-warm day--ha (PC) (3&4) On North Livermore Road--get that guy onto the shoulder and off the road.  (WI)

 You know--instead of going straight to Livermore we could have made that sudden left turn and gone by the beautiful Patterson Pass windmills (cameraman Cisco Dave, film editor PC)

Warmed up nicely on Highland/ Collier, much of the rustic road between Blackhawk and Livermore.  Lots of trees in bloom--really looked nice, sometimes the buds on the ground looked like glass until we were up close.  Rebecca riding behind Big Todd looks like Paolo Bettini riding next to George Hincapie--all Rebecca needs is a gold helmet.  Cisco Dave telling me about how he worked out splits to beat 15 hours on Devil Mountain Double.   Lots of cyclists on the road that our fast moving peloton is passing.  For once we didn't make the left turn to beautiful Patterson Pass, but continued straight to downtown Livermore.  We had left Heather Farms late, we were at the rest stop for a longer than usual time, so we pulled into Livermore about 10 minutes late.  Crap, hope the big group waiting isn't too po'd that we made them wait.  And surely it was going to be a big group--a couple of people contacted me in the prior week and said they'd start in Livermore.  It's always a big group.

We get to downtown where the huge City Center fountain usually has soap bubbles or is dyed green.  But today it was unaltered.   Then we got to the Library where we met up with the big group raring to get going.  It was Dr. Dave-Christine-Don-?guest joining us---------that's it.

That's it? 

Arrival of Bonus Mile Group in downtown Livermore--5 minutes to the see the BIG GROUP waiting a few blocks away (PC) 
Now the fun part--up Mines Road.  First a few mile flat rollout.   BS'd with Dr. Dave and Christine about their medical problems and glad they and Don were out.  We sped by what looked like pigmy pony's and I vowed to take a photo on the return.  Then a couple of miles of gentle uphill rollers.  We passed a big guy and his buddy who were envious of Cisco Dave and how thin he was for the climb about to start.   Big guy then said something like he could bomb down the return trip in 40 minutes--which once again proves that on cycling there is a portion of the course for everyone.

Then the killer section--a few miles of a steep climb.   Cisco Dave, Ray, Rebecca and I took off--though Dave may have been the only one happy with the effort.    In past years I would be motivated to try to hang on, but now it was what the F, I'm gonna kill myself trying to hang with this group (and in current condition I wouldn't last anyway.)   I stopped and pulled the camera out, got parting shots of Ray and Rebecca, and waited to see who the first person up in the next group would be.

Dr. Dave and Todd in front of the pelaton passing an octopus on the road leading into the Mines Road Climb (PC)

Christine and Rebecca on lead in to Mines Road(WI)
It was Dr. Dave, and we rode together until the nasty uphill ended, and then slowed so Ward could catch up and pull us through the next two dozen miles of gentle uphill.  Ward hooked on and we went about another half dozen miles when Ward saw some cyclists lost from the SF Naked Cyclist ride and wanted to take their photos--which also would give Christine a good opportunity to get back to us.  Strange thing was that even with climbing the wind had picked up and it was very cool--poor lost naked cyclists.  Christine and Todd arrived and then we had a good paceline going for another half dozen miles--enjoying the solitary road and mindful of the occasional car suddenly coming around a turn and bombing down the road.   30 miles of NO traffic controls!!
Ray looks happy that the steep part of Mines Road is over(PC)
(1)Ward and Dr. Dave on Mines Road (PC) (2) Dr. Dave and me (Cisco Dave)

Chairman Ward (PC)

Ward spots some of the SF Naked bike riders off course (PC)
I don't remember what mile it was (the 30 mile uphill has mileage markers)--I'm guessing about 20--the group hears a loud creek.  Sounds like something fell off a bike.  I look down--pump is still on frame, my handlebar bag and light still attached.   OK--everything is great.  Ward says he is going to circle back to see what "feel off" and about the same time I notice my clip out foot has lots more play than usual.  I clip out and holy shit--the front third of the pedal is missing.  (Two years ago on the return trip on Mines Road my hub fell apart.) 

My Time RXS Pedal converts to Speedplay size(WI)
An enjoyable day quickly went down the toilet.    I could still clip in to the broken pedal but there was nothing holding the front part of the cleat.  I was scared I'd clip out powering though a climb, so I took the rest of the day 2-3 gears easier than I would usually do, and I got the crappiest spin in the world.  On descents I has to make sure I didn't weight down the left side on right turns.  After some moderate standing on the way back "hot foot" developed.  Meanwhile, instead of getting warmer throughout the day like it is supposed to do, it was getting breezier and colder.

Jack picnicking at Mines Road Junction when everyone else is evening out their tan (PC)
Dr. Dave brings little heated ear warmers (PC)
Good Karma payback, I fell off the group badly for the rest of the trip to the Junction and Ward, Christine or Dr. Dave took turns waiting for me.  When we got to the Junction Cafe--no sign of Cisco, Blinky or Rebecca in the shaded garden area--today they were solidly around the corner against the southern facing wall.    I've been here when its been colder and huddling against that wall was a necessity--today the sunny picnic table 50' away looked inviting.  Sitting there was nice for 5 minutes then your realized you were chilled from the cold wind and it was time to huddle back by the southern wall.  Hell, half our group never left the wall.

Cisco Dave didn't even suggest in humor to continue to Mt Hamilton.  The return back was into a cold wind.    On the steep climb out of the Junction I quickly fell behind the lead group, the second group, the preschool group.   Don came along and we rode up the climb seemingly at a snails pace--but somehow left Jack far behind.   A few years back Don and I successfully raced the Mt Tam Double together, and I'd let him set the pace on the climbs where he was slower and he'd let me set the pace in the downhills where I was slower--and in this way we stuck together.  Today we did the same thing and it worked again though we were going about 1/4 the speed we did at Mt Tam.

At the top of the climb Ward, Christine, Dr. Dave and Todd were waiting and we formed a good 6 man working group into the downhill headwind.  When we first joined up I told Christine I'd like to get a ride back with her when we got returned to Livermore.  The gradual downhill pack riding was nice, albeit dodging small falling rocks off the sheer rock wall. Occasionally a motorcycle sped by.  This part was going well, and I started having thoughts of getting a lift back to the start --'hmmm, you can do the whole 120.'

I think Cisco Dave (and later Ward) purposely flatted so they could wear Todd's flat changing gloves.  Dr.  Dave on the lookout for the neutral support motorcycle that should have a spare wheel (PC)
Around a turn and we come across Cisco Dave fixing a flat.  At least he picked a nice sunny, out of the wind spot to stop.   He fixes the flat, we wait around another couple of minutes--no Jack.  What happened to that boy with me riding at super slow speed and Cisco fixing a flat?  Well, we are almost to the steep downhill so we'd wait for him there or in Livermore.

For me next section was a disaster--a few short downhill sections before the long one--I usually fall off here but come back on the interceding short uphill rollers.  Not today where I rode gingerly on the rollers.  Group was soon way up the road--Dr. Dave hung back to ride with me.    He was feeling good so he'd tack on a  6 mile Del Valle climb after hitting the bottom.

The pygmy ponies by the dental floss bush (Children of the 60's will get this reference) (PC)
Club waiting for me to regroup but now pedaling is a chore.  I see the pygmy ponies which are actually pygmy donkeys so I pull off to take their photo.  Any doubt I had whether to SAG suddenly ends;  I couldn't clip back into the broken pedal for another 2 miles. Unlike Mines Road there are lots of traffic controls necessitating stopping between Livermore and the end of the ride.

Relaxing after return to Livermore (WI)
Christine waiting for me this time and I finally clipped in and we head back to the parking lot.  Bonus mile group sprawled out on the lawn waiting for Jack-enjoying fig newtons Ward had tucked into Dr Dave's car.  Jack pulls in, determined to finish the ride but to do it solo so he urges everyone else to go on ahead.  I feel like crap not finishing a ride, but having Christine as the sag driver made the trip back real enjoyable as we bs;d about the "keeping up with the Jones" mentality that now permeates society.   When we got back to Walnut Creek the sun was full out, there was no wind, and it was almost a perfect beach day.  Wow, those guys doing the last 30 miles have great great cycling weather. 

I stopped riding so Ward and Cisco Dave take up the rest of the ride report

Typical boring ride thru Livermore.   Collier Canyon was windy as all get out! Ray sat off the back most (all?) of the way up Collier so he was able to enjoy the full effect of the wind. I don't know how much physical difference it made to be in a paceline, but mentally watching the wheel in front made it easier to keep the pace up.

Springtime group waits for Ward to change his flat.  Doesn't look windy--I want to see the video (WI)
Ward took the county line.  He saw a group of 3 riders ahead so he felt obligated to bring the team within striking distance before the CL.  As we passed them, the other group looked totally trashed. We probably looked trashed too, but we were faster trash.

Heading to Blackhawk, Ward flatted out his rear wheel…we got a nice break.  Group did not seem to be much of a hurry since the rest of the gang was on the other side of the road calling out for pizza. Pumping took a bit longer than usual as Ward had a mini pump. GPS trace says group was stationary for about 13 minutes. Ward took a photo of the group, as the trees were in bloom, the sky blue, and the grass green.

We all just wanted the ride to end…boring flat windy ride home! All our legs were toast by the time we hit rudgear! No Sprint ;o)  Everybody wanted Rebecca to write this section of the report but Rebecca didn't know what happened unless she has eyes in the back of her head (since she spent so much time at/near the front).

Nobody wanted to do North Gate.


Diablo Scott said...

2) Bummer
3) Huh?

Anonymous said...

Where's the photo of that great feed zone soigneur??

Pumpkincycle said...

Ride was supposed to be an epic. And I guess it was for those who finished the 120 miles. But between the cold wind and mechanical it turned out to be a disaster. This weeks was SUPER epic though--film at 11-

The feed zone soigneur didn't have any ride krispie treats or farm frites. No wonder people started crapping out on the way back.