Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Best of the Primavera (or Devil Mountain Double): The Calavares-Palomares Century (2013)

April 20, 2013 (no more 4/20 jokes), Calavares-Palomares Century, w Ward, Cisco Dave, Christine, Rebecca, Jack, Franco, 97 miles, 16.6 avg

If Morgan Territory-Patterson Pass is my favorite Diablo Cyclist local ride, Calaveres runs a close 2nd.   The regular ride is @80 miles, the Calavares lead in and climb is gentle and rustic, and it is such a fast route we usually get a large club turnout.  From Calavaras we have options of doing (gulp) Sierra Road, Palomares, or the ez side of Mt Hamilton.  The only bad thing about this ride is the afternoon return is down heavily controlled (red lights) San Ramon-Danville Blvd.  On the other hand we'd pass though the cute little town of Sunol twice.

Bonus is that this was the first hot weekend day of the year.   82 degrees in Livermore---not a killer day but a nice for heat acclimation.  Got to break out the mesh gloves--making sure to suntan the back of my hands so I don't get burnt like last year.

We started out with a big group.  Bill, who was seriously injured a few months ago was back--unfortunately he had tyre trouble.  (So did Jose, though his tyre trouble was his fault--no tread on the tyre so he couldn't do the last climb/ downhill of the day.)   Mike, who was seriously ill a few months back, did his longest ride of the year and kept up with the pace on the way out.

Cisco Dave must be tapering for Devil Mountain Double next week.  He didn't propose Sierra Road or going up Mt Diablo on the way back.  It was a good ride for him as I figure you need 3 rides in the heat to acclimate, and this will help if next week is a scorcher.

Ride started with a San Diego Dude in Liverstrong shorts passing our group early without saying anything, which is like waving a red flag to a bull.  A few of us chased him down and then took flyers off the front.  80 more miles to go--eh, lets make this as hard as possible.  Usually like doing the first 20 miles in the small chainring but this was big chainring almost from the start.

Encountered someone who bought her drivers license on Ebay.  First she came off a side street and right turned her minivan wide right in front of our group--OK--about 30' in front of us, so there was minimal braking and this was just annoying.  But then she fixated on a driveway (leading to sheep shearing,  obvlious to us, and right turned again about 5' in front of us which led to lots of hard braking and yelling "what the F are you thinking" while she looked dazed and clueless.   Wonder why cyclists wear all those bright colors

Rest of ride to Sunol was uneventful--not too much traffic on San Ramon-Danville Blvd in the morning so we get a few green lights, and once we cross the highway Foothill Road is pretty light on both traffic and traffic controls.  I thought I drank enough last evening but using scientific color analysis at our first rest stop I was badly mistaken.   
OK-I admit, I always wanted to make something like this into a cycling jersey (PC)
Fast paceline down to Sunol where we caught up to San Diego Livestrong on the short climb into Sunol, while half our group tried to get Jose to take a pull before he tried racing up the climb.  At Sunol it was steam engine day (usually a diesel engine) so it was photo time.  Also first time this year for the PERFECT carbo food on a warm day--Frozen Fruit Bars.

Cisco Dave and Christine at Sunol train depot.  Cisco is faster than the steam engine (PC)

I'm enjoying the warm weather at Sunol train depot (CB)

Christine at Sunol train depot-we finally got the tourists out from the background (PC)

Rebecca and Ward at Sunol Train depot with century rest stop reminder in the background (PC)
The big group start towards Calaveras--nice long flat run in past wholesale nurseries before you disappear on a tree lined curvy road with some tight hairpins.  Calaveres Reservoir not far off to the side.  Usually a gentle climb--sometimes the road kicks up.   More bike traffic than cars.   Cisco Dave, Jose, Ward, Rebecca and I take off when the road goes up.  Eventually Cisco steams away with Jose able to stay on his wheel a little longer than the rest of us.

Cisco Dave on Calaveras (PC)

Rebecca on Calaveras--ok, I'm getting out of your way (PC)
Pass one big group of stationary people with binoculars parked on the side of the road, all trained on an eagle's nest in the distance.  Wonder if eagles are as exciting as the Pt. Reyes whales we saw two weeks ago--do eagles jump through hoops?     Once we get to the turnaround spot a few of us continue on about 1/2 mile past to go down and back up "THE WALL" that terrorizes riders on the Primavera.  By the time we come back almost everyone has arrived at the shaded turnaround spot.

Ward, Rebecca, Cisco and Jose do the Calaveras Wall bonus climb (PC)

Ward ready to blurt out "lets do Sierra Road" and Rebecca waiting to say "I never did it--sounds good."  But luckily Ward was quiet while resting at the turnaround (PC)
I was surprised that Cisco Dave didn' propose Sierra Road.  Heck, in past years I would want to make this ride as hard as possible, and I'd proposed Sierra Road even though I hate that climb.  But I ain't training for nuttin this year so no reason to go into sufferfest mode.  On most doubles there is a point  you wonder why the hell you are doing this ride--and you hope you ask that question at mile 170--not mile 90 with 110 miles to go.   Everyone can cycle when they feel good--the trick is to to continue through a stretch when you don't, so its good to train for this.  Before we thought about doing Sierra Road, someone quickly proposed doing Palomares Road on the return trip, and there was unanimous consent so we could avoid the alternative from hell.  We all suggested to Jose that he NOT do the Palomares Climb and downhill, as now three cords were showing through in his back tyre.

I made a mistake on the ride back.  On warm days I can empty two bottles on the 30 mile out and back from Sunol-Calavares-Sunol.      I should have gotten another small bottle of water in Sunol and stuffed in my jersey pocket--but I forgot to.  Starting back I had about 1/4 bottle left--which went fast.   When we reached a speedy section (the whole trip back is slightly downhill) I fell off the paceline and soon everyone was 200'-300'-800'...down the road.  It would be suicidal and not successful to try to get back to the paceline unless my name was Fabian Cancallara or Cisco Dave, so I just put my head down and figured I'd ride hard but not kill myself and we'd regroup in Sunol.  But Ward was waiting for me about a mile away, then Cisco Dave another mile away, and they pulled me back to the group.

Off to the Sunol Park for LOTS OF WATER before getting another frozen fruit pop.   Mike was going to call it a day so he went back with a few others the way we had come into Sunol earlier.  The rest of us were going to go down busy Niles Canyon Road (lots of traffic-minimal shoulder) to Palomares (semi steep climb but rustic with little traffic.)
As seen in Sunol--that video screen on top of the handlebars is larger than my television (PC)

Heat of the day but Palomares is nicely tree lined.  Franco doing his first 100 miler with us and he was worried that we'd hammer up Palomares but I told him that the bonus mile group watches out for each other, and someone will come down for the last climber.   Cisco and Rebecca took off, Ward joined me, and we had a nice businesslike pace going up Palomares.  When we got to the top I was feeling good so I turned around and rode back down to come up with Franco.

Cisco and Ward, the two debutants, lead up the Palomares climb.  I'm checking those white arm warmers for illegal substances (PC)

Ward near the end of Palomares climb (PC)
At the top everyone tucked well into the shade.  Two cyclists dressed in black kits (on a hot day-arrgh) on the side of the road talking with Cisco Dave.  They are jazzed and worried as they signed up for the Death Ride and the Davis Double.  I thought back to 2004 when I was jazzed and apprehensive about these rides also.    These long distance rides were all so new.  Nice guys--Dave and I tried to give them as many tips as we could in a few minutes.

I again unhooked on the downhill, made some progress getting back to the peloton, caught up to Franco and was pulling him along when someone came by.  Nice recovery by Franco--glad he can take a turn.  But it wasn't Franco, it was Cisco Dave who had pulled into a driveway, and he pulled me back to the larger group where then Ward, Cisco and I the upped the pace to the end of the road.

Only two more climbs for Franco to suffer on--Dublin Canyon--long but gentle climb on the service road next to the highway, usually with favorable tailwind--and Schaefer Ranch Road--short but double digits. Past HISTORIC Dublin--or so the sign says.  I had to stop and take a photo with our regroup stop right down the road.

Dublin Heritage Park (PC)
We all liquored up heavily at the gas station, and had a good paceline back down Danville Blvd--to the series of RED lights.   Franco felt better after drinking.  Christine and Rebecca riding great like usual.   Jack riding steady.  Our two debutantes (with the designer white arm warmers) Cisco Dave and Ward driving the pace--until the next red traffic light.  Repeat.   We get to one fast roller that Ward loves to hammer up so I do a lead out and he and Dave race up it at mile 90 .     Usually Danville Blvd full of cyclists--but in late afternoon it was deserted except for one woman racer who joined our paceline.   Still relatively early for our Saturday ride to be over--weather still wonderful.  Mt. Diablo---mmmmm--NO.

Usually back at the park we start making a bee line is straight to the bathroom.  Today we sweated out any excess liquid so no need to stop.   Average speed is closer to 17 than 16--which means we didn't add enough climbs.  Which is fine if you ain't training for nuttin.  Enjoyable ride.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tour of East Contra Costa County--Diablo Cyclists Invade East County (2013)

(April 14, 2013) Diablo Cyclists Sunday Casual ride--Tour of East County, 40 miles, 7' climbing w/o the Los Vaqueros Dam

The Diablo Cyclists are based out of Central Contra Costa County.  If we were in France this area would be where the Tour de France is held.  Loads of seminal climbs--Mt. Diablo right in middle, Palomares to the south, Oakland hills to the west, Morgan Territory to the East.  In  lots of beautiful rustic roads with light traffic--Collier Canyon/ Highland, Foothill Road, the Bears, Redwood Road and Calaveras come to mind.  Loads of cyclists all around.

No one registered any elevation gain (except for Dr. Dave) so here is artist's rendition. (PC)

Then there is East County. The Paris Roubaix part of France.  Mostly flat.  Usually windy.  Some rural roads that are dangerous to cycle on.   Either new suburban development that ignored bicycle accommodations with unswept glass all over the place (Pittsburgh/ Antioch) or some that accommodates bicycles (Brentwood) but as a new resident of Brentwood said "you never see anyone on bicycle."  Eventually you get to lots of farm roads in outer Brentwood, but laced with highway bypasses.  When the Los Vaqueros watershed was closed for two years for dam expansion there was no reason to ride in East County except that the view of Mt Diablo from the morning sun is tremendous. 

Our best rides go in a SE direction (AA), from there we can do Palomares, Calaveras, Sunol, Collier Canyon. All nice and rustic. Of course then there is a good possibility to do Patterson Pass. The SW route (B) means the Oakland hills. For the most part more traffic and roads aren't paved as the richer communities in the (AA) sector.     The NW (C) sector are nice loops of the waterfront around Crockett--but these are usually shorter rides reserved for Sunday.  Today we go to the NE (F)--East Country. Windswept, flat, broken glass await and no good routes to get there .

Diablo Cyclists haven't been out here for 12 years--when Los Vaqueros Reservoir first opened.  I think they took BART to Pittsburg and rode out to Los Vaqueros.   Apart from East County being a lousy cycling destination there are two miserable roads linking Central to East County.   Kirker Pass is a noticeable climb but its like riding on the side of a highway.  At least it has a shoulder.   The other alternative is the narrow, blind curve filled Marsh Creek Road which has no shoulder and lots of speeding traffic.    So no rides ever come out here.

However a few things conspired for me to put an East County ride on our Sunday (casual ride day) schedule.  Los Vaqueros has reopen.  Cars have to pay to get into the watershed, and as there is very little to do almost no one drives in, so the 3 mile road is like a giant bike lane.   At the end is a 1/4 mile? climb up the dam--not a significant climb by Central County standards but the best climb in East County.   Additionally a back road through a subdivision finally opened--so access to Los Vaqueros can be done quickly with little traffic.

 As I've done the East County bike club's route about 3x in the last five years, I was studious in studying the map  as I didn't want to enhance my reputation for getting lost..  Who knew that Ward could download the route on his Garmin and it would tell him where we should turn.  Hell, if I knew a Garmin could do that i would have gotten one 10 years ago.

Jack (Terra Bella), Ward, Dr. Dave and I (Lighthouse from Windy Triple Hell) all did century rides the day before.  Don, Tom and I brought out the fixed gear, and Dr. Dave and Brian the anti-fixed gears--also known as recumbents.  I had told Dr. Dave and Brian that this was a perfect ride for them on the 'bent as it was going to be a flat ride, I think they misunderstood me as they had 3 flats between them.   The flat tyres were the only thing that marred the day, sun was out and the usual East County trade wind wasn't bad.  Anyway we had a big group come out for the Diablo Cyclists Invade East County, and ride with Jeanne who had recently moved out here,.

Stop to regroup on Shady Willow as half the group gets caught at a long traffic light at the HolyLand.  First great view of Mt Diablo. In the summer this field will be filled with corn (WI)

Diablo Cyclist have a hard time organizing for a team photo
 under the Mt. Diablo arch in Downtown Brentwood (PC & WI)

 Brentwood Downtown is only a few blocks away from the start of the
agriculture belt on Chestnut--leaving subdivisions, churches
 and stop lights behind (WI)

I didn't forget my fixed gear socks--I was overdressed but it felt good after being
battered around yesterday.
Continue in the ag belt on the Byron Highway
(WI--who did a great job getting the ever
present Mt Diablo in the background of many photos.)
Someone forgot their fixed gear socks

    Don forgot the fixed gear socks also. 

Amy wearing less clothes than I am, something is wrong. 
Mark probably told Amy he wasn't carrying her excess clothes today. 
Dr. Dave happy, its flat with little wind.

Hoffman Lane, and look what is ahead (WI
Peloton splits on Marsh Creek Road (PC)

 Brian doesn't salute the pumpkin and he will soon pay for his irreverence

Turn onto Walnut Blvd (WI)

 If Dr Dave rode those deep dish rims yesterday in the 60 mph crosswind
we would have found him in the cow pasture off the road.  Today he is enjoying Walnut Blvd.  
 Sssssh, don't tell him going straight is a shortcut to Los Vaqueros. 

On Walnut Blvd and ugly Vasco Road Brian gets flat #1 & flat  #2

Los Vaqueros Watershed (PC)

 Don heard that the local bike clubs pestering Jeanie to pay dues, attend meeting,
buy a kit. He said "what are dues, what's a meeting??"  
The Diablo Cyclists-the anarchist bike club.

 more Los Vaqueros Watershed (WI)

The (Rideable) Top of Los Vaqueros Dam (PC top 4, WI bttm 2)

Los Vaqueros watershed, road we came in the  background

Cyclocross champ Mark should be running down the stairs with his
bike on his shoulder

What they should have done at the top of the Dam (PC fantasy)

Dr. Dave's Flat Ride--3rd Recumbent flat of the day--
it's Strava Time (WI)

I think I see Tom and Jack dancing in the backgroundReturn on
 Camino Diablo (WI) 

Classic East County photo of the Mt Diablo by John Marsh's house with one of
the statue less monuments.  The fastest person on the secret Strava segment
is supposed to climb on top of the monument.

All of a sudden back in Suburbia (PC)