Monday, May 27, 2013

Morgan-Del Valle-Mt Diablo Century (2013)


Younger people may not believe this but when rock and roll was hatched FM radio was almost non existent.  Most cars just has an AM radio.    AM rock radio was dominated by stations that would play the same insipid 40 songs over and over and over while the DJ talked through the beginning and end of the song.  And since all songs HAD TO BE 3-4 minutes long, MAX, the talking over really did kill a good chunk of the song.  Once and awhile a Rollings Stones or Beatles song would get into the rotation, breaking up what seemed to be endless rotation of Elton John-Carole King-James Taylor-Stevie Wonder.

One song that thankfully got into the rotation was the Door's 'Light My Fire."    Nice song with Jim Morrison 's catchy lyrics and a nice instrumental back beat.  The "Light My Fire"  3 1/2 minutes went fast--now for more Nancy Sinatra or the Righteous Brothers or a block of commercials..

Years later I heard a  live album of the Doors--OK, here is the familiar "come on baby light my fire...".    What.....this is strange...after the familiar lyrical hook at the beginning (and end)--most of the 8-9 minutes is dominated by an jazz like organ riff and  a guitar solo.   It seems that "Light My Fire," like many Doors songs were long with extensive interplay between instrument--AM radio had demanded a 3 minute versions so on the AM version almost all the instrumentals were cut out.

So the real Doors were as much Ray Manzarek's (and Robbie Kreiger and John Densmore) as Jim Morrison's.  Many of their songs had extensive instrumentals  with Manzarek supplying the bass line (they had no bass guitar player) along with an instrumental organ that sounded part Bach--part circus.  On video there would be this shaggy haired guy bobbing around in a trance while playing the organ in between Morrison's bellowing and Kreiger's ringing guitar.

On my favorite climbing song "When the Music's Over"--(@9:48) the climax is Morrison yelling NOW which leads into mass hysteria caused by Manzarek's organ and Kreiger's guitar.  On "Light my Fire" --(@4:32) full version--the transition between Manzarak's runaway organ and the first ringing notes of Kreiger's guitar is great.   On other songs--concerts version--familiar songs are led down a different path by the instruments until they return like many jazz songs do

We all know what happened to Jim Morrison.  Pre internet I wondered what happened to Ray Manzarek.  One day I got a history of jazz CD--and it was narrated by--Ray Manzarek.  All of a sudden he seemed ubiquitous.  Much of his time was spent presenting a "sanitized" version of "The Doors" to Densmore's critical history.   He then led a Doors tribute band.  The Manzarek version of things, sometimes hokey but always full of enthusiasm and his organ riffs very memorable. 

(May 25, 2013) Morgan Territory Climb, Del Valle Climb, Mt Diablo Junction Century, 109 miles, 8,000' climbing, w Ward, *Cisco Dave, *California Mike, *Rebecca, *Matt, *? Jack, 14.9 mph (Dr. Dave insists I hand out asterisks to those who missed the joys of Mt Diablo)

I had to do Mt Diablo with Ward as he;s creating the topo graph (WI)
Today the Diablo Cyclists had Morgan Territory on the schedule--which is my favorite Club ride.  When warm you can go up Mt. Diablo and race back to the club as the route to Morgan and the Morgan Territory climb itself is a slow course with many steep rollers and hairpins.  There are loads of options after the Morgan climb.   You can continue on the Devil Mountain Double route and do Patterson Pass--have an easy day riding the flats into Livermore, or add the Del Valle or Palomares climb.

But this was not a hot day, it wasn't even that warm.  This has been the windiest spring I recall so the wind tunnel known as Patterson Pass was probably out--been blown around too much this year.  The short climb into and then out of Del Valle seemed like a good alternative.  California Mike, recovering from long illness, was going to accompany us on the ride and if we waited for him on the climbs and kept the pace even we could get him through his longest ride of the year.    Mike's relative Matt, last seen going the wrong way on Devil Mountain Double a few years back, also joined us.   He recently became a dad and hammered when we had the big Club together, and then rode nicely before fading from the assault of midnight feeding.

Oh no--no Christine in the avenues leading out to Clayton.  But the usual suspects riding in back of the group. (PC)
When the big Club starts a ride we are kinda aggressive.   Sometimes there are people that we just don't want to ride with.  Sometimes people we like but they never put their nose in the wind--and then takes off on sprint finishes or small hills.  So between trying to get some riders to the front and checking on Mike, Ward and I started near the back.  Cisco Dave at the front along with Rebecca doing her patented 120% effort keeping him company, with a parade of riders behind them.

Eventually I rode up to Dave and he filled me in on his sub 15 hour Devil Mountain Double.   Last year  we virtually finished together at @15:30 and Dave swore he'd never do another double again.     This year he took an hour off and can't wait for next year where he is convinced he'll go under 14 hours.   I bet he'll do it.  He also wanted to do Welsh Creek Road next time we come off of Calaveras.  I never did that climb so that sounds like a plan--especially if I then can continue my 2013 resolution to avoid Sierra Road.

Only bad thing about Morgan route is there is a big rest stop/regroup just 10 miles into the ride, which I bypass and more and more people now doing same.   Dave ameliorated his speed so I could stay with him and we decided we'd stop and wait for Mike at the beginning of Morgan Territory after a series of steep rollers that lead into same.   We also lost Ward who was hanging in the back with some new folks.   Some people in the Club passed our stopped group--but it didn't matter as Dave would still be 1st up the climb, and I'd be close by depending on the pace.  I like the Morgan climb with its sudden fits and starts on the severe uphill kicks.

We started off with a group of about a dozen, with Ward and I falling back for Mike a few times.  When we saw that he couldn't hold our wheel on the mild uphill we sped up to get back to the parade Dave and Rebecca were leading.   

Eventually we had a foursome to the top.  We caught up to anyone who had passed our stopped regroup and quite a few Oakland Yellowjackets.  Matt said he never did the climb (he did on DMD?) so he didn't know where the top was.  Matt's a good guy so I told him of the ending sudden short downhill that leads into a short but steep uphill at the end, so get ready to to shift into an easy gear.   (It would be fun  telling a first timer you didn't like that Morgan ends JUST on a steep downhill so get into your hardest gear for a fast sprint finish at the end--crunch.)  

Cisco Dave and Rebecca looking for the International herald tribune--Sunday edition--for the ride downhill off of Morgan Territory (PC)
Usually nice at the top of Morgan--motivation to climb to the top fast so you have bonus time at the picnic area.  But today a steady cold breeze was blowing through the Morgan picnic area.  We seemingly waited here for an eternity until the last person in the club straggled in.  Meanwhile Cisco Dave and Rebecca were collecting newspaper to bulk up their vests for the windy downhill.

The downhill off of Morgan to the south isn't like the tree lined climb from the north.  It is wide open whereas you are hit with crosswind while watching out for the (minimally) two pickups coming up the  unstriped road.  On the downhill  Mike watched out for me so much I thought  he'd go fly off the road he was looking back so much to make sure I was close by.

Dave can't find enough newspaper so he wraps himself in the confederate flag that the Livermore Tea Party left behind (PC)

California Mike on the comeback trail (PC)
At the end of the Morgan downhill the larger club went back towards the start with Cisco, Ward, Rebecca, California Mike, Matt and Jack going on.   We had a nice paceline going into Livermore which would continue for most of the day--Dave did 70% of the pulling, Ward filling in when Dave finally got tired.  If Mike got to the front, to his consternation, I'd go to the front.   When healthy Mike will work his ass off for anyone in the flats, and today he bitched at me "why wouldn't you let me pull."  Told him game plan was for him to complete his longest ride of the year with us--and when he gets back to full health and if he does the Eastern Sierra Double next year he can pull my ass around the course.

Any faint hopes of sane people doing Patterson Pass (we were insane earlier in the year) were dashed when the first visible pinwheels we could see on the top of the hills were spinning around like mad.   Plus we knew that Dr. Dave and Christine would be upset missing a windy Patterson Pass ride.  So then it was backup plan--ride to Del Valle and climb into the campgrounds.

Me, Mike, Rebecca, Ward climbing into Del Valle (Cisco D)
The Del Valle climb is at a fork with Mines Road--and after a few miles of a flat lead in the road kicks up for four miles.   At one point I dropped some food and stopped to retrieve--Ward and Dave waiting up the road to paceline me back to the group.  Ward stopped to take some pictures of 'coconuts for sale signs' (Mike used to rate his Hawaii rides in coconuts--don't ask me, no one could understand his emails) and Dave and I wait to pace him back. 

Nice smooth shoulder on the climb so no trouble with the  few passing cars.  At this point Ward started sweating profusely as he is known to do on warm days, and I suddenly loved the weather.    This lead me to postulate that on rides when Ward starts sweating I get happy.

Rebecca and Matt before the final drop down to the Del Valle campgrounds (PC)

Ward arrives at the campground (PC)
Near the top it got real windy before a sudden drop down into the parking area on the right where we regrouped (the road also goes straight down so we stayed near the entrance as not to lose anyone--but now I wonder where the straight road goes.)

Stayed awhile above the campgrounds and reservoir, where we saw the tents fighting a constant breeze.  Glad I finished my Cliff Bar before Mike told us why you need a 2nd special Nalgene bottle to keep warm at night when you go snow camping.    Cisco was still hungry despite Mike's story and was dismayed that there was no park concession.

Climbing out of Del Valle--the start of Mines Road off to our left below (WI)
Mike and I climbing out of Del Valle--how did Cisco Dave miss the feed zone (WI)
Long climb out of camgrounds into a crosswind.  Rebecca can stay out front all day on a windless day, but she hasn't learned how to "protect herself" when its windy (antithesis of morning riders who were always protecting themselves)--so she faded on the climb.   Ward and I came along and blocked the wind from the front and side.   On the downhill Mike again waited for me.  Good fn teamwork all day.

There is a nice way to go back from Livermore to Collier/ Highland--rustic road between population centers of Alameda and Contra Costa County--but the is no place for provisions so Dave & Ward decided we'd circle around the Livermore Airport and the strip malls.  Jack wanted no part of this so he took off.   We had a nice long break though we tried and failed talking California Veggieman Mike into the Cattleman, so we had to settle for  what was on sale at 7-11.
The group in the Gold Country?   no, not quite (CA Mike)

It's Memorial Day--now the white shoes can come out (PC)

Rest of ride uneventful--Cisco Dave would sometimes do a "Cisco Dave interval"--even at a slackened pace Ward and I struggled to stay on his wheel.   Then we'd have a slow rolling regroup and ride together for awhile until time for another Cisco Dave interval.

On Collier on the way back to civilization (WI)
When we got back to the start, it was the warmest it had been all day.  Most everyone else had peeled off as they had ridden to the start in the AM.  We had about 88 miles in the tank, but with the even pace it felt like much less.    I figured I'd ride to the foot of Mt Diablo and back to get a Century--Ward joined me.   When we got to Mt Diablo Ward said "I wouldn't mind going to the Junction"--which is about 60% up Diablo.  I think he said there would be Gelato at the junction so I agreed.  It was actually a nice climb--I turned the watch off so no big effort--there was no traffic and only a coed on a mountain bike who called out and joked that "now she felt bad that we passed her."   Ward and I bs'ing about our good bonus mile group.  Junction was eerily quiet, and though warm on the climb it was only in the high 60's--meaning Mr. Cold Wimp (me) would hate the downhill--which I did.  On the way down we saw about a dozen riders getting a late start up Diablo.
"I got a great idea...."   Ward's idea almost as entertaining as Mike's story about the special Nalgene bottle and keeping warm when sleeping while snow camping (PC)

It turned out that going to the Junction was a good idea--but maybe Ward is rethinking this (PC)

At the end of the ride I was real stoked.  My favorite race video is Paris Roubaix 2001 where the Domo Farm Frites team plays perfect team tactics all day and support each other.   Their team leader who should win the race winds up playing a support role and finishes 2nd--but the team finishes 1-2-3-5.  The bonus mile ride today was like that today, with everyone picking everyone else up who needed help. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Solano-Lake Berryessa Century (2013)

(May 18, 2013) Solano-Lake Berryessa Century, 113 miles, 7,000', w/ Ward & Christine and sometimes Jack.  16.4mph

With Tour of California taking up our home base it was time for an out of town ride.   I wanted to do Marin-Mt. Tam-Bolinas (and hopefully run into artist doing Burmese art we saw a few years ago.)  But weather report called for mild temperature and high winds along the Coast---done the high wind thing to many times this year.  Another alternative was the Gold Country but a long drive and will try to do that next (Memorial Day) weekend.

Ward came up with a last minute great idea--the Solano ramble.   Relatively benign--a few climbs but nothing rough unless you are on a recumbent.  Two long sections--Pleasants Valley Road and Berryessa Road among the best riding you can find-smooth, scenic, no traffic controls, and little traffic.  On the rest of the ride the road is a little chewed up and mild traffic---not alot but every other vehicle seems to be towing a boat.  With Lake Berryessa in decline--some of the grocery markets en route have close and never reopened.

Unfortunately both Dr. Dave and Barry Bonds were at the Tour of California so they couldn't join us.  Ward thought best that we leave an hour early, at 8:00am, which was a good call.  Christine was in so we had the same good group that we had at Santa Rosa, whereas we all watch out for each other.   Jack joined us and sometimes rode with us but mostly did his own ride.

Jack mentioned at the start that we might run into the tail end of the Davis Double morning rest stops--wow--I forgot that today was the Davis Double.  We'd be going by their rest stop #2-Cardiac, #3-Moskowitz Corner & #4-Pope Valley.  Of course even with our early start we'd be leaving 3 hours after most riders start, and we were starting as far away from the rest stops as they do--so if we saw any riders they were in big trouble.

It was a strange day--usually this route full of racing cyclists.  With many cyclists at Mt. Diablo watching the Amgen race and many Davis Bike Club folks working the Double, most of the cyclists we saw were on hybrids and unaware of a major bike race or a Double Century ride.

Windy and cold in the morning so of course I overdressed.  Shit--if I didn't take knee warmers and arm warmers that I really didn't need in 30 minutes and I could have left the handlebar bag home.   Flat with occasional rollers on picturesque Gordon Valley Road.    Ward and I getting on Ms Giants Christine for not recognizing Barry Bonds from the photo Dr. Dave took on Mt Diablo yesterday.  "Oh that Barry"
Scenes from Pleasants Valley Road...Christine laughing at me for wearing knee warmer etc (PC)

Jack still riding with us (PC)

Someone is overdressed (WI)
Ward trying to fool me--we don't make a right turn yet (PC)

Sunrise Run (WI)

On Pleasants Valley Road we saw a big road closed--special event sign.  Momentarily thought road was closed for the Davis Double--but Davis Double doesn't go this way (Knoxville Double does.)  Up ahead one lane of traffic was shut down as a running event was coming towards us.  We had no problems getting through and saw a long stretch of what looked like the tail end of the field.  Many of the runners looked very unhappy/ zonked out but an occasional runner let out a wave/ cheer when we went by and we returned friendly greeting which got everyone stoked.
Ward is President of the Diablo Cyclist Wise Acres.  I'm in charge of European outreach and chair of the Weisenheimers, but alas, no street sign for my group (PC)

Our group about to top the Cantelow Climb (PC)

Half way down Pleasants Valley Road was a cutoff for a steep but relatively short (1-2 mile) climb--Cantelow Road.  Jack didn't want to do it but we always do it--so we did it again.  When we were about to make a left handed turn onto Cantelow a huge young racing group came in from the other way and made the right in front of us.  Not trying to chase today--first order of business was to stop and pull off vests and arm warmers, which was a good move. 

We kept our quartet together down to Lake Solano Park for our first rest stop.  Off came the knee warmers.  Power bars paled in comparison to guy barbecuing (probably tri tip) next to us.  Unfortunately market next to the park is now closed, one of many stores along the way now shut down. .
Why go to Hawaii--Christine at the Lake Solano resort (PC)

We then started the Cardiac Climb--which is long in this direction.  Ward-Christine and I kept together, we weren't pushing the pace but we lost Jack.  Its a two summited climb--we waited at the top of the first summit but after losing Jack again we said we'd start the downhill and regroup at our standard regroup stop at Moskowitz Corner.  Moskowitz Corner has a nice shaded seating area off to the side--nice on a day that was rapidly getting warm.  Maybe it is cause the restaurant and the gas station/ market across the street are now closed, but Jack didn't stop but passed and continued up the road.

Ward & Christine up Cardiac (PC)

We wait for Jack at the first Cardiac summit (CB)

Yeah--there is no reason for diesels to get smogged.   Nice job getting this one Ward (quickest camera drawer in the west) (WI)
Eventually Ward-Christine-I left and we continued our strong paceline towards the Lake Berryessa cutoff.  Since leaving Lake Solano passed by a motor vehicle each minute--with every other vehicle towing a boat.

Been at the Moskowitz Corner rest stop dozens of times and never noticed the big rock topped by the cross across the street (PC)
Except for a diesel that spit our dark black smoke when passing, most vehicles were real cool and gave us alot of room.  Of course some dickhead in a Hyundai Grey Accent 4 door with 'Grandmas Angels Jonathan & Gianna" licence plate frame and licence 5RDF526
right before the Lake Berryessa cutoff shaved us and yelled something.  Not bright when stupidass then turned into a dilapidated storage unit a few 100' ahead,  where we exchanged pleasantries with idiot before he parked in front of looked like a perfect place for a meth lab.

Welcome to Knoxville Berryessa Road (WI)

Ward & Christine on Knoxville Berryessa Road (PC)

Ward at the BIG HOUSE (PC)
Davis Double SAG recognizes me from past years and wonders if I'm lost (WI)

Ward on Knoxville Berryessa Road (PC)

Christine on Knoxville Berryessa Road (PC)

Even though our trio faster we weren't going to catch Jack as between hard riding our trio (1) likes  to take lots of photos and (2) talk to cool people on the road.  We stopped at a small bathroom once we were on Lake Berressa-Knoxville Road, and a sag vehicle from the Davis Double pulled in, wondering if we were on the ride.  He must have followed us when we turned into Lake Berryessa, as though Cardiac-Moskowitz is on the Davis Route, we were now off course.  Ward told him we hadn't lost our mind, when I told the guy I had done the ride for the last 7 years (which may not be accurate but its close.)  We talked about the reroute back to the old beautiful climb of Big Canyon Road instead of the Cobb Mountain Highway.  Supposely Big Canyon, which was falling apart, now has its giant potholes filled in with gravel/ sand. 

Spanish Flat--I don't know if this is more comfortable than a bike saddle (CB)

Stefano of Cucina Italiana made sure we came in and saw his Bianchi (PC)

Golf? Rest Area a little further up the road. water + bathrooms (PC)

The Dr Dave Strava weather report would be 96 degrees, but it was only 85 (PC)

Through the magic of Hollywood we actually had a four person group for this photo at Berryessa (WI)
Our trio stopped at Spanish Flat--a small 3 store business district in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden I thought I was riding back in Italy 9 years ago.   An exuberant Italian guy who owned the restaurant next to the general store ran out to see how we were doing and invited us to see his Bianchi proudly displayed in the middle of his restaurant.  Wish we were finishing the ride close to this guys place so we could have eaten there.

SCENIC WATER CROSSING--End of Knoxville Road for us--if we go straight we'll get to Lower Lake in 30 deserted miles (WI)

Jack is somewhere on the bridge we just crossed (WI)

Christine leaving Lake Berryessa (PC)

Ward happy he is wearing a black jersey (PC)

Jack leaving Lake Berryessa--I haven't seen him in a long time, think that's him so I want to get a close look. (WI)
We go a little up the road and Jack is coming back.  We all went to the visitors center nearby for water, and then continued on as a quartet--for a short time.

First rule on a sunny day, find a tree to get under when changing a flat.  Ward rather hold my bike and Christine take photos than either touch my mini-pump coated with sports drink (CB)
At the end of the lake we boomerang back on Pope Canyon Road--much of it an uphill roller grind and the road is a little chewed up.  We start on a flat stretch and all of a sudden BOOM, I get a back tire blowout.  Do a nice job getting to a stop without tipping over--Christine and Ward who heard the sonic boom stop with me, Jack pushes on. 

Unfortunately no shade (first rule of changing tyre on a hot day--find a tree.)  Christine grossed out when she touches my pump.   Field off the road is full of goatheads.   Big hole in tube but we cant figure out how it happened.  We focus on spokes coming though rimtape but everything is solid.   Pump up--good to go, but unsettling as I don't know what caused the problem and for awhile I'm riding gingerly--expecting another sudden blowout.

Heading back to civilization, Pope Canyon Road(WI)

Christine & me (WI)

Christine and I--add grapes (WI)

Ward and Christine.  When Jack's not around Christine gets into more photos (PC)

The making of a blog photo (PC)

Mood lightens when we get to a section with vineyards that usually has light in perfect position for photos.  Bike felt "weird," but I figured that was just my mind playing tricks.  So we get about 500' from the nicely shaded Pope Valley store where all I want to do is liquor up with a NON sports drink and down a frozen fruit bar and Christine says "what's the noise of air escaping??."  Sure enough, tyre is almost flat again.  F

Christine picks up a Hammar product at the Pope Valley Store (WI)
On the Pope Valley porch we finally find the culprit--the side wall is blown out.  Lots of help from Christine/ Ward under threat I'll touch them with my mini-pump.   Ward boots the tire.  Luckily I ride with a 2nd tube--which are now all gone  (Christine only has one pink tube and Ward has the two extra with the stems longer  than my mini pump that weight a few pounds), and we still have about 40 miles to go.  Jack takes off saying that he'll backtrack in his car if we run out of tubes. 
The start of recumbent friendly Lower Chiles Valley Road--Dr Dave endorsed (PC)

Next 20 miles are kind of a downer.  A little frazzled from two flats ruining a totally enjoyable day.  Of course Chiles Pope Valley Road is the worst road surface we've been on all day, with filtered light through the trees hard to pick out alot of the ruts.    Cutover on Lower Chiles Pope Valley Road--also known as recumbent heaven for the sudden short but steep rollers.    Then back to Moskowitz Corner but we'd be going a much shorter way back to our cars than the morning route.  Traffic picked up a little here--pass me/pass you ratio was 0/99 with 99 boats passing us.

Scare on Monticello Road.  All of a sudden I went over something and my bike shook hard.  I was convinced that I had flatted again--stopped and checked but tyre solid.  Then back on the fast Wooden Valley Road--slightly downhill with a nice shoulder and usually a tailwind.  Today crosswind picked up in late afternoon but Christine-Ward-I rode it nicely sharing the workload.

Fast homestretch on Wooden Valley Road--Mt Diablo far in the distance--hey, I can see the guy in the devil costume running alongside the racers (WI)
Wind really piked up when we got back to college.  In fact wind picked up so much I stopped on way back to pull bike off roof rack and stash in trunk.  More weary than I should be for a 7,000' century.  Last year did it much faster but we had no wind and a bigger group for pack riding.   Without the tyre blowouts and a little less wind, and a few more of our riding buds,  it would have been a perfect day of bike riding.
Back at the start/ finish--a rare Jack sighting as he checks his Strava time segments (WI)