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. 

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