Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mines Road-San Antonio Valley (2013)

(October 12, 2013) Mines Road-San Antonio Valley, w/ Diablo Cyclists all over the course, mostly with Christine, Dr. Dave, Cisco Dave, Two New Guys, Rusty (One Old Guy), Jack

A long long time ago I was terrorized of the Mines Road ride.   Before Gamin's I bought a book East Bay Bike Trails that had a profile of every ride.  I looked for short flat rides on bike trails.  No way I was ever going to do Mines Road that went straight up for 20 miles--and that was only to the County Line.  

From EAST BAY BIKE TRAILS, Conrad Boisvert , Pengrove Publications, 1992

After the County Line Mines Road continues to the Junction, where there is a "café" and the road forks with the left fork going to Patterson and the other going out to San Antonio Valley and then up Mt Hamilton the hard way.   There are two short and steep climbs which I love and two long and twisty downhills that I don't.  Most people like the downhills but then pay the price coming back when they are now long uphills immediately after leaving the Junction Café.  What a pain in the butt.  In 2002 after my knee surgery my knee locked up after leaving the Junction and I had to walk much of the uphill.

Dr. Dave's Garmin
Today our bonus mile group threw around some possibilities to extend the ride.  Mt. Hamilton was suggested but unless training for something you have to love torture to do it from this side.   Another proposal was the short climb into Del Valle once we got back to Livermore.  Another possibility, one I liked as less traffic than Del Valle, is to do Patterson pass from the easy (tailwind) side, which we never do.  Everything was up in the air when we started the ride.

On the flat run in to Mines Road Mike flags Jack with a yellow card for leaving the group and getting a head start up Mines Road (PC)
Actually, the ride group was up in the air.  The Mines Road ride is one of our most popular club rides but with five minutes before the scheduled start ride coordinator Jack looked despondent--saying that it was only going to be him, me, Christine and CA Mike.  Then in the next five minutes it looked like the Xmas Shopping rush after Thanksgiving.   Old Club members, new club members, people we didn't know all pulled in.  Matt, who just did the Mt. Diablo Challenge under 1 hour; good, there will be someone to keep Cisco Dave company.  Sandy, Cisco friend and he has her doing all the killer climbs in the East Bay.  Rusty, the man of mystery, great bike handler and person to BS with.  He will be near the back on our ride UP Mines Road, and guaranteed to be at the front of the return trip downhill.

Christine fixes her hair behind Brians' 'bent decked out with dual vanity mirrors (PC)

Rusty did his usual sneak off to get a headstart on the climb, half the people went on ahead when the other half stopped at nearby bathrooms, we lost another quarter when we came upon Rusty down the road with a flat.  I'm glad we stopped--chance to pull off knee and arm warmers, as it had warmed up nicely in the last hour.   Rusty was pissed over the flat and it looked like Rusty and Sarah were going to bag it--now with most of the group way ahead.   Cisco and Matt zoomed on ahead--followed by Dr. Dave.   Christine and I rode with Mike and two new guys for awhile.   Mike slowed to see if Rusty/ Sarah were coming up, one of the new guys had trouble on hills with the beginning of Mines Road the steepest part--so suddenly Christine and I were off by ourselves for miles and miles.  Passed a few people in the club who had gotten the head start and were going to stop at the County line instead of the Junction.  Just when Christine/ I thought it ironic that on a ride with two dozen people we were riding by ourselves the two Daves, Matt and Jack were waiting so we could regroup.  We then waited for the two new guys and continued on.

Dr. Dave leading the paceline up Mines Road (PC)
No rain for months, so the usual two giant ponds on Mines Road from water runoff were missing.   Not many motorcycles--which are usually annoying when they speed by and lean into the turn next to you so you can pat them on the helmet. 

Sandy did Mines Road solo last week for the first time, she liked the trip so much she was out here again (PC)
We passed Sandy riding solo right before the hills began, she was enjoying her Mines Road.   When we hit the first of two steep rollers Cisco and Matt again zoomed ahead and the two new guys got a burst of energy.  I have no chance on this course with the finishing downhill so I put in a suicide attack which had the new guys chasing and Dr. Dave following--when everyone was exhausted Dr. Dave took off--never to get caught.

We all wanted to slow down Cisco Dave so we were gonna buy him a few daily specials with onion rings (PC)
Junction was the most beautiful it has ever been.  Usually clogged with motorcycists there was ONE today--so the picnic area was quiet.  Weather was warm with no breeze--its usually is very hot or cold and windy.   We suddenly hear a passing huckleberry yell "Lets Go A's," its CA Mike--a demented A's fan though I think he his meant to build the A's their new stadium after he finishes the hospital project he is heading.   Mike is heading out towards San Antonio Valley-Mt Hamilton without stopping.  We relax some more and I am shocked when Rusty pulls in.

I'm riding with Rusty through the San Antonio Valley (Cisco D)
Group decides to go out to San Antonio Valley but turn around at the bridge right before the Mt Hamilton climb.   I'm suddenly dead tired.  Wonder if its connected with trying to lose weight early as to not repeat the debacle of last years +10 lbs during the Giants playoff run that I couldn't shake.  In any event, over the series of rollers through San Antonio Valley I'm dragging and Dr. Dave/ Christine slow a few times for me to regroup with them.  That's the fantastic thing about our group--later when I feel good and other people are dragging I'll return the favor.

At the bridge before the Mt. Hamilton climb we regroup and I Iooked for a lounge chair as I'm ready to take a nap.   Jack indicates he's going up Mt. Hammy, Cisco is on the fence but decides ride back with our group.  For me its long-long trudge back the Junction though I get energy as we approach.
San Antonio Valley before the drop down to the bridge, if we continued on we'd climb over the ridge in the background up Mt. Hamilton (PC)

Junction still quiet thought we could feel a potential headwind building.   Rusty has turned around a little short of the bridge but he was waiting here to ride back with us.  Mike tried getting a head start up the climb but I'm in on his tricks and rode with him at his pace when we were caught and passed by the gruppo.
Dr. Dave and Rusty at Junction when we return (PC)

After the climb we regrouped and had a great paceline for probably 15 miles.  I got my second wind so could take some nice pulls, and then when near the back I made sure no one fell off the paceline. In fact everyone was working hard to keep the group together--which only ended because of me.    I yelled "Photo Stop" when we passed a shed with a Raiders symbol painted on--a perfect time to get a photo of Mike.

CA Mike and the Raiders--you gotta stop the paceline for this (PC)
Wind picked up on the return and was getting a little cool--ending any thought of doing Del Valle or Patterson Pass--though these options essentially ended when we did the San Antonio Valley out and back.   This was fine as a really nice 80+ mile hilly ride with a good group.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Painless Patterson Pass (2013)

(October 5, 2013)  Painless Patterson Pass, w Dr. Dave and Christine, 139.5k, 1.095 meters climbing.  26 k/hr

Courtesy of Christine's Strava account--seems like we did a real long ride when reported in metric speak
Many weeks of no 100 milers.  A year ago was Knoxville Double, the last double I did.  As feeling old went to the Gold Country last week to look for a retirement home, and then realized that living at 3,000' on 2 acres among the pines when 65 isn't the greatest plan in the world.   Damn, I wish I lived there now. 

Living among deer and pine trees at 3,000'--seems like a good idea but not in retirement years; now a great 50 mile ride in the Gold Country,.

Jeeze, currently can't even keep up with my 1/4 acre.  One "benefit" of giving up doubles is I've probably done more gardening this year than in the last 9 combined.  Actually "gardening" is using the worse loosely, I've been sawzalling away dead crap that I should have cut 5 years ago.  So much so I had to buy 4 extra garbage cans and call the garbage company for three bonus "green days" so I can get rid of all the cuttings laying around the yard.

Speaking of gardening--as I had a dying hedge trimmer tried to buy one at Home Depot--a model they don't carry in the store but online.   As most convenient for me to pick up at the store instead of missing deliveries at home, I tried to buy it and ship it to the store.  Impossible.   Dealing with Home Depot customer service was like a Kafka nightmare.   I didn't want to ship to work unless I could preclude Saturday delivery--their response was the product would arrive in a range of dates--which of course included Saturday.  Best of all they said they couldn't send it to my local  store as its sold in some stores.  When I asked what store stocks the hedge trimmer within 50 miles they just said "none."  So I then asked  "within 75 miles"---"none."  I finally asked what is the closest store that has the hedge trimmer I want to buy----"GEORGIA."  Nice--2500 miles away.  Are they kidding me!.

Actually there may be a really nice resolution from the manufacturer which I'll write about in the future.

Otherwise doing a lot of planting in my backyard--low voltage lights, in yet another attempt to beat back the winter blues. I  "love" right now that I get home or go up Mt Diablo in full sunlight--and in  45 minutes it is dark.  And its just gonna get worse--a lot worse.

My Manneken Pis is lit up much nicer than the one in Brussels, and as a result many tourists now visit my backyard (tourists courtesy of Duane Hansen)
Our club ride was out to the Oakland Zoo--a ride I really don't like.  Nice series of short steep rollers, but the fast downhills are marked by invisible tree roots pushing through the asphalt.    Christine kept talking up about how this weekend's weather would be good, and she'd be in for my favorite ride--Patterson Pass.   Dr. Dave doesn't usually like Patterson Pass but he quickly jumped aboard.  We had a windstorm on Thursday night that seemingly would take Patterson Pass of the table but light light light winds of 3-6 mph were predicted for nearby Livermore, so it was a good to go.

Unfortunately my training buddy and friend, Ward, is still laid up with a mystery ailment that all the "Kaiser Thrive" commercials can't cure.  After kicking butt for half a year he's been off the bike for the last quarter with no change for the next.   When I see Miguel Cabrara in the MLB playoffs with a groin strain or is it an abdominal strain, and he is limping around I think of Ward and how Miguel Cabrara is getting real medical treatment.

Flag blowing strongly at the foot of Patterson Pass run in but the windmills in the distant hills are almost all still
So it was only Christine, Dr. Dave and I for Patterson Pass.   We were on the same route as the Club for about a mile, and before the ride we tried to sell Patterson Pass  to more people--we'll not exactly.  I tried to sell it but Dr. Dave was being grumpy and said something like "great 90 mile ride if you want to be battered by headwind as you climb."  That dissuaded everyone else from joining us.  Dr. Dave was really agitated at the start of the ride and we were told we couldn't talk about "Freeman Faith" so we didn't.

The motor cross track and train trestle--civilization now ending for the next half hour.
Day started out cool, and we didn't have to stop until mile 30.   A little crosswind in the valley leading into Livermore--it was certainly more than the predicted 3-6.   Christine, Dr. Dave and I were bs'ing about movies, burning Tesla's (what word rhymes with Tesla???, Dave says "mesla" isn't a word), lifes' ironies, and marriage.   Only time we got semi serious is when some turkey zoomed by without saying anything--we got into a good 3 man but turkey kept running red lights around Blackhawk.  When we turned onto Collier Canyon with no traffic controls and planned to catch up to him the turkey suddenly U-turned back.

Our two compatriots motor past the Summit Garage
Flags blowing MUCH greater than 3-6 mph when we passed the model airplane airport and the motor cross track, which signals the beginning of the great 12 miles to Patterson Pass.  No traffic controls, smooth road, almost no vehicle traffic....OK check that--today about 6 motorcycles flew by in a group going over 90 mph.  The usual tailwind pushing us along, and suddenly the surreal giant windmills over the next rise--but most weren't turning.

Dr. Dave and Christine on the "freeway" to Patterson Pass--best cycling 12 miles in the Bay Area.
Decide we don't have to restock in Tracy so we pulled into the Altamont Speedway--more infamous for being a Rolling Stones concert venue than anything else--and I pulled off my undershirt for the expected warm climb.   Dump in some new hydration product--'Skratch."  I've been using Gatoraid G for most rides this year, though started today with Heed & Perpetuem.   Dave and Christine have been using "Skratch"--consensus is that it taste better than Heed.  Dr. Dave isn't as unhappy as Christine and I that the baseball season is over, as he's excited about Stanford.

Dr. Dave enjoying his Patterson Pass--WWCHD--What would Chis Horner do?
As expected it was warm on the Patterson Pass climb.   There was also ONLY A SLIGHT WIND.  (Man, those people who did the windy ride from hell here in Early Spring will hate reading this.)  Between the lack of wind and fires in the Bay Area the view wasn't the best.  The climb seems daunting if you think of it as a series of steep pitches with the steepest pitch after the false flat near the top where the headwind usually builds.  It seems less daunting when you figure its just a 30-35 minute climb.

Christine on upper Patterson Pass and the windmill valley below.
Dave, Christine and I stay at the top for a long time--a rare time where we're not getting blown off.   A few riders coming up the easy way from Livermore which we've never done.  The 12 mile run in to Patterson Pass is such a treat.  I didn't even think about putting on a vest for the downhill.   Suddenly down in the valley--the two steep but short rollers--more fast road, and back to the Livermore Wine Valley. 

Christine reaches the top of Patterson Pass (Dr.D)
We had a nice 3 person paceline going when two big guys-one in a Roaring Mouse Cycling kit--roared by.   I got my dander up and jumped to their wheel.  The two guys kept taking turns hammering.  We got to a light which was just turning green when we approached and I figured I drop off to regroup with Dave and Christine--to my pleasant surprise Dave and Christine were right there.   The big guys stopped trying to go balls out off the front and we rode nicely behind them to the library.
Before the big football kickoff--a quiet moment on top of Patterson Pass (CB)

Dr. Dave organizes a Stanford rally on the top of Patterson Pass.
Only deviants who wear white shoes after Labor Day allowed on this ride.

Look ma--no wind

Livermore Library picnic setting always a nice rest stop.   Christine bitten by the racing bug when we rode with the guys who passed--oh, correction, she was bitten by a real bug during the scrum.  Leaving the library we had to make a left turn and got behind a car in the turn lane--when clear the traffic boulder just sat and sat and didn't move as driver was busy texting.

Back in suburbia we zig zag back to Collier Canyon where the wind is much more noticeable than any time on Patterson Pass.  Trying to relive my long distance attack on a real hot day a few years back where some good club sprinters were too tired to chase until it was to late--I launched to the country line from long range, but Dr. Dave caught an got me at the line.  We regrouped and riding a paceline when another solo rider silently went past (what the fuck happened to saying "hi-on your left"???.)  I was going to be on good behavior but Dr. Dave riding strongly and as soon as Christine said "I guess not," Dave was off, caught up to the guy and then jumped past.
Dr. Dave and Christine past the creaky windmill on Collier Canyon

Dr. Dave about 200' ahead--guy trying to catch him, I bridge up.  Guy is not going to get any help from me trying to catch Dave--and if he does catch Dave I'll immediately jump.  Dave and guy putting in a big effort, guy making no headway.  Christine gets back on my wheel--will give her at least a minute to rest, guy in front not pedaling smoothly, OK time to go, signal Christine, and we both jump up to Dave with guy far behind when we get to the straightaway.

A big effort at mile 70--cool.  Now an ez climb back to civilization and I lead the charge so guy on the road doesn't catch up.  In the category that "all bad deeds go punished" and "you're getting fn old" my inner thigh suddenly seizes up--that never happens.  (Actually it happened last year at this time of year when we did the Patterson pass climb twice.)  I have to pull over, Dave and Christine pull over with me, and eventually guy passes us as I'm stretching on the road.

Stop at a new rest stop on the way back to get hydrated while Christine and Dave opine as to the reason for my cramp.  Not trying to balloon up like I did during last years' playoffs, I've been on a strict diet this week--maybe I didn't take in enough of something.  Anyway they pulled me back to Walnut Creek while Dave feigned that "too bad the leg cramps happened--otherwise he'd want to go up Mt. Diablo."

Hey-who left the toilet seat up.
Anyway another great Patterson Pass ride--right in the heart of the Bay Area but about half of the ride is rustic and a good chunk is mysterious..