Sunday, March 30, 2014

Patterson Pass-a Saturday ride on Sunday--the Ronde Season (2014)

(March 30, 2014)   Patterson Pass Loop-87.06 miles, 3,786' climbing, with Mike.  Escorted out to Patterson Pass climb by Dr. Dave, Don (on a fixie), Brian (on a bent'); to The Trees w/ Ward, Jeanne. 14.8mph

This was a great ride.   Partner in crime Ward put in his longest ride since his 7 month medical "rest" from cycling.   Jeanne slammed the rollers and so was in at the County Line Sprint with Dr. Dave.   Don and Brian making the ride hard on their "funny bikes."   And Mike the bulldog, who I missed a lot last week on the 300k brevet rode the whole loop and did great on the climb--even if I mistook a little Asian women with red shoes on the climb for Mike. 
(above) Mike gets a warning from Dr. Dave how cold and windy Patterson Pass will be so Dr. Dave gives him a hand crafted in New Zealand willie warmer (below) Dr. Dave -- "who me"

Two bad things.   It was a cold mid 60's--with a constant cold wind blowing in from the North Pole or Canada or wherever cold winds come from.   Needed it to be another +10 degrees.  And though it felt like a Saturday it was really Sunday.  Goddammit--work tomorrow.

Two good things.  My Garmin and Powertap worked at the same time for the first time in a week--and the resew job I did on my brevet bag straps actually held (the perfect place for my dual light holder were, of course, at the exact place the straps are on the bag.)

(above) The ride out to The Trees (below) Don wondering where The Trees are

On the real Saturday the forecast was for 100% chance of rain and after a nice morning where you figured the weather girls busting out were all full of crap and we blew a nice riding day staying home, around 11:00 it started dumping buckets of water for the rest of the day.  The rest of the week has a piss pour (sic) forecast (yeah-we need the rain) with the only break being Sunday.   We had the typical Sunday short hilly ride scheduled and I needed to put in miles.  I put out an email that we can ride to the trees and points beyond.  My attuned friends know "what points beyond" mean. 

On the ride I was talking about sorrowful/ disappointing book, Unhinged by John Densmore, drummer of the Doors.  It's his account of the trial after he and the Jim Morrison estate sued Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger to stop touring as THE DOORS of the 21st Century, while Manzarak and Krieger sued Densmore for vetoing the selling of Doors music for commercials.

Now Manzarek, with his great organ riffs, was always my favorite member of The Doors, and I enjoyed seeing the THE DOORS of the 21st Century when he toured with Krieger.  At the time I thought that Densmore's protests were just sour grapes for not being in the revival act.   

From the book I learned that Densmore wasn't against Manzarek/ Krieger playing Doors music with a new drummer and lead singer--he was against them passing themselves off as The Doors with a minuscule disclaimer that most people missed.   I also learn that Manzarek didn't care who used the Doors music in return for $$$$$--two commercials Densmore vetoed were to pimp gas guzzling Cadillac Escalades and a Japanese Cigarette brand aimed at teenagers.  At the trial Manzarak argued that it was a MYTH that the Doors (who were unique in equally sharing music writing credit) members had veto power.  A DVD was produced that showed a younger Manzarek talk about the veto power each member of the group had.   Manzarek's response was "I must have been stoned."   How fn sad.

Don and Brian usually blow off the Sunday club ride for a flatter rider to the Trees so they were in--in fact they said they'd keep going to the start of the Altamont Climb.   Ward and Jeanne were in for the Trees.     Dr. Dave said he slipped hiking so he would go up Patterson Pass, but I think he wanted to go home and watch the Stanford Women's team.  Mike, with his fat hub generator light (jeeze--his fat front hub and my fat powertap rear hub better not have kids) was in for Patterson Pass even when Dave kept talking about the lovely head winds we were bound to encounter. 

Great trip out to the trees.   Can really set a consistent pace using the power meter.  At one point when I was at the front tried to stay in the 200-225 zone but we were losing part of the group so I took it down to 175-200 which worked like a charm and we had a nice paceline going along rustic Collier Canyon. 

I've written many times that the @13 mile run in to Patterson Pass is the best ride in the East Bay--smooth road--almost no cars--(almost no people)--windmills and  trestles and other structures that dot the desolate landscape.  Going up a 3-5% grade and easily going 20mph thanks to the tailwind.    I was wearing my too long clear Shower Pass vest (unfortunately they don't make the clear vest anymore so I can't get a proper size) so digging out the camera was a pain--half the time I rode with it in my mouth.    We joined in with a couple slamming the run in and I gently warned them to save some energy as the nice tailwind is a killer on Patterson Pass climb.

The great run in towards Patterson Pass

Near the Midway turn Don, Brian and Dr. Dave depart.  I have two half bottles (Mike has more) and its a cool day so no need to detour to the stores at the Highway junction a mile past where we need to turn.   A few sharp rollers, the cross wind picks up, the electrical towers appear, and we are on the Patterson Pass climb.

I ride tempo up the climb and then come back down for Mike.  The start of the 4 1/2 miles is gentle but you start feeling the gusts.  A few steep sections that are buffered from the brunt of the wind by a high sidewall.  And then steep sections with NO protection.  It takes about the same amount of time as the North Gate to the Junction portion of Diablo but the climb gets steeper and windier as you get near the top--the last section is about the same as the Diablo ramp but 3x as long with a blasting headwind whipping through the pass--so it seems like a much harder climb.

About half way up I meet up with the couple we saw earlier--they are enjoying their first time on Patterson Pass.  About five cars come down the unstrapped road--glad I have my flashing light on.  Last portion is a grind--16% appears at one point as a grade reading--and because of the headwind I can't stand as much as I'd like (standing in a headwind is suicide.)  Hardest part of the ride is putting on my vest, whipping in the wind, before I go back down for Mike. 

Scenes from the climb up Patterson Pass

I see a rider coming up so I pull over to take photos of Mike-but its not Mike, its a lady with bright red shoes.  Mike is a little further downhill, riding nice and steady and I come back and struggle over the sharp point of the climb again.

Wind speed in orange when we climbed Patterson Pass

Rest of the ride is uneventful.  We stop at Livermore Library for our only long stop of the day--cafĂ© is out of business and a coffee shoppe is set to move in soon.  Wolf down some homemade power biscotti (coconut and chocolate/ coconut protein powder added to the usual ingredients.)  At some points it gets so cloudy that rain looks imminent--10 minutes later there is some sun but never warm enough for me to take off my vest.
Mike's new hamster assisted front light hub,

When we get back to the boulevard the usual thing happens--at a red light we get passed when it turns, which gets my dander up.  So I time trial past the guy who had slipped passed, which allowed Mike to get a free ride on his wheel as he chased me.  Hell, it would have been easier if Vlad was with us (as he had been for a portion of the morning) and he just kicked up his 1000 watts of power.

Wonderful way to start the Ronde-Roubaix season.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Davis 269k Brevet (2014)

Davis 300k 269k miles brevet, at the end with Jack, 7-@8:00. MPH ? Altitude ? First thing I did at home after ride: Garmin 310XT going back to the glue factory.
Elevation chart courtesy of Garmin 310xt for this ride

Only reason I signed up for this ride was to support CA Mike, who needs to do the brevet series in order to go back to France for Paris-Brest-Paris next year, an insane ride where you have to cover 1200k in 90 hours. To quality you have to do a 200k, 300k, 400k, & 600k brevets--as I did 7 years ago I told Mike I’d ride with him on the two shortest rides in the series.

In years the early season 200k & 300k brevets were also a good way to acclimate for Double Centuries--get the miles in at a more relaxed pace. But now that I retired from Double Centuries no need to do this for a long mile base.

Another reason to do this ride was that it would be perfect to check out my cardio drift (as exercise time goes on, at same power your heart rate elevates), which killed me on Mt Shasta last year,  and also do more easy gear spinning--which is more efficient that pushing the big gears as I tend to do. All the data from the Garmin would help me keep my power and heart rate below a certain level. From last post you may recall that I enjoy my new Garmin 510--unfortunately it sucks batter life so do a 300k I’d need the more miserly Garmin 310xt. Unfortunately it is also miserly when it comes to transferring data from the unit to the computer--and a Garmin suggested universal rested this week didn’t make downloads any better and made the operation of the unit worse.

Between trying to reset Garmin, Mike let me know he was bailing from the 300k brevet. He had flu like symptoms last week on the Santa Cruz 200k, and with some overall immunity issues he can’t push himself. F. Jack was signed up but Jack rides in "Jack universe" where he is either behind or didn’t stop at a rest stop and is way ahead. Dr. Dave said he‘d ride out and meet me on the course so he‘d do 100 miles in the middle. We figure that on the 200k a few weekend ago when it was raining on the Course and Matt got a flat we arrived to the gateway to Pope Valley (Hwy 128/121 Junction) at mile 46 at 9:45 so I should make it by 9:30 this time.

I planned to take a handlebar loaded with food, 982grams, so I wouldn’t get too far ahead of Mike on the climbs. After he dropped out I should have rethought the food idea --but even though the Davis Bike club does an incredible job running a few food/ rest stops en route, it is a Brevet that is technically self-sufficient. So I loaded up on waffles and biscotti. In retrospect I should just have eaten what Davis Bike club and local stores offered--and only important “food item” to carry was a sports drink mix I like & Chomps.

Reflective convention at start of ride
So another frantic Thursday nite getting everything cleaned, charged, packed. (Just as important to get good night of sleep two days before event as the night before you probably wouldn’t and/or have to wake up early, its important to take care of most of the little things two days before.)

Another 3:30am wakeup for the drive up to Davis; see Jack at the beginning--he forgot his riding gloves (he always forgets something if he needs his car to get him to a ride), so I give him my spare set. Sun mercifully comes out a few minutes before 7am, the start of the ride. It is sunny with crosswind--much cooler than the day we started in the drizzle. 7am-mass start-glance at Garmin--it turned off. Huh, I had turned it on. Soft pedal in back of pack and turn it on as I watch it get satellites--on for about 30 seconds, then turns itself off. Half the peloton made it through the only traffic light we’d see all day--I’m stuck in the 2nd group at the red light. Plenty of time to play with Garmin--the red light takes about 2 minutes--I turn it on-Garmin turns itself off.

Early morning paceline and long solo.  Interesting in top photo how woman carries camera on her back--better than digging it out of pockets
So start out 190 mile bike ride having no clue how fast or far I went all day, never mind power and heart rate info. Did I mention its fn cold. It is fn cold. Sun is out but wind picks up moisture from fields and cools the air. Friendly guy comes along an starts talking to me--telling me he has to stop soon as no matter how much he whizzes before a cold ride….When I complain that my odometer is out he says “oh, I never ride with odometer.” See the guy with Alta Alpina 8 jersey again (guess he’s like a 508 rider and only owns 1 jersey)--I think his helmet is new as he ditched the time trial helmet we saw on the 200k.


The group I’m in the last group on the road and they’re just chatting away as next group on the road is ¼ mile away and always increasing the distance. I want to take it easy but also ride with some energy so time later spend riding after sundown is short. I put in a solo effort to jump up to next group but with 185 miles to go don’t want to go balls out. And what is balls out? I don’t even know how fast I’m going. Bike is also not shifting smoothly to the big chain ring--is it loaded brevet bag on the cables causing this?  Get about half way to them when I stop gaining, soon the group I had left had organized a paceline and comes back up to me--and we eventually join up with the group I was chasing.


Company at Lake Solano
And just when I thought my morning couldn't get any worse?
When we get to Lake Solano Park, mile 29, only another person and me stop to hit the restroom. So now its official--I’m the last person on the brevet.

Now the run in to and Cardiac Climb. Can things get any worse. Oh yeah, a small group out on a joy ride come in from behind and one woman sees my Diablo Cyclist vest and loudly asks “hi, are you Kitty?” (Clubmate who is first female to do Race Across America. ) We laugh that she is so wrong--they are out on a pop???, some fancy French word that means a self-supported metric century. I ride with them to the base of the climb and then I take off.

Nice morning view on Cardiac Climb
Hmm, it now 9:25, no way I am going to get to Dave by 9:30. But phone is buried under all my food in my overstuffed bag. Will take another 5 minutes to stop, dig it out and call--and already “running late. Beautiful weather on climb and while taking it easy pass a few riders. Start decent and at base of decent and another few fast miles to Pope Valley entrance it is now 10:05. Which will turn out to be the time Dr. Dave took off.

So I hit Pope Valley about 10 minutes behind Dave--never know how fast I’m going and if I start cranking to see if I can catch him (heck, he might have started 40 minutes before me) I remind myself I’m supposed to take it easy. Half the time when I hit a downhill roller that calls for the big gear I don’t shift to the big chaining as that shift has been clunky all day. Pass a few people, one woman and I trade pulls until we hit the rollers. Loads of bare grapevines surrounding the pothole strewn road--if it wasn’t for Sonoma County Napa roads would be the worst. Occasionally they do a nice repavement on a 200’ stretch and one wonders if they ran out of money for the lumpy, bumpy mile that follows

Gateway to Pope Valley
Don’t remember what time I pulled into Pope Valley control--mile 65-but noted on the check in sheet that Jack was there 30 minutes before me. So was Dave there 30 minutes earlier also? Enjoy a waffle--make the mistake of filling a bottle with unflavored HEED--its still has a flavor I can’t stomach. T-short-knee a& arm warmers can come off and cram into overstuffed handlebar bad and pockets.  Eschew the iced fruit bar and diet soda from the store next door, pass on stopping to take photos of the strange Hubcap Ranch or nice winery gardens, as gotta catch up to Jack and Dave.

The ride from Pope Valley to Middletown is great. Less traffic (wasn’t a lot to start off with), much better pavement (half is in Lake County) and some serious rollers. Pass a few other riders but no sign of Jack and Dave--heck, I probably lost more time to Jack as he never stays in rest stops. I start think about the leg after Middletown (mile 84), it’s the 9 miles mostly up the Cobb Mountain climb. The climb is hard but there are lots of harder climbs in Northern California that are MORE enjoyable.  Cobb Mountain is basically going up a sunlit shoulder of Hwy 175 while being passed by a steady stream of cars. I start repeating the mantra that I’m not training for nothing, my Garmin failed so I’m getting no useful data, so if I turn around at Middletown I WOULD’T get home at midnight and I’ll still wind up doing about 160 miles. Plus my camera is working so I can ride looking for photos (shit, I can't look at my speed.)  Absent seeing Dave in the next few miles (and then probably cutting the ride short when we pass his car), a turn around at Middletown it is.

Welcome to Middletown

Why I didn't go up Cobb Mountain

23 miles to civilization

Leaving Middletown
Middletown, in the middle of nowhere. Get water at a convenience store, wash out last remnant of HEED so I can add my Gatorade powder. Dig out phone and see that Dave left me a text message hours ago that he was starting at 10:05--shit, if I saw that message hours ago and knew he was just up the road I would have ridden harder. Lady asks me what bike event is going on as she just came down Cobb Mountain and saw lots of cyclists going up. Not me--though if feels a little weird when I start to retrace my steps and see the remnants of the brevet riders who are going to do Cobb Mountain .

Now nice and warm. I pass the front of a winery with a huge lawn and I have a waffle lunch. Very desolate going back to Pope Valley--now no traffic and no occasional cyclist. This time when I pass hubcap ranch I stop and take loads of photos. 

A great spot for a picnic

I need to tell the Pope Valley brevet control that I never made it up Cobb Mountain, so no one goes looking for me, but first I go to the general store for a Coconut Frozen Fruit bar and a diet soda (if I gonna have 200 calories in a drink it will be a dark beer.)    Then I get to the control and they make me my sandwich special—a slice of bread and a slice of deli.  Yeah, no need to lug around food on this ride.   The organizer for this event series is there and we talk a long time about the ride.  In the past they used to have super sag driver Lee Mitchell driving around and blasting music and taking care of stranded riders so you never felt you were alone—now with Lee’s passing no one does this so you do feel like (a real brevet) you are alone.  (The rest stop workers do police the road in their area.) 

Hubcap Ranch and other Pope Valley scenes
When I’m ready to leave Jack pulls in—I’m give him a quick wave and I’m off.  I’m kinda pissed he didn’t see what was wrong this AM as everyone in our riding group would do—but that’s Jack just being in Jackworld.   Sure enough I’m 100’ down the road and rumble, rumble, rumble—rear wheel flat.

I walk back to Control to fix the flat and use their pump.  Instead of taking off Jack comes over and holds the bike while I reset the wheel.  From then on we ride in together as we did such seminal events like the Terrible Twos years and years ago.

Jack is riding really well and we two man most of the way in.  I told him I’d wait for him at the top of Cardiac, which I did, and he took something off on the long downhill.  I told him I was stopping for water at Lake Solano and “no stop Jack” was very amenable.

The Davis farmlands were not nearly as windy as they were a few weeks ago on the 200k or even this morning.  It was still nice and warm and sunny.  Last bit of levity was when we overtook a group of coeds on bikes—many in miniskirts-cycling haphazardly around the road.   They were all over—probably a little wasted.  Jack started yelling as we approached “ON YOUR LEFT-ON YOUR LEFT” which caused them to barely move over.  When we passed I yelled out “you guys look like you’re having more fun than we are”  Big laugh.

Sun was setting as we hit the last 10 mile stretch and I was still warm so didn’t open stuffed handlebar bag to dig out armwarmers.  Mistake.  The temperature tumbled as soon as the sun set. 
Pope Valley late in the day

Cardiac Climb on the way back
Both Jack and I had a “Cannon” from Exposure lights—together we were probably throwing out 2000 lumen's. 
Homage to  "Mike View" spot on Cardiac--ask him about it the next time you see him

Jack passing the  time trial sculpture heading back to Davis.
This many not have been as much as the guy we saw earlier on the Volgi whose rear light was seen ¼ mile away.  I joked with Jack that he was riding the best I’ve seen in the last few years cause of the magic gloves I loaned him.

Pull in @8:00 and told Control that I was dq’d for carrying an Open Bud Lite on the ride which caused a long discussion about beer.  The great volunteers may be here another 7 hours.  Davis Bike Club ran a great event, and riding the end with Jack was fun.  A few years ago I thought we could have a dozen people from our Club on the shorter brevets—we had a half dozen a few years back on the 200k but unfortunately the number has since dwindled.  In retrospect--instead of all the food I should have taken the mini bike radio.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cluster F on The Bears-Peets in Oakland-Skyline-Mt Diablo (2014)

March 15, 2104--How Not To Start A 100 Mile Ride.  (Don't Go Balls Out at the Beginning of the Ride)   The Bears-Oakland Hills-Mt Diablo w/ Diablo Cyclists, mostly w/ Dr. Dave, Cisco Dave, Arizona Bill, Arizona Steve, Lago di Como Tony, Christine, Bob, Jack.  82 miles, 8,340' climbing (altitude high for the year) 14mph.
Up and down all day--just to go to Peets Oakland.  The orange segment is the one we raced.

Glorious weekend in the Bay Area--with thermometer hitting in the 80's.  (Its is Cisco Dave's job to bug me "Its now 39 degrees," when its too fn cold, its Dr. Dave's job to whine when when "My Garmin says its 90 degrees.  I much rather hear Dr. Dave whine about warm weather.)
Americanizing this formula, presented at the Tour of Flanders museum, when it is 95 degrees outside and we're going 20 mph, it feels GREAT.

Product Review-I have a new Garmin, the Forerunner 310xt wristwatch, thus adding it to my sudden growing collection of  Garmin's.  The screen is half the size of the Garmin Edge 510 (though the devise itself is not much smaller.)  Originally I was going to buy the 310xt as its an older model sold at deep discount, Toby dissuaded me from getting the 310xt as its old technology is not supported by Garmin.  Garmin decided not update the 310xt for NORMALIZED POWER.   Nor does it pick up Russian satellites in addition to American ones, so chance of losing a satellite connection is much greater.   So, NO--I didn't get it because its orange.  The trouble with the 510 with its large display is that it eats power-at the end of the 200k Davis Brevet I was down to 22% of battery life.  So the 510  wasn't going to cut it on the 300k.  
Makeshift Velcro stem attachment of the Garmin 310 to the stem.  Cut plastic tube inside the wristband to prevent shaking  I originally zip-tied the sides of the band to the plastic tube--but the 310xt charging takes place in the back of the unit, so needed a way to take out the plastic tube.  In above used (orange) Velcro fasteners--later found out I could zip tie the front and would have enough movement to charge the unit by removing the remaining Velcro. 

Of course I like the 510 display better, and the 100's of ways you can configure it.   It's a big unit but lays nice and flat on the stem.  Supposedly there is a stem mount for the 310xt but good luck finding it in stores, so I tied it on the stem with a Velcro fastener with a cutout of a plastic sports fizz tube as a stiffener so the 310xt wouldn't shake back and forth.  Oh yeah--the 310xt is a pain in the ass to download data from as it can never find its wireless connection on the first dozen tries and before I start to curse.   But the 310xt had 76% of battery life left after this 82 mile ride and my 40 mile recovery ride the next day--so it has its purpose.

I was hoping that this week's club ride was going  to the Southeast--so then Patterson Pass would be an option.  Of course it was going West--to Peets Coffee in Oakland.  As the small bakery next to Peets Coffee and the high end bike shop up the street have gone out of business--riding to Oakland to see Peets Coffee has lost much of its luster.  Of course the Bears rolling climb, the Tilden Park Climb, and the climb back on Tunnel Road were enjoyable segments.  I'm enjoying climbing again with winter weight loss and no medical problems so I could keep a base level of training going.

Unusual group at the start of the ride. Arizona Bill had a cycling friend visiting so Arizona Steve joined us.  Another new guy, Tony, wearing a Lake Como jersey (where I had finished my trip in Italy) joined us.    Both would set a blistering pace on the hills.   Meanwhile Jack has a midweek cycling friend hanging out on the fringes, didn't say much, and  who we'd only see at the regroups. 

Ride started off on an ominous note--lots of runners, walker, joggers going every which way on the bike multi use path--Christine touched her front wheel against something and down she went.  The ride to the street on the multi use path is the most dangerous part of our rides.
Christine, Don & me--the survivors of bike trail accidents this year.  One year I rode 2,000 mile in the Gold Country without a flat and first time I rode 20 miles of bike trail around my house I had 2 flats.  This year our club has had 3 accidents-all on the bike trail.  Considering only 1% of our club miles is on the bike path....

Morning heated up quickly--Cisco Dave was busy pulling the Safeway newspaper insert out of his jersey as we headed towards Pig Hill.   He did most of the pulling and set a blistering pace.   The two Dave's, Tony and I rode hard to the regroup at the end of the Bears--the two Arizona kids were already there, unaware we had slowed and regrouped at the beginning after Christine went down.

Then we started up the Bears, which is a series of 3-4 (gentle) climb over 7 miles.  The two Dave's, the Two Arizona kids and Tony  got their dander up and I rode more aggressively than I had since 2012.    Bill finally got dropped after he attacked on a downhill and I kept trying to take a flier off the front.  It was a fait accompli that Cisco Dave would talk out this segment but no matter. Years ago when Super Joe (11th Climb to Kaiser, 2nd Eastern Sierra Double) was zooming around most people were afraid to attack but I would--hell, I was going to get killed anyway.   Some riders going up the last Bear climb side by side stalled my momentum and I momentarily dropped from the group but fought my way back--and stayed within good range on the downhill-my weakness.    There is a short/ steep climb at the end (the Baby Bear) and I had motored to the front when Cisco spun past me madly (in that damn x32.)   
Lake Como Tony with Cisco Dave.  Approaching the first Bear climb Cisco is calling for the team car with the special geared bike.

..Late Tony and I going hard up one of the Bears, and getting ready for another attack or counterattack.  (Cisco)   

 As Cisco doesn't post on Strava it turns out I had the best Strava posted time for the Bears on this day.  That wasn't the goal, but nice to see after such a clusterf that the effort actually resulted in a good time.  Shhh--don't tell Coach Toby that I now have the club lead on the Bears, he who is the club leader in almost every Strava segment will come back from England and kick my butt.

More importantly this power meter thing points to what I already knew--I have no high end speed but can go at a moderate pace for awhile.   Not to get to technical, one researcher, Dr. Andrew Coggins--did a study of the power put out by beginning to world pro cyclists at 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes and 20 minutes.  The great sprinters can put out 1600 watts of power--for 1 second.   Meanwhile the long range bomber--the guy who attacks from 30km out an dmakes it stick may only be able to put out 500 watts, but can do it for 20+ minutes.  In any event, by getting our reading for the different times we can see where our strengths are.

So at 5 seconds I barely make the chart and only improve a little at 1 minute.   But from early data--my 5 & 20 minute power put me in a CAT 4 racer category.  Unfortunately my limit now is hitting my max heart rate often--I don't even need a heart rate monitor as I can feel when I need to slow down.  Getting old is the shits.

Of course there is some getting old benefit.  At our pre Tilden Park regroup seemingly every other cyclist said "oh, I'm retired."   This retirement thing must be contagious--suddenly there is a small group that doesn't have to wait for weekends for epic rides.  Crap, I'm retired--for another 36 hours until Monday morning.

Right after the Bears regroup is the Tilden Park climb, and Arizona Bill who is a sprinter, was happy that we slowed down the climbing pace for him.  Shit, we slowed down the climbing pace as everyone was half dead from the Bears.  Everyone but Cisco Dave and Tony.   On the way up a bunch of us were BSing about the best dry race of the year--the Tour of Flanders--and who was going to win it.  No one argued against Fabian Cancellara, the most exciting one day Springs Classics riders since Johan Museeuw.  Cisco and Tony were BSing about doing South Park.

On the Tilden Climb--the helicopter and sewer shot.  Dr. Dave, Bob, Arizona Steve and Arizona Bill.

There are three ways to escape Tilden Park.  There is a long annoying climb along the Golf Course, the first part is .3 miles at 10% and the second part is .9 mile at 3%.   The second way is the horrific South Park climb, which is 1.4 miles at 10%.  The third way is riding on a flat crappy road towards Lake Anza (a little bit of Sonoma County in Berkeley) and suddenly making a sharp left into a neighborhood where the street looks like a huge wall--.4 mile at 9%. Its called Park Street but we usually call it the Mur de Mike, as CA Mike (today on a brevet) always insisted on doing it.  Somehow we all hit the beginning of the Mur at different times so there was no mano a mano up it.  Even without this incentive I wound up having the 4th best time of all time.   Dr. Dave got the 2nd best time!!! of all the Mur de Mike climbers.
Bill finishes the Mur de Mike.  He's on the flats--look at the roof line of the house in the background that is almost below the street level.

So now we had the Cisco Dave South Park Group, the Dr. Dave Mur de Mike Group (we were joined by the Arizona kids) and the Christine golf course group all split up along Skyline.  For some reason Bill and I started singing Zappa lyrics "Is that a Mexican poncho or a Sears poncho."  After our group stopped at the first photo op on Skyline, we rejoined Cisco and Tony who had stopped at the 2nd photo op site.
Arizona Steve, Dr. Dave, Arizona Bill and me

Drop down to Peets on the Oakland/ Berkeley border but its too hot for coffee--so I enjoy my homemade biscotti with (ugh) sports drink.  Wish there was a Jamba Juice nearby.  We do our usual job of blocking the sidewalk--no Kate Upton sighting today, and our group dribbles out in different packs for the climb.

Climb up Tunnel was painful--my heart rate kept maxing out on the 3 1/2mile 5% climb.  The two Dave's, the two Arizona's, Tony and I kinda kept together.  Regroup at the top with everyone in the Club--after it sounded like we'd take the long way back to Moraga, everyone suddenly opted for the shorter way through Canyon.  The twisty downhill sucked but the fast flat road through the redwoods did wonders for my energy.
Bill saying we traveled all this way for a cup of coffee in a PAPER cup.

When we got back to Heather Farms 54 miles and 6000 climbing were in the bag.   It was just mid afternoon and it was actually hot.  I had ducked two mostly frozen drinks in the car anticipating doing Mt. Diablo--and when I started out I planned to go to the top.

Within the first couple of miles any plans to go to the top faded.  I wasn't feeling as bad as a few weeks ago  going up Mt. Diablo after 85 miles, but definitely had nothing in my legs.  No problem reaching my heart rate now as my power started to tumble.  Lots of fields of orange poppies, I wanted to stop to take photos but wondered if it that was just an excuse to rest on the climb so kept going up.  I was joined by a young guy from the sticks of NY for the last mile; he was so jazzed that Mt Diablo is "in our backyards" and we can always go ride on it...  At the Junction another guy was jazzed who came down from the top  He said he ALMOST made it up the last ramp for the first time.  I congratulated him and said he'd probably do it soon.  Two guys appreciating Mt Diablo to the fullest in the spirit of the injured Diablo Scott.

I was nearly out of water, and luckily the water that had been turned off at the Junction a few weeks ago because of the drought was back on.  I decided that as I blew off going up to the Summit I'd go back down Southgate which adds about 10 miles to the return trip.  Of course I put on my t-shirt and vest for the downhill and regretted it within 1000 feet.
Poppies from Radio Ethiopia (musical reference).    Found in abundance on Mt. Diablo--this near the heliport.

Not many poppies blooming on the South side.   Trip back was uneventful except for one of the Boulevard wannabe racers who go back and forth all day on the flats trying to pass people.  I get to a big intersection where there was a US Postal Truck (no, Lance ain't driving it) camped out in front of me at a red light.  Instead of squeezing in to its right I just stayed behind it--after the intersection a shoulder begins.   Light turns green--Postal Truck slowly rolls out and puts on its right blinker.  OK--I stay well behind it in case it suddenly stops while turning.  So of course a goofball comes blasting by -- at least calling out "on your right".  I yell out something like "you'll keep going if you want to hit the turning truck;"  goofball suddenly realizes why I slowed and he has to brake hard before he becomes one with the truck turning right in front of him.  After truck finishes turning I get my dander up so I time trial away from goofball.  Last hard dig of the day.

Next week is a 300k brevet.  The big climb is at mile 80.   I best be on good behavior till we get to the climb so I don't stagger up it like I did on Mt. Diablo today.