Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mines Road and More Hills for An Almost Century (2014)

(March 8, 2014)  Mines Road-Del Valle-Patterson Pass from the EZ side, w/ the Diablo Cyclists but most prominently with the two Dave's, 82.8 miles, 6,245' climbing, 14.6 avg
Elevation Chart from hell--what does it all mean.  Green line is elevation, red is heart rate and purple is power.   Goal is to find out what level I need to keep my heart rate in/ under so I don't crap out on long rides like Mt. Shasta last year.

The last day before Daylight Savings time is usually "Opening Day" for the Diablo Cyclist long distance season.  We have a club ride up Mines Road--a constant 30 mile climb.   It is away from our home base and most people drive over and begin 5 miles from the climb.     The crazy bonus mile group starts where we usually start other rides, so we'd ride 30 miles to the ride.  With the return trip its a 120 miler.

"Opening Day" lost its meaning this year.   A couple of us already did 120 mile last week--the Davis Brevet.  More importantly, instead of having a half dozen group for the bonus--there was a general lack of enthusiasm.

I didn't know that this was on the schedule until Mike asked me two days before "where are you starting?"  Starting what? where?   I was distracted this week by the joy of getting a new wheel that led to 3-4 necessary minor adjustments until it worked properly, and new speakers that meant rewiring the house--"opening day" slipped my mine.  After waking up early last weekend for the brevet, I wasn't enthused for another early start.   Hmmm--I do want to do my third 100 miler in 3 weeks, we could add on Patterson Pass.   Shortly after  Cisco Dave emailed "how about Mt. Hamilton?"  Sure, why not. 

Note on wheels.  I didn't want another wheel--I have enough.  I wanted a power meter this year so started working with my usual bike shop in November to get a power meter/ crank system in place for this year.    November morphed into December into January into February and there was little progress at the bike shop/ manufacturers end.   Crank supposedly shipped but never arrived--it finally reached the "forget it" tipping point.  I contacted Wheelbuilder .com with some questions.  They got back to me in less than a day with all the information I needed.   I wanted an MAVIC OPEN PRO rim (an old standard) built with a Powertap hub--Wheelbuilder recommended the HED rim.  I gave this some thought as Ward has a few wheels built with HED rim's and he liked the wheel.  HED rims are slightly wider than regular rims so the tire stays rounder (instead of mushrooming out like the end of a light bulb) and the tire has more contact with the road.    So I went with a  HED rim with  28 (instead of 32) Sapim spokes & brass nipples.  The wheel was delivered in less than a week.    So I'm now wedded to one wheel if I want to measure power--on the other hand the Dura Ace cranks work great and any other chainring setup would probably f'd the shifting a little.

There was a lot of new equipment,  Cisco Dave has a new 32 tooth cassette on a compact.  Usually I might laugh at this but he's faster than me so I'll only giggle.  Meanwhile Christine was giggling that I had lost so much weight that my bike shorts were flopping around my leg (she exaggerates.)
Dr. Dave demonstrates that when you are suffering from jet lag you forget how to dress yourself.  (Minutes earlier he was showing off his new jersey by mooning everyone.)

Mike flashing gang signs as we start in Livermore.  Or he wants the Raiders to go for two--only problem is they first have to score a touchdown.

Christine said this 4 mile an hour crap is ruining her average speed so why don't we just stop and take photos with the dead vineyards in the background.

OK--back to the ride.   The club rode together at a blistering 6mph while we waited for latecomers to get out of the bathroom and back to us.  We were passed by a number of cyclists and everyone looked around to see if we were gonna start chasing, but no one did.  We got yelled at by some jackasses in a pickup truck passing in the opposite direction.   They must have run out of Colt Malt Liquor.   The latecomers caught up to us--we formed a paceline, and then stopped again at the foot of Mines Road while everyone peeled off their vest.   Finally we got going and eventually caught the folks that had motored passed earlier.  Then we the steepest part of Mines Road--which is near the beginning, and the club broke apart.
Dr. Dave in front of a Mines Road butte.
I'm somewhere on the outbound trip on Mines Road (Cisco)

 The two Dave's, Cisco and Dr.   Cisco Dave offering his opinion on audio talk during a ride.

Usually we have an intense time trial up Mines Road but today was a step or two down--a serious but bsing pace.  Good time to bs.    Dr. Dave just returned from New Zealand so it was great to hear about his trip.  As I'm now in a "audiophile" phase (last time was in college) we also talked about speakers...., which caused Cisco to eventually take off and catch Sany who had a 45 minute time bonus.   Weather was great, the drought apparent as the last two weeks of rain had little impact on the huge runoff puddles that usually cover Mines Road.  I was amazed that there weren't more people on Mines Road, which is usually a favorite cycling route. 
First time in memory that the standing water on Mines Road was NOT like riding through a kiddie pool.

We've gone faster in the past with a much harder effort but it seemed like the 30 climbing miles to the Junction passed in a flash while bsing with the two Dave's.   The Junction is under new management--they have a huge bbq by the picnic area--luckily it wasn't going.  It also wasn't crowded as usual when the parking lot is filled with motorcycles.

(above) BBQ not going so its Liege Waffle time.   (below) Mike looking at the grill for BBQ tofu.

Here I had half a homemade Liege Waffle--topped with Hammergel in lieu of yogurt/ syrup.  This and a 6 scoop solution of Perpetuem would be perfect.  I had a 2 scoop bottle of Scratch as my sports drink--it would supplement it with 3 scoops of Gatoraid after the sweating bullets steep Mt. Hamilton climb--oh crap, I forgot the Gatoraid.  Damn. 

The climb up Mt Hamilton is a steep 5-6 miles, to get there you have to traverse @15 miles of some serious rollers in a really desolate, beautful valley on a well paved road with very little motor vehicle traffic.  Less traffic than to the Junction--and isn't much.   The San Antonio Valley Road is straighter, divided, and you may see a motorcycle or car every 10 minutes)  Dr. Dave would accompany us out the base of the Mt. Hamilton climb one.

No one else wanted to ride out through the San Antonio Valley, so Dr. Dave wasn't going to go and come back alone.  Cisco Dave and I started towards Mt. Hamilton when we both agreed that it would be better riding back with the group and adding Patterson Pass from the ez side--though Dave threw in the proviso we'd have to go down and then back up the hard side.  Sounds good, we did a U turn and caught up to the group negotiating the long hill out of the Junction.

(above) Christine climbing out of the Junction (below) Some scary scenes along Mines Road.

Yes, I did say before we were doing a 30 mile climb of Mines Road--but (unfortunately for me) there is a steep downhill about a mile before the final run in to the Junction.   Unfortunate for me as if we are racing to the Junction I usually get caught and passed on the downhill.  Now I had fun on the uphill--after Dr. Dave and I crested we followed the old rule of instead of waiting for everyone we go ride back downhill, do the climb again,  and come up with our last rider.

For the next 15 miles we had a nice paceline going down Mines.   For the last 10 miles we had some riders cramping up so the group split apart, Mike and I trying to help whoever was last.  When I arrived at the bottom the two Dave's had conferenced and had agreed we should add Del Valle.  So it was up the moderately step Del Valle climb with the two Dave's and Jack who had solo'd the 30 bonus miles in the AM and would do so again to get back.

Mines Road is 29 miles one way with 2,690' climbing.  Del Valle is only 3.5 miles one way with 670' climbing.   So much shorter but relatively steeper.   Near the top a large group was playing with radio controlled cars.  At the lake itself, where it sometimes is filled with people on the windiest day, it was relatively empty on this beautiful day.  Here I had another 1/4 of waffle and tossed 1/4 to Cisco--intended for him on top of Mt Hamilton--but now he had to share with Dr. Dave and Jack.

I'm at Del Valle.  The two Dave's teamed up to make this photo a success--they were doing so much directing I had to crack up.

When we rode back I told the gang I still was going to do Patterson Pass from the ez side.  EZ as the wind ALWAYS is blowing from the west so when we do Patterson Pass the headwind and grade pick up the higher you go.  We often reach the top of Patterson Pass exhausted and see lots of happy cyclist who were blown uphill from Livermore.  I had never done it from the Livermore side and wanted to see what it was like coming in with the wind.

Dr. Dave already did too much with jet lag and 4 weeks off the bike.  Cisco Dave said he'd go with me.   Our bs pace continued, interesting as Cisco grew up out of the USA in some unusual places.   The ride out and climb would be 8 miles and another 1,050' climbing--with half the distance getting to Patterson Pass Road.

We start climbing and what is this????---we have a HEADWIND.  For the first time every the wind was coming out of the east.  At the same time Cisco, who was seen earlier doing intervals on Mines Road and Del Valle decided he was pooped so he'd struggle for the first time today.   On the road were lots of women--this is the hardest part of the all women's Cinderella Bike ride so no doubt lots of women on a scouting mission.
Cisco Dave at the top of Patterson Pass.

Funny seeing the dynamite view from the top of Patterson Pass without doing the epic route and climb that usually gets us here.   It seems like the day whizzed by.   On the way back Cisco was interested in how drafting affected the power meter so we'd take turns pulling and me yelling out the wattage when we shifted positions.  Lots of fun--I can only hope all bike rides this year are so ez and so much fun.

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