|Need to make protein+coconut biscotti for the ride. Only took two--should have taken 4 for the ride.|
This is the beginning of the greatest two weekends of cycling, with the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) starting us off. (Of course in America you would never know it with ESPN focused on a bunch of paunchy insurance pitchmen fighting over a green jacket .) So I wanted to do something special. With the Diablo (Devil) Cyclist club ride scheduled to do the remote 30 mile climb up Mines Road, and then the even more desolate 13 miles of stiff rollers in the San Antonio Valley, there was a good bonus possibility. Past the San Antonio Valley bridge starts a grueling 5 1/2 mile climb up Mt. Hamilton with grades frequently double digits.
|Dave and I at the start hoisting up the colors.|
Though lack of clubmates, the day turned out almost perfect as Cisco Dave pulled my ass around the course. Ten more degrees and we would have had a perfect ride.
|On the @5 miles of flats to the start of the Mines Road climb.|
Day started out with an underwhelming club turnout for this popular ride. This was not the ride for anyone recovering from injury as there is almost instant climbing from the start. There were a bunch of competing organized rides from the Santa Cruz 300 brevet to the all girls Cinderella ride nearby. So we just had a little over a half dozen riders. Don wanted to make the hard ride even harder so he was on a fixie.
Day started out strangely as we had to ride a half mile on the Cinderella all girl route. I pulled out my camera to take photos of our group, and then had trouble finding my pocket with my extra long vest. A woman came by and said "on your left"--I was still f'ing around with putting the camera away so I didn't move over much. Lady comes by and says "I said on your left-you should move over." She was right but I still hoped Christine or Jeanne would chase her down. (They didn't)
Sandy got a @15 minute and @3 mile headstart to the 30 miles to the Junction Café, and it was Cisco Dave's mission to catch her. The hard climbing is early, and early in the day I kept knocking my power below 250 watts on the climbs (how come at the end of the day I'd struggle to go reach 175??) so a bunch of us could stay together. This worked as Christine and New Bob and I pacelined together when the climb flattened out--and eventually young Andy on the fastest looking bike in the group (deeeeep rimmed wheels suitable for billboard advertising) time trialed back to us.
|The start of Mines Road offers the steepest section.|
Somehow Coach Andy got Durianrider to make a short training video for us--critiquing the group up Mines Road and the next day on a recovery ride.
During the ride Christine and I laughing at an Aussie Youtube of a cyclist imparting good power meter cycling tips while being all full of himself. Later on Cisco Dave would frequently imitate the narration and yell out "the riders are getting F-R-I-S-K-Y, getting F-R-I-S-K-Y."
Along the way we passed a couple I hadn't seen in years, Bob & Leticia, and I slowed for awhile to chat. Bob is a well respected bike rider who helped me out when I was new to cycling and helped reorient my view of what good cyclists do. Short version of long story:
Back in 2002 I was coming off of knee surgery and could never climb hills, and my old bike club was scheduled to do the hilly Tunitas Creek loop--which had me nervous. We were set to meet up with Bob's riding group and I was warned they were very fast.
|Bob of the Three Musketeers/ Tunitas Creek area. He and his group help me a lot when I was first starting out.|
The fast riders in my old club always were trying to prove how fast they were and drop my ass. Bob's club was from the Tunitas area--when we met up they told us there was an art show on Tunitas Creek so we couldn't go up it--and we had to do the even harder Alpine Road climb. Oh joy. Meanwhile it was 90+ degrees and our club president told me he was happy I showed up so he wouldn't be last on the climbs. Can the day get any better??.
Well, Bob's group pulled us around the fast part of the course, ameliorating the pace so everyone could stay together. On the climbs someone from his group would wait for the last rider (I was motivated to keep ahead of our president, which I did for the first time) or ride back down to us. My first time on Tunitas Creek turned out to be a great ride because of Bob and his group. I last saw him at the start of the Terrible Two's about 6 years ago.
Bob told me he retired from Doubles about a year before I did, and his old group--"the Three Muskeeteers" grew old, disbanded......We bs'd for awhile and then Bob went back for his wife and I continued on with Christine, New Bob and Young Andy.
|The gentle uphill portion is about to come to an end, with two short steep climbs and long downhills to follow.|
Mines Road starts out real steep, levels out to a gentle grade , and then ends with two short/ semi steep climbs that turn into long downhills (which become long uphills from the Junction café on the return trip.) I always do crappy on the long downhills, and our QOM downhiller Christine was in our group. So I told them I needed to take off on the uphills, which I did. Christine caught me at the bottom of the first downhill and led me into the second uphill--yelling "take it easy." Oh hell, I love that last sharp uphill so I went over that hard and then escaped before anyone caught me on the downhill.
The Junction Café is under new management, so no more waiting 45 minutes for a grilled cheese sandwich. Hell, the antiquated cash register has been replaced by I-pads. New owners real friendly and had lots of water-sports drink-bananas for cyclists as well as the heavier grub for the huge crowd of motorcyclists.
|Training table at the Junction Café.|
At the Junction had some biscotti that I baked at 5:30 that morning. By now frozen bottle of Perpetuem with shot of Hammergel mixed with coconut water were thawed out and ready to drink cold. I started the ride with Scratch sports drink (good flavor, not very salty tasting, but low in carbs per bulk) and had Gatorade Powder as reinforcement.
Sun was out but a cool breeze--funny, I'm usually the cold wuzz but I felt fine. Maybe I needed more calories in the low 60 degree weather, later I'd feel a little carbo deficient which almost never happens (turns out I expended 800 more calories than I ate/ drank--and I gained 2 lbs on the ride??) Wondered how Sandy, who is relatively new to cycling, is such a speedburner on downhills--found out she rides motorcycles. In my next life I ignore my "everything is dangerous" upbringing and get a motorcycle when I'm 18.
Like a month ago everyone begged off going any further up the road other than Cisco, Jack and myself. I lied to Sandy--I told her it was 13 miles of rollers out to the end of the San Antonio Valley, and it was more beautiful and desolate with less traffic than what we just rode through The beautiful and desolate part is right--but two of the rollers are really two sharp hills at the end of a series of sharp rollers.
Even thought I did Devil Mountain Double four times, and remember many sections well--my memory of the San Antonio Valley has faded--except for my first DMD when I raced to the Junction well, promptly fell apart, and limped along the rest of the ride. Or when I did the ride solo and I hit the steep hill in the San Antonio Valley and thought I was on Mt. Hamilton--NO--Mt. Hamilton starts a half dozen miles away.
Today Cisco, Jack and I started out together when two guys (one with a Go-Pro on his helmet) from the Junction who were training for DMD roared past on a flat section. That got my and Cisco Dave's dander up and on the first uphill roller we roared past these guys and continued hard to the Bridge at the end of San Antonio Valley --though Cisco had to slow down a number of times so I could keep up. On the way I told him I had a nutty idea. "Turn back" he asked. Oh no, "Mt Hamilton." Yeah--it would be a cold downhill and maybe cold at the top but I was psyched.
|Dave needs to wash dishes so he has to get his sponge that blew under the barbed wire.|
At the bridge there was a van with a flat tire stuck basically in the middle of nowhere. Its about 40-50 hilly miles in any direction to civilization. Cisco Dave dropped a sponge out of his top tube bag, which instantly was swept across the road by a gust of wind--an empty road suddenly filled with motorcycles and bicycles that prevent Dave from retrieving the sponge. When the excitement settled the sponge was about 3' past a barbed wire fence--Cisco was determined to retrieve it so the stuff in his bag wouldn't rattle around.
Guys with Go-Pros came along and stopped 200' past us. Jack trailed them. Cisco and I waited for Jack and we all started up the climb together. Trying to ride to power I tried keeping at 200 watts. I need to sit and spin more--sitting I can keep watts fairly constant, when I stand they yo-yo. I've had faster Mt Hamilton climbs but this was among the most fun--never felt winded and could tackle the sudden double digit steep sections easily. Dave cramped a little at the top which was the only time I rode ahead of him all day.
|Two of me climbing the steep 5 1/2 miles up Mt. Hamilton (Cisco Dave)|
|Dave about to pass one of the DMD practice riders.|
|The top of Mt Hamilton and Observatory--suddenly it looks cold.|
|Dave and I at the top of Mt. Hamilton|
The Courtyard patio was in full sun and the 3 sides walls blocking any wind made it feel we were in Miami. Cisco went inside the observatory to get water and Jack arrived, causing trouble.
Jack always wears the DIABLO CYCLISTS Club kit--named as our backyard training ground is the great Mt. Diablo. A lady sees this and crankily asks "do you know what Diablo is named after?," as she scowls.
PC- "Yes-the Devil, and that's a good thing"
Lady-"You think that's a good thing"
PC- "It's a VERY good thing."
I wish Ward was on the ride so he could fight with the religious nuts.
|47 miles back to Livermore|
Jack announces he is not going to do an out and back--he's going to do the circular Century route that will take him over Sierra Road, which is just as hard as the Mt. Hamilton Climb. Dave and I will have a little easier time doing the out and back, as we've already done 75% of the climbing. Dave and I are faster and we can paceline but Jack wouldn't stop for a break, so it will be interesting who gets back to the cars first.
The downhill off Mt. Hamilton SUCKS--steep with frequent turns and shallow grey pothole/ reflector ditches hidden in the grey pavement. It was cold on the downhill and my hand started hurting from the cold and all the breaking I did. Warmed up in the San Antonio Valley but I had a massive power/ energy lull was over the rollers back to the junction. As noted earlier was was real hungry--something that never happens.
Return to the much less crowded Junction Café with just a few cyclists and motorcyclists. I scored the last yellow banana and a Diet Coke. Had a nice chat with friendly new owners--the cyclists we talked to outside were impressed with the service at the "New" Junction Café. Decided to keep my vest/ arm warmers off for the climb out of the Junction--which proved to be a bad (cold) decision after the climb ended but I think the briskness kept my energy up for the ride back.
|Inside the Junction Café.|
Climb out of the Junction was OK--Dave circled back for me a few times. Our trip would be 94 miles and he was hoping to get 6 bonus miles for an OFFICIAL century ride. On the long downhill we had a mild headwind--Dave did about 80% of the pulling. We were going rapidly--the huge mile markers painted on the ground (so they can be seen by helicopter in emergency) rapidly flashed by. There is a long but shallow uphill roller on the way back and I told Dave I'd lead him into it. I did and then Dave just went flying up the roller at mile 80-90.
|Artwork on Mines Road|
At the bottom Dave wanted to do Del Valle--to get his 100 miles, but I just wanted to get back to the car and get warm inside. Heck--forecast is for 80 degrees in two day but today we were lucky when it was 60 degrees.
Kind of depressing about the "theme" for this years Ronde van Vlaanderen. The two best riders of the Belgium Classics in the last decade are Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellera. Much of the writing about the race is how the younger generation is now nipping at their heels and its time for the "new" guard. Shit--Boonen and Cancellera are....33 year olds. My riding buddies and I are ancient.
**Calorie note--I ate @2430 calories and 535 carbs for the 7 hours of actual riding time. Garmin said I used 3524 calories.
**A great article in Velonews about Fabian Cancellera, the best cyclist of the last 5 years. Though the best his sprint was weak so in the offseason he spent time training his weakness. We could all learn from that--maybe I should learn to sit and spin...