Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mt Diablo-Climb Repeats Till You Drop (2014)

(June 14, 2014)  Reviving Diablo Cyclists 9 year in hiatus ride—Climb Repeats Till You Drop—Climb Mt. Diablo Over and Over.   Mostly with Dr. Dave, Christine, Cisco Dave and Matt.  Dr. Dave climbed the most, 3.75x up Diablo.  I had hike and bike record, 3+x up Diablo and 4 mile mid ride hike.
Mt Diablo Elevation Repeats-red is hike portion of the ride
After last week’s great club ride (with Mt Tam add on) I was looking forward to this Saturday’s ride and hoped to add on again.  However the weekly hilly Club ride wasn’t situated well, so Mines Road or Patterson pass twice seemed like a good idea—though I’d have to probably go it alone.   Just in time Dr. Dave threw out a great idea—why not revive a tradition and do Mt. Diablo repeats as many times as we want.

When I first joined the Diablo Cyclists in 2004, club participation on the Death Ride was a big deal, and one of the training rides a few weeks before were Mt Diablo repeats.   In the last decade Diablo Cyclists mass participation on the Death Ride gradually fell by the wayside—Dr. Dave remembers the last hill repeat ride in 2005.  It was a great idea and the plan was to go up Diablo 4x, alternating coming down (and then back up) the North and South side.  

To our delight, Cisco Dave, Christine and Matt jumped aboard.  Plans quickly came together.   At the top of Diablo after the 2nd climb we’d break out lunch at the newly renovated Upper parking lot picnic area.   The Upper Lower Parking Lot picnic area has BBQ pits—I thought we ought to organize like a handicap horse race and have the two strongest climbers, Matt and Cisco, carry up a half bag of charcoal---but there wasn’t enough time to get this together.   As we’d park down the road from the Mt Diablo North Gate, before the 3rd ascent we could grab cold drinks from coolers in our car. 

This wasn't a fun ride.  Matt forgot the charcoal so no promised BBQ and everyone looks disappointed at lunch.
In any event, no matter what pace Matt and Cisco set, Dr. Dave and I were going to try to ride sensibly at the beginning and keep under 200 watts.  This may be the power meters best use for endurance rides.   There is an old cycling saying “conserve your matches”---whereas each cyclist has a limited amount of energy, a hard effort burns energy or a couple of matches from your matchbook, and too many hard efforts you have burnt through all your matches.  On the Alta Alpina 8 a couple of years ago Coach Toby kept us at a ridiculously easy 160w for the first few climbs—as I was almost dead on climb number 8 the early puttering around had to help later on.  So Dr. Dave and I needed practice not to getting  caught up in the moment and chase/ race, so we predetermined a 200w limit.  I have to get my Garmin to beep when exceeding a limit as early on I was often surprised to look down and see 350w and then have to knock back.   (On the 3rd climb I was having a hard time exceeding 200w)
Cisco Dave leads the early morning charge to the Mt. Diablo entrance at Northgate.

Dave and Christine at the start of climb #1

Group selfie-Christine and I up climb #1

Christine arrives at the top of Mt Diablo.

Now 200 watts may seem real easy to those who look at their trainer and yell out “I just hit 950 max power."   How you can’t sustain power indefinitely is best shown by the AndrewCoggins study of all different types of cyclists.  For example, a good domestic pro (@140 lbs) can hit 1375 watts for 5 second but only put out 360 watts of power for a half hour.  Such is the falloff in power over time. 

So, trying to ride under 200 watts led to us using a modification of Diablo Scott’s famous pass me-pass you ratio, it was something like 25:5.   No—neither number indicates the number of cyclists we passed.  25 was cyclists who passed us and 5 was the number of cyclists that actually called out while passing.  I get pissed when some Strava Boy silently whizzes by, and Cisco reminded me I shouldn’t get upset over, as there is no obligation to do so this unless someone pass on the right in close quarters without calling out.  (Which happened later on the downhill off the ramp by the a small group of goobers who probably never did anything tougher than ride up Mt Diablo)  There is no obligation ,but cycling writer  Maynard Hershon wrote a great piece a while back about the snobbery of some road cyclists:

  “After a few miles, she asked me why serious cyclists act so unfriendly…sometimes guys coming up from behind her would sprint by: they wouldn’t speak or nod, or even acknowledge her presence on the road.  She’d been a runner..and almost all runners has smiled and waved at each other.  Why weren’t cyclists like that?...So why the snobbery?  Clearly, there are subgroups within cycling , each secretly imagining itself to possess a certain elite status.” (Tales From the Bike Shop, Maynard Hershon,  (1989))

In any event the weather on Diablo was perfect—about 70 when we started the first climb.  The air was still a little damp and it smelled real nice.  At 8:00 Mt Diablo was jammed with cyclists—which would dramatically change as the day wore on.  Seems that cyclists set out on Mt Diablo so early for a combo of 3 reasons; either because 1) it is the coolest part of the day, 2) less cars on Diablo early, 3) they want to do other things later in the day.  The car thing is big, I usually ride Diablo after work when there aren’t many car sightings.  However, on the weekend it’s a big destination, and many cars insist on exercising their god give right of passing cyclists on an uphill blind hairpin so they are sticking half way into the lane going downhill.  Of course a number of Hummers regularly going downhill would end this practice, but it’s a bike usually going downhill when they suddenly meet an car going uphill traveling in the wrong lane.  Happened to me today on the descent, I had flashing headlight and was far to the right side of the road when an oncoming SUV decided to give me less than a foot when it passed a group riding uphill.
Cisco Dave starts up Southgate on climb #2

Cisco Dave and Matt trying to draft off other riders

Cisco calling 911 to report Matt riding on the wrong side of the road.

Christine was glad I decided to limit my power—she set a nice constant uphill pace so I just matched her speed.  With our bsing it seems we got to the top much quicker than when I’m trying to “beat the clock.”  Same phenomena on climb 2 from the South Gate side,  when the two Dave’s’, Matt and I bs’d to the top.   At one point we were joined by a nice guy named Joe who wanted to know about the Alta Alpina and if they do the same route as the Death Ride.   It was nice and toasty on the climb but we didn’t really notice.  During a lull in conversation I’d turn on the now under 200g bike stereo that mounts on my light mount—MP3 and speaker held on by an angle iron (OK I said stereo, I can set another speaker on the other light mount.)

At the top of Diablo after pass #2 we found a nice table in the shade, and we couldn’t feed the starving raccoons so we fed our starving poster boy—Cisco Dave.  Nice half hour break.  Most cyclists go straight up the nearby wall to the top crowded with automobiles and cyclists and bypass the hidden parking/ picnic area to the side, complete with remodeled bathrooms and water.
Lunch at the upper lower parking lot after climb #2

Looking forward to the Northgate descent back to the car where a cold soda and cold sports drink waited.  Christine had faded a little on climb #2 so she was going to go down Southgate so she could come back up the easier side.  On the downhill I was soon off the back, but the guys slowed so I could keep them in view.

Of course with me in the back I was out of their view.  When I rode solo downhill I had the  bike stereo going and on a steep downhill section by 1000’ I thought I heard a tyre blowout.  I immediately stopped and checked—both tyres were good.  I started rolling but within 50’ was the familiar rumble, where you know you have a flat.  Sure enough—front tyre dead.

Walked another 200’ or so..  Rule #1 when changing a flat on a hot day—Find shade!!  While the Mountain had been jammed on climb #1, and crowded on climb #2, the cycling crowd had really thinned.  About every minute someone came up and most nicely called up “have everything you need."  Oh yeah—front tyre fix no big deal—but first concern was couldn’t find anything in the tyre that would cause a flat or blowout.

Closer visual inspection needed and I saw that corded bead had broken through the rubber.  Oh crap—tyre probably wasn’t seated well. 
Finding shade to fix a flat

Oh, I am so F'd

So changed front tyre—started out again and in another 100’ BOOM.  Another blowout—luckily before I picked up speed.   I had left phone in the car—parked 4 miles away, and my bike was unsafe at any speed so it was time to walk.

And what a long walk.  Kept flipping from side to side on the road figuring out where I was more visible.  Bike shoes with raised cleats hurt, not a lot but enough for sore feet.  Thought about walking barefoot but…   Faith in other cyclists reaffirmed—about 75% who passed called out to see what was wrong and if they could help.  Unfortunately they couldn’t.   I started getting pissed that I felt great after 2x and my day was over. 

Dr Dave-Cisco Dave and Matt came back up when I had gone about halfway.  Cisco thought we should try a patch but I didn’t want to try. Big black cloud over the day grew bigger and bigger as I continued to march back. Was warm with a touch of humidity as I downed the two bottles on my bike.   Funny scene at gate entrance—someone was holding up a line of cars trying to get everyone a senior citizen discount.
Cars backing up until everyone gets a senior citizen discount

When 4 miles from my car didn’t think I’d do any more riding, but now in the last mile a little optimism crept in.  Surely I must have an extra tyre in my car’s cycling milk crate that has duplicates of anything I’d ever need while cycling.  So two plans of action.  If I had a spare tyre I’d change the tyre and ride up for a 3rd time...BUT, when I got back to the car I wouldn’t rush to change the tyre and find the group; I’d hydrate and eat first—and take the fn cycling shoes off as soon as I got back to the car.

Car finally in sight, yep a spare tyre in the bike crate.  Didn’t bother me much that it was a new folded which are usually a bitch to get on.  Threw off bike shoes and put on sandals, grabbed diet coke and an Arizmendi mini sandwich and laid out under the shade tree for 10 minutes.
Shaded lawn is great on hot day for a tyre changing picnic

Cisco Dave appeared—was a bit frazzled, disappointed he wasn't going up 4x, and was calling it a day.  He reminded me to take my phone so I can see if I can hook up with the group at the Junction.  He left and using techniques in a video Bikeland Curtis had found on putting on a wire beaded tyre (the worst), I never had an easier time putting on a new folding tyre.

Changed into a no sleeve jersey and it was sooo warm the base of Mt Diablo, around 3:30, I didn’t even grab a vest.  Took two half frozen Gatorade bottles from the cooler and added a Z bar to the half-eaten Chomps and Atingers—both good for instant carb hits and sodium.

Just when I was about to leave Ward showed up after coming back from a Berkeley ride.   Seeing him was great and he’d accompany me to the base of the 1000’ section.  When we started my mood was further lifted by two girls on motorized “Barbie” bikes—when we passed I yelled “I wanna get that I wanna get that” and the girls cracked up.
My new club, happy lightweight speedsters who'd bring the charcoal up Mt. Diablo for a BBQ. (WI)

I'm at the start of Northgate-climb #3 (WI)

Diablo #3 started out nice and ez—though in the morning when it was hard to keep power under 350 for steeper sections, now it was hard to go over 200.   The Mountain was now almost empty, maybe I saw 5 riders for the next 6 miles to the Junction-with one being Fredrick who was training and slowed enough to say hello and that he had heard from Cisco what had happened, before he zoomed by.  Another was Christine coming down after doing 2 ½ passes.   I felt so good I thought of going down Southgate after the Summit so I’d have 3 ½ climbs on the climb back, so set up a plan in my mind.  When I got to the Junction I’d call Dr. Dave.  If he & Matt were  above the Junction I’d then solo to the top and add the extra ½ pass.  If they were below the Junction I’d ride down to where they were and do some bonus Southgate climbing.

I'm too tired to focus the selfie properly--higher up Mt. Diablo on climb #3.
It turns out that when I was about 1000 meters from the Junction some guy came past, out of the saddle, and I was tired of being “in restraints” by the power meter so I responded and jumped out also and whizzed by him.   Truth be told, this was only my 2nd stupid moment of the day.   I called and found that Dave was below the Junction—between Rock City and the heliport, so I went downhill and the ride back to the Junction would be the bonus portion of the ride.

Looped around when I met up with Dave, who was riding solo.  Matt had split after the last downhill so Dr. Dave was doing 4x climb  by himself.  When we started he said “let’s have some music” so Bowie’s ‘Panic in Detroit’ quickly took over.  Dr Dave looked like he was riding easily, so was surprised when he said he was going to turn around soon.  When we got to Juniper and I was on my own.
Dr. Dave looks very happy on climb #4

Well, 3rd training stupid moment was that it was a bit windy and overcast on top of Mt. Diablo and I was wondering why I had changed into a no sleeve jersey and DIDN’T take a vest.

I was, however, very happy that day didn't fully go down the toilet and I did get to do Mt Diablo 3x plus the Rock City/ Heliport reclimb.  Figured I may as well bring back another Diablo Cyclist tradition, one that Big Mike and I started.  When I got to the 15% ramp for the final time I has to do it twice.  It gets easier the 2nd time.  Trust me.

Downhill was refreshing and sun was back out at lower elevation.  Around 5 o’clock-maybe saw 5 riders going up on the 12 mile downhill—in the morning saw 5 riders going up ON EVERY HAIRPIN PASSED BY A CAR.  Bring on Alta Alpina.


Diablo Scott said...


But why do you keep calling the Lower Parking Lot the Upper Parking Lot?

Pumpkincycle said...

Wat do I know--I'm my club leader in getting lost. Its "upper" than Juniper and the Junction but I note the correction and will make amends.