One week to go to the Alta Alpina 5 and was hoping we'd have a great club ride on the schedule like Morgan Territory (which means Patterson pass add on) or Tunitas Creek. Instead we got Peets Coffee, again. F. Every time I have an out of town event Morgan Territory is that weeks ride and I come back to.....Peets Coffee. I guess I shouldn't complain that we ride 27 gently hilly miles to Peets in Oakland--in 15 years our Peets coffee ride will be riding one block out of the park we start from, cross cautiously with the "Walk" sign, and ride through the shopping center on the other side of the street to the Peets Coffee 1/4 mile away. "Hey, when's our rest stop."
Meanwhile I'm feeling great. A couple of months ago, before the Motherlode, I had the weird sensation that I was missing a month of training and somehow it should be late March instead of May. Dr. Dave had the same feeling. The Motherlode and Sierra Century went off really well and all of a sudden all climbs seem undaunting. Not that I am going up any faster, but easier at a moderate speed.
We had a small group for the Peets ride, which goes thru Contra Costa County on the rolling "Three Bears climb," and then enters Alameda County when climbing up to Tilden Park and the Skyline ridge. On the return trip the big climb is up Tunnel Road. The roads have little traffic and are fairly scenic. So why am I down on the ride? For one, when we get nice warm weather there is a fog bank hanging over the Oakland hills that we ride into. Secondly, the destination is nothing to write home about--across from the big Claremont Hotel. There used to be a small bakery where we got great coffee (which was better than Peets and Peets is pretty good) and handcrafted baked goods--it is gone. So is the woman run bike shop down the street that had a good selection of bike stuff to lust after.
|Dr. Dave must have had an extra piece of chocolate cake last night for dessert.|
Dr. Dave is really turning into a weight weenie. My saddle bag with wallet was 887g and before the Sierra Century I went through and took out all the crap I really didn't need/ put in a lighter CO2 setup, and got it down to 702g. I must have mentioned this to Dr. Dave as he showed up for this ride Without a saddle bag. He's already kicking my butt on climbs. He looked real pro--trouble is we don't have a team car following us (as I found out last week.)
|Cisco Dave at the start of the ride|
|Dr. Dave on the Pig Farm climb|
|CA Mike on the 1st Bear climb--happy that no one from Gridley is shooting at him|
There was some training event for beginner riders on the Bears and we hit the tail end. Cisco Dave was a little to glib when he called out with a little too much snarkiness to some walking riders, Dr. & I admonished him, and then there was a battle to the end of the Bears. Andy shot through on the last steep pitch and looked like he had a sizable gap until Cisco caught him--hopefully he didn't taunt Andy while he pulled away nicely.
I may have been the last person on the Tilden climb. I got cold when we were waiting for the achatvulgers, and riding in the shade with the temperature dropping didn't help. Cisco and Dr Dave assured me it wasn't that cold but I was. Should have worked harder to warm up but just lazily pulled into our second rest stop.
Many ways to get out of Tilden Park. The steepest way is South Park Road--one of the steepest roads in the Bay Area. An annoying climb is by the golf course, not steep enough to be a challenge but a long slow drag out affair. My favorite way is one CA Mike introduced us to a long time ago--riding the Sonoma like pavement toward Lake Anza and then making a sudden left turn where a 16% wall appears. Its short--maybe 5 blocks long, but you get the climbing out of the way and vola you're on the Skyline Ridge. The Mur de Mike is .4 miles at 9% but as they teach in stats class averages lie. The Mur starts out briefly at 5%, the last third is about 5% an actually dips down right at the end. So the first two thirds are about 16%.
Only Cisco Dave (who really wanted to do South Park) and I really wanted to do the Mur de Mike, but as Mike was with us and he was its founder it would be unseemingly if he didn't do it with us. Andy didn't know any better so he went with us as Dr. Dave and Pleasant Hill Michael did the golf course route and Don wanted to see how he'd go downhill on the fixie so he turned around to head back. Dr. Dave is sitting at #2 on the Mur de Mike on Strava but he began his Alta Alpina tapering so I didn't hector him to protect his placement--no saddle bag and all.
I was again real lazy, suddenly about 200' behind the group as we turned into the home stretch for the Mur de Mike. My vest was off and I was cold again but I knew I'd warm up quickly on the Mur. When I hit the sudden left turn everyone was about 1/2 block ahead but I had my best moment of the day and shot by everyone with Cisco being the only one who came with me. He was really enthused and running a commentary I couldn't really hear as my lungs burned as I thrashed up the 18-20% section. My legs felt fine--my breathing always goes out first but I knew the Mur is short enough where that's OK. On the turn where the road flattens out to 5% I overestimated my power and swung around in too hard a gear and stalled out momentarily. Cisco Dave still coaching from the side. Finished the climb and knew I had taken it well--so much so when I saw Dr. Dave later I predicted I wouldn't be too far behind his 2nd place Strava ranking. Oh yeah--Andy went straight instead of taking the last turn so a scouting party had to organize and find him. Then Cisco called it a day and went back.
|House sign spells MUR wrong but gets the grade % correct|
|Domo Diablo Cyclist Farm Frites 1-2-4-7|
Skyline overlook wasn't bad even with a cloud laying over Oakland. Neither was downhill into Oakland. Peets was uneventful though a perfect day for coffee and homemade biscotti. Dr. Dave and I rode hard up Tunnel Road but no one was out pushing the pace.
|The view and the boys, Andy, Cisco Dave, CA Mike, on Skyline|
Regroup at Sibley, where NO MORE STRAVA TALK--EVER (or at least to the end of this column)
Two skinny young guys were at the rest area, and one had memorized his ranking on all Strava segments
|The two leaders on the Strava Sibley Stairs Smashup Segment. Please don't tell them where the Mur de Mike is.|
We decided to go back the short way through Canyon which involves a twisty downhill, where I fell off. Dr. Dave waited for me, and then we almost caught Andy and Mike at the front. On the downhill Dr. Dave especially liked the car with a flat tire trying to make a U turn on a hairpin and fully blocking the road. We thought that Mike's friend from the 600k had followed him down here.
The return to the start made for a 55 mile ride with just under 5,000' climbing. I felt good and in anticipation of bonus miles I had a frozen sports drink in the car. I threw out that I was going up Diablo, Dr. Dave accompanied me, and we did what was so painful a few months ago--adding Mt Diablo at the end of a long ride. Today, however, it wasn't painful and we were 5 1/2 minutes faster to the Junction than in the middle of March when we last did this add on insanity.
|On Mt. Diablo, view from the climb-near the top.|
|Selfie at the top of Mt Diablo|
At the Junction Dr. Dave felt bad that I had to climb with a 800g seatbag and he didn't, so he called it a day and I continued on to the top. Late afternoon, no cyclists in sight. Weather now was much better than last week, no overcast at all. When I reached the top took a photo or two, then dropped down to the LOWER parking lot BBQ area where my BBQ lunch was a Z-Bar and I called my daughter from high atop Mt. Diablo wishing her a great 25th birthday.
|Lower Parking lot BBQ/ Picnic area. Top of Diablo is in the background.|
I hadn't seen another cyclist for an hour--going down I saw some crazy guy going up pulling a baby trailer. When I got close it was Matt !!, who is going to try the Alta Alpina 8 next week. When successful he'll add his name to Collin, Toby (8 1/2), and me of the Diablo Cyclists who have done the toughest double in California. The Alta Alpina 8 is 200 miles with 8 Death Ride passes--all at altitude. Matt had daughter duty and it was the only way to get a training ride in--22 miles with 3,390' climbing with baby trailer in tow up Diablo. Later we found out that Todd, training for the Death Ride, did Mt. Diablo 4x and rode 109 self supported miles and 14,130' climbing. Good deal!!
Hmmm, did want to see how I did on the Mur de Mike, as I thought I had a good "climb". I moved ahead of Dr. Dave sitting at #2 and the guy we didn't know who was #1. Wow. But wait--some bum moved into #1st in the last month and was ahead of all of us. Oh.....its Matt. If I would have known this when I saw him on Diablo I would have insisted that I get in the trailer and he pull me up the mountain.