Sunday, July 20, 2014

Palomares Loop Bookended by Mt. Diablo Junction Climbs Century (2014)

(July 19, 2014)  Palomares Loop Bookended by Mt. Diablo Junction Climbs Century, w Dr. Dave, Matt* and Jack, 99 miles, 7090' climbing.  Middle of the ride with the Diablo Cyclists.
(*Matt went all the way up Mt Diablo at the end 

Significant Climbs
Mt Diablo North Gate to Junction...................6.6 miles, 1825'  5%
Palomares (from the South)..............................4.5 miles, 1058' 4%
Dublin Canyon Road (from the west)..............2.6 miles,   475' 3%, which leads into the
Muur de Schaefer............................................... .3 miles,   159' 10%
Mt Diablo South Gate (Athenian) to Junction.6.4 miles, 1575'  5%

Didn't we just do Mt. Diablo as many times as you can until you drop, in prep for the Alta Alpina?  Now Dr. Dave and I have the Mt. Shasta Summit Super Century in two weeks, and Matt is in for the Mt. Tam Double on the same weekend, which had been my favorite.  Dave and I had talked about doing the Mt. Diablo repeats again but he came up with a much better idea---to ride "half way" up Mt. Diablo before and after our club ride--the metric Palomares Loop which features the Palomares climb. 

The only part of Dr. Dave's plan I didn't like was leaving Heather Farms at 7:15, but apart from lack of sleep it was nice enough once I got going.  Funny, the area was surrounded by low lying clouds, unusual for California Summers.  It would rapidly warm up when we returned at 9:00 to start the Club ride, and there would be more humidity in the air than usual.    Would be great returning to the car as I could dump off excess clothes and had a partially frozen Perpetuem bottle, and Gatoraid bottle for the rest of the ride.
Crowd at the start of the Century.

Dr. Dave and Matt on start of Mt Diablo Climb--unusual cloudy California summer sky.

Dr. Dave and Matt at the Junction before the Diablo Cyclists club ride--a month ago this place was jammed with cyclist training for the Death Ride.
Met up with Matt and Dave and the foot of Diablo--we were always out of synch with Jack on the climbs as he's start way ahead or behind us.   We rode up at an ez conversational pace, Dave and I telling Matt about the interesting Mt. Tam course.  We weren't keeping the speed artificially low as we did on the 'Mt. Diablo Till You Drop' ride, when we'd slow down when we hit 200 watts.   Today we were 2 1/2 minutes faster than a month ago.  Also different-- now post Death Ride the mountain was pretty quiet; maybe 1/5th of the riders on Mt. Diablo today than a month ago.  At the Junction we all wolfed down an energy bar and headed back down.  We were puzzled that we never caught/ saw Jack, as he had texted that he'd start a little before us.   Just when we started going down Jack was about 500' short of his Junction arrival.

Cool descent though I overdressed with both a vest and rainjacket.  No stopping to "strip" as we had to make haste back to where our Club ride started.  Our timing was impeccable, we arrived back for the 9:00 Diablo Cyclist ride at 8:55.   The rain jacket, knee warmers, arm warmers, tshirt went into the trunk and out came the new refreshments.  Bunch of new riders at the start--at least ones I didn't recognize.   When I hit the bathroom I heard a familiar voice--Ward was coming off the DL again and would do the flat part of the ride with the Club.

Paceline mistake--Rider in the front trying to get into a time trial position and suddenly zig sagging--in a paceline keep your hands on the bars.  (WI Moto 3)
The beginning of the Club ride is flat along the main street connecting Alamo-Danville-San Ramon-Dublin; busy during the return trip but not too bad in the morning.  After Dublin there is a nice stretch without many traffic controls or traffic.   One new rider was zig sagging while trying his psudeo time trial position;, I didn't realize he was the same person riding unevenly at Tunitas Creek last week.  Actually I was almost never riding mid pack to notice, I was either riding in the back of the paceline to make sure that no one I knew fell off, or would go to the front and pull a little before rotating back.  I didn't know how Ward would do, but in Wardlike fashion he was going to the front and cranking up the pace numerous times.

On the run in to Sunol there is an annoying little hill that kills me

Mur* de Sunol--  .7 miles, 83' 2% (*I don't like it so we'll make it French)

I do much better on a climb (Schaefer) later than is half as long but 5x as steep.  We had a fast moving paceline into Sunol, and the inevitable was to watch young Andy rocket away from us on the Mur de Sunol with 1000 watts of power if we all went into it together.   So the old guys--Dr. Dave and I--reached into the bag of tricks.  Dr. Dave volunteered to cause trouble and jump off the front--my job being to slow the peloton down.  Either Dave would have a free ride as he disappeared down the road or I'd get a free ride back to him.  The "Old 2001" !!"

Dave took off, no one chased, and I went to the front and soft pedaled as Dave moved further and further down the road--great.    All of a sudden a rider flashes by me--its Matt, who is hauling butt back to Dave as I barely hang on.  He gets back to Dave right when the climb starts, I attack as soon as Matt makes contact, my attack is short lived as Matt quickly passes and just keeps zooming up with Dave hanging on and Bob coming in from the back following.   One of the two places I hit my max heart rate; now I backed off, later I wouldn't.
Funny--at Sunol my, Dave and Matt's bike lined up, and we all had top tube bags.

Nice rest stop in Sunol.  When we started down to Palomares I was in the back and we soon has a split--with Coach Andy in our group having trouble clipping in.    I stayed in the back until pedal problem were worked out--but by that time it was impossible to move up the paceline on Niles Canyon which has no shoulder and lots of traffic.   When we picked up Jack who had been dropped from the lead group was now doing the pulling and the gap between the two groups became larger and larger.  Half way down there was room for me to go to the front and pull but the gap between the groups was  great.  This may have been a blessing as it prevented me from committing suicide trying to keep up with Matt and Dr. Dave on the Palomares climb.

Warned the new riders in our group about the sudden right turn where you best be in an ez gear as Palomares is steep right on the turn in.  Rode solo up the climb where it was warm but the road is well shaded.  Cracked up when some peacocks started cackling off to the side--as they always did in the evening when this was ridden as part of DMD.   Passed a few people who had been dropped from the front group and shouted out encouragement.  Unfortunately the road was just chip sealed so occasionally you hear something rattling around the tyres--shit, how bad will the steep downhill be?    It was warm in the climb with a tinge of humidity but much of the climb is in the shade.
Motley crew regroup at top of Palomares.  Coach Andy (r) tell Young Andy (tall) to get sponsers to advertise on  his wheels

When we got to the top Matt-Dave-Andy and Bob buried in the shade, along with another cycling group.  I turned back and went back down to come up with our last rider--carrying on a great tradition that someone did in my old club a long time ago.   We all regrouped at the top and the fast downhill on the loose gravel wasn't that bad--though the signs every 500' indicating "Slow 25--Loose Gravel" were ominous.  Coach Andy had a pebble lodge in his brakes.

Next came an enjoyable climb along Hwy 580.  Its only a 3% grade for 2 1/2 miles and frequently there is a wind blowing in from the West, and we usually do it from the West>East direction.   As I'm a standing climber, and it suicide to climb standing into a headwind, I love a 3% climb with a tailwind.  The BEST part of this climb is that it turns under the freeway and on the other side is a .3 mile, 10% roller (its a roller if you can stand the whole way on it.)

Matt and I started up together.  Ahead was a guy in 'Fast Freddie' shorts who had passed our group on the Palomares downhill, now Matt and I caught him before turn into the Muur de Schaefer.
Young Andy near the top of the Muur de Schaefer after a nice and fast climb.

Dr. Dave and Bob enjoying the end of this 10% roller.

Jack sticks out his elbows and outsprints Coach Andy at the top of the Muur.

Jeanne enjoying her trip up the Muur.

For the day--of anyone posting on Strava--Matt was #3 on the Muur de Schaefer, Andy was #4 and I was 5th.  Incredible that Matt's heart rate much lower than mine and Andy had the very high estimated watt output.
On the Muur Matt scurried up ahead.  'Fast Freddie" went by me but I wasn't letting up on this climb and kicked it into gear and passed FF.  Heart rate maxed out again but didn't stop the effort until I stayed in front of FF and stomped to the top.  Still having to ride Mt Diablo again was momentarily forgotten.

Rest stop/ regroup in Schaefer Ranch and then a good paceline back--though often interrupted by the frequent red lights.   About a third of the way back we said goodbye to the larger group and turned heading to Mt. Diablo from the South side.

At this time I was sick of warm sports drink and pretty thirsty.  On the rollers out to Mt Diablo Matt, Dave and I lost Jack.   Dave said we should stop at a gas station for water--great move as I put ice in my bottles of warm sports drink, which then would greatly improve, and downed a Diet Coke.   Now it felt like a real Century ride.   While we were at the station we saw Jack roll by , and he'd reach Mt Diablo well ahead of us.
Dr. Dave doing his part druing the California drought--he washes with out of state water bottled water...

Felt good when we reached the Athenian School which is the start of the Southgate Climb--though about 3/4 mile out of the park.   Reminisced with Matt about the time before they fixed the road and this section leading into the park was covered by toilet bowl sized potholes--and the worst part of DMD was riding this stretch in the dark trying not to disappear in a pothole.  

Dr. Dave complains often how HOT it is (at least as often as I complain it is cold), but it really was hot on the Mt. Diablo Southgate climb today.  We've ridden and enjoyed hotter weather but it was humid today.  The speedway through Rock City was refreshing and enjoyable.   Any question which side of Mt. Diablo--Northgate or Southgate--was put to rest as with 70 more miles in our legs and 25 degrees warmer, we were 3 1/2 minutes faster than in the morning.

When we first started toward Mt. Diablo there was a rider about 600' in front of us moving at a good clip, and he'd frequently look back.  Usually that gets me into chase mode but we rode sensibly and this guy was always about two football fields away through Athenian and going up Diablo.  Half way up he was on the side of the road rubbling his legs like crazy--heat cramps.   After Rock City we caught Jack and then prepared for the final run in by the heliport where suddenly the fun is over and the road gets steep.
Matt and Dave on the Southgate climb.

Hey--how did I get into a photo.

Didn't we see the junction today when it was 30 degrees cooler.

88 degrees in the shade at the 2,000+' level

Jack finally sitting down at a rest stop,

Funny how in the morning having a power output of 250-275 isn't hard, now every time I thought I had to back off my power meter seemingly said 177 watts or less.   At one point I put in a jump to get a photo of Matt and Dave and I quickly had to slow and recover.   Rock City did provide relief and I felt good through the last few turns to the Junction, so much so I tried a sneak attack on Matt on the last turn before the Junction.  Well my legs wanted to go but my breathing sucked--Matt heard me coming and easily took off.

At the Junction Matt said he was going to the top.  In retrospect we should have gone also as the downhill was one of the best ever on Diablo--it was HOT.   Dave and I declined, figuring Matt is training for a hilly 200 miles and we are only training for a hilly 140 miles.  Jack, the man who never rests on rides, came in looking wiped out and he quickly grabbed a spot in the shade.
After awhile Matt went up, Dave and I went down Northgate, and Jack back down Southgate.  In late afternoon we truly owned the Mountain---saw no other cyclists or cars.
A great century ride always has a great ride t-shirts.

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