Monday, September 1, 2014

Mt. Diablo-Morgan Territory, Patterson Pass Century (2014)

I did Mt Diablo Northgate preride to 3000', 112, 7,880' climbing.  Matt did Mt Diablo Southgate preride to Junction.  Dr. Dave and Christine joined for the bonus mile fun up Patterson Pass.

Elevation but something is strange--I was next to the 3,000 foot sign on Mt Diablo and my Garmin said I was at 2,800'.  At least after a full reset my Garmin no longer craps out after 70-90 miles.

Significant Climbs (rounded out)
Mt Diablo (to Juniper) --9 miles, 2600', 5-6% (pretty even)
Morgan Territory--3 miles, 800', 5% (steeper at top with short hairpin kicks)
Patterson Pass----5 miles, 1200', 5% (steeper at top with growing headwind)

Best Diablo Cyclist ride on the schedule, the climb up Morgan Territory, a desolate, shady, twisty climb on a narrow road; fitted with hairpins that kick up to double digit grades.     One of my favorite climbs.  After going down the wide open, uncovered downhill there is a natural bonus mile route--the Altamont Speedway to Patterson Pass.  As the Altamont Speedway (for the good) and Patterson Pass (for the not so good)  exacerbates any wind conditions--midweek showed a mild wind forecast for the Livermore Valley and toasty temperatures in the 90's.  Cool--another bonus is naturally added on--an early morning assault of Mt. Diablo before joining in on the club ride.   The trip to Morgan Territory features some serious rollers so even if you miss the Club you can eventually catch onto the back--even worked when Ward and I once went back to his house and had a 10 course breakfast before trying to make up 30 minutes on the Club.

Tried to get some buy in on the Patterson Pass add on but generally the emails were noncommittal.  Finally it was proposed that we'd decide at the top of Morgan Territory where the bonus mile group would continue.  That worked out as well as expected, with a contingent forming the "Anything Except Patterson Pass" group.  So we had a split and Christine, Matt, Dr. Dave and I went towards Patterson Pass.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself.  To do the Mt Diablo preride necessitates getting to our traditional ride start 2-2:15 hours earlier than normal, hence the forecast best be for early morning warm weather.   I put on a mini-headlight--good for trying to get an approaching car's attention when going down Mt. Diablo (where stupid asses pass on blind curves), and the narrow roads of Morgan Territory and Patterson Pass.   I put on the mini bike stereo in case I wound up riding alone--always a chance of not catching the bike club and/or no one doing the Patterson Pass bonus loop.  Put on the handlebar bag stuffed with food and drink mix for a 100+ mile  day.  Of course I threw in a t-shirt for the cold Mt. Diablo morning descent.  I never did use the t-shirt so just wasted bag space.
The Mt. Diablo ascent was beautiful at 7:15.  Only a few other cyclists were going up and no cars.  When I started I was happy to be wearing a vest and that I had a t-shirt in reserve.  At the Mt. Diablo entrance the vest and arm warmers came off.   As it would be a long day of climbing

I tried to keep the power output under 200w--luckily no one passed that might incite me to chase.  I figured I'd have to turn around wherever I was at 8:45 to merge with the Diablo Cyclists starting, in theory, at 9:00.  In theory, as in past years Ward got us moving at 9:01 but with him being on the injured list the Club's start time has crept toward 9:15
Huge crowd at the start at Heather Farms

Was riding slowly and taking photos but could have left a half hour later---made the Junction well before 8:45 so continued to go up.  The temperature was really perfect, some spots in heavy shade were cool but usually you could feel the warmth even early on.  Got to the Juniper overlook around 8:35 so figured I'd go around the corner just to stop and take in the view from the 3000' sign.  Strange, at the 3000' sign my Garmin said I was at 2800'.   So someone has made a 7% error.   Went down to the Juniper picnic area to down a Z-Bar and refill water, but water was  shut off at the campsites.  The ride down is what I call a $1,000,000 descent.  (Go down Diablo shivering on a 50 degree day and you'll see what I mean.)  Of course there was the idiot driver driving on the wrong side of the road when passing cyclist on a blind curve (I have written to State Parks to DOUBLE CENTER STRIPE all of the curves on Mt. Diablo.)    When having to stop at the Junction a cyclists spotted my Devil Mountain Double Jersey and congratulated me and said he was thinking about doing that ride over two days.  To his amazement I told him I was going out to basically do half of it today self supported.

3000'--my Garmin doesn't think so

Sign when leaving Mt Diablo, but it should be at the top of Patterson Pass where we saw some litter--but absent a biohazard bag and tongs we left it up there.

Stopped for a few photos and got to the intersection where I hoped to meet the Diablo Cyclists at 9:23.  No sign of them.  OK, I think that if they left at 9:05 and made the turn here at 9:15 I'm about 8 minutes behind.  So I open up on the immediate hill and expect to see some of them descending the other side but--NO CYCLISTS for as far as the eye can see.   I'm still serious as I go up the next hill--again no one in view--I look back and no one is coming up.   What the F.  OK--its Plan B, my safety net.  On this ride Christine usually leaves from her house and meets the Club en route.   So if I see Christine waiting in a few miles I'll know that for some unimaginable reason the Club is behind me.  If I don't see Christine either she is not doing the ride, started with the Club, or I have to start hauling ass on the next series of intermediate hills to catch the club before Morgan Territory.

Make the turn toward Clayton and go down about two dozen blocks and spot my safety net--Christine.  It's about 9:35, she's been out since 9:30, and she expects the Club to come by in the next 5 minutes.  About 20 minutes later Christine is wondering if the Club actually passed here BEFORE 9:30, its now 9:55 and certainly they would have come though by now.  We contemplate kicking off in the next 5 minutes when we see one lone cyclist--Dr. Dave.     Dave describes a cluster F at the beginning of the ride with late arriving cyclists and flat tires.   In about 5 minutes the Club arrives.  Nice surprise--Mike is out, slowly trying to get off the injured list.

Christine wondering where the group is and Dr. Dave checking the satellite photo.

Big car show in Clayton and another member of our group decides to have a flat.  This gives me a chance to reload on water as I'm only running with one bottle of sports drink; my other bottle is frozen Perpetuem that us just about thawed out and I'll drink on the Morgan climb.  Later we had a big discussion on whether Perpetuem is properly a sports drink or food--the correct conclusion is that it doesn't matter.  It only matters that you drink/ eat it when cold, if you let it become warm its taste like something dogs do on bicycle paths. 

Mike starting up Morgan Territory

Morgan Territory climb is great with its fast beginning that slowly morphs into a gentle climb and then into one with sudden steep sections.   We have a new recumbent rider, David, and he was setting a nice pace up the climb before we hit the oppressive part.  Dave, Christine and I decided not to push the pace and waste energy we'd need later for our unknown bonus miles.   I briefly turned on the bike stereo and a favorite of Christine's and mine--Hurricane/ Scorpians--came on which got us jazzed.  It was also VERY warm on the Morgan climb, which is unusual in the dense shade.  (Of course this didn't stop Dave and I to start sprinting up the steep pitch at the end, though Matt has claimed 1st on the climb hours ago.)

Matt, Christine and Mike about to start a water fight,

Don and I made sure to coordinate outfits

At the top we all hid behind a barn casting shade.  No consensus was decided on the bonus miles, with one person saying "I'll NEVER do Patterson Pass," which got instant resolve from Christine and me to do it.  Today.  Matt was quickly on board and Dave was on board as best as he could be on a very very very warm day (we don't use the h@t word.)   I didn't even think of putting on the vest for the fast downhill off of Morgan Territory.

The little guys start down Morgan Territory.

We had a real nice paceline through Livermore and decided to liquor up before starting the Altamont Speedway, instead of looping towards Tracy.    Soda and fill my bottles with ice--that seemed to be the recipe at all stops for the day.  Weird moment-bananas were .69 each or 2/$1.00 so I picked up two.  When paying Dave was behind me on line and he said he was going to get a banana so I gave him one of the two I had just purchased.  The clerk wanted to re ring the price of the bananas at the higher rate.   Nice moment--a driver in back of me saw the climbs on my DMD jersey and said "that's crazy" and wanted to know how I felt when I did it.  (Unusual moment--a driver outside wanted directions and to the astonishment of my compatriots I was able to give precise ones.)

Lionel Trains fake rock as you go towards Livermore

Dr. Dave passes the motorcycle jump park

Matt and Christine about to enter the Altamont run in--the miracle dozen miles

Nice paceline into the Altamont Speedway with Matt taking long pulls and the rest of us getting involved in much shorter ones when Matt was finally tired.    No hi jinx on the rollers like a few weeks ago.  Christine giving Matt "how to fold yourself into origami art" tips on the descent.  I wrote a few weeks ago why the dozen mile Altamont Speedway is the BEST ride in the East Bay.  Will not relist the reasons here--just one summary statistic.  On a 2% section we were going 24 mph while expending a mighty 50 watts of power.

(above) Matt at the start of Patterson Pass. (below) Dr. Dave at the start of Patterson Pass.  I best get their photos at the start of the climb as soon they will be little dots in the distance.

 Christine summits Patterson Pass
I'm in Holland, no its Patterson Pass.

Tourists come worldwide to the scenic Patterson Pass overlook.

Christine's Diablo Cyclist water bottle warranty has just run out

Of course the friendly tailwind on the Altamont Speedway becomes an oppressive headwind on the climb.  Last time we did Patterson Pass the headwind was a gentle cooling breeze--my wind rating was "3."  A few times the wind has been so strong--a "10, " whereas you can fly your bike with one hand at the top."  Today it was a "7"  The headwind was strong when we started but seemed very manageable, but soon was bit oppressive when we got closer to the steep section at the top.  (I should have known we were in trouble when the antique windmill down below was actually turning-albeit slowly.)  Matt and Dr. Dave zoomed off, they could have finished the Sports Section of the newspaper by the time Christine and I arrived if they could have actually held a newspaper open. Christine would have beat me to the to except that her deluxe Diablo Cyclist water bottle had sprung a leak from a crack in the bottom.  Dr. Dave likes to pick up trash but there was some stuff up there that absent tongs and a bio hazard bag he wasn't going near.

Our paceline heading towards Livermore.

Christine by one of the many Livermore wineries

On the descent back to Livermore two cars were speeding up the unstripped road in the center of the roadway--one car suddenly spotted me (or my blinking light), over steered back to their side of the road and almost flipped off the road.   Good paceline back to Livemore and the Livermore library café for more soda and ice and the peanut/ pumpkin butter sandwich on Ductch Nut Crunch roll I had carried around all day.  As the Knoxville training group needed 120 miles we originally talked about going up Del Valle, but as the Knoxville training group wasn't here and we weren't training for nutting--it was unanimous, skip the @12 mile  out and back climb to Del Valle.

The famous Diablo Cyclists multi spout water bottle.

A little hijinx back toward Blackhawk when we got near the County line and I took off--with Dr. Dave and Matt successfully chasing me down.  Problem was that Matt is our fastest Doubles guy and Dr. Dave one of our fastest Double metric guys--two 'Endurolytesdites'--so they weren't gassed.   When we hit the climb into Blackhawk, with 60-90 HOT warm miles in our legs we rode a hard four man up the climb--rotating nicely.  Strange phenomena, Christine was really slamming the climb and I had a hard time hanging when she set the pace, but then when I went to the front I gave it full throttle as not to be the slacker in the group.  So it was easier being in the front pulling than being in the draft.

The kids always have to go to Burger Kingg--minimally for ice.
Matt turned off to go home.  The rest of us stopped at a neighborhood Burger King to reload on ice.  Good paceline back to the end: I did lots of pulling and then Christine and Dave shot off at the proper time for a nice sprint.  Unfortunately on the bike trail, the last mile, my bike started bouncing around--you know, the bounce you try to ignore and then stop, reach down, and yell out FLAT.  Pulled into the shade and started changing it when a dog owner took their dog directly across from me on the path where it shit all over.  Suddenly it was HOT and it STUNK.  I said something out loud to catch the dog owners ear, she was half indignant and half apologetic--saying her dog bag had fallen out of he pocket--but then she went somewhere and scooped up the odoriferous fertilizer.

Great day of riding with Dr. Dave, Christine and Matt.   Hard ride but not pernicious, even with the warm weather.   Probably the longest self supported rides I've done this year, but the great company made it seem like a much shorter ride..

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