Wednesday September 10: Mt. Diablo to Devil's Elbow 24 miles
Well the Wednesday night crowd is getting really thin on Mt. Diablo these days. Adam and Leif got an early start which is fine because no one can stay with them anyway. I drove out to the church and started riding just before 5:30 not really sure if JB was ahead or behind me. There were a few Diablo Cyclists in the parking lot but not nearly as many as just a few weeks ago.
I followed what now appears to be the best eating schedule for a Wednesdy night ride: two bagels for brekkie, no lunch, Pepsi at 3pm, Powerbar and coffee at 3:30, one bottle of Accelerade at 4:00, a bottle of Cytomax and a squirt of ClifShot in the car on the way out.
One of the things I really like about my Flight Deck computer is that there is a separate "stopwatch" function that is completely independent of the "ride distance" function so I can include the whole ride distance and ride time in my reading while still being able to watch just my time to the Junction while I'm on North Gate Road. I crossed the start line and went fast but not anything like a PB pace. It was perfect weather with little wind. No sign of JB yet but Mark passed me on the Bump - seemed like I was destined to do the whole thing solo. The first place I usually look for my time is at the Lower Washout and usually it's about half of my Junction time so when I looked down and saw 23 minutes I thought I was having a really crappy day, but then I realized I was looking at my total time and not my stopwatch time (the difference being the extra mile from the church to the Gate). A quick squeeze on my thumb button showed that I was actually at 19 minutes and suddenly I thought I was having a great day (the psychological effect of these numbers is astounding). But for the real test I had to get to the "2-mile" point under 26 minutes... and I did! I felt like I was working hard and not really having good speed so somehow my perception was off. At the 1-mile point I was a little over 33 minutes so I knew I would break 40 but I just couldn't motivate myself to really hammer. I got out of the saddle and pushed the big gears for a while but it wasn't a great effort. Crossed the line at 39m28s which is my third best time of the year - and yet it seemed like no great effort at all. Odd but definetly nice.
JB showed up a few minutes later; Adam and Leif were already there of course. Grant Peterson rode in too (in sandals) and Adam had to explain to Leif why someone would "want" to be a retrogrouch… Leif couldn't relate. After a little socializing we all split up here to the three roads; A&L down SGR, JB down NGR, and me up Summit Road. I figured I'd ride to Juniper at least and then see how I felt. Well I felt good and decided to keep riding until 7pm wherever that would be. Turned out it was Devil's Elbow and it was a relaxed very enjoyable climb. The sun was getting very low and at times my shadow was like a hundred feet long - gliding over the road and up the embankment, changing shape all the time… it was really interesting to watch.
Wildlife Encounter - saw two tarantulas and a coyote on the way down. The coyote seemed to be just enjoying himself with playful trotting right down the middle of the road. I slowed down and just followed him until he darted off down into the brush. I'm going to miss these evening rides come autumn… usually the last one is in the middle of October when the daylight disappears too early.