Diablo Summit 33 miles
Before the ride this morning, I was following the live coverage of one of my favorite Euro races, Belgium’s Omloop Het Volk, on CyclingNews.com. The weather in Ghent was a couple of degrees above freezing with light snowfall and the classics riders were all attacking each other over the slick, wet cobbles and I had a feeling that all was right with the world.
On the way to the Mountain, I happened upon Rick in his Explorer and grabbed a side mirror for a little while, then drifted back and rode motorpace for a mile or so at good speed. We started toward the Gate together after he unloaded and then we found JB riding down to look for us.
It was cold, but dry and calm. JB took off his GoreTex jacket at the Gate and then we got going. The new welcome sign looks like it’s done now, I’ve got to get a photo of that. There’s a lot of barbed wire fence along the ditches of this lower stretch that’s just about horizontal from the wet weather and soil shifting but we didn’t see any loose cows today. Things were reasonably cordial until we got to the Bump where Rick started to fade.
I sat on JB’s wheel for quite a while, feeling not a bit guilty. A little farther up I got a gap on him without really trying so I thought I had a good chance of winning a good one today. He did a 38 minute Junction ride a couple weeks ago though, so he’s a lot stronger than he was last year now that he’s fully recovered from his broken clavicle and back on his Della Santa. Still, I sensed that he was working a little too hard for what we were doing so I just waited. As we passed Clavicle Cracker we both did the little collar bone salute in unison.
Rick had dropped quite a ways back by now. JB and I were together with 2 miles to go and we started to get serious. He was trying to ride a fast steady pace hoping I’d fade too (which is usually a good strategy to get rid of me) but he wasn’t going fast enough to do it. With one mile to go he was still happy to let me sit on his wheel, even though we had a bit of a headwind by now. As we passed the Ranger House I kept telling myself “uphill finish, into the wind = GO LATE” so I didn’t make my move until we had about 100 meters to go. He was breathing hard and watching for me in his helmet mirror. I came around him on the right and heard him mutter an expletive so I knew he had already given up. I did a token out-of-the-saddle sprint but even that wasn’t necessary – I finished well clear of him. Junction time: 41m25s, best of the year so far.
Sitting on the benches, he said “There is sure a lot of weakness leaving my body” (a reference to the cyclist’s definition of “pain”. Rick arrived after a bit, and so did Peter (who confessed that his motivation to rise early was failing him lately). I suggested we do Bump de Bump but Rick and Peter said they wanted to climb so I went with them while JB did South Gate and back up.
Rick had been working some late shifts so he was a little off his edge and I welcomed the easier pace on Summit Road but Peter dusted us after Juniper. There’s a new photo sign at the Juniper parking area now that points out some of the things you can see from there. Up around Muir Picnic Area I asked Rick if he was going to make it and he said it was too late to quit, but it wasn’t long ago that I had felt the same way about this point and in the space of a couple hundred meters my attitude changed from “might as well finish the job” to “what’s the point?” and had turned around.
No trouble on the Summit Wall. Lots and lots of riders in the Upper Lot today – a few too many cars and SUV’s but it was a nice ride. The water’s out up here though so no place to fill up your bottles and the restrooms are closed (there are some porta potties available).
Nice descent, including a strong sprint on the double dips. Good to feel good.