Diablo Junction - 23 miles
Nobody in our little group rode on Saturday for various reasons, so I figured I’d ride at a different time just to see what it was like. Sunday at 10:40 when I left the house was already pretty warm and it was getting hotter by the minute.
Crossed the line at the Gate at 11 o’clock and anticipated about a 45 minute ride. I saw a lot of people descending in ones and twos but no larger groups. Near the Bump I saw a woman ahead of me and it took me quite a while to catch her. We both said “hi” when I went by and she looked determined but having a hard time. I almost offered to stay with her for a while to make sure she was OK, but I didn’t. A few switchbacks farther up I looked down and didn’t see her. I couldn’t have put that much distance between us in so little time, so I assumed she had turned around… too bad.
Wildlife Encounter: Lots of butterflies – pretty orange ones and yellow ones, I’ve never seen so many on the Mountain. Maybe they like the heat.
Rolled into the Junction at 45 minutes. There were about 8 riders hanging around talking. A few more rode up every couple minutes and a few others went down. I was sitting on the bench near the steps enjoying some shade and I heard a guy ask some other guys if they had a long-stem tube. They said they didn’t so I called out that I had one. I wasn’t even sure who was asking or what the problem was, so when he appeared around the corner I asked him what his story was – did he not pack a spare? Was his spare bad? Did he not know he needed a long tube with his wheels? He said “No, basically I just had my head up my ass!” Everybody laughed at that and then we watched him change his tire. He said his tire just blew up while it was in the rack in front of the Ranger Station. He tried to put in a short-stem tube but couldn’t get the pump on it; his wheels were the first generation Shimano low-spoke count guys like this:
He looked like he knew what he was doing but lacked the confidence of someone who’s changed a lot of tires. He used his plastic tire lever to help re-seat the bead and I was afraid he was going to pinch my tube and wind up stuck again. He said he’d been at the Junction for quite a while trying to come up with a fix and had given up, calling a friend for a ride home. He was glad I came along and I think his friend was too since he got the call that he wasn’t needed. His rims didn’t look much deeper than mine but I guess they must have been. My wheels are Bontrager Race Lites
and they’ll accept a short stem valve but it’s easier to get my pump on longer ones so that’s what I always buy. He offered me the spare he had tried to use as payment and I told him just to keep it and give it to someone else who would need it in the future but he reminded me I didn’t have any spare so I agreed it would be a good idea.
Descending back down North Gate Road, the wind felt really nice. Near Chainbuster I went past the woman I thought had turned around nearly half an hour before! She was still going up and still determined, good on her! Then in the winding section above the Upper Washout my front tire decided to go flat!!! Not a blow out but it went soft very quickly and I just about biffed going around those turns on my rim. A little scary but I wasn’t going that fast so I stayed vertical and found a nice shady spot to change the tube. Then I thought about how I had almost refused the extra tube and I would have been trying to patch my bad one in this heat. The CO2 gadget grabbed the short stem just fine and I was back on the road in 5 minutes but I finished the ride in extra cautious mode.