Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Diablo Junction 18 miles

These late season afternoon rides are always interesting; the sun is low, the shadows are long, and the number of riders is way down. Today it was me, JB, and Nicole. Adam was supposed to come but he had two flats on his way in to work this morning so he decided to just go home. He had his brand new titanium Dean (branded as the generic "Blackspot" It's a real sweet bike with DA10 and an Ouzo Pro fork but I'll have to wait until next week to see it in action.

So JB and I stayed with Nicole until about Moss Landing and then we rode on ahead. Around near Clavicle Cracker he started to open up a gap and I pretended I was doing intervals as I dropped back and closed back but never all the way. By Chainbuster he was way ahead of me but there was also another guy between us now so I figured I might pass that guy before the Junction. He saw me though and got motivated to stay ahead of me so it wasn't very satisfying.

Bugs were bad by the hut so JB went down to ride Nicole in and I figured I'd do the same after a little more rest. She had already turned around though and I wound up descending solo all the way back.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Diablo Junction plus South Gate Road to Blackhawk – 38 miles

Today the plan was for an easy ride followed by watching a football game at the sports pub. So I rode Eddy with my MTB shoes, baggy shorts, and a Hawkeye jersey. Rick and JB came along and we tooled up North Gate without getting too competitive.

Wildlife Encounter: Dozens of tarantulas. I’ve seen a few the last couple rides, but today was prime time for the little crawlers.

Rick got a bike computer for his birthday that stores altitude, speed, distance, and temperature data for his rides so he’s been e-mailing me the graphs that it makes afterwards on his computer – pretty interesting if you like gadgets like that.

Rick also set a new PB last Wednesday when I couldn’t ride – 35:25, very impressive (read, better than my PB). He’s thinking he can do a 62 minute Challenge so that’ll also be very impressive. For training today he decided to do 30 second intervals from the Upper Washout to the Junction so that was the last time I saw him. JB went chasing after him so I was off the back for the last few miles, even though I felt pretty good.

At the Junction there were dozens of riders obviously preparing for the Challenge next week. And on the way down South Gate there were another couple dozen coming up… very nice to see.

I’ve been having some front brake problems on Eddy – it’s felt kind of grabby for the last 6 months or so but today it was giving me some scary vibrations and chatter when I pressed hard, so I had a slower than usual descent. JB was meeting a friend at the pub so he took the hole in the fence, but Rick and I did Blackhawk, and then Danville Blvd. We hooked up with some other guys there and I think they sneered at my football jersey so I took a long pull at a couple mph faster than they had been doing and made them hurt a little bit. But then I was about spent when we rolled into Walnut Creek and we split up.

Football game sucked but the beer and hot fries were pretty good, then I rode home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Diablo Junction – 20 miles

Adam really tried to drum up a big crowd from work tonight – he e-mailed everyone he knew with a bike but we wound up with only five of us. And Amanda was the only one who wan’t a regular. It was supposed to be a social ride and we would all go slow and … well, socialize.

Right after we started, a big group of John Muir riders passed us up. It looked exactly like what we were not – cohesive and numerous. So after we got to the rolling section JB, Adam and I left Nicole and Amanda but we still tried to keep the pace conversational. After a bit we started to catch stragglers from the JM group – they had split up and weren’t as cohesive as they first appeared. Passed some more of them on the Bump and some more near Clavicle Cracker. As we got near the Upper Ranch we saw one more guy in a Health Net jersey but I started to fade. Adam told me I had to catch him and then he and JB rode away from me. I tried my hardest but couldn’t keep up. Adam and JB did catch the guy and he held on to their wheels for a little while but then lost it. So it was Adam, JB, Health Net guy, and then me across the line.

We mingled a little bit at the Junction and then turned down to go ride Amanda and Nicole up. It was relaxed but still fun. And now it’s getting dark pretty early so we didn’t stay long, but we decided there was time for some pizza and beer at Round Table.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Diablo Bump d'Bump - 41 miles

Today's plan was for me to ride up North Gate solo, then down South Gate to meet Nicole at 9 o'clock and ride back up with her. Rick's out of town and JB had some other event that required his attendance so it was just me on the way up.

Pretty cool this morning - I had to search a bit for my tights and arm warmers so I got off a little late. My arm warmers were in my back pocket and up until the Lower Ranch I thought I wasn't going to need them but then it got even cooler so I was glad I brought them for later. I didn't pass any other riders on the way up but I saw quite a few coming down.

At Upper Washout I was over 24 minutes and I thought "yeah, that's slow." Probably on track for an almost 50 minute Junction time, but I was enjoying myself and looking forward to some cold weather and even rain in the next few months.

When I did get to Junction it was ten minutes before nine so I just rolled on through but I slowed down enough to see if I recognized any of the dozen or so people hanging out by the shack (I didn't).

Bombing down South Gate I was thinking it would be nice to have my arm warmers on, but I didn't stop to actually do that because I wanted to hook up with Nicole. There were a LOT of riders coming up and hardly any cars - an advantage of high gas prices I suppose. I was having a lot of fun carving those South Gate switchbacks at full speed and thinking I really like these new Hutchinson Fusion Comps but I wasn't quite gutsy enough to push them as far as I would if I hadn't had that front flat a few weeks ago.

And then just as I got to the South Gate tire poppers, there she was. It was perfect timing and I called out that I'd be right with her and then stopped to put my arm warmers on and gulp some HammerGel. In the couple minutes it took me to do that three riders rode up past me and by the time I got going Nicole had almost a half mile head start. I didn't catch her until a mile and a half up the road, but then I slowed down. Nicole isn't a fast rider but she's good company and I'd already put in my hard effort so I enjoyed the slower pace and we talked about Kindergarten, hurricanes, and pets (she just got her kittens fixed) for the next 40 minutes.

Back at the Junction there were another dozen cyclists there including Rick's ex UPS boss and a couple guys that did North Gate in the low 30's - they weren't bragging but I overheard them and they heard me gasp with envy. Also I saw Grant P. trying to help some guy with a Cannondale MTB who had some kind of a front wheel or brake problem... I didn't figure out what it was but they all eventually gave up and they guy looked like he was going to limp home.

Nicole and I bid each other adios and then I went back down North Gate, but I was pretty close to a round number on my odometer so I did a few laps around the Shadelands business park to add a few miles before I went home. Also I got semi-stuck behind some SUV with a "THX YURI" license plate who FINALLY pulled over on the last hairpin before Moss Landing where I went around but of course they came passed me back up a little while later. Good ride today, but I'm feeling some back pain and stiffness that I hope is only temporary.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Diablo Junction - 16 miles

Adam again had declared his intention of breaking the 30-minute barrier today. His plan was to do some extra warming up on the way out and start a little later. JB wasn't riding and Nicole was coming late so I left at the regular time all by myself.

After about a mile I spotted a rabbit to chase - he was wearing a blue and white jersey and since I hadn't seen him until now I figured I must be at least a little faster than him. But now there were a couple guys behind me so I was playing an interesting game of mouse-cat-dogs. The two guys behind me caught up at the bottom of the Bump and one guy with a USPS jersey and a celeste Bianchi sprinted passed me right on the steepest part - but then he slowed down about one bike length in front of me so I passed him right back on the right side while holding a steady speed. Seemed like a total beginner move but maybe he was waiting for his buddy. Anyway I stayed ahead of those two but I lost site of the blue and white guy in front of me.

Coming up to the Upper Ranch a guy in an orange jersey with a funky chin beard caught up to me and right after that I heard Adam coming. He said something as he went by and then the funky chin beard guy said "just like we were standing still". I thought he may have been the other guy with the USPS/Bianchi guy but turned out he was riding solo.

Feeling OK, with none of the residual lactic burn I've been having recently so I stayed in semi-fast time trial mode the rest of the way up. As I got near Chainbuster, USPS/Bianchi guy passed me again! And then he blew up again! He said something like "Holy Jeez!" and I asked him if he was surprised by the difficulty of the climb. He said this was only his second time up the Mountain and that he was from Illinois. I told him it got easier after Chainbuster and then I rode away from him again. He must have really flared out though because he finished at least two minutes behind me.

Blue and white guy must have gone up to the Summit or maybe down South Gate because I didn't see him again. Also didn't see any Diablo Cyclists up there but there were about 20 riders from the John Muir-Mt. Diablo Health Care club. Turns out funky chin beard guy, the USPS Bianchi guy and the other dog were with that club too, but didn't have the jerseys. I've never seen any of these riders before last month and now they're putting a big squad up there every Wednesday! Kind of different to hear people talking about hernias, broken bones, and catheters at the Junction.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

San Francisco Grand Prix

Dear daughter (age 5.5, she and I have been to all five SFGPs together) and I took BART into the City - $4.15 each way each person made for a $16.60 round trip... Usually I take BART for the convenience but with gas at $3/gal and the Bay Bridge toll it would probably have been about the same cost to drive (if I could find free parking). Met Sarkis on the train with his MTB and lots of other bike race fans, and we got off at Embarcadero right where the race
starts and finishes.

Rumors were that with Lance retired the crowds at this year's race would be much smaller - could be but not by much. Lots of people were there but the schwag expo was a *little* less elaborate than prior years. I scored some Don Francisco coffee, a Gerolsteiner/Levi water bottle, some Jelly Bellies, and a few other things. Then we walked down the block to watch the start.

Our plan was to walk the course during the first few laps, making our way to Taylor Street where the decisive selection is usually made. Rick called me from Fillmore and said he'd meet us on Taylor too. One thing that makes this race so much fun to watch is all the interesting people you see in between the laps... the kinds of people you can only see in San Francisco.

As usual in this race, the steep hills break the peloton into a bunch of splintered little groups. Michael Creed from Discovery was on a solo break with no chance of winning but he was the first one up the climbs for quite a few laps and the crowd loved him for it. Finally another break of three guys including McCartney and Lieswyn caught him and took over the race lead. Here's the photo I took:

The group of three lost the Kodak-Sierra Nevada rider on the next lap, Then a couple Gerolsteiner guys who had been chasing hard the last lap or so pulled one out and Fabian Wegmann caught up to the group of two. Here's my shot of that move:

Rick took a photo of me and daughter on the street, and you can see Alcatraz in the background.

Wegmann rode the last couple km perfectly and won the sprint to be the King of San Francisco. He looked really happy to win. I hope this race continues to grow every year, it's such an exciting and fun event.

Thank you Barclay's Global Investors. Maybe they're keeping track so check out that link. Also send them a thank you note like I did, telling them you appreciate their sponsorship. Here's a link to their website feedback form FEEDBACK (that's not specific to the race so be sure to put in a good subject line).

Here's a link to Ken Papai's digital photos of the SFGP - he makes my photos look like garbage. PAPAI