Sunday, January 01, 2006

Blackhawk and Back via Danville Blvd

The weather has been rotten for weeks but it seemed like this morning I would get a lucky break. Yesterday’s storm was over and today’s storm wasn’t supposed to start until this afternoon. There were tree branches everywhere but it wasn’t windy and it wasn’t rainy.

My plan was to ride with the Diablo Cyclists on their published 9am ride to the Summit, followed by Blackhawk for about a 40 miler. None of my regular buddies was coming so this sounded like a great ride. I know quite a few Diablo Cyclists from just riding on Diablo but I’ve never been a member.

First ominous sign – my Flight Deck wasn’t working… changing the battery didn’t help… I futzed with it for about 15 minutes until I couldn’t wait any longer and it bugged me that my first ride of 2006 would be without benefit of computer.

Got to Countrywood and met up with everybody there. Then the discussion turned to what ride we’d be doing since DIABLO IS CLOSED DUE TO MUDSLIDES! Mark had already tried to do a “pre-ride” up the mountain by himself and was turned around at the Gate by a ranger. They weren’t letting the runners up either. I was bummed but at least I’d be getting a fun ride in whatever it would be.

Then a guy I hadn’t met before asked me “Are you Diablo Scott?”. I admitted that I was and he introduced himself as Chris and said he’d been reading my blog for a year and a half. He said the demands of new fatherhood had caused him to take a break from cycling but my blog motivated him to get back on the bike; and that’s about the nicest compliment anyone could have given me I guess.

A couple of the jokester DCers had on long argyle socks, and one guy had on a “Happy New Year” hat on over his helmet – we decided he should lead us through town. So we started rolling (about 20 strong) and still there wasn’t consensus in where we were going but Part 1 was going to be Danville Blvd. Rumors about doing Bollinger Canyon started to filter through the pack so I figured I’d better save my legs as to not embarrass myself on a climb.

Danville Blvd was littered with an even higher density of tree bits blown off by the storm than the other roads around, and there were also a lot of puddles and piles of wet leaves so we were a little careful but we held a pretty good clip. The pack split into two with about 8 fast riders moving ahead and I found myself in this first group, not having too much trouble keeping up until the wind started gusting. I wanted the pack to stay together but that is a ride leader’s job and I was just a scab. I also wanted a good workout ride but didn’t want to flare out too early with these fast guys. We all regrouped on the south side of Danville anyway, then stayed together through some back roads I didn’t know very well until we got to Tassajara where we did a few little hill sprints and worked out those winter kinks – I played along but didn’t shake things up very much. Then we stopped at a Chevron station in Blackhawk which is apparently the standard restroom break location and collected a few riders that had slipped off the back. Most of us had mud stripes up our butts at this point, except for a few riders that had rear fenders on.

I don’t remember ever riding this loop in this direction – we rode to Blackhawk from Danville on Sycamore and Tassajara and then on Blackhawk Road past Mt. Diablo back to Danville – usually I do it the other way around, after climbing Diablo. We had a few more sprints and some fast paceline work here and that was fun and challenging. Then it was back to Walnut Creek on the Blvd and the trail. I’m calling it 35 miles, it was a little less than two hours ride time.

Then most of us went to Starbucks for a cuppa and I got to know some of the Diablo Cyclists a little better. If I had the opportunity to do more rides like this I’d definitely join their great club.

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