Up Northgate Down Southgate and Around - 35 miles
Well I missed last Saturday for sickness and last Wednesday for bad weather so I was really looking forward to this morning's ride. It was threatening to rain but maybe it would hold out long enough for a decent ride - regardless, I mounted the Belgian Beast and put on my Flemish face. For once I got out of the house early enough to make the Gate by eight even though I hit most of the lights red. No rock on the post so I stretched for a few minutes - a few riders went up while I was waiting, and then JB showed up on his Della Santa. He said his bike felt better (than his Trek 520 he's been riding) but his engine was still in bad shape. I said I've been producing enough mucus for ten sick people and then blew a giant loogie on the road. So with our excuses made we started up.
In short order we caught up to and passed one of the guys who went through the Gate while I was waiting. He was a tall rider and had a new Specialized Tarmac; it looked like a really nice bike but the unusual top tube made it look like the frame was much too small for him - may have been fine, but it looked wrong.
There's still lots of running water in the ditches up there - we have gotten a LOT of rain the last couple months. At the Bump I did a hard turn and opened a big gap on JB but then let him catch up - maybe he was having a bad day after all. Near Clavicle Cracker we saw another guy who must have started up before I got to the Gate and that's where JB made it his mission to drop me and catch him. I held on for a while but finally let him go. Both of them beat me to the Junction by a couple minutes.
We decided to go down Southgate even though there looked to be rain down there, because I wanted to end my ride at Encina Biycle Center and they don't open until 10 o'clock. On the descent, near Rock City, I was leading and then some guy passed us very fast. No problem there, but then he slowed down. I wasn't bombing the down I was just cruising and I didn't want to pass this guy back and have him think I was trying to race him, but he really slowed down and it bugged me. He kept looking back to see if I was still there so he probably thought I was using him to pace my ride but I was really wishing he'd get out of my way. We cut off at the hole in the fence and when we got onto Diablo Road, the same guy (who apparently took the road past Athenian) was just going by so I thought "Great, now he's really going to think we've marked him." After a while though he finally managed to drop us - HA!
In Alamo it started to drizzle on us and by the time we got to the trail in Walnut Creek it was really coming down. We were pretty wet when JB waved good-bye and I turned to cross the little bridge through Shadelands and the shortcut to Encina.
I went to Encina because my brake pads are worn out to almost nothing. I've got older Ultegra components on the Beast and I thought they may not be the standard pads anymore but the guys at Encina usually come through. I was prepared for the "we'll be happy to order that for you" response but instead they looked though their big box of brake pads trying to find a solution. They found some Dura Ace shoes at $25/pair (ouch, but maybe), and they had some generic ones that would fit my calipers but only had one pair of them. They considered opening up a box of new brakes to give me the pads from them, and didn't flinch when I suggested maybe taking some off of a new bike on the floor! But we agreed that if they did that, the guy who wanted to buy that bike would walk in 5 minutes later. So in the end, we put on the one pair of generic pads just on the rear since the front ones still have some life in them. Actually I figured I'd just bring home some pads and do it later but they installed them and adjusted the front ones while I waited (remember my bike was still dripping with rain and road grime) and only charged $5 labor. It was fun because virtually everyone in the shop was brainstorming on ideas and possibilities just to help me with some cheap brake pads. That's why I continue to send people there when they ask me about shops with good service.
Change your pads before they get this bad. Surprisingly, they still worked pretty well with not much more than a few mm of rubber left.