Sunday, December 28, 2003

Just a few photos to post, no ride today.

Here’s the Basso fixie. Jim, the original owner, will now send me an e-mail telling me he can’t believe I sawed off his shifter bosses and derailleur hanger. The photo is a little misleading – the right brake hood has no lever and you’re seeing the left brake (front) lever in the background.

Here’s the Belgian beast after a foul weather ride. I’m still impressed with the handling and road feel of this bike, especially with 25c tires. Note that this was taken before I got the new Shimano M520 pedals – these Nashbar clones are now permanently on the Basso.

And here’s my daughter in her Burley trailer (second hand, old design). My brother gave me our first trailer second hand and we wore it out – this one is from a garage sale down the street.

Things look good for a New Year’s Day ride up the mountain. Check back frequently.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Trailer ride with my daughter – 6 miles

Dear daughter decided she wanted an ice cream cone this afternoon so we decided to take the trailer. First though we’d have to go to the bike store and get a new front derailleur (see yesterday’s story). Got everything ready to go, but then had a hunch that I should bring the broken derailleur along in case there were any questions about what kind to get. Broken derailleur is a Campagnolo Athena braze on type for double chainring but I figured just about any braze on double would be fine since FD’s just aren’t that picky about gruppo matching.

We went to Encina Bicycle Center (they don’t have a web page for me to link to) because they’ve always been very helpful there and they helped me a lot with my Klein since they are authorized Klein dealers. It’s a family-owned shop with two branches. I show the first guy my derailleur and he’s kind of stumped about the braze on mount – the store is about 1/3 kid’s bikes, 1/3 MTBs, and 1/3 road bikes so this shouldn’t be that unusual of a request. I looked at a couple of the road bikes in the shop and see that although most bikes had clamp-on mounts the braze-ons that were still being used were exactly the same as on my 11 year old bike so I can’t believe this is really going to be a problem. First guy passes the derailleur to the second guy who is a friendly older management type guy that I’ve seen there for years – he takes one look and says they don’t have anything that will work but they’ll be happy to order me something. Then a third guy, sort of a mid-level mechanic, looks at it and says, “No, nothing will work except the equivalent newer Campagnolo version.” Finally I say, “Look, it’s only this little sleeve thing in the back that broke and then the FOURTH guy, a senior-level mechanic, grabs it and says “You might just get off lucky here.” and opens a drawer in a parts box and pulls out the perfect little sleeve thingy to fix my existing derailleur and charges me $2. I was prepared to drop $30 or $40 for a new derailleur so I was pretty happy and I’ll go back to Encina Bicycle Center again and maybe I’ll even buy my next MTB there too.

And no, we didn’t forget to stop for the ice cream cone on the way home; she ordered chocolate ice cream in a cake cone and we sat inside the store and chatted while she ate it.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Trek Scout Helmet

I got one of these for my daughter (at Encina Bicycle Center!) last spring when she outgrew her “baby” helmet and it’s been really great. The problem with kids’ helmets is trying to keep them level on their heads and this one is very easy to use. It has a little knob in the back to tighten the band so you can put it on loosely, fasten the chinstrap, and then tighten the knob. Putting the helmet on is now much less hassle than it used to be and my kid likes the cool graphics too, although she has last year’s model, which has cooler colors than the ones in this picture.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Diablo Junction plus South Gate Road and Danville Blvd. 36 miles

Today is the day after Christmas and folks are doing holiday things so there was no plan on when everyone would be riding. The weather forecast was for COLD and rain to start sometime this afternoon and continue on through the weekend so I figured today was my best opportunity to ride.

The roads were dry but I decided to take the Merckx anyway since it would give me an excuse to ride at a more relaxed pace. The section of Flemish Pave below the Gate was still pretty sloppy and there was some run-off from trees and irrigation systems so I wouldn’t want to subject my pretty bike to that slop but the Merckx loves it.

It was bitter cold, about 27°F. I was wearing some new gloves I got for Christmas (thanks Clark!) and most of my cold weather gear; there was no wind though so it was really pleasant once I got my core warmed up. At the Gate I stopped just long enough to lather on some lip goop and pull up my tights.

I saw a few guys on their way down but the mountain was pretty empty today. At the bottom of the Bump I saw a couple of mountain bike guys unloading their car. At the Junction they both arrived about 5 minutes after I did and it turned out one of them was a guy I’ve been seeing up there for years. He’s a short stocky bald guy, probably in his early 60’s and he always rides a mountain bike – today he had a titanium one with front shocks and disk brakes. Several years ago he rode the whole length of North Gate Road no handed. He comes across as an amiable guy with a spirit of friendly competiveness and he obviously loves riding. Today though he had pink newspaper baggies (like the delivery guys use on rainy days) over his feet, held up on his calves with rubber bands – what a character.

Product Review: Manzella Windstopper Gloves.

These gloves are great at stopping the wind. They're shells and designed to wear over an insulating layer but I found that they were so good at wind blocking that I could take my liners off on the climbs which means more finger flexibility. With the liners on going downhill I still wished my fingers were a little warmer but these gloves did a better job than my other system which doesn't have the windblocking layer. I think if I had the Manzella thermal/insulating liners to use with these it would be about the best system I could think of for the super cold days like this (that's a hint for next year Clark!). The gloves are not cycling specific and they have some reinforcements in areas like the tips of the fingers (which may make sense for cross country skiing?) and they don't have any padding but they are very well made - no stitching problems, they have a velcro wrist strap and a pull string too so they fit very comfortably loose and they look pretty snazzy too with a simple pattern in the black Gore-Tex type material.

Shortly after the two guys got there, Peter came up too and we chatted for a while before I went down South Gate Road. I saw quite a few more people coming up this direction and all of them had a friendly wave for me. I was planning on taking the “hole in the fence” shortcut but somehow I missed it and wound up going right on Diablo Blvd, which is fast, but narrow.

In Danville I stopped at the California Peddler to check on new pedals. I’ve been dissatisfied with my old Nashbar SPD clones and wanted to see what else was available for an affordable price and the guy sold me some M520’s for $40 including new cleats. They click in easier and they don’t make that grinding feeling while I’m pedaling but they do have more float than I really need. Watch for a product review coming soon but first impressions are very good.

As I was leaving Danville I up shifted the front and my derailleur broke! The little sleeve that holds the two plates together in the rear somehow just disappeared so both plates were now cockeyed and unable to move the chain in either direction. I limped the next 12 miles home in low gear but it was still fun. Now I’ll HAVE to clean the mud off the frame to get a new FD on there.

I also got this cool jersey for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!). A great jersey for warmer weather, but today it’s in my drawer.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Diablo Junction plus Blackhawk, 41 miles.

Today’s ride was an exact repeat of last Saturday’s ride, including the weather, except Rick came too so it was he, JB, and I on my Belgian Beast again.

I was a little late as I made the turn off of Oak Grove Road and I saw Rick’s Explorer in the church parking lot. He only parks there when Nicole doesn’t come so I knew I’d better hurry. The last half-mile stretch before the gate has a really bumpy torn-up section of pavement where some construction work has been going on. There was thick fog and the sky was gray; with the rotten road condition I imagined I was chasing down two guys on a break in the Ronde van Flanderen. At the point where I could first see the gate I also caught a glimpse of JB’s yellow Gore-Tex jacket rolling away. I was about ¼ mile back and chased hard but it took me almost a mile to catch up to them.

The fog was so thick we had a hard time orienting ourselves; we all know this road like the proverbial backs of our hands but we were really confused for a good chunk of the lower mountain.

On the switchbacks above the Bump I saw a guy coming down carefully who had the same bike as me! I saw him last week too. If he’s a regular up there he wasn’t riding his regular bike.

JB and Rick pulled away from me as we popped out of the fog near the Upper Ranches and that was OK with me… I was feeling pretty unfrisky. The view above the clouds was something really special, as it always is on days like this.

No other riders were at the Junction and we hung around long enough to put on the extra clothing layers for the descent down South Gate Road and the trip to Blackhawk. It was a little eerie descending through the fog with near-zero visibility. We did see a few riders coming up along this stretch – more hardcores like us obviously.

Wildlife Encounter: A group of about eight wild turkeys on Blackhawk Road, running across the street toward one of those gated community developments. These were big birds and a collision with one would definitely cause some injuries to a bike rider.

Rick and I did a couple little hill sprints but he easily took all except one of them, my legs were getting a little rubbery by this point. Rick has one of those prostate-friendly saddles with the wedge shaped cutout at the rear and the road spray from his wheel made an interesting pattern on the ass of his black shorts!

As we turned off on Tassajara Road we saw a group of about 20 Diablo Cyclists coming the other way – lots of hardcores in the slop on the road today. We stopped for coffee at Cerubini coffee house in Alamo and Rick talked about picking up his new car (Toyota Prius) later in the day. After we split up, JB flipped off a Hummer LINK on Bancroft St. A superb day on the bike.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Tonight I attended a BART planning meeting. BART is Bay Area Rapid Transit, the regional commuter train/subway and very heavily utilized. The Pleasant Hill BART station sits between a residential and commercial neighborhood and there is a plan to provide a shortcut from my neighborhood, through the neighborhood next to the station to make it easier, safer, and faster for pedestrians and cyclists to get to the station. There's also a plan to build a large retail complex at the station and to connect this shortcut to other multi-use bike trails in the area. There are 4 potential routes for the shortcut and the meeting was to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each route.


The residents in the shortcut neighborhood showed up mostly to complain and whine about how this plan would create fire hazards, ruin their little community, destroy their property values, and invite homeless people to camp in their backyards. Everybody on potential route A insisted that potential routes B and C were far superior - and yada yada yada. Everyone in this neighborhood knew when they bought their houses that this was potentially going to happen and BART has property and easements on both sides of the track so BART can build a path whether the residents like it or not but of course wants to do it in the way that benefits the most people and inconveniences the fewest.

One lady said that cyclists should just take the existing roads because her kids did it for years - then later mentioned that one of her kids was hit by a car doing just that!

One guy said first that no one would use the trail so it's a waste of money - then later said if the trail were built "thousands of people" would be biking and walking through his back yard!

And then there was "Jean". Jean brought a picture of a homeless guy "with his bicycle!" camping under a bridge nearby and surrounded by junk people had dumped there. She said that's what would happen in her backyard if the trail were to go through. She refused to believe that there was any difference between a secluded area under a bridge and a bike path.

There was a contingent of cyclists attending also and we discussed how the shortcut would be used and what safety improvements would be necessary. Some representatives from the park district and local police were also there to confirm that homeless people don't camp out on trails, and that crime is very rare on trails. There was unfortunately a woman murdered on a trail in my city about 6 months ago and one of the police officers mentioned that but kept it in perspective.

At the next meeting in mid-January we will probably be selecting which route will be recommended to BART and the county development committee but whether or not it actually gets built will depend on a lot of other issues like funding and parallel projects.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Commute to work ON MY FIXIE!

So after convincing myself that I could do this safely I grabbed the Basso and risked getting a flat because I don't have a tube, pump, or tire spoons and off I went. It was easier than I thought it would be but I definitely have some new skills to learn. Remembering not to coast is really not the problem, it's the little things like exactly when to put my foot down at a stop light, how to get off the sidewalk onto the street, how to do a trackstand without backpedaling… little stuff.

My commute consists of about a mile and a half of surface streets with heavy traffic and stop lights, followed by two miles on paved bike/pedestrian trail, and it ends with a little jaunt through a middle school drop-off point where I usually have to weave my way through a mob of adolescent slackers and then mix it up with their parents in minivans and SUV's that make illegal but tolerated U-turns in the 4-lane road I have to cross to get into the parking lot of my office building where we've got some good bike racks in the covered garage. Whew, sorry… that was a long sentence.

This bike could be a good winter commuter if I transfer my lights over but I think I'll mostly ride it when I'm sure I can get home before dark. It's too small to do longer training rides on but it's sure fun for shorter distances.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I’m Fixed!

Got my track hub and sprocket and accessories by UPS yesterday, built my wheel and took off my big ring today after work.

It’s been a while since I built a wheel so I had to consult my articles to make sure I laced it up properly but it went together quite easily and dishing was just not an issue – it sort of self-dished. Yes Jobst, I did the stress relieving according to your directions and I also set the spokes in the flange with the screwdriver method. I was prepared to adjust the chain tension as in Sheldon’s literature but it just wasn’t necessary. The chain line seems just fine but there does seem to be a little more noise than I was expecting – I might toy around with this a bit later. New hub, new spokes, very old Campy rim 36° 3-cross… I used lots of Phil’s Tenacious Oil in the threads and ferrules.

I got some chain ring bolts for single rings but damned if I know what tool you’re supposed to use on those things… they’re hex on one side but you need like a really wide flat blade screwdriver on the other side – I improvised with a chisel but I couldn’t provide too much counter torque. Anyway it looks cool and I doubt if my chainring will fall off but I’ll check it after a few rides.

My sprocket is a 16t and the hub is a true track hub with a reverse threaded lockring. I picked the gear after analyzing cadence vs. speed for a pretty wide range. The 16t gives me a 71 inch gear which means I’ll be going 12.4mph @ 60rpm and 24.8mph @120rpm so that seems to be the right gear for a commute bike while still allowing some fun training rides.

The saddle is about 5 inches higher than the handlebars, which gives the bike a real no nonsense, look and the brake totally sucks which is good enough for a fixie. I put on my Nashbar SPD clones and they were a good choice because they’re very easy to get in to and plus I can now justify something better for the Eddy Merckx.

Got it all together and went for an 11pm cruise around the neighborhood and I was pretty happy with the result. The FUBAR fork and front wheel alignment didn’t totally screw up the steering and I think I could even ride no hands after a few more practice rides. I did some stops like I may have to do in traffic and quickly got the hang of that. I tried to do a track-stance a couple of times but found that to be quite a bit more difficult than on my derailleur bikes.

So, first real test will be my commute tomorrow – stay tuned… same BAT time… same BAT gear. I’ll have to get there early since I don’t have lights on this bike (early in = early out).

I should have photos up shortly - since I don’t have a digicam I have to wait until Costco develops my film and then scan in the prints. What a fun project!

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Diablo Junction plus Blackhawk and Danville Blvd 41 miles.

There was a pretty good storm last night and the roads were wet and sloppy but it wasn’t raining so I grabbed my steel Eddy Merckx off the hook and headed out. This bike has such a great ride that I’m really glad I still have it even if it’s only for sloppy rides.

Just JB at the Gate and he was on his Trek touring bike with the homemade fenders and all so we were in for a leisurely ride up to the Junction. He mentioned right away that he wanted to do South Gate Road to get in a few extra miles and I was cool with that because I did to… end of the season mileage goals and all that.

At Moss Landing he was already in his smallest chainring, I was in my 25t sprocket, and we just spun and talked the rest of the way up. He’s doing the planning for his Rivendell Atlantis that should be coming in to the shop any day now. He bought it as a bare frame and will be building it up himself – he did get the Brooks B17 saddle though to get the full Rivendell experience.

Wildlife Encounter: Just above the Upper Washout a smallish coyote with a very thick warm coat of fur trotted down the road toward us, he sort of circled around and gave us a lot of space to go by but he was completely calm and uninterested in us.

Up at the Junction we came across Peter, Martin, and Gary who must have started well before 8 o’clock. Someone noticed Gary’s rear tire was showing casing threads and he was surprised to see how worn it was. We told him they don’t get that way overnight and he joked that he brings his bike in to the shop for a check-up every two years whether it needs it or not.

So JB and I started down South Gate Road with all of our extra cold gear. He has a very thin ear jock that fits better under his helmet than my thick ski-type one.

On the fast roads around Danville, his homemade fenders really slowed him down but today was one of those days when speed just wasn’t that important. It felt really good to be out just riding for fun and not worrying about training regimens.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Just doing a little testing to see if I can post some of my own pictures here.

Hey it worked! This is JB and me waiting for Rick to fix his flat on Scotty's Fall Century in October. Wow, now that I understand this better I can put all kinds of photos up here!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

I apologize for the lack of recent posts because of lack of riding. Holidays and bad weather and busy schedules equal insufficient time on the bike and that means nothing to write about.

OK for the last couple of months I’ve been obsessed with the idea of riding a fixed-gear bike. Made some usenet posts about some ideas and questions and even got a few responses from helpful folks over there. So I look around and find quite a few new low-end track bikes for around the $600 level. That’s a good price of course but I’m not sure how I could justify spending even that much. But what I really want is sort of a messenger bike built up out of odds and ends; the kind of bike that only a guy with a garage full of assorted bike parts spanning 20 years of cycling history could make. Then I remembered the Basso. A friend of mine (hi Jim) moved out of state about 5 years ago and unloaded a bunch of HIS cycling odds and ends including this Basso. It’s too small but it’s rideable, it’s early ‘80’s vintage with spacing for a 6/7 freewheel and it has the unmistakable paint markings of having once been stolen. This frame is a junkyard treasure! I had originally intended to have this bike mounted permanently on a wind trainer (also a freebie from Jim) but it never happened and it’s been collecting dust the whole time I’ve had it. Jim even moved back to California last year but he hasn’t asked for his frame back yet. Actually it may have been his wife’s because it’s about a 48cm frame (I ride a 55).

So I read all the articles I could find about road gear conversions (several good ones at )and put together a plan. I have a front wheel built on a Shimano 105 hub with bad bearings and 36 spokes – perfect! I have a good tall seatpost in the right diameter to make up for the small frame size. The Basso still had a decent crank and headset so I was OK there. And I found my old Cinelli Mod 64 handlebars and 14cm stem from the Ciöcc I bought in 1985! I also had a decent 36 hole Campy Omega 20 clincher rim that would make a good rear wheel built up on a track hub, and a Shimano 600 brake caliper for the front and Campy Chorus brake levers with hoods. That means I still need a track hub with spokes, sprocket, and lockring for my rear wheel, tires and tubes, a chain, some bar tape and chainring bolts for a single ring.

I made my order for the track hub and wheel items from CaptainBike (Sheldon Brown) and picked up some tires, chain, a $5 saddle, and Cinelli bar tape (natural leather color – way retro) at VeloSport in Berkeley. Saturday night I started to put it all together and soon found out that I was in for a bigger challenge than I had anticipated.

I attached the front brake and put in the front wheel and I had a very difficult time getting the old single pivot sidepull caliper adjusted. Then I noticed that the rim wasn’t centered in the fork – it was off to one side. I knew the wheel was true so I tried to bend the fork blades (!) This helped a little bit but I couldn’t get the rim to go exactly where it was supposed to so I put a channel locks on the brake arms and bent them (!) When I was done I had a front end with a shitty hub, tracking off center, and a shitty brake with one arm tweaked to the outside – what a jewel! Then came the fun part of hacksawing off the shifter braze-ons and derailleur hanger. The cable guides popped write off with a Vice Grip wrench. There was also a funky little pump peg attached to the top tube… GONE!

I certainly didn’t want to wait for my order to arrive before I test rode the bike so I installed the chain onto my sew-up rear wheel and sized the chain for the 17t cog. My fixed wheel will have a 16t cog so I may have to take another link out when I get that done but for now… I have a fully rideable single speed! There’s about a foot of seat post showing and the bars are quite a bit lower than that but I love how it looks and it is definitely rideable.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Sorry if any of you sent me an e-mail that bounced. My addy has been pummelled by the SWEN worm and my inbox exceeds my allowed capacity faster than I can delete the virus-containing messages.

Just got back from a nice vacation in Colorado, more later.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Diablo Junction plus South Gate Road down to the kiosk and then back down NGR.

Cooo-ooold today, full winter gear including booties, polypro undershirt, my PI Barrier jacket, and full finger gloves with liners and an ear jock.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Sorry no updates, haven't been able to ride recently due to bad weather. Actually yes I COULD have ridden but I don't much like riding in the rain - I do it sometimes but I prefer to just wait for sunshine. Rain is cold and wet and blurs my vision by making my glasses all sloppy (and I DO need to wear my glasses all the time.

So please keep checking in, one of these days I'll have an adventure to write about. And keep that fan mail coming!


Saturday, November 08, 2003

Diablo Junction

It's been raining all night and the streets are sloppy but the sky looks promising so I decide to ride up on my "foul weather bike", a steel Eddy Merckx that was my main ride for 10 years but now I mostly use to commute to work.

Anyway it's been 7 months since I rode Eddy up the mountain, he's now got commuter tires and old SPD pedals. It was cold today but not freezing, and very windy. Just Rick and me and we rode at a super slow pace because of the wind. A guy in a Euskatel jersey and a Pinarello passed us easily around the lower ranch. We passed a few other folks, some had pulled off the road because it was so windy.

Junction time was 52 minutes (!) and it was still a good workout. The Euskatel guy was there and shortly after his buddy got there too. Their names were Dave and Ken and they were from the Peninsula. Good guys to talk to and they examined everyone's bikes and made interesting observations.

Rick and I turned around, we both had things to do but we stopped at Mia Cafe for a coffee and then we checked out the Encina Bicycle Center.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Diablo Junction

Day after Halloween, smashed pumpkins line the street. First day in full winter gear... bibs and tights, jersey and jacket, long finger gloves. Everything except booties, glove liners, and an ear jock.

As I rolled up North Gate Road I saw Rick and Peter in the church parking lot. They were ready and we headed for the Gate. JB met up with us before we got there and we all crossed the line at the same time.

I was feeling sluggish for some reason and fell off the back around the bump. Still managed to pass everyone else on the mountain, but finished about 3 minutes behind the others at 46 minutes flat.

My chain is now skipping in several of the gears and it really is pissing me off. My Park Chainchecker tool says the chain is 0.75% stretched which still should be OK (it says to change at 1.0% stretch or less). At the Junction I was playing around with it and saw that it was climbing up on the cogs with almost no pressure on the chain so maybe the cassette is OK and it's just the chain. Worth a try, I'll put a new one on today. No more Dura Ace chains though, I'll get a SRAM something.

Product Review: Pearl Izumi Barrier Jacket.

I bought this at a clearance sale last spring and haven't had a chance to wear it until today. It's very well made, and has zippered pockets in all the right places, and perfectly warm with a combo of wind protection and insulation. Highly recommended. (mine's black with blue trim, unlike the photo above)

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Diablo Junction + South Gate Road – 33 miles

Odd ride today – it was chilly as I left the house at 7:40 but quite warm by the time I got to the Gate. There was a strong hot breeze blowing and I knew it would soon pose a fire danger for the open spaces; Southern California is already experiencing such problems.

At the Gate Peter and Martin were waiting. Their friend Gary showed up a little later and JB soon after that. Gary apologized ahead of time for not being able to keep up with us but we assured him that the season was over and the rides would be mostly social from now until Spring.

At the bump that strong hot wind was like a big hand pushing us up the 10% grade while easily spinning in the saddle. Around a few more switchbacks and it was like that same hand was trying to jerk the handlebars from our grip. There were some places I honestly thought I was going to get my ass blown into the ditch. Things were pretty broken up as we passed the Upper Ranch with me in the middle, JB and Peter ahead and Martin and Gary down below somewhere. I continue to have problems with my chain skipping on the 19 tooth... that cassette has got to go! I crossed the line to the Junction at 48m57s which reflects both the wind level and reduced effort of this time of year.

I’d be surprised if Peter and Gary ever made it to the Junction – we didn’t see them at any rate. Peter rode on to the Summit with two bananas in his pocket and JB and I went down South Gate Road to do “The Hole in the Fence” route to Danville before returning home. It was already over 80°F.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Well tonight was definitely the last Wednesday night ride until next April. We even got an early start to beat the sunset. I drove to the church and got prepped just as Adam, Leif, and JB rode up. The Diablo Cyclists were also getting ready to depart but we were ahead of them as we passed the Gate at just after 5pm. We started out quickly but keeping things social until the bump where Leif began to test JB's condition with some small attacks. JB joked with him saying "when are you going to pick it up a little bit?" I was already off the back by this time so I just sat back and watched.

I've been having terrible problems with my 19-tooth cog, especially in the small ring; it skips regularly and I can't believe it's worn out after only 1600 miles and I'm still on my first chain but Leif said those titanium cogs just don't last very long so maybe it is time for a new one. No more Dura Ace cassettes for me - I'm going Ultegra cassette and SRAM Power Link chains from now on - it was important to me to have an all DA bike when I first built it up, but I don't mind buying the more durable and slightly heavier stuff now as the DA parts wear out. The main components should last forever so I'll always have a mostly Dura Ace bike.

With about three miles to go I noticed one of the Diablo Cyclists catching up to me - I could do nothing and he passed me without difficulty and without saying a word. With about a mile and a half to go I noticed another rider closing in so I decided to play rabbit and not let him catch me. I actually put time on this rider after that point and finished well clear of …. JUNE from our unsupported century! I was even more self-satisfied at my accomplishment when I found out it was her. Junction time: 41m31s.

Wildlife Encounter: A racoon running across the road toward the garbage cans at the ranger house.

The other DCers ambled in and reassembled at the Junction where Adam and JB were discussing the relative merits of wool arm warmers vs lycra ones. On the way down we saw Nicole nearing the top but didn't wait. I was the first descender but Adam passed me handily at a wide spot with good visibility. He said he wanted to set a new max speed record at Moss Landing but some cars coming up at just the wrong time prevented him from winding it up at just the right spot and he only hit 42. I've hit 48 there several times but the conditions have to be perfect.

Tomorrow Brad is going to give a lunch talk about his cross-country bike trip he finished last month.

Saturday, October 18, 2003


The Route: Up North Gate Road, down to Blackhawk, southeast to Livermore via Highland Road and Manning, then on to Collier Canyon Road, backtracking to Blackhawk, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, and Lafayette to Happy Valley Road, Bear Creek Road (The Bears), Alhambra Valley Road (Pig Farm Hill), back to the south side of Walnut Creek, and back on Rudgear and the Iron Horse Trail. This is the old route from Tour Diablo Valley which used to be organized by the Diablo Cyclists but hasn’t been held for about six years. I had intended to ride “Foxy’s Fall Century” this weekend but they stopped taking applications after they reached their maximum 1,200 rider limit so I decided to organize my own century. JB called it “Scotty’s Fall Century”.

The Five Riders: Sarkis, June, Rick, JB, and me. Sarkis and June are both Diablo Cyclists and classic climber types, Sarkis has done quite a few double centuries, has earned the California Triple Crown, and he rode the Marin century with June in August. Rick has done at least a dozen organized centuries with me, and JB is a regular riding buddy but hasn’t ridden a century in about four years. It was moderately cool but the weather report said it would get in the 80’s by early afternoon so I had on my regular century outfit with no arm or leg warmers. Others had various levels of cold weather gear including jackets and earmuffs, and our pockets were stuffed with riding stuff including bars, gels, and powders. Sarkis took some photos on his digital camera.

We all met at Countrywood Shopping Center and we started off at 7:15. After a nice warm up ride to the Gate we started our first climb, the ultra-familiar North Gate Road to the Junction. My plan was to do about a 45-minute ride and conserve as much energy as possible for the difficult climbs later in the course. We all stayed together until the bump when things started to split up. I maintained my own pace even though it meant dropping off the back. I was also hoping that this wasn’t a sign that the whole 100 miles would be at a speed that was just a little too fast for me, but I had the experience of three other centuries this year to assure me I knew how to go the distance. I checked our time differentials and noted that I was only 60 to 90 seconds behind the others as we got close to the top and I finished in 44 minutes and change. Rick and JB said they thought I must have flatted because every time they looked back for me I was out of sight… I must have just been behind some bushes at those times though since I never really lost sight of them. There were quite a few more riders on the mountain at this early hour than I would have expected. Sarkis took some more photos on his digicam.

Wildlife Encounter: Nothing out of the ordinary but a large buck deer a ways off the road, a large dead frog, a small snake, and a tarantula, all on the way to the Junction.

After a short rest at the Junction we started down South Gate Road and we re-grouped at the bottom before heading off to Blackhawk. Rick’s rear tire went soft a few miles later so we had another little rest (allowing Sarkis to take some more photos and me to put my pain patch on my neck) before we finished the ride to Blackhawk where we arrived about 15 minutes later. Up until now these were roads we’ve all ridden quite a few times, but this time we turned the other way on Camino Tassajara toward Livermore. Some of the road here is a bit dodgy with little shoulder space and fast traffic but then you turn on to Highland Road and you’re out in farmland again. Nicole met us at the intersection of Highland and Collier Canyon – she couldn’t do the whole ride but rode from her home in Dublin to this point to ride the 25-mile Livermore loop with us. There’s a little climb just after this intersection but mostly it’s flat for the next 15 miles and Nicole had no trouble keeping up so we had six riders for this part of our century.

We stopped at a gas station in Livermore just past the freeway overpass where June bought a big bottle of water and offered it to everyone to refill bike bottles. A few folks bought a little snack too, and I popped a couple more E-caps but we didn’t hang around too long. We had to go through town on a few city streets toward the airport where we crossed the freeway again but my map had the name of one street mislabeled so we took our only short detour when we missed the turn – good thing Rick was familiar enough with Livermore’s streets to notice the error quickly. In short time we were back in the boonies with ranches and farmland on Collier Canyon Road. A few miles into this part of the route we came across some of the Valley Spokesmen women's racing team including my neighbor and Diablo Cyclist Amy Abele doing a training ride.

Wildlife Encounter: Two BUFFALOES! Emus, llamas, and pygmy goats – all at different ranches but it was interesting to see such unusual animals in such ordinary territory.

At the intersection with Camino Tassajara Nicole bid us good-bye and headed back on the 12-mile ride to her house. Sarkis took the opportunity here to take a few digital photos. By now everyone had taken off their jackets, tights, and other concessions to the morning's chill and the sun started to be a factor in the ride; we were at mile 51 and all was well. We retraced our route through the hairy no shoulder section of the road and toward Danville. As we maneuvered our way though town JB got ahead of us and caught a green light that the rest of us missed. We lost contact with him and didn’t know if he had stopped somewhere for a snack or if he had gone on ahead. We waited for a while at the side of the road but then decided to proceed to Alamo where we stopped at another gas station. This station had a bathroom, which was important at this point. Sarkis bought a gallon of water and everyone filled up their bike bottles. I was hoping for a banana or something but they didn't have any. I thought about getting a cold Starbuck's Frapuccino but instead only got a bottle of Coke. Everyone questioned Rick’s choice of snack: a microwave burrito – we all told stories of eating something we shouldn’t have during a hard ride, but Rick wasn’t worried. We stood watch for JB but he never showed and we figured he was up ahead somewhere so off we pedaled.

Turns out JB had ridden all the way to Rudgear by himself and I was the only one who knew the route through Tice Valley so I led the way toward Lafayette. We had to stop at another gas station where JB filled his bottles from the hose faucet. We were all together for the entire route from Walnut Creek to the west side of Lafayette but one of the hardest climbs of the day was just ahead and I dropped off the back again to prepare for the infamous Happy Valley Road climb. This thing is brutal and I was out of the saddle in my 27-tooth gear for close to a mile on the verge of cramps and muscle fatigue. The only good part about my climb through here was that it was a little cooler from all the shade, and I didn’t get passed by a single vehicle so I could weave all over the road in safety. I crested the top with nothing left, the hill really took a lot out of me and I started to worry a little bit about the rest of the climbing still to come. But there was a nice descent down to Bear Creek Road and then we all regrouped and Sarkis took some photos. We rode the next couple miles to Briones Park for another rest stop where water and out houses were available. We were at mile 75. Rick called the climb “a real tongue-dragger”, I swallowed two more Excedrins (I take them only for the neck pain), and Sarkis took some more photos.

The last leg of our ride would include two of the three Bears and Pig Farm Hill, then some more climbing on Reliez Valley Road before we could finally take it easy. I started off by slowing down to make sure I wouldn’t bonk. I was the last one to start the descent down toward Alhambra Valley but I felt pretty good and caught up with the others. As we approached Pig Farm I again eased up quite a bit to start the tough part as rested as possible and it’s a good thing. At the bottom Rick was about 50 meters ahead of me but he must have been really hurting from the pace or the burrito or something because I passed him about 2/3 or the way up and stayed ahead until the top, where Sarkis was taking photos of us making our best suffering faces.

We were at mile 82 now and I broke out the Clif Shot gel. Usually on centuries I eat a gel pack with 15 or 20 miles to go and it really gives me a boost to finish strong. JB and Sarkis had a close call going down the other side of Pig Farm - a car tried to pass a pick-up truck coming up the hill and when the driver saw the bikes coming down he accelerated rather than abandon the move and he almost forced JB and Sarkis into the ditch. It was a fast trip into Martinez from here, but then there was a surprisingly long climb up Reliez Valley Road before we got back to Olympic Blvd in Walnut Creek. When we got to Rudgear we were at mile 95 and street crews had torn up part of the road so we decided just to take the Iron Horse Trail all the way back to Countrywood.

I found out that June has only been riding seriously for about three months which explains her lack of confidence on the fast descents but she rides uphill like someone who has been doing this for a long time - good position, good technique, and excellent conditioning from being a runner.

With our trip distance an even 100 miles Rick packed up his Explorer and headed home, he had some other commitment and couldn’t join the rest of us for the après ride meal. Sarkis, June, and I all got burritos at Una Mas and sat at an outside table. JB said he couldn’t eat anything but picked up a six pack of Anchor Steam at the deli a few shops away; when we realized we needed a bottle opener I figured out how to use the hinge part of a Look pedal to do the job - worked so well I wonder if it wasn't included in the design requirements! JB had carried two sandwiches for the whole ride and didn't eat them. He eschews commercial cycling food and is convinced that the low glycemic/high protein and fat thing is the perfect diet. Still, I can't believe he wasn't hungry after THIS ride. We sat there and ate our burritos and drank our beer and discussed the ride for about a half hour and then we all rode home. It was a very good experience for my first unsupported century.

Ride Statistics:
Ride distance: 100 miles
Elevation gain: 5,500 feet
Ride time: 6h 29m
Total time: 8h 15m
Average heart rate: 131 bpm (includes rest stops)
Consumption: Pre-ride oatmeal with brown sugar, two cups of coffee, two E-caps and a couple Excedrin Gel Caps. Two Clif Bars, one and a half PowerBars, three and a half servings of Hammergel, four bottles of Cytomax, three bottles of Accelerade, one bottle of Coke, two more E-caps, two more Excedrins, and one Clif Shot gel during the ride. Vegetarian Burrito, a Coke, and a beer for post ride meal, plus some left over lasagne when I got home.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Tonight might be the last Wednesday ride of the year. Sunset's at 6:21 next week and then Daylight Wasting Time begins.

I got to the Gate a little early and packed my arm warmers. JB was the only other one coming so I felt safe in getting a head start. Had my bottle of Coke earlier in the day today so stomach aches wouldn't be a problem. Right at the Gate a skinny guy with shaved legs in an Ofoto jersey passed me with a titanium bike - he looked like the real deal - for a nanosecond I thought about hopping on his wheel but in another nanosecond he had about a three minute gap on me (dude was fast).

So I just went into zone out aerobic mode and watched my heart rate monitor which I had on my wrist; I'm going to put it back on the bars because it's easier to see and operate the buttons there. Plus at one point my glove hit one of the buttons on the side and changed modes on me - yeah, it belongs on the bars.

Below the Bump I passed a guy on a mountain bike but he had a very smooth spin like he had done lots of road riding too. At the upper ranch I saw the Ofoto guy again stopped at a pull-out and talking to a guy in a Galaxy Granola jersey who also appeared to be the real thing. Both of them said hi to me as I went by and I liked that they weren't snobby.

Wildlife Encounter: Just past the upper ranch I heard heavy hoof prints around the switchback and as I came around the corner I saw a buck with a pretty good sized rack standing on the side of the road to my left. I figured I was pretty safe because he had already crossed the road but then he just stood there looking at me. As I came further around the corner I realized his mate deer was on my right so I was directly between the two of them. They both started trotting along their respective sides of the road with me in the middle and I slowed down to let them get ahead and suddenly the doe crossed the road also and they both disappeared down the slope. Definitely got the adrenaline pumping for about 30 seconds. Just then I saw some of the Diablo Cyclists coming down so I shouted out that there were deer in the road just so they'd be alert.

When I passed the 2-miles to go point I was at 27 minutes so I knew I wasn't going to go sub 40 and I relaxed a little bit. I saw JB down a few switchbacks below and I knew he wasn't going to catch me either so I just held a steady pace and enjoyed the rest of the ride. Time to Junction was 41m46s and that's not too shabby for a noncompetitive late in the season ride. As JB approached the line going hard the Ofoto guy came around him in a good sprint and kept on going up Summit Road. Never did see the mountain bike guy or the Galaxy Granola guy again. JB and I both put on our arm warmers and started the descent into the sunset.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Diablo Junction plus Southgate Road and Danville Blvd.

Rick and Nicole passed me up in their Explorer on North Gate Road so I waited for them even though I was a little bit late. Nicole was way overdressed with tights, long sleeves, and a jacket tied around her waist (for the descent). We told her it would warm up before the Junction but she didn't believe us. A short way up the mountain we saw Martin, Peter, and JB ahead so Rick and I took off to catch them. Seems there was a big disparity in how folks decided to dress today - Rick and I were pretty much in summer gear, Martin and Peter had windbreakers and tights, and JB had his wool jersey and tights. As soon as we grouped up Martin dropped back to ride with Nicole and then we got to the bump where I lost contact with the others. I finished about 2 minutes behind Rick, Peter, and JB at 44 minutes elapsed time. We talked about the upcoming unsupported century I've been planning; Rick is pretty sure he can come, and JB is even surer - that makes five of us plus Nicole who might park at Briones or somewhere and do part of the ride with us while providing a little sag service also.

So Nicole and Martin arrived after burning up the course at 65 minutes and we talked some more. JB went down, Rick and Peter went to Summit and Nicole said she'd go down Southgate with me, but then later reneged because she would be too hot with her jacket!

Went down Southgate solo all the way to Diablo Blvd and in to Danville. The California Pedaler was just opening up and they didn't have the blowout racks filled up so I kept on going. Kept a decent pace up Danville Blvd but never did hook up with any other riders.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Century Planner

Foxy's Fall Century on October 18 is sold out! My goal of riding four centuries this year was in danger of not being reached. So I decided to do my first ever unsupported century and I chose the old Tour Diablo Valley route that I did in 1997 and I decided to do it on the day of Foxy's. The ride goes up Diablo to The Junction, out to Blackhawk and Livermore, then to Lafayette, the Bears, and Pigfarm before returning to Walnut Creek. I'm suddenly very excited about the idea and have enlisted the possible companions of JB and Sarkis. I plan on starting at 6 am but the other two might want to start a little later and catch me up. I still have the original route map from 1997 so I'll make a few modifications on my map making program and distribute them to the other guys. Mostly I'll pack a bunch of PowerBars and ClifBars and some drink mixes and Hammergel, and plan on a few stops at 7-Elevens. This will certainly be an experience.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Diablo Junction - 16 miles.

Just me and JB today. I drank a can of Pepsi on the way to North Gate - big mistake. We started off pretty fast for a good but not great elapsed time. When we got to the bottom of the bump some dork in an SUV was coming down and riding the brakes hard; the air over the hardest part of the mountain was filthy with burning brake pad smell and it was truly hard to breathe at all, let alone breath at anaerobic levels. Then at the top of the bump I started to get a stomach ache from the Pepsi (when will I learn?) and I had to slow down until it passed.

Wildlife Encounter: Not wild at all actually, it was a Tabby cat about 9 months old, very domestic, at one of the turnouts near the ranches. Just sitting there looking like his family had let him loose in the park. No way this cute critter will survive up there, it was sad.

So somewhere around the upper ranch we went by the Diablo Cyclists on their way down. They must be starting up before 5 o'clock now and sunset was 6:40 today. JB and I stopped at the Junction long enough for him to put on his arm warmers and then we went out to Round Table for apres ride brew. They cater to softball and soccer teams so they're used to sweaty guys - and they have Red Hook and Sierra Nevada.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Diablo Junction after work - 16 miles.

Just JB, Jeffrey, and me tonight. The Diablo Cyclists moved their start time up so we actually met them as they were coming down. It's certainly getting dark earlier now and there are only a few Wednesdays left before Daylight Wasting Time begins.

All three of us rode at Jeffrey's pace and talked about work and tarantulas and coyotes. I noticed that I hadn't seen Jeffrey in the same jersey twice yet, he seems to have a good collection of good cycling clothes. I also complimented him on not using the granny gear of his triple crank. I think I can switch to the regular size bottles now because I hardly took a drink from my big one on the whole ride. I started a new procedure of hitting the lap button on my heart rate monitor at the 3, 2, and 1 miles to go points so I'll have the split times recorded as well as my heart rate - this could be a useful training tool for next year. Tonight though was just a leisurely ride UNTIL JB LAUNCHED A VICIOUS ATTACK WITH ONE MILE TO GO. I responded immediately and remained glued to his yellow rear tire until Chainbuster where he took the inside line in a low gear. I decided to go farther out in a bigger gear but he opened up a gap and maintained it until the finish. It was a fun bit of competition to end the ride and I came it at 44 minutes. Jeffrey came in a couple minutes later and said that it was his best time so far - I think he's getting hooked. We kept the socializing to a minimum and headed back down the mountain just a few minutes later.

I noticed on the descent that my tires weren't inspiring confidence on the hairpins. Seems like they're doing that microscopic slipping that just makes you want to take the corners a little more slowly. The rear tire has 1400 miles on it (Michelin Pro Race) but the front one (Michelin Hi-Lite Prestige) is only a couple months old. Maybe I'll get another Hi-Lite from Performance to get me through the winter months and then put on some Pro Races again in spring. Bike Tires Direct has them for $35 per and only $4 shipping for a pair.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Sunday - Critical Mass San Francisco - 8 miles

Today's team included two ex-team members Ed and Tom, guest members Leaf and Paloma, as well as JB, Adam, and me. We all took BART into the City. Paloma had a flat tire that she didn't notice until she was ready to go so Leaf packed his floor pump(!) in a backpack and fixed it on the train. Leaf wore his UCDavis skin suit so he looked rather odd with racing kit and an overstuffed rucksack.

There was the usual crowd at Justin Herman Plaza - lots of kooks, drag queens, and other "alternative" people. We got there just after 6 so most of the soap boxing was over and we started whooping until some accidental tourist rode off and everyone followed her - she was quite surprised to find herself the leader of Critical Mass if only for a few blocks. We rode around the Financial District, past the Transamerica Pyramid and into Chinatown where I saw some old ladies rummaging through the garbage cans of a produce store that had just closed - lots of fruit that was just past its prime - yum. Then we headed for the tunnel on Stockton St and that was a big kick. There were at least three guys with steroid stereos - two of them had dedicated stereo trailers - I've seen these guys before… Critical Mass hardcore types. At a few intersections someone lit some smoke bombs but it was all in fun. We turned south again and passed up some culinary arts school where all the chef students were out on the sidewalk slapping us high fives. Then down Valencia into the Mission by which time it was getting pretty dark and things started to break up.

Got back on BART at a little after 8 and home just after 9 to keep myself in good graces with the girls at home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Diablo Junction - 22 miles
Stayed home today so I rode my bike to the start. Found new guy Jeffrey unloading on Doncaster so I stopped and waited for him. I thought JB and Adam would be coming but I didn't confirm so Jeffrey and I started out together and rode at a pace that was comfortable for him. We saw our first coyote near the dumpster gate down in the tall grasses - Jeffrey asked me if it was a fox but I told him how common the coyotes were on the mountain. Shortly before the bump Mark passed us up but not going as fast as he usually does - he had one wheel sucker in his shadow but lost him in the 10% section. Just below the ranches we saw 4 more coyotes hunting for squirrels - one of them trotted along side us for a little while, he looked so friendly and completely comfortable being near us… a little unnerving. with about 3 miles to go the first of the Diablo Cyclist came up to us and Grant launched an attack in his inimitable style - it looked like he was really fighting the bike but he was making pretty good time. We made some jokes but everyone admires him. I decided it would be OK to ride with these guys and let Jeffrey finish by himself and we made good time the rest of the way to the Junction - elapsed time for me was 43m32s which isn't bad considering what an easy pace I rode at for the first three miles.

At the Junction I realized that Grant and Mark were riding secret prototype single speed Rivendells. They were actually two-speed since they were fitted with a double chainring, but the rear wheel had a single-speed freewheel mechanism and the rear dropouts were track style with long horizontal slots for adjusting chain tension. Mark and Grant both loosened their wheels and "shifted" to the big ring and then readjusted the chain tension by repositioning the wheel - it looked like something you wouldn't want to do more than once per ride but it does work. The bikes had Rivendell head tube badges, front brakes and a dummy brake lever for the right hand, and they were painted a deep forest green. Mark had his Time ATAC pedals on and Grant of course had big flat platform pedals - I think they're the BMX ones in his catalogue. Both of them had on very big diameter tires, Grant's were cushier than Mark's were though. Most of the conversation around the bike racks were about these two new bikes - one of the guys had already ordered one.

It got to be 6:30 and Jeffrey had to leave. I stuck around a few more minutes thinking JB might show up but started down myself shortly after. Then I ran into JB coming up about 1/2 mile below the Junction so I turned around and rode back with him. All the DCers had started down by that point too so we were the only ones left at the Junction. We didn't stay long and headed down before it got too dark. JB said something about logging his total heartbeats for each ride as some kind of fitness indicator - he multiplies his average HR times his elapsed time to get the figure. I'm not sure if there's any sense to that or not.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Diablo Summit - 32 miles.

Peter and I waited until almost ten after eight and no one else showed up so we started off. I got way ahead of Peter and figured he must be having some kind of minor problem because I could see he was still riding but not very fast. By the bottom of the bump I realized that Rick was riding up to him and Peter must have slowed down for him. Around the lower ranches Peter dropped us and I was about 30 seconds behind Rick. Didn't feel like doing a hard effort today for some reason and I didn't try to catch up to Rick. By the ranger house though I realized Rick was having a pretty bad day and I kicked it up and passed him easily before the Junction. Elapsed time was 42m26s which is pretty good considering it was a very relaxed effort.

There were a lot of folks at the Junction and somehow JB sneaked in without my seeing him - I was surprised to look over on the bench and see him sitting there. Peter, Rick, and I all decided to do the Summit so I pulled out my Power Bar and Rick begged for a bite. He's been trying to lose a couple more pounds before the Diablo Challenge and he didn't eat any carbs last night. I also gave him a pack of Clif Shot and he slurped every microgram of the stuff out of the envelope.

JB turned around and went home. The Summit Road was getting very windy and I took it slowly. Rick and Peter set a much higher pace and I didn't see them again until the Summit. Summit time: 81 minutes. Again I was surprised at such a respectable time since I didn't seem to be pushing it at all. One of these days I'm going to have to make an assault on the Summit and see how fast I can do it when I'm really trying. Maybe next year's Challenge?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Wednesday September 17 – Diablo Junction, 16 miles.

Well there’s a new guy at work, Jeff, who told us he rides a bike and was interested in coming with us up Mt. Diablo today. He said he’d been up from the south side and rode to the Summit once so he knows what he’s getting in to but wasn’t an experienced climber. He seems like he’ll fit in just fine and it’s been a long time since we’ve had any new riders come with us so we welcome him. He has a Giant road bike with a triple crank and a sensible selection of shoes, clothes, and equipment… he was a little slow getting it all together though and we got a bit of a late start.

Adam and Leif started off earlier than the rest of us so Me, JB, and Jeff start up at a comfortable pace and Jeff doesn’t have much trouble keeping up. Near the double dips the Diablo Cyclist peloton passed us up and we picked up our speed just for appearances, then slowed down after a respectable time. We pointed out all the locations with nicknames and told Jeff the story behind the names and he seemed to adopt the appropriate reverence for the whole idea.

Near the bump an old guy on a Merlin and his daughter (I’m guessing) passed us but the daughter (maybe 17 years old?) dropped pops so he started riding with us. I was 23m38s at the Upper Washout and I told Jeff that a good indicator of the Junction time was twice the Upper Washout time.

Up near the ranches Adam and Leif came back down from the Junction to ride with us. Leif and JB paired up and pushed it, Adam and I rode together and discussed La Vuelta a España, and Jeff rode with the old guy on the Merlin. My Junction time was 45m37s and Jeff was a few minutes after that.

There were more riders at the Junction than last week but not nearly as many as earlier in the summer. Sarkis even showed up and chatted for a while before we all turned down. It was a windy descent and I took it carefully. Disappointing not to see any tarantulas tonight. It was really starting to get dark by 7:15 – we’re going to have to make these last few rides efficient.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Sunday September 14 - T-Mobile International Bike Race in San Francisco

My daughter and I took BART into the City at 8:30am. There was a Raiders game on today also so there were a few crazies in costume and face paint sharing the train with us… my daughter (3-1/2 years old) must have figured that's just how some people dress to ride BART because she didn't seem to find it odd.

We got to the Embarcadero in time to see the last two laps of the women's event. Nicole Cooke of course has been winning everything this year so it was no surprise to see her cross the line well ahead of anyone else. There was a LONG pause before the men's race started so we went to check out the booths in the expo. I got to see the 2004 Dura Ace gruppo up close at the Shimano booth, and there were dozens of bike and component manufacturer booths as well as booths for local bike shops, nutritional products, and everything else you can imagine. The Saturn display was probably the best - they had a virtual bike race thing where people would ride bikes on trainers that were hooked up to some kind of computer display and two-by-two they would race each other while the TVs showed their progress as animated characters. It was so crowded in the expo though that we didn't stay long and only scored some token schwagg.

We spend some time checking out the Mavic support cars - they had a motorcycle with about 10 extra wheels on it and the extra bikes had quill pedals with toe clips - so they wouldn't have to try and match pedal types. I'd heard that's what Mavic offers on all of the races they support but I needed to check it out to be sure. The wheels were all Ksyriums (mostly SSCs but some Elites too) with Mich Pro Race tires. I don't know what they did about Campy/Shimano compatibility on the cassettes. I should have checked to see how big their low gears were too but I didn't think of it.

The men's race finally started about 11:15 with a few parade laps around the Embarcadero. I was about 100 meters beyond the start line and after the huge field rode by there was one guy from Sierra Nevada/Clif Bar that had a mechanical problem and stopped. The Mavic car pulled up behind him to help but the Sierra Nevada car pulled up too so Mavic left. The Sierra Nevada mechanic ran out and changed the guy's rear wheel but had some problems with the chain. I don't think the rear wheel was even the problem but he gave the guy a push and ran back into the car and just after the car was gone the guy stopped again with the same problem. He stepped up on the curb into the crowd (across the street from me) and threw his bike to the ground in disgust. I understood his frustration but thought that was a pretty poor display for the sponsor. Anyway on the second parade lap the Sierra Nevada car got him going again and then had to "adjust his seatpost" from the moving vehicle… towing him back into the main field at about 60mph! Everybody was cheering for him to make contact… it was kind of cool. Postal guys were wearing their Champs Elysses jerseys - the gray ones that no one had seen before the final TdF stage. I got good looks at Lance and Eki, Gilberto Simoni, and Vinokourov. I was looking for Guerini and Garzelli but I couldn't pick them out. There were reports that Lance might not ride at all because he'd been sick so it was nice to see him suited up even if he wasn't going to do the whole ride (he didn't finish).

So after the parade laps around the start, the field took off up Broadway and then they had the celebrity race. The pack split up right from the start and Robin Williams was the second rider past my spot. I think I heard that he was first across the line though. His Honor Willie Brown was supposed to be doing the race but I'm sure he wasn't there. There was also a guy in a huge shark outfit - maybe the mascot for the San Jose Sharks - looked like it made riding very difficult but he was a crowd favorite - there was a report though that he took a shortcut and didn't complete the entire course.

The men's race splintered up pretty quickly after the start - as this race has always done. We walked up Broadway to see the riders from different vantage points but after the third lap my daughter decided she'd had enough and threatened to have a fit if we didn't head home. So we scored another free mini Clif Bar and a balloon and made our way back to the BART station.

Ken Papai is a great photographer who has hundreds of super photos on his site - I'll post the link here when he gets the bugs worked out, but here's one example:
(for some reason I can't make it link - please copy and paste to browser)

Friday, September 12, 2003

Product Review: DBase dB500 Heart Rate Monitor

I cashed in my Team Performance points and got this little toy last night. I was looking for about a $50 HRM so it was between a bare-bones Polar (A1) and this unit which has some cool functions like "calories burned", max HR and avg HR as well as usefull things like time of day and stopwatch which the Polar A1 didn't. Turned out someone at Performance had put the sale price for the dB300 on this box by mistake so the guy told me that was the price. Retail for the dB500 is $90, it was on sale for $70 and I got it for $30... SCORE!

So the pickup seems fine - no problems with the connection or the transmission. The chest belt is reasonably comfortable. There are 5 buttons to push so it's still a little clunky to use until I figure it out better. The belt batteries are user-replaceable but the watch battery has to be replaced by a jeweller. The extra function that I really like though is the "LAP" button which remembers your time and HR every time you push it so I can use it as a "SPLIT" timer on Diablo. I usually try to remember my split times at the 2-mile and 1-mile points but I sometimes forget them: now I'll be able to record even more split times - and be able to post even more boring data here on my blog for you all to read!

I had one of the very early Polar HRMs about 12 years ago and it helped me learn to pace myself while climbing (which I was REALLY no good at back then). It had only current pulse and no other functions and I think it was $110 - the watch face was about 2 inches square, looked kind of funky but it was fun.

The data in my Owner's Manual said that my maximum HR is probably about 160 - I distinctly remember getting it up to 192 on the old unit... this will be interesting.

UPDATE February 2006: The chest transmitter portion of the HRM wore out about six months ago and a new battery wouldn't bring it back to life. The dBase website said a new one would be $35 but I found a cheapie Polar HRM at Performance and the whole thing was $35 so I bought that and the chest strap works fine with the dBase watch part plus now I have an extra wrist unit (HR only, no other functions). Anyway if you found my blog by searching on the dBase 500 (one of the more popular search requests) then now you'll know that the Polar and dBase chest transmitters are interchangeable. One thing that still bugs me about the dBase display is that the LCDs are a dark gray and the background is a dark green so sometimes it's pretty hard to read. Also the position of the buttons around the circumference of the face makes you put your thumb on one button while you're trying to push another button with your index finger and sometimes you push the wrong one. I give the dBase 500 Heart Rate Monitor a DSPRS of 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Wednesday September 10: Mt. Diablo to Devil's Elbow 24 miles

Well the Wednesday night crowd is getting really thin on Mt. Diablo these days. Adam and Leif got an early start which is fine because no one can stay with them anyway. I drove out to the church and started riding just before 5:30 not really sure if JB was ahead or behind me. There were a few Diablo Cyclists in the parking lot but not nearly as many as just a few weeks ago.

I followed what now appears to be the best eating schedule for a Wednesdy night ride: two bagels for brekkie, no lunch, Pepsi at 3pm, Powerbar and coffee at 3:30, one bottle of Accelerade at 4:00, a bottle of Cytomax and a squirt of ClifShot in the car on the way out.

One of the things I really like about my Flight Deck computer is that there is a separate "stopwatch" function that is completely independent of the "ride distance" function so I can include the whole ride distance and ride time in my reading while still being able to watch just my time to the Junction while I'm on North Gate Road. I crossed the start line and went fast but not anything like a PB pace. It was perfect weather with little wind. No sign of JB yet but Mark passed me on the Bump - seemed like I was destined to do the whole thing solo. The first place I usually look for my time is at the Lower Washout and usually it's about half of my Junction time so when I looked down and saw 23 minutes I thought I was having a really crappy day, but then I realized I was looking at my total time and not my stopwatch time (the difference being the extra mile from the church to the Gate). A quick squeeze on my thumb button showed that I was actually at 19 minutes and suddenly I thought I was having a great day (the psychological effect of these numbers is astounding). But for the real test I had to get to the "2-mile" point under 26 minutes... and I did! I felt like I was working hard and not really having good speed so somehow my perception was off. At the 1-mile point I was a little over 33 minutes so I knew I would break 40 but I just couldn't motivate myself to really hammer. I got out of the saddle and pushed the big gears for a while but it wasn't a great effort. Crossed the line at 39m28s which is my third best time of the year - and yet it seemed like no great effort at all. Odd but definetly nice.

JB showed up a few minutes later; Adam and Leif were already there of course. Grant Peterson rode in too (in sandals) and Adam had to explain to Leif why someone would "want" to be a retrogrouch… Leif couldn't relate. After a little socializing we all split up here to the three roads; A&L down SGR, JB down NGR, and me up Summit Road. I figured I'd ride to Juniper at least and then see how I felt. Well I felt good and decided to keep riding until 7pm wherever that would be. Turned out it was Devil's Elbow and it was a relaxed very enjoyable climb. The sun was getting very low and at times my shadow was like a hundred feet long - gliding over the road and up the embankment, changing shape all the time… it was really interesting to watch.

Wildlife Encounter - saw two tarantulas and a coyote on the way down. The coyote seemed to be just enjoying himself with playful trotting right down the middle of the road. I slowed down and just followed him until he darted off down into the brush. I'm going to miss these evening rides come autumn… usually the last one is in the middle of October when the daylight disappears too early.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Saturday, September 6: Diablo Summit 32miles

I met Will and Rick at the Gate - JB rode up shortly next to a guy with a super sweet bike and Ksyrium SSC wheels (very popular around here, despite their price) who kept going by himself. So we all started off at a pretty easy pace - it was cool but not uncomfortable, and there was a very light breeze. A couple miles up the road Peter caught up to us (we never wait for Peter - he's on his own schedule) and then we suddenly all started going faster. We passed the guy who had been riding with JB - he broke a spoke and couldn't finish the ride (at least we never saw him again, maybe he managed to ride home anyway). JB dropped off first but Rick and I rode with Peter. I hammered up the 3-mile bump in first place and then slowed down until Rick and Peter caught me. Peter then took the lead and accelerated slowly until he was up to 11 mph and I couldn't hold on anymore. JB caught me up around the ranches and my Junction time was 43 minutes which is OK given the slow start.

There were about a dozen guys in a group that showed up while we were waiting for Will - the fastest guy said he did a 34 and the slowest did 42 (his best time in 10 years he said). They all went down Southgate but I noticed one of the guys had a "Douglas" titanium bike from Colorado Cyclist - it looked a lot nicer than I had imagined - but that stigma of being a mail-order pseudo-brand is hard to overlook.

JB and Will didn't come but Peter and Rick and I went to the Summit. It was an uneventful ride except that it had started to warm up and there were nice tailwinds in many of the sections. My Summit time was 83 minutes so I was pretty satisfied with that. We talked to a guy on a triathlon bike and we all (except him) agreed that it would suck to try and ride this mountain on that kind of low-profile bike. Rick and Peter were planning on a second assault so I rode down toward home by myself - the tailwinds were much more noticeable on the way down... because they weren't tailwinds anymore - they were headwinds and crosswinds and the bike handling got a little tricky in some sections, but I've been doing this long enough to know how to ride in these conditions and it was no problem.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Wednesday September 3 Diablo Juniper

I got a late start and everyone had already gone. I rode solo and didn't pass anyone until I got up to the upper ranches where I passed Amy and another familiar DC woman whose name I don't know. I was 20 minutes flat at the upper washout so I had a chance of breaking 40 minutes but that Greek calzone thing I had for lunch was sitting hard in my gut and I couldn't muster up the motivation to go for it. I finished in 40m38s and I was reasonably happy with that. We never did see Adam and Leif - they must have gone down South Gate Road.

Somehow I forgot my gloves today - almost never ride without gloves. My hands got slippery with sweat which was more annoying than dangerous.

The bugs at the Junction were vicious. Most of the riders were lounging around but JB and I decided to go up (actually I twisted his arm a bit - he wanted to go get a beer). At Juniper we talked to a guy who was working a temporary electronics job at Bishop Ranch paying $65 an hour but he lived in Sonoma County so he was sleeping in his van in the campground. Last night there was a huge thunderstorm so he said he didn't sleep well. Seemed like a nice guy in a tough situation (unemployed for several months, away from his home and family).

Wildlife Encounter: Spotted my first tarantula of the season. They get pretty numerous in October and November and it's always fun to see them out on their mission.

There was also a guy parked along the side of the road planting flowers or something in the ditch - I'll be surprised if they take hold though.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Saturday August 30 Diablo Juniper 28 miles

JB and Nicole couldn't come today, so I called Will we arranged to get an early start so Rick would catch us. He agreed but Rick showed up early too so we all rode very slowly to the Junction. It's nice to see Will get enthused about riding again but he's got a lot of fitness to regain. Peter came up around us with about a half mile to go and I hopped on his wheel - Rick either didn't try or couldn't hold it. Wasn't much of a sprint but I did just barely manage to cross the line in front of him (Peter). Time to Junction isn't worth reporting since it's meaningless anyway… very slow.

At the Junction there was this old guy on a fairly modern Trek road bike with a triple crank. A couple of other guys in their 60's were talking to him and he told them to guess his age. He looked about 80 but a very healthy 80 and the two guys were making him feel good by guessing he was late 60's early 70's. Then he said "I'm 82, and I've been riding since I was a teenager." I asked him if he was famous and he got a laugh out of that. Anyway, he didn't look young but he did look like he was still enjoying life and bike riding and I suppose that's all a guy can ask.

We talked Will into going up to Juniper but it was painfully slow. Rick went up with Peter and got way ahead of us very quickly. Will and I paused at Juniper long enough to soak in the smoggy view and then we both went home. On the road below the Gate I saw a guy packing up his Klein and I talked to him a bit - he said he'd had it about 3 years, it was a Quantum Race with the Icon Air Rail parts and a cool blue/purple paint job. He must have ridden part way up and turned around while we were still up on Summit Road because otherwise I would have seen him earlier.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Wednesday August 27 Diablo Juniper 20 miles

At lunchtime today I went to Performance because I needed to spend another $20 to get another $10 in Team Performance Bucks. They were having a sale (as always) and I figured I could find a cheap jersey or something. I didn't like any of the $20 jerseys so I decided to get this $45 jersey:

So I was feeling good, had my new jersey on, it was perfect weather… time to put up. I got to the gate a few minutes early; I knew JB and Adam were not too far behind so I gave myself a head start. I began at a very fast pace and held it all the way past Moss Landing before I settled down into endurance mode. I passed up about a half dozen riders by the time I got to the bump. I rode the entire bump stretch out of the saddle but in not too big of a gear and I got to the upper washout at 19m30s - usually my time at this point is about half of the total time so a little multiplying in my head told me I was on a 39 minute pace! That really jazzed me up and I started to focus on the next milestone which is the 2-miles to go point at the speed limit sign. I can usually do the last two miles in 14 minutes (15 minutes is an easy pace, 13 minutes is very fast); so anything under 26 minutes at this point tells me I can break 40 to the Junction and I love to break 40. I was 24m55s - damn this was gonna be a good Junction time. Mark passed me about this time so he was a good rabbit to chase - NOT - he was out of site before the next switchback. I really pushed it but held a little in reserve too the rest of the way until the final sprint when I gave it my all - 39m11s! My fourth best time ever.

Adam and JB showed a few minutes later, followed by about a dozen Diablo Cyclist members. Marty the Rivendell guy that I wrote about in the Marin Century entry was just back from doing Paris-Brest-Paris - his time was 84 hours; what an accomplishment! He was riding a titanium Colnago today though, I think he borrowed it from somebody.

The three of us started up Summit Road after a recovery period but JB turned around at the top of the Horseshoe. Adam and I continued on to Juniper. On the way down we got stuck behind an SUV who apparently thought it would be uncool to pull over and let us pass, but finally capitulated. Adam was allowing me to lead down the bump and when we hit Moss Landing I was doing 44mph - just as two Ranger pick-ups were coming up. I started to think one of them would turn around and ticket us but they didn't. A great day on the mountain.
Tuesday August 26
Commuting home on my Eddy Merckx road bike with the 25mm Conti's and Mr. Tuffys - picked up my first goathead of the year. The existence of these things prove without a doubt that there is no god.

I was able to successfully patch the puncture - I think it's the first time in the last 10 attempts that my patch held! For some reason my patches keep curling up at the edges... maybe it's the baby powder on the tubes.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Saturday August 23, 2003 Diablo Summit, 32 milles

Nicole wasn't at work yesterday so we weren't sure she and Rick were coming today. JB and I decided to start up the road at about 8:05 when they hadn't shown up yet. He commented that he never feels like riding hard on Saturdays, and saves his big efforts for Wednesday afternoons (that was his way of telling me that we would be doing a slow ride today). So we rolled along at well below anaerobic pace the whole way up North Gate Road until about 300 meters to go when we set up for the sprint. Normally if I'm not completely knackered by this point I can easily outsprint him but today he outsmarted me; increasing his speed at a steady pace rather than trying to get a jump so I wasn't sure when I should come around him. With about 50 meters to go I kicked it up another gear and dropped my cadence just a bit too much and he beat me across the line… he was pretty happy about that. I recorded my elapsed time as 44m12s and noted what a huge difference in effort 4 minutes makes… today was a very relaxed pace whereas a 40 minute ride is a near-maximum effort.

Will was at the Junction waiting for us. He's lost a lot of fitness since he used to ride regularly with us but is trying to make a comeback and he got a head start on us this morning. We talked for a while and then Rick showed up too… he started about 10 minutes after JB and me. We all convinced Will to start up Summit Road "at least for a little ways". I rode with Rick, and Will rode with JB at a slower pace. When Rick and I got to Juniper I pulled off and told him I was going to wait for Will. Rick went on to the Summit and Will showed up a few minutes later; JB had turned around to make a commitment in Danville. So then I convinced Will that we should at least do the Muir Picnic area because by then Rick would be coming back down and it would be a good point to re-group. Surprisingly he agreed and he said he felt pretty good by the time we got there. Sure enough Rick was coming down at about that time and we convinced Will to go "just a little farther" and before we knew it we were on the finishing stretch to the Summit. We didn't do the Summit Wall but did hang out in the lower parking lot for a while looking out over the whole Bay Area. Will was quite satisfied with his performance and he's a good sport.

Later in the day I hooked up the Burley bike trailer to my commute bike and the whole family went to the park until dark. We fed the ducks and played in the sand, it was a veritable Norman Rockwell kind of evening.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Wednesday after work - Diablo Junction

Today is Nicole's last Wednesday night ride because she starts an evening class next week. Adam was kept late at the office and couldn't ride even though he planned to. I met Nicole at the place she always parks and pretty soon JB showed up and we all started riding toward the gate. Before we crossed the line the Diablo Cyclists surrounded us and we all started at the same time. JB said "I don't know if I feel like going for it, or not." I said "You better make your mind up pretty soon!" A few of the faster DCers had opened up a gap but then I put my head down and closed it. JB kept up an even faster pace and I hopped on his wheel and took about four other guys with me. I was working hard to stay with him and two of the DCers dropped back. When we reached the bottom of the bump I pulled off and JB flew up the 10% grade solo, with two of the DCers shortly behind. So now I was behind JB and the two fastest guys and still a minute or so ahead of the two guys we rode away from earlier as well as all the other DCers further down (Mark wasn't there today). I held this position until the second ranch when the two guys caught me. I slowed down some but didn't let the gap get too big and kept my two rabbits in sight. On the finishing stretch I knew I could have a good time if I increased my pain factor a little so I started to close down the gap between me and the two guys in front of me. Just below the ranger house JB met up with me; he likes to turn around at the Junction and ride up again with us slower riders. He said he did a 35-something which is really an awesome time, but as soon as I saw him I clicked up a couple gears and pounded the pedals all the way across the line - inches behind my two DC rabbits and way ahead of JB.

So I did a 40m40s - a good time and my last three rides have been within 20 seconds of each other. That's pretty consistant; I'd rather be consistently SUB40 though!

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Diablo Summit - 32 miles

As of last night it looked like only JB and I were going to be riding today - Adam was planning on doing the Corral Hollow road race and Rick and Nicole were having a birthday party for their son. So I told JB I was going to get a 2 minute head start on him and leave the gate at 7:58.

Well I crossed the line right at 8 o'clock and started out with the assumption that JB was already ahead of me. It was absolutely perfect riding weather - no wind, just warm enough to feel comfortable in shorts. There were a lot of slower riders on the mountain today and every time I passed a group I really pushed it to make sure they wouldn't pass me back. When I got to the Upper Washout I was at the same time as on Wednesday so that made me jazzed to keep it up. I got to the Junction in 40m37s which was good enough for a top ten ride.

JB wasn't there but I talked to a couple guys who came up South Gate. One of them (about a 50 year old guy) said he was having chest pains after knocking 3 minutes off his best time! But then he said he did the ride in an hour and 40 minutes!!! We were worried he was going to have a heart attack but he promised he was OK. Suddenly I looked up and saw Adam sprinting across the line and JB was about 30 seconds behind him. Adam had decided not to do the race and JB had simply overslept. Peter showed up on his second ascent also and we all headed up to the Summit.

Peter and Adam rode together up to the Summit and JB and I rode at a little bit slower pace. We chewed up another dozen slower riders on the way there and I got to the top of the Summit Wall in 80 minutes flat from the Gate - I think that's another top ten but I don't keep track of that statistic as closely - usually though it's closer to 90 minutes I think. In the parking lot we met a couple on vacation from Ohio who convinced Peter to take their photo in front of the mountains (they don't have any in Ohio I guess). Also Adam gave us a lesson on lactic acid threshold training using a heart monitor. JB just got a new heart rate monitor and said that his max pulse for the ride was 173 bpm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Diablo Junction - 16 miles

Typical Wednesday after work ride. Adam, Leif, and JB rode from the office, Nicole and I drove. By the time I got parked and unloaded my bike the three guys rolled up and then we all rode together up to Nicole who was just going through the gate. It was hot but not oppressive, and there was the slightest of warm breezes.

As we approached the line I reminded Leif that to be official you have to be slowly rolling over the start line when you start your stop watch. So all five of us were together at the gate - we all hit our buttons at the same time and then Adam, Leif, and I did a sprint start. Leif took the early lead with Adam right behind. I hugged Adam's wheel for two and a half minutes to the top of the second double dip but then too much of a gap opened up and I lost contact. I put my head down and cranked for another couple miles trying to stay ahead of JB (who didn't take part in the sprint start) for as long as possible, but he caught me near the bottom of the Bump.

Rather than honk on the Bump I tried to set a consistent pace and then did some out of the saddle big gear (ha!) pushing to the Upper Washout, which I crossed at 20 minutes flat. I knew I was going to have a good time now so I got a little more serious and went into time trial mode. With 2 miles to go I was at 26m20s and with 1 mile to go I was at 33m50s so I figured I could probably do under 41 minutes and I was happy to see my time was 40m20s at the finish.

Adam and Leif were waiting around at the Junction - Leif inspected my bike and told me my brakes didn't have enough clearance. I told him I like them close and he thought the wheel might rub against the pad unless it was a really stiff wheel. He rides Look pedals too so I told him to try it out. He took it a hundred meters down North Gate Road and then did a little sprint back to the line and pronounced my bike "stiff". Adam and Leif then went down South Gate, the Diablo Cyclists started to show up and tell stories, JB had gone down to ride back up with Nicole. The DCers were all gone by the time JB and Nicole got to the Junction.

The bugs were terrible tonight - I have a weird scabby-rash all over my legs (not sure what it is) and the bugs really seemed attracted to the scabby bits... it was really annoying. The Eagle Scout guy who was collecting money a couple months ago finally got his benches built and installed. They look really nice and they're much more comfortable than the traffic posts we usually sit on. JB thinks he should have used some different joining techniques though.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Diablo Junction, Saturday morning, 28 miles

Today is the day of our company picnic. Rick and Nicole were planning on going but JB wasn't, so we were all going to do a quickie ride to the Junction. I got to the start a little early and rode up about 2 miles before I turned around to meet everyone at the gate. No one had shown up by 8:10 so I thought about getting started but I decided to ride down to the place where Rick parks his Explorer and there were the three of them.

There was a pretty good headwind as we started up and nobody lead off with a starting sprint. Rick did set a pretty mean tempo but not enough to break any records. I would normally have opened up a gap and tried to maintain it until the top of the bump but today I decided to just ride Rick's wheel. JB drifted off and caught back on a few times - there was very little conversation. Up the bump Rick joked that he was defecting to the Republic of Anaerobia which was the theme of a jersey we saw on the Marin Century. I held on up to the ranches but then started to fatigue and slow down. Rick kept going and JB started pushing the pace as I lost sight of them around the switchbacks up ahead. As similar as Rick and I are in our century pacing we're very different when it comes to riding The Mountain; he likes to start out at a pretty easy pace, pick it up to quite fast in the middle and hold on during the last few painful miles. JB likes to start out at a medium pace, continue at a medium pace over the bump and through the ranches, and then totally hammer the last few miles. For my best attempts I start out very fast, go totally anaerobic over the bump, do some intervals with recovery through the ranch section, and then try to keep a steady high aerobic pace for the last two miles (not always successful). Those disparities in relative strengths are what make riding with each other interesting.

I hit Junction at 43m14s and didn't hang around long before I headed back down. I dinged my bell at Nicole as I passed - she still had about a mile of climbing to go by then. Lots of riders this morning - everything from fatties on Costco bikes to shavers on TiMegabucks and at least two Postie posers.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Wednesday August 6 2003 - Diablo Junction 16 miles

Old friend Karl is down from Seattle this week and I let him use my Eddy Merckx for the ride tonight. I was out on a job and got back late so I rode the whole thing solo.

It was warm with a slight breeze. My legs felt good - no signs of soreness from the century on Sunday. I did some intervals but didn't really go for it and I did a 42m25s at the Junction. Karl was there and so were about 15 Diablo Cyclists. Karl said JB, Adam, and Leif had gone up to the summit. Karl did a 41-something and was pretty happy with that since he doesn't get to ride big climbs in Seattle - maybe that Merckx magic had something to do with it. Leif did 29m29s for his first sub-30... very impressive.

Not a very interesting ride tonight, but I was glad that my legs felt stronger rather than rubbery. Maybe I'll go for a fast time on Saturday.

JB had his commute bike stolen from the BART station in Walnut Creek! Bike thieves should be tortured and dismembered and their corpses put on public display.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Sunday August 3 - Marin Century, 103 miles, 5,000 ft vertical, 5h58m

Ride Summary:
Route: A Winding hilly roads scented with salt air, fennel, and cow dung.
Organization: A+ Friendly volunteers and numerous SAG wagons, flawless production.
Food: A+ Very large selection at every rest stop and a great après-ride meal.

Joe bailed out of the ride because he crashed his bike Friday night and was hurting too badly to ride. Sarkis and his friend wanted a later start time so Rick and I my house alone at 5:10am. Check in was very quick and we started riding by 6:30. The boys' locker room was kind of gross and there was a long line for the two toilets - I'm glad I only needed to whizz. Here's the profile (although I'm not positive this depicts this year's route exactly):

(.gif file removed because it blew out my blog - go here to see the profile)

We headed out of town and very quickly started the serious climbing. It was cool and foggy and in some places there was a very light drizzle - not even enough to wipe off my sunglasses though. I had on my warm weather gear and I never felt chilled but I did think that a little sunshine would feel good. Rick and I rode up all the hills at a nice clip and we bombed the descents and we got to the first rest stop at 7:37 am. I mixed up some chocolate HammerGel in my water bottle, popped an e-Cap, and had a bagel with some Brie (!) on it. The stop was at Lincoln School which also was a rest stop in the Holstein Century that Rick and I did last year. I saw one of the Rivendell guys here that I talked with on Mt. Diablo last Wednesday - his name is Marty, he's a classic retro Rivendell guy and a very strong climber.

Still feeling fresh and zippy we headed out toward Tomales Bay over the hilly Marshall-Petaluma Road. Rick and I have done so many centuries together that we just groove. I frequently noticed that we were in the same gear pedaling the same cadence and would get out of the saddle at the same point in the road. We also know each other's relative strengths and do some pretty efficient two-man pace lines. When we got to Tomales bay we rode up over the curvy undulating Highway 1 taking in the magnificent rocky shoreline before we turned northeast toward Valley Ford. The rest stop here was in the gravel parking lot of a bank and there was no plumbing; there was a potable water tanker truck parked just off the street with a hose for the volunteers to fill up the Coleman coolers and the drinking water tasted like sucking swimming pool water through a rubber glove. I cannot emphasize enough how horrible the water was, even mixed up with Cytomax. The other food stuffs here were very good though and had just enough bread and cheese and fruit to get me to the next stop. It was only 9:30 am and we'd gone almost 50 miles already.

Back in the saddle for the much smaller hills on the trip from Valley Ford to Petaluma we picked up some other good riders and made really good time. The sun also started to burn off the fog by this point and it was also in this leg that I first started to feel the lactic burn from such hard efforts. We had ridden away from almost everybody who tried to come with us but there was one guy who was riding very well - turned out he was a local and not doing the century so he didn't already have 70 miles in his legs. We got to the Petaluma rest stop at a very nice little park at 11:20 am. This rest stop was also part of the 100km route and there were hundreds of riders there. I was glad to see ice chests full of Pepsi as well as all the usual stuff like banana bread, bagels, and PB&J. A handful of cashews was also a nice treat. We hung around this stop a little longer than the others because it felt good to sit on the cool grass in the shade. The water here was free of swimming pool/rubber glove flavor too. After popping another e-Cap and a Clif Shot we launched our assault on the final 25 miles.

By noon we were well over 80 miles into the ride and I wasn't in too much pain; usually my neck is really sore by this time but today it was tolerable. Our route was taking us the long way from Petaluma to Novato around Red Hill and for the first time in the ride I felt my hamstring start to cramp up over one of the longer climbs. I was able to prevent it from seizing up by sitting way back on my saddle, but just barely. We hammered up and down all the little rollers and rolled into the finish at 1:24pm for a sub 6-hour ride time and a sub 7-hour total time so it was a very good effort for both of us. The photographer got this great shot of me about 15 miles before the finish.

The post-ride meal was super - they had pizza, burritos, lasagne, pasta salad, green salad, fruit, breads, cookies, cakes, juice, and pop. Biggest selection of food I've ever seen at a century and probably 400 people sitting around the campus enjoying their accomplishments. There were also a DJ and some cycle exhibition booths set up to look at for fun. A very memorable day, one of my favorite centuries so far.

Product Review: e-Caps ...supposed to help you keep hydrated and prevent cramping. I took four over the course of 6 hours. Couldn't tell that they did anything. Best thing about them is that they didn't cause any stomach problems. My weakest recommendation. Definitely not worth the price (I got a free sample, thanks anyway Adam.)