Thursday, May 29, 2003

Mt. Diablo Junction - 34 miles

Usually for these Wednesday night rides I drive to work with my bike on the roof and then drive to the mountain to start the ride. It allows me to put all my stuff in the car and get home early. Today though I decided to ride my Klein to work and ride to the mountain to start the ride just to see what it would be like. There are four of us at work (me, JB, Adam, and Nicole) who do this ride and three of us had our bikes in an empty office so that was kind of cool.

Adam and I started early because he had to finish early and JB was going to be late. It was HOT... about 98°F. Usually I don't ride if it's higher than 95° because it's just not enjoyable, but today I was committed (no pun intended). Anyway I thought I could do about a 45 minute time but shortly into the ride I realized that I was going to have to kick it down a notch; the heat was really sapping my energy and making me feel rotten. Wildlife Encounter: I saw a small rabbit run across the road in front of me and I saw a turkey vulture eating something gross in the ditch just a few feet away. I could feel my core temperature increasing and I was being very careful not to get heat exhaustion. Anyway, finally made it to the Junction in 47 minutes and change. Adam turned around almost immediately and I hung around and drank three more bottles of water. There was a big Diablo Cyclist crowd tonight and also the gang from Rivendell Bicycle Works including local legend Grant Peterson. Grant was wearing hiker shorts and a button-down shirt (unbuttoned), he was soaking with sweat and his bike had quill pedals with no toe clips - he really is like the image he presents in his newsletter and catalogue. JB showed up a few minutes later and we all discussed the heat. One guy had a Mikkelson frame with those things that allow you to "break" your bike and pack it into a small box; I can't remember what they're called now but I've never seen them in person before and they seemed really interesting and functional.

Everyone left the Junction after they got cooled off and JB and I went down North Gate. We found Nicole still struggling about a half mile down and the heat seemed to be affecting her pretty badly; she said she was getting nauseous and light-headed and had stopped in the shade a while back. We came with her back to the Junction, drank some more water and then went back down. There was some talk about going out for a beer but it didn't materialize. I rode back to the office and grabbed my backpack and then rode home.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Diablo Bump de Bump - 37 miles

Well it's Memorial Day and the plan was to meet JB at the gate at 8, ride to the Junction and then down the South Gate to meet up with Rick and Nicole and then come back up and over. Well JB didn't show up so I rode North Gate Road by myself - didn't think I was doing a super effort but I did 41'28" which is definitely a decent time. There were a lot of riders on the mountain, a few joggers and hikers also, but almost no cars. A lot of the riders seemed to be first timers and I passed quite a few on the way up and gave them all friendly encouragements. Up around chainbuster turn I caught a guy on an Air Friday - a folding bike with a Softride type of seat suspension - interesting bike. I waited around the Junction until 9 o'clock thinking JB might shop up but he didn't.

Nicole said she and Rick would be at the Athenian School at the bottom of South Gate Road by 9:30 so I rode down to meet them. About halfway down I saw a guy coming up on a unicycle - there are a couple of these guys who do that for the Diablo Challenge in October so I suspect he was one of them. At the school I waited around until 9:40 and decided Rick and Nicole weren't going to come either so I went back up by myself. A couple fast guys passed me toward the bottom but I still held a pretty good pace at 39:28 from the lower gate. Then I rolled right on through the Junction without stopping and continued down the other side on my way home. There were even more riders coming up North Gate Road by this time (and lots more cars too) and I noticed quite a few weren't wearing helmets. That kind of bothered me because helmets have been so in the news recently. Some of them were obviously beginners who probably hadn't ever considered helmet use, some were more experienced riders who had their helmets strapped to their handlebars (ostensibly to use on the way back down), and at least a couple of them were excellent riders who eschewed helmet usage for some unknown reason… it's so rare to see a helmetless rider anymore and to see so many of them on one day, like I said, kind of bothered me. Other than that it was a great day on the bike - as a bonus, I clicked over 500 miles on my Flight Deck's odometer which of course equals the total mileage on my Klein.


Saturday, May 24, 2003

May 24, 2003 - Diablo Junction and the long way home 40 miles

Well we had planned to do a summit ride today; Rick and Nicole are still in Hawaii so it was going to be just JB and me. On the way to the gate I caught up with James who hasn't ridden with us in several years - he's training for America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe next week and needed some preparation. Anyway it was pretty windy and we took a very easy pace up to the bump. Then JB and I picked it up a little and lost James but didn't push it too hard. It started to warm up and the wind started to die down by the Junction so things looked good for the rest of the ride.

There was a boy scout there who was doing his Eagle Scout project and he had elected to build two benches at the Junction station and another one at the summit. As part of his project he had to raise the money for materials and build them himself so he was soliciting funds from us riders. He needed $700 and I hope he makes it - I think I'll send him a check.

Peter then came up from South Gate and said that it was really cold and windy on the summit road, and really cold and wet (!) down South Gate Road (he had already ridden NGR to Summit and descended SGR and come back up - and it was only 9 o'clock!). Peter went up to the summit again and James went down north. Anyway JB and I decided to brave the cold and wet rather than the cold and windy so we went south. Jeez - the difference was incredible! The trees were dripping condensation, the road was wet, the fog was so thick that the visibility was less than 20 feet - it took us quite a while to get down to the hole in the fence. It was quite a bit warmer and calmer around Alamo and Walnut Creek so we had a good trip back home. I rode a few laps around the neighborhood to bring my ride up to 40 miles for the day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

May 21, 2003 - Diablo Bump de Bump

Bump de bump is what we call it when we ride up North Gate Road to the Junction, then go down South Gate Road and then turn around and come back up South Gate Road. Today was the regular Wednesday after work ride and I got a head start on everybody, passing the gate at about 5:30. The DCers were congregating at the church and I'm not sure when they got started but Mark passed me at about mile 4. Adam passed me about 8 minutes after that and JB passed me up around the ranches. About 4 or 5 of the faster DCers passed me too before I got to the Junction. I started out pretty fast but it was really hot with almost no breeze and I could feel my energy just melting away. Quite a difference from last week when I was wishing I had long finger gloves and arm warmers! There was a big crowd at the Junction and almost everybody went down South Gate Road but I was the only one who turned around at the park boundary gate and came back up. South Gate Road had a lot more shade since it's more on the eastern side of the ridge and the sun was a little lower by the time I came back up...also seemed to be greener than North Gate Road.

Junction time from North Gate: 43'55" - barely in the respectable range
Junction time from South Gate: 39'20" - almost a mile shorter

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Saturday, May 17, 2003

May 17, 2003 - Lodi Sunrise Century

This is the first century in nine years that I’ve done by myself. My regular riding buddy Rick is in Hawaii with his family and I couldn’t convince any of my other bike friends to do this one so it was just me and about 500 strangers.

I always enjoy the early morning drive to begin a century. Today’s trip was just over an hour and I left at 5am. As I headed northeast, I watched the sun come up through patchy clouds while Paula Abdul motivated me with 90dB of dance music. Check in at Lodi High was very smooth and quick – I think that was mostly a function of a much smaller turn out than Tierra Bella six weeks ago rather than anything the Rotary Club had done differently. They had coffee and bagels and fruit to get us going.

Segment 1: This was 20 miles of mostly flat riding on wide roads with almost no traffic. I took off at 6:30 and it was still pretty cold but I knew it would warm up shortly. There were lots of curvy roads through vineyards and orchards and quaint farmhouses. It reminded me quite a bit of rural Iowa where I grew up (except Iowa has soybeans and corn instead of grapes and peaches). Anyway, I maintained a pretty good pace through here just to keep warm and didn’t worry about burning myself out. The first rest stop was at a fire station and the only thing I wished they had but didn’t was some more coffee because it hadn’t warmed up yet. I did have some muffin pieces and some juice and stuffed a granola bar in my pocket. I dawdled for exactly 7 minutes and then headed out again. Average speed for this segment was 19.4 mph and that was with no drafting at all.

Segment 2: As we entered into Amador County the roads started to undulate a bit, which really broke up the monotony of riding solo. Each little roller got progressively longer and steeper but they were all gradual grades that I could hammer up in a big gear and swoop down the other side. We passed what appeared to be a shooting range down hill from the route and I thought I heard some bullets whizzing into the ditch beside me but I decided it was just my imagination. When we got near Pardee Reservoir we got to the only serious climbing of the whole ride with about a 2-mile climb that had me in my lowest gear for a while. Then we rode across the top of the dam on a 1-lane road that looked down on the water, which was full of fishing and recreational boats. Lots of interesting road kill along this stretch: a deer, a coyote, several skunks, and dozens of squirrels, all in various states of consumption by the raptor population. A few more rollers coming down the other side brought us to the Wallace rest stop. Average speed for this segment was 16.3 mph over the 31 miles, again with no drafting and lots of easy to moderate climbing. I easily made my goal of 50 miles before 10am. There were only about a half dozen riders at the rest stop and it was oddly quiet… very little conversation and I noticed that there wasn’t any music playing; most of the rest stops at other centuries have at least a boom box or something to liven things up a bit and I didn’t realize how much I appreciated that until it was missing.

Segment 3: Things flatted out again for this 24-mile piece. It was plenty warm by now but the wind was also starting to pick up. It was in this part of the route that I caught the only paceline of the entire day – there were four other guys and me and I thought the other four guys were together but we came to a turn and three of them went straight – I found out later that they were taking a shortcut so they must have known the roads. Anyway I only worked with this group for about 5 miles before things broke up. Through this part of the route the organizers had added some little detours to bring the total mileage up and I noticed in several places that folks were skipping the detours and taking the more direct routes. That’s their choice I guess, but I was here for the whole experience and wasn’t about to cheat myself out of the full century. There was also one really boring 9-mile stretch of Clements road that was also very windy, and somewhere in here the 100 km route joined up with us so there were a lot more riders. At the final rest stop (again, no music!) there were a lot more bikes parked and people were talking and joking – the 100 km riders had only done 37 miles by this point. I had another sandwich and some fruit and steeled myself for the windy ride back to the finish. It was only a little after 11am and only 25 miles to go so it looked like I was going to finish earlier than I predicted. In fact, it looked like I was riding my fastest century ever! Average speed for this segment was 19.3 mph.

Segment 4: OK, things were really windy now as we re-entered the orchard and vineyard territory. I passed a lot of people but two women behind me just wouldn’t let me go. They wound up passing me back at an intersection and I stopped at an official watering station to fill my bottle and gulp down a Clif Shot. I usually save the frosting for the last 10 or 15 miles and it gives me an extra boost of energy and attitude that really helps – and it worked again today. I blew by those two women in short order and kept up a decent pace all the way back to Lodi. As I got closer to the finish I noticed that I was on track to finish in 6-1/2 hours total time – that would be a personal best – so I put my head down and did it. I finished feeling good but tired. At the post-ride meal they had spaghetti and salad that was good but not fancy (exactly what I like a post-ride meal to be), and they even had Coke! Most rides are too cheap to provide Coke. There was also a couple there selling raffle tickets for a Trek tandem – it was a slightly used, older model but in very good shape. They said they were only going to sell 300 tickets for $10 apiece and it was to raise money for a woman who needed a prosthetic eye. How could I resist? I don’t know where I’d put it – my garage is crammed full of junk, but I’ll figure something out. As I was changing clothes I realized that my Clif Shot envelope wasn't completely empty and it had leaked into my jersey pocket; my jersey and bib shorts were stuck to my skin with dried up goo! Reminder to self: make sure to suck out all the stuff before stuffing it in my pocket.

This route reminded me a lot of Foxy’s Fall Century – flat and windy through orchards and vineyards, but there weren’t nearly as many riders. It was about the best weather we could have asked for I guess and I did enjoy the ride, but I’ll probably not do it again - I really prefer the rides that attract big fields.

Total Distance: 102.9 miles
Total Time: 6h 30m
Ride Time: 5h 46m
Avg Speed: 17.8 mph

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Thursday, May 15, 2003

May 15, 2003 - Commute on Bike to Work Day

I ride my bike to work most days - year 'round average is about 70% of my commute trips. I usually drive if it's raining, or if I have some particular need to like a dentist appointment or something. On Wednesdays in the summer I bring my Klein in on the roof of my car so I can drive out to Mt. Diablo for the afternoon ride. Anyway, today was bike to work day and I've always ridden to work on bike to work day, rain or shine for the past 12 years or so, so I wasn't going to miss this one. And of course today is the day my rear tire decides to go flat. Right on Bancroft Road which is the segment with the most vehicle traffic. We've been at the new office for three years now so that's probably 500 round trips that I've made along this route and this is the only time I can remember getting a flat on my commute in that time.

As I was sitting there changing the tube on the grass in front of some condos, I kept thinking that the drivers were looking at me and shaking their heads and saying to themselves "Bike to work day my ass - I could get a flat tire like that guy... No thanks, I'll drive my car." Oh well... sigh. I did get some decent schwag at the energizer station - a granola bar, a bottle of water, and a lapel pin. One year I won a $10 gift certificate from Encina Bikes, and last year I got a T-shirt. There were a few more bikes on the trail this morning than usual, but there weren't any unfamiliar bikes in the rack at work. Another luke-warm response to the Bike to Work Day promotion. I guess gas will have to get a lot more expensive before people start looking for alternatives.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

May 14, 2003 - Diablo Junction plus, 19 miles

Wednesday at 5:30 JB and I met at the gate, Adam was a little late but we knew he'd catch us, Nicole is leaving for Hawaii tomorrow so she didn't come. It was supposed to be very warm today (near 80°F) so I wore my sleeveless jersey and didn't bring armwarmers or anything... it turned out to be cold and very windy. We passed quite a few riders on the way up, then Adam and Mark rode up on us near the lower ranch. I stayed with them for a while but couldn't hang on all the way, JB stayed with them longer than I did but he too fell off the pace. My Junction time was 45'30". There were a bunch of Diablo Cyclists that arrived at the Junction shortly after we did, we all socialized for a while and then JB and Adam went back down North Gate while I went up to the top of the horseshoe by myself.

On the way down the fog started coming in and I stopped again at the Junction to warm up. I watched a racoon raid the garbage can and then finished my descent back to the car on Doncaster. It was one of those windy days where you have to be careful around every corner because the wind shifts and can catch you leaning too much. Not a supreme effort today, but I'm confident I'll do well in the century on Saturday.

Cipollini lost the sprint by millimeters in this morning's Giro d'Italia stage!!

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Saturday, May 10, 2003

May 10, 2003 - Diablo Junction, 45 miles

JB and I met at the gate at 7:30 to get a little warm up ride in before Rick and Nicole got there. We rode to the top of the bump and then turned around. Rick and Nicole showed up with Peter and we all started out (again) together. Rick had his new Campagnolo Neutron wheels on with some narrow 20mm tires so I knew right away he was out for blood. We didn't start out that fast but before long Rick really took off. I stayed with him, not realizing he was going for a PB at first, until the top of the bump and then I sat up. He finished in 38'12" which is about 20 seconds better than my PB. I stayed ahead of Peter and JB though, and did a 41'40". Just as Nicole was getting to the Junction Me and Rick and Peter took off for Juniper; JB went down South Gate and Nicole went back for coffee and breakfast. Peter and Rick didn't stop at Juniper - they just kept on going but I pulled over and after a short rest, turned around. Rick put an old cassette on his new wheels and he only had a 23t big cog so I wonder if he had a little trouble making it up the summit wall?

Back at the bottom I ran into Sarkis who admired my new bike and told me about the Wine Country Century he did last week (it rained).

Amy said I had to be home by 11 o'clock so I rode around town and through the neighborhood until the last minute so I could get some extra miles in. I should be in good condition for the century next week - but more miles now would make things easier then.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

May 7, 2003 - Diablo Junction 16 miles

Another Wednesday night ride. It was cool enough to keep my jersey zipped up all the way but not cold enough for a jacket. I ate way too much lunch - spaghetti and pizza, and I really felt sluggish most of the ride. I started with Nicole and JB and by the lower washout it was just me and JB. I kept getting ahead of him but he always caught up. Mark A. of Diablo Cyclists (and also my neighbor) passed us both going easlily twice as fast as we were - he's a very impressive climber. Adam caught up to us both near the lower ranch and even he said there was no way he could keep up with Mark. I worked with Adam and got a big gap on JB again but couldn't keep up the pace more than a mile or so and JB passed me up just below chainbuster. Junction time was 42'07". Adam finished a minute or so before me and he had turned around to meet up with me so we could have a little sprint to the line; he nipped me by the width of a tire!

At the Junction were several Diablo Cyclists including Mark and the guy who was the captain for Team in Training who had come up the South Gate Road without any team! He said they were all no-shows. One guy who I see a lot up there recognized me and knew that I was riding a new bike - he said "That's not your Merckx." I told him that my Merckx was now my foul-weather bike. Anyway, I had to turn around a little early to be home by 7 o'clock because Amy had an appointment with a personal trainer at the club.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2003

This week I've been riding my Eddy Merckx in to work. Today, less than 1/4 mile from the office my chain broke completely apart. I sort of expected it to happen because I had noticed a bad link and tried to repair it over the weekend, but it had been acting funny the last few rides so I was taking it easy. The outer plates of one link had started to pull away and I figure I damaged it when I installed the chain on a few months ago. Anyway I was just spinning up this little hill, trying not to put too much tension on the chain and POP it let loose. Went to Performance at lunch time and had the shop guy "Jim" put on a new Dura Ace chain for me. $10 labor $30 for the chain (they were out of the cheaper ones). Adam and I went halfsies on a big can of Accelerade - I'll write a review on it later, maybe use it on the Lodi Sunrise Century next weekend.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Rode my commute bike in to work today, not a big ride but April's weather was so crappy I hardly got to do even that.
My wife's folks sent me $50 for a birthday present and said to buy some bike stuff with it... I'm thinking SPD shoes.

Hey! - I figured out how to add a counter to this page!
Took some doing but it worked.
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Now I've got to figure out how to do a link for e-mail and some metatags for search engines, then this page will be slammin'!