Saturday, June 28, 2003

Diablo Junction, Blackhawk, Danville Blvd - 40 miles

Just me and JB today and he had to prepare for his birthday party tonight so he didn't want to get done too late. We had discussed doing the summit so I ate an extra bowl of generic Cheerios and a banana for breakfast. On the way out to the mountain I came across a pretty large Leukemia Team In Training group and figured they would be riding with us but they turned east on Ygnacio.

It was already hot on North Gate Road by 8 am and I was feeling the effects even in my sleeveless Zoic jersey (X-mas present from my brother - thanks Clark). I had two bottles packed full of iced Cytomax and the coolness really felt good going down. Then JB announced that he was going to go down South Gate to Blackhawk and stop at a friend's house in Danville so I said I'd come with him. That would give me extra miles without having to suffer the heat on Summit Road.

There were not as many Death Ride types training today as I would have expected. Usually the Death Ride is cold and rainy so maybe it wouldn't have been good training anyway. We didn't hang around the Junction for very long and as I rolled down I got that great chill that happens when you're all sweaty and you suddenly get a blast of air to evaporate it. We set a sub-blistering pace through Blackhawk until we got to the end of Crow Canyon where JB turned off. I kept on going to Danville Blvd where there were hundreds of cyclists going south - some really big groups, a lot of smaller groups, and a lot of solo riders. I think it may have been some kind of benefit ride or something.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Wednesday June, 25 2003 Diablo Junction 36 miles.

Sorry for the late post, BLOGGER.COM was unavailable on Wednesday for editing.

While flipping through my bike notebook on Tuesday night I noticed something that really shocked me: the tooth progression on my cassette was not what I thought it was! I've got a 9-speed 12x27 and I thought that the four lowest gears were 21-23-25-27 but it turns out they're 19-21-24-27. That means that most of the time I've been riding one gear higher than I thought I was! When I climbed up the bump (10%) on Diablo in a 23, I was really in a 21! Suddenly I feel much more studly. We'll see how this new knowledge affects what gears I actually use now. So anyway Tuesday night I re-programmed my Flight Deck to show the correct gears.

Usually on Wednesdays I drive to work with my bike on the roof but today was a "Spare the Air" day so I decided to ride in on my Klein. As the day heated up I started to imagine how hot it was going to get in the afternoon on the mountain. JB left early and went home before starting the ride and Nicole was going to wait until 6 hoping it would start to cool off by then. I had two bananas, a Powerbar, and a Clif Bar for lunch, another Powerbar at 3:30, and a Clif Shot at 5 o'clock. I skipped the Coke today because I thought it was giving me a stomach ache. Turns out I got one anyway on the ride so that's good - I can go back to drinking a can before my ride now.

As I got to North Gate Road I saw all the Diablo Cyclists gathering at the church. I rode on up to the gate where JB and Sarkis were chatting. We decided not to wait and began our ride at a pace appropriate for the heat. Sarkis told me he's getting serious about buying a new bike and I think he's pretty much sold on a Calfee. He's such a great climber on his heavy old steel Colnago that he's truly worthy of something as nice as a Calfee. JB had a BBQ to go to after the ride so he dropped Sarkis and me at the ranches. Sarkis kept looking back for the big pack of DCers to pass us up but it never came - they were all being ultra careful with the heat also. Finally at Chainbuster a group of 4 guys including Ron and the tall guy with the new Romulus caught up with us and I picked up my speed to stay with them until the Junction. Training Note: Seems like that was about the right amount of lunch to have.

JB turned around pretty quick to get to his party and I went down South Gate to the kiosk where I turned around and filled up my water bottle. South Gate Road was much shadier and even pleasantly cool in spots. I could tell though that my muscles were starting to rebel because they pretty much did what they wanted to and didn't pay much attention when I tried to accelerate. I saw all the DCers coming down as I was on my way back up and then I finally found Nicole about a mile below the Junction on North Gate Road. She had stopped a couple times to rest in the shade and didn't make it all the way so we both went back down. I then rode back to the office to get my backpack and then home for a 36 mile day. Looks like I'll have better than 400 miles for the month (with no centuries!) and way over 1800 for the year before July 1. I think my next century will be the Marin Century on August 3; I did this once 10 years ago on the back of a tandem with JB on the hottest day in history. Hopefully this time will be a little less life-threatening.

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Saturday, June 21, 2003

Diablo Summit - 33 miles

Once again it was a cool, breezy morning on Devil’s Mountain. Nicole had told us she wouldn’t be coming but that Rick would be and that usually meant some extra mileage somewhere so I fueled up with a Powerbar and a bowl of leftover pasta with butter.

I got to the Gate right at 8 and JB soon came down the hill – he had ridden part way up to get an extra couple of miles making his total for the week an even 100 (his week starts at 8 am on Saturday I guess, so if he rides some miles before then they count as last week’s.

Rick hadn’t shown up by 8:10 and I was feeling a little stiff and sore from a minor crash on the way to work yesterday (pulled a cleat while out of the saddle), so we decided to start up and take it slowly figuring Rick would catch us. JB recently bought a new cassette with a lower gear (13-26 I think, to replace his 12-23) but he hadn’t installed it yet. He was in his 23t pretty early in the ride and having a tough time already when he realized he was still in the big ring! Around about Moss landing JB spotted Rick in his helmet mirror and we didn’t let on that we knew he was coming. Rick was going fast trying to catch us but we kept our slow pace until he got about 10 meters back and then JB said “now!” and we both sprinted for about 30 seconds just to make Rick crazy. Turns out he had met up with Joe (a work buddy of Rick’s who did the Tierra Bella Century with us in April) and Joe was right behind him. So we all rode up pretty much together although things started to split up after the bump. I did a 45m30s and that was fine given the wind, cold, and soreness. Rick had lost his cycle computer sometime after last week’s ride but when he pulled out his cleat covers from his jersey it fell out! The computer must have been nested inside the covers because he was wearing a different jersey.

It was foggy and damp at the Junction so we all decided to climb Summit Road. We popped out of the fog layer at about 2500 feet and the rest of the ride was very pleasant. We all stayed together until after Juniper when Rick and Joe dropped off a little bit. I was keeping it pretty slow, saving myself for the wall and JB seemed content to ride at my pace. When we got to the bottom of the wall I rode a couple loops around the lower parking lot to prepare myself and put some distance between JB and me. He was about 50 meters up when I started but he clearly was having trouble and I wound up PASSING JB ON THE WALL!!!!!!! First time THAT’S ever happened. I’ll bet he has his 26t on before next time.

At the Summit we met one of the Rivendell Romulus guys who was at the Junction on Wednesday – we talked bike fit for a while (he also has a carbon/Ti Colnago) and told us that he was preparing for Paris-Brest-Paris! A super comfortable well-fitting bike would certainly help when you’re riding 1200km through the north of France. He said he was hoping to complete it in 80 hours.

On the way back home I drafted a city bus for almost 2 miles at 35 mph! I kept humming that Italian symphony from Breaking Away... didididiDA didididiDA didididiDA DA DA!
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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Diablo Junction - 20 miles

Another butt-windy day on the mountain this afternoon. Strong gusts that seemed to change direction with every bend in the road and whittle away at one's motivation to push the pace. Also the pizza I ate at lunch was probably not the ideal pre-ride fuel (it was free though… leftovers from some corporate meeting).

Just as JB and I were approaching the starting line at the North Gate kiosk, Mark rode by with a couple other riders. I said to JB "When he gets to the line, watch… he'll hit the start button on his wristwatch and then he'll launch." It happened just like that too. Shortly after launch the other two guys got dropped like empty fuel tanks on the space shuttle.

So we rode at a brisk pace and stayed together until we got to the bottom of the bump. We saw Grant coming up behind us and JB said I would be a wuss if I let Grant pass me but I reminded him that Grant had those high-tech sandals and flat pedals so he clearly had the advantage. I had never noticed before how low Grant's bike was geared but he spun up the bump at a pretty high rpm and I could see that he had double chainrings but they weren't 39/53 - something much smaller like maybe 34/48 because his biggest cog didn't look any bigger than a 25. JB increased his speed enough to stay ahead but I reduced my speed enough to stay behind. I rode the rest of the ride solo but passed quite a few riders before I got to the Junction. After the bump I tried to maintain a high steady aerobic pace and didn't do any intervals or even get out of the saddle very often. I finished in 42m45s which was a pretty reasonable time for me given the windy conditions.

There was a virtual retro love-fest at the Junction; at least six steel bikes (four were Rivendells), and at least four wool jerseys. One guy named Sean (or Shaun or whatever) on a Rivendell Romulus lives in Taiwan and is some kind of QC manager for bike companies doing business there. I also noticed that Mark's Rivendell had little add-on brake levers so he could brake while riding the tops of his handlebars - I'm not sure how he got two sets of brake levers to work one set of brakes but that's the way it was set up. Must be some kind of cyclocross thing.

JB and I went back down to collect Nicole who got a late start and we found her down by the ranches. We all rode back up to the Junction together but everyone else had already left by the time we got there.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Pinehurst, Grizzly Peak, Wildcat, The Bears, and Pig Farm - 56 miles

When we want to do something different and challenging this is our preferred loop. It’s an East Bay institution that most riders in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are familiar with. Nicole, Rick, JB, and I met up in Walnut Creek and I was the only one who didn’t have any cold weather gear; everyone else had arm warmers and vests or jackets. We rode the trails to Moraga where we caught Canyon Road. Starting here we started to see a lot of other riders with club jerseys from Cal, Berkeley Bicycle Club, Delta Peddlers, Valley Spokesmen, and Oakland Yellow jackets. Just before the big climb up Pinehurst in fact, we saw a huge pack of BBC riders going so fast and tight that I wondered if there were a road race going on.

JB decided to give Rick and me a big lead out and he pulled us really fast for a couple of miles before the climbing up Pinehurst started, he was either feeling really good or really nuts. I slowed way down to recover a bit before the climb and didn’t push it too hard because it was still early in the ride. We hung around at the intersection with Skyline for a while and watched dozens of people ride by in different directions; I hardly ever see this many riders on Mt. Diablo.

Heading down Skyline we missed the turn to Grizzly Peak Road and descended about half way down Tunnel Road before we realized it. It only added about 10 minutes to our ride but Nicole got pretty frustrated and decided she needed to quit early so when we got back to the Grizzly Peak intersection she went back down toward Pinehurst as the fastest return to her car. So now JB and Rick and I were going to have a hammerfest through Tilden (hit 48mph on South Park), down Wildcat (where we saw the Diablo Cyclist group ride coming up), and on to the Bears. We stopped at Briones for a water refill and Rick realized he had lost the screw top to his bottle! I loaned him one of mine but he filled up his topless one also figuring it would only spill on big bumps or steep climbs! We saw a lot of other riders along this section also, including a tandem that was SCREAMING down Papa Bear.

Pig Farm was… well, Pig Farm. It had started to get pretty warm by this time so it was everything I always remember Pig Farm being (hot and steep). From then on we all took turns attacking each other over the rolling hills through Martinez and back to Walnut Creek. Rick said his altimeter had recorded just over 4,000 feet of climbing in just under 50 miles. He noted that if we did it twice it would be like a century with 8,000 feet of climbing and that would be a tough century, and he was right.

Product Review: That Accelerade stuff is a lot better on a long ride than a short one. I don’t think it does much for me on Mt. Diablo but it did seem to provide some boost on Bear Creek Road. I think I’ll save the rest of my can for longer, tougher rides and then decide if I’ll buy any more based on those results. For most of my riding, Cytomax is hard to beat.

Later in the day I hooked up the kiddie trailer to my Rockhopper and pulled my daughter a (flat) mile and a half to the park – my legs complained the whole way!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Diablo Junction, down South Gate Road, Danville Blvd, Iron Horse and Canal Trails

Pre-ride preparation: skip lunch, Pepsi at 3:30, Powerbar and coffee at 4:30, Clif Shot and bottle of water at 5:15 in the car.

OK, windy and chilly today but not too bad. I drove to the start as usual, met Nicole a little ways up the road where she parks, and then JB and Adam showed up. Adam wanted to wait for Mark again so he could challenge himself but the rest of us started up at an easy pace. Around the dumpster gate trail head JB and I increased our speed and then a couple of the Diablo Cyclist regulars came by just before the bump. One of the guys started to lose contact with his buddy so I hopped on the faster guy's wheel and got paced up to the top of the bump and past the upper wash out. He was able to maintain his speed but I wasn't and I drifted off the back. There was a steady stiff wind the whole way up; not any powerful gusts but just a strong breeze whose vector seemed to oppose my own at every bend of the road. JB soon caught me and we both tried to catch the fast guy again. I couldn't match JB's speed for long either and by the time we got to the switchbacks above the ranches he had opened up a gap. Approaching Chainbuster I noticed that the guy who fell behind at the bump was catching up to me so I played rabbit and tried to stay ahead but he did catch on and we rode together for a while, drawing encouragement from each other. He had a black Trek OCLV bike that was really noisy - I don't know if it was the frame or his wheels but it sounded like a rusty hinge with every pedal stroke. Adam came around both of us at this point shouting "No Mark today!" and *poof* he was gone. At the ranger house just below the Junction the guy with me got some bad leg cramps and got off his bike completely - I made sure he was OK and then hammered in to the finish for a 43'22", the other guy walked the rest of the way in.

Hanging around the Junction there were about a dozen riders and they started to put on their arm warmers and vests. Adam and I decided to go down South Gate but we were way behind the DC riders who had already left. It was foggy and cold on the descent but nothing to complain about. We hammered through Diablo Road, Green Valley Road, and Stone Valley Road to Danville Blvd and split up at Rudgear. As I got on the trail I noticed the other DC riders were on the South Broadway Extension so I sped down the trail to try and meet them at the end. Well they caught the light and I didn't so I gave up. I did catch up with them on the Canal Trail just before Countrywood though and one woman (I think she said her name was Jeanie) had parked at the church so I rode with her down Bancroft and Walnut. About a half mile before the traffic circle I ran over something in the road and got a pinch flat so I pulled over. Jeanie made sure I was all set with repair stuff and then bid me farewell. As I was fixing my tire on the sidewalk I saw Grant and Mark and another guy riding down the other side of the street, apparently having just finished coming down North Gate Road… they waved and smiled.

OK, so this was the first time I've had a chance to use my CO2 inflator - I was careful to remember the procedure, I blew air into the empty tube to give it some shape, installed it carefully, inserted the cartridge into my inflator, set everything at the proper angle and pressed the lever. PFFFFHHHT it was done! Less than a second, I think, and the tire was fully inflated! I can't believe I futzed around for all these years with different frame pumps and mini pumps. Lessons Learned: CO2 inflators are the coolest. I remembered to re-stock my seat bag when I got home. Pre-ride food consumption needs to be bumped up just a bit for these longer rides - legs got a bit rubbery during harder efforts on the flats.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Aborted Bicycle Commute- 2 miles

OK, ever since I had the Dura Ace (9-speed) chain put on my Eddy Merckx (see blog dated 5/6/2003) it's been nothing but trouble. Eddy has 8-speed Ultegra shifters and rear derailleur with a Campy Athena crank and front derailleur (I used this setup with 8-speed chains without problems for years before I bought my Klein). Anyway I was throwing the chain nearly every ride and it was really pissing me off. I adjusted and readjusted my front derailleur and it would seem fine on the workstand but I would still throw the chain on the road. So today on the way in to work I shift up to the big ring and it goes all the way over and down the crank arm. I tried the old downshift and scoop maneuver but it got worse so I had to stop. The chain had completely knotted up and I had to take my wheel off just to straighten it out. Of course I gouged a finger on a crank tooth while I was doing this. Wheel back on, chain unknotted, hands filthy with chain gook I set off for the rest of the trip and … more problems. Somehow I managed to twist a link in the chain as well and it made the bike almost unrideable. I limped back home, washed my hands, and got the car keys.

Lesson learned: 9-speed chains should be used only on 9-speed drives.

From Shimano's FAQ:
The 9-speed chain is ~0.5 mm narrower and so is the front derailleur cage.
Using a 9-speed chain with 8-speed front derailleur and crankset will result in sluggish shifting and the adjustment is more critical. You may have to continue to hold the shift lever in an "overshift" until the shift is complete. In the worst case, some 8-speed chain rings have shown a tendency for "chain jamming" during downshifts with a 9 speed chain.

The Performance catalogue even has a note not to run Shimano 9-speed chains on 8-speed drivetrains. Sheesh. I gotta go buy a new chain.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Saturday morning ride to the Summit - 36 miles

It was one of those strange weather days on the mountain today. Cool but pleasant at the bottom, heavy fog in the middle, sunny and very warm at the top.

On Saturday mornings JB and I like to ride part way up and turn around before Rick and Nicole get there. I was a little late today and JB had already left. As I was spinning along I caught up to an older guy on a custom touring bike with panniers. He told me he had just returned from a cycle tour of New Zealand and the people there were wonderful, inviting him in to their homes for meals and sleeping arrangements. He had some good stories but then I saw JB coming down so I turned around too.

We rode down to where Nicole and Rick park and while they were getting ready about a half dozen riders went by on their way up the mountain. So JB, Rick, Nicole, and I all started off again leaving the gate at about 8:10. We were making a very easy pace until we got to the dips when I picked it up a bit. Surprisingly no one matched my speed and I had a big gap opened up. I passed the riders that started up earlier and pushed it kind of hard up the bump but I always expected Rick and JB to catch me before too long. From the upper wash out on up I just tried to keep a good pace and I finished ahead of everyone with a 40’40” at the Junction; another top ten ride!

The fog was very thick at the Junction and talk soon turned to riding “up to the sun” so I took a hit of Clif Shot (skipped brekkie this morning) and prepared myself mentally for the trip to the summit. Nicole hadn’t arrived yet but the other three of us meandered up Summit Road at a comfortable pace. Rick and JB started getting ahead of me once we got past Juniper and I resolved to save myself for the wall so I rode easily and alone for the last couple of miles and didn’t have any trouble with the final stretch. I usually just put my head down and count pedal strokes because I know that in my 39/27 gear it takes 180 strokes (90 full crank revolutions) to get from the barrier gate to the upper parking lot (273 meters by my math) and if I look at how steep it is I think I’ll never make it. Ride time to the Summit was 1h21m.

I saw the cycle tourist again up by the Summit and some of the other riders we’d passed earlier. There was also a cross-country foot race/run going on and there were dozens of runners all over the upper half of the mountain. JB talked to one guy who said the full route was two laps from Mitchell Canyon to the Summit and back to make it a 50km “fun run”.

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Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Editorial Comments

Today at the bike rack at work for the first time I saw an e-Bike locked up. I have no idea whom this might belong to but it was kind of fun to see it. I've always wondered who buys these things, I've only seen a few on the trails around here and so I'm glad someone thought it would make a good commute vehicle.

Also today the little shim/washer thing that goes between the SPD cleat and the shoes got bent and sort of wrapped around part of the cleat engagement surface making it impossible to get completely clipped in - I kept pulling out of the pedal like I only had half a cleat. Anybody know what that thing is for? I think I'll just take it out.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Mt. Diablo Juniper - 20 miles

Well I missed last Saturday's ride to attend a kiddy party with my daughter so I was determined to make this a good one. The last couple of Wednesday night rides have been very hot and to add to the misery I ate too much lunch also which made me feel lethargic and slow. Today was perfect weather - about 78° with a mild breeze. Adam was planning on riding with Mark and breaking the 30-minute barrier, JB and I talked about going to Juniper and then turning back to Junction to meet up with Nicole. My plan was to skip lunch altogether and then eat some quick energy foods right before the ride... I figured I could make a sugar rush last for at least 40 minutes and who cared if I bonked after that, right? So I worked through lunch and drank a lot of water. Then at 4 o'clock I had a Power Bar (Vanilla Crisp flavor, the best one), and then just as I was leaving work I grabbed a Pepsi and took it in the car with me. I drank the Pepsi and did a hit of Clif Shot on the way to the mountain and I was feeling good! As I rode away from my car I noticed that my Flight Deck wasn't registering my speed. I stopped a minute and tried a bunch of tricks to get it going but couldn't make it work. I thought I may have to run on stopwatch only mode when I realized it was probably the battery in my wireless transmitter. I'm so glad I thought ahead and packed batteries in my seat bag because a quick battery change at the guard house got everything going again. If anyone can share their flight deck battery life statistics with me I'd appreciate it. I installed this one in November so that's 6 months but I didn't ride this bike until the end of February so that's only 3 months. I don't know if the transmitter is "on" all the time or not but even 6 months seems a little short - maybe the batteries that come with the computer aren't as good as the ones you buy to replace them... I hope so. I have spare batteries for the computer head (which does go into sleep mode if you're not riding) in my saddle bag too so I'm prepared.

Everyone else was a little behind schedule it seemed, because I left the gate at 5:30 by myself. I passed up a couple of posers and was closing in on a guy in a bright orange jersey at the foot of the bump (section of 10% grade at mile 3). Just as I was ready to overtake him, Adam and Mark came dieseling up behind me and I hopped on the train. We all hammered up the bump together in big gears but I soon faded and I noticed that Adam had fallen off Mark's wheel before long also. The orange jersey guy sucked my wheel the rest of the ride while I maintained a decent but not great pace. The Pepsi I drank was starting to give me a stomach ache and it was limiting the intensity of my harder efforts. I settled down into a more steady pace for the rest of the ride.

JB passed me just above Clavicle Cracker like he was doing a good time, we exchanged words and it was over that quick. Around Chainbuster (steep sharp hairpin at mile 6) the two Diablo graybeards (Ron and Brian I think) motored by and I still had that orange jersey guy on my wheel; I think he was using me to pace himself because we weren't going fast enough to get much draft. Finally Grant Peterson came around me with his inimitable style and his sandals and I decided to uncork and drop my wheelsucker. I finished in 40'55 which is a top-ten ride of all time for me. Grant said he did a 38 something so he didn't really start too far behind me. The orange jersey guy didn't stop at the Junction but rode on up Summit Road. Mark did a 29'30" and Adam did 31'; there was a lot of joking about how old man Mark (44 years old, same as me!) could whoop ass on 23 year old Adam and Adam was a good sport about it, after all Mark whoops ass on everybody. Grant doesn't wear a helmet and JB asked him if his cotton sweat band was ANSI-approved... Grant didn't miss a beat and said "It's wool". JB asked the ranger for some paper to write down the name of the boyscout who was building the benches. I was happy to tell about how I'd already sent him my check.

After catching our collective breaths, JB and Adam and I headed up at a much slower pace to Juniper. JB had wasted himself with his effort to the Junction (36-something) and flared out on Summit Road. We all stayed together until the middle of the Blue Pine speedway and then Adam and I kicked it up. Wildlife Encounter - we saw a semi-dead (rattle?) snake on the road and vowed to remember it was there for the return trip back down. By the time we got to anti-gravity bend JB was a hundred meters back. Adam kicked it even higher as we approached Juniper and I couldn't respond. We all hung around Juniper for a while looking at the unusual cloud strata and then Adam decided to climb up to the Summit. JB and I went back to Junction, hooked up with Nicole and then rode down to Mary's for a beer. Next week I'm going to skip the Pepsi, or maybe have it a little earlier so it doesn't upset my stomach, but skipping lunch and doing a Power Bar-Clif Shot right before the ride worked well so I'll continue with that.

Well, SOMEBODY'S reading this blog - 20 hits since last week.
e-mail me at DiabloScott@Terra.ES