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 apr├Ęs-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.)