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.