Saturday, June 05, 2004

Diablo Summit 32 miles

I was running late and didn’t get to the Gate until 10 minutes after eight o’clock this morning. JB had tickets to the afternoon A’s game, and he’s not yet fully recovered from his rib rattler so he got an early start. Rick was right on time but chased after JB rather than wait for me. So I rode the whole of North Gate Road solo. Lots of other riders on their way up this morning – regulars and newbies.

Wildlife Encounter #1: A small baby rattlesnake soaking up the sun below the Lower Ranch. Looked like it would get run over if it didn’t move because it was right in the tire zone. I didn’t stop to rescue him.

Quite breezy at the higher elevations… not enough to worry about bike handling but enough to slow me down. I crossed the line at the Junction in 43m30s with enough extra capacity to do whatever Rick decided he wanted to do.

JB went down shortly after I arrived. Rick and I watched a big group of total newbs talk about how difficult but fun the ride so far had been and they were anxious about the rest of the way up Summit Road. One guy said that he hadn’t been out of first gear since the first mile (he had a hybrid with a triple) and that people like “THOSE GUYS” (motioning to me and Rick) had passed him in “fifth gear”. It wasn’t Rick or I who passed him since he came up South Gate, he was lumping all road bike riders with climbing experience into a single group. I said “Hey, I try to be nice when I pass people. You guys are supposed to strive to be like us.” He got a chuckle out of that and then his whole group started up Summit Road.

Then Rick said “What’s next?” and I said that it was his call since last time I got my choice and we did Blackhawk. “Up” was his terse command, so we filled our bottles and pointed our bikes toward the Summit. A little ways up the road we came upon the first-gear-of-his-hybrid guy and as we passed I said (loudly) to Rick, “OK, make sure you’re in at least fifth gear when we pass this guy so he’ll be really impressed.” I don’t even know what fifth gear is on my bike but I figured the guy wouldn’t know a 17-tooth cog from a pie pan and he did seem to appreciate the humor.

It got even windier above 3,000 feet but some of it was a nice tailwind – including most of the Blue Oak Speedway. There was also some kind of footrace on and we saw lots of runners on the Summit Trail. I let Rick go up the Wall first, then I passed three people that I figured would be done when I started. It’s 180 pedal strokes (90 full crank revolutions, starting at the swinging gate) up the Wall in my 39x27 and I always count them so I don’t have to look… I just put my head down and count until I get to 180 and then I’m done. Summit time today was 83 minutes but that was a pretty relaxed tempo. I could have knocked off 10 minutes at a sustainable race pace, and South Gate is a few minutes faster too… the Diablo Challenge may be in my future if I think I can break 70 minutes. That $40 entry fee bugs me though.

Wildlife Encounter #2: A coyote darted across the road into the bushes just in front of Rick on the descent.

Coming down on Summit Road there was some kind of antique or kit car parade of about a dozen of these things coming up:
They were kind of interesting cars but I can't imagine wanting to spend a bunch of money and time building or restoring something like that. The drivers were all older men who probably had a lot of time on their hands and needed a hobby. It struck me later that they looked like Archie Andrews's old jalopy from the comic books.

Lots and lots of small squirrels running all over the road on the way down too. It must be the time of year that they get kicked out of the nest because these guys had NO sense of street safety. I’m sure the turkey vultures will be eating well for the next few weeks.

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