Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bonus Blog Entry

Adam needed to replace his headset and was doing some Googling on the local bike shops to help him decide who should do the work. Well when he searched on “Encina Bicycle Center” he got one result which was “Diablo Scott’s Bike Blog” and discovered my secret. I haven’t told many of the people that are IN my Blog ABOUT my Blog because I thought if they knew they were being written about they might change their behavior just to see what I would write. I always did write with the idea that someday they would find the Blog though and I didn’t want to be embarrassed by or have to apologize for something I’d written. I think I’ve always maintained my objective to be complimentary to other riders (with the exception of goobers and posers) and not too full of myself even when I shine.

Well Adam came to talk to me and explained how he found my Blog and asked me more about Encina Bicycle Center and I told him they have some top notch mechanics who I would trust to do a great job on a headset replacement. He was hoping to find someone who would do a Ritchey Scuzzy Logic Pro headset for him since Ritchey sponsors his Organic Athlete cycling team, but he didn’t like the conversation he had with the person at the LBS that carried Ritchey components; nothing really bad, but it lacked the kind of self-assurance you want from someone who’s going to do perhaps the most delicate surgery a bike ever goes through. So after talking to me, Adam called Encina and talked to the mechanic himself and came away from the discussion with confidence that Encina would get the job. Later in the day he brought his bike up to the shop and talked to the same mechanic again and they worked out a service package that included installation of a Chris King (high zoot!) headset, truing his Dura Ace race wheels, truing his conventional every-day wheels, and straightening his derailleur hanger. The mechanic also spotted a couple of small cracks in his Slice fork (almost invisible to me even when I knew where they were) and pointed out a few other things for Adam to keep an eye on. So Adam wanted me to post a Blog entry where I give big props to Encina Bicycle Center, and I certainly think they deserve it. If you found this report useful, and it helped you decide to give Encina Bicycle Center some of your bike business, tell them “Diablo Scott sent me!”.

And another side note: I had to replace the battery in the head unit of my Flight Deck computer today. The “LoBatt” display is a really nice touch that I haven’t seen on other cyclo-computers and it means I was able to take care of it before it conked out (which would surely have been on a PB attempt). The bad news is that the previous battery only lasted 5 months… hmmm. By the way – I bought my Flight Deck computer at Encina and they even replaced the first one when the little “all clear” button got stuck and they programmed in the initial information for me. Plus they honored the sticker price that was on the box even though they had raised the price that comes up when they scan the bar code. They’re also a good source for HammerGel, my wife’s Trek Multi Track came from there as did her helmet and my daughter’s too.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

2004 Tour Napa Valley / Napa Century, 100 miles Ride Review

The contestants were Rick, Peter, JB, and me. Weather forecasters were predicting temperatures in the upper 90’s so we all decided we should get going as early as possible to avoid the heat. Check in opened at 6am so we planned to start the drive to Napa at 5. I picked up Peter at his house at a quarter of; there was a huge full moon just above the horizon and I knew it would be a special day. Then we went to JB’s house – actually it was so dark we went to the wrong house and woke up one of his neighbors by mistake (we thought he had overslept so we kept ringing the doorbell – oops!). So we added JB’s Atlantis and Rick’s Trek to my roof rack and took off. Four bikes on top of a mid-sized sedan – quite a site. It was crowded but I really liked how it looked and you can see up through the sunroof to keep an eye on the cargo. I’ve got it so that the bikes alternate facing front and rear and the handlebars are millimeters away from the spokes of the rear wheel on the adjacent bike. Anyway, we’re cruising along the Benicia Bridge when suddenly BANG!

It was like that BANG in Apollo 13 where you don’t know what happened but it’s gotta be bad. I looked in the rear view mirror expecting to see a bike bouncing along in the freeway lane – there was none. JB looked up through the sunroof and said with a quiver in his voice “My bike’s missing.” Peter looked up through the rear windshield and said “No, it’s still there!” I put on the 4-way flashers and crawled to a stop at the first safe place near the toll plaza. JB’s Atlantis had been mounted facing the rear, with the fork clamped on the rear rail but we hadn’t tied down the rear wheel in the tray. The bike flipped over from the wind, pivoting on the fork mount, and the brake hoods had slammed into the rear windshield in a weird sort of hand stand. But there was absolutely NO DAMAGE to his bike, either of the adjacent bikes, or the car! None of us could believe such a thing could happen without some kind of consequence, but it had. Well, that got the adrenaline going!

Pulling into the Veteran’s Home in Yountville, I could see why they closed registration early– at 6am the parking lots were already almost full. There was a huge line of cars waiting to get in and many of the riders had already started their journeys. We were fortunate to get a place near the exit of the dirt lot and we all rode to the registration area about a half mile away. The club was very efficient at getting us checked in and our official start time was 6:37. Since Rick didn’t get registered and wouldn’t be able to eat the rest stop food, he packed a hundred miles worth of water and calories into his back-country style Camelbak. He had spaghetti in a baggie, bread, ClifBars, Hammergel, fruit, and pretzels; very ambitious.

Leg 1: It was quite cool and foggy at this time in the morning but we knew we’d need sunscreen and no one brought any arm warmers. The first few miles were along a frontage road next to Highway 29 and we could see dozens of cars with bikes on them heading to the start. We turned off onto Mt. Veeder Road and everyone settled in for some tough climbing in cold weather. We hooked up with a big group of mostly Wheels of Thunder club riders but I didn’t like their traffic skills so I bridged up to a smaller group ahead that was going about the same pace. That group fell apart but I kept climbing and stayed ahead of my other three riding buddies past the summit to take the first KOM points. Rick caught me in the section before we got to the first rest stop but then we missed a turn and did a bonus mile so we got there about the same time that Peter and JB did. The rest stop was at some farm house and there was an exhibit of custom bikes by Inglis and even an antique, tiny car.

Leg 2: JB left the rest stop early and it looked like that was going to be his plan for the whole day – minimizing rest stop time for an early finish. Rick left before Peter and I did but we didn’t notice. This was going to be a mostly flat-to-rolling section headed up-valley so I started looking for a good group to ride with. There were a couple of false starts with packs that didn’t work out but then I saw a Duro and a guy with a French National Champion’s jersey on and worked in with them. We three poured it on and it was sweet hammering with these guys. After one of my pulls in front I dropped back to find we were suddenly a group of seven and we were ALL working together perfectly. We went from 100 rev pulls to 50 since we had more guys now and we got even faster. I was the only one with hairy legs but any doubts about my pace line skills were quickly squashed because I was clearly holding my own. So we seven worked it all the way to the second rest stop where things splintered apart. I’d gone 48 miles so far and it was only 9:30. The rest stop was at Lake Hennessey and it was well-stocked and not too crowded, but I did lose a cleat cover in there somewhere. I saw Jay from the Wednesday night ride here and we talked briefly. I ate some banana halves, a bagel, and some Chex mix, re-grouped with Peter and headed out with a huge group of Benicia Cyclists. I think it was at this rest stop that JB forgot both of his water bottles – Rick gave him his spare when he realized it.

Leg 3: Lots and lots of gradual climbing in this section. I was starting to feel a little muscle fatigue so I decided to back off and recover just a bit since we had some hard climbs ahead. Almost the whole distance was on Pope Valley Road and even though I had turned it down I was still passing almost everybody. Finally near the third rest stop a fast group came by and I rode the final couple miles with them. The riders leaving the rest stop were going the other direction on the same road and when Peter showed up he said he had seen JB heading the other way. This was the official lunch stop and the 100km riders were here too – the place was wall-to-wall road cyclists, the lines for the porta-potties were long, and the lines to the sandwich tables were long too. I certainly didn’t feel like standing in line long enough for a cheese sandwich so I snuk up and grabbed some gorp, filled up my water bottles and split. Before I left though, I saw Jay again and he invited me to go with him and his buddy but I passed.

Leg 4: Ink Grade – the signature climb of the Century; long and steep. I felt strong but I restrained myself because I knew this climb from the two times I’ve done this ride before. Within the first mile there were people off their bikes walking, and others weaving all over both lanes. I really admired the less experienced riders who were gritting their collective teeth and grunting it out. There were also some lunatics making up songs about how their quads and glutes were on fire (to the tune of nursery rhymes… I won’t elaborate). The road was painted with cycling encouragements too so it was painful but fun. About half way up I could hear some loud Rolling Stones music and it turned out there was a secret rest stop at the summit where you could get a sno-cone, but I passed. There was some more rolling terrain after the summit and it was there that I caught up to JB and Rick just getting back on the road – JB had gotten a flat and then screwed up his repair so he had to fix two flats and they’d been on the side of the road for twenty minutes. I rode with them for a while but then bombed the descent and the rest of the flats to the final rest stop at mile 85. We all grouped up here and the complaints started to come out: JB’s feet hurt, Rick was getting sore, Peter was getting stiff. I was feeling all those things too but kept them to myself… I always try to not whine. JB took off while I was in line for the porta-potty but assured us we’d catch him because he was going to go slow. At this rest stop I saw a couple of Diablo Cyclists that usually do the Wednesday night ride (Paul and Tom I think) and they said they were having a good day too.

Leg 5: Only 15 miles to go but it was down valley with a strong headwind and lots of traffic. Rick and I worked together pretty well but we were both getting worn out. At one point he told me to go ahead with another guy so I wouldn’t ruin my average speed but I figured staying with Rick was a better idea. The PhotoCrazy guy was at mile 98 and he took these photos of us:

So JB finished the ride first but I think I finished the strongest. The post ride party included a barbeque, a band, and a few exhibitors. The picnic area was packed with riders and volunteers and I again saw how it would be difficult to handle more than the 2,000 riders that were allowed to register. The line for the Gardenburgers was the shortest though because most people were waiting for some kind of grilled chicken so I got to buzz right through. I guess I wasn’t as hungry as I thought though because I wound up throwing away some pasta salad and bananas that I didn’t have room for. We saw Sarkis at the finish – he and some buddies did the 100km ride on their fixed gear bikes!!! I also ran into one of the guys from the group of seven that I was with going up valley; he recognized me and we agreed that that was a sweet paceline. The way home was blissfully uneventful.

Ride statistics:
Distance: 101.8 miles
Total Climbing: 5,000 feet (per web page)
Ride Time: 5h 49m
Total Time: 7h 04m
Average Speed: 17.5mph
Total Climbing: 5,000 feet

Food consumption (by memory)
Pre-ride: Big bowl of oatmeal and a ClifBar (a check-in freebie).
Ride: One grenade (five servings) of banana Hammergel, five bottles of tropical fruit Cytomax, four bottles of lemon-lime Accelerade, one bottle of plain water, assorted bagels, muffins, gorp, Chex mix, PB&J on white, and fruit.

Ride Review:
Route: A+ (this is the most beautiful place in the state to bike ride)
Roads: B (most were fine but some are badly in need of repair)
Organization: A (these guys know what they’re doing)
Food: A- (the water at some of the stops had that rubber hose/band aid taste)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Diablo Summit, 25 miles

Adam was in a finish-line crash in the Suisun Criterium on Sunday; he’s been showing off his tarmac tattoos the last couple days. Then this morning he had his bike on the roof of his car as he backed out of his garage and … well we all know what that means. His bike isn’t damaged too badly but he feels it’s time to consider a new one. Robin’s new bike hasn’t come yet – she ordered a Marin Portofino from some eBay dealer in Colorado, so today was the farewell ride to her old clunker. The office had bikes stashed all over the place today.

At the start it was Nicole, Robin, Erik, and me; JB and Adam were coming but not there yet. Robin suddenly had some kind of chain problem just as the Diablo Cyclist peloton was approaching so I didn’t stop to help her – I felt a little guilty about that but hey, this is the Wednesday night hammerfest. Erik said he was going to try to stay with one of the DC subgroups when they went by, and I said I would be going with one of the faster groups. It seemed like forever before they caught up to us and I was just tooling along but no one was passing me. I figured I was now a marked man and they weren’t going to let me sit on anymore so I accepted my position at the front - imagining a dozen or so riders having an easy time in my slipstream. When I finally turned around to look it was just Mark and Jay – I had snapped the elastic and exploded the field all by myself. They thanked me and then dropped me like an undoped domestique.

By the top of the Bump I could see that Mark was a hundred meters ahead of Jay who was a hundred in front of me, and Dave was a hundred behind me. With three miles to go I was at 18m26s - EXCELLENT. I didn’t quite have the motivation to kill myself for a potential PB, but I did decide to push hard even though I was planning to go to the Summit today. By the Junction Mark, Jay, Dave, and I were in the same order but the gaps were closer to 200 meters each. My Junction time was 37m33s - 28 seconds over my PB. Erik did a PB of 41 minutes – he’ll knock a couple minutes off that with a little more experience. Then JB did a “post crash PB” of just under 40 – also his best time on the Atlantis… he’s ready for Napa for sure. I didn’t see Adam come in, but he was there and told me he could feel some residual crash pain and his bike was handling funny.

Erik and I went on to the Summit at a more leisurely pace. It got cold and windy as soon as we were in the shadows. Some guy at the Upper Parking Lot took my photo just as I crested the top of the Wall, maybe I’ll be famous! Elapsed time to Summit: 76 minutes.

Wildlife Encounter: FIVE tarantulas - first sightings of the year.

Coming down from the Summit, still above Muir Picnic Area, the sun was really low and it was hard to see the road. DAMN! DAMN! Took a hard pothole hit with both wheels. Then… the unmistakable sound of air escaping from my rear tire, changing pitch and volume every time the source passed by my seatstay. It was a lonely flat-fixing episode on the side of the road, in the gravel with the sun setting and the wind picking up. My last flat was 720 miles ago, and my average is 540 miles between flats – there’s an interesting statistic for you! Anybody else keep track of that one? I’m running Michelin Pro Race with Michelin Ultralight tubes (long stem), and no liners or Slime. Anyway, I seemed to notice some funny noises like maybe I whacked the rim out of true also so it was a slow ride down.

Rick’s going to ride Napa on the Sly! It’s going to be an interesting ride – JB who never does centuries on his Atlantis, Peter who has to ride fast and get home early for a party, Rick who has to pack his own food and hide at the rest stops, and me who likes to hang out at the finish and people watch.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Diablo Summit, 24 miles

I met Peter at the Gate at 8, and JB showed up a few minutes later. Peter had a new saddle and a new pair of shorts – he said he went to Livermore Cyclery to look for a new saddle and the salesman convinced him what he really needed was a new pair of shorts so he got both: a WTB saddle and Louis Garneau shorts (the most expensive he’s ever owned). I noticed a group of two riders, another group of two, and a solo rider going up as we waited and I wasn’t sure if I’d be catching them or not, but I would at least remember how many there were. I had forgotten my phone this morning so I didn’t get Rick’s call saying what time he and Nicole would be there so the three of us started up at about 8:10.

I wasn’t feeling especially vigorous today due to a lack of sleep (I think I even yawned a couple times after we got going) so I didn’t mind the easier pace for the first couple miles. We all wondered what kind of road kill that was just past the double dips – probably a coyote judging from the head but it was picked pretty clean by the vultures and coyote road kill is exceedingly rare.

All of us were together near the top of the Bump when Peter increased his speed enough to drop JB. I was pretty close to maximum trying to keep up with him too for a while but either he slowed down a bit or I found my rhythm because it got easier around the Lower Ranch where we passed the solo guy and one of the two pairs we saw at the Gate. Peter is getting used to my keeping up with him now, although I think he’s still perplexed because for years he dropped all of us well before the Ranches and I was usually the farthest one back. He asked me if I had done any different kind of training this year and I told him that I did a lot of intervals in the early season – he seemed to accept that explanation.

We passed the other pair of riders below Chainbuster and then I said to Peter “OK, let’s go!” but before he decided to come with me he asked “Are you going to the top today?”. I guess if I wasn’t going to save anything for the Summit then he wasn’t going to try to stay with me to the Junction. I told him I was so he stayed on my wheel for about a half mile, but I had a big gap soon after that. I realized that I hadn’t been looking at my splits so when I looked down and saw I was at 38 minutes I thought I had a slim chance of breaking 40 and I went for it. I put the hurt to myself for 117 seconds and finished with a 39m57s Junction time.

And there was WILL! He called me yesterday and said he might get an early start to meet us here, but I had forgotten. He said it was a pretty tough ride but he enjoyed it after not having ridden for so long. Peter rolled in, then JB while I was still doing cool down laps around the parking area. And then Rick came in a few minutes later so there were five of us. We discussed the Napa Valley Century (AKA Tour Napa Valley – watch this site for a ride review) coming up next Sunday and it turns out Rick didn’t get signed up in time because they reached their maximum 2,000 rider limit. He’s going to try sweet-talking his way in, or maybe scab the ride, or maybe just not show. JB will be riding his Atlantis – he probably wants to bond with other Rivendell groupies. And Peter has to hurry home after the century to go to his daughter’s birthday party so we’re not sure about car pooling.

Peter, Rick, and I did the Summit but JB and Will went down. We were together until Blue Oak where Peter pulled ahead. Rick was in the middle and I was last until around Muir Picnic Area where I passed Rick. I didn’t see Peter again until the Summit Wall which I started just as he was finishing. Rick was about 50 meters behind me at the bottom and I heard a giant diesel pickup coming up, passing Rick. The Wall is NOT wide enough for even a Cooper Mini to pass a bike safely (it’s one-way, one-lane going up and another lane goes down on the other side) and I wasn’t going to let this moron try that with me so I kept the middle of the lane for the last half of the climb. He didn’t honk or anything but he was still a dope. Rick said the place where he got passed was pretty wide and he was OK with it.

Rick ordered a new Campy gruppo to refurbish his bike – he’s having lots of shifting and drivetrain problems from worn-out gear but he’s staying with 9-speed Veloce. We talked some more about saddle and short choices but then we called it a day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Diablo Junction plus South Gate Road, 24 miles

Today’s company team: Me, Adam, Nicole, Tiffany, Cindy, and JB. Seems we can never all meet at the same time any more though for a group start. Adam and Cindy got tied up at work and JB forgot to pack his shorts so they all started late. It was hot today, but not as bad as last week.

Tiffany and Nicole and I did get started a few minutes before the Diablo Cyclist group got going. Tiffany quickly rode ahead of us looking like she’s getting stronger and faster and enjoying the semi-competitive nature of these Wednesday rides. I stayed with Nicole and rode slow until the DC group of about 12 rode along side us and then I merged in.

“Hey Scott! I tried to e-mail you but it bounced back as undeliverable. My name is Jay by the way.” It was Yellow Jacket Shorts! He explained that he’s had one knee surgery and expects another eventually (dog/bike crash) so that’s why he has the knee wrap – helps keep it stable. He also said he’s not a Yellow Jacket but just likes their club kit.

By the time we caught up to Tiffany there were four of us off the front already – me, Jay, Ricardo (talked to him a little last week too), and another guy I hadn’t seen before. I knew I wouldn’t last long with these guys but they were breathing hard so I thought I could hold on for a while. We were so far ahead by the time we got into the curvy section below the Bump that I couldn’t see any other riders behind us. I was glad I took a chance with the fast boys rather than dogging it with the next group back, but the charade was over now I accepted the honor of being “first dropped” from the lead group.

Looking up from above the Upper Ranch I could see them past Chainbuster and my time check told me I was about 3 minutes down. I packed two water bottles with lots of ice today and forced myself to drink even if I had to slow down – seemed to work because I finished pretty strong with a 39m29s even though I had started at Nicole speed. Cindy and Tiffany showed up after a while but I never did see Nicole (she flatted and turned around) or JB (rode home to get his shorts and started much later). Cindy looks like she really enjoys riding hard but she never wants to go any farther.

Tiffany and I joined about half the Diablo Cyclist group and went down South Gate Road. We got split up though and suddenly I found myself with just Jay in Danville so we two-manned it back to Walnut Creek on Danville Blvd and over to Countrywood on the trail.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Diablo Junction, 24 miles

The company picnic was this morning so I only had time for a quickie Junction ride. Nicole’s Explorer passed me on Walnut and then I met up with her at her usual parking spot. JB rode down from the Gate and met us there too.

Shortly after we started, a guy with a full HammerGel outfit passed us, and then before the Double Dips three other guys came by us as well. Two of these guys had aero bars and triathlon type setups and when they passed us they kind of smiled to themselves, happy to be passing three cyclotourists so easily, but one of them had a classic white steel Eddy Merckx road bike and I figured he knew the game. I asked JB how far ahead of us we should let them get before we chased them down and he didn’t think we had a good chance of catching them. I had my Mapei shorts on, which are very recognizable and I knew if I did catch them they’d remember me. So it was the three of us until Moss Landing where Nicole said good-bye, then it was two of us until the bottom of the Bump where I switched on the main engines.

I climbed the Bump in my 21 and kept the power up all the way through the Upper Washout, leaving JB way back. I saw the group of three ahead of me and I planned “the perfect pass”. There’s a section after the Upper Washout where the grade eases up quite a bit and if you know the Mountain you can really power through it in a big gear and I caught the three right at the beginning of this stretch. They were using the opportunity to recover from the effort up the Bump (newbie mistake) so I came around them with an impressive speed differential and had a huge gap by the time I had to downshift and settle into my sustainable pace for the last two miles. Schooling newbs is a tricky business - it must be done convincingly but without arrogance so that the pupils come away from the experience with both reverence for the master and personal ambition for themselves. Heh heh heh.

Then I saw HammerGel guy! He was quite a ways up the road but I figured I’d try to chase him down as well. Peter was on his way down and he saw me at the Upper Ranch and did a U-turn to ride up again but he never caught me. I was chasing HammerGel guy and got pretty close but he beat me to the Junction; he said something to me like “good ride” when I got there. Then came Peter, then the group of three, then JB. The guy on the Cervelo triathlon bike confessed to one of his other buddies that he wasn’t prepared for how difficult the course was going to be, but all three of them seemed to like the ride.

Wildlife Encounter : Yet another coyote on my descent near the Cold Shoulder. I hope there’s never an incident between a coyote and a rider, but it’s getting to be worrisome.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Diablo Junction, 16 miles

Hacía mucho calor esta tarde. Nicole talked about not coming because it was so hot, and we didn’t see her so she must have decided against it. Adam rode up just as I was leaving my car and we rode together to the Gate. The Diablo Cyclists had a fair size group and a couple guys were just ahead of us near the kennels; one of them was a shaver with a USPro Champion’s jersey on. Adam and I passed them up and then when we got to the Gate we picked it up and did a brisk pace through the double dips and up past the Dumpster Gate. Then Mark and Yellowjacketshorts (he said “hi Scott”… I’ve got to get his name ~dude, e-mail it to me diabloscott@terra.es ) and Adam said he was going to try to stay with Mark so I wished him luck and *poof* they were gone. By the bottom of the Bump though, Yellowjacketshorts (he didn’t actually have those on today, I’ll just refer to him as YJS until he e-mails me) had lost their wheels and by the middle of the Bump Adam had lost Mark’s wheel also. So for a while I could see Mark in the lead, Adam a hundred meters back, and YJS between me and Adam. YJS has a knee wrap on and has been holding back some while he heals but he made a great rabbit and I kept him in sight the rest of the way to the Junction.

The heat was intense; the radio said 99°F in Concord. I noticed that my heart rate was about 10bpm higher than it would have been for the same effort on a cooler day so I was definitely being limited by the temperature. Near the Upper Ranch, I noticed two people catching me easily from behind. It was the pair that Adam and I had passed below the Gate and they were chatting about the Furnace Creek 500 or some other recent ultra-marathon event. I determined it would be no loss of pride to allow them to pass me… not that I had any choice in the matter.

The last three miles were grueling. The heat seemed to make the mountain even steeper and I couldn’t keep my cadence up in the bigger gears so I wound up spinning the easy gears but trying to keep my speed up. With three miles to go, I was at 19 minutes and I figured I could beat 40 but not much better than that. Sure enough, my Junction time was 39m33s and I hit 192 on my pulse monitor (highest I’ve seen since I bought the thing).

Robin soon rode in on her 1970 vintage junky road bike. She’s shopping for a new one and a salesman told her she needs a 59cm frame! Now she’s probably 5’10 or 11 and very leggy but 59cm?? I had her straddle my 55cm Klein and she easily had a couple inches clearance there so maybe the salesman was right. She’s hoping to find a good used one and I think she’s getting hooked on cycling after a half dozen of these Wednesday night rides.

On a weird note, Tiffany had stored her bike in her SUV at work and it got so hot in there that both tires exploded! She fixed them and one of them blew out again! Didn’t even get to do the ride and neither did her husband who was going with us for the first time.

Wildlife Encounter: Yet another disinterested coyote on the way down.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Diablo Summit – 33 miles

Started the morning with a good night’s sleep, good legs, and good weather. It was going to be a warm one and I was sleeveless. Along the residential section of North Gate Road I came across a rider with full “Tour de Cure” kit and since I was wearing my Tour de Cure shorts we struck up a conversation – he had done the Napa 100 mile version of the event and really liked it. Then we got to the Gate and he rode on while I stopped and met up with Peter.

A few minutes after 8 o’clock, Nicole called my cell and said they had just gotten off the freeway and Rick wanted to know if we’d wait, so I checked with Peter and we decided that would be OK. After about ten minutes of stretching and chatting and watching another dozen riders start their climb, our two companions rode up and off we went. Slowly at first but we picked it up around the double dips and Nicole dropped off. By Moss Landing we were going pretty well but Peter was happy to set the pace. By the top of the Bump Rick started to slow down. Then Peter tried his usual “get rid of Scott” tactics but I had none of that and pretty easily stayed on his wheel. It was a very fast last three miles but at almost 27 minutes with two to go I didn’t think we were going to break 40. So I figured I’d just try to stay with Peter until the final turn and then outsprint him rather than go out on a flyer (especially since I had already beaten him that way a couple of weeks ago!).

Wildlife Encounter #1: A coyote crossing the road around a shaded hairpin below Clavicle Cracker – right in front of Peter and me, and between us and a descending rider. Could have been a close call, but it wasn’t.

Peter kept looking back hoping I wasn’t there anymore and I kept smiling up at him. With about 200 meters to go he opened up a sizable gap and I thought “OK, I can give up and hand it to him, or I can carry out the painful plan.” I accelerated hard, yelled out “inside!” on the final right hand turn and beat him to the line by several bike lengths. *AND* my elapsed time was 38m45s so it really WAS a fast last three miles. There were some other riders hanging around at the Junction parking lot – a few of them were first timers and I got a chuckle when one of them said, “We’re only half way? And you mean it gets even STEEPER from here on up?”.

Rick arrived a few minutes later and said he just didn’t have it today, then he slurped up a banana HammerGel pack from his birthday assortment. He said it tasted a little like banana cake frosting, not as weird as it sounded. It must have worked too because he stayed ahead of me all the way up Summit Road. My Summit time was an excellent 74 minutes! Rick had recently put on a new saddle and Peter tried it out in the Summit parking lot – seems both of them have saddle issues and they go for the newer cutout styles. Neither of them wanted to try my flat top Selle San Marco Era K with which I’ve been very happy. I rode both Rick’s and Peter’s and they just feel wrong.

Dozens of riders were coming up as we descended. Some of them were on the side of the road with that look that means they weren’t ready for this. I was singing the old Wayne Newton song “Danke Schoen” all the way down and they must have thought I was nuts as I went by. Another GREAT day on the mountain except for:

Wildlife Encounter #2: A wasp whacked into my upper arm at about 40mph and got smooshed there; I had to peel his carcass off while still riding. He died before he could sting me but some of his stinger found its way under the skin and now I have a small little tender spot there. Just one of those things.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Diablo Summit – 25 miles”

I got to the Gate with good legs a little before 5:30. Amanda and Nicole had left early because they wanted to do the Summit. There was a good group from work coming but we didn’t manage to meet up before the Diablo Cyclists came by. Actually Adam and Leif and a few guys rode by first while I was stretching. Then a small pack of DCers, then another small pack of DCers so I joined up with them. After a short distance though a couple of us sprinted up to the first group, and then Mark came zooming by just at the double dips so a couple more of us rode with him and bridged up to the Leif and Adam gruppetto. I really turned it on over this stretch, thinking I could back off when I got to Adam but of course when they saw Mark they both attacked. Leif wanted to do some attacking practice so he blew Mark away, then settled, then attacked again, and then I never saw either of them until the finish.

The riders were strung out all over the mountain in groups of one, two, or three. I passed June (see Scotty’s Fall Century blog entry) and her friend below the bump but they later passed me back and stayed away (but within sight) until Junction. I passed quite a few people all the way up, and a few others passed me but not many. It was a fun ride because there were people ahead of me that I couldn’t quite catch, and people behind me that I was determined to stay in front of. I dug in hard for the last couple of miles and finished with an ET of 38m31s.

There was a little re-grouping at the Junction but most folks went down one side or the other. Erik and I decided to do the Summit, and Nicole and Amanda came up too, but far behind us. Erik and I took it real easy and he made some apologies for slowing me down but I was enjoying getting to know him and giving him little training tips. By the time we got to the bottom of the Wall I was totally rested so it was the easiest trip up the last 270 meters I’d ever done.

On the way back down we passed Amanda and Nicole near Devil's Elbow coming up, looking exhausted but determined. Must have been dark by the time they got back down.

Happy birthday Clark!