Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Diablo Junction, 16 miles

The Wednesday after work rides are getting decidedly less competitive now that the cooler weather and early sunsets are upon us. Robin came with her new Time pedals and some spiffy cycling clothes but still couldn’t get her bike computer to work so she doesn’t know for sure how fast she is. Tiffany and Cindy rode most of the way together but Cindy beat her in the final sprint by about four bike lengths. Nicole rode her own pace and finished last but she wasn’t coughing at the end so that’s good.

JB, Adam, and I rode together at conversational speed. We paused every time we passed anyone we knew and had a little chat before moving on. After Chainbuster, Adam started to ride a little harder and we lost JB but I stayed in Adam’s draft until the Ranger House. Then I gifted Adam the win since he had been towing me for the last mile or so.

Lots more riders coming down than going up. The road can be pretty hard to see when the sun is low on the horizon and right in your eyes so descending is best done carefully.

I’m getting pressured to organize another unsupported fall century… it would probably be tricky to get everyone’s schedule to merge but it would sure be fun to do again.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Diablo Summit 32 miles

Got to the Gate a little early this morning. Peter was there and we discussed hurricanes and blood doping until JB and Rick rode up a little while later. This is Rick’s last Saturday ride before the Diablo Challenge. He’s trying to peak for next Sunday and he took some vacation time to do some extra hard rides but today he was kind of tired. We decided to do a no-stop-‘til-the-top ride again, but not at race pace. JB said “Hey, this is like the old days when no one got dropped until after The Bump”.

Wildlife Encounter: Lots of little snakes warming up on the road, and lots of tarantulas as well.

After The Bump, Peter and I found ourselves riding in front with a gap and I rode at his pace all the way to the Junction. No sprint and our time was 39m38s; not bad for what felt like a pretty easy ride. I stopped my stopwatch function for a few minutes while we circled the parking lot waiting for JB and Rick got there and then we headed up Summit Road.

This time JB fell off the pace first, then Rick, and then Peter rode away from me too at the steep bit just past Juniper. At first I thought if I let him get a little gap he’d slow down a bit but instead he speeded up and the gap got bigger. I don’t usually track my Summit time to the second, but today’s was 71m50s so I’m pretty sure that’s a PB and good enough that I would have beaten 70 minutes on the Challenge if I were so inclined.

There was some kind of foot race up Mitchell Canyon and the runners had to climb the stairs all the way to the top of the Visitor’s Center and go back down, and there was also some kind of school event at the Summit so there were lots of cars in the parking lot. We decided to get out of there before it got crazy.

Rick bought Jamba Juice for me and Peter to celebrate his PB on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Diablo Junction - 22 miles

I was thinking that after the Hurl Ride last week, the season was pretty much over and Wednesday night rides (the few that remain) would be much less competitive. Two factors changed that though - Rick was taking time off from work so he came tonight (and he's still training for the Diablo Challenge), and Eric wasn't here last week so he was having his own little Hurl Ride. Nicole, Cindy, Adam, and JB were also there. Rick just replaced most of the components in his drivetrain; chainrings, cassette, derailleurs and brifters because he was having shifting problems; looks nice and seems to work much better now.

It was a beautiful night, warm and still. Adam decided he could "help" Rick by riding him into half-wheel hell, but it didn't seem like we were going fast enough for a super great time so I figured Rick just wanted to do a normal ride. But before long it started to heat up and I was working much harder than I wanted to. By the top of the Bump Adam and Rick were about 20 seconds ahead of me and I decided to let them stay away, but I didn't exactly turn it off either.

Seemed to have a pretty good time by the 3mtg point and I figured a 38 minute ride was in the works. We all started to pass people in this period, some I knew and some I hadn't seen before. There was one guy with a loose Hawaiian shirt who looked strong but squirrelly; he fought and fought to keep up with Adam and Rick but finally pooped out. Then I saw Eric coming down - he had started up about 4:30 and I convinced him to turn around and come back up with us. He was rested from having finished his ride quite a while ago so for a while he was pushing me hard! But then with 1mtg I put my head down and rode away from him, then I passed Hawaiian shirt guy and another guy, and crossed the line in 37m47s.

Rick PB'ed with a 36m54s. Eric also PB'ed (from the 4:30 ride) with a 40m05s. JB was somewhere around 42m. Turns out Eric and the Hawaiian shirt guy had ridden together before and sort of knew each other. Hawaiian shirt guy bought his bike during the Tour de France and has been riding up Diablo almost every day since then - he just hasn't gotten around to buying a jersey or bike shorts yet. He'll be a strong rider when he develops a little more suplesse.

Sun is very low on the horizon on the way down.

Wildlife Encounter: Two tarantulas on the prowl.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Diablo Bump de Bump – 37 miles

Today’s players: Rick, Nicole, Peter, JB, and me. We started pretty easy and early on I suggested to Rick that we go easy to the Junction, then go down South Gate Road to the Athenian School so he could get a good split for the Diablo Challenge. He agreed and Peter liked the idea also.

Nicole was off the back once we got past the double dips. The rest of us stayed together at a moderate pace and discussed the cold and the fog and the San Francisco Grand Prix. At the Upper Washout we were about 3 minutes slower than my PB pace from Wednesday; I noted that for the record but no one was really interested. Even though we were still at a conversational pace JB started to lose contact with Peter, Rick, and me.

I didn’t start to push until we got to Chainbuster and even then I didn’t think it was that fast but I rode away from Peter and Rick for a 40m51s Junction time. We all re-grouped at the Junction and Nicole got there too before we left so we told her about our idea and made plans to meet her again at Mia CafĂ©. JB turned around too and Rick, Peter, and I went down SGR. We were sweaty from the ride up, but it was still foggy so the ride down to the bottom was COLD!

Down at the school, Rick explained how the start of the Challenge is organized and where the actual start line is. We synchronized our stopwatches and launched our assault. It’s exactly a mile from the start line to the Boundary Gate but I haven’t kept track of my South Gate times very well. That first mile went by in 4m24s.

Comment: They have REALLY got to fix Diablo View Road – it’s in terrible shape.

From the Boundary Gate up, it’s called South Gate Road, it’s owned by the State Park system, and it’s in much better condition. Rick and I were pushing harder than Peter wanted to go so we opened up a pretty big gap. Just before the kiosk, a guy in a Peloton Pale Ale jersey with a red Cannondale passed us pretty handily. After the kiosk, Rick and I chased him down and I rode wheel to wheel with him for a while at a great speed. When we came to a place requiring an out-of-the-saddle push though, my quads melted and Cannondale dude dusted me. I still rode my own race pace and finished in 33m54s. Rick wasn’t far behind me this time and he claimed that 34 minutes is a 38 minute pace up North Gate and that sounds about right going by how it felt… maybe 39. Anyway, 34 minutes plus our 33 minute Summit split last week would give a 67 minute Diablo Challenge time and that would be plenty impressive.

I ain’t paying $50 to do it though. I’d rather get a new pair of bibs or something.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Diablo Junction 23 miles
2004 Hurl Ride No. 2

The long-anticipated second Hurl Ride of the year has arrived. Adam arranged everything but we didn’t have nearly the turn out that we did in April. I’ve been away on a business trip and due to some airline SNAFU’s I didn’t get home until 1:30 this afternoon so I didn’t even go in to work. I ate a big breakfast in Phoenix, a normal lunch at home with my family, I had jet lag and felt rotten from being on a plane, but I was going to give it my best shot.

Adam assigned everyone their handicap and start times so that we’d all finish pretty close to 6:30. Edgardo insisted his goal would be 69 minutes (gotta know Ed to appreciate this one) so he was gone before anyone else showed up. I got to ride from home and I saw Nicole, and Amanda with her new bike – a Trek hybrid and a HUGE upgrade from the borrowed POS she had been using a few months ago; they were both going for 60 minutes so they left the Gate at 5:30. Tiffany has been riding well, and her goal was 45 minutes for a PB. JB’s been getting faster recently and left at 5:52 hoping for a 38 minute ride. Adam had me down for a 35m35s which was 16 seconds faster than my PB of 35m51s set only a few weeks ago – as I said, I didn’t think it was going to happen based on how I felt, but mentally I was prepared to give it everything so I set off at 5:54:25. Adam was going for that uber-elusive 30 minute ride and his own PB.

I started out exactly on time, but didn’t realize that I hadn’t started the stopwatch on my heart rate monitor until after a mile or so – I still had the stopwatch on my bike computer but I wouldn’t be able to freeze the split times for later. I went fast but didn’t sprint and didn’t even get out of the saddle until the top of the Bump where I wanted get my cadence back up as soon as possible. Seemed like it was going very well and I was feeling better but when I saw 17m30s with 3 miles to go I allowed myself to think this could be close. I still hadn’t seen any of the riders in front of me, which is good because it meant everyone else was also riding well and we’d finish at nearly the same time.

I was too focused to crunch numbers but 17.5 plus 18 minutes for the last three puts me in PB territory and I’ve done the last three in less than 18 before. I stayed focused and tried to stay efficient. Near the Upper Ranch I finally passed Nicole and Amanda. I said to them “You guys don’t look like you’re pushing it” and Amanda said “Push this”… that was worth a good chuckle, but then I got back to being focused.

Coming around Big Shady Oak with a mile to go I saw Tiffany on the final stretch – good for her, she should just about make her handicap. But I didn’t see JB and I assumed he’d sand bagged his handicap again and was riding a sub 35 time. With four hundred meters to go, I finally decided it was time to accept a higher level of pain so I completely zoned out and suffered my way to the line.

New PB: 35m46s. Five seconds better than my PB from a couple weeks ago, only eleven seconds slower than the goal Adam had set for me. It was an awesome ride and it’s gonna stand for a while because I am *not* doing that again any time soon.

Turns out JB was after Tiffany but somehow I didn’t see him. Adam came in at 33 minutes – he said he would have been even slower except he couldn’t allow me to have a faster time than him. Nicole and Amanda came in well over an hour – Nicole says she just doesn’t have the drive to push herself to a faster time and well, that’s OK I guess; not everyone has to think the same about riding.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

San Francisco Grand Prix – Race Report
AKA the T-Mobile International

My daughter and I took BART into the City this morning – first one left at 7:50am from Orinda so we got to Embarcadero about 8:30. Scored some great schwag from the Expo and bought a pound of Jittery Joe’s coffee just because I like their whole team concept and they ride Kleins. Also got a poster of Dede Barry, the USA Olympic silver medalist from the T-Mobile team – I was hoping to get an autograph too but I couldn’t find her after the race… I told my daughter the poster was for her (ha!).

Then we got in a position to watch the last couple laps of the women’s race; about 100 meters past the start/finish line, and THERE WAS PHIL LIGGETT!!!! He was in the announcer’s booth with John Eustice and some other local guy with TV cameras and everything. I gave him an excited wave and he returned it with equal enthusiasm; what a pleasant chap.

So daughter and I made a lot of noise every time the girls came by and on the last little finishing circuit Nicole Cooke looked like she was putting it away and sure enough finished well clear of the second place rider. Then as she rolled by where we were, I shouted out to her “THREE-PEAT” (meaning she should come back and win again next year too) and she looked at me and nodded with a huge grin.

We walked around the Expo some more waiting for the men’s race to start and it was still cold and foggy. After the men went out on their first 9-mile lap we started walking up Broadway and found a good place to sit for a while. The course went both ways on this piece of road so we got to see them climbing the gradual grade, and screaming down the other side. I used my daughter’s sidewalk chalk to write a little protest in the middle of the road, it said: “¿NO VUELTA? SHAME ON OLN!” It’s clearly visible from the helicopter shots on the TV coverage – watch for it!

We walked to the top of Broadway between laps, and then turned on to Columbus which was all barricaded off. The crowd was thicker here and it was harder to see and it was still cold so we ducked into an Italian pastry shop for a hot cocoa and watched the next couple laps. Then we walked to the top of Columbus to watch them come around that corner before we started to head back to Embarcadero.

We saw some bike messengers having races to the top of one of the steepest cul de sacs you’ve ever seen. We scored a scuffed-up water bottle chucked from the peloton. I got really good views of lots of famous riders including FredRod, Levi, CesarG and all the JJ’s, Eki, Georgie, and the Posties, even Magnus B – the heaviest guy in the UCI and winner of Paris-Roubaix this year; the Filmore and Taylor hills must have been torture for him.

By early afternoon it was sunny and warm. We planted ourselves again near the middle of the Broadway stretch and Jason McCartney (a USA Olypian from my home town of Iowa City) had more than a two minute lead on a hard charging peloton. He made a move like this in the Olympic trials and held on to take the solo win. So that was pretty exciting but he blew up and got passed on the very last climb of the race. I was on Embarcadero again when soon-to-be winner Charles Dionne came by very close to us and I yelled to him “SWEET! SWEET!” and he had the biggest grin anyone could wear who’s in as much pain as he must have been. He was shaking his head in disbelief and nodding with euphoria at the same time.

To celebrate the end of the race we went to an outdoor diner called the “Automatic” or something like that. I had a $4 beer and my daughter had a $4 milkshake and some $3 French fries. A wonderful day of bike racing in San Francisco.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Diablo Summit 33 miles

JB, Rick, and me; eight at the Gate. First Saturday in a while that Peter wasn’t there.

We rode a conversational pace until the Bump. JB started to have trouble keeping up past there. On the Upper Washout I asked Rick if he wanted to do a “no stop ‘til the top” ride and he agreed with a smile.

Above Chainbuster we could see JB below and we yelled out to him that we weren’t going to stop at Junction so he wouldn’t think we had gone down South Gate Road.

As Rick and I went past the Ranger House I figured I had to pick it up a little bit and I crossed the line in 40 minutes flat. Then I held back enough that Rick could catch back up and we continued up Summit Road.

I was riding at about 90% but Rick was pretty much at his Diablo Challenge pace so I felt like I was helping him out by pushing him just a little harder than he would have gone by himself. JB must have decided not to summit because we didn’t see him again.

Near Devil’s Elbow we passed a tall guy on a Land Shark talking on his cell phone; I mean he was having an extended conversation, like some salesman in a rental car. So Rick and I passed him up without saying anything but a little while later he hung up and came around us pretty easily but didn’t get too far ahead. When we got to the bottom of the Wall there was one guy about 1/3 of the way up already, then the Land Shark guy, then Rick went up and I gave him a bit of a head start before I went. Then I PASSED ALL THREE OF THEM on my way up! Didn’t plan it that way, in fact I don’t like passing people on the wall, but that was pretty cool to pass three guys who started in front of me on a 17% grade.

Summit time: 73 minutes. Rick said it was his fastest ever time outside of his Diablo Challenge competitions.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bonus Post!

Didn't get to do the Wednesday after work ride this week because of family responsibilities.

The Blog has a brand new look now, which is mostly good. changed some of their stuff around, and added some features like the "navigation bar" to the top of my page and the old template I was using was getting blown out and hard to read. So after much fiddling about I got it to look like this! There's a new symbol at the end of each post that looks like an envelope with an arrow; that's so you can e-mail the post to someone else… like if you see a product review someone you know might be interested in. The Navigation Bar gives you search capabilities and offers options for other blog sites, or even to get your own blog. The "next blog" button will take you to another blogger site and I have no control over whose you'll get. I had to re-figure out how to put in the "e-mail me" link in the sidebar, and I had to find a new counter because I lost all that stuff when I went to the new template… this blogging business is not for the easily intimidated… you should see some of the HTML code in there! I also was able to set my new counter at ~roughly~ the same number it was at before so I can continue keeping track of all you readers. Since Blog inception I've averaged 13 hits per day! Also I lost my link to "" which I don't think anybody ever used anyway.

And on another note, Adam came in second place in the Cat 3 Giro di San Francisco on Labor Day. This was the District Championship race so he *almost* made the big time! He got outsmarted at the finish by a 14 year old wunderkind named Collin something who will be a household name one day I'm sure. Adam will be moving up to Cat 2 next year for certain.

Regular ride on Saturday and on Sunday I'm going to the San Francisco Grand Prix (that's the race's true name, even though they keep calling it the T-Mobile International).

Fooey on OLN for not carrying La Vuelta!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Diablo Summit, 33 miles

I was the last one to the Gate this morning – 8:02am. Peter, Rick, and JB were waiting. Eric told us he may show up but we decided not to expect him so we began.

Rick was wearing a skin suit he bought for his Devil Mountain Challenge ride. Last year he got special race wheels (Campagnolo Neutron) to give him an extra edge, this year it’s a skin suit. Kind of interesting, plain blue and black, no pockets, extra long zipper… probably a psychological boost at best but that helps some. His goal for the DMC is 65 minutes, which is a little better than his time last year, bon chance Richard!

We all stayed together at a semi-fast pace until way past the Bump. Peter picked it up there and we lost JB. Around Son of Chainbuster Rick started losing touch but he rejoined a couple times before we got to Chainbuster where I decided to turn on the main engines. My Junction time was 39m13s, well clear of Peter, Rick, and JB in that order with about 2 minute gaps between them.

Lots and lots of riders on the mountain this morning, apparently training for the DMC. Most of them were coming up South Gate which is the race route, but plenty on North Gate as well. JB got a head start up Summit Road while the rest of us dinked around for a few minutes.

The winds got a lot stronger up above 2,000 feet: we compared it to riding in Hurricane Frances which is hitting Florida now. None of us were together past Muir Picnic Area but the gaps weren’t too big and we pretty much finished at the same time. My Summit time: 75 minutes.

Descending was a little sketchy with the strong winds and all the climbing riders. I expected to see some clueless driver in the wrong lane passing a bike rider around every hairpin; it only happened a couple times but I was ready for it. Thirteen years on this mountain and I’m prepared for anything.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Diablo Junction, 16 miles

NEW PB! 35m 51s !!!
Previous PB 37m 05s.

Today’s contingent: Robin (on her new Marin road bike), Tiffany, Cindy, Nicole, Edgardo, Adam, JB, and me.

The weather: Warm, clear, no wind.

The Diablo Cyclists are now leaving at 5pm so we won’t be riding with them any more this year. But I saw Mark and some of his peeps from Rivendell riding on Ygnacio while I was driving to North Gate. Mark keeps telling JB that his Atlantis just "looks wrong" with those skinny tires on it. Adam's bike was making a creaking noise that we all decided was due to alloy nipples. Mark and his buddies didn't know that the DCers had changed their start time so they all started with us. Adam was itchy to do a fast one so he was glad Mark came. As we approached the Gate he casually asked Mark, “Are you going for it today?”, and Mark said, “No, hadn’t planned on it, why… do YOU want to go for it?”. Adam said he wanted to do a good effort so as they crossed the line I saw Mark hit his stopwatch and they both sped off into the distance.

I felt good and wanted to test myself after the century. I started out in fast time trial mode, not sprinting the flats at all and my legs felt just a bit of soreness from Sunday. I was thinking if I had an extra day of recovery I could do a new PB but I didn’t think it was going to happen today.

So I stayed in fast steady mode and didn’t push too hard up the Bump and I was at 18m30s at the Upper Washout. Now I was feeling even better and I was passing all kinds of people including all the women from work and my legs were like pistons! I still didn’t think I was on PB pace but I kept thinking about how perfect the weather was and how I felt really smooth and efficient even in my big gears.

Two miles to go and I figured I could come in near 37 minutes which would be close to PB territory. Coming around the hairpins past Upper Ranch I could see Adam and Mark just past Chainbuster at 27 minutes so I knew they wouldn’t do sub 30 but I was surprised how close I was to them (that is to say, a little more than half a mile back). When I powered up Chainbuster myself I figured I was going to do it but I was definitely starting to wear out. I concentrated on efficiency and keeping my breathing regular and when I got to the Ranger House I knew I was going to smash my record. Still, 36 minutes was out of the question, wasn’t it? I mean that’s more than a minute off my previous best time. Unable to analyze any further due to blood shortage in my brain I just stuck my head down and went anaerobic for 300 meters and when I looked up at the line I saw my new PB.

JB wasn’t actually too far behind and he knew too that I had done an awesome ride – I made him go look at my Flight Deck to get the actual number. He’s really getting back to his pre-crash fitness now and it won’t be long before I won’t be able to ride away from him anymore. The Diablo Cyclists split up shortly after we got there but it was nice to see them for a little while. After the BC women got to Junction we all went back down North Gate Road except Adam went down South. We came across Edgardo near the Lower Ranch and invited him for beers at Round Table because tradition says that if you set a new PB you have to buy beer for everyone (or coffee if it’s a Saturday morning ride). It was a very tasty beer tonight.

Do you want to know what the best part of the whole ride was though? As I was coasting down to my car past the kennels and nursery I thought, "I feel so good I could probably turn around right now and do the same time again!" I’m afraid to think of what’s next.