Saturday, October 30, 2004

Diablo Junction plus Blackhawk 38 miles

JB, Rick, Peter, and I started from the Gate at 8 o’clock. It was cold but dry and we were all of a similar attitude to today’s ride: off season training.

I don’t think we saw anyone descending on North Gate Road. We did pass one woman who looked like she was a beginning triathlete; she had the bike for it and she was underdressed but was riding well. I hope she gets some tights and a jacket for next time.

We all got to the Junction together and we watched a few folks roll up from the South. The Junction Ranger Station has a display window where they have some exhibits about wildlife on Diablo, appeals not to litter, results from the Diablo Challenge, etc. But today they had a new display that showed an ad from VeloNews (I scanned this photo from my October Pro Cycling). It was a 2-page spread for PowerBar sports drinks and it showed the WebCor team on a mountain road with a quote from Chris Horner that says “There’s a point in the race, when if I need to, I can shift into a gear that’s not found on any bike.” Anyway, the display at the Junction had some posted notes that said “RECOGNIZE THIS TURN? HINT: IGNORE THE EASTERN SIERRA BACKGROUND.” It was Son of Chainbuster! Take a look! For those of you unfamiliar with the nomenclature, Son of Chainbuster is a sharp right hairpin (on the ascent) about a mile and a quarter below Junction. Recognize it now? There was also a picture of the team and the photo crew on Mt. Diablo as proof they were there.

Then Rick and I went down South Gate where we saw quite a few more riders coming up. Then we turned left to Blackhawk and did some good speed work. My legs felt good but didn’t have any snap in them so we rode fast but didn’t do any sprints. It’s all good.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Diablo Junction plus South Gate Road 32 miles

The forecast today was for rain increasing throughout the day so I figured I’d at least get sprinkled on. Had my foul weather gear ready and was looking forward to riding my steel Eddy Merckx: the Belgian Beast (I gotta think of a better nickname for that bike – it’s really a sweet ride).

The droplets started dropping the INSTANT I rolled out of the garage. Heavy drizzle describes the rest of the ride to the Gate where I met JB. The ride up to Junction was a lot drier and completely noncompetitive. We discussed politics, work, and the weather.

Wildlife Encounter: A group of three coyotes near the Lower Ranch. One was rolling on his back like a puppy in the gravel next to the road until he heard us coming – then all three disappeared into the weeds.

There were a respectable number of other dedicated riders this morning. We saw two coming down on our ascent, and three coming up South Gate at the Junction. Also quite a few hikers, joggers, and other outdoorsy types.

So we decided to go down to the hole in the fence. Took things slowly because these first few rains of the season make the roads really slippery, but it was a lot of fun and the rain was still very light. When we got to Danville though the rain got thicker and the roads were soaked. JB was on his touring bike with the fenders so he wasn’t throwing up too much of a rooster tail and he didn’t want to ride in my wake so we were side by side whenever it was safe, and I was a few bike lengths behind him the rest of the time.

We skipped Danville Blvd and worked our way through some country club neighborhoods to the south side of Walnut Creek where we got on the Iron Horse Trail.

I was good and soaked by the time I got home and it felt like a good kickoff to the winter riding season.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Diablo Summit 32 miles

It wasn’t supposed to be TOO cold this morning, so it wasn’t hard to convince myself to leave the arm warmers and tights in the drawer. I did wear my mesh undershirt but that was my only concession to the weather.

Rick was at the Gate when I got there and JB rolled up a few minutes later. We each discussed the post season lack of motivation so I figured we were in for a relaxed ride. Rick said he wanted to do a Summit ride but had to go home without the usual apr├Ęs ride coffee. JB had to be at a sports pub for a Hawkeye game so he was only doing the Junction.

It was fairly warm at the lower elevations but we soon rode into a thick layer of fog. The fog was unusually dry; there was no dripping from the trees or condensation on the pavement, but it was cold and breezy. Rick and I worked it a little harder past the Bump and JB started to fade. Then finally, near Chainbuster I pushed it to about 90% all the way to Junction and finished in 40m38s, about 30 seconds ahead of Rick.

The fog was still thick at the Junction so JB turned down and Rick and I went up after a short break. We were near Juniper when we finally poked up over the cloud layer. The view was something like you see out of a jet window – looking down over the tops of the clouds.

Uneventful, uncompetitive ride the rest of the way to the Summit. A nice autumn morning, but next week I’m bringing my long finger gloves; the long trip down through the fog required a lot of braking with cold knuckles.

Happy 10th birthday to my wonderful greyhound Oberon! A washout at the race track; a champion as a family pet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Diablo Summit, 16 miles

No Nicole this evening – she has too much school work.
No JB either – he decided to watch the candidates’ debate.
No Adam – lame excuse about air quality.
Robin started early – needs to do some shopping afterwards.
Jeff got there before I did – parked in the same place.

So I took off, feeling pretty good, figured I’d ride hard until I caught Jeff. The air was thick and warm and dry; there’s a fire burning in Napa county and there was just enough smoke in the air to sting the nose and throat a bit. Diablo is under “red flag alert” for fires but they didn’t close the park.

Wildlife Encounter : A pack of six black-tailed deer neer Little Pine Creek, running in that graceful jumping way that deer do.

Caught Jeff about a half mile below the Bump and then rode at his pace the rest of the way up. He’s already starting to plan for next year’s Tour de Cure so we talked a little bit about that. Came across a guy right at the bottom of the Bump on the side of the road with some kind of mechanical problem but he declined our offer of assistance. Jeff rode a little harder than he probably would have if I hadn’t caught him but I think he enjoyed it anyway.

Past Chainbuster we saw Robin coming down, leading the whole group of Diablo Cyclists who had regrouped at the Junction. We had a great view of the sunset from that last stretch near the Ranger House, then we spend about three minutes at the Junction and turned down hill. By the time we got down it was past dusk and I recall thinking that the whole ride felt like it was the last Wednesday ride of the year.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Diablo Junction 16 miles

Adam, JB, Jeff, and I all grouped up at the church. Jeff's plan was to ride up to the Dumpster Gate and then take the mountain bike trails with Edgardo (who wasn't there yet) so we left him at the Gate.

Nicole had an early start, or else we were late because we saw her car parked in the usual spot. Adam and I decided to do an easy ride, just a little faster than JB. It was warm and calm and we talked and rode easily.

I started doing some big gear/low cadence drills and Adam figured out right away what I was doing and gave me some pointers. He said to keep the cadence below 60 and to keep my heartrate well below anaerobic. He knows about this stuff so I listened to him and tried to just concentrate on an even stroke and smooth power while staying in the saddle. He also said that kind of riding suits my physical build because I have strong legs that probably can produce more power at a lower cadence and I think he's right because I used that style on some recent rides with great times. I didn't have the motivation however, to keep it up all the way to the Junction so I slacked off the last couple miles and he got bored and finished well ahead of me. Junction time: 41m45s. We passed Nicole near the Upper Ranch so she got to the Junction not too long after we did. No time for conversation - we all started down to beat the sunset and went home.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Bonus Post

Just heard from Nicole – Rick did the Diablo Challenge in 63m51s which was 58 seconds faster than last year’s time. Congrats Rick! He hoped to beat last year’s time by two minutes but this was certainly a great ride. He had great weather too. He said some guy got to the top of the wall, fell over without unclipping from his pedals, and puked! What a trooper! That guy gave literally 101% but held off on hurling until after he crested the top. HAZZAH! Except for not unclipping beforehand, he has nothing to be embarrassed about.

Also, my e-mail box filled up with spam last week, so if you sent me an e-mail and I didn’t respond, it means I didn’t get it. I respond to ALL fanmail… Resend please.

Diablo Scott

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Diablo Summit 32 miles

This morning was the coldest morning in a long time. I had my vest and arm warmers on and it felt good.

I knew Rick wasn’t coming but I thought Nicole was. When I saw the rock on the post I knew JB had already started up (must have been pretty early). I rode up a way to keep warm and then came back down to see if Nicole had shown up. At 8:15 she hadn’t so I started up solo.

I decided I wanted to do a fairly easy ride, probably to the Summit but I hadn’t committed. A group of about 8 guys had just started and I caught up to one of them pretty quickly. He admired my bike so I liked him right away, but then he started making excuses about how slow he was so I moved on. As I passed each one of them I said something pleasant and I was still going very easy.

Wildlife Encounter: A deer with antlers in the ditch near the double dips, one tarantula, and one coyote way down by the Gate.

I was just enjoying the early morning air and the views and going easy. Then at Chainbuster I saw JB coming down and we said “hi” to each other but he didn’t turn around. Junction time: 42m30s. I waited around for a while, half expecting Nicole to show up but she never did. I chatted with some of the other people who were coming in from both sides – it seemed like all the riders today were less serious folks… maybe all the fast ones are saving it for the Diablo Challenge tomorrow. The group of eight though were talking excitedly with each other about their own little competitions with each other and with a few others they encountered on the way up - that sounded so familiar from my own early days on the Mountain. Then suddenly, Peter showed up and we decided to Summit together and he agreed we would take it easy.

It was a little windier up high but the sun was warmer too. I pulled my arm warmers down around my wrists and fancied myself a spring classics rider again. I told Peter he was going faster than he agreed to, so he slowed down and we truly did do an easy pace the rest of the way. At the Wall I thought I’d even stay seated as long as possible, and surprised myself when I made it the whole way without getting out of the saddle! I keep emphasizing how easy this ride was because my Summit time was 79 minutes. That makes only a 7 minute difference between a great ride (72 minutes last week) and an easy ride; that MUST be a sign of good conditioning.

I’m still hoping to get my unsupported fall century organized.

My goal over the winter is to hang on to most of that fitness while backing off on the intensity.