Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I haven't ridden in almost a month! I do have some stuff to write about though.

My Giro Eclipse helmet, about 3-1/2 years old, broke today. Giro recommends replacement every three years... hmmmmmm. See photo below:

The straps that wrap around to the back of your head, to the adjusting device in back, just broke - on both sides, for no apparent reason. I noticed it when I took my helmet off after my morning commute to work today.

Went out tonight and bought another one of the same model - I tried on a bunch, but you gotta buy what fits and as the guy said, I have a Giro head. The new one's purple!

Also, I got new clincher wheels built for the Belgian Beast, new lights and a comfy saddle for Dave the Fixie, and Planet Bike fenders for the urban assault bike. Looks like I won't be able to ride next weekend either, but I should have time to take photos of my stable and blog about fenders and flashers... < sob>.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Diablo Junction plus Hole in the Fence - 36 miles

Forecast was for a beautiful day so I just brought my windbreaker. Another 8:30 day so I figured JB and I would do some sparring before Rick and Nicole got there. But I didn’t get to the Gate until 8:10 and I had seen Rick’s car so I wasn’t sure what was going on.

About a half mile below the Bump, I came across a descending JB who invited me to turn around and start over. I hesitated but eventually did so. Back at the Gate he said he had seen Rick just a little way higher than me but it looked like he didn’t turn around.

So JB and I started up again and rode a pretty good pace. He had a new fanny pack on for holding his Gore-Tex jacket which he usually takes off at some point in these autumn rides.

Wildlife Encounter: A jackrabbit with ears higher than my hubs bounded out of the ditch near the lower farm and I thought there was no way I could hit that thing and stay upright. Luckily he saw us, changed directions to run parallel to the road, and then decided to jump back into the ditch. JB was oblivious to the whole thing because he was futzing with his cyclocomputer. Anyway, a jackrabbit is much bigger than a ground squirrel, but thankfully much smarter as well.

Below the Bump, I noticed JB was breathing hard and I thought that was kind of strange. A little while later he said “Why are you in such a hurry?”, and I joked “I’m trying to catch Rick.” But it was clear he wasn’t having a good day, and I like when that happens. When we got to the Bump I decided to do a big gear drill in a 21t and that was kind of fun. I slowed down just after the 1,000 foot sign waiting for JB to catch me but he was farther back than I expected. This was kind of fun so every time I went around a blind corner I did a little sprint and every time I knew he could see me I dropped it down into an easy spin. With a mile and a half to go, Rick came down and said “hi” to me but didn’t turn around until he met up with JB. Then Rick bridged back up to me and we discussed the recent Roberto Heras doping story while we pretended we weren’t riding too hard. He also explained that Nicole woke up this morning, stepped outside, and seeing her breath… pronounced it too cold to ride.

After Chainbuster I did another big gear drill and dropped Rick. That felt pretty good too. Junction time: 42m28s… hey, it’s November. But the itch to kick ass is starting to bubble up.

Rick had a kiddie party to go to so JB and I went down SGR without him. There was some kind of search and rescue practice going on near Rock City, and the weather was getting really nice now. I led all the way down at a comfortable pace and then we turned off at the Hole.

The rest of the way we stayed together and chatted and I’m learning my way around those back roads, but I did make sure to do a little interval on every elevation increase… feels good to inflict some pain.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Diablo Junction plus South Gate and Blackhawk 40 miles

Nicole talked us into the 8:30 start time again, I have to say I don't mind too much. It was COLD when I left and I had on my winter jacket and full gloves but by the time I got to Northgate Road I was already too warm. I got to the Gate at 8:10 and saw JB's rock. I knew I'd never catch him so I stopped and tried to reset the clock on my Flight Deck but I had forgotten how and wound up resetting everything to zero EXCEPT the clock. I figured I could re-enter the data when I got home because I keep track of that kind of stuff, and Flight Decks allow you to enter the odometer so you don't lose that number on a battery change or screw up. What I didn't realize was that I also reset the speed to kilometers per hour so I didn't have my usual reference units telling me how well I was going. I can work just fine in metric units, but I just didn't know if 25kph was faster or slower than I usually go in this or that particular section. Also made me realize how much feedback I do get from my computer - I don't even know if I’m having a good ride without one!

Anyway I rode up a ways and then turned around. I found Rick and Nicole coming up so I turned around again, and a little ways farther up we saw JB but he had to go back to the Gate for a an official odometer data point. We all rode together until the bottom of the Bump when Nicole dropped back. Stayed together for another couple of miles and then Rick made the first move. JB and I came along for a while and then JB tried something. After Chainbuster I dropped back and let them go. I was maybe 20 seconds behind and saw that Rick was ahead but JB made a failed attempt at a sprint so Rick was the strongest today.

Product Review: PowerBar Endurance Sports Drink - Got a free sample of this stuff from Performance a few weeks ago and decided to try it instead of my usual Cytomax. On the Diablo Scale of 1 to 10, this gets a 2. Tastes bad, doesn't mix well, no apparent performance benefit. Any future free samples I get will be summarily shit canned. Only redeeming feature - it didn't give me a stomach ache.

We didn't wait around long at the Junction. Somebody said "Blackhawk?" and off we went. I led the gruppetto down South Gate Road but probably not as fast as Rick or JB would have gone. When we got to Blackhawk Road I started dishing out a little pain myself. Opened up a gap on both of them and increased it all the way to Camino Tasajara. After that I waited for them and when they caught me I rode their pace for a while but still sprinted up the little hills just to see them suffer. On Danville Blvd I pulled most of the way and Rick held on but JB fell way back and when he rejoined he made some excuses about how slow he was but he didn't even convince himself. Felt good to be on the giving end for a while… maybe had something to do with watching a tape of Boonen's amazing 2005 Paris-Roubaix this morning.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Critical Mass San Francisco (I don't know, about 9 miles I think)

Adam and I were jazzed about this ride; the Halloween Critical Mass typically draws an even crazier peloton than most months. We rode our bikes from work to the Walnut Creek BART and it started to drizzle on us but it didn't dampen our spirits. At every stop more and more Mass Riders got on the train and the ambience began developing.

We got to Peewee Herman Plaza at a quarter til 6 and the festivities were in full schwing. There was a guy in an Evel Knievel costume doing some stunt riding in the circle. There were costumes of all kinds. One guy had a fish bike that was really cool - it had two side-by-side wheels in front like a cargo bike and the front was a sort of paper machier fish head with big eyes that lit up with lightning bolts and a moveable jaw operated by a lever in the cockpit. The bike was articulated and the rear section was like a scaly fish body but the scales were all "FREE AOL" CDs… very creative.

As always, there were people handing out flyers promoting protests and activism, I almost scanned one in for your reading pleasure but it's got too much fine print… suffice it to say there was a big anti-Bush Regime sentiment at the Plaza.

There are always a few guys with trailer-mounted stereo systems. One guy I've seen several times has like eight giant car speakers mounted on this big long deck-plate kind of wagon with batteries inside and he has enough watts in there to power a concert at the Pavilion.

After a lot of hooting and noise making we started rolling and Adam and I were eager to go so we got near the front. After about a block though we pulled off and watched the crowd go by because it's much more fun in the middle. We saw Wonderwoman, Ninja Turtles, ghosts, pirates, and assorted weirdoes; we felt a little out of place being dressed so normally. It wasn't raining but I kept my coat on just in case.

We rolled down Market Street for about 8 blocks at 1.2 miles/hour. Adam was on his fixed gear and his gear ratio was a little too high for such a slow speed so he walked a good chunk of those 8 blocks (no trouble keeping up!). Then we turned right and went through the Tenderloin which was kind of eerie because there aren't many street lights in there. Then we headed north on Van Ness and that's when the cops got a little more involved. They blocked the intersections for us and made sure no cars tried to crash our party. At one intersection there was a really mad guy in his car yelling at us and telling us we were all worthless disgraces and should be ashamed of ourselves! That's the kind of guy I like to piss off, so I just waved and a few people rang their bike bells. Then we turned on Broadway and started riding toward North Beach. I found myself separated from Adam and realized that I was surrounded by police motorcycles and a couple of squad cars; I turned around to realize I was the Lanterne Rouge of San Francisco Critical Mass! I don't remember being passed by too many people, I was just fitting in and enjoying the slow ride. Then at the west end of the Broadway Tunnel we all stopped and crowded together. It was about an hour into the ride now and we filled up about two solid blocks as crowded as we were (maybe 2,000 riders?) We just malingered there for a while and let the atmosphere get electric, and then the guy with the amphitheater sound system cranked up some satanic speed metal music and we bombed through the tunnel like we were crazed demons being released from hell to take over the Earth HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Anyway, quite an experience with the music making the whole tunnel vibrate and scaring the bejeezus out of the cars on the other side.

After that Adam split to go catch a BART home, but I stayed on for a while longer. We rolled through North Beach and entertained the restaurant patrons. We wound up at a big intersection and corked all the streets while some of the stunt riders performed some more trick riding. I decided I'd had enough at that point and found my way to the Embarcadero and then to the BART station. It was a very tame Critical Mass; no confrontations, no taking over any bridges or freeway on-ramps, just a bunch of regular joes enjoying this monthly coincidental convergence on their bikes

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bonus Post

I've been riding my Eddy Merckx 7-Eleven bike to work the last few months, as well as a few rain rides on the Mountain. The front brake has been getting really grabby though, and on a downhill section where I would ride the brake, I'd get a violent chatter out of the fork. I wasn't sure if it was the brake, the headset, or the rim but it was getting too bad to ignore. My wheels are conventional Mavic Open Pro's on DT Hugi hubs and suspecting the front rim was getting worn (remember this is my rain bike so the brake surfaces get a lot of abrasive abuse), I popped in my old sew-up front wheel and - voila! No more grabbiness at all! So the front wheel is shot, the rear is probably not far behind; I figure why not ride my sew-ups all the time? I've got a few (really) old tubulars hanging in the garage for spares, so I made sure the glue was still good on the tires that were already mounted and I had a tubular commute bike.

I desparately wanted to believe the guys on rec.bicycles.tech that say sew-ups are no more prone to flats than clinchers but it wasn't my experience. I don't think I ever went more than about 200 miles without getting a sew-up flat. But I was really enjoying riding my sew-ups to work and I figured I could keep on doing it until I used up all my old tires and then I wouldn't have to build up a new set of clinchers so soon and then I at least would have a reason to finally throw the sew-up rims away for good (or maybe not). Anyway, I got 7-3/4 commutes on the tubulars before my flat. Screw that, my nostalgic feelings for rim glue and latex evaporated in a big poof of compressed air. I'm building some new clinchers on those DT Hugi hubs next week.

Time to start riding my Rockhopper to work anyway - the only bike with lights attached.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Diablo North Side up to Toyon, Down South to Hole in the Fence - 40 miles

A coolish morning, but I wore shorts and my Shower’s Pass jersey. Rick and Nicole were planning to be at the Gate at 8:30 so JB and I rode to the top of the Bump and then back down to meet them.

Rick said Foxy’s Fall Century went well – the roads were in better condition and there wasn’t as much wind as when we rode it together. This time he rode with Joe and the total ride time was 7-1/2 hours! I’m glad I didn’t go.

We stayed together until Moss Landing and then we left Nicole to ride at her slower pace. I got stung by a bee yesterday morning and my left hand was painful all day but this morning it was just a little annoying.

JB started panting pretty hard going up the Bump for the second time and I secretly enjoyed putting the hurt to him, so Rick and I kept just ahead of him forcing him to dig a little. The Mountain isn’t very green yet despite some recent rains; I do have my yellow lenses in the Bolles though so the colors were interesting.

JB was breathing really hard near Chainbuster so Rick and I pulled away from him. We rode side by side rather than drafting which meant that we would have a fair challenge to each other and also that we were both riding away from JB individually. Rick tried his sprint a little too early and he opened up a gap but then I countered and beat him by a couple bike lengths at the line.

There were a few guys hanging around the Junction station. One guy came down from the Summit and locked up his rear wheel and skidded, nearly running into another guy – the ranger saw this and told him to slow down and ride in control.

I wanted to go down to the Tire Poppers and then come back up to the Junction, but JB wanted to go up first, then down South Gate and around so he said we should all go up first and then Rick and I could still turn around at the Tire Poppers. So we all went up to Toyon (bottom of the Speed Trap – neat view from up there) and then zipped up for the descent.

Nicole had been to the Junction and turned back down by then, so we just kept on going down South Gate. When we got past the Kiosk Rick said, “So Scott – Hole in the fence?” and that made me mildly pissed off because they knew I wanted to go back up but I figured what the hell and went along with them. Somewhere near a golf course I saw a rider stopped on the other side of the road and he was wearing a Shower’s Pass jersey also so I acknowledged his excellent choice of clothing with some chest pointing and he reciprocated with a thumbs up. We three took the backroads through Danville and Alamo to the south side of Walnut Creek and then split up and I went home.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Diablo Bump de Bump plus up to Toyon

Woke up to find it had rained over night. Everything was wet but it appeared to be over. Pulled down my foul weather bike and scavenged for some tights and got to the Gate at 8:10. There was a rock on the post, I put another one on there and rode up. Rick’s doing Foxy’s Fall Century today and no one else was coming except JB. I had the hall pass until 11:30 so I figured I’d just ride as much as I could and still get home in time, not knowing what route I’d take.

Started off kind of fast thinking I might catch JB if he were having a bad day (and he’s been fighting a head cold recently). First caught sight of him about a mile below the Bump but I wasn’t sure it was him. After a couple more switchbacks I got close enough to verify that it was so I caught up with him in time for us both to climb the Bump together. He said I was making him breathe too hard and the head cold thing was still messing with him.

I have my yellow lenses in the Bolles now and they give an odd colorful look to all the semi green and brown flora on the Mountain – even the rocks seem different somehow. It was very quiet and still, the road was dry but the fog was getting thicker as we climbed. When we got to the Ranger House JB decided to go for a sprint so I just watched him. Afterwards he said he just wanted to see how far he could push himself with a head full of snot and it took him way too long to catch his breath afterwards. So we hung out for a while at the Junction but he said he’d be going back down North Gate Road. A mountain biker rolled in from the South and said that the trails had gotten very sticky from the rain; he said the stuff caked on his wheels and collected at his fork and stays and the creeks were mostly flowing… must have been more precipitation than I thought.

So JB went home and I went down South Gate. The fog was even thicker here but down around BBQ Terrace it suddenly got sunny, though not warm. I was in my long finger gloves and light jacket and it was barely enough. I wasn’t in a hurry, just wanted to ride up to the limit so I didn’t bomb the descent or rail any corners. Stopped for a few minutes at the tire poppers to eat a Power Bar and a couple guys rode up past me. One of them had a Strada jersey on so I didn’t figure I’d see them again. Going up South Gate is getting to be more familiar to me. I’m remembering how long the tough stretches are and where the tricky corners are and even where some of the bad sections of pavement are. If I’m ever going to do the Diablo Challenge and expect to get close to the hour mark I’m going to have to get even more in tune with it though.

Then I saw the two guys a few switchbacks ahead. I felt pretty good I guess and figured if I could catch them I could pass them and stay ahead. Then they stopped at a pull out and one guy was dinking with his saddle and the other guy was talking on a cell phone about his heart rate and training plan so I didn’t get the ego boost of sneaking up behind and passing them.

Wildlife Encounter: Between Rock City and BBQ Terrace I saw a figure jump up the hill next to the road. As I got closer I saw a coyote standing up there. We watched each other as I rounded the corner… very cool.

I didn’t stop at the Junction – there were a few people there just getting ready to start up Summit Road so I figured I’d have to work hard to stay away from them. It was getting close to 10:30 though which I figured would be my turn around time so I amped it up a little bit. The fog was still pretty thick so the guys behind weren’t able to see me too well but they knew they were getting close. When I got to Toyon picnic area I pulled off and out of sight. They must have wondered what happened to me.

So I buttoned up and headed down. A few more people were at the Junction, including the two guys from South Gate. Then I got stuck behind an SUV that never pulled over so it was a slow descent from there.

Wildlife Encounter: Another coyote above the Upper Washout. He was trotting along some trail looking hungry.

I’d been noticing some odd behaviour from the front end of my drive train. Couldn’t tell exactly what was wrong but shifting was slow and sometimes incomplete. Crank coming loose? No. Bent chainring? Well it looked bent on one revolution and then not on the next… weird. Remember this is the FSA Gossamer compact crank I put on about 200 miles ago so I was hoping there wasn’t something wrong with it.

Wildlife Encounter: A car coming up in the other lane had stopped and the driver was out in front. We both slowed down not knowing what was going on and as we got closer I saw that the guy was trying to shoo a tarantula off the road safely, but was afraid to get too close to the thing! I didn’t stop to help.

Finally the SUV got far enough ahead of me that I could sprint up the double dips but the chain suddenly downshifted from the big ring! OK, I had to stop to investigate at the farmer’s driveway there and… I found three of the five chainring bolts were missing!!! And the other two were quite loose!!!! Crap, that could have been nasty. I finger tightened the remaining two and limped to Encina Bicycle Center and bought a five pack of bolts for $6… good guys there. Put them all on finger tight (Allen wrench on one side, thumbnail on the other) and made it home by 11:25.

Another copasetic day on the bike on the Mountain.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Diablo Junction - 16 miles

Today is the last Wednesday night ride of the year. Couldn’t even get a decent pack from work to show up, just me and Adam. Adam said he needed to get home by dark so that meant leaving Junction well before 6:30 and going down South Gate.

Traffic getting out there was really bad so I didn’t even get to the church until after 5:30. Adam met me and we started off together but by the bottom of the Bump I told him he’d better take off and he didn’t argue. We saw a dead snake and I expected Adam to get grossed out but I guess it’s only tarantulas that do that to him. Adam told me he’s decided to be on the Davis Bike Club “Elite” racing team next year – they have the best package available for the kind of stuff he wants to do… they’ll be expecting him to upgrade to a Cat 2 though, no more sandbagging.

So after the Bump I could see the sun starting to set over the East Bay Hills. My shadow stretched out 30 feet on the flatter sections and my grey sunglasses were way too dark. It was an enjoyable ride though, quiet… like getting ready for hibernation.

Hardly anybody at the Junction either, but I did see a few people coming up while I was descending… including one couple on a tandem.

Good bye Wednesday night rides. See you next April.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Diablo Bump de Bump – 38 miles.

Rick’s doing the Challenge tomorrow so he’s resting today. Nicole called at 7:30 to say she’d meet me at 9 at the Tire Poppers on South Gate (our plan B). JB wasn’t at the Gate by 8 so I put a rock on the post and left. I met up with a couple guys that were about my speed on the way there, but by the time I got going they had about three minutes on me so I didn’t think I’d see them again.

When I first rode out my door this morning I thought I was going to be too cold and there were some dark, ominous clouds to the west, but now here on the mountain it was sunny and a little windy – still cool but I was comfortable in shorts and short sleeves. The tarantulas are starting to thin out already – I only saw two on the way up. Kept looking back for JB but there was no sign of him. I was enjoying the relaxed, meditative ride when I came around Son of Chainbuster and saw the two guys I’d met earlier – they were probably a minute ahead so I picked it up and had a little chase. Almost caught them but they beat me to the Junction. I didn’t stop there, just rolled on through and down to the South.

Immediately the conditions changed; South Gate Road was foggy and damp. Trees were dripping on me and there were large sections of wet pavement. It was like I climbed a mountain in California and was descending one in Oregon – or like I climbed up in September and rode down in December. It wasn’t uncomfortable though; I was enjoying the ride but couldn’t believe the difference.

Hooked up with Nicole near the bottom and started back up with her. She said she got drizzled on at her house in Dublin. Riding with Nicole is always a relaxed experience. I cracked a few jokes and did a lot more scenery admiring than I usually do. Suddenly we came upon JB who also turned around and started up again. When we got up around Rock City where the road was wet Nicole got dripped on by a tree. Summer’s definitely over.

We gabbed for a while at the Junction and then we all split up. JB went up Summit Road, Nicole down South Gate, and I went down North Gate.

Adrenaline Inducing Event: Right at the bottom of the Double Dips, just where you take maximum speed into the sprinter hill, a squirrel made a dash across the road from my left. I was in the middle of the right lane and got a good grip on my bars expecting to pop the little dumbass but (I am NOT making this up) – he stuck out all four feet and SKIDDED about two meters, slowing down just enough to miss my front wheel by the width of an eyelash. I found myself laughing as I pounded up the little climb in my big gear thinking how close I came to increasing the road kill inventory.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Diablo Junction 18 miles

These late season afternoon rides are always interesting; the sun is low, the shadows are long, and the number of riders is way down. Today it was me, JB, and Nicole. Adam was supposed to come but he had two flats on his way in to work this morning so he decided to just go home. He had his brand new titanium Dean (branded as the generic "Blackspot" It's a real sweet bike with DA10 and an Ouzo Pro fork but I'll have to wait until next week to see it in action.

So JB and I stayed with Nicole until about Moss Landing and then we rode on ahead. Around near Clavicle Cracker he started to open up a gap and I pretended I was doing intervals as I dropped back and closed back but never all the way. By Chainbuster he was way ahead of me but there was also another guy between us now so I figured I might pass that guy before the Junction. He saw me though and got motivated to stay ahead of me so it wasn't very satisfying.

Bugs were bad by the hut so JB went down to ride Nicole in and I figured I'd do the same after a little more rest. She had already turned around though and I wound up descending solo all the way back.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Diablo Junction plus South Gate Road to Blackhawk – 38 miles

Today the plan was for an easy ride followed by watching a football game at the sports pub. So I rode Eddy with my MTB shoes, baggy shorts, and a Hawkeye jersey. Rick and JB came along and we tooled up North Gate without getting too competitive.

Wildlife Encounter: Dozens of tarantulas. I’ve seen a few the last couple rides, but today was prime time for the little crawlers.

Rick got a bike computer for his birthday that stores altitude, speed, distance, and temperature data for his rides so he’s been e-mailing me the graphs that it makes afterwards on his computer – pretty interesting if you like gadgets like that.

Rick also set a new PB last Wednesday when I couldn’t ride – 35:25, very impressive (read, better than my PB). He’s thinking he can do a 62 minute Challenge so that’ll also be very impressive. For training today he decided to do 30 second intervals from the Upper Washout to the Junction so that was the last time I saw him. JB went chasing after him so I was off the back for the last few miles, even though I felt pretty good.

At the Junction there were dozens of riders obviously preparing for the Challenge next week. And on the way down South Gate there were another couple dozen coming up… very nice to see.

I’ve been having some front brake problems on Eddy – it’s felt kind of grabby for the last 6 months or so but today it was giving me some scary vibrations and chatter when I pressed hard, so I had a slower than usual descent. JB was meeting a friend at the pub so he took the hole in the fence, but Rick and I did Blackhawk, and then Danville Blvd. We hooked up with some other guys there and I think they sneered at my football jersey so I took a long pull at a couple mph faster than they had been doing and made them hurt a little bit. But then I was about spent when we rolled into Walnut Creek and we split up.

Football game sucked but the beer and hot fries were pretty good, then I rode home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Diablo Junction – 20 miles

Adam really tried to drum up a big crowd from work tonight – he e-mailed everyone he knew with a bike but we wound up with only five of us. And Amanda was the only one who wan’t a regular. It was supposed to be a social ride and we would all go slow and … well, socialize.

Right after we started, a big group of John Muir riders passed us up. It looked exactly like what we were not – cohesive and numerous. So after we got to the rolling section JB, Adam and I left Nicole and Amanda but we still tried to keep the pace conversational. After a bit we started to catch stragglers from the JM group – they had split up and weren’t as cohesive as they first appeared. Passed some more of them on the Bump and some more near Clavicle Cracker. As we got near the Upper Ranch we saw one more guy in a Health Net jersey but I started to fade. Adam told me I had to catch him and then he and JB rode away from me. I tried my hardest but couldn’t keep up. Adam and JB did catch the guy and he held on to their wheels for a little while but then lost it. So it was Adam, JB, Health Net guy, and then me across the line.

We mingled a little bit at the Junction and then turned down to go ride Amanda and Nicole up. It was relaxed but still fun. And now it’s getting dark pretty early so we didn’t stay long, but we decided there was time for some pizza and beer at Round Table.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Diablo Bump d'Bump - 41 miles

Today's plan was for me to ride up North Gate solo, then down South Gate to meet Nicole at 9 o'clock and ride back up with her. Rick's out of town and JB had some other event that required his attendance so it was just me on the way up.

Pretty cool this morning - I had to search a bit for my tights and arm warmers so I got off a little late. My arm warmers were in my back pocket and up until the Lower Ranch I thought I wasn't going to need them but then it got even cooler so I was glad I brought them for later. I didn't pass any other riders on the way up but I saw quite a few coming down.

At Upper Washout I was over 24 minutes and I thought "yeah, that's slow." Probably on track for an almost 50 minute Junction time, but I was enjoying myself and looking forward to some cold weather and even rain in the next few months.

When I did get to Junction it was ten minutes before nine so I just rolled on through but I slowed down enough to see if I recognized any of the dozen or so people hanging out by the shack (I didn't).

Bombing down South Gate I was thinking it would be nice to have my arm warmers on, but I didn't stop to actually do that because I wanted to hook up with Nicole. There were a LOT of riders coming up and hardly any cars - an advantage of high gas prices I suppose. I was having a lot of fun carving those South Gate switchbacks at full speed and thinking I really like these new Hutchinson Fusion Comps but I wasn't quite gutsy enough to push them as far as I would if I hadn't had that front flat a few weeks ago.

And then just as I got to the South Gate tire poppers, there she was. It was perfect timing and I called out that I'd be right with her and then stopped to put my arm warmers on and gulp some HammerGel. In the couple minutes it took me to do that three riders rode up past me and by the time I got going Nicole had almost a half mile head start. I didn't catch her until a mile and a half up the road, but then I slowed down. Nicole isn't a fast rider but she's good company and I'd already put in my hard effort so I enjoyed the slower pace and we talked about Kindergarten, hurricanes, and pets (she just got her kittens fixed) for the next 40 minutes.

Back at the Junction there were another dozen cyclists there including Rick's ex UPS boss and a couple guys that did North Gate in the low 30's - they weren't bragging but I overheard them and they heard me gasp with envy. Also I saw Grant P. trying to help some guy with a Cannondale MTB who had some kind of a front wheel or brake problem... I didn't figure out what it was but they all eventually gave up and they guy looked like he was going to limp home.

Nicole and I bid each other adios and then I went back down North Gate, but I was pretty close to a round number on my odometer so I did a few laps around the Shadelands business park to add a few miles before I went home. Also I got semi-stuck behind some SUV with a "THX YURI" license plate who FINALLY pulled over on the last hairpin before Moss Landing where I went around but of course they came passed me back up a little while later. Good ride today, but I'm feeling some back pain and stiffness that I hope is only temporary.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Diablo Junction - 16 miles

Adam again had declared his intention of breaking the 30-minute barrier today. His plan was to do some extra warming up on the way out and start a little later. JB wasn't riding and Nicole was coming late so I left at the regular time all by myself.

After about a mile I spotted a rabbit to chase - he was wearing a blue and white jersey and since I hadn't seen him until now I figured I must be at least a little faster than him. But now there were a couple guys behind me so I was playing an interesting game of mouse-cat-dogs. The two guys behind me caught up at the bottom of the Bump and one guy with a USPS jersey and a celeste Bianchi sprinted passed me right on the steepest part - but then he slowed down about one bike length in front of me so I passed him right back on the right side while holding a steady speed. Seemed like a total beginner move but maybe he was waiting for his buddy. Anyway I stayed ahead of those two but I lost site of the blue and white guy in front of me.

Coming up to the Upper Ranch a guy in an orange jersey with a funky chin beard caught up to me and right after that I heard Adam coming. He said something as he went by and then the funky chin beard guy said "just like we were standing still". I thought he may have been the other guy with the USPS/Bianchi guy but turned out he was riding solo.

Feeling OK, with none of the residual lactic burn I've been having recently so I stayed in semi-fast time trial mode the rest of the way up. As I got near Chainbuster, USPS/Bianchi guy passed me again! And then he blew up again! He said something like "Holy Jeez!" and I asked him if he was surprised by the difficulty of the climb. He said this was only his second time up the Mountain and that he was from Illinois. I told him it got easier after Chainbuster and then I rode away from him again. He must have really flared out though because he finished at least two minutes behind me.

Blue and white guy must have gone up to the Summit or maybe down South Gate because I didn't see him again. Also didn't see any Diablo Cyclists up there but there were about 20 riders from the John Muir-Mt. Diablo Health Care club. Turns out funky chin beard guy, the USPS Bianchi guy and the other dog were with that club too, but didn't have the jerseys. I've never seen any of these riders before last month and now they're putting a big squad up there every Wednesday! Kind of different to hear people talking about hernias, broken bones, and catheters at the Junction.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

San Francisco Grand Prix

Dear daughter (age 5.5, she and I have been to all five SFGPs together) and I took BART into the City - $4.15 each way each person made for a $16.60 round trip... Usually I take BART for the convenience but with gas at $3/gal and the Bay Bridge toll it would probably have been about the same cost to drive (if I could find free parking). Met Sarkis on the train with his MTB and lots of other bike race fans, and we got off at Embarcadero right where the race
starts and finishes.

Rumors were that with Lance retired the crowds at this year's race would be much smaller - could be but not by much. Lots of people were there but the schwag expo was a *little* less elaborate than prior years. I scored some Don Francisco coffee, a Gerolsteiner/Levi water bottle, some Jelly Bellies, and a few other things. Then we walked down the block to watch the start.

Our plan was to walk the course during the first few laps, making our way to Taylor Street where the decisive selection is usually made. Rick called me from Fillmore and said he'd meet us on Taylor too. One thing that makes this race so much fun to watch is all the interesting people you see in between the laps... the kinds of people you can only see in San Francisco.

As usual in this race, the steep hills break the peloton into a bunch of splintered little groups. Michael Creed from Discovery was on a solo break with no chance of winning but he was the first one up the climbs for quite a few laps and the crowd loved him for it. Finally another break of three guys including McCartney and Lieswyn caught him and took over the race lead. Here's the photo I took:

The group of three lost the Kodak-Sierra Nevada rider on the next lap, Then a couple Gerolsteiner guys who had been chasing hard the last lap or so pulled one out and Fabian Wegmann caught up to the group of two. Here's my shot of that move:

Rick took a photo of me and daughter on the street, and you can see Alcatraz in the background.

Wegmann rode the last couple km perfectly and won the sprint to be the King of San Francisco. He looked really happy to win. I hope this race continues to grow every year, it's such an exciting and fun event.

Thank you Barclay's Global Investors. Maybe they're keeping track so check out that link. Also send them a thank you note like I did, telling them you appreciate their sponsorship. Here's a link to their website feedback form FEEDBACK (that's not specific to the race so be sure to put in a good subject line).

Here's a link to Ken Papai's digital photos of the SFGP - he makes my photos look like garbage. PAPAI

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Diablo Junction - 18 miles

Standard after work Wednesday ride. I met JB and Nicole at the start and we began easily. Adam would be coming but we didn't know when. Nicole dropped off the gruppetto at Moss Landing and then JB and I started to chase some of the riders we had seen earlier. After the Bump though JB rode away from me and then at the Upper Ranch Adam came around. I told him he could probably catch JB but he didn't seem too in that idea.

At the Junction most people had already left. Just a small crowd to BS with for a while. Season's winding down. Saturdays will be busy for a while yet as the Diablo Challenge gets closer, then it will just be us hard cores over the winter again.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Diablo Junction - 28 miles

Rick was very strong today. He, JB, and I were the only ones to show up this morning. Rick had on his new King Kong DeFeet socks that I gave him for his birthday a few weeks ago. Looked to be a fast one from the start and I felt pretty good. Not too hot, not too windy, a good day to ride bikes on Mt. Diablo.

We were pretty steady until after the Bump. Rick went into power mode and I stayed on his wheel. I could hear JB gasping for breath behind us and I thought “go Rick GO!”. We put about half a minute on him but JB never gives up and I was on the rivet and pretty soon I couldn’t hold onto Rick’s wheel any more. Of course that meant JB would smell blood and find some extra juice – which he did. I finished a demoralizing third.

Man there were a lot of people at the Junction - maybe some people who were used to riding later in the day came early to beat the heat.

Rick’s still got his Campy Neutron wheels on (with the higher low gear) and he’s training for the Diablo Challenge. He went on to the Summit, JB went down South Gate, and I went home to tackle my honeydew list.

Next week – the SAN FRANCISCO GRAND PRIX !!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Diablo Junction - 23 miles

I left work early and rode my commute bike home, then changed and rode to the Mountain from there. When I went past Countrywood I saw all the Diablo Cyclists getting ready to roll, but I didn't wait for them. I felt pretty good and figured I could put in a hard effort. I got to the Gate a little early and did some stretching. The Diablo Cyclists rode on by but I waited for JB and Adam. Then I saw Adam riding up with his wife Sarah, who's been threatening to come up with us one of these days. So riding with a first-timer sounded more interesting than riding for a fast time and I changed my objective.

Almost perfect weather, just a little windy. I rode a lot of the Mountain in a big gear with slow cadence. Adam and I pointed out all the interesting places along the way. Sarah started to lose her positive attitude after the Bump but we encouraged her and lied about how much easier the rest of the Mountain was and she kept on riding. Adam offered to stop for a while so she could take a rest, but she said it's better not to stop - that was cool. When Adam and I got a little too far ahead, we had a track stand contest while Sarah caught up to us.

JB passed us up a little while later and continued on by himself. Sarah almost gave up near the Upper Ranch, but a little more cheerleading kept her going and she made it to the Junction with a time of about 65 minutes.

A little while after that Jamshid, a friend from the old days, arrived also. Haven't seen him in probably 5 years, so that was nice. He rode with some friends from his current workplace and looked like he enjoyed himself, but would rather be playing soccer.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Tour d’Organics 2005

Tour d’Organics 2005, Sonoma County – 108 miles Century Ride Review

Put some new handlebar tape on the Klein. Deda Silver Faux Carbon. Not as cushy as Cinelli cork wrap but pretty nice.

A little background on this ride: this is the first year it’s been held and it’s put on by Organic Athlete, whose name pretty much describes its mission but you can check out their website for more info. Adam is on the Organic Athlete bike racing team but there are also Organic Athletes in many other sports. All the rest stops were going to be at organic farms and have fresh-picked organic produce, and the post-ride meal was going to be a vegan delight. There’s a special place in my heart for Sonoma County and this ride sounded like a fun and different event so I talked Rick into doing it with me, and Nicole decided she’d like to do the 35 mile route as well. Keeping with the theme of the day, we car pooled in their Prius hybrid car.

I’d heard some rumors that Organic Athlete had been having some organizational problems so I resolved to be self-sufficient and packed extra PowerBars and HammerGel than I normally would. Check in at the Sebastopol Community Center was very smooth, but there weren’t that many riders – I can’t remember ever being able to park so close to the check in desk. There was a lot of food still in boxes but it was all for the rest stops; there wasn’t anything to eat before we got started.

The route sheet didn’t have a map, just a list of streets and turns and mileage – that always bugs me because if you miss a turn it’s very hard to figure out where you are. There was also a hand-written sign that pointed out an error on the route sheet and how to correct it.

We rolled at 7:20. Missed our first turn at 7:22… a half dozen riders all grouped up including some locals, we studied the route sheet and figured out where we were supposed to be… our odometer mileage was already off the official count by 1 mile. I usually don’t pay much attention to the route sheets, and count on the painted road arrows to be correct and observable; I started to lose this confidence already today. Anyway pretty soon we were on a multi-use trail out of town. After we hit the open road, Rick and I left Nicole and rode a fast early tempo.

It was cool and really foggy, almost everyone had arm warmers on, and a few people had tights and light jackets. The condensation was dripping off my helmet and onto my sunglasses. Quickly we arrived at the first rest stop down a long gravel driveway.

Rest Stop #1 – 13 miles (14 ridden).
This first rest stop had several different melons and grapes and corn on the cob (raw and cold). The farmer husked the corn while we munched and pulled out an occasional worm to prove he didn’t use any pesticides. Would have been nice to get a muffin or a bagel. I ate half my first PowerBar and then we left.

The next leg had a few rolling hills and some gentle slopes. It was still chilly but fun to push ourselves a bit. We tooled along, following the painted arrows in the road and passed some other riders feeling great and full of enthusiasm. Suddenly we noticed people stopped on the road, and some turning around and riding the other way. Rick studied the route sheet and couldn’t figure out where we were but decided we weren’t on course. We turned around too but other people were telling us we shouldn’t be… it was very confusing. While we were re-tracing our path, we came upon Nicole who had also been led astray and just turned around. We rode with her until we found the source of the problem – a painted arrow that should have pointed straight across the road, instead pointed for a left turn. A couple on a tandem then covered up the erroneous direction with some rags they found, hoping to spare following riders from our long detour. Rick and I now had 9 miles more than our route sheet directions so that made things all the more confusing.

Leaving Nicole again, we cooked along a rural highway with a wide shoulder. At the bottom of a gradual descent there was a red light with a couple cars and a lot of cyclists waiting to cross the intersection. I anticipated having to weave my way through the pack of riders up the hill on the other side, and not having much room to pass, but just as the light turned green, a pick-up towing a tall trailer full of junk passed us slowly and I slipped into the slipstream. As the truck accelerated, I stayed with him and passed the whole peloton at 30mph up hill! That was cool. When Rick caught up to me finally we’d both burned up too many matches for this early in the ride.

Rest Stop #2 – 20 miles (29 ridden). This was at a non-descript organic farm down some long flat country roads. More melons and strawberries. Wish I had an organic bagel and some cream cheese.

The third leg of our century brought us back to the Sebastopol area and onto the trails again. Several miles of trails actually, even the third rest stop was on the trail behind some guy’s farm.

Rest Stop #3 – 38 miles (47 ridden). This was basically a fruit stand. Lots of berries, more grapes and melons. My stomach was gnawing at me now. I did see an interesting site here though – a local rider, tall guy maybe 60 years old, rode up to see what was going on… the funny thing was he had one of those old Giro helmets (the ones that look like they’re made out of rubber) and the buckles of the straps that are supposed to be below your ear were right over the top of his ear. It looked dumb and uncomfortable, but I decided not to say anything to him.

Leg #4 would bring us to the lunch stop. I started sucking my HammerGel and I had already eaten both my PowerBars. We headed north to Geyserville and we finally had some fun roads to ride. We crossed some neat old bridges and had a couple good descents, but the road surfaces were pretty crappy – chip seal with pot holes and wrinkles. By the time we got to lunch I was feeling pretty tired and beat-up.

Rest Stop #4 – 61 miles (70 ridden). Finally some substantial food, but not substantial quantities. There were some tasty raw veggie wrap things but there was also a wrap Nazi and a warning sign to take ONLY ONE. I also got the last half banana that they had (how do you run out of bananas on a century with hundreds of riders yet to come?) They had some interesting looking Asian pears, but they had the consistency of a raw potato – I took a bite and spit it out. I ate some more watermelon, Rick sneaked a second wrap. Jeez, I wished they had something salty and some kind of bread. I downed some more HammerGel and we sat on the grass for a long time. It was hot now and I took off my arm warmers finally. Rick got a call from Nicole who had just finished her ride and she said they didn’t have any lunch ready for her – she was the first short loop rider to finish and they weren’t ready.

16 miles to the next rest stop. We passed a small general store and there were quite a few riders stopped there for Twinkies and Coke. I thought about it but Rick slapped me to my senses. The WinnerPhoto guy took this photo of us http://www.winnerphoto.com/organics/1240/124022_0911_organics.htm (they’re too smart to allow me to cut and paste the thumbnail here.
uh-oh, first twinge of a cramp in my right hamstring. Usually that happens when I’m not getting enough salt and spinning too low of a gear. I put it in the big ring and dropped my cadence to about 50. It was now a game to climb the gradual hills in a huge gear out of the saddle and keeping the cramps away. DZZZZTT – a cattle prod to the hamstrings again, I had to be careful. Then there was a short but steep hill right before the next rest stop. Rick had soloed his way over already and there was no chance I could tackle this bugger in a big gear, so I downshifted and twiddled. DZZZTT. DZZZZZZZZT. Electroshock therapy to both hams at the same time and they both seized up BAD. I reactively unclicked both cleats just as I crested the top and my legs curled up. CRAP, now I was coasting at 2mph with no propulsion possible and I couldn’t get a foot down. I was going to fall on my face and look ridiculous in front of a whole swarm of riders I’d just passed – NO WAY! I forced myself to straighten out both legs (whoa, ouch!) and braked hard to come off the saddle and straddle the top tube. It was painful and not pretty but it was a lot better than falling over. After a couple minutes I was able to continue on to the next stop.

Rest Stop #5 – 86 miles (95 ridden). OK, me and Rick were both wasted now. He has foot pain and I have neck pain and leg cramps and we’re eating more freaking fruit. I go to mix up some Cytomax and THERE’S NO WATER. Are you kidding me? The rest stop is in this farmer’s back yard and there’s a nice fountain and some chairs. Finally someone discovers a garden hose and I have a taste – OK, that’s drinkable. Rick’s also getting intestinal problems from eating all this raw food (he’s carnivorous generally) and spends a curiously long time in the portapotty. We decide to finish off this ride ASAP.

The last leg of the route was again mostly on trails. More views of dairy farms, vineyards, and sewage treatment plants. At least it was shady. Suddenly it was all over and we were back at the Community Center. Nicole had already eaten but Rick and I were famished. There was some tasty stuff like Thai salad, mashed potatoes with mushrooms, curried garbanzo beans (I got the last scoop, they ran out of these too) and some disgusting apple crisp that wasn’t very crispy. No soft drinks, no breads, and nothing salty or crunchy. The Nazis were here too, making sure no one got any seconds. We decided what we needed was a bag of chips and a Coke so we packed up and left, but not before leaving some useful criticisms on the comment cards they provided. On the way out we heard quite a few other riders talking about what restaurant they were going to for some more food. We wound up at El Torito and made a lot of jokes about salt and carbs. Rick said this ride was harder than the Seattle to Portland in one day ride that he did last month.

The guys at WinnerPhoto.com wouldn't let me copy a thumbnail so here's the link with my photo: MeAndRick

Tour d’Organics, 108 miles
Ride Time: 6 hrs
Total Time: 8 hrs

Scorecard (10 = perfect):
Course: 5
Difficulty: 4
Organization: 3
Food: 2

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Diablo Junction - 16 miles

JB’s on vacation so it was just me and Adam today. Nicole decided for a late start to beat the heat. Adam again announced his intention to break 30 and go home down South Gate, and he ordered me to break 40. He said he’d wait for me at the Junction until the 40 minute mark and then he was leaving.

From the Gate – he started hammering. I slid into the sweet spot and hung on for dear life. Stayed there for a long time even though it was killing me. I was determined to hold on until Moss Landing and determination is all I had as we got close. After that I exploded off the back and tried to recover as Adam rode away from me into the distance.

I was almost recoved when I hit the Bump but not enough to push it so I just twiddled up. Then I was almost recovered again when I got to the Upper Washout, but I still kept it semi-easy. Then I decided to keep it semi-easy the rest of the way to Junction and finished with a time of 44m.

Adam was still there and said he did about 33 and talked about how he could break 30 next week.

I didn’t stick around long, rode back up a ways with Nicole when I got to her, and then finished the descent.

Tour d’Organics is SUNDAY!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Diablo Junction - 16 miles.

I got my car working this week so I drove in to work with the Klein on the roof and drove to North Gate Road at 5 o'clock. Jeff and Adam rode from work and were planning on riding home together down South Gate since they both live that way. When I got to the Gate I found Mark P who did the Death Ride a few weeks ago and who agreed to ride Tour d'Organics with me and Rick on the 21st. So at the Gate, Adam sprinted away and I rode with Mark and Jeff who didn't seem to be in any hurry. We got passed by a few folks and I figured it would be fun to chase them down later but we all got to talking and it never happened.

Mark told us about the Death Ride experience - he said at one stop a guy leaned his bike up against a bunch of other bikes in a rack and then tipped them all over, including Mark's: no serious damage but he needed some new handlebar tape anyway. He said he felt pretty good but at the last check point he called it quits and didn't do the 5th pass.

Jeff has some American Classic wheels on his new Orbea and a while ago I told him about a recall I heard about and he did have the recalled hub so the bike shop did the recall repair work on it and now the ratchet is much louder than it was and that's annoying. He also said the bike shop was irritated at American Classic since they only received vouchers to buy more American Classic componentry instead of getting reimbursed in cash for the labor they put into fixing all these wheels. The recall had to do with the ratchet failing so you could be just riding along and suddenly you would be unable to drive the wheel.

As we got close to the top, Mark and I pulled ahead of Jeff and then Adam came down after finishing his climb so he rode with Jeff; Mark and I finished together. Then we all BS'ed for a while and everybody went down. I got passed by a car that was going way too fast and then I got stuck behind a moped carrying two people who didn't know much about descending, but when I came across Nicole coming up I turned back around and climbed up a ways with her before I finished going down.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Diablo Junction - 23 miles

Nobody in our little group rode on Saturday for various reasons, so I figured I’d ride at a different time just to see what it was like. Sunday at 10:40 when I left the house was already pretty warm and it was getting hotter by the minute.

Crossed the line at the Gate at 11 o’clock and anticipated about a 45 minute ride. I saw a lot of people descending in ones and twos but no larger groups. Near the Bump I saw a woman ahead of me and it took me quite a while to catch her. We both said “hi” when I went by and she looked determined but having a hard time. I almost offered to stay with her for a while to make sure she was OK, but I didn’t. A few switchbacks farther up I looked down and didn’t see her. I couldn’t have put that much distance between us in so little time, so I assumed she had turned around… too bad.

Wildlife Encounter: Lots of butterflies – pretty orange ones and yellow ones, I’ve never seen so many on the Mountain. Maybe they like the heat.

Rolled into the Junction at 45 minutes. There were about 8 riders hanging around talking. A few more rode up every couple minutes and a few others went down. I was sitting on the bench near the steps enjoying some shade and I heard a guy ask some other guys if they had a long-stem tube. They said they didn’t so I called out that I had one. I wasn’t even sure who was asking or what the problem was, so when he appeared around the corner I asked him what his story was – did he not pack a spare? Was his spare bad? Did he not know he needed a long tube with his wheels? He said “No, basically I just had my head up my ass!” Everybody laughed at that and then we watched him change his tire. He said his tire just blew up while it was in the rack in front of the Ranger Station. He tried to put in a short-stem tube but couldn’t get the pump on it; his wheels were the first generation Shimano low-spoke count guys like this:

He looked like he knew what he was doing but lacked the confidence of someone who’s changed a lot of tires. He used his plastic tire lever to help re-seat the bead and I was afraid he was going to pinch my tube and wind up stuck again. He said he’d been at the Junction for quite a while trying to come up with a fix and had given up, calling a friend for a ride home. He was glad I came along and I think his friend was too since he got the call that he wasn’t needed. His rims didn’t look much deeper than mine but I guess they must have been. My wheels are Bontrager Race Lites

and they’ll accept a short stem valve but it’s easier to get my pump on longer ones so that’s what I always buy. He offered me the spare he had tried to use as payment and I told him just to keep it and give it to someone else who would need it in the future but he reminded me I didn’t have any spare so I agreed it would be a good idea.

Descending back down North Gate Road, the wind felt really nice. Near Chainbuster I went past the woman I thought had turned around nearly half an hour before! She was still going up and still determined, good on her! Then in the winding section above the Upper Washout my front tire decided to go flat!!! Not a blow out but it went soft very quickly and I just about biffed going around those turns on my rim. A little scary but I wasn’t going that fast so I stayed vertical and found a nice shady spot to change the tube. Then I thought about how I had almost refused the extra tube and I would have been trying to patch my bad one in this heat. The CO2 gadget grabbed the short stem just fine and I was back on the road in 5 minutes but I finished the ride in extra cautious mode.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Diablo Junction from Work - 30 miles

Very warm, high 80's, a little wind at the bottom.

I left work alone, JB and Adam were running late so I took an easy ride to the Gate. I figured if I didn't push it Adam worked JB trying to catch me he might be easier to stay with on the climb. They caught me on Walnut and then we stayed together until the Gate. Adam announced that today he would be breaking 30 and we chuckled because he's said that a bunch of times but hasn't been very close to that time in more than a year. But at the Gate he jumped on it and we didn't see him again.

JB and I rode together until the Double Dips where I took a little flyer and soon I had a huge gap on him. I was going harder than I could maintain, but that seemed too easy. I kept it up for a while and saw that he was catching up again near the bottom of the Bump. But there was a guy in front of me - a guy with brown hair, a yellow sleeveless jersey, no helmet, and an older Miyata with downtube shifters (the kind that mounted on TOP of the downtube, not on the sides? very interesting). So I was chasing no-helmet guy and JB was chasing me and that was kind of fun. I passed no-helmet guy and he said "whew!" or something like that and then I hammered through the easy part after the Upper Washout and the gap to JB got bigger. But suddenly he caught me and I got on his wheel for a few minutes while we went around Clavicle Cracker and past the Ranches. He rode away from me after the Upper Ranch and wound up beating me by a couple minutes.

Junction Time: 41m04s - but I felt a lot better than other recent rides so maybe I'll be going for some fast ones soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Diablo Junction from Work - 26 miles

Another hot one this afternoon - although not nearly as hot as the last three Wednesdays. Adam, JB, and I left from the office and scurried up Ygnacio Valley Road around all the traffic gridlock to Montego where you can cut behind the medical areas and get to the trail. We didn't wait for anyone and the Diablo Cyclists were just leaving the church so there was a big group for a half mile.

Everything split up right away at the Gate. Adam took off with a guy he recognized as a speedster, JB tried to ride off by himself but a small group of us stayed behind him and heckled him until he finally got away. I was with the small group until the Bump where I drifted off the back. I just couldn't get comfortable on the bike today and I felt weak and unmotivated. I must be overtrained!

Product Review: Specialized Body Geometry Cycling Gloves

Cycling gloves last me about three years, and I needed a new pair. I was getting tired of the same old Pearl Izumi White Line gloves that I always buy at Performance in Walnut Creek and I happened to be in El Sobrante a few weeks ago so I checked out the selection at The Pedaler (I'd link but their website seems to have been hijacked today… check back later). These gloves come in a "PRO" version that doesn't have any loosening strap, and a "COMP" version that has a traditional Velcro closure - I got the COMP version. The palm padding with these gloves is a little different than I'm used to having, but it seems to be really well thought out. There's the right amount of padding, but it's in a little bit different place than in most gloves - I guess that's the idea, anyway it feels comfortable and is supposed to be better at absorbing road vibrations. The fit is very good, and the stitching quality and materials are excellent. The snot wiping area is adequate and hopefully the bright blue color won't fade as fast as the Pearl Izumi gloves I had before. They were a little more expensive than the Pearls but not outrageous. I like them and recommend them and give them a DiabloScott rating of 9.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Diablo Summit - 33 miles

Rick called while I was on my way to the Gate. He said he was going to be late and that his brother Chris was with him. So JB and I did a warm up ride to the bottom of the Bump and then turned around. Rick, Chris, and Nicole were already started but we went all the way to the Gate before turning around. Then I sprinted to catch up with the three and JB mysteriously disappeared. I rode with them for a while and then this guy with a Saeco jersey passed me just before the Bump. Later JB caught up to us and he said he thought the Saeco guy wanted to race him. Then took off together and we passed the Saeco guy near the Lower Ranch - he looked to be about 60 and in good shape.

Then I accelerated and gapped JB. Near Chainbuster I figured I had about 20 seconds on him. I thought "If I can keep this gap up for another half mile I'll have the win in the bag". Then I looked back one more time and he was right there! I got on his wheel and figured he couldn't keep up that speed for long, but he kept it up long enough for me to poop out... so I did.

Big re-grouping at the Junction and Chris decided he'd like to try to go up to Juniper even though he didn't have much energy. JB decided to go down South Gate and return on the flats. Rick and I decided to do the Summit. He was feeling good because he had ridden slowly to the Junction, but I had burned some matches trying to stay ahead of JB so I was a little tired and Rick dropped me near the Muir Picnic Area and stayed ahead the rest of the way.

On the way back down we saw three interesting things: a bagpipe player on one of the pull outs, an uber-naturalist riding up on an old beater bike with corduroy pants and a towel on his head, and a guy with an overheating pickup who was putting washer fluid in his radiator.

Rick had a transparent section in the back of his shorts, I cracked up (ha!) watching the view in the little window! He led me out for a sprint up the Double Dips but I went too early and it was windier than I thought so I faded before the top.

We went to the coffee shop and were surprised to find JB there too. He got to the South Gate kiosk and changed his mind about going back on the flats so he went back to Junction and down North Gate.

Product Review: Hutchison Fusion Comp Tires

I've got about 100 miles on these now and I really like them. I got the black and silver ones because they match my saddle. They corner well and roll smoothly and they look well made. In my opinion they're at least as good as the Michelin Pro Race tires that I've been using and significantly cheaper. I give them my highest rating: 10.

Next century: Tour d'Organics

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Diablo Junction from Work

I thought Adam was going to rip our legs off just riding from the office to the Gate. We got there alone, no other riders. Adam said he was going to do some big gear drills so it was easy to draft him for a while but it was hot so I let him go in favor of surviving. JB stayed with me for a while but figured he could hang with Adam today so then I was isolated. I had two bottles completely frozen when I started out and they were melting at a nice rate providing me nice cold Cytomax and water.

I passed Diablo Cyclist Craig down below the Bump. He's not one of the faster riders but he does the Death Ride and double centuries and he's got several very nice bikes so he's a serious rider and he's a friendly guy.

21 minutes at the Upper Washout - I figured about 42 for the Junction. It was like a desert up there tonight - hot and very dry, I could feel my lips cracking, begging for some moisture.

45 minutes at the Junction. Not a lot of riders up there, but several of the regulars. The thermometer on the shack said 93°F in the shade so it was OK to blame the heat for my crappy ride.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Diablo Junction plus SGR to the Tire Poppers - 35 miles

I felt good this morning... not great but a hell of a lot better than the last couple rides. It was a bright sunny day but there was still some chill in the air and the wind felt good on my skin. Didn't get a lot of sleep last night (woke up early to watch the Tour) but I felt rested, recovered, and a bit cheeky.

Rick was back from the Seattle to Portland ride but I wasn't sure if he was going to show. JB had been out of the office and I wasn't sure if he was going to show. The Death Riders shot their collective wads last weekend and I didn't know if anyone at ALL would be on the mountain. No one was at the Gate, but while I was waiting a few people went by that I thought I could pass and so that was my goal.

At five after I put the rocks on the post and set off for a solo ride. I passed two guys that seemed like they were beginners pretty early on and then I settled into my own pace. Near the bottom of the Bump I noticed someone closing on me in a white sleeveless jersey so I tried to maintain my coolness. As the rider got closer I realized that she was a triathlete woman so I tried to look studly and control my breathing. As triathlete woman (whom I shall henceforth refer to as "La Donna del Diablo") came around me she said some nice things about the heat and showed me her heels. She was smooth, strong, and… OK, excellent eye candy. I decided not to show off by sucking her wheel – it wouldn’t have been pretty.

Finished at the Junction with a time of about 41 minutes. There were a half-dozen or so riders hanging around and then Rick pulled in. He had on a full Jelly Belly kit that he got at a swap meet in Seattle to Portland. He also showed me his cool new Cyclosport computer that downloads data to his computer. Then a couple minutes after that JB rolled in. We asked each other what we wanted to do next (this is a way of feeling out who is feeling strong and who’s not). I recommended SGR to the Boundary Gate and back up and they both agreed.

South Gate is a fun road to descend – it’s got a few more trees and some sections of flat and even a couple tiny climbs. The switchbacks there are also tighter than anything on North Gate so there’s some technical skill involved too.

At the tire poppers we turned around and JB looked already to be off his game.; Rick and I rode away from him pretty early. I was feeling much better though and the temperature was still nice so I didn’t mind pushing it a little bit. A couple times I opened a gap on Rick but it was too early to go for it so I let him catch back up.

I always fade at that long straight section of climbing above Rock City where the road goes past the trail crossing and the Stagecoach area, so today that’s where I decided to attack – working on my weakness and all that. It was kind of fun, I treated it like a big gear/slow cadence drill and I got way ahead of Rick and affirmed to stay there.

Of course I started to fade in the final bit and Rick closed in on me but I crossed the line about a minute ahead of him so that was a good feeling. Too bad La Donna del Diablo didn’t see me.

It was very warm by now so we all went to Mia Café and I drank a liter of Snapple with lots of ice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Diablo Junction Plus - 28 miles

I still don’t have my car running so I rode my Klein to work, and stored it in Adam’s office.

Today was the hottest day I’ve ridden in at least a year. I knew it was going to be a tough ride so I tried to stay hydrated all day. But when you’ve been in a nice air conditioned building for 9 hours the heat can hit you like a load of bricks.

Adam, Brian and I rode together to the Gate and we met JB there. Adam took off right away. I hooked up with Jay and Dave for a little while – if I’m feeling really good I can stay with them but I was feeling really drained and spacey today so I drifted back. I just didn’t have much power and it was MOSTLY because of the heat but maybe also lack of sleep from getting up too early to watch the live Tour coverage.

On the Bump, Brian passed me – he was riding JB’s Della Santa and I was really being careful about over doing it. He looked like he was killing himself to pass me and I half expected to see him chunder farther up the road. He didn’t though – he did a good ride.

JB passed me around the Lower Ranch – he was on his Atlantis and he was hot but he seemed to be tolerating the heat better than me.

After that no one passed me and I was on my own for the rest of the way. There were times I thought about pulling over in the shade for a break but I kept on chugging. It really annoyed me that I didn’t have something extra in the tank and just felt weak and slow.

Finally made it to the Junction with a time of 46 minutes. I was so spent all I could do is sit on the bench and sweat until it was time to go down.

Wildlife Encounter: A racoon raiding the garbage can at the Junction. He found an empty cookie bag and couldn’t figure out why it smelled so good but didn’t taste like food. Cute little booger.

Still hot at 11pm!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

No Diablo ride this weekend. Finally put on the new compact crank on my Eddy Merckx though. It's an FSA Gossamer Compact with FSA Platinum ISIS bottom bracket; watch for the product review coming soon. It all went together very well, initial impressions are very good, and my old crank and bb are for sale on eBay:


My Eddy Merckx With New Crank

Close Up Of Crank

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Diablo Junction - 28 miles

My car broke down last weekend so I rode my Klein to work and parked it in Adam’s office. After work JB, Adam, Amanda, and I all rode together to the Gate but JB and Adam were late getting out the door so we didn’t leave the parking lot until 5:20. Brian had a flat in the parking lot and decided not even to go. Amanda didn’t know the way since she usually gets a ride from me or Nicole so we had to stay with her – she’s improved a lot but she’s not very fast yet so by the time we started up North Gate it was 5:45 or so.

Just before we crossed the line a guy on a roadified mountain bike (whom henceforth shall be called “Slick”) passed us and we all kind of chuckled nervously. At the line, Adam announced that it was his intention to do intervals after a 5-minute tempo ride. I hopped right on his wheel and had no trouble with his tempo because there was a bit of a headwind and he was working harder than me. JB decided not to join in the tempo riding. We passed Slick at about minute two. At minute five Adam started his sprint intervals and I just let him go. For some reason I didn’t have much focus today and my power was low also so I just rode within myself.

By the Lower Ranch both JB and Slick had passed me so that was pretty demoralizing. Adam actually came back down and turned around… literally riding circles around me. I did see some of the Diablo Cyclists hanging out in the shade so it wasn’t just me that was having trouble. No excuses today, I was just really feeling the chain. Finished up with a time of 43 and change. Hung around for a while, thought about going down South Gate but decided not to.

Got behind a car that wouldn’t pull over on the way down so that wasn’t very interesting either. I hope Saturday’s ride is better than this. Usually the TdF really motivates me.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Diablo Junction plus SGR - 28 miles

On the way to the Gate this morning, I caught up with a guy named Mark who must have been a Greg Lemond fan because he had an old ADR jersey and a GL frame. I passed him on Bancroft but then he caught up to me at the light on Ygnacio so we introduced ourselves and rode the rest of the way together. At first I thought I was stronger than him and I didn’t mind doing all the pulling, but then he came around me and insisted on doing a turn at the front so that was cool. We caught up to JB just below the Gate and then Mark took off by himself.

There was no sign of anyone else coming so JB and I started up alone. He looked like he had a few too many beers last night and wasn’t feeling too perky so I figured I might have some fun. It was warm this morning and I brought two bottles with lots of ice – that tasted really good as we got a little higher.

We didn’t see Mark after the start – he must be a fast climber. We did see the guy with the motorized mountain bike – he came around us quite fast above the Bump and looked like he was having fun. JB and I were riding at a casual pace and he seemed to be breathing harder than usual so with a mile and a half to go I launched my escape and stayed away until the Junction.

I tried to talk him into going down to the tire poppers and back up but he would only agree to the South Gate Kiosk so I took what I could get. On the way back up he was feeling better and did a little escape of his own at the steeper part just before the Junction. Nicole got there from North Gate at the same time as we returned from South Gate and so then we all went out for a Planet Juice. Then when I got home I put on my new tires – Hutchinson Fusion Comps… but they clash with my purple handlebar tape – might need to change that as well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Diablo Junction, the Hurl Ride - 20 miles

The idea behind the Hurl Ride is that we estimate our best time to the Junction and stagger our starts so hopefully we'll all finish at the same time. Nicole's goal was the longest so she started first but Adam, JB, and I had almost a half an hour to kill before starting so we rode part way up and then turned around. I was aiming for a 38 minute ride (haven't been anywhere near PB times this year) and that meant I didn't start until 6:15 or so. JB started 2 minutes after me (today is his 50th! birthday so he was hoping to prove something),and Adam was going for a 30 minute attempt (his all-time PB is 32).

The heat was definitely a factor although it wasn't killer - probably in the low 90's F. I started off fast but holding some back. The last few Hurl Rides JB has passed me way below the finish because he sandbagged his estimated time. This ride though I kept looking back and didn't see him until much farther up. At the top of the Upper Washout -I was at 18m30s and usually that's about half the total time so I was on track for a 37 minute ride… maybe I was sandbagging my estimate this year? Nah, I was starting to struggle and my heart rate was in the mid 170's the whole time. I could see JB now but I still had a good distance on him and I stood a good chance of keeping it.

Near the Upper Ranch I heard sirens and then I saw a ranger pick-up coming down. The ranger stopped a couple times to talk to riders who had pulled over and it looked as though he was asking them if they were OK as if he was looking for an injured rider. When he came by me I pulled all the way over but didn't dismount so he didn't stop. I heard later that someone had crashed on the descent and maybe broken a collar bone but no one was really sure.

That mile from the Upper Washout to the Lower Ranch wasn't as fast as I needed to go - the heat was getting to me and my legs were feeling kind of dead. I passed Nicole in this section and she said she had stopped a couple times to rest and I told her JB was right behind me. With 2 miles to go I was about 30 seconds behind my goal. Then the mile from there to Big Shady Oak was even worse and with 1 mile to go I was about 90 seconds behind. JB passed me between there and Chainbuster so I lost my motivation as well as more time and I finished in 39m43s. JB was about 45 seconds in front of me which meant he was a minute slower than his goal. Adam came in at 35 minutes, Amanda did a PB with 63, and Nicole didn't finish at all.

It was good to do a ride where we were all going hard, but it was kind of disappointing too.

At the Junction I could really feel that the hard effort in the heat had taken a toll - it took me longer to recover and get ready to go down and I felt a little dehydrated even though I did everything right in the fluid-replacement category.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Diablo Junction Plus - 28 miles

Just as I was getting to North Gate Road, Rick called to say he and Nicole would be late. There was a rock on the post but I didn’t know if JB had started up already – the rock signal is pretty much useless these days. So I waited for R&N.

It was cool and really foggy. We stayed with Nicole and talked about the upcoming Seattle to Portland ride until Moss Landing and then Rick and I picked it up a bit, but basically just chugged along.

Near the Upper Ranch, we came across Sarkis coming down. He turned around and went up with us, and said that the Diablo Cyclists were having their Death Ride training camp today; essentially climbing until they can’t climb no more and they started at 7am. Sarkis isn’t doing the DR but started out with them anyway. As we got close to the Junction I threw down a sprint – Rick didn’t follow but Sarkis came around me like a miniature Petacchi.

At the Junction dozens of riders stopped by from the north, the south, and the Summit. I chatted briefly with Dave, a Diablo Cyclist from the Wednesday night rides. I first met him last year and we frequently wound up in the same little gruppetto but he’s gotten markedly faster since then and I don’t think I can keep up with him anymore. Anyway, he mentioned that I referred to him as “an unidentified rider” in my post of about 2 weeks ago so this week he gets almost a whole paragraph for himself. Have a great Death Ride, Dave.

Rick and I decided to climb up a bit farther and then turn around to meet Nicole back at the Junction. The fog was even thicker on Summit Road, and the trees were dripping with condensation. It was an interesting ride. We got back to Junction just as Nicole got there and there was a whole new group of riders there too. We’ve got to figure out a way to get this many cyclists on the Mountain more often – I’m sure not ALL of them were training for Markleeville.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Diablo Junction - 16 miles

Last night I was browsing eBay for some bib shorts and put in a bid on some blue ones that were apparently leftovers from a racing team in Seattle. I only have one pair of bibs that aren’t black and I thought it would be nice to have some other colors. These were made by Hincapie Sports, never been worn, and looked like they would retail for $100 or more. The sponsor logos said “Wines of Washington” and “The Tasting Room”. I’ve never heard of such a team but what the hell I bid $29 and they wound up going for $30 – oh well.

Finally we had a pretty big group from work this afternoon. As I was unloading and talking to Mark P a woman rode up and asked us if we were with the Diablo Cyclists and I showed her where those folks met up, and then I noticed she was wearing a “Wines of Washington” full team kit! That was strange.

So JB, Mark P, Jeff, and I all started out toward the Gate and we saw the Diablo Cyclist pack about 100 meters ahead of us. I thought we might wait for Rick, Adam, and Brian but when we crossed the line JB dropped the hammer and I glommed on to his wheel. There was a bit of a headwind so I was getting a lot of benefit back there and I could hear him breathing heavily while I was relatively comfortable. We caught up to the main Diablo Cyclist pack below the Bump and I thought we might integrate with them but JB kept on plowing so I kept on sucking his wheel. Past the Bump though I cracked and he rode away from me but Jay K merged up from the gruppetto and rode with me the rest of the way.

At the Upper Washout (3 miles to go) my split was 18m24 so that was an excellent start. Then I heard the unmistakable squeak of Adam’s Cannondale behind us – I’ll be happy when his new Dean comes in. He and a guy in a USPS jersey blew by Jay and me with little fanfare. JB wasn’t too far ahead since he pretty much cracked a minute after I did but when Adam and Postieguy passed JB he hung on for a while and increased the gap between us.

With 2 miles to go my split was 24m35s so that wasn’t too bad even though I had slowed down quite a bit. I figured I would certainly break 40 and that would be an OK result. Jay would normally have dumped me by now but he’s tapering down on his efforts so he’ll be fully rested for the Terrible Two on Saturday so he twiddled along and chatted as I tried to keep my tongue from dragging on the asphalt.

And with 1 mile to go I was at 32m30s and I started to feel a little better so after Chainbuster I put my head down and power cranked for a couple meters before the burn came back and I downshifted again. Junction time: 39m01s and that’ll do.

Mark P and Jeff came in a little bit later – Jeff looked like Mark had half-wheel-helled him the whole way up but Mark looked relaxed and cool. Brian (JB’s nephew) rode in ahead of Nicole and Amanda – he’s a good sport and has been riding JB’s heavy touring bike with panniers but I think he’d rather be playing basketball. There was a nice big group at the Junction and people were talking about recent events and races as well as the upcoming Death Ride.

Next week: HURL RIDE!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Diablo Junction 18 miles

Adam said today was the day he was going to break 30 minutes; his plan was to work with Mark, who can do a 28 on any given day. But he didn’t have on his race wheels and it was damn windy in the early afternoon – I wasn’t convinced.

I got to the Gate just a little early and I saw Adam, Mark, and two other guys approach so I got on quick and grabbed Adam’s wheel. I knew JB and Nicole also were coming but I figured I’d see them later. So across the line there were five of us but one guy didn’t try to stay on so then there were four of us. I hung on for a couple hundred meters and then I got removed too. Then the three of them disappeared into the distance. A little while later the fourth guy passed me up too so then I was alone.

Coming around the lower hairpins I could see the Bump up ahead and a rider that looked like Adam was on his own; if true that would mean he couldn’t ride Mark’s wheel and likely wouldn’t make 30 minutes… but maybe it was somebody else. Then JB caught me… he said he was only 10 seconds behind Adam at the Gate but I didn’t see him there. We rode together for a while and passed up a few people. My 3mtg time was 20min so I thought I could probably just break 40. JB dropped me before Clavicle Cracker and quickly opened up a gap of almost a minute and then stayed there the rest of the way. With about 400 to go I saw two Diablo Cyclists coming up fast behind me so I poured on the juice and tried to stay away from them. One of the guys was Jay K who yelled at me to quit looking back and just go. My Junction time: 39m59s.

Adam didn’t make it. Jay told me about his recent trip to Italy including a pilgrimage to Madonna del Ghisallo and a crash on some cobblestones. There was a huge crowd of cyclists up there tonight – and all was well with the world.

On the way down, JB and I came across Nicole who just got a new saddle and a water bottle rack that goes behind the saddle and she wanted to finish so we turned around and rode back up to the Junction (hardly anyone left there by then).

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Diablo Junction plus South Gate and back up- 34 miles

I was about 5 minutes late getting to the Gate and I saw Peter starting up alone so I chased him down. I knew no one else was coming so I also knew I’d have to match Peter’s pace which I wasn’t sure I could do today because I felt kind of sluggish.

We rode together and Peter seemed happy to go a bit slower too, but we did pass several people on the way up. Peter got a REALLY bad case of poison oak all over his arms from a hiking incident yesterday and it looks like road rash and he said it hurts too so that was slowing him down a bit.

We had a little break at Junction and I suggested going down SGR to the tire poppers and back up and he liked that idea. It was quite cool on the way down but it felt good. Turning around at the tire poppers was tough and I thought that would be good training for the Death Ride – even more important than the long climbs is the repeats. After a few minutes I noticed a guy not far behind us and he was riding at about the same speed. A couple times I got ahead of Peter but it all came together near Stagecoach. Then Peter and the other guy (who was riding a classic steel Miyata with downtube shifters) opened up a gap on me, but I caught back on right before the Junction. So I did 44 minutes up from the north, and 34 minutes from the south.

There were lots of riders who looked like they were training for Markleeville next month. Maybe they thought that’s what we were doing too.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Diablo Junction - 23 miles

I took the day off of work today to attend a function at my daughter’s preschool, so I didn’t know who else would be riding the Mountain tonight.

It had been overcast all day with periods of light rain so I left home outfitted for a wet ride. No one was at the Gate but I was a few minutes late so I hoped I might find some other riders. About a mile up the road I did see one guy coming down but no sight at all of anyone else up the road. I slogged on through the thick fog comforted by the incessant squeaking of my SPD cleats.

The road got pretty wet above the Bump but it never really rained exactly. The air was just so moist that water was condensing on anything it could find including the road, the tree leaves, and my helmet. I don’t have my rain bike geared as low as my Klein, and with the extra clothing and heavier wheels I felt like a slug.

Visibility was almost nil at the Junction and my glasses were all fogged over, but as I got close I could see some bikes parked there. I thought one of them might have been JB’s but it wasn’t. Brian, Craig, and Amy from the Diablo Cyclists, and one other solo guy, were the only ones there. We talked for a bit and then all went down together.

I took the last position on the descent and then at the Double Dips there was a little sprint. I figured it would be OK to join in and I won pretty easily so I did a little hammy victory salute.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Diablo Summit 33 miles

Nicole and Drew (not quite 6 years old) started up riding the Trail a Bike with Nicole’s mountain bike.

Peter, Rick, and I stayed with them for long enough to be social and then we set off. No sign of JB.

We had seen about 4 small groups of riders start out while we were waiting and managed to pass them all before we got to the Junction.

We stayed together until 2 miles to go and then we need to pass a guy so I took the opportunity to launch one of my 2-mile time trials and stayed away until the Junction… ride time: 41m40s. Peter got pretty close and came in about 30 seconds later, and then Rick.

Quite a few riders showed up at the Junction while we were hanging around. Then we decided to hit the Summit. I had burned all my matches on that TT though so Peter and Rick both got ahead of me after Juniper. I got to the Summit in just under 80 minutes.

Met a nice family from Hong Kong up there… the daughter was going to DVC and hoping to go on for a PhD in Astrophysics. They asked us questions about life in the Bay Area and it was nice talking to them.

Nicole and Drew made it to the Upper Washout. They said JB passed them near the Bump; he had overslept and started late so we never saw him.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Diablo Junction - 18 miles

There weren’t many people from work on the mountain tonight, just me, JB, and Nicole. But there was a big group of Diablo Cyclists and other riders.

I rode by the church where the Diablo Cyclists were amassing and figured I’d get a head start on everybody. I was feeling pretty good and thought I’d do a hard sustained effort but not kill myself. JB’s been doing 37’s and he said his weight was down to 144 pounds so I need to get serious if I’m going to be challenging him any time soon.

I went through the Gate solo and quickly settled into my rhythm. It was warm but not hot enough to be an issue, and I had my Polar water bottle with ice and Cytomax so I was prepared. After Moss Landing I kept it in the 21 and tried to stay smooth and work on my power pedalling. Then I tried to maintain the same exertion level on the Bump by shifting down and pedalling faster.

Between the Bump and the Upper Washout there are places where you can see lots of the road below and I didn’t see anyone chasing me. I expected the faster Diablo Cyclists to catch me but they must have started farther behind me than I thought. So I didn’t have any dogs chasing me and I didn’t have any rabbits up ahead. It was just me making the decision how fast to go, and a good time was my only goal.

With three miles to go, I was at 20 minutes, then 25 minutes with two miles, and 32 minutes starting the last mile. As I came around Chainbuster a guy caught up to me. He was wearing big baggy surfer-dude type shorts and was obviously one of those rare guys whose ability far outweighed his desire to look like a pro rider. He drafted me for a couple hundred meters and I made an effort to make it worth his while, but he soon came around and dusted me. I barely kept him in sight the rest of the way up. My Junction time was 38m33s which is the best so far this year so I’m happy with that and felt like I could have pushed a little harder in some of the sections, although my peak heart rate was 187 so I didn’t have too much at the top end.

At the Junction the guy said he did 33 minutes and he had started with the Diablo Cyclists but left them all at the Gate. After another 10 minutes there were probably 25 riders hanging around the Junction. JB rolled in with a 37 minute ride but noted that he also had slowed down to ride with Nicole for a few minutes so he could probably have done a 36 if he wanted to. Yikes.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Diablo Junction Plus South Gate Road and Blackhawk 38 miles

Just as I was ready to head out the door this morning, I saw that I had a flat rear tire. I tried the pump and run technique but no dice; I had to change the tube and I was going to be late. To help things along, my daughter insisted on helping me so I was going to be even later.

Rolled up to the Gate at 8:10 thinking JB would be gone already, but he was there talking to the Gate Ranger whom he described as “chatty”. The ranger was doing some kind of study about bicycle accidents and said that the Juniper pull-out was the statistical hot spot. JB also got some new purple tires on his bike so we matched, but I just received some new black and gray ones so it won’t be for long.

Nothing eventful on the way up, it was a cool morning but warming up fast. As we approached the Junction I did a good hard sprint but JB didn’t follow me.

Quite a few riders hanging around up there, discussing the Giro, the weather, the road conditions… all was right with the world. Then we headed down to Blackhawk. There were lots of riders and even some big groups coming up.

I pushed it pretty hard on Blackhawk Road and on Crow Canyon Road, and did a couple little hill sprints- JB didn’t feel obligated to play along so I had to wait up for him a couple times. We got on the Iron Horse Trail off of Crow Canyon and then rode the rest of the way on Danville Blvd.