Saturday, February 26, 2005

Diablo Summit 33 miles

Before the ride this morning, I was following the live coverage of one of my favorite Euro races, Belgium’s Omloop Het Volk, on The weather in Ghent was a couple of degrees above freezing with light snowfall and the classics riders were all attacking each other over the slick, wet cobbles and I had a feeling that all was right with the world.

On the way to the Mountain, I happened upon Rick in his Explorer and grabbed a side mirror for a little while, then drifted back and rode motorpace for a mile or so at good speed. We started toward the Gate together after he unloaded and then we found JB riding down to look for us.

It was cold, but dry and calm. JB took off his GoreTex jacket at the Gate and then we got going. The new welcome sign looks like it’s done now, I’ve got to get a photo of that. There’s a lot of barbed wire fence along the ditches of this lower stretch that’s just about horizontal from the wet weather and soil shifting but we didn’t see any loose cows today. Things were reasonably cordial until we got to the Bump where Rick started to fade.

I sat on JB’s wheel for quite a while, feeling not a bit guilty. A little farther up I got a gap on him without really trying so I thought I had a good chance of winning a good one today. He did a 38 minute Junction ride a couple weeks ago though, so he’s a lot stronger than he was last year now that he’s fully recovered from his broken clavicle and back on his Della Santa. Still, I sensed that he was working a little too hard for what we were doing so I just waited. As we passed Clavicle Cracker we both did the little collar bone salute in unison.

Rick had dropped quite a ways back by now. JB and I were together with 2 miles to go and we started to get serious. He was trying to ride a fast steady pace hoping I’d fade too (which is usually a good strategy to get rid of me) but he wasn’t going fast enough to do it. With one mile to go he was still happy to let me sit on his wheel, even though we had a bit of a headwind by now. As we passed the Ranger House I kept telling myself “uphill finish, into the wind = GO LATE” so I didn’t make my move until we had about 100 meters to go. He was breathing hard and watching for me in his helmet mirror. I came around him on the right and heard him mutter an expletive so I knew he had already given up. I did a token out-of-the-saddle sprint but even that wasn’t necessary – I finished well clear of him. Junction time: 41m25s, best of the year so far.

Sitting on the benches, he said “There is sure a lot of weakness leaving my body” (a reference to the cyclist’s definition of “pain”. Rick arrived after a bit, and so did Peter (who confessed that his motivation to rise early was failing him lately). I suggested we do Bump de Bump but Rick and Peter said they wanted to climb so I went with them while JB did South Gate and back up.

Rick had been working some late shifts so he was a little off his edge and I welcomed the easier pace on Summit Road but Peter dusted us after Juniper. There’s a new photo sign at the Juniper parking area now that points out some of the things you can see from there. Up around Muir Picnic Area I asked Rick if he was going to make it and he said it was too late to quit, but it wasn’t long ago that I had felt the same way about this point and in the space of a couple hundred meters my attitude changed from “might as well finish the job” to “what’s the point?” and had turned around.

No trouble on the Summit Wall. Lots and lots of riders in the Upper Lot today – a few too many cars and SUV’s but it was a nice ride. The water’s out up here though so no place to fill up your bottles and the restrooms are closed (there are some porta potties available).

Nice descent, including a strong sprint on the double dips. Good to feel good.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Diablo Junction, 26 miles

Today looked like it was going to be a race against the rain. Dark clouds and weather reports both indicated the wet stuff would be here soon so I figured it would be a quick one with no lollygagging.

JB rolled up right after I did, and then we took off right at 8 o’clock. Turns out Rick was a couple minutes behind us but he hadn’t called so we didn’t wait – he waited for us until 8:10.

I thought it would be interesting to see who and how many riders would show up today. First we came across a couple near the Double Dips and one of them was having wheel problems but they didn’t need our help. Then we saw a couple of singles coming down after an early start. JB was on his touring bike with fenders and panniers and he wasn’t quite recovered from last night’s party at the Pyramid Alehouse so I was enjoying being the stronger rider today, playing around with my big gears at low cadence.

The first drops of rain came near the Upper Washout, and it quickly became a sort of heavy drizzle for the rest of the way up. I think I saw about a dozen other riders all together, most of them looked like they were ready for the weather, and also a couple of joggers. Anyway, we didn’t stick around long and just after we headed back down we came across Rick near the Ranger House so we turned around and rode in again with him. Then Grant Peterson showed up, did one lap around the parking lot to put on his arm warmers and started down with us, but he turned off onto the dirt trail at Chainbuster.

Farther down the road we came across a cow that had gotten loose. Rick didn't flinch but JB was cautious going around her, and I was very cautious. Later JB said "she didn't look like the kind of cow that would dart in front of you." And even farther down the road, just before the double dips, we saw another cow west of the road running (yes running!) a long distance along a path, we were quite surprised to see how far she kept up that speed. The rain has reduced the integrity of quite a few of the cow fences on North Gate Road - I suspect we'll see more loose cows in the coming months.

More rain on the way home but it was still very enjoyable day on the bike.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Diablo plus South Gate, 33 miles

It wasn’t raining, but the roads were wet this morning, so I took the Merckx off the hooks in the garage and prepared myself to get a little sloppy. I made the green lights at both Treat and Ygnacio so I thought it might be a good day. Rick was waiting for me at the Gate, he just got back from a skiing trip, and JB rolled in a few minutes later. One guy on a black Trek started up just before us so we figured he’d be our rabbit.

When we got to the Bump I went out for a long interval and powered up the hill in my 21, so I had a big gap but when I sat back down the other guys caught me up pretty quickly. The rabbit wasn’t having much difficulty staying ahead of us but we finally caught him near the Lower Ranch. Just as we were getting ready to pass him though, he does a U-turn and heads back down. I don’t know what he was doing but it sure seemed like he just didn’t want to get passed. Then I started to fade a little and wound up getting to Junction about a minute after JB and Rick.

Shortly after we got there, Grant Peterson arrived with his Rivendell Saluki.


The Saluki is an interesting blend of road bike and mountain bike design concepts and componentry. Looked to me like something you’d get if you wanted the absolute most versatile, go anywhere bike you could get – maybe for a trans-Siberian bike tour, or something for the survivalist after they drop the big one. I don’t know how many people will want a bike like this, but I’m pretty sure nobody else is selling anything similar. It was certainly the focus of much curiosity at the Junction ranger office. There was another guy there who recognized Grant and thanked him for writing his “Roads to Ride” books and being a general inspiration to Bay Area cyclists for the last 20 years or so.

So when it’s time to leave, I suggest going south down to the Boundary Gate and then back up, but Rick and JB decided Hole In The Fence was a better option so I agreed to the “miles vs. climbing” training plan. Then I did little sprints up every single roller all the way home, just to get even. Somewhere along the ride today I lost my Accelerade water bottle; I either left it at the Junction or it fell out of the cage while I was riding. Not a big loss, but odd that I didn’t notice until we got to Danville.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Diablo Junction, 23 miles

8:20 at the Gate and no one but me was there. There was a rock on the post though, which meant one of four things: JB got an early start and would be back down before 8:30, JB got an early start and would NOT be back down by 8:30, someone left a rock there from some previous ride, or none of the above. This system just isn’t very precise.

At 8:30 Peter rode up and said “hi”. He said he passed by Nicole who was unloading her bike but had told him Rick was already ahead. I was sure Rick hadn’t passed me, and Nicole wasn’t there when I went by, so someone was confused. Peter also told me that Nicole dropped her bike when she was getting it out of the Explorer, and the saddle landed in a pile of horse poop! We decided not to wait for her and go looking for Rick (maybe).

Peter got a new Specialized saddle and matching shorts – he’s one of those guys who has a lot of saddle troubles but he thinks this one will do the trick. Luckily for me I seem to be fine with whatever saddle looks cool. We also discussed training philosophies, heart rates, spin classes, and metabolisms. It was pretty social until near the Bump where his speed was a little uncomfortable for me, but I stayed with him. Later in the ride we both picked it up a little more and I didn’t have any trouble at all, and as we got closer to the Junction I got the feeling that he was having trouble staying with me. No sprint today, but I could’ve taken him for sure if there were.

Quite a few other riders showed up and mingled at the Junction, but we didn’t see Rick so I called him on my cell phone to ask where he was (thinking Juniper or so) and he was at home! Then Peter remembered that Nicole had said “the guys have already left” and that he just assumed that included Rick too. No sign of JB either but he doesn’t carry a phone so there was no way to check up on him.

Nice ride today – no wind or rain, not too cold, not too foggy, and I felt pretty good despite this cough that I can’t seem to shake.