Saturday, March 26, 2005

Diablo Summit, 33 miles

Please sponsor me in the Tour de Cure for diabetes! I’m doing the 100 mile ride in Napa on May 1st. Click here Thank you SO MUCH.

Nice warm day – tights but short sleeves and half-finger gloves. I knew Rick and Nicole weren’t coming, but JB didn’t know. When I got to the Gate at eight, I saw JB and Peter starting up already so I chased them down. Then JB made us all turn around and start over so he could reset his odometer.

I’m still having trouble with my 24-tooth, I’m going to put on a new chain and see if that helps. I’m able to dink with the cable adjusters a little and get it to quit skipping, but it never lasts long.

Peter was talking about his new Cannondale commute bike with fenders and racks – sounds like a good package since he rides from Walnut Creek to San Ramon nearly every day. We also talked about cars and auto mechanics and we all had a lot of stories to tell.

We rode together at a conversational pace, all the way to the Junction – no sprinting for the line. And we all agreed to hit the Summit too; I hadn’t eaten yet this morning so I munched on a PowerBar. While we were hanging out at the Junction, JB noticed a black dot on his yellow front tire – we tried to figure out if it was a blob of tar or a bubble of an inner tube but we were afraid to scrape it because we couldn’t see any casing threads. He left it alone. Also while we were there we saw a guy that we often see but never talk to – he always wears red bib shorts over a red shirt, he has bright yellow shoes, hairless legs, and he parks his car just INSIDE the Gate (like, why pay $5 to park there when you can park for free a little ways down?). We never knew if he was arrogant or just a little odd because, well because we never talked to him. Anyway he didn’t stop at the Junction and we started up about five minutes after he went by.

Again we all stayed together for most of Summit Road too.

Wildlife Encounter: A coyote trotting on the road ahead of us, going the same direction as we were. He pulled over on the shoulder to let us go by and we made some jokes about wearing coyote-proof toe warmers and having a can of Acme coyote repellent. I made up a news story about how a ranger might find chewed up remains of a cyclist and then have to hunt down and shoot the man-eating coyote and the autopsy would reveal bits of lycra and chamois in the coyote’s stomach.

And then we saw RedBibsMan about a mile and a half below the Summit. Peter used this event to launch his attack and passed RBM handily. JB had been making excuses and even talked about stopping for a rest until this point, but he too found the strength to accelerate past RBM. I stayed back for a little while but when I did pass him he gave me a pleasant greeting so I figured he was a nice enough guy. Then in the Summit Parking Lot we exchanged some short conversation about the great weather. Maybe next time I see him I’ll ask his name. Until then, RedBibsMan he’ll remain.

It was really encouraging to see SO MANY CYCLISTS on the mountain this morning. On my way down there must have been 50 on North Gate Road.

De Ronde van Vlaanderen is THIS SUNDAY - my favorite race of the year and one of the Five Monuments of Cycling. I'll be following it on meet me there.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Diablo Summit - 33 miles

Best weather of the year by far today. First time up with no jacket, but to be safe I had a T-shirt under my jersey, arm warmers, and tights. JB and I started off at a quick pace, I tried not to let on that I wasn't feeling 100% for some reason (probably not enough time at the health club the last couple weeks). He said there were a couple guys we could probably catch that started about 5 minutes before we did.

So by the top of the Bump there was no doubt that he was going stronger than I and that was OK and we stayed together until Big Shady Oak when he took off trying to break 40 minutes. He didn't quite do it, and I was about a minute and a half slower at 41m55s.

At the Junction we met the two guys he thought we could catch but didn't - they were Bill and John from Orinda and had both just gotten confirmations for the Death Ride so they were starting their training today. JB had to go home but Bill and John invited me to go to the Summit with them so I did but first I took off my tights and rolled down my arm warmers - it was getting hot. We talked a bit and found out that Bill knew some guys from my company. They were both a little older than me and were both strong friendly riders. They hadn't done the Death Ride before and asked me what I knew about it - training, gears, clothing. I think I helped a little bit. So by Muir Picnic Area it was pretty clear that they were riding stronger than I was and that was OK and they slowly rode away from me. They got to the Summit about a minute and a half before I did.

Just as I was getting ready to descend, Peter showed up so I talked with him for a while. He's registered for Primavera and that's always a good century. Another rider rode up just after he did and said to Peter - "How can I get as smooth as you? You have a very smooth pedal stroke!" That's true, Peter climbs in the saddle with really nice form, and I'm sure he likes to hear that.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Diablo Junction plus SGR, 33 miles

The ride was to start at 8:30 today but I got there at 8 and found JB’s note under a rock saying he was up but would be back. I rode up to the “curvy road next 6.5 miles) sign and then my rear tire went soft.

Pulled out my flat fixing stuff and got to work – found a little shred of a thorn in there that was difficult to remove. JB came down and stopped about a minute later, then Mark came down with his new custom Rivendell cyclocross bike so I had some good conversation while I got the tire back on. His bike had a front derailleur as a chain watcher over his single chain ring with a 9-speed cassette and he said he didn’t get any chain rub over the whole range. It had a single bottle cage, cantilever brakes, threadless headset, and with sew-up cyclocross tires mounted it weighs 18.5 pounds. The paint job was a nice, flat grey with one extra Rivendell panel where the seat tube bottle cage would normally go.

So back to the Gate where we met up with Rick and started back up. I did a good effort up the Bump but then it started to get way too warm for the clothes I was wearing. We all rode together then until the Upper Ranch where JB started to fade. I was on Rick’s wheel thinking JB would launch an attack from far behind and that’s what happened when we got to the Ranger House. Rick tried to follow him but I just sat up.

After a while at the Junction we went down South Gate Road to the Kiosk where I turned around but JB and Rick went all the way down for a Bump de Bump. The top part of SGR is a lot nicer than the lower part because you don’t see all the urban sprawl down in Danville.

Still don’t have the new derailleur installed on my Merckx – it won’t go high enough on the braze on to clear the big chainring without bumping it. This operation is going to take longer than I thought, hope I don’t have to file the slot bigger.