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.