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 (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 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.