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.

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