Saturday, December 30, 2006

Last Ride of 2006

Feakin' frigid this morning - good thing I dug out my toe booties earlier in the week. {sidebar: it really pisses me off that the traffic sensor on Bancroft to cross Ygnacio doesn't pick up bikes} The goats down by the kennel even looked frozen... frozen goats = FROATS ? This photo was taken after the ride when it had warmed up a little, glad to see the froat survived.

Rick and I met at the Gate and waited a while for JB but he didn't show up. We saw Mark A coming down but other than him, no one else at all. Only one or two cars also... it was a quiet morning on the Mountain, and we enjoyed the ride. We also talked a bit about the Tour of California (Best Week of Racing award from VeloNews) which is only a couple months away now and how we would make it better and there was no question we'd be there again as rabid racing fans.

There were a few people at the Junction; interesting people on different kinds of bikes... cyclocross, loaded touring, road racing, MTBs; people who were there because they like riding and appreciate this gem of the State Park system. My water bottle was still 90% full because you just don't get thirsty on days like this. The flags were at half-mast in honor of President Ford; I remember laughing at his ineptitude in high school but think more highly of him now.

So Rick nursed a ClifShot and I gnawed on a chocopowerbar and then we decided to do the SGR kiosk. When we got there I took these photos:

On the way back up I flatted at a very convenient spot; there was a nice retaining wall to sit on while I changed my tube. Rear tire's getting pretty thin, I think it's time for my winter maintenance - Mom and Dad sent X-mas money so I got some good stuff to put on too (tires, chain, new handlebars and cables). Rick watched me use the CO2 inflator again and admitted that it was a pretty cool alternative to a mini pump... he's ready to convert.

We finished off the ride with a Starbucks at the Encina Safeway - the Peppermint Mocha is a treat but it can't compete with Peet's.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Save Mount Diablo

The Contra Costa Times did an article on the 35th Anniversary of Save Mount Diablo and the guy who started it... who was (is?) A CYCLIST! Click HERE and be sure to also click on the "Audio Soundslide" feature below Mr. Bonwell's photo.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Diablo Summit - Merry Xmas!

About a mile from home I was sorry I didn't don my toe booties. It was biting cold, but not too foggy and not windy so tights and a sleevless jersey under my Barrier Jacket made for perfect protection... only my toes were froze. JB caught up to me just before we got to the Gate where Rick was waiting. JB said to remember that the slower we ride up the warmer it'll be when we have to come down.

Wildlife Encounter: Three feral pigs near the loading dock - first time I've seen some. I later confirmed with the Junction ranger that none of the ranchers on the mountain are farming pigs so these were definitely feral. He also said that there was an eradication program and they "remove" 500 pigs a year or so because they do so much damage.

The rest of the ride to Junction was casual. At one point we noticed a fast guy catching up to us and when he caught us he rode behind us for a few minutes without saying anything, and then passed us up with just a nod.

At the Junction we quickly decided that we didn't want to hang around too long and we started up Summit Road. It also started to drizzle but it was very light and only lasted about 10 minutes - had to wipe the face off my Flight Deck a couple times, but that was the extent of it. We saw a woman changing a tire and she declined our assistance. I stopped at Juniper for a few minutes but JB and Rick kept going. I took a couple photos and then drank a pack of Enervitine.

Product Review: Enervitine I've seen this stuff in catalogues and figured I'd try some when I saw it at the California Pedaler last weekend. I was a little surprised that it was a liquid and not a gel. It had the sweet taste and consistency of concentrated Kool-Aid, or maybe a melted popsicle. Easy to drink today but I think it would be difficult to swallow on a really hot day. I can't report that it turned a mule into a thouroughbred today but I felt good the rest of the ride so I'll probably buy a couple for my next century just to have some variety from Hammer Gel. This product gets a provisional DS rating of 6 outta 10.

So I rode the rest of Summit Road solo and just enjoyed the scenery.

This pavement was so bad for so long; and now it's like glass!

Make sure you save a little for The Wall.

This is the view of North Peak from the Summit. The dark clouds mixed with blue sky for some interesting contrasts today.

Descending back down was an exersize in body heat maintenance, but it was a little warmer than earlier in the morning so I enjoyed it as always.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Really frosty this morning but no wind so it wasn't hard to stay warm. It's been raining and there was even a chance of snow at 3,000 feet so the roads were sloppy and I took the Merckx.

Rick and I connected at the Gate and decided not to wait for JB. We saw him a little later from the Bump and figured he'd catch us soon but it wasn't until about Chainbuster.

We hung around Junction for a while and I munched a PowerBar and announced that the plan would be to ride to Juniper and everybody thought that was a good idea. Not too many riders up there today, but more than one might expect given the temperature - thermostat at the Shack said 38° but it really didn't seem that cold to me.

The lens on my camera got a little foggy today I think.




That PowerBar gave me just enough boost to do a good effort up to Juniper..

JB's turn to get a flat today..

Monday, December 11, 2006


Rick found this clip of us on Sierra Grade during the 2006 Tour of California. I'm the guy waving the California flag and Rick's next to me in a red jacket.

LINK It's only a 12 second video, worth a look.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pinhurst in the Mist - 42 Miles

Rick and I have been wanting to do a Pinhurst ride for quite a while. Couldn't do a Diablo ride Saturday so today was our opportunity. He drove to my house and we left after the rain subsided but there was still some dark clouds and drizzle.

It was about 15 miles to the end of Canyon Road where we made a right onto Pinehurst. Canyon Road looks like it's been repaved recently and was quite nice. Rick thought this abandoned bike miles from nowhere would make for a good photo.

This is the corner where I start the stopwatch if I'm timing myself - the climb begins here. This is looking down hill, on your way up you'll see the gate and sign in the photo below. There were several mudslides in here and it won't be long before some trees fall down on the road too.

(off the right of the road)

Steep switchbacks like these, and the dense foliage are what make riding Pinehurst fun.

Wow, that's some good pavement.

At the top we turned right on to Skyline and rode as far as Grizzly Peak before we turned around.

Rick did a couple extra trips around this corner to make sure he'd get his photo blogged. This is a pretty good shot though.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I saw that the VeloNews site had a photo of Mt. Diablo in the photo of the month contest. This was submitted by Keith Thibault and shows a rider going up NGR approaching the Bump. Whoever took the photo must have climbed up some rock formation or something to get this angle.

Edit: Keith e-mailed me and had this to say about the photo:
"Regarding the photo, I was hiking around taking pics on the north gate road when I paused to shoot a couple of a cyclist climbing the road. I like the winter light, and the late afternoon mood. I was on the hillside above the road, as you implied." Keith - thanks for a great shot - any Diablo photo you take is welcome here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Damn it was windy this morning.

The wind was practically blowing the flags off the mast. Not as cold as I was prepared for, but this promised to be an epic ride. I got to the Gate a little early and rode up to snap a few photos. Then went back down to meet Rick.

We started up and it wasn't too bad at first. We were joking about other windy rides we've done like the Death Valley Century and Foxy's Fall Century.

Up a little higher the gusts of wind started to get harder to manage. You'd go into one bend compensating for the wind, not knowing if you'd be shot out the other side like a rocket or dumped in the ditch like a plastic bag in a hurricane. It was for sure one of the top 10 windy days for me on the Mountain. Several times I let out a primal scream and thought about the sub sailors in Das Boot who cursed the waves as they blasted through them.

Hardly saw anyone else on the way up and there were a few places where we nearly got flicked by the wind but it was a fun ride. We contemplated going up or around at the Junction but decided to return down NGR. It was a tricky descent - you'd go into a corner barely able to keep it vertical and come around the other side having to completely change your weight balance. There were a lot of people coming up as we got down lower - almost looked like some kind of organized group ride.

OH NO!!! They closed Mia Cafe! There's a sign in the window that says a sushi restaurant is coming soon. We went to the Bagel Street Cafe which has OK coffee but an assembly line kind of atmosphere.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Clear skies and very cold

this morning. I was concerned I would over-dress again, but it was REALLY cold so I risked it and wore my full winter gear other than booties.

Came across BlogReader Chris at the Gate and we talked for a while about recent events until JB showed up, then we all started together.

I felt pretty good, but not fast so it was a gamble to stay with Chris when JB started to drop back but I figgered "what the hell".

By the Bump Chris was ready to ride away but strung me along anyway. By Chainbuster we couldn't see JB anywhere so I assumed he was having a really bad day but then suddenly he was right behind us. So my Junction time was a little over 45m and that was better than JB's by half a minute or so. We noticed they've finally patched the little driveway up to the Junction Picnic Area.

Chris went up Summit Road. I called Part 2 last week so it was JB's turn and he called the Hole. It was a cold descent and then a fun little romp back to Walnut Creek for a yummy Peppermint Mocha coffee at Peet's.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

JB and I

had a plan to sneak out of work a little early on this long Thanksgiving weekend and get in a ride up the Mountain. I wasn't sure our plan would materialize so I had Jed, the uber urban commuter with lights and fenders and tennis shoe pedals just in case.

The deal was to meet at the Gate at 2:30. He went home first to doff his gear but with about 50 pounds of bike and backpack it took me a little longer than I thought to get there so he got to the Post long before I did at 2:45 so I removed the rock he left there and started the slog up thinking it was good weight training.

When I say "slow slog" I'm talking just barely above hiking pace. In my backpack I had my work clothes, a bunch of old CDs (don't ask), my jacket, and all the junk I normally commute with. It was pretty warm but due to turn frio by dusk.

Never did catch up to JB but had a nice ride anyway and I enjoyed the different perspective that riding so slowly offers. I also developed a new respect for riders who do this on MTBs frequently; this was HARD work.

JB collected my ticket somewhere near Chainbuster and rode me back up to the Junction. We chatted for a while and then wished each other a happy T-day and then split up.

Somewhere on the way home I picked up a piece of glass in my new Serfas MTB slick 1.5's but managed to make it on a soft tire and not stop for a tube change.

Man, that was a workout.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It was a really big rock

that I put on the post this morning at 7:58. The ranger was raising the flags and he probably removed it because JB didn't see it so he "waited" for me and my two minute head start wound up being about twelve.

I rode the whole of NGR solo through a thick lens of fog that was at its most dense near the Bump. Only saw two riders descending the whole ride. Kept expecting to see JB chasing me but never did of course. Finally popped out over the top near the Lower Ranch and it was suddenly quite warm. Now my jacket started to get wet inside the sleeves and it was pretty uncomfortable. Usually I get my clothing selection right but today I should have gone with arm warmers and I probably could have even worn shorts.

At the Junction I munched on a Power Bar and talked to a guy who came up NGR behind me. He said he was 47 and had daughters aged 5 and 7; he was fit and trained and said he used to ride the Mountain every week years ago, but now it was rare to do so.

Finally JB showed up and gave me a little raz about not putting a rock on the post - that's when I realized the Ranger must have removed it. We talked about going up but it was honestly too hot for me so he suggested the Hole and I talked him into Blackhawk. Within a minute we were already descending into the soup. It was even thicker on the Easy Side and my sweaty sleeves were now cold and soggy. In Danville though it was pretty much clear so we had good visibility and played our normal games of sprinting up the little rollers all the way home.

On Camino Tassajara we saw the House of Pain ride go by the opposite direction. A few minutes back was a smaller group that looked like they'd been dropped already - we called it the House of Minor Discomfort.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bring on the Wet!

JB and me today, we both got to the Gate at the same time. It rained last night so the streets were sloppy and the trees were still dripping but nothing was coming out of the sky during the ride.

A slow slog up in the damp fog. JB had his Trek 520 with fenders and one pannier holding his heavy jacket. Hardly saw anybody the whole morning. A few guys coming down on hybrids - I think they were dropped off. A few cars going up. Visibility was nearly zero so not much reason for the usual automobile day users to be up there.

Roadkill Sighting: A couple of big frogs.

Not much to write about, so today's post is photo-heavy. This is not a lens problem, the fog was really that thick.

Took it really slow on the way down, looking for things to photograph.

First wet ride of the year and of course I get a flat! Looked like a sharp piece of rock that splintered off some of the rip-rap. Maybe even a flint!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Up and Around This Morning

Man I felt like a slug today, first ride of Daylight Wasting Time. Dressed for cold and it was foggy too. Peter, JB, and Rick were already at the Gate when I got there. I have my winter wheels on Eddy now so I guess that's my excuse. I need to move my brake levers up a little bit on this bike to match my now preferred "cobble position" - just like Tom, so I'll probably need some new
handlebar tape too... that'll add some speed.

Rick got a new job and told us about how he turned in his resignation letter to the boss from hell. Peter's back still gives him trouble but he's an aerobic beast as always, even on his Cannondale comfort bike. As we climbed up through the fog I started to get too hot so I pulled down my arm warmers and took off my gloves. Also, I put on my OLD (1988) Look pedals because I broke the pedals on my fixie and swapped things around and don't have my new SPDs yet... anyway, I'm sure those old pedals were slowing me down too and that's why the fourth horseman fell off the back of the gruppetto somewhere near the Bump. Oh yeah, my chain was rubbing the front derailleur in my smallest gear, lots of extra drag that.

The fog layer topped out about Chainbuster and it was sunny and warm. At the Junction Rick and JB went up to the top of the Horseshoe while Peter and I talked. Then Rick and JB and I went down SGR and Peter went back down the North. It was so foggy that visibility and wet road surface were concerns so we took it pretty slowly. Rick thought that we were planning on going back up the easy way but we went through the Hole (muddy) and around through the golf course.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Got a late start this morning. So late that Rick had already left. It was cold too, I think it was the first time in tights this year, and it was still kind of dark since Daylight Wasting Time starts tomorrow. I had on some Halloween "arm warmers" that made it look like I had lots of tattoos - got a few weird looks from people.

Passed a few people on the way up, that's always a good thing. By the time I got to the Junction though Rick had already left there too so he must have thought I wasn't coming at all. Had to be home early for a kiddie party so I couldn’t go up any higher either.

Wildlife Encounter: A running flock of quail.

The LowKey Hillclimb series came to Diablo today - I checked out the parking lot but didn't see anyone I recognized. The results are posted HERE. Far as I'm concerned 51m37s is the official record from the Gate to the Summit.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back in the Saddle!

Nine days post-op. I knew I could do it but I didn't know how I'd feel so I avowed to take it easy. The nights have been cold but it's been getting really warm by late morning; I wore some arm warmers and had to roll those down before we even started.

The winds were strong and gusty, there was even a strong tailwind going up the Bump! I felt fine the whole way up. There's some stretchiing kind of sensation at the laparoscopic points but no real pain and no feeling that anything is going to rip or tear (as there was the first few days).

JB decided to drop Rick and me in the last mile. Other than that it was just a lazy ride. We talked to a couple guys at the Junction who were new to cycling and had some equipment questions. They weren't sure if the bikes they had bought were good choices but we assured them that they were fine. They even asked about Rivendells so they did their research but I guess they didn't do too much test riding. They weren't young guys so they must have been ex-runners or something because they appeared athletic enough. Hopefully they'll become regulars.

Next week the Low Key Hillclimb Series comes to Mt. Diablo. Should see some impressive times to the Summit from the North Gate. Sign up HERE.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

My Plans

to do Foxy's with Rick tomorrow got the kibosh when my appendix swelled up on Tuesday.

Here's the history:
Tuesday morning at work, started to get a stomach ache; got pretty severe over the next hour or so and I went home and slept the rest of the day. Felt a little better in the evening. Antacids didn't help. Appendicitis was one thing that crossed my mind, as was e-coli (been in the news a lot lately) but I figured it was just a stomach ache.

Wednesday morning at work it was still pretty bad so I called my doctor, got a same day appt, she sent to get a cat scan, they sent me to the ER, they sent me to get an X-ray, and then told me to go admit myself. Wednesday night about 11:30 I sucked in my first ever breath of anesthetic and went under the knife (figuratively, it was laparoscopic).

Thursday morning by 8 o'clock I was walking around with three bandages on the outside of my shaved belly and no appendix on the inside. Discharged from the hospital Wednesday afternoon. Couldn't have been any smoother and the pain is completely tolerable if I'm not doing anything but squatting and lifting hurt quite a bit so here I am unable to ride or wrestle with my daughter.

Not sleeping too well either so maybe I'll do some late night updates on my photos page. What I really need to do is get my winter wheels and the fender on my Merckx.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Quickie Junction Ride - 23 miles

Cold this morning - the kind of day where you have to dress so you won't be too warm on the way up or too cold on the way down but never seem to get it right.

I got to the gate at 8:02 and I wasn't feeling fast and since JB wasn't there yet I figured I'd get a head start, so I searched around a bit for a rock to put on the post and then I took off.

Since the Challenge was last Sunday the bike rider density on the Mountain has plummetted. I saw not a single rider going up, and I saw only five coming down during my ascent.

Roadkill Sighting: Quite a few small, young snakes; belly up and slitherless. Thing about snakes on the road is, you can't really make an evaluation of their risk level until you get pretty close, so I gave these babies a wide berth.

So sure enough, my time to Junction sucked and by now I figured JB must have overslept or something. I said "hi" to a guy who came up SGR on a Landshark with a cool paint job and then suddenly JB appears. Turns out my FlightDeck clock was just a little fast and his watch was just a little slow (we verified this by calling "POP-CORN" on my cell phone) and we had just missed each other at the Gate: he got there a few minutes early, rode up to the Loading Dock and turned around, and he was on the other side of the Shack when I started up. I didn't see him at all; he saw me but somehow thought I must have been somebody else so he waited around for another ten minutes!

They have the Challenge results posted at the Ranger Station display case already; we both were wowed by the age of the winner, Rob Anderson - 51 years. Rob lives in Marin and has quite a respectable palmares: LINK. I also noticed that John Slawta (builder of Landshark bicycles) came down from Oregon and did the ride in well under an hour.

Sure enough, I was just a little too cold on the way back down. Nice to see a few people coming up though.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Junction Ride

Getting dark early so I drove to the Church.

Big Group from work today - eight of us, although Jeff and Jon got a late start. Six of us left the Gate together including new guy Collin. We all stayed together until the Bump where I went on my customary solo flyer. I got a pretty good gap on everybody and stayed ahead until the Ranches where Brad caught me. JB had his Atlantis and pannier so that was a little bit of a handicap. There are quite a few gravel sections on NGR now.

By Chainbuster everyone had passed me and there was no zip in my legs. When I got to the Ranger House though, I saw Collin flare out so I poured on some gas and came around him before the line - I guess he misjudged the finish.

Feeling like the end of the season.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Summit - 36 miles

JB, Rick, and yours truly. There was a strong Santa Ana type wind from the east. We were reasonably sure Summit Road would be open, but none of us checked.

Roadkill Siting: Two snakes and a stick that looked like a dead snake - I called it a "snick".

Rick was strong from his epic Yosemite 2-day. I put on a series of accelerations but didn't stay away from him for long. JB must have been asleep because he wasn't even close to us. There are about a half dozen gravel bits where new culverts have been layed but they're easy to ride over. Rick passed me for the final time near Son of Chainbuster and stayed away to put about a minute on me in GC.

Junction Restrooms

Summit Road is all new from about a mile past the Junction - near Lookout Point Picnic Area. It's all striped and completely done. Below that there are a few asphalt patches but it's in very good shape.

More wind as we climbed higher and I started to fade at Juniper so Rick and JB both demolished me.

Not good for photos up there because of wildfire smoke and other smog. I think I did about 83 minutes to the Summit; if winds are like this next Sunday there won't be any new records set.

Coming down the road was so smooth it was eerie - almost like I was sliding instead of rolling.