Saturday, January 28, 2006

NGR - SGR - 31 miles

Almost an exact copy of last Saturday's ride, but the weather was a little better. Got going a little late - usually I try to sneak out of the house without waking anybody up but this morning my wonderful daughter caught me and insisted I make her a bowl of grits before I went so I had to comply. Same trouble shifting the rear derailleur (I got some new stuff to spray in there but I didn't do it yet). I've also been noticing that my chainring has a sort of wobble (my newish FSA Gossamer Compact) - I don't know if it's slightly bent or if it's flexing as I pedal… I'm going to have to check that out. I didn't know if JB would wait or not because it was 8:05 when I got to the traffic circle but then I saw him coming toward me; he had turned around at the Gate. He said he had encountered Mark A on the way out and was glad he had an excuse not to try and stay with him - he had to turn around and find me.

The road was oddly wet even though it hadn't been raining and the trees weren't dripping. There was a lot of water in the lower creeks though. And that old barbed wire fence on the uphill side of the road is almost horizontal now from ground movement - I predict a Great Cow Escape one day soon. At the Bump JB opened a big gap on me and I thought I must be riding rotten but I caught him back and he said he was just doing a maximum heart rate experiment. A little further up we saw Mark coming down so he must have done a pretty fast ride. Then we held it together until near the Junction where JB didn't have any trouble opening another gap - even though he was riding his Trek with panniers and full fenders.

Again I had entertained thoughts of doing the Summit during the early part of the ride, but by the time I got to Junction it seemed like a better idea to go down to Danville. Not much change in the road conditions from last week - still lots of wet slippery spots, and still big piles of mud and rock at some of the turnouts. There were a lot more people this week though and that makes it more fun.

We took Diablo Road into Danville because I wanted to check out the Pedaler since I haven't been there in a while. JB went back to Walnut Creek but I stopped at Peet's for a coffee and looked in the window of Pegasus Bicycle Works but they weren't open yet - maybe I'll bring my daughter down to shop for kiddie shorts or something as an excuse to browse.

On the way back I saw maybe 50 women riders headed south and I thought they might be the Cinderella training group from my health club. Didn't get passed by anybody on Danville Boulevard and made it home in time to get a lot of work done.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Up North Gate, Down South Gate and Back Though Town - 31 miles

All the weather reports said it was going to be a fine day and I was glad I finally got a new Flight Deck because I wanted to ride the Klein. Woke up at 6am and didn’t even think about looking out the window, I just trusted the reports. Then I happened to hear a traffic report on the radio that said the weather was creating problem so I peeked through the curtains and saw thick fog and drizzle. Well, now I was glad that I put a Race Blade fender on the Belgian Beast. I added a layer under my jersey and put on two layers of socks and rolled out into the elements. It wasn’t actually too cold so I figured I’d be pretty comfortable even if I did get a little damp.

More shifting problems on the old 8-speed Ultegra stuff – I did a lube/flush after my last rain ride but it didn’t seem to work very well. Almost makes me want to put downtube shifters back on … hmmmm. As I got near the end of Bancroft, I saw JB go through the traffic circle from Oak Grove – I like when we both get there at the same time… no waiting around and wondering if the other guy is going to show. We wiped the rocks off the post because we knew no one else was coming.

All the washed out areas on North Gate had been repaired and there were no single lane zones but there were still some cones in areas where the shoulder had washed away right up to the pavement. It was so foggy though, and the visibility so low, that we didn’t have the usual sensation of knowing exactly where we are on the route and we came upon the Bump rather suddenly. I was grinding my lowest gear and thinking I’m in miserable condition but comforted myself thinking it was just all the extra clothes I was wearing and the intense power work spin class I did last night.

Wildlife Encounter: A coyote crossed the road in front of us, then followed us up the hill for a ways – they’re cuter in the winter when they’re so fluffy, in the summer they’re kind of scraggly looking.

We kept hoping we’d pop out of the fog layer and the sun DID get a little brighter but visibility at the Junction was still pretty low. We saw a few people ride in from both directions and I said hi to them and then we rolled down South Gate.

South Gate Road was slippery from the rain and mud on the surface so we took it pretty easy. It was also colder on this side and I had to stop and put on my glove liners. The road condition though was very good until we got down to the Hole in the Fence where it had been under water and there was mud and gook everywhere. JB led the way back to Concord through all the side roads that I should know by now but never bothered to learn.

Still trying to figure out where to watch Stage 2 of the Tour of California from. Either Happy Valley or closer to the finish in San Jose.

Anybody else go back to downtube shifters after using brifters for so long?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Product Review: Planet Bike Fenders

These were inexpensive, give good coverage, and went on easily. They get a Diablo Scott rating of 10 out of 10.

Here's my uber-commuter with Planet Bike fenders and lights.

And here's my fixie with lights too. I haven't taken any long rides on this bike but it's fun on commutes and around town. Almost time for a new driveway - look at the size of that crack!

Also, I added a "comment" feature to my blog so you can leave a comment on any post. I used to have a guestbook but it filled up with spam and porno links so I had to delete it even though there were some nice messages in there. At the end of each post you'll see something like this:

// posted by Scott @ 10:12 AM 0 comments links to this post

The "0 comments" is one link and the "links to this post" is another but it looks like they kind of run together.

To leave a comment click on the "0 comments" link (or it might say 1 or 2 comments etc) at the bottom of the post you'd like to comment on. There's a simple verification procedure to make sure you're a person and not a spambot, but you can be anonymous if you want to.

I'm not sure what the "links to this post" link does, but if you do then feel free to use it!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Diablo Junction – 23 miles

Woke up this morning at 6 o’clock and it was raining. Weather report said that it would get nicer soon though so I chamoised up. Decided to take Eddy since it would be wet and I really don’t like the Klein to get too dirty. Still had the sew-ups on Eddy though so I put on the new wheels I built for him a few months ago on the Hugi hubs and did a little brake and derailleur adjusting and declared my mechanical issues resolved. Then I got dressed and hydrated. Before I left though, I realized I needed a spoke magnet for the computer to work so I scavenged one from the bin.

As I rolled away from home I noticed that I didn’t hear a single ping from my new hoops and I thought; “Yes! I rock at wheel building!” But before I got to Bancroft Rd. I had to readjust the magnet for proper pick-up. Now I was running a little late. Made it to the Gate at 8:08 and I had noticed both Rick’s car and a rock on the post so I figured I was the last guy to start.

I hadn’t called to check on the status of the roads, but it’s been almost a week since the torrential rains so I was reasonably confident that things would be OK and the ranger at the North Gate kiosk barely looked up from his magazine when I rolled through. But I was curious as to what the road conditions would be like since they’d been closed due to mudslides. I was having a little trouble shifting, which isn’t uncommon in the cold – I dunno something about STI and cold weather don’t go together. Down at the bottom I noticed there were several places where someone had obviously been shoveling some mud off the pavement but they didn’t look too bad. As I got a little higher I noted some pretty severe cracks in the soil and a few trees that were precariously uprooted but still somehow standing upright and everything seemed fine.

Climbing the Bump seemed harder than it should have, so I resolved to increase my strength training at the Club and then after the Upper Washout I saw my first major road damage from the rains. There was a section where the road had washed away on the right shoulder and they’d put up some pylons to keep people from driving too close to the edge. Then there was another section with big boulders and piles of mud that had been pushed around by a bulldozer. Up a little farther was a piece of road that had been reduced to single lane, with a stop sign and everything because of some washout damage to the pavement. JB caught up to me around here and reasoned that his computer clock must be a bit off so we checked and it was so that’s why he got a late start. A little farther up I saw somebody in a yellow jacket and wondered if it might be Rick.

There were lots of muddy, shoveled sections between the Ranches and the Junction, and the creeks and ditches were as full of rushing water as I’d ever seen. I pulled in just under 50 minutes and greeted Rick (it was him) and JB who hadn’t been there too long yet and were BS’ing on the bench. I did a wheel evaluation and the spokes on my front were WAY slack and I thought “Whoa – how did I get away with THAT?” JB and Rick both commented on how loose the spokes were so I borrowed Rick’s wrench and tried to layer on some tension to the front (which was far worse than the rear, which seemed to be OK).

JB wanted to go down to Blackhawk but Rick needed to go to work at a construction site and I didn’t trust my wheels so I went down with him (slowly). He said he saw a deer leg on the side of the road coming up that had been picked clean by the vultures but we couldn't find it on the way down. We noted a few more interesting weather-damaged areas and then sucked down some caffeine at Mia CafĂ©. Rick suggested I look into some race blade fenders since I had a skunk stripe up my back... they were only $15 at Encina so I just might do that.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Blackhawk and Back via Danville Blvd

The weather has been rotten for weeks but it seemed like this morning I would get a lucky break. Yesterday’s storm was over and today’s storm wasn’t supposed to start until this afternoon. There were tree branches everywhere but it wasn’t windy and it wasn’t rainy.

My plan was to ride with the Diablo Cyclists on their published 9am ride to the Summit, followed by Blackhawk for about a 40 miler. None of my regular buddies was coming so this sounded like a great ride. I know quite a few Diablo Cyclists from just riding on Diablo but I’ve never been a member.

First ominous sign – my Flight Deck wasn’t working… changing the battery didn’t help… I futzed with it for about 15 minutes until I couldn’t wait any longer and it bugged me that my first ride of 2006 would be without benefit of computer.

Got to Countrywood and met up with everybody there. Then the discussion turned to what ride we’d be doing since DIABLO IS CLOSED DUE TO MUDSLIDES! Mark had already tried to do a “pre-ride” up the mountain by himself and was turned around at the Gate by a ranger. They weren’t letting the runners up either. I was bummed but at least I’d be getting a fun ride in whatever it would be.

Then a guy I hadn’t met before asked me “Are you Diablo Scott?”. I admitted that I was and he introduced himself as Chris and said he’d been reading my blog for a year and a half. He said the demands of new fatherhood had caused him to take a break from cycling but my blog motivated him to get back on the bike; and that’s about the nicest compliment anyone could have given me I guess.

A couple of the jokester DCers had on long argyle socks, and one guy had on a “Happy New Year” hat on over his helmet – we decided he should lead us through town. So we started rolling (about 20 strong) and still there wasn’t consensus in where we were going but Part 1 was going to be Danville Blvd. Rumors about doing Bollinger Canyon started to filter through the pack so I figured I’d better save my legs as to not embarrass myself on a climb.

Danville Blvd was littered with an even higher density of tree bits blown off by the storm than the other roads around, and there were also a lot of puddles and piles of wet leaves so we were a little careful but we held a pretty good clip. The pack split into two with about 8 fast riders moving ahead and I found myself in this first group, not having too much trouble keeping up until the wind started gusting. I wanted the pack to stay together but that is a ride leader’s job and I was just a scab. I also wanted a good workout ride but didn’t want to flare out too early with these fast guys. We all regrouped on the south side of Danville anyway, then stayed together through some back roads I didn’t know very well until we got to Tassajara where we did a few little hill sprints and worked out those winter kinks – I played along but didn’t shake things up very much. Then we stopped at a Chevron station in Blackhawk which is apparently the standard restroom break location and collected a few riders that had slipped off the back. Most of us had mud stripes up our butts at this point, except for a few riders that had rear fenders on.

I don’t remember ever riding this loop in this direction – we rode to Blackhawk from Danville on Sycamore and Tassajara and then on Blackhawk Road past Mt. Diablo back to Danville – usually I do it the other way around, after climbing Diablo. We had a few more sprints and some fast paceline work here and that was fun and challenging. Then it was back to Walnut Creek on the Blvd and the trail. I’m calling it 35 miles, it was a little less than two hours ride time.

Then most of us went to Starbucks for a cuppa and I got to know some of the Diablo Cyclists a little better. If I had the opportunity to do more rides like this I’d definitely join their great club.