Saturday, May 27, 2006

Diablo Summit plus Hole in the Fence – 31 miles

Just me and JB again. There was a period of a couple years when he and I were the only ones who met at “Eight at the Gate”. The group got big, then small, then big again, and now it’s back to just us most of the time. Anyway it was great weather, a little cooler than it has been… tights and windbreaker cool. I felt pretty good again too. I sprayed some silicon lube on my cleats this morning (Look red and white ones that aren’t supposed to squeak but have been recently), and it worked for a while but then they started to squeak again even though they still felt slippery… they must be worn out. I have some new black ones that I could put on – used to use black ones all the time but got hooked on the red ones when some came with a new pair of pedals.

A little breezy as we started to climb – very clear though, like after a rain. I did some long stretches out of the saddle just to test the legs and it felt good. I got ahead of JB each time so I started to think about beating him to the line. Finally, after Son of Chainbuster I kept on going and I really pushed it the last mile. Junction time was 42m35s and I saw my HRM go to 182.

After I caught my breath, another rider there introduced himself as John, a blog reader who e-mailed me earlier in the week for some Diablo information. In the e-mail he said he was getting back into riding after a long hiatus and was hoping to break 45 minutes. I asked him how he did today and he said he did 45 minutes! He said he saw a rider coming behind him and figured it was me so he poured it on to stay ahead of me and got a great result. I expect you to be a regular from now on John, see you next week.

There was also a guy who came up South who had a Rivendell with a Speed Blend tire and he was happy to demonstrate it for me. I asked JB what was next and he said “anything but up” so we went down South.

The breeze was a lot stronger on this side of the Mountain and I wasn’t descending very well. Then this tall guy blew right past me and then he blew past JB also, and then he slowed down after he was in front of us… the quintessential dufus move. He wasn’t a bad rider, but he should have stayed in back of us.

Back home on Danville Blvd – JB didn’t want to do any of the sprinter hills.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Diablo Junction – 23 miles

A business trip saw me in Santa Cruz at 8 am this morning. I got back to the office in the early afternoon and then left early to ride the Mountain from home. Robin was supposed to be having her farewell ride today but she postponed it until next week (when I can’t go). Adam felt sick this morning so he didn’t ride in. That left me and JB again, although Randall said he would like to come too; he’s welcome of course, but he’s not a serious rider so I wasn’t sure what would happen with him.

So I approach the Gate and I see all the Diablo Cyclists about two minutes ahead of me. I put a rock on the post and didn’t wait for JB. Beautiful weather, warm and sunny and I felt good. Passed up the OTB pack of DCers after a couple miles but didn’t see anybody else catchable up the road.

Wildlife Encounter: A snake – about a foot long, in the middle of the lane … road kill waiting to happen. Couldn’t tell what kind, I’m sure it was deadly poisonous and mean though.

Up closer to the Bump I saw another rider that I was slowly catching up to. As I got a better view I realized it was my neighbor Amy A and I said “hi” as I passed. Looking up the road though I didn’t see anyone else at all so it was solo the rest of the way up.

Got to the Junction in 42m30s – one of my better times this year, I’m starting to think sub 40 again finally. There was a huge crowd at the Ranger Shack including lots of people that I can sometimes keep up with; I should have started earlier today. Then JB got there (just after the DC crowd went down South) and said he’d waited for Randall but didn’t find him.

We went back down and at the Gate I stopped to talk with a guy I recognized from a ride a long time ago – the guy who needed a tube with a long stem at the Junction. I told him my story – that after I’d given him my tube (which worked in his wheel) I almost didn’t accept his offer to take his tube (short stem) with me for the short ride home but he insisted and then I got a flat on the way back down so I needed it. He shook my hand and introduced himself as Chris. He had called a buddy to come pick him up that day and I saved him a lot of trouble. I always wanted to tell him that story, now he knows.

Then JB and I rode down the rest of the way toward the church and found Randall – he’d gotten his instructions mixed up and had been waiting for JB at the church while JB was waiting for him at the Gate. Randall had ridden part way up by himself after a late start but turned around after a mile and a half. We apologized for the confusion and neither one of us had the heart to tell him his helmet was on backwards.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Diablo Junction plus Hole in the Wall – 33 Miles

Rained overnight but things were pretty much dried up this morning. JB and I met up at the Gate and set off for a leisurely one. Last week Adam said he thought he could do a faster time on a morning ride; this morning JB said he’s never as good in the morning as in the afternoon.

So we discussed financial planning and the weather and just about everything except riding and it was a nice mind clearing ride and we finished in the high 40’s. We hadn’t seen more than three or four riders on the way up and there still weren’t many riders at the Junction. We didn’t know if the overnight rains kept people away or maybe last Saturday’s weather was so good that everyone came out on the same day. JB also asked the ranger about repaving and he said that the bid went out and they did get some bids and he thought the schedule said to start in June. Summit Road is getting pretty cracked up so if that’s all they do I’ll be pretty satisfied. The lower part of South Gate Road – down below the tire poppers, is really bad but that’s a political issue since it’s privately owned… not sure what the deal is there.

I told JB that Rivendell was having a garage sale today and they advertised all kinds of bike parts new and used, so we decided that would be a good thing to do but they didn’t open until 10 o’clock so we went down South Gate and through the Hole in the Fence. There were many more riders coming up now, and this side of the Mountain was a lot more foggy. I never know quite where I am in those Alamo neighborhoods so I always let JB lead the way.

We got to Rivendell’s shop about 5 minutes before the official opening and they had a boss guy there who wouldn’t even let people look at the merchandise until ten so we checked out their show room which is actually pretty cool – way better than they’ve had before. At ten o’clock they let people start rummaging through the boxes and it was really a bit of a hectic scene with all the Rivendell groupies there. They had dozens of tires for $5 each so I picked up one Speedblend Pasela and JB bought two regular Paselas (but he had to borrow the money from me). They had boxes of derailleurs, handlebars, shifters, brakes, and all the assorted bits you might find in somebody’s garage except a lot more of them. Wheels were $20 each and they were a popular item. Neat idea on Grant’s part.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Diablo Junction plus SGR

Lots of us from work today. Since tomorrow is bike to work day, a few people planned on riding home tonight and back in tomorrow, leaving their cars at the office. So Amanda, Robin, Jeff, JB, Adam, and I all rode the Mountain today. There were lots of other riders there too - dotted all along North Gate Road. Jeff said that Mark P was coming but we didn't see him at the Gate.

Just as we crossed the start line, Adam started sprinting and said "I'm going for 30 minutes!" and then he disappeared (he was sub 31). JB was feeling strong so he pulled as the rest of us sat on for the flat bits. He was strong though and pretty soon it was just me on his wheel. Robin was also strong because she did the 100 mile option on the Tour de Cure with some fast friends. By the time I got to the bottom of the Bump, JB was past the top of the Bump, and I hardly caught a glimpse of him after that.

It was pretty hot and my jersey was all the way unzipped and my frozen Cytomax was melted. I was pushing pretty hard but didn't seem to be going very fast… probably my tire pressure wasn't at absolute perfection - HA! Actually I was afraid Robin might pass me up - but then I realized the person that was catching me was someone else.

Then I caught up to Mark P riding with his friend Todd who appeared rider but not a strong climber (he later turned around and didn't make it to the Junction). Mark's going to Mexico with his family at the end of the month for a vacation.

So just under 45 minutes to the Junction where there was the biggest crowd I've seen in a long time. A lot of Diablo Cyclists and a lot of people I've never seen before. Probably 30 cyclists just out for a nice afternoon ride.

Robin asked me if I was going to go up any higher and I said I was thinking about going down South Gate and she asked to come along. Descending felt weird - maybe it was a funky wind or something but I wasn't cornering very well and didn't feel very fast on the straight bits either. Then after we went through the HOLE IN THE FENCE, I followed a pickup down the wrong road and we wound up on the busy section of Diablo Road that I was trying to avoid.

On the trip back up Danville Blvd Robin told me about riding here with the members of her triathlete team who sometimes train in this area. Then we were back at the office and the ride was over.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Diablo Summit – 31 miles

Karl from Seattle e-mailed me last week saying he was coming to town and wanted to ride. I offered him my foul weather bike and he was very grateful. Karl also came down in August of 2003 and did an after work Junction ride with us on my Eddy Merckx – it’s blogged in the archive.

He pulled up to my house in his rental car and I knew I was in trouble – he looked lean and strong. I gave him a water bottle, we got the seat adjusted, and headed out.

At the Gate Karl did another little adjustment and then JB showed up. We all rode together for a while but Karl was feeling his oats and riding pretty fast. I stayed with him but JB dropped back. By the top of the Bump Karl had a big gap on me and I was losing time. I stayed within eyeshot of him the rest of the way up but he still beat me by almost a minute. I also knew he’d want to do the Summit since he obviously enjoyed making us hurt so much. JB said he wanted to do Southgate but consented to do Juniper at least.

There were a lot of riders on the Mountain today – not like in the Death Ride training period, but more than I would have expected for a mid May morning. It was already warm and the bugs were getting pretty bad – biting bugs that really pissed me off.

The ride to Juniper was a little slower but it was still the same order – Karl, me, then JB. Since I was saving something for the Summit I let JB pass me near the top of the Blue Oak Speedway. So we hung around the Juniper parking spot for a while and Karl talked about how nice it is to ride with hardly any traffic and I knew he was right. It’s nice to be reminded of how special this mountain is for me and the other people who ride it.

Then JB went down and Karl and I went up. I had entertained private thoughts about stopping at the lower parking lot (skipping the Summit Wall). Would I be cheating myself? Would I feel like a wuss? But as I went around Devil’s Elbow I felt fine and knew it wouldn’t be a problem. Karl waited for me at the bottom of the Wall and I told him to start first. I thought I left a big enough gap behind some other people who started just before us but I had to pass them near the top – not a problem, I just prefer to have the whole width of the lane available for weaving if I need it.

The bugs were bad at the Summit too so we didn’t stay long. I didn’t want to challenge Karl to any descending contests since he was riding MY BIKE, so we took it easy all the way down and then he bought me a Jamba Juice and we talked for a while.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Diablo Junction from Work

Brad told me he wanted to come today so I told him I’d meet him at the bike rack at 5:10 or so, but when I got there his bike was already gone so I assumed he left without me.

Adam said he was going to be late so JB and I left the parking lot just as Mark A was riding by on his way out, so we rode with him to the Gate. Interesting how people have slightly different ways of getting out there; Mark almost took a couple turns different from us but stayed on our route today. Adam caught up with us on Walnut and he and Mark did some verbal posturing about how they weren’t going for a fast time today… that was humorous.

It was a pretty hot day and I had ice in both bottles. JB packed his arm warmers just in case… he’s a lot more sensitive to cold than I am I guess.

Wildlife Encounter: Little brown lizards all over the road, all the way up; never seen so many of them.

JB and I were still together nearing Clavicle Cracker and then we came up to a small group riding together. He accelerated and passed them quickly: I accelerated and passed them not so quickly. I kept him in my sites all the way to Junction but he beat me there by almost a minute.

At the Junction Brad finally rode in and gave me hell for not waiting for him. Turns out he brought his bike into his office to change clothes and that’s why I didn’t see him or the bike.

We don’t get as much post ride socialization as we used to. Adam went down South, JB went home, Brad went for a High Tech Burrito, and I went back to the office to pick up my civvies.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

2006 Tour de Cure – Napa Valley, 26 miles with CJ

Thanks to all of you for supporting CJ and me and the American Diabetes Association in this fundraiser.

Sunday morning I got the bikes loaded onto the old Infiniti by 6 o’clock. Claudia and I had some oatmeal, got dressed, and packed our stuff that we laid out the night before. We were on the road at 6:30 for an 8 o’clock check in. Traffic was lighter than expected and we arrived at the Yountville Veteran’s Home about 7:30 which gave us lots of time to eat the free bagels and drink the coffee and juice. We got checked in and received our event T-shirts and met up with some of the other people on Team Brown and Caldwell – most of whom I didn’t know. Some were from other offices and others were from companies that we partner with like Verizon Business Systems. Our ride was supposed to start at 8:30 but they delayed us until 9:30 because the rest stop wasn’t ready so we wound up spending a lot of time in the start area and enjoying the atmosphere and refreshments.

I really wanted Claudia to have a positive experience on her first organized ride so I had talked her through all the things that would happen ahead of time. I told her we could stop and rest if she got tired or sore, that this wasn’t a race (even though we were the fastest), I explained what charities do with the money we raise, and I also tried to explain how diabetes affects people, and that we’re helping them and having fun at the same time.

She really liked identifying herself as part of a team that all had the same jerseys. There was one couple on a regular tandem (Wendy from our Sacramento office and her husband Richard) and our team captain Jeff was on another tandem with his son Ian. Everyone else was on single bikes and there was quite a range of cycling skills and experience in the group. There were also some trailer cycle riders that weren’t on our team but they must have been doing the 10 mile ride because we didn’t see them again after the start. It was pretty chilly but Claudia said she wouldn’t need her jacket and it was supposed to warm up quickly so we left it in the car.

All of us assembled at the start line and got a little pep talk and safety lecture and then our journey was begun! Here's the route sheet.

The first few miles were through residential areas and farm land. We saw some wild turkeys in a vineyard just outside of town including one big tom strutting around like he was really something special. We also saw some cows with the biggest horns I’ve seen outside of Texas. When we got to Highway 29 we stopped to regroup and Richard hopped off the back of his tandem, opened up his saddle bag, pulled out a glucose monitoring kit and tested his blood sugar right there! I didn’t know he had diabetes until just then and I explained to Claudia what he was doing. He was doing just fine and didn’t require any medications so we all turned north together.

Now we were on a wide shoulder with the wind at our backs but there was more traffic so we didn’t bother passing too many people. We just rode at a comfortable pace and enjoyed the company and the views of the beautiful Napa Valley.

At Rutherford we made a right turn to go east across the valley floor and here there was no traffic at all. CJ said she felt great so we decided to burn a few matches and we raced Jeff and Ian to the other side. Everyone we passed cheered us on and it was a lot of fun.

Next we turned south on the Silverado Trail but Jeff got a flat tire and didn’t have a pump so we stopped to help him. It was only another couple miles to the rest stop so he just got enough air in there to make it that far and we didn’t have to wait too long. It was a good chance for the rest of our team to catch up to us though. Both tandems, us with our Halfwheeler, and another half dozen BC members pulled into the rest stop at the same time.

The rest stop was staffed with great volunteers and they had lots of good drinks and snacks. It was definitely getting warm now so sitting in the shade really felt good. I realized here that a lot of these folks don’t really ride too much because after only 12 miles some of them were really in pain! People were groaning and asking for ibuprofen and complaining about how far they still had to go. It was sort of funny but it was also nice to see people who were challenging themselves physically for a cause they believed in.

One thing the organizers could have done better – more porta potties… the line was about 30 people long. Seems to be a common shortfall on events like this.

Jeff got his tires checked and topped up by the mechanic volunteers and then we all started off again. Claudia was still doing terrific but I kept the pace comfortable until I was sure she could handle some more speed. We had some rolling hills here going south until we got to Oak Knoll Avenue where we turned west and headed back to the other side of the valley. Now there was only about 8 miles to go and I knew she was having fun so I asked her if she was ready for some “megapower” and she responded in the affirmative so we poured on the velocity and passed riders by the dozens. There were a lot more riders on the 25 mile ride than on the longer rides so it was pretty much a steady stream of cyclists the entire route. We gave them all a friendly greeting with my bike bell and Claudia’s parrot horn – most of them didn’t seem to mind our passing them at all and most shouted out cheers for us. There was one group though that all had matching jerseys with no identifiable team affiliation that I called “Team Roadhog” – they were all over the road, not paying attention, and not getting out of our way! We got away from them as quickly as we could.

Then we saw the signs for the event photographer – I told CJ what was up ahead and we practiced our waves so we would have the perfect photo. We practiced three times and then she said “I got it Daddy”. When we got to the site though – there were FOUR cameras so we weren’t sure which one to look at. They wound up taking five photos of us and we’re not looking the same direction in any of them.

So now with about 4 miles to go we were back to our relaxed pace and were approaching Highway 29 where there was a stoplight. I noticed the group of cyclists accumulated at the intersection was pretty big so I figured the light was about to turn green and I skillfully maneuvered our long rig up to the front and timed it perfectly. We passed about 25 riders in one quick jump and were all alone out in front on the frontage road headed north back to Yountville. CJ said she had lots of energy left so we hammered all the way back to the Veteran’s Home and up the long hill to the finish line where we got a big hero’s welcome.

They had a bouncy house for kids set up there and Claudia played in that for about 20 minutes before we decided to go through the lunch line. The volunteers here were really well organized so even though the line was long it went very quickly. They had Portobello mushroom sandwiches for us and some noodles and cole slaw too so it was a very nice apr├Ęs ride meal. There were about ten Team BC people at the same picnic table so we swapped stories and congratulated each other while we ate.

I was so proud of how well Claudia did, and I was so happy that she really enjoyed it. Her arthritic knee didn’t give her any problems at all and she probably could have done another 15 miles… the best possible way to finish an epic ride.

Now when I say that I raised over a thousand dollars for the American Diabetes Association, what I really mean is that all of you donated your money on our behalf and I really can’t tell you how honored I am that you do this. We had a lot of fun on this ride but I never forget why we’re doing it or who makes it possible.

Warm regards,
Scott and Claudia.

OK, here’s the best part. On the way home it got kind of hot in the car and Claudia said she would like a Slurpee. So I suggested riding bikes to the Slurpee store after we got home and she said “YEAH!”

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Diablo Junction from Work – 31 Miles

Amanda and Edgardo joined Adam, JB, and me today. Amanda (Blitz) got an early start and Adam got a late start but Ed, JB, and I left the Gate at 5:40. Ed didn’t keep up for long though so it was mostly me and JB. No sign of any of the Diablo Cyclists, they must be leaving pretty early still.

Wildlife Encounter: Between the top of the Bump and the Upper Washout there was a small rattlesnake coiled up in the uphill lane. He didn't move or anything and I joked that he would be waiting for JB on the way down.

This isn't him, I just decided to add more photos to my blog - that is until someone starts screaming copywrite infringement or fair use yada yada.

There was a strong breeze pretty much the whole way up. JB and I passed a few other riders but stayed together until past Clavicle Cracker. That’s when he saw Adam coming up from behind and decided to have a go. I almost hung on to him but he was a little faster today and when Adam passed me JB was about 100m ahead. Then when Adam caught JB they rode together for a while pretty fast.

So 44 minutes to the Junction and Blitz was already there too – she said her head start was almost 30 minutes and she got there at the same time as Adam. There was a motorcycle guy there who paid his day use fee at the Junction station and told the ranger he wished he was fit enough to ride a bicycle up here… I don’t think I’ve ever heard a motorcyclist envy a bicyclist before (at least out loud).

Jay K was there also and we talked a little about his successful Devil Mountain Double ride. I just discovered that his profile (or rather his bike’s profile) is on the Litespeed website: He also has some good ride reviews and stories on his quirky website – and some of them include me! (No DMD review yet)

After the ride we regrouped at Ed’s car. Everyone but me was going out for carbos and suds but while we were talking I saw Jay and his riding buddy coming down and right in front of them a minivan pulled out of a driveway and cut them off. I gave the driver an Italian fist-in-the-elbow salutation and then went on my way.

Last chance to sponsor me in the Tour de Cure.