Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Diablo Junction from Work - 31 miles

Hot and buggy tonight; way hotter than I thought it was going to be.

The moon always looks bigger in real life than it does in photos.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Diablo Junction plus South Gate Road 32 miles

JB, Rick, and I took off from the Gate right on time. I told them I had to be home by 10 o'clock so I could take my family to the company picnic and we decided there'd be no dinking around.

I was riding half blind because I broke the prescription insert on my Bolle sunglasses and was riding with no vision correction. On Wednesday I wore my prescription bifocals but they have the little nose pad that lets wind into my eyes and that's about as bad as not being able to see anyway. So I was wearing my Bolles without the insert; I could see well enough that I wasn't being dangerous, but I didn't spot the pot holes as earlier as I might have otherwise, and I couldn't tell the difference between a squirrel and a bunny when they ran across the road.

Wildlife Encounter: A squirrel and a bunny, but I couldn't tell which was which.

The nice thing about not having the insert was that my peripheral vision was much better since I didn't have that extra frame in the way. I started thinking seriously about Lazik, but haven't convinced myself to do it yet. And since my insert prescription is "single vision" it's easier to read my computer and HRM without them. Of course it's about impossible to read any road signs but I could practically ride this ride blindfolded.

JB did a couple of intervals and then complained about them. He got a bit ahead of Rick and me but then he faded and Rick attacked. I stayed with Rick for a while and then he gapped me but I maintained the gap to about 30 seconds and JB faded even more. So 44m to Junction and then we went down the Easy Side and through the residential areas back to Walnut Creek.

Back at home, I pulled down my swarm of tubes that needed to be patched. A Rema patch kit comes with 6 circle patches and 1 rectangular patch and I like to use them all at once so the glue doesn't get dried up. So I had six road tubes and one MTB tube and I got to work. My daughter helped me find a couple of leaks with the under water detection method, she was really pleased with herself about that - made me proud too. The MTB tube was too far gone... the rubber was old and cracked so we junked that one. Out of the six road tubes I got good patches on five of them and that's better than I usually do. One of those five though had a second leak so I used the big rectangular patch on it and got that one patched, but then there was another leak between the two patches so I gave up on that one too. So out of seven tubes, I got four reusable ones and some quality time with the kid.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Diablo Junction - 16 miles

I had a family activity this morning so I didn’t ride in to work. Today was the first day I’d commuted by car in two months, and the first day I drove my bike on my car to the Mountain since last October. That’s not too shabby of a streak.

Absolutely perfect weather tonight – warm and calm. JB and Adam met me at the Church. We paused for a couple minutes at the Gate and I saw my neighbor Jim go by. We started off just afterwards and JB was on FIRE. I hung on his wheel easily for a couple miles and we passed Jim again but this time he stayed with us. Adam was enjoying watching this from behind. I finally sat up near the bottom of the Bump and quickly lost contact with all of them.

So then I did a regular pace, mostly working on strength; I should probably do more intervals. I passed a few people and finished up in 43m40s. Bugs were bad at the Junction so we didn’t hang around long. JB had a PB for the year so he volunteered to buy beer at Round Table. Saw Douglas again at the Junction; he said today he stopped to pick up every piece of litter he saw on the way up and enjoyed all the stops and felt good about doing his bit too. Summit Road is still closed but I saw one guy ride up without getting hassled. I think as long as the construction crew has finished for the day the rangers don't care if the bikes go up but I don't think it's good riding.

On the way down we hooked up with Amanda and Edgardo and all descended together. Amanda is a surprisingly good descender for the little time she’s been doing this; we weren’t going gonzo but way faster than most rookies would dare go. One guy passed us but didn’t move off the front so we just followed him, then when we got to Moss Landing I got to the front and drove it and he was on my wheel and then sprinted at the dips just like I always do with Rick. He enjoyed that but I had fun too.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Diablo Bump de Bump – 35 miles

43m30s up NGR and 35m30s up the Easy Side.

Met up with JB and Rick on North Gate Road right on time.

Wildlife Encounter: Three coyotes playing chasing games with each other down by the trees in that big cow pasture on the west side of the road past the Dips.

I thought we were taking it pretty easy and I purposefully didn’t do any intervals hoping I could keep everything together til the Junction. We were actually making decent time though and passed up quite a few other riders on the way there. About half way up Rick said we should go SGR and back up and that’s what I was thinking too. I didn’t get to ride Wednesday because of a school function so I was looking forward to an extra climb.

Wildlife Encounter: More coyotes on the lawn of the Ranger House.

Summit Road is still closed to all traffic, but the ranger there told us they don’t go up there looking for anybody. She said they should be all done by Labor Day weekend and figured that would be a very busy time in the Park, but that it was going to be very nice. It’ll certainly be a welcome change to ride on pavement that isn’t full of pot holes.

Descending SGR was uneventful except for the hippy guy who cheered us on like we were in the last 10 minutes of an ultra marathon. There was also a very large father and son group picnic going on so cars were parked along side the road for a big stretch. We turned around at the Tire Poppers and started back up right away. Two guys passed us right at the start but we had a good excuse. One guy was really fast but the other guy in sort of a French tricolor jersey slowed down a bit after the Kiosk and I caught him and used him as a pacer for a while. I cracked after a while though and then JB and Rick caught and passed me. Then there was a final push for the line and JB smoked us all.

This is Mia CafĂ© in Encina Grande: they make a nice cuppa and you can sit inside or outside. They’re always happy to see us in there.

And this is Encina Bicycles right next door: small shop but really good folks, especially the mechanics.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Solo to the Junction

Another Flat! Well that makes three so my run of bad luck should be over. First the Klein’s rear tire during the Wednesday night ride a week and a half ago, then my front tubular on the Merckx Friday morning on the way to work (REALLY old tubular), then the Klein’s rear was flat this morning on the hook. Two out of the three happened at (or very near) home and didn’t require on the road repairs – that’s good, right? So this particular flat appeared to be related to the Wednesday night flat… same tire same symptoms (slow leak). This time I pulled the tire all the way off and inspected it under bright light… sure enough, a tiny metal shard was barely poking through and I managed to work it out from the outside. Back in business just in time to make the Gate at eight.

Wildlife Encounter: Two young deer near the wooded area below the Gate. Looked like they had recently been given their walking papers by mama doe. They watched me go by but didn’t panic.

JB was supposed to show, Rick was a maybe, they both DNSed. I figured JB might be a little late so I rode hard enough to make him work to catch me but easy enough that I’d be fresh if he did. Didn’t really see too many people on the way up, which was surprising because the temperature was mild and there was no wind at all.

I forgot my camera this morning so I looked around at all the images I might want to capture later – there are millions of them. After Chainbuster I caught up to a woman who appeared to be struggling but enjoying herself. She asked me to tell her girlfriends up ahead that she was “still alive”. I agreed to do so and told her she only had about ¾ mile to go. Shortly after that her friends came back down to meet her and one of them turned around to go up again with her.

Wildlife Encounter: Two coyotes on the lawn at the Ranger House. They were right next to the road when I went by and they watched me with just a hint of apprehension – when I circled around they moved farther away. I kept watching them from my bike for a few minutes and when the two women came around the turn I pointed out the coyotes and they really got a kick out of seeing them.

At the Junction a couple guys came down from the Summit and said the road was just rideable. I had a birthday party to go to (Rick and Nicole’s son) so I didn’t hang around long but wished I could have done SGR and back up because the weather was just perfect.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Diablo Junctioni after Work

Big group from the office today. All together on the road to the Gate were your author, Adam, JB, Randall, Amanda (Blitz), and first timer Laura.

Nobody was in much of a hurry at the start and things stayed together for a while. Then Adam and JB and I pulled ahead. Before the Bump they put on the hurt and I sat up. Just after that I caught up with blog reader Douglas; he was the guy who got the parking ticket last Saturday at the South Gate Tire Poppers. We rode at a conversational pace and I enjoyed that because it was too hot to put in a big effort. Douglas first rode Mt. Diablo as a kid in the '60s on a Schwinn Varsity! We discussed his custom Waterford - a very nice TIG welded steel frame that had most of the look of a classic steel bike but with some sensible concessions to newer standards like a carbon fork and threadless headset; all Campy Record too with a triple crank and tight cluster.

I buggered up my stopwatch buttons so I don't know my Junction time. The bugs were really bad at the Shack, but I hung around for a while anyway. Douglas also told me a story he heard (confirmed by a ranger) that a rider recently got a $300 ticket for being in the Park too early. The Park officially opens at 8 o'clock in the morning and unofficially 7am is OK - I don't know how early the poor guy with the ticket was.

Wildlife Encounter: Coyote - a big one between the Ranger House and Chainbuster. He was on the side of the road but saw me right away. I stopped to watch him but then he ran up the hill into some tall grass.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Diablo Junction plus down and back up the Easy Side

Got a late start today and then got into a bit of a screaming match with a bad driver on Bancroft. Crossed the Gate about eight minutes late but I had seen Rick's car so I called him to tell him I was there and he pulled over to wait for me at Moss Landing. I passed one guy on my way to Rick and he tried to hang on for a while and then I slowed down a bit when I caught Rick so the guy stayed with us for a while but backed off before the Bump. Then after the Bump I thought he was going to catch up again, but it was a different guy with a Pegasus jersey who blew right by us.

Really perfect bike riding weather today and there were dozens of riders out on their road bikes. Rick felt good and rode away from me with a couple miles to go and beat me to the Junction by about a minute.

We relaxed at the Junction for quite a while and talked with other riders up there. One of them recognized me and admitted to being a blog reader! He introduced himself as Mike and said he started reading two years ago (!) and that I had even influenced him to buy a road bike. He also asked about some of the location names I use and we had a good talk. BTW, I added a link to my Location Names page over there on the right, check it out... I'm including Google Earth coordinates for them as well when I have time to play around.

Another guy there had a new hybrid bike and wanted to ride some "flat trails". He had ridden part way up North Gate Road and then hitchiked a ride with some landscape workers the rest of the way. He asked me about dirt trails to ride and I told him there really weren't any flat dirt trails up here but told him how to get to Wall Point. I tried not to be discouraging but I sensed he had bitten off a little too much - saw him later back at the bottom of North Gate again so I think he got the message. He was a friendly guy who seemed interested in the conversation about my blog so he'll probably be checking in - if you need some info on flat trails around the area drop me an e-mail - there are lots of them around, but they aren't on the mountain.

Summit Road was completely closed for road work so Rick suggested Bump de Bump. I thought that was a great idea so down we went. Mike and his riding buddy went down SGR also. At the tire poppers we turned around. Mike's buddy's car was parked just downhill from the Boundary Gate and he had a $60 ticket on his windshield! The cars parked just uphill from the gate had no tickets. So I hope someone who reads this avoids getting a ticket in the future. Really, you Easy Side riders ought to be parking down at the Athenian School anyway.

There were even more South Gate riders coming up now so we got to pass a lot of them. Rick got a new little pocket digicam for his birthday so we took a few photos of each other too. I took a flyer near the Heliport and managed to stay clear of Rick and another guy who was chasing us the rest of the way to the Junction - beating Rick by about 30 seconds. So 43 minutes up NGR and 38 minutes up SGR.

Product Review: Specialized Mondo Pro Tire Paid $40 for this tire at Encina because I didn't have time to wait for a mail order. Plus only one of my old tires was bad (trashed rear, moved old front to rear and put the new Mondo Pro on the front) so that cut back on any internet savings. This tire is one level below Specialized's top road tire, the Mondo S-Works that is about $10 more. The Pro has a 120 tpi nylon casing made in Asia and the S-Works is 127 tpi made in France. I'm getting away from the colored tires trend and I really like the all black stealth look of this tire - it does have a big "SPECIALIZED PRO" NASCAR-type logo on one side that's a little over the top; maybe you'll like it, I don't. When you look up product reviews on tires you'll usually find a bunch of guys who are trying to justify how much they spent by parroting marketing hype, and a bunch of reviewers that got five flats in three miles and think the tires are too flat-prone. In my experience, tires should be rated for 1 - handling, 2 - longevity, 3 - cost, and 4 - looks. Lightweight tires won't last as long as tires designed for longer wear, but anybody who gets that many flats is either a poor rider, rides on terrible roads, or is just plain unlucky. So most tire reviews are just hooey; my reviews are the exception. This tire handles really well around corners and I feel confident pushing it through downhill sweeping corners... that's my primary concern with tires. I've got about a hundred miles on it now and there are no tread cuts like you might see with a super soft rubber compound that will wear out too fast. It costs a little more than my usual tire budget of $35 per, but I spent it at my LBS so that's $5 of good will well spent. I give this tire a 9 on the Diablo Scott 10-point product scoring system.

Le apres ride Jamba.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Junction from Work - 33 miles

JB is on vacation, Amanda and Randall were riding together, so I got a head start on Adam. Nice weather... not too hot, a little windy. Hard to get motivated.

Then I saw a rabbit to chase - a guy with a white jersey. I must be faster than him because I hadn't seen him until now, but once he made me he kept a constant gap all the way past the Bump. I didn't pass him until after the Upper Washout where he relaxed a bit. Then just as I was starting to catch two more guys, Adam showed up and blew right by me and then he blew by the two guys also.

After Adam got to the Junction he circled back to pick me up and then about 300 meters from the line my rear tire went flat. Not a blow out, it just suddenly got soft so I pulled over at a shady spot and changed the tube. Adam watched as the guys we'd passed came by again.

I hung around the Junction for a long time, enjoying the late summer air but the bugs started to get bad and then I turned around.