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.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

NGR-SGR: 36 miles

Today's contestants: Me, Rick, JB. I ate a banana on the way there and we started right on time. JB was going to the A's game so he said he would only do a short one. We didn't know if Summit Road would be open yet. Rick's doing an epic ride to Yosemite this week and he's training for the Challenge so he's in serious mode. Cool this morning, just enough for arm warmers.

Before the Dumpster Gate, two guys (who we later found out were from Orinda) passed us while we were still at a conversational pace. One guy had a Death Ride jacket on and they appeared to be about our level so we kept close behind them. JB and Rick pounced on the Bump and passed one of the guys but the Death Ride guy hammered out in front and eventually was the first to the Junction. I never caught the second Orinda guy but we were all within two minutes of each other at the line.

This is the rangers' way of saying, "don't even think about it." Summit Road is closed to all traffic. JB turned around right away and after a little lounging, Rick and I went down SGR. We'd just been talking about how we weren't as gonzo on our descents as we used to be, and Rick said he'd ridden the last few Challenges with injuries so we planned on a leisurely descent this morning but as soon as a Pegasus guy passed us Rick's speed increased markedly. Not gonzo, just less leisurely. Toward the bottom I started looking for people coming up that we could pass after we turned around.

Wildlife Encounter: A mommy deer and two baby deers.

For the first couple miles we didn't find anybody to pass, but then suddenly we picked off about seven in a row. I kept my speed up and then Rick rode behind me for a while. Coming up past the Helicopter Pad I thought he was going to attack but I managed to stay on his wheel. Then I decided I'd try to hold on for a sprint. Since it was windy I figured I'd go at the last 50 meters and that worked out just right and I had a good one to win.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Junction from Work - 32 miles

Boy, everything went wrong today. First I got a flat on my way in to work. Walked the rest of the way in since I was so close and fixed the flat at lunch. Edgardo had a broken spoke that I also tried to replace at lunch, but his new spoke didn't fit his old nipple so I couldn't. He got another one though so JB fixed it after work and got his rear wheel semi-true and we left the parking lot about 5:30. Got out to North Gate Road before the Gate and he caught his shoelace in his chain and ripped it right off his shoe. While he stopped to fix that he noticed that his front tire was flat. While he was fixing the tire, Edgardo came by so I started up with him - crossed the Gate line at ten minutes before 6 o'clock. After a while, Edgardo's wheel got crooked in his frame, like his quick release was too loose or something so I stopped and fixed that for him, and then JB finally came by.

So now JB and I sped up and soon passed a whole bunch of folks. He hasn't ridden for a couple weeks so I thought I might have an advantage and I pressed him a little bit which seemed to irritate him. Never got a gap I could hold onto though and at Chainbuster he attacked on the inside and smoked me.

Bugs were really bad at the Junction. There were several places where NGR is all chewed up with gravel, and Summit Road is still closed to everybody including bikes. Getting dark earlier now; I'm going to have to start driving in or else it'll be dark on my way home.

One more flat at the end of the ride just to make my day perfect.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Diablo Junction, down and back up the Easy Side - 36 miles

Cold this morning but I couldn't find my arm warmers and I remembered being way over dressed last Saturday so I just went out in shorts and short sleeves. JB went home from work sick yesterday so I wasn't surprised that he wasn't at the Gate. Rick and I started up at about 8:05. He's doing the Diablo Challenge again this year so there was no question we'd be doing the Summit today.

We passed the Berkeley couple in Grizzly Peak jerseys below the Bump. They're up here a couple times a month and they usually park down on Walnut. I remember talking to the guy at the Junction about his new titanium Eddy Merckx when he bought it six years ago. His riding partner has a roadified MTB and she's not as fast but they always stay together.

A little farther up we passed a guy with triathlon handlebars on his bike. He stayed with us for a while and then on a flattish section he passed us back. Rick wanted to chase him down right away but I figured he was just testing out his aero position. We caught him as soon as the grade increased and then we put a big gap into him.

Then Rick and I stayed together until I time trialed to a solo victory at 43m40s. Lots of riders up there but we were all surprised to find Summit Road was closed! In case there were any doubt, the ranger put cones across the entire width of the road and the barrier up a little ways was down as well. Ranger said they wanted to be open for Labor Day but now they were a little behind schedule. One guy with a cyclocross bike asked if it was OK at his own risk and the ranger said no - only on the bike-legal off road trails.

The fog was thick at the Junction and it was going to be a cold descent, so Rick and I went down South Gate kind of slow but we froze anyway. We turned around at the tire poppers and headed straight back up.

Wildlife Encounter: A herd of wild turkeys and a tarantula.

After a bit we saw the Grizzly Peak guy come down and he turned around at the tire poppers also and started chasing us. We held a regular pace and pretty soon he passed us. I stayed on his wheel for a while but then waited for Rick to catch up. Then Rick and I caught him again and we were all together for a while before Rick faded. Grizzly was setting a fast tempo and every time I thought I would have to drop off he slowed down just enough for me to stay on his wheel, then he dropped me just before the Junction. Easy side time: 34m40s. We talked for a while and I introduced myself to Grizzly guy who said his name was Steve; it'll be nice to offer a personal greeting next time I see him.

On the way down, Rick gave me one of the all-time great lead-outs for a sprint up the Dips.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Diablo Junction with a Newb

Today our young intern at work decided to come up the mountain with us. He'll be a sophomore at Davis in a few weeks and he has a double-sprung mountain bike. I rode him out to the Gate; Adam hooked up with Jason a little later and they met us about a mile below the Bump. I stayed with the newb and gave him advice and made sure he didn't quit and turn around. He was pretty strong up until the Bump and then he started to flare out. After that he said his legs were burning and his lower back hurt so I figured he was having a good ride. Finally when we got past the Ranger House and could see the finish line I told him to sprint and he left it all on the road and put in a good one. He said it was fun and he should have come out earlier but had been intimidated by all our cool road bikes. He especially liked seeing the tarantula.

Mark A. came up to the Junction shortly later and told us about cyclocross racing he had done and the season to come. He said a lot of those cyclocross guys are riding stupid-light, expensive road bike stuff on the cross courses including one guy who had Mario Cipollini's old wheels from the Giro (I think he said the guy was a Specialized rep).

Rick and I are doing Foxy's Fall Century on October 15th so if any readers are too, be sure to give me a shout out.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Diablo Summit!

Had another flat this morning (rear of course) so I got a late start. Chased this guy in a white jersery for a while but caught him easily when the grade increased.

Rick didn't wait for me and JB's on vacation so I did a solo ride to the Junction where Rick was waiting for me. Pretty uneventful 44 minute ride but it was a lot warmer than I thought it was going to be. It was cold when I got dressed so I was sweating all the way up in my tights and long sleeve jersey. Also saw a guy with a nice Quantum Race there.

The "ROAD CLOSED" sign on Summit Road was gone so Rick and I decided we had to ride it. There were a few sections of packed gravel that were completely rideable and there were still a lot of loose gravel rocks scattered around the other parts, but every inch above Juniper was brand new pavement. It even still stunk of hot asphalt but it sure was nice to ride on.

I took this shot from the west end of the Lower Parking Lot, you can see most of the wall and watch riders struggle up it from here.

The parking lots didn't get repaved.

Water is available at the Summit.

And on the way back down I got ANOTHER freakin flat - same rear tire but it wasn't a failed patch... probably some of that gravel in the lower part of Summit Road... worth it though. Rick had never seen anyone use a CO2 to fix a flat before and he was kind of surprised how fast it was. He said "That's it?" Had a great finishing sprint at the dips this morning too.

Not too many cars up here this morning.