Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gate - Junction - Juniper - Gate

This one was worth 4 points on the Diablo Scott Belgian Hardman Scale.

Rick called at 7:00 to make sure I was going to be there... he also called last night... this is not the kind of day you want to be miserable without anyone to share it with.

When I got to NGR ,there was Rick putting on his booties over... HIS SANDALS !! He forgot his shoes and decided that wouldn't stop him so he rode the whole day without cleats on his Look pedals, what a hardman (all hardmen are a little bit nuts). Then JB rode up too and off we went.

I stopped for a whizz at the bottom of the Bump.

This isn't it... just a rain puddle.



We half hoped to find snow somewhere up there but visibility was almost nil. The fog was as thick and wet as I've ever seen it; most places were completely un-photographable so you're only seeing the few clear spots. Rick predicted we'd see no other riders, I was sure we weren't the only ones. Note to self: time for the mudguard.

No sense hanging around at the Junction any longer than necessary, we went up.

Dudley Driveby: 9:20 at Blue Oak on his way down (!) We did see about a half dozen other riders too.

More fog seemed to be forming in the little valleys between slopes and rising into the air. It was hard taking photos with frozen fingers.

I stopped at Juniper despite R&JB's taunting to continue. As soon as I started down, I knew it was a good decision... it was a long, cold, soggy, low visibility descent. Rick later called to say it took them almost an hour to come down.

Brrr is right.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some Photos

Found these while browsing teh internets. A couple of views you don't see very often.

Fron Concord somewhere.

From an airplane over Suisun Bay... does it always look that brown?

From Tilden Park.

And from Danville? Covered with snow.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gate - Junction - SG Kiosk - Gate

Colder than last week! I had on a polypropelene undershirt (never could figure out how they make T-shirts and pipes out of the same material), jersey, full jacket, tights over my bibshorts, winter socks and booties, neck gator, ear jock, double layer of gloves, and SportKilt bandana under my helmet. Must have been 10 pounds of clothing, but I was plenty warm after my toes thawed out.

Met Rick and JB at the Gate at eight. It's been rainy this week but this morning was clear and not windy. JB said it was 34°F at the Summit - did you know there's a weather station you can call? The number is 925-838-9225 and you get a recording that gives the current temp and wind conditions.

There were a few guys riding today - but no Dudley... hope he's OK.

At the Junction a guy asked me about my booties, he didn't have any and wanted to know if they worked... YUP. He admitted his feet were pretty cold.

Then we went down to the SG Kiosk for a quick loop and back up. Some guys passed us on the way back up but Rick caught all of them save one.

And then Bagle Street Cafe at Encina Grande Center, it's a great apr├Ęs ride place but understaffed so you sometimes have to wait a long time just for a bagle and a cuppa.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gate - Junction - Blackhawk - Peet's COLD!

There was a crisp cleanness to the cold air this morning that piqued the senses. I became painfully aware of this as I pulled on my jacket and realized I should have washed it after the last ride...

JB and Rick met me at the Gate and we started up. We were all dressed for the cold - as for me: bibs and tights, jersey and jacket, winter socks and booties, gloves with liners and an ear jock... the only thing I left off was my neck gator and a thermal undershirt (for sub-freezing conditions or icy winds).

Dudley Driveby: Didn't see him !
Wildlife Encounter: Didn't see any of them either !

We did see a few folks coming down and a few more at the Junction so we weren't the only cycle-locos out there, but all the dumb animals had the sense to shelter in place.

JB turned around at the Junction; Rick and I went down the South Side. I remember thinking it was warm enough that I wouldn't need all the warmies for the descent but I put them on anyway because I'm usually wrong.

It was pretty slow going down through Blackhawk but it started to warm up a little. Then we made our way to Peet's in Danville and I had a peppermint mocha (a 9+ on the DiabloScott coffee rating scale). Also met a guy with a classic old Klein Performance who had recently put on a carbon fork and a triple crank to go with his 8-speed rear end and friction shifters on the downtube... sorry this photo didn't turn out too well.

Also happened to see Adam and his wife on their way to Pegasus for some X-mas shopping (not for me).

Then it was a semi-fast trip up Danville Blvd... no cement trucks to draft this time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cycling in TV Commercials

This is a slick Euro TV commercial with a cyclist advertising a Belgian window and door company. Only 30 sec.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Solo to Juniper

Just me today, riding the Eddy Merckx.

About half way to the Gate, I was wishing I had chosen warmer socks. After a week of fog and rain, today was clear and dry but very cold. I knew Rick wasn't coming, JB called while I was en route and said he wouldn't be coming either. I decided today would be a good day to take a bunch of photos; especially of places where I don't normally stop. I kept my eye open for an unusual cast of a shadow or an interesting pattern in the trees; let me know how I did.

I took some extra time with these shots today, so please enjoy. There bigger than usual too if you click on them.

I stopped at the steepest part of the Bump for a photo and a guy with a Pegasus jersey climbed past me... he didn't see my camera, probably thought I was a newb that couldn't make it without a breather.
Most of the Bump was still in the shade.
At the Lower Ranch I saw two guys who looked like they were in a bit over their heads... both looked knackered and under-prepared but in good spirits.
Didn't see anybody else going up or down until Chainbuster where Dudley was stopped, on his way down trying to get some warmth back in his legs I think. I said "hello" but then a little ways up I pulled out my camera for a photo. I don't think I've ever really made fun of Dudley (other than assigning him an unusual nickname) and I truly do admire his determination and consistency. He doesn't seem to fit the mold of other cyclists that ride the Mountain on a regular basis though; he usually wears street clothes with a back pack and bike shorts. Today he would have benefitted from some tights.

Here we have the only known photo of "Dudley".

You can see the Ranger House in this shot, right about in the middle at the top.
At the Junction I met a guy with a 7-Eleven jersey who admired my 7-Eleven replica bike. There were also some MTB guys there who rode up NGR and were going to do some trails on the way down to Danville. Then the two guys I saw at Diablo Ranch came in as well; one of them had a cool Scottish accent and the other guy kept complaining that he was going to die. They jokingly asked if there was any coffee up here and I said it was at the Summit but they didn't bite.

So off I went, not knowing how far I'd go before turning around. It did get colder and windier up there though so that would be my excuse.
At Juniper I decided I'd had enough and started down. I stopped at Junction again to put on some lip goop and then some other guys were there who also verbally admired my bike... I said "I paid $800 for this frame 14 years ago - that's real quality."

I think my chain is worn out though, it kept getting hung up on the chainrings when I'd back peddle a half stroke around corners.
Back down near sea level and the sun was high and the air was warm.
Notch up one more excellent day on Mount Diablo.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like to Paraglide Over the Mountain?

I have.

Anyway, I hurt my back last weekend so no riding. Might not be the regular ride this Saturday either. Enjoy the video.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Juniper on Eddy - Flat on the Bump

Got to the Gate a little early and went up a ways before meeting Rick and JB and starting over. It was really beautiful weather for November - knee warmers and arm warmers were perfect.
Wildlife Encounter: A doe near the Bump and a Coyote near Son of Chainbuster.
LOOOOOOONG shadows of November mornings.
My front tire started to go soft on the Bump and I had started to fall behind. I caught back up near the Upper Washout and announced my predicament so Rick and JB stopped to wait for me to change it. Turned out to be a little tear near the valve so I wound up tossing it at the Junction. Saw some butthead toss a lit cigarette out of his window after passing us - I can't even imagine being that clueless.
Dudley Driveby: 8:50 near the Ranches. Rick noticed the guy never smiles.
Ground squirrels make holes like this all over the lower parts of the Mountain.
Rick had a party to go to but wanted to go to Juniper so that's what we did. On the way up we got passed by a really long school bus from Stockton. It was empty and probably was going to give a ride back down to all the hikers we saw coming up later.
I told Rick he should do another Dips sprint and he agreed so at the "Let 'Er Rip" corner I motored away pretty fast but then these other two guys came around us so we just drafted them and didn't sprint.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Decisions, decisions.

Gate-Junction-Blackhawk-Danville Blvd

This morning while I was walking my dog, I surmised that it was going to be cold all morning. There was rain in the forecast but not predicted until afternoon. So with almost full winter gear I rolled my bike out and noticed that the front tire was flat. I didn't see anything sticking out so I tried to just pump it up but it wouldn't hold. Then I grabbed a tube from my rack of patched and tested ones and installed it... cool, still on time. Then I got about a mile from home and realized it was flat again. I was hoping something wasn't seriously wrong and through in one of my unused spares from the seat bag... cool, it seemed to hold. Then I called Rick to tell him I'd be a little late.

I passed two women on North Gate Road before I met up with JB and Rick at the Gate, they looked like good riders but not fast - I like to make sure I don't pass people who are later going to pass me back. Good riding but it started to hot up and I was too warm; I'm pretty good about clothing calls but today I botched it. Lost contact with Rick and JB at the Bump. We passed a rider in a blue jersey a little later but I didn't seem to be able to get too far ahead of him until I hammered a few blind spots to squash his morale.

Dudley Driveby: 8:38 near Clavicle Cracker

Just when I started to relax about blue jersey rider not repassing me, I see blue rider get passed by a new guy; white jersey rider. So I was determined at least to give this dog a good chase and by the time I got to Chainbuster I knew I had made it.

At the Junction, white jersey rider introduces himself as "Doug - a faithful blog reader!"


Doug also said that another friend of his sent him a link to my site! Rick kidded me about being famous.

Doug went up, JB went home, me and Rick went to Blackhawk. I measured off the distance from the Junction to the Challenge starting line to verify my profile chart - PROFILE (it's correct). Rick wanted me to take a photo of the new "all weather sports field" at the Athenian School - this is why the Challenge riders had to park so far away this year.

I guess they fill it in with some stuff and then cover it with artificial turf and put in a drainage system... looks like a lot of money just to play soccer.

Blackhawk and Tassajara were tons of fun as usual but we started to get a few rain sprinkles. Then on Danville Blvd we drafted a cement truck for a mile or so at high speed - that was really fun!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pinehurst-Skyline-Grizzly Peak-Wildcat-Bears-Pig Farm

This was Rick's idea for a ride with some variety. I happened upon blog reader Chris on the Canal Trail; he was headed for Sunol and hoping to pick up some company along the way. Rick, JB, and I met in Walnut Creek and headed through town to the Lafayette Trail. Rick reported the temp as 48°F but it would be getting pretty warm by the end of the ride. JB's more sensitive to the cold so he had on tights, arm warmers, and a vest; Rick and I just had shorts and armwarmers.

Roadkill Observation: A huge stinky coon carcass on Olympic Blvd.

The Lafayette-Moraga Trail is definitely one of the nicer ones around in terms of scenery.

And it's always longer than I remember.
At the end of the Trail, we worked our way west and into the hills. I wonder how many people live here their whole lives and never see Canyon. By the time we hit the bottom of Pinehurst we'd been riding for an hour so we were warmed up, but it was still cold. The Pinehurst climb is surely one of the Bay Area's finest, but it's not very long. There's a section in there that's one lane because of a mudslide, hadn't seen that before.
Roadkill Observation: a deer, picked clean to the bones but they left the hooves.
When we got to Skyline we munched our snacks and then headed North. Then Grizzly Peak and all those rolling hills - that's really some great riding and great scenery.
And you get views like this!
And then down the steep South Park Drive in Tilden; it was closed to traffic for the newt migration but I'm pretty sure they don't mind bikes - this is one of the few places I've hit 50mph, but not today. At the bottom Rick said he had to "get rid of his hot chocolate"... I wasn't sure if that meant number one or number two but there's a nice restroom there. Tilden's a nice place to ride but there's more traffic so you usually can't really rip it. And the descent down Wildcat is always a blast. We saw big groups of riders coming up too and there was also a club time trial going on.
And then - the Bears... all of them. That first one from San Pablo Ave just goes on forever, then lets up for a bit and climbs some more. I started to get a little crampy on this bit so I held back some; it was also nice and warm by now. JB stopped at the Briones entrance to strip off some clothes and Rick stayed with him; I kept going thinking they'd be right behind me but I was solo over the last couple miles all the way to Alhambra Valley Road when Rick caught me. Then we pulled over to wait for JB in a driveway... at the bottom of... THE PIG.

Pig Farm Hill is one of those East Bay institutions; I've never met a rider who didn't know it. It's really a fun little climb but it always seems to come when your legs are about finished. We joked that there are three segments: ouch, OUCH, and OUCH!

No more pigs, the current owner seems to be an antique truck buff... and doesn't like trespassers.

Then a quick jaunt through the outskirts of Martinez and Pleasant Hill (more rollers) and we were back.
Yet Another Road Kill Observation: an opossum pancake.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Caught up with Blog Reader Chris on the way to the Gate, we discussed the Diablo Challenge while we rode. Then Rick and I waited at the Gate but left without JB. Rick's computer said it was 50°F when we started, that's good for two Belgian Hardman Points.

Wildlife Encounter: Jack Rabbit near the farm and a tarantula near the Lower Ranch.

We passed up a few people but the Mountain was pretty quiet compared to last month. Then with 3 miles to go we saw JB about a half mile below but he never caught up.

At the Junction JB rolled in and said he had to go right back down so Rick and I decided to do the Tire Poppers.

Dudley Driveby: Coming down from Summit Road at 9:15.

SGR was a little more populated but still not too many riders. When we turned around at the Tire Poppers though there were about six riders in pairs but we all split up pretty fast.

One couple passed us though and Rick took off with them and I stopped to take this snapshot:

Wildlife Encounter: Another tarantula.

Rick said he dusted his companions at the helicopter pad. On the way down I told him we should switch and he should sprint after my leadout... it was all I could do to maintain 32 mph to the dips and then he hammered up both of them but was pretty rubbery afterwards... that was fun and then we went to Starbucks.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I felt like I was coming down with something today. Not sick yet, but I kind of felt hot inside. It was wet and cold when I left the house on my winter bike with tights, winter gloves, and a winter jacket.

Met JB and Rick at the Gate, unzipped my jacket and took off my gloves, I was already too warm. Didn't sleep well last night either so I quickly fell off the back of the gruppeto. Then I suffered the rest of the way to Junction by myself.

The road repair they did a couple weeks ago was apparent but it didn't really make much sense; it wasn't really that bad before, but they cut out some sections and completely replaced them and other places they put on some crack sealer but it didn't look like enough, and other places that looked like they really needed repair got nothing (check out the bend over the creek at about mile 4). Near the end, Rick turned around to collect me and said my whole head was red.

Dudley Driveby - a little past 9 o'clock at Junction, coming down from Summit Road. We joked that soon he'd have a superbike, probably a Rivendell because we imagined him to be a retro-grouch wannabe.

After a break we decided to do the hole. I didn't even feel good going down but at least I wasn't too cold. Then we had coffee at Peet's.

On the way home I felt a growing, urgent need for a restroom. Stories of Greg Lemond and Bob Roll in similar situations with unfortunate and embarassing outcomes played in my mind so I stopped at that little park between the Iron Horse Trail and Oak Road - the facility there was much better than I expected... two rooms, both handicapped accessible so there was plenty of space to bring in my bike, plenty of TP and seat covers. I give it a 7 out of 10 on the Diablo Scott public toilet rating scale.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Diablo Challenge Volunteering

I arrived at the start line at 6:45 am, and checked in with the coordinators Anne-Marie, Julie, and Chuck. The hard core riders were already there warming up on their trainers. Rick showed up about 7:30 and I wished him good legs, I also saw TBV and a few other celebrities... but Flandis was a DNS.

My task as a volunteer was to haul people's stuff up to the Summit. I think the organizers figured each rider would maybe have a jacket and sweatpants but a lot of them had full backpacks that weighed 20 pounds. Confounding this issue was the glitch that this year the riders had to park several miles away since the Athenian school was re-surfacing its athletic fields, so people couldn't put last minute stuff in their cars.

Julie and Chuck figured everybody's bags would fit into 5 bike boxes and all of it in my truck. They both have had experience with this and I hadn't, but 5 boxes for 1200 registered riders seemed a little short. All 5 boxes would have fit in my truck if they hadn't been stuffed to overflowing. My assistants Briana and Linda were very nice and helpful but they couldn't help me lift the heavier ones. When my truck was full there was nothing else I could do, and it was 8 minutes before the start so I told Chuck I just had to get going and he'd have to figure something out.

I drove up to the Summit pretty fast. The sun was warming things up and it was perfect weather for the race. The folks at the aid stations along the way looked really bored and it made me think that my job was the best because I could see both ends of the event. At the Lower Lot I unloaded some of the stuff and then walked over to see the first riders start up the Wall. Briana and Linda told me that Chuck had announced "the ride will not start until we get some riders to help load the bags into the (Briana's) SUV" and that pretty much did the trick... almost everybody's junk made it to the Summit.

At the bottom of the Wall PizzaMan Chris Phipps came past looking like he was barely into Zone 4, and he was followed by 13 seconds of empty road before the second place guy came by - and it was another 90 seconds before #3. Chris really stamped his authority on this one; 45m48s to the Summit, sheesh.

After that I unloaded the rest of the truck and helped people find their stuff - not easy at first since there was so much of it. Rick rolled in and said he did a PB but he needs to find another minute and a half somehow if he want the sub-hour shirt (he does)... I suggested the Zipp 202 sew-up wheels in the Pegasus booth. He said he was about one minute off his goal at the Junction and then he really punished himself to keep speed through Blue Oak Speedway.

Afterwards, I was in a caravan following the last group of riders down and we came upon a rider who had two flats and ran out of tubes so I gave him a ride down, he was a nice guy who'd been riding road bikes for 30 years so we had a nice chin wag the rest of the trip.
A fine event and I got to see it from the inside... I'll probably do it again next year too.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Cold this morning; tights and arm warmers. JB, Rick, me.

Rick and I took off together and got a big gap on JB at the Bump, but then he caught up and then he and Rick rode away from me.

Dudley Driveby: 8:48 at the Ranger House.

Rick's plan was to ride easy to Juniper and then go full gas from there to the Summit for a Challenge time split. JB and I went down and around.

The fence uphill from the Hole has been totally replaced with a tall concrete wall. The downhill side is still wood but is falling apart. I'm sure there is a segment of the community down there that doesn't like the access and doesn't like the bikes going through but it's a pretty popular path and the alternate (Diablo Road) is just too narrow and busy; I hope they don't close it off.

Alameda Diablo is a private road through an exclusive country club neighborhood, and they have these speed humps to keep the traffic speed down - they're kind of fun on a bike.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gate-Junction-Gate IN THE RAIN

No Place for Nancys

Couldn't believe it was raining this morning. Had to hunt a bit for the rain slicker and leg warmers. The Belgian Beast was ready to go though; I put the winter wheels on a couple weeks ago.

Yesterday, Rick said he was going to do a quick one to Juniper and then go to a wedding in Santa Cruz... this was before we knew about the rain though. No Rick. No JB. Just me.

I chased a group of three for a while but didn't catch them until the Junction. It rained pretty steady up until the Upper Ranch.

Dudley Driveby: 8:48 near Son of Chainbuster; I knew he was part Flemish!

Wildlife Encounter: Two deer near the Upper Ranch, one of them stopped and posed for a photo. Both bucks with nice antlers... I didn't think males hung around together.
There were a few guys waiting at the Junction, we all pretended this was fun, then I went down for a grande regular. Another buck ran across the road in front of me near Moss Landing.
They're doing some road maintenance on North Gate week after next... these dates are Monday through Friday and the road will be closed to all traffic (yes, this means YOU) on Wednesday and Thursday.