Saturday, March 31, 2007


At the Gate we saw two guys come by; I said we should let them go because not catching them would be less ignominious than being passed by them if they turned out to be faster. Rick and JB seemed to agree so we gave them a 30 second head start. Then they stopped! We passed them 20m from the Gate. We decided they must have had the same idea. One of them nearly caught us at the top of the Bump, but then waited for his buddy and we didn't see them again until Junction.

Then some other guy came around just as I was starting to lose contact with the gruppetto - he passed me while riding no hands and futzing with his jersey zipper... quel panache!

Without even turning a pedal in anger, Rick rode away from us at about 2MTJ. JB stayed pretty close but my elastic snapped and I was almost two minutes slower at the line.

From there we went to Blackhawk. On the way down, some dumbass in a Cherokee tried to pass us so I decided to stay clear of him with an Il Falco style descent; didn't see HIM again until Diablo Road. Must have been Pro Jersey day today - I had my Quickstep on, Rick had Jelly Belly kit, and I saw Gerolsteiner, Sierra Nevada, and USPS too.

Waiting for JB at the last climb before Tassajara.

From here on, I enjoyed being the fast one and sprinted up all the little hills. Rick outsmarted me on one but I won't let that happen again.

One week till De Ronde!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wednesday Night Ride 2007.02

Man, I had the Suck Knob turned up to 11 tonight. JB dropped me about half a mile into the ride. He didn't feel good on Saturday but he felt good today.

Little bit windy and that was a factor, but not an excuse. My saddle sore is not fully healed, but that's not an excuse either.

Right about here was the last time I saw JB.

Hardly any other riders tonight. I did see a few coming down.

When I got about to the Upper Ranch, a guy came around me and said "Oh, the competition!" I wasn't sure what he meant but then he said he was from a rival engineering firm and he noticed that I was wearing my company jersey. Anyway, he should not be passing me, but tonight a banana slug could have passed me.

I always think this pair of trees looks like the finish line kite of a big Euro race. Then these guys were practicing their sprints when I stopped to snap a photo so that was pretty cool... normally I could have spanked both of them on the dips.

Product Review: Performance Xport Xpress pickup bike carrier.

I got this pickup bike mount the day after I got the truck. I looked at a Thule version that was three times as much but this one seemed fine.

The skewers aren't the long-throw type so you have to do that unscrewing maneuver to get the lawyer lips in.
The skewers don't lock but the rack does lock to the truck. I can shake the whole vehicle with this bar so I know it's on there good. The Xport Xpress gets a 9 on the Diablo Scott Rating System.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gate - Junction - Tire Poppers - Junction - Summit - Gate

Epic ride today. Got to the Gate a little early and put up a rock. Started up slowly and then I stopped to watch

Wildlife Encounter: Two young coyotes near the loading dock.

They didn't stick around long enough to be photographed though. So I started up again expecting something magical to happen around every bend.

Roadkill Sighting: Baby snake.

I saw JB behind me and hoped that he wasn't in too much of a hurry because I was enjoying a slow ride on this beautiful day. He caught me below the Bump and then we continued at a conversational pace, except we didn't have anything to talk about. We realized at one point though that there weren't many other riders on the road. Today was probably the best weather so far this year; where was everybody?

I pulled ahead at the Bump, JB caught up.
JB pulled ahead at the Ranches, I caught up.
Then we passed three friendly guys and I put in an effort and held it to the Junction; JB came in a few minutes later, and then the three guys. Counting one other guy at the Junction, that made six riders we'd seen all day... odd. We wondered if there was some big ride or other event going on.

So I talked JB into doing the Tire Poppers and back up but he was less than enthusiastic about it. We did see more people ascending SGR, including

Oddball Observation: A rider in a cowboy hat with a couple other cyclists. I hoped I would catch up to him again on the way up.

Turned around at the Tire Poppers and JB groused a bit but seemed to enjoy himself once he found his groove. Lots more people over here and the sun was warming up by now but there were also a herd of motor vehicles hauling up trailers and camping gear, their drivers lacking the skills necessary to navigate mountain roads with multiple users; made riding less of a nature experience.

So we got to the Junction and JB put on his jacket and I told him I wanted to go up to Juniper. He was surprised and declined my offer to come with. There were about a half dozen cyclists hanging around by now.

I began the third climbing segment feeling pretty proud of myself. I wondered if I might convince myself to do the Summit, but decided I'd be happy with Juniper.

Oddball Observation: Recumbant tandem - long and low with bright orange paint: I gave them a double ding with my Incredibell

Well Juniper was packed with SUVs so continuing on was an easy decision. I rode up to Muir Picnic Area and by now I was about spent so I pulled over for an outhouse experience thinking that was it and I'd turn around... but maybe if I sat on that picnic table for a while, the will to summit might again embrace me. The table offered a secret view of the road and I sat there for about 10 minutes watching the riders go by. Most of them were just huffing and puffing, but some of them were talking to themselves, cheering themselves on, or just whining... it was an enjoyable peek into how other riders tackle the Mountain.

When enough motivation returned, I finished the ride to Summit. Lots and lots of riders up there, all just a bit smug. Lots of motor vehicles as well, all just a bit clueless. I timed my descent just for fun - 24 minutes from Summit to Gate - not pushing it except a bit at the bottome, just interested because I don't think I've measured that before.

On the way home I felt a saddle sore forming (must remember chamois cream) and it had gotten blustery and I was pooped but psyched. That's how you feel after an epic ride.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wednesday night rides are back!

But sunset is still only about 19:30 so I drove the truck in to work today so I could be sure to be home by dark. Adam met up with me at the Church, we didn't know it but JB had already started up.

Shortly after the Gate, we got passed by "The Knave" - I told Adam that a knave was a guy who wasn't as good as you but passed you anyway... not sure I got the whole meaning across. This knave looked strong but lacked suplesse... I figured he'd flare out but maybe he was an anti-poseur. Below the Bump I told Adam to go chase him down, and within a minute he'd put about half a mile of empty road between him and me.

So I rode solo until the Upper Ranch where I passed a guy on a newish Motobecane Le Champion mail order bike. He was having a tough time and as I passed him I joked that he was running out of gas. He said "This is SO much harder than South Gate!".

I started to run out of gas not too much farther up the road though, and I slowed way down past Chainbuster. Then the Knave passed me in the other lane on his descent, then a racer guy with an Italian logo on his shorts passed me just before the line.

JB and EQ were at the Junction but Adam had already gone down SGR. There was also a guy with a long skateboard and motorcycle helmet coming down from Summit Road - he got a lecture from the ranger and then pulled out his cell phone for a ride home. He was with another guy on an 80's Schwinn.

Motobecane guy came in a few minutes later and then came his riding buddy who must have started after me. When I started down, Schwinn guy was right behind me, but I let him pass when I pulled off to snap some photos. When I started down again, Italian shorts guy quickly caught me; we were pretty close to Moss Landing though so I forced him to take the lead and then I just twiddled along behind him. I almost felt guilty about taking advantage of him but I kept that thought from affecting my tactic. So as we approach the Double Dips I realize that Motobecane guy and his buddy are right next to me and buddy is positioning himself for the sprint. I did a little positioning myself and attacked at the perfect point and smoked them all easily - seriously I hardly threw down and just left them... it was glorious.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Guest Blogger!

Blog Reader Curtis sent me an e-mail a few weeks ago and said that he used to ride Diablo 30+ years ago and I asked him to write a guest blog entry about what it was like back then. Here's his story (he couldn't find any old photos though):

It's all my friend Matt's fault. I had recently graduated from SF State and he suggested we go for a ride. I had a heavy-frame Gitaine Grand Sport Deluxe with steel wheels -- just a little better than the popular 42-pound Schwinn Varsity most guys had. Off we went. Matt was a garage sale junkie, so we'd ride from Walnut Creek to Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, San Ramon and Concord looking at garage sales and never buying anything. There were no computers then, so I had no idea how far we went, only that we were out from 8am to the late afternoon. It became a routine.

Matt introduced me to helmets (those way cool, white Bell Bikers) and bike shoes with cleats. We rode in tee-shirts and cutoffs because cycling clothes cost as much or more than they do now, only in 1975 dollars. Jerseys were wool, shorts had real chamois; we could afford neither. He showed me how to patch tubes and clean my chain and how to draft and ride in a club pace line. He was so cool because he had sewups and some campy parts on his Stella.

One day he suggested we ride up Diablo, and I said sure. I'm not sure if I made it the first time, but I know I was able to a short while later. Becoming addicted, I found a used Gitaine Tour de France 10-speed (ten speed as in ten total, not a 10 speed cluster). I bought it for $200. It had Suntour Cyclone derailleurs, clamp-on downtube friction shifters (like every bike) an old comfy Ideale leather seat and 1" clincher rims with low-end campy hubs. It was a rocket!

Matt eventually moved away, and it took me a long while to transition from riding with someone to riding alone.

I've had spurts of riding in the 80s, 90s and now I'm back in the saddle again, commuting and going on longer rides over the weekends.

Last weekend-- Diablo. Just the junction: North gate, down the South and back through Danville, but I lived. I was amazed to see how many riders there were. Back in the day I was thrilled to see anyone on the mountain. Last Saturday was packed with cool riders. It was great to notice I wasn't the fattest, or slowest guy there. Amazing.

Curtis has started his own blog with motivational posts about rekindling an old passion; you can read it here:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gate-Junction-Tire Poppers-Junction-Gate-Jamba
How do you like that new shorthand?

I found the greenest (clean) jersey I had today and set off feeling pretty good... on my green bike.

JB, Rick, and I again this week. We saw quite a few riders coming down, and we passed a few riders going up. It was cool, since DST just started last weekend so the sun hadn't been up for too long, but it was warming up fast. Rick has a thermometer on his computer and he was giving us temperature updates every mile or so.

We all stayed together until 1MTJ and then JB and Rick had a little dueling match and dropped me. There's a new window display at the Junction Ranger Station - an Earth Day event on the Mountain with a stuffed fox on a log.

JB had to turn around and Rick and I decided to do the Tire Poppers again like last week. It was a nice descent and on the way back up we noticed a couple guys a few hundred meters back. I figured they'd catch us pretty quickly but Rick said "no way". They did pass us though, on that long steady grade area below the SGR Kiosk. They put a little distance on us but then on the fast section past the Kiosk Rick said we had to go get'em so we bridged up, stayed with them for just a minute, and then I attacked with Rick on my wheel. We held the gap for a while and then decided to attack again at the helicopter pad. One of the guys tried to catch us but we held him off until the Junction and then we went down NGR right away.

Then Rick led me out for another perfect Double Dip sprint.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hey, I Won a Prize!

I was really caught up in the Tour of California this year and disappointed that I couldn't make the Sierra Road trip like I did last year. So while I was watching the ToC on TV one day, Phil Liggett read the promo about donating to the Breakaway from Cancer fund by sending a text message from your cell phone. He said it had been a very popular and successful program and they were close to getting a million dollars. All you had to do was send a text message that said "donate" to a phone number and then 99¢ would be added to your phone bill and donated to the fund. I thought that was a really neat way to make a small donation and show my support for the race so I did it. I honestly didn't know there were any possible prizes associated with the program.

So earlier this week I take a cell phone call from an unknown number and it's this lady who says she was with AEG, the ToC promoters, and she needs to know my jersey size and address to send me my prizes. I was a little skeptical but she didn't ask for my credit card number or anything and she said I won a jersey and some other stuff.

Today it came by FedEx:

A ToC Leader's Jersey, a ToC rain jacket, a ToC hat, a pair of ToC socks, a CD of California oldies music, and four tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific. How cool is that?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Now THIS is how to lock a bike.

A big thick cable going through both wheels and the frame, locked with a miniature U-lock (keyed) around a serious bike hoop... AND, a full sized U-lock with combination locked around the frame and the hoop. Two independent and disparate locking methods - far better than a single U-lock that also locks the cable and far far better than any single locking system.

I hate to offer a challenge to a thief, but I think most of them would find somebody else's bike to steal.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bump de Bump

Absolutely beautiful weather this morning; knee warmers and short sleeves with a base layer. My back has been real stiff lately but I felt pretty good on the bike. JB and Rick were waiting for me at the Gate.

Rick's got some big plans for this year including the epic sufferfest Climb to Kaiser. I must admit my motivation to punish myself for fun has not arrived yet this year. We got a little ahead of JB before the Bump but then he caught up and then Rick took off and left both of us behind.

There were the most riders I'd seen all year on the Mountain today, and it also seems that they're getting better; most of them seemed to be experienced roadies. At the Junction there were some guys who had ridden up the Easy Way including one guy who was talking about being in the Soviet army.

We discussed Blackhawk, and JB kind of liked that idea but Rick suggested turning around at the Tire Poppers and coming back up and JB kind of agreed. He decided to keep going though when we got there so just Rick and I turned around.

There were lots of riders on SGR too, but also more auto traffic. By the time we got near the helicopter pad my legs were feeling pretty rubbery. I missed three weeks in a row in Feb and last week only did a short Junction ride so I guess that explains it but I've got some serious work to do before I'm ready for a tough century.

Lots of poppies had appeard on NGR by 10 o'clock when we went back down. Brought my better camera but didn't get a good shot.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Diablo Junction Quickie

Dear daughter's birthday party was at 1 o'clock so I had to make this a short one. Drafted a huge roofing truck on Walnut Avenue at 40mph for about half a mile, that was one big sweet spot. Met Rick at the Church and then we saw Mark A start up solo and then JB rolled up to the Gate and off we went.

Lots and lots of riders today, we passed a bunch of riders that looked like they were training for something, there were riders coming down already, it was a rider's day on the Mountain. Barely warm enough for long sleeves with no jacket.

So at the Junction JB and Rick went up and I turned around. Rick later told me the Wall was closed again because of ice - that was surprising because there was no hint of snow or anything up through 2,000 feet.

I have GOT to start carrying my other camera - this little pocket thingy is as close to worthless as it could be.

Beautiful blue sky, crappy photo.

Beautiful oak tree, crappy photo - why do I bother?

Blog reader Curtis sent me this photo. He said my blog has inspired him (!) to start riding again. Said he used to ride the Mountain a lot in the '70s - that was even before Breaking Away! Maybe I can get a retrospective from him about how things were different back then. Curtis - I invite you to write a guest blog post for me to publish.