Saturday, April 28, 2007

Gate-Junction-Tire Poppers-Junction-Juniper-Gate

Met Rick at the Church, and then JB came down from a pre-ride warm-up. Rick's training for Grizzly Peak next week (9,000+ feet and 110 miles) so he was on a mission to elevate. It's also the day of the Devil Mountain Double so we saw the signs and the last couple dozen DMD'ers descending - good day for it, beautiful weather, seemed to be a lot of cars though.

Wildlife Encounter: A loose dog at the upper entrance to the Upper Ranch. My first thought was "wolf" but it was probably a husky. He posed no problem.

At the Junction the bugs were pretty bad so we headed straight down South Gate. There were some people unloading their bikes from a car there that were surprised when we turned around; one of them said "Hey, didn't you guys just finish?". JB was happy with himself because he remembered to shift down in advance. Two guys passed us right after we started - one was a really fast guy but the other looked like he was catchable.

Never did see the catchable guy again, but the fast guy flatted before Rock City so it was kind of a victory when we passed him. I went for a little time trial and no one came with me. I didn't expect to stay alone for long but Rick must have been saving himself for the Summit so he gifted me the win.

And then we all went up Summit Road. I didn't have time to go all the way but figured I could do Juniper. We all started up pretty slow and then I attacked the gruppetto at Anti-Gravity Corner and scored another stage win. Rick kept going, JB and I turned around.

On the way down we inspected Wounded Knee and sure enough, it's the exact place where that hard-to-see pavement dip is; I'm sure that caused Brad's crash Wednesday. When you examine it from below you can see the contour much better and I think there's a good line to take on either side.

Oddball Observation: I saw a guy laying on the ground, face down next to his bike. I thought he had crashed but then I realized he was doing some kind of yoga push-ups.

After the ride, I took the wife and daughter up the Mountain in the minivan. I don't remember the last time I drove up but it was a long time ago. I paid my $6 day use fee for autos happily.

Wildlife Encounter: A coyote! I'd been telling my daughter that we would see one if we were lucky so this was a wonderful sighting.

We had a picnic at that shady place next to the trail about a half mile past Junction and then went on a little hike. I had the good camera.

"Our house is over there."

Then we drove the rest of the way up to "the castle".

It was a good day for a birthday.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I decided to drive to work today, bike in the truck. Adam left a little early with Brad, and Edgardo drove also but was running a little late. Brad and Adam met me at my parking spot on Doncaster and then we all (sans Ed) started off together. A guy in a blue jersey and knickers took off in front of us just as we started. Adam rode a little ways to be social, then he turned around to restart his stopwatch at the Gate. When he came back he was motoring and had a guy in Hammergel shorts on his wheel. A little while later the Hammergel shorts guy lost Adam's wheel but then blue jersey guy got on Hammergel shorts guy's wheel for long enough to open a pretty big gap between him and me and Brad. I figured blue jersey guy lit his whole book of matches with that one and we'd catch him before the Bump.

Wildlife Encounter: A female turkey in the middle of the road. Might have been the same one as last week.

I stayed with Brad the rest of the way up - it was a good pace but I could have gone faster. At the Ranches Brad said it looked like we weren't going to catch blue jersey guy but I pointed out another guy with an optic yellow jacket that blue jersey guy had just passed so we'd at least catch HIM. And we did right before Big Shady Oak. Then we came around Chainbuster and saw that BJG was fading so we closed to within about 10 meters of him and hung there waiting for him to crack. Then when I was sure I could pass him and maintain a good effort for long enough to stay in front I went for it. I wasn't expecting to drop Brad too but I found myself alone with a half mile to go. Suddenly I heard someone coming from behind and I figured I blew it but it was Brad. We stayed together for a while longer and then I jumped again for a decisive victory.

There were lots of people at the Junction but the DCers were gone and Adam had left already too. So we went back down, and then it happened: Brad named a new feature on the Mountain this evening "Wounded Knee".

I'm working on Google Map images for all the location names, but in the meantime you can check out MyMapsOnGoogle

Not sure what happened, I'll do some recon on Saturday, but he was making the left turn and skidded and then he just high-sided it. He scraped up his knees pretty bad and torqued his leg joints but wasn't in serious condition. Good thing I was behind him and saw it happen otherwise I would have just gone home. I offered to get my truck and give him a ride hom and he accepted. Another guy that had been at the Junction offered to stay with him for a while. By the time I got started up in the truck though, he had already come most of the way down so he was about as good as he could have hoped for. I gave him a ride back to the office and I'm sure he'll be still in pain tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gate-Junction-Blackhawk-Crow Canyon-Iron Horse-Danville Blvd

It really wasn't too cold when I left the house and I figured it would warm up from there so I was in my summer uniform. JB and Rick both showed up with full winter gear on.

It didn't get warmer and I was cold, but not painfully so. My legs turned a little red and my toes got a little numb but I had a fun ride. I lost contact with Rick and JB with about a mile to go and finished at the Junction about 1m30s behind.

Then we did Blackhawk and I got to put in some good efforts. Then we did Crow Canyon instead of Tassajara and that was enjoyable too. Then we stopped at Peet's in Danville, which has got to be the biggest bike poser coffee shop in the Bay Area. There were at least two dozen bikes parked in the racks and leaned against the building. A Serotta Legend Ti looked to be the biggest dollar frame there. We also met a guy there that we'd seen at the Junction: he'd gone up South and down North and wound up in Danville at the same time as us.

The way back to Walnut Creek on Danville Blvd was much more comfortable; with the higher temperatures and a half liter of au lait in my system I was tearing it up.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Checked the weather forecast yesterday at work and it said "chance of thunderstorms". I discussed with JB the ramifications of such a development and he said "well, if you don't come I'll be riding solo." A few years ago I had a (semi-deserved) reputation for being a fair-weather rider and I've been trying to change that recently and I've since ridden in just about every environmental condition the Mountain has offered. Still... thunderstorms?

The proper way to fold and carry a spare tuubaler.

This morning arrived with dark skies but hardly anything that would keep a true Flahute off his fiets. I put Eddy's sew-ups on about a month ago and have been enjoying the zippy commute and now I looked forward to a sweet Vlaanderisch ride up NGR even though it meant I'd have to do some cleaning up afterwords.

Got to the Gate at 8:04 and put a rock up on the post. JB was right behind me but I didn't know it. I passed up a group of three women and another group of two guys right after the Gate. I rode slowly for a few minutes and then JB caught up around the Dumpster Gate.

Wildlife Encounter: A whole BUNCH of wild turkeys down by Little Pine Creek.

We rode along as the drizzle got heavier, each admiring our respective dedication and resolve and then suddenly around a bend there was another turkey in the middle of the road - she ran off right away but it was a fun little encounter.

We saw some more folks coming down and one guy on a hybrid was even wearing shorts. We figured though that at least the group of three women would turn around... after all, resolve like ours just isn't that common.

After Chainbuster JB did a little Cancellara and I figured I'd gift him the win today because I was feeling magnanimus. A little later, the group of two guys showed up from NGR and there were a couple other riders hanging around and we all verbally slapped each others' backs while discussing even more severe conditions in which we've ridden. I used a LensCrafters packaged towellette on my Tag-Hauers and then offered it to the other guys - they seemed to appreciate it.

'S wet.

JB abandonnee' but I said I wanted to go up some more. First though I munched my vanilla crisp PowerBar and BS'ed about racing in the old days with a guy who noticed my sew-ups.

I wasn't sure how far I'd go, but when I got to Juniper the rain was heavy and the fog was thick. I stopped just long enough to zip up my jacket and snap a couple photos.

This is what you would see from Juniper ... if you could see it ... but you can't.

Stopped at Junction on the way down, there was no one there, but I wrung out the water from my gloves. The group of three women were just down the road a piece - suffering with panache. It was really coming down now. I determined that it took about 3 wheel revolutions for my brakes to grab so I just took that into accound and didn't have any problems. I was hoping I wouldn't have to change a flat in the rain though because wet rims and Masticce Gutta just don't go together that well.

By the time I got to the bottom, my legs had that sublime feeling of cold wet tired numbness that fair weather riders will never know.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Took this photo of the Mountain from Heather Farm Park on Easter afternoon.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Today, I was determined not to suck. It's been 68 hours since I've eaten any babaganoush. I got a good night's sleep, I took my vitamins, I drank an extra glass of water, I changed my worn out old rear tire, and I got out the door a little early.

It was cool and windy this morning – there was a chance of rain but I didn't bring arm warmers or a jacket. Found Rick at the Church and then we rode to the Gate together. After a few minutes we left without JB. Didn't start out too fast but I felt pretty good and my heart rate was closer to where it should be (unlike Wednesday).

We passed about five people on the way up. I was barely staying with Rick at some spots but I finished pretty strong at the Junction.

Roadkill Sighting: two dead small snakes.

At the Junction there was a woman rider who was complemented Rick on his color coordinated shoes and bike combination – lots of yellow, including the tires. Rick told her I used to have purple tires and she said those would be the coolest. Then JB rode in – he has one purple tire and one red tire on his purple bike.

It looked foggy at the higher elevations, but we decided to see if we could find some sun; there wasn't any. The fog got thicker and the trees were dripping on us so much it was just like a rain shower. JB made it to Blue Oak before he turned around. I got to Juniper and decided that was enough. Rick went on to the Summit. He called me later to say it was colder and windier and foggier up there – no sunshine at all.

It was a cold descent, but I tolerate the cold pretty well.

Wildlife Encounter: a gruppetto of wild turkeys at the bottom of the Bump. I stopped and watched them for a while and made some turkey noises that must have sounded authentic because I got them to gobble back at me.

Tomorrow: De Ronde!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


never again to eat babaganoush before a bike ride. Today was the worst day I've had on the bike in a long time. Felt like I was glued to the pavement. My heartrate was over 170 bpm before the climbing even really started and hardly fell below that the rest of the ride.

I got a little bit of a head start on JB and Adam, they caught me well before Moss Landing. JB was feeling good and dropped me like a rotten potato into the compost pile. Adam tried to make conversation but really he was just waiting for a good gap so he could sprint up to JB.

Near the Lower Ranch I see a rider catching up to me and it turned out to be Sarkis! On his FIXIE! He said he recognized my "hunched over the bars" style. Then he dropped me like a pancake into the garbage disposal.

Wildlife Encounter: Two snakes

I stopped to photograph this one. He was crossing the road and when he saw me walking toward him he hurried into the ditch. I used a stick to try to put him back on the pavement for a better background for the picture but he got really mad and hissy. I think he was a baby rattlesnake that didn't have any rattles yet - his head had that remarkable triangular shape that was wider than his body and he coiled back like he knew how to strike.

Roadkill Sighting: Another snake.

No one else passed me in the last couple miles... Adam was already gone when I got to the Junction and Sarkis had already turned back down. JB put on his jacket and we went down together. I didn't descend all that well either.

OK, Saturday will definitely suck less than tonight. Maybe I'll give up babaganoush forever.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Diablo is Crumbling Down!

I heard on the radio this morning that there had been some landslides on the Mountain so I grabbed my camera, hopped on Eddy, and rode out for a first hand look at the damage. Wow, this is really some awesome destruction.

The whole section leading up to the Bump was washed out all the way to the the road. There was only a couple of feet of pavement left... no room for mistakes on the descent!

Another shot taken from what used to be the Upper Washout... the retaining wall is completely gone.

This is looking down at Clavicle Cracker... looks like the bulldozers had already scraped off some of the mud. I'm sure there were some campers that were in a state of panic trying to get down last night.

The construction crews up near the Horseshoe lost a couple trucks in the slides. This drainage pipe actually rolled down from Devil's Elbow. Luckily, no one was killed.

This is where the radio towers used to be... all wiped out now; total devastation.

This couple had been parked at Juniper and barely escaped in time to watch their RV get covered with red mud and carried off the cliff.

I expect they'll have everything back to normal by tomorrow.