Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mission Aborted: Nipple Fatigue

Way cooler and foggier than the last day of May has any right to be... very pleasant but unusual.

We expected to see a lot of cyclists training for the Death Ride... hardly any.

Wildlife Encounter: Black-Tailed Jackrabbit ((Lepus californicus). Ran away from the road as we approached.

Coyote Cuisine

JB tried to put the hurt to me after Chainbuster and it worked, except he put the hurt to himself even more. There was a substantial headwind up there so I vowed to hang on and go late and that worked perfectly.

Man it was foggy at the Junction.

I wanted to go up at least to Juniper and find some sun, and JB reluctantly agreed. As I was getting ready for more climbing I heard and felt the strangest buzzing... almost like a cell phone on vibrate but much stronger. JB heard it too. Then I realized it was my brake rubbing my rear wheel - somehow I had broken a spoke and was getting that vibration just straddling my top tube. We cancelled the ascent. He gave me a rubber band to tie the spoke up to an adjacent spoke. Riding down was fine, I just didn't rail any corners.

Here's what I found when I got home - just the head of the nipple had broken off, inside the rim. Took it to Encina Bicycle Center in the afternoon and Dave said it was an easy fix and he'd done bunches of them. I've never seen one break like that before - only spokes at the elbow or at the nipple, not the nipple itself.

A good opportunity to do some bike cleaning while I'm at it too.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gooogle Maps Diablo

This is the coolest. You can take a virtual ride up Diablo through Google Maps! Can't link directly but:

Go to Gooogle Maps HERE, then paste this address:
1284 N Gate Rd Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Then click on the little photo that says STREET VIEW. You can turn 360° and look up and down and head up the Mountain with simple mouse clicks.

Google has a fleet of cars with cameras that drive around and take photos of everything. When they drove through the Junction, of course there were a bunch of riders hanging out... I'd love to know who these people are!

You can probably look up your house too... my lawn was full of leaves when they came by my neighborhood!

Lots of interesting information on these cars - some have recorded crimes being comitted, sometimes people have flashed the cameras!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 WNR 08

Wednesday afternoon found me stuck in San Francisco traffic. I always enjoy seeing my favorite landmark on the way home.

Tonight, we brought up a Diablo virgin - Adam's cousin Kenny. He's been riding and he's young and fit but he's never done anything like Diablo. He and Adam rode from the office and met me at the Gate. JB has tickets to the A's game so he DNSed.

At first the three of us rode together. Kenny wasn't as comfortable drafting so he kept a distance but didn't have trouble keeping up. Then at the Bump he hammered up but I held back, not sure if he knew what he was doing or not. Then we all re-grouped at the Cold Shoulder. Then Adam went off solo and I rode with Kenny and pointed out the usual locations. He said he hoped never to have a spot named after one of his misfortunes.

Then at Big Shady Oak I told him, "one mile to go from here" and he decided to pull over and rest... I guess he just pooped out. Adam came down to get him and ride him in.

I warned Kenny about dragging his brakes and about Wounded Knee and we descended at a novice speed. He had really had a fun ride down. Too early to tell if he'll be a regular.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quickie JuncRun

Unbelievable, except it probably happens every year. It was cold enough this morning to need tights and other warmies; I had to dig into my pile of bike clothes that I'd put away until November.

JB and I left the Gate at 8 after I put on some extra lip goop to protect from the elements. It had rained a little overnight but was pretty dry this morning. We decided the fire near Santa Cruz was supplying the atmosphere with surplus particulate that was acting as nucleation for participate condenstation.

We figured Dudley would be back in his tights too, but we didn't see him.

At the top of the Bump I had a little gap on JB and enjoyed having him in a spot of bother so I kept on going. He's always in good form for WNRs but Saturday mornings sometimes find him without the edge.

A guy on an aero Pinarello came around me but he left no wake for me to jump into.

At the Junction we saw some guys coming down from Summit Road and they were all pretty soggy. They said just a few corners up it was really wet. There were quite a few folks though who were training for the Death Ride and they were serious about vertical training miles in whatever kind of weather was available.

New racoon-proof trash can at the Junction ranger station! (Cell phone photo)
We decided soggy wasn't for us so we went down. When I got home, my new camera was waiting for me so I took my dog for a walk and shot this photo from my neighborhood (too bad I don't actually have this view!)

The rainclouds had pretty much disipated by then.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gate - Junction - Gate

Rick and JB gave me the standard 5 minute grace period before starting without me - I rolled up about 6 minutes late and caught them just after the dips.

Third or fourth day of the heat wave - hardly cooled down at all overnight.

I was a little surprised to see Rick - he's leaving for ITALY this evening for a family vacation, but he decided he had time for a quick JuncRun.

Coming up the Bump, a guy on a sweet Moots challenged from the outside and Rick went with him. Later Rick claimed he gave the Moots guy a free ride and the dude was knackered at the Junction.

Dudley Driveby: Looks like it was warm enough for him to leave the jacket at home.

Wildlife Encounter: Black tail deer below the Lower Ranch... you'll notice I didn't post any photos.

Wildlife Encounter: Coyote near the Ranger House. Hmmm, no photos?

While I was stopped to watch the coyote, a guy came by and I started riding and talking with him. Mike from Marin was training for an Ironman Triathlon later this year with his wife who was just ahead of us.

At the Junction I talked with Dave, who used to ride with the Diablo Cyclists on Wednesday nights. Haven't' seen him for a while. He was promoting a new kind of oxygenated water sports drink and thought I might do a product review on it. His enthusiasm for the stuff was infectious and I lost the card he gave me with the info, but a page of Google RESULTS convinced me that any effect was placebic.

Rick wanted the Dip Sprint today so I gave him a good leadout and he handled it nicely. Afterwards he said he didn't think my run-up was fast enough, but when he barely got around me for the jump he changed his mind. Then we did a hydrant sprint too and I went early to see if he would know how to respond and he got me by a bike length. He'll cat up real soon.

OK, why no coyote and deer photos? It appears my camera finally crapped out. Tried to upload them to my computer and I got a message about an unformatted card. The photos were viewable on the camera but my computer couldn't see them. They weren't that good anyway, so here's a photo from Mother's Day on the Mountain last week (when it was actually cold!)

Going to use those Amazon coupons on a new camera... probably by next Saturday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2008 WNR 07

Since it's Bike to Work Week, I decided not to do my usual Wednesday pick-up with bike in the rack routine. This meant I had to carry all my bike junk in my work backpack and change at the office.

It was supposed to be almost 100°F tonight but it didn't get that hot. It's definitely hot and dry though and it feels like a desert. I brought two bottles of ice Cytomax but didn't get the freezing time quite right... the Polar bottle was still pretty cool by the end though.

Started up at 5:32 after about a 20 minute ride to the Gate. Figured JB and Adam would be right behind me. The Diablo Cyclists are leaving later now, so most of them passed me around the Lower Ranch. The heat wasn't that bad but my eyes get really dry in weather like this... I think I'm going to have to start carrying drops with me.

Adam and JB showed up at the Gate. There were a dozen or so riders hanging out, and then we all went down.

After the Mountain I had to go back to the office to get my backpack. Then back home on my regular commute route where I snapped this photo.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gate - Junction - SG Kiosk - Gate

Beautiful weather this morning. Met JB at the Gate. Rick's doing a race in Pleasanton... he's almost ready to upgrade.

Usually I do better rides on Saturday mornings and JB does better rides on Wednesday afternoons. Today we took it pretty easy.

He asked me "Do you ever wonder how long you'll keep doing this?" And I said, "I had a vision recently that I was an old man, got to the Gate, started riding up, realized I just couldn't do it anymore, and then cried and turned around, never to ride the Mountain again." I suspect it'll be like that, barring injury or relocation. I'd be willing to put on a triple crank or even --gasp-- get a recumbent if it would mean a few more years though. And if I'm in any control of my faculties at all... I could see myself riding up on an electric Vespa twice a week to take photos.

Dudley Driveby: Actually he was stopped, admiring the view near the Bump. He had on a newish pair of black cycling tights!

After Chainbuster, JB decided to put the screws to me. I hung on for a while, then I lost contact, then with about 200m to go I went for a Hail Mary sprint and passed him for the win.

We both went down SGR but I turned around at the Kiosk.

There were dozens of these little orange plastic fences, I couldn't figure out what they were for.

The South Side is definitely a little more scenic than the North.

This guy was doing his own little MTB criterium - up this trail, back around on the road, repeat.

This cracked me up - one of the residents of Ranger Town was cleaning out his garage and this old exercycle was parked in front... get a bike!

Thank you Mount Diablo

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

2008 WNR 06

Packed my camera, but forgot to take any photos tonight.
I started at 5:30 figuring JB and Adam would be right behind me. Felt kind of off for the first 3 miles - legs and heart just weren't in it for some reason. Adam caught me at the Lower Ranch and a little while later about 8 of the Diablo Cyclists passed me so that got me pumped up and I pushed hard for the rest of the way... JB still caught me after Chainbuster though.

Here's a view of Diablo from San Francisco - Twin Peaks I think.

My cleats have been squeaking again - man that's annoying.

I have a ride review for the Tour de Cure, but I'm waiting for the PhotoCrazy pictures... check back often!

Monday, May 05, 2008

2008 Tour de Cure Napa

The big day came and we were prepared. Saturday night we had all our bike clothes picked out and our gear ready to load in the pick-up for the drive up to Napa. Claudia's bike shorts had gotten too small over the last year so she opted for regular shorts and sweat pants. Scott heard it was going to be warm so he planned on shorts with no vest or arm warmers.

The drive up went well and we were ahead of schedule so we stopped at a convenience store for some milk and muffins.

The parking lot at the Veteran's Home in Yountville was teaming with cyclists of all kinds. We got a good spot and then rode up to the start area in time to enjoy a free breakfast of cereal and yogurt. We found a few other folks from our team (Scott's company's corporate team) and mingled while we waited for our check-in time. This year, for the first time in Claudia's Tour de Cure history... they had kid-sized T-shirts! That was an extra nice benefit since this was also the first time Claudia had done her own fundraising. Claudia insisted we stop by the Jelly Belly tent to pick up some schwag, including orange flavored Sport Beans... we stuck them in the trunk bag of the bike for later.

After a brief pep talk and admonision about stopping at stop signs, our group got going. Scott's work friend Jeff decided to ride with us and we started off up valley north through winding vineyard roads. We were on the look out for turkeys or other wildlife but didn't see anything except cows. Our new tandem was handling very nicely; over the last couple weeks we had ridden it just enough to get all the adjustments dialed in to absolute perfection. Many other riders shouted encouragement to us and told us what a cool bike we had.

About 10:30 we turned east to cross the Valley. We had expected it to warm up by now, but it hadn't and Claudia was getting uncomfortable so she tried to keep her hands warm by sticking them up the back of Scott's jersey. A woman rider who passed us offered to lend Claudia some gloves and a vest so that made the rest of the trip much nicer for her.

When we got to the Silverado Trail we merged with some of the faster 50 and 100 mile riders so that was kind of exciting. The road here is wide but there's not always enough room to pass slower cyclists so we lost a bit of time. Just before the rest stop though, there was a long downhill and we really cooked through that section!

Always on the lookout for a Classic Klein!

The rest stop had lots of great munchies – Claudia really liked the GORP. The location was right next to a vineyard and some people were parking their bikes right up against cabernet vines... gotta love that. After about 20 minutes we were ready to leave but Jeff held back a while longer.

By now there were lots of faster riders passing us so we just got into a groove and enjoyed the scenery. All the vehicular traffic was very curteous to the cyclists and it was finally starting to warm up.

When we turned off the Silverado Trail to head west again, Claudia decided it would be a good time to have those Sport Beans so we stopped along the side of the road. It was also an opportunity to strip off the gloves and vest because it was getting a little TOO warm. Jeff passed us here and kept on going because he had to get back home for another event. This was probably the best section of the route; very little traffic, not much wind, hundreds of acres of vineyards on both sides of the road and rows of tall trees just off the shoulder.

That's where the PhotoCrazy guy was and he took this photo of us:

Now we had about 7 miles more to go. Claudia was getting a little fatigued – with this new bike she has to pedal at the same RPM as Scott and she's not used to that yet. The Sports Beans had worn off and she just soft pedaled while Dad did all the work to finish off the ride.

At the finish line there were lots of enthusiastic volunteers cheering us on and thanking us. Claudia was hoping for macaroni salad but had to settle for baked beans for lunch. The bouncy house was a nice bonus though and then a big contingent of our team posed for a corporate photo.

Claudia managed to get a little recuperative rest on the drive home.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Rick and I waited for JB but he didn't show.

Rick crashed in last week's Wente Road Race and he was feeling still a little out of whack, but mostly recovered and it wasn't really too bad inury wise.

I got a library book last week titled "Dave Barry Turns 50" written in 1998 and since I just turned 49 I could relate to a lot of it, but with a few years offset (I never watched Howdy Doodie for instance.) Dave Barry is my kind of humor and anyway, Rick decided I should do something memorable and ceremonial for my 50th next year and he decided it should be the Seattle to Portland single day double century. He's done it, it's epic, it probably wouldn't kill me, and it'd be a cool jersey and blog report.

Dudley Driveby: Upper washout, wearing baggie shorts, mid-calf socks, and a down jacket.

At the Junction we saw the biggest Team in Training group ever - they must be preparing for the Death Ride and most of them looked like they were ready.

From there we opted to hit the Junction. It was great spring weather, sunny but not too warm. While we were taking in the view, a huge tour bus pulled into the parking lot, about 50 people got out with notebooks and papers, and then the bus went back down empty, leaving the people to hike (?).

This guy had some difficulty with the hairpins.

We waited about 10 more minutes to give the bus a head start but we still got stuck behind it so we stopped at the Junction too and waited, and got stuck behind it again but it eventually pulled over. Then we had the perfect Double Dips Sprint.

We went for a post-ride Jamba and we could see the Canal Trail and there was some kind of walkathon going on with thousands of people, dogs, and baby strollers; it's definitely charity event season... tomorrow's my turn.