Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 WNR 07

Did you see that awesome solar eclipse?

Rode up with Charlie, did a few intervals... it was hot.

Wildlife Encounter:  deer.

Got a little ham-fisted with the zoom button and missed the fauna.

Another Wildlife Encounter:  Another deer

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Redwood Road with Team Club Sport

Started in Dublin, went out the Canyon where there was a sad roadside memorial for someone next to the freeway, lots of roses and other flowers in a big display.  Couple hundred meters later and I got a FLAT from a ROSE THORN.  So, I hope none of my blog readers ever has occasion to lay flowers on such a site, but if you do... make 'em daisies or something.  It's been a bad week for flats - two flats on Wednesday without riding a single stroke, then none of the fixes didn't hold, then this one today.  My "needs a patch" pile 'o tubes is getting big.

So by the time I got to the first meet-up spot in Union City or someplace, the first riders were just leaving so I didn't stop and went with them.  One by one they fell back but I stayed with the fastest guy all the way through Redwood and Pinehurst and then to the park in Moraga.

Then we did the Blvd all the way back to Dublin.  44 miles, pretty fun, nice change of pace for a holiday weekend.

CoCo Times wrote an article about the Diablo stage of the AToC.  Here's the LINK, but I'm pasting the whole text because they don't archive their stuff sometimes.

Amgen Tour's Mount Diablo visit organizers hope for repeat

By Denis Cuff

Contra Costa Times

Posted: 05/21/2012 09:51:24 AM PDT

Updated: 05/21/2012 09:51:54 AM PDT

The first visit to Mount Diablo by American's most prestigious bike race attracted thousands of fans and favorable reviews -- so much so, that it looks like the Amgen Tour of California could return to this iconic slope.

The May 15 crowds were so big, enthusiastic and well managed that there is a "good chance" the race could come back to Mount Diablo State Park, the Amgen race director said.

"The community was very supportive. If they want us back, we would consider it," said Jim Birrell, director of the Amgen Tour of California. "It was great to have such a dramatic climb early in the race."

On day three of the eight-day race, bikers made up a race route that climbed nearly 2,200 feet up the 3,848-foot mountain challenged the pro racers athletically and state park operators logistically.

The only two roads into the park near Danville and Walnut Creek are steep, narrow and winding -- the type of difficult rural course familiar to Tour de France fans but not most American cycling fans.

Still, Roland Gaebert, the Mt. Diablo park superintendent, said the race went well.

"We would like to have the race come back," Gaebert said. "Mount Diablo is such an iconic place for cycling. "

Gaebert said perhaps 7,000 to 10,000 fans watched the race inside or just outside the state park, although no one has a precise count. Perhaps as many as 1,000 cyclists watched from the race high point -- the Junction ranger station -- where cyclists began their descent, race fans estimated.

Park officials estimate that 7,000 people entered park entrance road gates and hundreds or perhaps thousands of others watched the race from outside the gates or entered the park on foot or with mountain bikes on dirt trails, Gaebert said.

"People were well behaved," he said. "They even took out their own trash."

Gaebert and some cycling fans agreed more could have been done to slow down cars and bicyclists speeding downhill after the race.

"A few announcements and maybe warning signs would have helped," said Geoff Landon, a Danville cyclist and amateur racer. "There was a bit too many cars passing bikes and way too many bikes passing cars on the way out for my taste."

Gaebert said park rangers and volunteers made efforts to slow down the descending cars and cyclists, but he added that more might be done if the race returns.

Installing speed bumps at entry kiosks might help, he added.

"It's a learning experience doing this the first time," Gaebert said. "We're conducting a review to see if there are things we can do better."

Two people skinned their knees in spills from bicycles, but no race fans were seriously injured, he added.

Long after the race was over Tuesday, two park visitors were injured when their vehicle skidded off a park road and rolled down a hill. The passenger was airlifted to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, park officials said.

Race fans grumbled that bathrooms at the Junction ranger station were closed to the hundreds of people there.

The restroom capacity was overwhelmed by the crowds, Gaebert said, and chemical toilets likely would be trucked in if Amgen returns.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at

Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 SMR 18

Just JB and me.  There were two guys ahead of us and when we caught them I went for a long flyer but then faded - stayed ahead of the two guys but JB passed me near the Ranger House.

Also saw Peter at the Junction.

Roadkill Report:  Snake somewhere, I forget.  See related story below.

Side Story #1
I don't remember when I bought these shoes, but it was 2009 or earlier.
Sidis are just the best and worth the extra cost.  

But those little heel pads are worn off and I looked around to find some replacements.  Nice of Sidi to offer this feature... not sure why they don't make them out of titanium or something though.  

New pads came in the mail.  Didn't realize they were so hazardous - could cause birth defects.

I waited a little too long though, and couldn't get a screwdriver into the screw.  Got one out with my screw extractor

The other one I couldn't get at all, so I just cut the pad away leaving the screw head exposed so I could grab it with a pliers.

Here's what the shoes look like without the pads.

There's a couple different versions of the heel replacement pads, mine came with some little nubs that my shoes don't accommodate so I cut off the nubs with a utility knife... no prob.

Finished product!

Side Story #2
Blog Reader Curtis took some great photos of the AToC Stage 3 on Diablo; and gave me permission to add some funny captions.

Side Story #3
This is awesome... researchers want cyclists to inventory road kill FOR SCIENCE!

Cyclists can now help scientists by reporting animals flattened by automobiles.

An organization that pairs data-collecting outdoor enthusiasts with researchers launched a roadkill-observation project this week. Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is calling on everyone from commuters to expedition cyclists to record information about wildlife carcasses on their route and enter the data online.


Side Story #4
OK, this is awesome too: a video on teaching a robot how to ride a bike.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2012 Amgen Tour of California Stage 3 ON DIABLO!

The Seventh Amgen Tour of California.  I've seen at least one stage of every single year.  This year they went over Diablo on Stage 3 and your humble blogger was there.

I left work about 10, went to pick up a sandwich and some power water, then drove to Arbolado Park and changed clothes in the restroom.  There were a few other park users and a few other cycling fans; no problem parking or feeling guilty for taking up the spaces.  Started riding at 11 o'clock. 

Coach Marie: spin instructor, triathlete.

There was a pretty steady stream of cycling fans going up North Gate Road, and a few cars.

There was a traffic stop at the Bump.  Apparently a rider who crashed well before I got there, and they had him off the road but they were positioning the ambulance to evacuate him.  Had the guy in a neck brace and back board.

At the Junction, there wasn't even room to breathe.

Went down to my pre-chosen spot and it too was packed with fans and also some cars and tents.  So I kept going down to the helicopter pad where there was good viewing and lots of room.

  Met up with Rick and we watched together.  The race was about 15 minutes late so there was a lot of just joking around and people watching.  Didn't see anyone in a Borat bikini or an inflatable sumo suit.  Did get to see the guy with the ram horns riding up with his helmet on his rear rack.  Rick also showed me the recent battle scars on his bike, shoes, and flesh from the Wente crit.

This guy drove up which I thought was kind of lame, but he brought his wife and infant so that makes it OK.

My Turf

I think I was going to play with the "panoramic" photo thing on my camera but decided it wasn't worth it.  You can just imagine this string of photos all connected into one.


Thanks Rick!

Finally the race came through and it honestly wasn't very exciting.  Mount Diablo was 50 miles into a 115 mile stage and neither the 4-man breakaway nor the peloton really considered it to be a good place to make a GC move, so everybody just kind of rode it like a training ride.  Still, the atmosphere was what I was there for and there was plenty of that.
I took a little video too - click for the fan experience.

Got this with some birthday money (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

I was looking for some iPod speakers for my bike and didn't really like any of the smaller ones so I went with this big one.  I don't usually listen to music while riding, and only occasionally a single earbud.  But sometimes I like to have a little noise, like on the trail coming to work or like a party atmosphere climbing Mount Diablo for the Amgen Tour of California!

I decided on this one, which has a single speaker but it's nice and big, waterproof enclosure, runs on three AA batteries, and you just plug your MP3 player in and turn it on.  It's really great if you have an older version iPod that you don't use much anymore because you can just make it your dedicated iPod Boom Box unit.  It's big enough for your Smart Phone or Blackberry too.

It's way too big to mount to your handlebars though, you'll need a small rack or a handlebar bag or something, or you can probably find a way to make it work with your backpack like shown - it comes with a carabiner thing but you'll want to make sure it doesn't swing around back there.

I'll give it 8 of 10 on the Diablo Scott waterproof music system rating scale.  If it were more bicycle friendly and you could turn it up louder without the distortion it'd get a 10.  Comes in lots of fun colors too.