Monday, April 30, 2012

Devil Mountain Double Century 2012

jersey DMD
Not just a number, but a name.
My longest ride deserves the longest post I've ever made. Here it is. 
The Goddess of the Weather looked down and thought "I gave these folks one-hundred-degree-plus weather for the Davis Double Century two years in a row. I made it pour like crazy on the Wine Country century even though the weather prediction was just for 20 percent. At Solvang I gave them gale-force headwinds for almost 100 miles. They endured. It's time for their reward. For the Quack Cyclists Devil Mountain Double this year I'll give them a cool morning, but not too cool. I'll provide a tail wind at Altamont, and just enough gentle headwind on Patterson to keep them cool. I'll help them up Mines with a slight tail wind, and make sure it doesn't get too hot. I won't even make the backside of Mt. Hamilton hot, and I almost never do that. And when the sun goes down I'll stop the wind all together and make sure it's not too hot, not too cold, but just right."

Thank you Weather Goddess. I know I wouldn't have made it if you hadn't smiled on this endeavor.

The Weather Goddess wasn't alone in helping me on this ride.

My sweet bride Tricia came and spent the night with me at the ride start in the San Ramon Marriot Hotel the night before, She tried to keep me from pinging off the wall so hard I left dents, even though it meant waking her non-morning-person self at an insane hour.

My good friend Dan (Mr. Lance Oldstrong) did DMD last year, and had announced he was done with that particular flavor of fun. When I told him I was going to give it a shot he did everything he could to talk me out of it, and when that didn't work he decided he had to ride with me just to make sure I got through it. Even his family helped, texting encouraging messages and the the kids track meet successes throughout the day. Heck, they even made me a sign.

Steve signSteve (Midland on BikeForums) surprised Dan and I by being on Ygnaico Vally Road with a cowbell and a big sign after we came down Mt. Diablo. He made a ton of noise and worried me that he'd get us disqualified for private SAG, something the Quacks don't allow. But he made noise for everyone, and we didn't get a ticket or fined or anything. Thanks Steve!

Our friends Veronica and Thom staffed a rest station just before the Hamilton climb, giving us the pleasure of seeing friendly faces and even a couple of hugs (hugging a cyclist after they've ridden 130 miles is a true act of friendship, even if you're really careful)

rest stop with Veronica

The DMD staff is beyond belief. Every rest stop, and roving SAG is staffed by people who understand what you're doing. They don't get charity-ride silly with over the top cheering, they just help you through your ride. Here's my "Pet the Goat" rest stop experience: We were at mile 162, and it just got dark and we'd just finished Sierra Road, one of the toughest climbs of the day. We needed to stop and pick up our drop bags with lights for night riding and some warm clothes. I sat down, zoned.
"Can I get you anything?"
"No, I'm fine."
"How about a warm cup o' noodles?"
"Oh, that does sound good. Thanks."
Let me get it for you. Something to drink?"
"No, I'm fine."
"How about a V8?"
"Oh that sounds good. Thanks."
"Let me get it for you."

They understood how stupid I was at that point, and that my decision making ability was shot.

I realized one of my rear blinkie lights had a dying battery. The ride staff  had warned me in their ride packet "Check your batteries." and I thought I had. But there I was…. When I asked if they just might have some they took my light and brought it back blinking, with fresh batteries installed.

This rest stop isn't the exception, it's the way Quack Cyclists run a their ride.

I had a team worth of support. All I had to do was "push the pedal back down when it comes up" as Quack Cyclists advise.

DMD start

The ride started at exactly 5 am. Thirty seconds later we had our first minor "mechanical." No big deal, but it meant we were off the back right at the start. We managed to catch the tail end just in time for mechanical number two. Dan's Garmin, unlike the weather, had decided today was the day to be a total pain. Dan's 206 mile ride, if you go by his GPS, was .4 miles with zero feet of climbing. We know better, but still, if he wants official US Government registered ride credit he needs to re-ride it within 48 hours. That's the law.

Our ride up, and down Diablo was beautiful, but uneventful, with a quick turnaround at the top. It feels funny to write that. In the past I viewed any ride to the Diablo Summit as "epic." Even lately it's been "noteworthy" at the very least. Today it was a warmup. Even the dreaded wall at the top was just a small obstacle before the ride got hard. The same for Morgan Territory.

It was just a plain old nice day for a ride, though. The "Plunge" was wind free, but when we got to Altamont, a section veteran DMD riders say is long and dull, we had a tail wind. We were on the Wente Road race for a bit, and hoped for a slow moving train to catch, but it didn't happen. Instead, we ended up behind a strong DMD rider, and combined with the tail wind, helped us cruise at near 30 for a ways and chew up some pavement. It was a ball.

Curtis Summits Patterson crop 2Patterson Pass is often a nightmare, but with only a light breeze Saturday is was only steep. Dan commented on the way up that if you keep thinking you hear an airplane, it's just the windmills. As I rode up I thought, "Wow, he's really right, that sounds exactly like an airplane." Then the airplane flew over.

I'd been worried since i signed up for the ride about making the 1PM cutoff at the mile 92 rest stop on Mines Road. I mean truly obsessively panicked. I had my eye on the clock the whole way, and worried every time I slowed. But we made it with time to spare and were in and out as quickly as we could shed our warmer clothing.

The ride up Mines to the Junction for lunch is just a grunt, but we cranked it out with the help of a slight tail-breeze.

The lunch cutoff is "leave by 4:30," but we were out by 3:15 or so.

Dan at DMD
ccc dmd self portraitThe section between the Junction and the bridge water stop is the only section I hadn't ridden before. It's beautiful, and the only section where I wasn't so busy, cold, or working too hard that I was able to shoot a few photos. I can't imagine a more California place, with its meadows and oaks. It was stunning. It was also about the last section I felt fine. There are three bumps on the way to the Mt. Hamilton Climb proper the locals call the Three Bears. No one mentions them when they talk DMD, but they are there, they are real, and they are a pain. Worse, they are just the lead in to the Mt. Hamilton back side climb, a relentless five-mile, double-digit monster. We all talk about Sierra road, but Hamilton is worse (Just ask Marco P, who pointed it out to me.)  It's longer, and there are no stair-steps for a moment's relief. It's relentless. The only saving grace is that there are mile markers painted on the road, so you know exactly how much suffering is left, and can confirm you are still moving when the numbers go by.

Dan had a strong ride and waited for me at the top, only to jet down, descending zen-master that he is. By that point in the day I couldn't find a good line through a corner with a Geiger counter and a map. I took it easy, and managed to avoid the worst bumps and gravel. We hooked back up at the Crothers rest stop

After the Crothers rest stop at mile 150 (which is an out and back up a hill, what's up with that?) comes Sierra Road.
It's unreal. I had determined that I might need to stop on it, being as I was toast, or maybe jello. Or maybe something more slimy and gross. But Dan rode with me and, knowing the road well, called out upcoming "flatter"zones — flatter meaning only 10-11% — that helped me struggle up without stopping. We got to see a beautiful sunset, and watch the lights start to come on all over San Jose. Dan likes to point out that the faster riders miss this stunning scene.

Tandems, amazing on the flats and descending, are not noted for climbing well. We managed to catch our Bike Forums friends Marco and Ruth on the way up in a most comical slow motion race to the top, gaining about 6 inches a minute. You'd have needed one of those time-lapse photography setups like they use to photograph plants growing to see us ooze past them. 

At the top before the descent to the "Pet the Goat" rest stop, I stopped to put on my light windbreaker. I couldn't. The very light material kept blowing around and my arms kept getting stuck. Finally Dan said, "Here, let me put it on you like you're my prom date or something."  That worked, and we were off to the "Pet the Goat" rest stop even though the goat had apparently gone to farm animal heaven sometime earlier this year.

There's a long, fun descent to a right turn onto Calaveras Road. It would be more fun for me in the light. Even with a very bright headlight, I'm not bold enough to bomb it. I felt fast, but Dan was gone like a falling missile. I didn't miss the turn at Calaveras , which was great, and another thing I'd worried about. More than a few have, and have had to slog back up a steep hill after overshooting it. Quack Cyclists had come through again, with a large "1/2 Mile DMD" painted on the road, visible even at speed in the dark.

As  I  turned on to "Calaveras Wall" I could hear a woman swearing. Her light had gone nuts, blinking oddly and sputtering. Stopping on a hill that steep in the dark would suck, so we rode to the top together so she could see where she was going, seeing the road in my light.  I stopped and illuminated her bike as she fired up her backup and was off again. I rode the entire Calaveras Road by myself. It was wonderful. It's in the middle of nowhere, no cars, no other cyclists, just frogs and an occasional coyote howling. I relaxed and pedaled and enjoyed not trying to keep up with faster Dan for a while.

I met Dan in Sunol where his bike was getting an on-the-fly overhaul. It seems he produced so much power he bent his derailer hanger and his drivetrain was a mess. Of course, Quack Cyclists had a first-rate mechanic there, in the dark, at night, who made everything wonderful again, at least for a while. Dan really needs a new bike. He's ridden this steed into the ground. He may love it, but it needs to be put out to pasture. With love and respect, but it's just wrong to make the ol' Felt keep working so hard when it needs to retire.

At 25 miles to go you might think we'd be almost there. You'd be wrong. Palamares  Canyon is a wonderful ride, if you're fresh and in a climbing mood. I was ready to be done, and this climb is more work than many will admit. I did see a white owl and almost hit a deer, so it wasn't uneventful, and again the sounds of a flowing creek and croaking frogs made riding, even uphill in the dark, almost (but not quite) pleasant.  At the top I wanted to switch my MagicShine light from medium to high, but I forgot you have to cycle through strobe and then to off. I'd been on the bike too long to ride even half a heartbeat in total darkness with the light off, so I stopped long enough to cycle it to bright.

Dan and I met at the bottom of the hill, rode to Crow Canyon and eventually to the Norris "Is this really necessary?" Canyon climb.  The weather had started to cool enough to see my breath, and I thought I was getting odd reflections from my glasses, perhaps from condensation. But no, it was real. There were spider webs on my bars, spun across my cables in front of my light. I wondered if I'd been out so long and gone so slow spiders had moved in, but I think it was just one of those floating webs that landed on me.

Sign for Curtis crop
Oldstrong family sign for me. Such a deal!

Amazingly, on Norris I felt like I was out in the country, but in just a couple of miles we were approaching the hotel. I can't explain how odd that feels. I'd been out for 20 hours. It was weird to stop. It felt impossible. All through the ride Dan had been saying "You're going to finish this!" but, even with 1/2 mile to go I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure when we got to the parking lot. Tricia and Dan's family were there. The kids had made a sign. I loved it, but could hardly think. I just wanted to check in and be officially done.

Inside at the sign in table there were no trumpets, fireworks or cannons, but Tricia brought me an icy cold IPA and sushi. That may sound odd, but I've discovered I have sushi lust after a double century. I don't know why. We visited a bit with Marco and Ruth, amazing tandem riders, until Tricia pointed out how late it was. She drove us home and I finally got in bed at 2 am, an old, sore guy, but at least an old, sore guy who completed the Devil Mountain Double Century.

Damage Report:
Nothing serious at all, or really damaged. The usual slightly sore neck, and a bit of stress in the Achilles tendons. My nagging back-of-the-knee issue seems to be resolved. My brain is semi-functional. All in all, pretty darn good.

Things that worked really well:
Sidi shoes. My feet felt perfect at the end of the day.
Selle Italia SLK saddle. No buns issues at all.
Garmin Minty Boost battery thing with lithium batteries. My Garmin finished fully charged.
DeFeet Kneekers. Wonderful knee warmers.
Hammer HEED and Perpetuim kept me fueled
Capo shorts were comfy all day
Tiagra 12-30 cassette. Thank Shimano for that 30 tooth gear or I'd never have made Sierra Road.

Stats via Garmin and Strava and Twitter:

Miles: 206.4
Moving time: 17:35
Total time out: 20:02 (though I left the darn Garmin a few minutes when we got there.)
Climb: 21,718 (The 305 may read high, ride is billed at 19-something, but it sure felt like 21,718)
158 registered, 139 finishers, 5 DNS, 14 DNF.
Ride start 5 am
Last rider in at 1:45 am
And, for inexplicable reasons, I got a 10th place Strava cup in a .3 mile segment. Weird.

We also rode with (kind of rode with anyway as we were on the same course) Bike Forum folks Bassem, Metin Uz, Silent Ben, Maillotpois (Sarah), Rumbutter on his trike and Bostic (Ramon)

Parting thoughts:
Imagine sticking yourself with a sharp pin for 20 hours. It would hurt. You could claim some sort of victory over pain and sleep after you accomplished it. You could say "Not many people can do this!" But really, it isn't because they can't, it's just that they don't want to. They can't imagine why anyone would. Yet all the other dedicated pin stickers would congratulate you, and each other. You'd have special shirts made, and in general set yourselves apart from, and above, the non-pin stickers. You would display your pin pricks with pride, and argue about the merits of steel vs. titanium pins with your colleagues. I would have to shake my head and wonder what had become of the world I live in. I would be sad for you. Edit: Don't miss Dan "Lance Oldstrong's" response to this in the comment section

Links to 2012 DMD things on the web:
Cool 15 minute ride report video by Bike Forum's chidonchea
Sacpedalclips made a time lapse of the Mines Road rest stop that pretty swell

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Jewels of Antioch and Pittsburg

I found this in my air-free tire when I got to work.
Scattered on my bike commute trail are diamonds. I think they are falling from the soles of her shoes, but I'm not really sure. Perhaps it's just the drunks tossing their bottles about. I do know that after a rain storm this stuff sticks to my tires really well, and often allow the air inside them to become air outside. In response to this situation I have several proposals.
  1. Diamond wearing be banned on multi-use paths. This seems harsh, but if they keep dropping them they shouldn't have them.
  2. Alcohol sold to minors in Antioch and Pittsburg should only be sold in plastic or cans, never in glass.
  3. The trail should be swept clean every five years, whether it needs it or not.
  4. Glass breakers (from now on referred to as "glass holes") be dragged through any glass they deposit on the trail.  Naked. Twice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Primavera Century 2012

Tricia above Livermore
Livermore has a wonderful bike path that runs through the vineyards.
With a week of "rest" after the wind-fest of Tierra Bella Century, Tricia and I tackled the 104 mile Primavera, a century with 6700 feet of climbing hosted by the Fremont Freewheelers. It starts in Union City, and you just can't get there from here. It's a bit over an hour away, too close to hotel the night before, but too far to really enjoy driving to. We'd packed the car the night before and still had to get up way too early to be on the bikes by 7am. photo
Right near the start, the ride took us through the very quaint  Niles,  which I'd never seen or heard of before. But Wikipedia says 'From 1912 to 1916 the Niles section of the Fremont area was the earliest home of California's motion picture industry. Charlie Chaplin filmed several movies in the Fremont area, most notably The Tramp."

After some rather nice suburban riding with great views of the bay we hit Calavaras Road, including the famous "Wall" which isn't nearly as bad as its name suggests. A bit later we came across the Freewheelers  special stop, with a telescope for viewing the nesting bald eagles in a nearby power tower.

The ride was very well supported, and seemed to have the ideal ratio of riders to support staff. The rest stops were busy, but not crowded, and they had plenty of restrooms. They even had a goodie bag with stuff that I was actually pleased to get. We also enjoyed the boost to our egos when we received multiple compliments on our 50 Plus jerseys. People really like them, and it's fun to get to say "I designed it!" when they ask. I could, however do without the "It's great to see you're still out here getting exercise." that accompanied one person's jersey praise. (Hey, kid, get off my lawn...)

Curtis and Tricia on PattersonAfter looping through Livermore and some of Patterson Pass, we headed back toward the last climb of the day, Palamares Rd. Maybe it was the end of the day, being about mile 90, but the summit just wouldn't arrive. We cranked and cranked, and because we'd worked so hard really enjoyed the downhill afterward. Until I flatted. It didn't take long to change, and just as I was ready to use the mini pump along came SAG. It was none other our Bikeforums friend, Dchiefransom, with a floor pump.

The end of the ride along busy Niles Canyon Road was a bit unnerving as there's no shoulder, and I just can't get myself to take the lane in 45 mph traffic, but we made it back safely. We'd bought a bottle of wine at a rest stop/winery and it had a bit of trouble getting SAGed back as the driver was making sure it didn't get lost or broken, but it eventually showed up.

Trici on Patterson
Look! Sleeveless jersey, no shoe covers. Winter is over.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Specialized Roubaix Expert 10,000 mile report

bike and rocks

I've ridden my Specialized Roubaix Expert 10,000 miles since getting it, and writing about it in this post. I'm still very happy with it. I've made a few changes, and had a few things have happened since I bought it.

I hated the saddle it came with and replaced it with  Specialized Toupe immediately. That saddle was OK, but I didn't love it, and it's important to love you saddle. I replaced it with a Selle Italia SLK that I do love. I've done double centuries on it and my buns feel fine at the end.

The bars that came on this 52 cm frame were 42 cm, a bit wide for me. The shop swapped them for the 40 cm model, which is a better fit for my size.

9,999 miles on the RoubaixThe wheels it came with were  a model of Roval Fusée. I broke a spoke on the rear wheel during the Davis Double. I'd read online that several people had problems with spoke breakage, and that Specialized was aware that some wheels had been built in such a way (something to do with incorrect spoke prep fluid or something) that they knew they were breaking. I contacted the shop that sold me the bike, who contacted Specialized.

I expected a wait of forever, and needing wheels for upcoming rides I ordered a set of Williams System 19s, a great, lightweight wheel set that arrived almost immediately.   Much to my surprise, Specialized responded very quickly to my bike shop, and not only replaced the wheels, but upgraded them to Roval Fusée SL 25.  So now I have two nice sets of wheels! I use the Williams a lot, but now have them set aside with latex tubes and lightweight tires for double centuries. I have Rovals for daily use. They are near the same weight, with the Roval front being just a tad more heavy.

The bike came as a triple with 52-39-30 and an 11-28 cassette. God only knows why they think an 52-11 gear is necessary on a bike with a triple. I'd have speced it differently, but perhaps Shimano gave them no choice.

I tossed a 12-30 cassette on the Williams wheels for super steep climbing rides. Read about my choice here.

Other than that, the bike is pretty much stock, with full Ultegra components.  I added water bottle cages, a bag, Shimano pedals, a Sigma computer and Garmin 305, a road morph pump, and that's it.

In a nut shell, I love this bike. It handles well, and is comfortable as all get out. Sometimes when I'm riding with others who complain about the rough road, I realize I'm not bothered at all. I don't so much notice a smooth ride as much as I don't notice a rough ride. I've done a good fist-full of centuries and double centuries and I've noticed I don't finish all beat up. I'm worn out, but not rattled to pieces. Is it the Zertz inserts, or just the overall design? I don't know, but it seems to be working. I also used to get a worn out, sore neck. I don't think I'm sitting more upright on this bike, but my neck is much more happy at the end of a long ride.

I also think this bike looks sharp. I like the somewhat subtle graphics, and I like the color. I even like the graceful  bow of the top tube, though I realize that's a personal preference. I feel lucky I got it the year I did as Specialized stopped making a Roubaix Triple at this component level and I don't like the new color schemes as well. I'm happy with the triple, and find the 39 tooth freewheel is often just the right size for a lot of my riding.

I highly recommend this bike.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tierra Bella — but wait, there's more!

Tierra Bella Jerseys 2

Tricia and I bought the Tierra Bella ride jerseys. Their cool design was one of the reasons we wanted to ride this century (report and photos in my last post). There was a small bobble of a problem with sizing, but the nice ride staff solved it for us. Tricia ended up with an extra-small the fits perfectly. Of course, we wore them the next day on our twenty-five-mile-recovery-ride-with-mexican-food.

Tricia mentioned  to me that she had a rare contribution to this blog. here it is:
"Guys, when you're using the potra-potty, there's a lock for a reason. Use it. I don't need to see your back side. And while I'm on the subject, when you stop for a natural, try to be a little more discreet."

She grew up with brothers and boys, so she isn't that all that sensitive, but as she says, "Come on guys, really?"

Medical report:
That darn strain in my leg bothered me too much all day long. Fortunately it bothers me the least when I stand and climb. But on long flats into a headwind every pedal stroke is a twinge. I'm doing all teh voodoo I can over the next week. Today's recovery ride didn't bother me much, so I still have hopes it will be magically healed for DMD in two weeks. Time for electro-stimulation... now.

Tierra Bella 2012

Tierrabella 2012 tricia 2_1215

When Tricia and I left the hotel in Gilroy, garlic capital of the world, to head for Galvin College to start the 2012 Tierra Bella Century ride, the sky was dark and the flags were standing straight out. It was...worrisome. But by the time we got to the college and had our bikes ready the day was a bit brighter and the college was in a wind shadow, faking us out into believing the wind would not be a factor.

Tierrabella patch 2012_1209Once we got to the road we found ride starts slightly uphill and into a headwind. What a nice way to start the day! But after a few miles we got to the first climb of the day, up around Gilroy Hotsprings. What a beautiful area. Everything was green and still wet from the showers the day before. We rode past cattle, and horses so big and beautiful Tricia asked me if I'd seen Daenerys Targaryen, Calisi of the Dothraki, in among them. I have to find an easy way to make photos when I'm cold and fully gloved. I was too busy staying warm to want to mess with my gloves, so alas, no Daenerys photos.
There was, however, a skeleton by the side of the road, holding a warning sign and cautioning us about the steep (and delightful) descent.

The Alamaden Cycling Club has wonderful support. Beyond the skeleton,  they'd posted volunteers at many difficult intersections to help with traffic and point out tricky lane crossings. The route was very well marked. Well enough that even I didn't get lost.

After the Hot Springs climb and descent we got to my favorite part; endless headwinds. I just suck at headwinds. No one loves them, but I just don't have what it takes to power through them. If I hadn't been on Tricia's wheel I'd still be out there. Not only did I shamelessly suck wheel for miles, but at one point I looked back and she was dragging along about seven tough-looking guys.

All "fun" ends, and this did when we got to the Henry Coe climb. I'd so much rather climb than do flats. I felt great, passed a lot of folks and didn't get passed much.

 Depending on where you start counting, Coe is about 3100 feet over 12 miles, and mostly double digits. And beautiful, with sweeping views of the valley. It was nice to climb, and get warm.

I saw a guy who must have a professional rider for Astana. He had their full team kit on, and I don't think they allow that if you aren't on the team, right? It is indeed a nice looking kit.

At the top we were at the 50 mile mark, half way done. Before we descended we bundled up again to counter overcast sky, cool temperature and the steep downhill. It was a cold day, and even with all the climbing we'd never become truly warm. Thus armed against the weather we started our screaming, face numbing trip back down, only to encounter a shirtless rider on his way up. Someone in this story has no clue, and I hope it isn't us.

We descended, fought too much headwind and eventually hit some more climbs. They don't look like much on the map compared to Coe, but as surprise climbs at the end of the ride they sure got my attention.

At last  we  hit the home leg — and a tail wind — where we got to ride at 20-24 for a while. Tricia just launched, and we ended up blowing the doors off a lot of other riders as we got closer to the start.
As a tri-geek said to me as we rolled past him, "She's really enjoying herself."

My Gamin died at mile 96, but the Sigma computer said 104 miles at the end. The Strava upload claims 8126 feet of climbing. We were toast. But happy toast.

Tierrabella 2012 tricia 1 _1228

Tricia said she was getting a bit concerned because I'd had seven blog posts without her in them. She'd suffered a cycling setback and just hadn't been out with me lately. So for those distant readers who might have been wondering, but were too polite to ask, yes, she is still, and always will be, my Calisi.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the begining

matt gass
Matt Gass, near the Diablo Summit, sometime in the 70s.
Fans of me, and this blog, have been asking for ages "Yes, but where did it all start?" It's time to reveal my humble roots and at the same time, marvel that I can still even ride.

Sometime in the early-mid 70s I bought a Gitane Grand Sport Deluxe from a now-defunct bike shop on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Walnut Creek. I ued it to commute to Diablo Valley College. I few years later my neighborhood friend, Matt Gass, who was a cyclist and a garage sale explorer suggested I go with him in search of the restorable saxophones he enjoyed searching for. We started spending Saturdays and Sundays riding all over the county, garage sale to garage sale. We never found much, but we rode a lot.

Matt had a Stella bicycle and, unusual for the time, a helmet. He always said his brain was worth protecting. So I bought a Bell Biker too.

He taught me how to draft, ride with a group, clean my chain and replace a freewheel. He took me on a ride  up to the Mt. Diablo summit for the first time(42 x 26...30 pounds of steel... I was younger then.)

Matt had a wonderful quirk I never told him I noticed for fear he'd stop. He was unable to ride past an animal and not make the sound of that animal.  Riding up Pig Farm Hill was always fun because I knew he'd be oinking before the ride was over.

We rode together constantly until he moved to attend UC Davis. His departure made cycling a lot less fun for a long time. I still remember him fondly when I ride some of our old routes, like our "Tour of Walnut Creek" or past Easy Street in Danville.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


My pandaportrait 4-3-2012
Not that I understand, but apparently if you are a photographer and a cyclist you are required by custom and law to make a photo of yourself, while moving, and call it a #pandaportrait. There's even a Flickr pool of 'em. Not wanting to be left behind by all the cool kids, I made one too, so I can be different like everybody else.

I made mine on a full-kit trip to the post office to drop off a Netflix DVD. I just wanted credit for 30daysofbiking

Monday, April 02, 2012

Mt. Diablo. Twice.

dan and curtis
After a week of recovering from the Solvang Double Century with just my usual bike commute and a couple of half-hearted intervals, Lance Oldstrong suggested we join all around cool dude Taxi777 (Pete) on his ride to the Diablo summit from South Gate. Then he had an even better idea: Gather Steve up, head up Northgate to the summit, drop down the Southgate, meet Pete and Ron, and summit again. I've never even considered doing that before, but I claim to be preparing for the Devil Mountain Double, so there was no way to say no.

Mt. Diablo wallI arrived at the meeting place and put my bike together. Except for the front wheel, which I'd left in the garage. As I loitered with Steve, Lance Oldstrong was kind enough to go to his closer-than-my home and get his Williams System 19 front wheel to loan me. So, we got off about 15 minutes late.

ice treeWe had a delightful ride up in the cool morning air. We were all feeling reasonably frisky, even knowing we were going to do it twice. I was surprised to see ice coating the trees — and blowing into us — as we neared the summit. Climbing at relatively slow speed and putting out a lot of heat made the morning seem not cold at all.

The ride down was a lot colder. Really a lot colder. Even in full gloves and jacket I froze. I'm not a fast descender anyway, but being cold and stiff makes being smooth a lot harder.  Steve and Dan left me in the dust until I caught them, stopped by the road. Oldstrong managed to get quite the tire cut and flat, requiring a boot.

peteWe met Pete and Ron coming up a few moments later and started climb number two. I was feeling really good, but still couldn't keep up with Pete, on his single speed no less.

facesWe managed to summit again, still feeling better than I have after just one trip up. I was ready to head home, but Oldstrong, being Oldstrong, figured if two was good, three was better, and announced he'd do it yet again. I think I made it to the hot tub when I got a text from him announcing his third summit of the day. Somehow I managed to get no photos of Ron, but he really was there. He has a good ride report on his blog.

On a side note, I somehow slightly strained my calf on the Solvang ride. As I have already announced that this is the year of health voodoo, I decided to try TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) with a unit I happened to have. It may have helped. I sure felt better on Sunday. My clinical trial of one test with no control group seems to indicate potential success. 

Thanks to Steve for the photos of the ice tree, Pete, and myself riding with Dan.