Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ortlieb, Racktime, Thule help my recovery

Ortlieb and RackTime rack on Fantom Outlaw commuter

It takes a while to recover from a bicycle/computer disaster (read about mine here.)  It's been almost a month and I'm almost back to normal.

My pannier was trashed, so I went shopping for a new one. The story among cyclists is that you can try all the panniers you want, but eventually you'll get an Ortlieb.  So, despite the price, I bought one. After a helpful chat with the nice folks at the BikeBagShop I ended up with the Downtown Commuter model.  It's supposed to be super water proof, and it come with a nifty attachment system titled "QL3" (nifty video here) that lets it be used as a shoulder bag and not have hardware rub against you, and also lets the pannier be mounted a bit lower on the rack for better balance. So far it's a winner.

I didn't, however, love how it sat on the rack I had. It was a little high, and made swinging my leg over the bike more awkward than I'd like.  It also meant I couldn't easily bungie things to the rack top. So I went rack shopping.

RackTime rack needed a spacerI ended up with a Racktime Addit. It's made by the same folks that make the crazy-expensive Tubus, steel racks, but this is in aluminum. Of course, having disc brakes makes mounting a pain. Fortunately Ace Hardware had a long bolt in the right size, as well as some nylon spacers. With some bending and prayer (and even a little cutting) I managed to get it on my bike.

It has a couple of nice features. The design includes a lower rail that let me mount the pannier mounting hardware where I wanted it, and it has a recessed mount for my Planet Bike SuperFlash that looks like it will protect it from getting banged up. Pretty swell.

RackTime and Superflash

Of course, I also had computer issues to deal with. In the end I was able to buy an external hard drive case, put my trashed computers drive in it, and recover almost everything. I got a new-to-me Mac through PowerMax and, because I'm totally paranoid now, I also got a super protective case from Thule, the bike rack people from Sweden.

Tricia asked if I was going to mount it on top of the Subaru, but that's just silly. We have a Yakima rack, and putting Thule parts on it could unbalance the universe. I'm not going to risk it.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Mt Tamalpias

The view from Mt Tamalpias

I've had Mt Tamalpias on my list for a couple of years now. It's just inconveniently placed (at least for me) and I never made it here.
 Lorri Lee Lown of Velo Girls of Savvy bike planned a weekend of climbing, including Diablo and Hamilton, and on Saturday, Mt Tamalpias, so I signed on. Lorri didn't make it, but I enjoyed the ride anyway.

Showing up for a group ride where I don't know a soul is disconcerting. Fortunatly I saw a Velo Girls jersey and knew I'd found the right group — there were more than a few groups — near Mike's Bike's in Sausalito.

As the large group left I was wondering "Who is actually in this group? Who do I follow? Why are we rolling at 19mph down the skinny MUP I'm unfamiliar with? What have I gotten myself into?"

But there was a regroup at the top of the first bump, and I hung on through the stop signs and lights. When we reached a coffee/pastry shop in Fairfax it seemed the group had stopped. Oddly early I thought. Maybe it was a regroup. Or was it even my group? Or part of my group? Were we waiting, or what? 

Mt Tamalpias ride lake on way up

I took a quick restroom break and when I came out I saw a small group rolling away so I jumped on my bike and promptly lost them on what was the start of a long climb. I rode alone for the next 20 miles until the summit.

Mt Tamalpias ridge

It was a stunning road, with redwoods and a beautiful alpine lake and then a ride along an open ridge with amazing views of SF in the distance. I hardly saw a car, and only a few cyclists. I had no idea how far I needed to get to the summit, and was faked out several times thinking I was almost there. I took it easy, and even stopped a couple of times for photos.

When I got to the summit I was surprised to see the folks I'd started with, getting ready to descend. I went with them. Four of us (was that how many I started with, and the other 30 were just out for a ride?) ended up getting a burrito a mile from the cars.

Mt Tamalpias ride folks
It was an odd, but delightful, day. I still have no idea what exactly the event was, but it all worked out. The weather was perfect, I finally got to Tam, and best of all, didn't get lost.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Run over, busted and broken

Broken MacBook Pro 

I bike commute every day, usually into a head wind on the way to work. Monday it was cold, but there was no wind at all. Amazing. So I got excited and rode hard — apparently so hard that when I crossed Lone Tree Way I popped my pannier right off my bike. Who knows, maybe I didn't have it attached as securely as it should have been. To make matters worse, I was working hard enough I didn't even notice it was gone until I got to work. I made a very fast ride back, praying I'd see it.

I didn't.

But within a minute of getting home, my phone rang. A very nice woman told be she'd seen my bag in the road, and saw "tweekers" making a move on it. She actually stopped her car and chased them off. Those bad guys were going through my wallet, and got all my cash, but the good neighbor recovered it and saved all my credit cards and drivers license. She also saved my very pricy Oakley Jawbone prescription sunglasses and a backup bike jersey. Alas, she told me, the laptop had been run over. Then, as if tracking me down after recovering my stuff wasn't enough, she drove it over to my house and handed it to me.

I tried pulling out the hard drive and putting it in an external case, and it almost worked. I managed to get some important things off it, but all my mail — some which is important — is gone. I guess having a hard drive run over isn't very good for data integrity.  At least I have a backup, but it isn't as recent as I'd like. Fortunately I keep my gradebook on Dropbox, so I still have a record of my students' grades.

My pannier is pretty well destroyed as well, so I'll also need to replace it.

At times like this Tricia likes to point out "it's only stuff" and I guess she's right. I'm rather traumatized about losing so much email, and all the replacement expenses, but I'm not bleeding or broken myself, and my faith in humanity got a nice boost, so all in all, life is still good.

I just hope I don't have any bicycle expenses for a while...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Three —
a: Wise men b: Stooges c: Musketeers

The Three —  a: Wise men b: Stooges c: Musketeers. Photo by Steve
What with Tricia gone for the weekend I managed to hook up with Lnce Oldstrong and Steve "Monrezee" Monroe for a "Pig farm, Bears and Bacon" ride. No epic adventures, but I learned a few things.

California Bay Laurel nuts are edible.
Yep. We found a ton at the end of a climb we did just to explore. They were covering the ground at the end of a road just off Alhambra Valley Road. Oldstrong gave a short lecture on them (How does he know all this stuff?) I picked up a few and brought them home. I don't know if I'm brave enough to roast them and try making tea or just munching down. At least there are lots of directions on the web.

How to get a top 3 Strava KOM. 
Here's how: Ride with your two friends to a place no one else rides, but they ride a lot. Because you are only the third person to Strava there, you get a third place KOM just by showing up and being last. Show up. Ride. Profit.

The amazing importance of numbers.
Much like Tricia, these boys like numbers to mean something. So when we finished our ride at about 58 miles they insisted we ride loops around the neighborhood until we had a legitimate metric century. So we did.

My concentration level is so low that doing square laps is beyond me, so I tried to hit every little court to make a nice GPS track image, just to keep it interesting. Alas, I apparently missed one. OldStrong says I have to redo it all to get credit. I'm not sure if he means the whole ride, or just the neighborhood part.

I'm attempting to use Strava's embed feature to show the route, but I've noticed that lately it fails, and gives a broken icon. If you know anything about this annoying phenomena, please post in the comments and tell me what's going on.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bike fitting and a weekend getaway

Wade calcs Curtis' fit

Tricia's idea for my birthday present was to get me less "stuff" and instead get me something I would like, but wouldn't get for myself. She came up with the perfect idea: a professional bike fitting. Sure, I'd been riding bikes without one for many decades, but really, my adjustments used the classic "Hummm, feels OK, what the heck"  method.

LanceOldStrong had his bike fitted by Wade Hall at Spokesmen Bicycles in Santa Cruz and raves about it, so Tricia contacted Wade and set up an appointment with the man we joking call "Bike Fitter to Stars."

Bike fit machineThe process was amazing. Wade made me feel like I was the most important project ever during the multi-hour session. Before even looking at the bike part I had body parts measured and tested that I didn't know I had, and still can't pronounce. There was lots of range-of-motion measurement, testing which muscles pulled which way with more strength, and how they worked, or didn't work together. I've had broken bones, been hit by cars and have other odd issues, so there was quite a bit of "hummmmmm" going on.

Wade checks measurements Bike fit Santa Cruz weekend_0184All my data, and the measurements from my bike's current set-up were loaded into a computer with a big-screen TV monitor. My saddle was mounted on a bike-like test contraption, buttons were pushed and the device moved the saddle fore-and-aft, up and down, then the handlebars around until it matched my existing bike. As I peddled two video cameras captured my motion from different angles. Wade used his measurements and what he saw to change the set up. At one point is was like an eye exam "Is this better, or is this more comfortable?"

Wade noticed things about my riding I wasn't aware of. At one point he asked if my peddling on the outside of my foot caused any pain. I didn't know I was doing that, but after he added a Specialized shoe insert I could tell I had been, and the new position was a lot more neutral. When I commented the the arch support seemed a bit far forward he explained that, yes it was, and that was because of the difference between running and cycling. Later, out on the bike, I could tell he was right. It felt great, even though just standing on the floor it felt very odd. Bike magic!

Bike fit Santa Cruz weekend_0185Wade made a few other changes as well. I had my saddle pushed as far back on the rails as it could go. He moved it forward significantly, then changed my stem to a longer one. That kept my cockpit about the same size, but changed my position over the pedals. Most importantly, the new stem is white and looks totally cool, not that I'm shallow or anything.

My bars came up just ever-so-slightly, which loses me some cool-dude points (and I don't have many to spare) but does in fact feel better and let's me ride in the drops more comfortably. He also recommended I change my right side knee saver peddle extender from 25mm to 30mm to compensate for my oddly aligned right leg.

Most exciting for me is the stuff that we talked about that he'll explore. My left arm is shorter than my right. I've compensated by moving my shifter higher on the left, but it isn't enough. Wade is looking into 3-D printing a block that would sit on the shifter and raise the height just the right amount. He also thought that modifying a tri-bike aero arm rest might be possible for changing the distance I reach in the drops.

It's all very exciting. On a 32 mile test I rode through Santa Cruz with Tricia the bike felt very natural. I tried to not think about it too much and to just ride, because anything new always feels weird. The only annoying part was that at first I thought I wanted my saddle pointed nose-up just a tiny bit. But I promised myself a couple of hundred miles before I even think about making even a tiny change. Indeed, after riding the next day, even the saddle angle started to seem fine.

Test ride
Tricia met me at the shop and we rolled through Santa Cruz and up Highway 1 to try the new fit. We had one route in mind, but when we got to Bonny Doone and saw a sign that read "Winery 3 miles" she said "Hey!" Neither of us realized that the three miles was up a 10% grade. This isn't the first time she's done this, the biggest being the "Let's turn here and add on" that took us 7 or 8 miles up an 8% grade to Timberline Lodge and ski area in Oregon.

10% grade Santa Cruz weekend_0194

It was a nice climb, and when we reached the winery I thought I'd buy a bottle and stash it in my water bottle holder. Alas, I forgot to bring my wallet. No wine for us. Tricia took it well, despite her glum look in the photo, and we headed back to Santa Cruz.

no wine for Tricia Santa Cruz weekend_0187

Back in October on the Veteran's Victory Velo ride our Bikeforums friend Marco Polo invited us to stay at his home in Carmel and then ride the next day after our Santa Cruz adventure. So that's what we did. After a wonderful dinner, a great bottle of Syrah, a fun visit with Mark and his wife Lisa (and horse dog River) and a good nights sleep we got up to ride, but not until we'd enjoyed what may be the best cappuccino I've ever had. Thanks Mark!

Tricia at the ocean 2
I knew we'd be riding in a nice area, but I'd been so focused on the bike fit I hadn't given our Sunday ride much thought. Holy smokes, the 17 Mile Drive is beyond stunning, and seeing it by bike makes it that much better. It's such a treat to be along the ocean, feel the sea breeze and hear the waves crashing on the beach. Mark made it even better by being our tour guide and providing interesting historical tidbits along the way. I'm usually a keep-moving don't-stop rider, but Sunday I kept pulling over just to be amazed. I'm lucky I didn't run into anything as I played tourist.

Marco Polo explains it all
Mark explains it all
All in all, a totally amazing weekend. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Giro d' Vino 2013

Giro d' Vino 2013 wine drinker sclupture
Last weeks Foxy's Fall century registration opened at 7:30, exactly when we arrived. The parking lot in Davis was already full and we had to park a long way away.
The Giro d' Vino registration also opened at 7:30. We arrived at 7:35 and we almost the first people there. That must mean something, but I can't figure out what.

The first winery was not supposed to open until 9 am, but we got tired of waiting to start. I'd already bought a Williams Wheels shirt and socks and tried to convince the guy in the booth that Garmin 800 in his box of "Stuff we had laying around I'm trying to get rid of" was only worth 5-10 bucks. He wasn't having any of that, so Tricia and I launched, all alone in the cold morning. It was nice riding without a big crowd at the start.

Much to our delight, the first Winery, Macchia, was open at 8:30, and happy to pour. We tasted, sipped, chatted and bought tasty wine. The Giro has a wonderful system where they pick up any wine you buy and deliver it to the ride finish. A wonderful system it is!

That was only the first of 14 wineries on the route. Tricia had announced before the ride that we would be stopping at every one of them, even if we didn't taste or buy, we'd at minimum, make a photo. I loved her plan, and that's what we did. I don't think that we ever rode more then five or six miles without stopping all day long.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Heritage Oak pouring2

We'd been on this ride several times before, but I don't think we'd ever stopped at Heritage Oak before. So we stopped. And tasted. And bought some wine.

Giro d' Vino 2013 pipe organ

Giro d' Vino 2013 Pipe dreamsHarmony Wynlands and Harney are almost across from each other, so we stopped at both of them too. Harmony's tasting room is actually a large pipe organ, and this year it was being played a rock-concert volume while we were there. It was amazing. They have a "Pipe Dreams" old vine zinfandel that I've tasted every year and loved, but not purchased. I love the silk screened label too. This year the grapes and bottle conspired and I ended up buying one. I know I won't want to open it, even though the contents are heavenly. And as if it wasn't enough they had great wine, they also had chairs both Tricia and I loved. They were so so comfortable I didn't want to get up. When we realized they were made from old wine barrels we loved them even more. Then we saw the prices. If I had a chair like that it would belong on the patio, but there's no way I could leave a pricy object like that outside.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Tricia with Chairs

From there it was off to d'Art where we tasted, chatted and bought again. They were busy making wine too, and we watched them transfer wine-to-be to the de-steming and skin-removing tanks (not an actual technical term...) It sure smelled wonderful. I very much wanted to taste their raw cabernet juice, but didn't have the nerve to ask.

Giro d' Vino 2013 d'Art

I was still waiting for the day to warm up when, instead, the wind kicked in. I heard a lot of riders complaining, but we didn't find it nearly as bad as it was a few years ago. Still, the up-wind sections were not as much fun as they might have been with the breeze. But, heck, there were no climbs. Tricia likes to make a big deal out of the "Climb of the day" which is a freeway overpass at Highway 99. So, a little wind, with frequent refreshment stops? Not so bad.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Tricia at Ripkin

Giro d' Vino 2013 ricia in vinyard

After a stop at Borra we had lunch at Michael David (where we bought a case of "Seven Deadly Zins" on an incredible sale) we rolled off to Ripkin where we bought yet another bottle before we were off, first to Jesse's Grove and then upwind, to Oak Farm.

Giro d' Vino 2013 horses

Giro d' Vino 2013 Oak Farm

After that we had a minor adventure when we missed a turn. It was actually kind of fun as Tricia settled into a long powerful pull that lasted for miles, until we figured out we weren't ever going to see another turn arrow and found our way back.

One of the great parts of this ride is talking to people, like the girls (they seem like girls because of the giggles and such, but I guess technically they are women) with bread strapped to their packs.

Giro d' Vino 2013 bread girls

We enjoyed several great outfits we saw on the road, including a retro-cool wool jersey, made in Portland (I want one) and some cool socks.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Stockton Bicycle Club

Giro d' Vino 2013 socks

We even ran into our friend BritPower and made new friends Cycles Gladiator where we bought a bicycle teamed bottle of Bone Shaker Zin.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Tricia and BritPower

Some cyclists can't understand why we'd pay money to ride 50 miles and stop so often. They just don't get that this isn't a bike ride, it's a wine tasting with bicycles. In the end we spend all day to go not very far, spend too much on wine and have a blast.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Heritage Oak drinking

Summary: Fourteen wineries, 53 miles, 7 hours and change, and a car load of vino.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bonus photos from Foxy's Fall century

Tricia at Foxy's Fall Century 2013
Curtis at Foxy's Fall CenturyI am trying so hard to resist a "Fox at Foxy's Fall" line for Tricia's photo, but apparently I just can't. The photo of me, on the other hand, doesn't look nearly as cycle-pro. Or foxy. Oh well. Still, thanks to the Davis Bike Club and Captivating Photos for the free photos. They uploaded a ton right here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Foxy's Fall Century, Davis 2013

Foxy's Fall Century 2013 Tricia Sunrise

"Plastics." That was the advice to Benjamin Braddock in 1967's "The Graduate." Maybe that was good advice, being as we're riding carbon fiber "plastic" bike these days. Still, Tricia's advice 26 years later is not "plastics, " but rather "layers."

When a simple bike ride has a temperature swing of around 40 degrees — 49 to 89 — there is a definite clothing challenge. Knee warmers, arm warmers, headgear and more are requirements for the sane, at least at the start. Sure, there are always a few folks that apparently have no cold-sensing nerves and roll with only shorts and sleeveless jerseys, but for the rest of us a bit of warmth is a requirement for being able to pedal.

But even with the cool start, the day eventually warmed up to near hot, and the clever Davis Bike Club provided "drop bag" service, delivering our bundles to the ride finish and sparing us from chipmunk-cheek jersey pockets.

Foxy's Fall Century 2013 Tricia Graffiti Bridge

This is a pretty darn flat Century, which makes for a nice fast start, but eventually becomes harder than one would think. Perhaps all that flatland fails to provide relief or variety. All I know is that I was very happy to get to the few hills that came after lunch. 

Foxy's Fall Century 2013 Best sign ever

Of course, even though I say I liked the hills, like every cyclist I'm always happy to reach the top of one. This sign for truckers may be one of my favorite signs ever as it announces the end of a climb and the upcoming pleasant downhill to follow.

The Foxy's Fall Century itself is the usual Davis Bike Club well-run affair, with traffic control, plenty of porta-potties, and well-stocked rest stops. They even have "rolling support" cyclists on the course. Tricia and I particularly enjoy the swap meet after the ride, where we pick up socks and, this year, a couple of wool jerseys at bargain prices. Our only complaint is, well, other people. As Charles Schultz said, "I love humanity, it's people I can't stand." 

We had the usual few crazy car drivers, but not many. We were more annoyed by our fellow cyclists. What part of "don't ride six abreast" is so hard to understand, or execute? Early in the ride we watched a very patient car driver get stuck behind a large, but oblivious (or perhaps just self-centered) group for way, way too long before the driver had a chance to pass. There was no reason the cyclists couldn't slide right, but they didn't. Thanks for being stereotypes, and encouraging drivers to hate us!

As long as I'm on my rant, let me also point this out to some riders on organized centuries: Hey Joe Cool, you aren't as skilled as you think. If you were a pro racer you wouldn't be on this ride. You may be strong, but your bike skills and judgement are suspect. That's fine, but don't zig-zag through the frightened folk starting their first thirty-mile efforts, or try to pull clever maneuvers on your one-foot-unclipped descents. Try being a responsible community member. Heck, maybe we can create more cyclists if we don't scare them to death or run over them. Like your Mom used to say, be nice.

Foxy's Fall Century 2013 shadows

Other than a few unannounced wheel suckers and general bad bike handling demonstrations, the ride, despite the rant, was really fun and I don't have as many complaints as it sounds like.

Foxy's Fall Century 2013 Grandpa himselfThe ride is named for Foxy Grandpa Delano, and there is always a nice display of memorabilia there commemorating his cycling career.  He must have been quite a guy. The Davis site has Delano's story, as well as the history of the ride.

Thanks Davis, we'll see you next year.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Veteran's Victory Velo ride 2013

SouthGate Vetern's Victory Velo ride

Tricia said she loves a ride that starts with a motorcycle escort. I think she not only liked the traffic control they provided, but liked those big ol' burley guys on their  big 'ol burley motorcycles. I was pretty sure cars were going to be respectful with these guys riding shotgun.

Tricia Vetern's Victory Velo ride

We'd chosen this ride because it's in our backyard, and we like the cause. I know I have mixed feeling about the military, and the USA involvement in war, but I believe very strongly in taking care of the people who put their lives at risk for the rest of us. Plus, when was the last time you started a bike ride with the Star Spangled Banner?

DiabloScott Vetern's Victory Velo ridedalameda  Vetern's Victory Velo ride

MarcoPolo Vetern's Victory Velo ride

We ran into famed blogger Diablo Scott, Bike Forums members Marco Polo (on his beautiful custom steel Kirk,) Dalameda (sporting the Bike Forums 50+ jersey I designed) Jonathan B from Bike Forums and the most excellent uber-mechanic Ryan, running the Sports Basement support booth at the the top of Morgan Territory.

The ride itself was a beautiful climb up Diablo's South Gate, through Clayton, then up and over Morgan Territory. We bailed at the bottom, turned right and headed back to the start. I wan't in the mood for Livermore, and all the good climbs were over. We still ended up with 71 miles, and by getting back sooner were able to enjoy a delightful post-ride party, complete with food, a band, beer, wine and some interesting booths.

Blue Star Moms Vetern's Victory Velo rideA salute to the organizers, and the Blue Star Moms who staffed the rest stops. How often do you get home made treats on a ride? Any minor lack of bicycle savvy was more than made up for by the big smiles and enthusiasm of everyone involved in making this ride work. This whole event had a wonderful tone. I really enjoyed the family flavor of the after ride event, with kids playing on the lawn, and a good time being had by everyone.

Jersey Vetern's Victory Velo ride

This was their second year putting on the event. Tricia says she's looking forward to doing it next year.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Diablo Challenge 2013 results, comments and questions

The actual official results for the Diablo Challenge 2013 are in.

Read about my attempt here, in my previous blog entry.

My Results
I placed 302 out of 507 total riders
In my age division I was 13 out of 34, with 1:15:34
The fastest overall guy was Nathaniel English with 44:24
The fastest woman was Flavia Oliveira with 49:45
The fastest guy in my age division was Jim Fox with 1:00:44

I've also had a few more thoughts and items to post after my last entry.

Overkill things I did to get my bike ready
I installed lightweight latex tubes. I think I can feel a smoother ride, but it may just be placebo effect in action.
I took off my extra water bottle and cage
I took off my pump and small seat bag. I kept them in my backpack, so the only danger was flatting on the way up, which would have wrecked my day anyway.
I don't know if it mattered, but I did notice my bike felt lighter, and just as importantly, looked totally cool.

After my post on the ride I couldn't stop thinking about it, I have...
Stupid post ride questions
So, I managed 1:15. What would it take to hit an hour?
I can imagine two ways.
1: Less weight. I got my weight down to 139, and took stuff off my bike. How much weight would I have to drop to make the hour? Even if it isn't possible, there must be a number.
2. More power. How many more watts would I need to produce? I hit a 193 average for the entire ride. How many more watts to break an hour?
I'll bet there's a calculator somewhere...
11.1 miles
3261 feet of climbing
140 pound rider
18 pound bike
To reduce time by 15:36 one would (fill in blank)

I don't actually think this is possible, it's just a theoretical question...

So, in search of truth and justice, I posted my questions in the Road Section of right here. It's an good thread.

I got amazingly well thought out answers, especially considering the well known snark factor in the forum.

It looks like the answer is somewhere around 256 watts using and staying at my current weight.

Or I can get my weight down to 103 pounds...

I don't see either being possible, but it's fun to dream.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Diablo Challenge 2013

Diablo Challenge 2013 (iPhone) my number
Of course, I was early. My wave for the Save Mt. Diablo's "Diablo Challenge" wasn't set to launch until 8:50, but I arrived in the Monte Vista High School parking lot, three miles from the start, before 7am. It was not really a bad thing. I didn't have to hurry putting my stuff together, and I enjoyed chatting with the other cyclists in the near darkness. It would have been perfect if it hadn't been so darn cold. It was the coldest morning this season, but fortunately I was prepared with lots of warm clothes.

I also arrived at the start way too early. But again, it was interesting to see, and chat with, so many cyclists. Bike ogling is always enjoyable as well, and there were some very swell machines there.

I had no help with the ritual pinning on of the race number, but I wasn't alone as many fellow riders also had to take off their shirts in the shadowy cold and pin without help. We also were issued electronic timing chips on ankle bands that made us all look like we'd had some issue with the courts and law enforcement.

Diablo Challenge 2013 numbers and pins

Diablo Challenge 2013 search and rescue patchThere were tons of helper-bees there, among them the Search and Rescue volunteers, who walked over to where I had my bike and dumped all their stuff next to, and partly on top of, my Roubaix. As I moved my bike I commented to them "This is ironic, here you are the rescue folks, and yet I'm having to rescue my bike from you." I said it with a smile and a laugh, but they didn't seem amused. Still, I'm glad they were there for us, and my bike was, after all, unscathed.

Over near the start all the hyper-serious cyclists were warming up on portable trainers. It looked pretty funny as they were all facing away from the start. It was because that was uphill, and it feels better not to ride a trainer facing downhill. Still, I cracked up.

Diablo Challenge 2013 warmups

As we waited I sent Tricia a text with a photo of the mass of humanity lining up. She texted back "Aren't there any women there?" so I sent her this photo. Not only were there women, there were really fast women I never even saw until they were on the podium, collecting prizes for their stunningly fast times.

Diablo Challenge 2013 (iPhone) women's wave

My wave was number five, so we waited (and waited) until the earlier waves took off. As we rolled away from the start I watched almost everyone ride away from me. At least being an uphill ride it was warm enough that leaving all my warm gear in my backpack and not wearing it turned out to be a good idea. The organizers had a pickup to deliver the warm clothes packs to the top, which is great as it can be cold coming down.

After about 10 minutes I was surprised to find I had caught a lot of riders and was passing them. This was a continuing theme the rest of the climb. I was amazed how many I passed and that only two passed me (Being in the last wave I shouldn't have been too surprised, but I was anyway.)

Passing all those people made me think I was having a good ride, and having someone constantly in front of me to catch helped keep me focused. I tried to make use of the whole road, something you can't normally do because of downhill traffic. But the closed road let me try to find the shortest lines between corners. At least when I remembered.

Normally when I ride with a group it isn't an all out effort to the top. There are regroups and chatting along the way, and often a stop at the junction. Because of that I don't have a feel for how long any section takes. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to hit the junction at 38:02. I didn't have any clue how to extrapolate a possible finishing time from that, I just kept pushing the pedals.

Diablo Challenge 2013 curtis and DiabloScott
Me with legend Diablo Scott, one of many volunteers who made this ride possible.
The famed DiabloScott (of the famous bike blog) had guessed my time would be 75 minutes. As I rode I found myself thinking "Yes, I've got that." and "No way can I hit that." I was surprised how long some sections were, and that some weren't as long as I remembered.

As I got close to the final push I was wondering if I'd have anything left. The normal "Wall" at the summit is on the right, and you come down the left side. To keep riders coming down to the festivities in the large parking lot just below the summit from having to cross the path of riders still on the course they route the Challenge up what is normally the down side. It's steep, and it's longer. I swear it's harder, and the normal side is plenty hard enough. DiabloScott had (perhaps jokingly) earlier suggested I toss my water bottle aside for the final bump. It sounded silly when he said it, but I got there I was up for any help I could get. I yelled to an onlooker, asking him to put my bottle by a signpost and tossed it, then started up.

I was at the end of my rope when I crossed the finish line. I'd had to slip though a traffic jam of a guy walking his bike and another rider wobbling badly as my lungs screamed at me to just stop the pain. But I made it. As soon as I stopped moving I almost tossed my cookies and thought my heart would pound out of my chest. I wanted to lay down, but couldn't find the energy to dismount the bike. In just a minute or two, though, I felt like I might live, and eventually even breath normally again.

As I rode to the party just down below I looked for my bottle and didn't see it. I'd resigned myself to it being gone when I saw it — on the top of the signpost, well out of reach for me. As I contemplated how I was going to get it, the nice guy who put it there just happened back by and retrieved it for me.

I joined the party below, and scored a water bottle and hat (but not a jersey, darn it.)

Diablo Challenge 2013 (iPhone) results
I have no idea what some of the columns mean. But my time was 1:15:34:9.
Tricia and I had a plan. She'd start up North Gate and I'd come down the North side, we'd meet and ride together. Unfortunately we didn't know they'd closed North Gate road. She couldn't get up, I couldn't go down. So she rode around Walnut Creek while I went back to Danville. We were able to meet for lunch at least, but I sure wish the organizers would have mentioned the North Gate closure in their info packs. We weren't alone in being surprised and having our plans screwed up. It was the only annoyance in an otherwise well run ride.

Philosophy and stupid stuff
I turned sixty freakin' years old on Friday. I never thought I'd be this old. It's very odd. In honor of my age fears I started preparing for this during the summer, and worked on losing 15 pounds since the school semester started. I'm still slow. I'll never break an hour, the benchmark for actual athletic riders. Still I did meet my goal of a Strava PR, and collected a ton of PRs on the way up. I met my goals of finishing, not running into anyone and wrecking their day, and getting a PR for the climb.  I managed to put out more power than I ever have before — 201 watts average to the junction, and 193 for the whole climb (and a 195 weighted average.)  I may well be in the best cycling shape of my life. At 139 pounds I'm certainly at the lightest. Does it matter? I guess not. But maybe it's better than drinking beer in front of the TV. Or maybe not, if the beer is really good.

Followup post here.