We’ve all done Mt. Diablo – Morgan Territory route before, and Ramon decided we needed to mix it up, so this ride was to do things in reverse. We all started at the Sycamore Valley Park and Ride. The Wrecking Crew was there, which include Ramon, Donald, myself, Michael, Chris, Marco and Ruth.
We left the Park and Ride at 8:30 am, and there was still a chill in the air. It felt a bit nippy, so it was difficult to determine exactly what to bring. Michael decided to don the ninja cycling look, trying to keep warm, and not catch a cold. I eventually went with light long fingered gloves, and vest. I didn’t want to bring too much, as it was going to be 65 F, and bringing a full jacket may be a bit much.
I felt good going out, and we had a few rollers going out before the first big climb on Morgan Territory. I surprised everyone by leading out through some small climbs. What can I say … I was just trying to get into a rhythm. Besides, it would be one of the few times I would be out in front.
Left turn on Morgan Territory, and the climb begins (also known as “the Plunge”). At this point, my Garmin timer was stopped, and as I was starting out on the climb, I didn’t realize it wasn’t restarted … doh! Ramon, Donald and Michael assumed its normal position at the front of the climbs. I hung in as long as I could but I just could not sustain their pace on the climb. Eventually, Chris would also pass me. Marco and Ruth were still behind me, but eventually they would pass me.
The climbs kept coming, and it was a struggle to keep pedaling. I was able to manage a cadence in the high 30’s to low 40’s, but it was still kicking my butt. The grade peaked at 17.4% (although Donald reported it to be about 19% at one point). As I climb, I am just recalling how the ride the other way usually is. Every time I think of it, I realize there are even more climbs coming. However, I was able to take a few scenic shots. I think this was after getting past the 17% climb:
Near the top of the climb, suddenly I feel a woof on the left side … it’s Marco and Ruth. Wow, I recall looking back to see if they were behind me, but nowhere to be found. They really put the hammer down to pass me. Later, Marco told me how hard he worked to catch me.
The rest stop couldn’t come at a better time. Those steep grades really took a lot out of me, and I was really glad to reach the Morgan Territory rest stop.
Next, the descent on Morgan Territory. This is normally the section where we climb Morgan Territory. The descent sucked! Much of the descent was shaded, but luckily, my glasses are light enough, that I was able to make out the contours of the road going from light to dark. It got really bumpy, and the road was treacherous near the bottom of the climb. Marco and Ruth were glad they did this, but also say this is the first and last time they’ll do this descent. I don’t blame them … this descent is nasty. To give you an idea, just imagine descending 2000 feet on cobblestones.
After some junk miles to loop around through Clayton, we get to the Mt. Diablo climb, starting from the North gate side. I’ve done Mt. Diablo many times, but those were all climbing the South gate side, and descending down the North gate side. This time, we do it in reverse. Now I’ve been told this is a much tougher climb than South gate, but I’m not sure if it was tougher due to the fact I’ve already done 40 miles, and 4000 feet of climbing, or if the weight of the camelback contributed to my slow climbing. All I knew was my lower back started to feel more strained than it usually is. With the exception of Marco and Ruth, I was pretty much behind the group on the climbs. Marco and Ruth didn’t have much left for the climb, and they did not end up passing me. I had to stop once, due to fatigue. It’s a good thing I had an extra banana. Since I brought my camelback, I had more food than I usually do, and the banana did go down well, and that gave me enough energy to make it to the Ranger’s Station.
My hopes were that the wrecking crew would be waiting at the Ranger’s Station, but I couldn’t find them when I got there. They ended up continuing on the climb … damn! Well, I guess I gotta go and climb this, so off I went. It was a struggle, and I certainly was not going up with any energy, and my cadence was not very high. About 800 feet from the top of the climb, I see Ramon come speeding down, then Michael. Marco had texted us, that they are not doing the climb, and would meet everyone back at the Ranger’s Station. I should have done that. Soon after Michael passed by the other way, I decided to turn back. I was still at least 600 feet from the top, and my feeling is I don’t need to go to the summit. I’ve already seen it before, so I made a U-turn here. So I didn’t make it all the way to the top … doesn’t bother me. Funny, Marco had the same thought too.
Met up with the rest of the crew at the Ranger’s Station, but we were all waiting for Chris (he was just starting the wall, when Michael started descending Diablo). We took our time resting at the Ranger’s Station before descending again. It was cold, and we were trying to thaw out and get warm again.
Now what’s funny here is Chris has traditionally had knee problems, but on this cold day, everyone else was fully decked out with leg warmers and knee warmers, but Chris goes with just shorts. Aren’t you cold?
When we finally got back to the cars, I ended up with 67.1 miles, and 6344 feet of climbing (at least with http://www.ridewithgps.com, extrapolating for the data that was missing). To see detailed ride stats, go to http://ridewithgps.com/routes/14031