Category Archives: bikeforums

Riding Off That Turkey … Morgan Territory and Mt. Diablo

Ah, thanksgiving … a time for family get togethers, and a time for feasting.  This means everyone is eating till they get a food coma … so that means Friday, day after thanksgiving, you gotta work it all off.  So I decided to ride Morgan Territory and Mt. Diablo from Pleasant Hill (with local route guidance from Dan).  This was originally going to be an epic 69 miler.

Much to my surpise, my old friend Pete, came along for the ride.  Dang, I haven’t seen him on a ride in about a year.  Great to see you back on the bike, and back on the road, Pete.  Hopefully, we will see you out on the road more often.  Also along for the ride, Curtis, Tricia, Dan’s friend Steve were all on the ride.  Noticeably absent … Marco and Ruth, Ramon, and Chris … all couldn’t make it.  So this didn’t turn out to be the hammerfest we were fearing it would be.

We were all bundled up in as many layers as we could get.  I had for layers … base, jersey, long sleeve jersey, and jacket, along with leg warmers, bootie for my feet.  In general, I stayed pretty comfortable, but the face was the one part that was exposed … so for that, I had my ninja mask, covering my mouth and nose.  The temps didn’t dip too low … I think the lowest on the ride was 44 F.  It would have been a lot more frigid if we made it up to the top of Diablo.

Pete puts the hammer down. Dan and I fight to stay within striking distance

Pete really surprised us all.  Pete, Dan and I were at the front climbing Morgan Territory together, then all of a sudden, when the really climbing began, he kicked it up another level.  I guess all those spin classes, and fixie rides through the city pays dividends?  He’s also a big time sandbagger … telling Dan and I he’s not feeling really strong … yeah, right.

I just barely had enough in me to make it to the park area before Dan, but Pete had gotten there well before me.  After a re-group, we’re ready to descent Morgan Territory, aka “the plunge”.  The descent is fast and very tricky.  There were quite a few off camber turns (exactly the same type of turn where I went down a few years ago).  Needless to say, I wasn’t keen on seeing how fast I can get down (my top speed coming down was just 33.5 mph).

Panorama shot from bottom of Morgan Territory

We had a pit stop at Starbucks at Blackhawk plaza, to get a caffeine boost, and some sugar to prepare us for the Diablo climb.  We were running short on time … by the time we left Starbucks, it was already near 2 pm.  We had two flats along the way, which took some of the time away from us.  Just so we don’t get caught in the dark, we decided to skip the summit, and just make the climb up to the junction.

Steve had a real boost from Starbucks, because he was just cranking it up Diablo.  Pete was way up a head, then Steve, then Dan, and I.  There were a couple of times where I could almost reel in Dan, but I just didn’t have enough in my legs.  Curtis actually caught me, but I had a little reserve left in my legs to push up to the junction.  We all got up to the junction in pretty good time, and the gaps weren’t that great, so we didn’t have to wait too long.

Pete with a flat ... the third one for the group today

As we descend Diablo to the north side, the temps were dropping, and it was getting crisp and cold.  Damn, forgot to put my ninja mask on, and my face was feeling it.  Unfortunately, Pete got a flat, so good opportunity to stop, and bundle up.

Panorama, looking up at Diablo

Also gave me a good opportunity to take a few more panorama shots … I love the panorama feature on my Droid X.

Even though we didn’t get to climb the summit (which in retrospect may have been a blessing in disguise), this was still pretty epic … 62 miles, 5059 feet climbing.  That’s pretty respectable.  Pretty big ride for November.

More pictures at, or you could see a slideshow of the pics at

Portola State Park LKHC – Not For the Weak and Timid


Start of LKHC ... Also entrance to the state park


This week’s LKHC was interesting.  It starts out at the entrance to Portola State Park, and it climbs up to West Alpine, and continues there to the summit.  They had us all check in at Montebello Open Space Preserve, just below the summit at Skyline on Page Mill.  Then, we rode down 2000 feet at the entrance of the state park, where we waited, and waited, and waited.

I decided to ride over, via Moody then Page Mill.  Just so that I would still have legs, I took it easy going up, and left really early (around 7:30 am from my house).  It was really foggy, but the sun was starting to come out.


View from Page Mill overlooking Silicon Valley


Once I got to some decent elevation (~ 1800 feet), I climbed above the clouds, and got some spectacular views.  Leaving so early, I could tell I would be a little early to registration, so that did give me some opportunity to take some pictures.

Knowing that everyone would want to hit the bathroom, as soon as I got myself registered, I immediately headed for Russian Ridge, where they have a bathroom.  Ahhh, that felt good.  Went back to meet up with Chris, Donald, Marco, Ruth, just to head back where I was, then head down to the start at the entrance of the park.  This was a long way down, and it takes a little while to get to.  We had pretty good representation of bikeforums on this LKHC.  We had 6 members of our team, pretty good representation.  It remains to be seen how high we place as a team.

They told us it would start around 10:15 am, but by that time, we still could only see a handful of cyclists.  My bet was they were waiting above the start, so they could get some sun (it was a bit cool in the shade where we were).  Some of the cyclists were hovering in front of the state park sign, so some of the cars who wanted to enter the park didn’t know if they were at the right place.  Ooops.


Pack of cyclists arriving at the start of the LKHC


From the start, we immediately have to climb, about a 15% grade.  So already, we have to make sure we are in our granny gear.  That caused a lot of cyclists to not being able to clip in, and not go off to the greatest starts (um, like me).

I was positioned near the front, which was not the best place, since I know people will be passing my left and right, and they were.  I was just fearing I would be DFL (dead fucking last).  But there were a few people I was able to pass, so that helped build my confidence a little bit.  Marco and Ruth were still just ahead of me, and they were in my sights, so that also helped me out a little bit.

Climbing out of the park would have to be the toughest part.  It had 15% stretches then down to 8 then back up to 15%.  But at least I descended this hill first, so I know what to expect and when the climbing gets easier … did I say climbing gets easier???


Climbing out of Portola State Park

Now that we’re out of the park, at least we will be a little warmed up by the sun.  I’m working really hard to close the gap with Marco and Ruth, but they are still at least 1000 yards ahead of me.  I gotta somehow dig down deeper, in the pit of my gut, to get those extra watts of power to get up this hill.  I guess that’s where the face of agony comes in as evidence in the picture below.


Face of Agony

Showing this agony seemed to have helped.  I could see my gap shorting now to Marco and Ruth.  I finally was able to catch them, but I was really dying.  There’s only so much energy a man can muster and only so hard he can be inhaling and exhaling our out of his lungs.

I finally am able to pass them, then eventually I pass another rider.  I’m very close to the finish, as I can see with the “200 paces to go” sign.  I have just enough energy to up shift a couple of gears, and gut it all out.


Approaching the summit/finish


Coming around the corner, one of the riders off to the side was yelling words of encouragement and motivation, and that really did help a lot.  It’s amazing how much support you’ll get from your fellow riders.  Finally, I see the finish, but stupid me … I let up just before the actual line, so I actually coasted the last 100 feet.  Doh!  Well, it probably didn’t lose too much time .. maybe 5 seconds or so.  I wound up in 101st place, with a time of 40:07 (which is still a little longer than what strava is saying … it indicates 39:53).  As a team, came in 6th place (just 2 points behind Penn Velo … damn, it’s that last 100 feet of coasting that probably did it).

For the whole ride, I ended up with 53.3 miles, 5067 feet climbing.  It was a great day for this ride … not too hot, not cold, and no rain … plus, I got to finish my ride by 1 pm.  Woohoo!!!!