Category Archives: climbfest

Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge … Epic Ride

This year, for the first time in a couple of years, the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge was delivered as an actual event. No virtual this time, but an actual event, with actual volunteers, sign up, food, and riders … actual riders. It’s as epic, and enjoyable as I remember it to be.

In years passed, some people referred to this as the local Death Ride. True, it did not have the altitude acclimation that you need for the Death Ride in Markleeville, but this included steep climbs.

I met up with my friends Amanda and Marshall, and we decided to do “just” the century option, which was just 101 miles, and 9800 ft of climbing. There was a double metric option, with 120 miles, and something like 12,000 ft of climbing … but if we did that, most likely, by the time I would finish, there would be no post ride meal. That’s no bueno!

I was hanging in with everyone, up until we did the long climb up Zayante. It’s a 10 mile, 1660 ft climb, but as with most long climbs, it kicks up at the end of the climb. I was definitely falling behind, but at least I wasn’t passed by too many people, which is always a positive sign. I was able to catch up to Amanda and Marshall just before reaching the next rest stop. All that work, and I probably could have just reunited with them at Bear Creek and Skyline. Oh well.

Was able to meet up with friends Shawnery and Yvonne (really strong riders). It was great just to say hi for a few minutes, because that’s the last we would see of them … until they passed us speeding through Ice Cream Grade near the end of the ride. Then I met up with my friend Cha Cha … and at first, I saw her face, and just couldn’t put my finger on it … I knew I’d seen her before on some other ride. Funny how that all works out … how could I forget Cha Cha … especially with a name like that! She’s a hoot! She saved me from going the wrong way later on in the ride. Cha cha hung in with us as we descended down Hwy 9 into Boulder Creek. While in Boulder Creek, we caught up with some Western Wheelers friends … Dang, we’re meeting up with everyone on this ride, that we haven’t seen in a while. Cool!

The marquee climb for this ride is Jameson Creek. Oy vey! This climb reminds me of the Decker Canyon climb on the Mulholland Challenge, that I did in April. Tough climb, with 15-17% grades … The strava segment shows it’s only 2.9 miles, but average grade is 9.8%. My friend Adam passes by me like I was standing still. I was wondering if he would be on this ride. He’s another really strong, good climber.

I finally get to the top, and my legs felt the same way when I got to the summit of Jameson Creek, as I did when I summitted Decker Canyon … like jello!

Ok, next is lunch. But lunch is all the way down in Bonny Doon, right? But Adam says it was just over the next hill. Well, Adam was wrong, it was down in Bonny Doon, but it’s mostly downhill, with a few rollies. I then saw Cha Cha, point me to a right turn. It’s a good thing, because I would have flown past that. So we ride together, looking forward to lunch, which should have been at the 77 mile mark. One problem … we get to the 80 mile mark on our Wahoo/Garmin … wait, did we past it? We then see a sign pointing us to go left for 100 mile … Lunch would have been good, but then, I started thinking .. lunch at 77 miles, and post-ride meal at 100 miles? Almost seems pointless. At this point, what I want more is water, because I have plenty of energy food to munch on.

We were a little worried that Amanda and Marshall might be wondering where we are, and start looking for us. We decided to just head over to the next rest stop, which is not that far away, and text them to tell them we went to the next rest stop. We get to the rest stop, and who do we find??? Amanda and Marshall. Apparently, they missed the lunch stop too. In fact, at least 6 riders missed it. Hmm … I wonder if the lunch stop is wondering why they have so much extra food!

The group is all in good spirits, despite missing lunch. We head down to Santa Cruz, and we could feel the nice ocean breeze from Santa Cruz.

From here, we head up the hill back to the start. We got back, and it’s only 9800′ (according to my Wahoo). We’ve done 101 miles, and we’re only 200′ from 10,000, so we gotta do an extra 200′ … There’s just something magical about a 5 digit elevation gain.

After doing some extra hills, we got back for the post ride meal. Hmm … burritos are so good after a hard ride.

The actual stats for what I rode was 103 miles, 10,300 ft climbing. Woohoo … that’s a nice ratio.

This is Why I Am a Morning Person

Recently, I had one of those nights where I woke up in the middle of the night (1 am) and could not go back to sleep. I went to sleep, only to wake up again at 3:30. I did the same thing and woke up again at 4:30. I just couldn’t go back to sleep.

Oh screw it. I have fully charged lights, so I went into my cycling clothes, and went for a ride … at 5:15 am.

One of my favorite night spots is the Mary Ave bridge (although it probably has some more official name to it).  I wanted it to be dark, just so I can take this picture.

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Mary Ave. Bridge (at least that’s what it says on Google Maps)

Off I went to climb Montebello Road. It’s so peaceful this time of day, as hardly anyone is out on the road. I was passed by 3 cars, and that was it. There was something about riding on a crisp morning, and I felt like I was climbing it pretty good (even though I didn’t get a PR out of it).

One of the main reasons for me to get out here was to see the views, and they were awesome.  No matter which angle I took, I couldn’t quite capture the beauty, and enormity of being up before sunrise … so peaceful

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View from Montebello Road, just passed Montebello School

As I continued climbing, sunrise came, and that just made the climb even better. I was the only one climbing Montebello at this hour. Where’s everyone? What’s the issue … are you sleeping? Oh, wait, I guess you are.

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Good morning from the top of Montebello, Vidovich Vineyards

As I descended down the hill, I saw a bunch of riders climbing. I guess I was an hour earlier than everyone wanted to start. Yes, I am a morning person!

Climbing the Queen’s Stage … That’s Painful!

 

Ok, the big day has come, the stage that everyone has been waiting for.  So obviously, us amateurs must do the same climb that the pro’s are doing.

Now I’ve done GMR to Baldy Ski Lifts before, just like what the men’s and women’s are doing, but this is different.  This time, there is the environment, adrenaline in the air.  You’ve got fans lining up along the route, some with cowbells, some with horns, some with tents, and a lot of loud classic rock songs blasting out.

We did Glendora Mountain Road, then Glendora Ridge Road (some call it little GMR … to me, it’s bigger, tougher, and has more pain points).  By the time I got to the end of little GMR, crowds were waiting at the Cow Saddle.  Got to see a lot of my old friends (that I typically ride with when I come to visit LA).  It was just one big party atmosphere.  I even saw the devil there, and took a picture with him.

The women’s route was going in the same direction that I was, and so we waited for them to come.  Coryn Rivera, a local girl, was leading the pack as they head down the hill, before climbing Baldy.  However, she couldn’t keep it up … instead, another California girl, Katie Hall took it (Bay Area hero).

Unfortunately, timing made it so that I couldn’t make it to the top in time to see the women finish.  It would have been cool to see Katie cross the finish line first.

We had to wait for the men to come by, before we can head up the ski lift.  When we finally go to the village, it was mayhem, a madhouse, a circus, as you would expect.

Climbing this today was different, most likely because you had hundreds of other riders doing the same climb.  There is just something about having a target of others, who are struggling the same amount as I am, and you get some adrenaline from that.

I was originally only going to go up to  Phil’s Cookie Corner, who hilariously entices riders with chocolate chip cookies.  Who am I to refuse … I grabbed a handful (about 5 cookies), and was munching them on my way up to the Ski Lift.  I think that gave me an extra boost to make it to the top.

 

After passing this switchback, I hear more classic rock, like the Stones, Allman Brothers Band … it helped me get through it.  Seeing others get off an walk for a little bit also gave me self confidence, and guided me up the hill.

Finally made it to the top.  A friend of ours had some VIP passes, so we were able to get into the tent, with some nice warm pastries, mash potatoes, coffee … at least it’s something to fill the stomach with.  We also got to see the broadcast on big screen tv, so we can get a sense of what was going on.

After finishing the ride, I did check my stats to compare with some of the pros … it’s laughable, really.

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That is just insane!

Mendocino Monster Century

The Death Ride advertises Mendocino Monster as a good tune up for the Death Ride, saying if you can do this, you are ready for the Death Ride.  I’m still not sure if I will do the Death Ride, but my co-worker convinced me to do this ride with him.

He insisted on driving the course before hand, with the thought that he wanted to know what he was up against.  I’ve done many rides, just signing up, and doing it, based on the description of the ride in the web site.  Ok, I’ll go along for the ride.

So we arrived on Saturday, checked in the hotel, then went off and drove the course.  We saw the climbs, and its funny … we can clearly see when the climbing starts, and we thought, this is where the pain starts.  In reality, it wasn’t as bad as we thought from driving … I guess judging that takes a little more experience.

We stopped by one of the rest stops, and oh, boy … it’s a microbrewery … Anderson Valley.  mmm …. beer

When we got to “the monster”, we saw what we were up against.  The road was really choppy, and it turned out it was much rougher on the car than it was on the bike.  But at least we knew the road conditions were full of bumps (but luckily not a whole lot of pot holes).  We did see some patches of road that were just gravel sections of approximately 100 feet, so not too bad.

We got on the road a little before 6 am.  We didn’t see anyone set up there, so we just decided to go.  It turned out we were the first ones to arrive at the 1st rest stop, but that was fine.  I know people would be passing us up along the route.

First climb up was Mountain Home.  The climb wasn’t too bad … was about 5-7% for the most part, but not too bad.  It was a bit like stair step climb, but it was a nice intro for the legs.

We descend down to Hwy 128, and we basically build up the miles along this stretch, with the ultimate goal of reaching Flynn Creek.  In the meantime, we enjoy nice smooth paved road.  The next rest stop is Anderson Valley Brew, which we visited yesterday.  It was a good thing the brew was closed, so we weren’t tempted to go inside and have another one.  I like the icon though … a bear with antlers sticking out of his head.  Cool.

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Ok, back onto Hwy 128.  There were some really pretty stretches here, covered with Redwoods, and you just had to sit up and just take it in.  Not all of this ride was suffering … a lot of it was nice scenery.

The next turn is Flynn Creek Road, and this takes you right into the forest.  Flynn Creek is a nice gentle climb, nothing more than 5%, so it’s the calm before the storm.  We stopped at Comptche School, before heading back to Ukiah along Comptche, which eventually turned into Orr Springs Road.  The route slip actually tells you to continue on Orr Springs Road, but I never did see any street signs referring to that street, and even Google didn’t mention that, until the very end of the descent.

Anyhow, there was a series of rollies along this road, full of rough pavement.  It was actually a bit rougher driving through this, then it was riding here on bike.  On the bike, we were able to pick and choose our lines … however, there were some stretch that were full of patched holes, and it made for a bumpy spin.

At the next rest stop, they had a much better food layout.  This was definitely the best, and there were hard boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, ham sandwiches … Oh I went to town on this!

I needed this, because the steep climb out of the forest is coming up.  Yes, it was tough, but nothing I haven’t done before.  The fact that this comes at mile 92, is kind of a sick joke, but it is what it is.

It’s interesting they had a water stop, half way up the final climb, on a day that was in the 70s.  I think they just have that stop, because it can get into the 100s in past years, where water stop was a necessity, but not today.

At the summit, they have a popsicle stop, which felt good, even on a day in the 70s.  However, the descent down wasn’t all downhill … there were a few more bumps, before heading back into town, and then back to the finish.

All in all, I loved this ride.  It was fun, and scenic, and I highly recommend this for a nice weekend getaway.  Gorgeous scenery, great cameraderie, and everyone was so nice and friendly.

 

Umunhum on My Compact Double

I’ve done Mt. Umunhum a number of times, but it has always been on my triple.  It’s time to try it on my compact double.  I won’t be breaking any records, and just want to finish it.

Unlike before, I did make a number of stops.  I guess I won’t be getting any PRs on the climb.  The last time I attempted this on my Volagi, I didn’t make any stops, but I really paid for it at the end.  I ended up bailing after about 1 miles on Mt. Umunhum Road.

It started out pretty warm .. I started at 9 am, and even then, I was just in shorts and no arm warmers or jacket (although I carried them with me, just in case).  It’s a good thing I did, because as I started climbing towards Umunhum, the fog was shrouding the  mountain.

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I later found out there were expected wind gusts, so that’s why the fog was moving around the mountain peaks so much.  However, as far as gusty winds, it really didn’t affect my climbing at all.  The temps were still okay .. however, I did notice my Garmin was at 90 F at the base of Mt. Umunhum Road (although the bike was sitting in the sun), and the closer I got to the top, the temperature dropped into the 60s.

I did get passed by several people while on Umunhum, but I didn’t pass anyone.  This kinda tells you how tough this climb is.

I did get passed by this other woman, who was just behind me.  She passed me almost with ease … but she did give me motivation going up the last part of that ramp!  Thank you!

When I got to the top, it was all foggy, and I thought, “I’m in the clouds”.  Even though it’s foggy up here, it isn’t down in the valley.

 

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Ok, time for the descent.  It’s a bit chilly up here, and it’s a good thing I had arm warmers and a vest.  I think a jacket may have been a bit too much, so this is perfect.  Now for a big drop in descent, from 3300 feet, down to 500 feet.  Unfortunately, this means that there may be some timid cars descending the hill … I guess that’s what good brakes are for.

Remember how I said it was forecast to be windy???  Well, I found out when I got off the mountain.  It was really swirling and windy down below.  You wouldn’t have guessed it if you climbed Umunhum today.

 

Yes, I Still Ride my Triple

You don’t find many LBS carrying triple chainrings, with the thought that a compact double has the gearing enough for any rides. Well, for the Bay Area, that may be fine for fit racers, but for us average weekend riders, who love to climb hills, the triple is a much needed weapon.

Take for example my last ride. Al and I decided to go on this epically hard ride on President’s Day holiday. The highlight of the ride was a ride up Bohlman, Norton, Kittridge, Quickert, then On Orbit. Now this was epic. However, to prepare for these climbs, a little warm up is really needed. So I kicked it off with a little climb up Montebello Road, which in itself, is no slouch either. It’s 5.1 miles, with about 2000 feet of climbing.

It started out frigidly cold, so we started fairly late, 9:30 am … it was still about 45 F at the start. It was windy, cold, and the temperature didn’t really warm up. The sun was out, but don’t let that fool you. We definitely needed to bundle up.

It’s a bad sign when you start the ride, and you ride into a headwind. Usually, the winds around Sunnyvale are fairly calm, but not this day. After doing a few local short hills around Rancho San Antonio Park, the wind calmed down considerably. It also gave us a chance to warm up a little bit. However, the wind and the cold was concerning, and I was even thinking about bailing on some of the climbs, but look at this … blue skies all around. We were thinking if it gets too windy, and too cold, we could shorten the climb to the Montebello school, which is halfway up, but the wind and cold actually calmed down on the mountain. I’ll say that again … it’s windy and cold in the valley, but calm, and a little warmer in the mountains, with higher elevation. That’s backwards!

We got to the top, with no issues. I for one was not pushing too hard on this climb, knowing what we have to come later. I’ve been averaging between 51 to 55 minutes on this climb, and today, we came in at 53 minutes. I guess I’m still in shape. The view was spectacular today, and it was very clear. And there was no wind evident up at the top.

Descending Montebello was cold … frigidly cold. So there were two trains of thought for the descent … get off the mountain as fast as you can, but then the faster you go, the colder you’d get. For me, I decided to go slowly, because once you get into the shady sections of the descent, the temps drop. The low on my Garmin showed 34 F, and I think that was during our descent. We just needed to get to any place where there was sun, so we saw a sunny spot, and just sat there, soaking in the rays, while our body temperature warmed up.

We were originally going to climb up Redwood Gulch, but that would mean we would have to go into Stevens Canyon, and the temperature would drop going there … uh … no! Up Mt. Eden we go, and adding in a few short, steep hills, like Teerlink, Saratoga Summit … nice 16% grades, to warm the body up.

Ok, now for the big climb. I always get a kick out of this climb, as it passes by a cemetery at the base of the climb. Is that a little omen? Well, we’ve done this all before … Norton is fine, Kittridge is tough, but then when we got onto Quickert … oh boy. I think it was sustained 15-18% there (maybe even more in some spots). Al even had thoughts of stopping and walking, but he knew I was behind him. When we finally got to On Orbit, we had to take a breather.

I had to give Al the bad news that what we did, wasn’t even On Orbit, that this left turn we are making is On Orbit, and this is where the real climb starts. WTF ??? Yes, onwards to more 18-25% climbs. Thank god for my granny gear, 30-28 … and using every gear inch of that thing. There is something soothing about you on the climb, with no cars, just hearing your derailleur in the back, climbing to the rhythm of your breathing, and not worrying about what is ahead. I did take a quick peak near the summit, just to know where I am, but I just kept at my same rhythm … it’s kind of a mental, psychological thing.

We made it!!! It’s not the highest peak, but it definitely is one of the toughest. Looking back, we started to wonder if this is the toughest climb in the Bay Area … it definitely is one of the toughest. Another one that comes to mind is Welch Creek, off of Calaveras, east of Fremont. Al thinks On Orbit is tougher, but I think Welch Creek … both of them are hard, but picking which is tougher is a tough call.

Anyhow, this is why I still have a triple chainring. If you are doing something this epic, you need those extra gear inches, especially since we are not getting any younger. I’m definitely tagging this one as a climbfest.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1416302655

First Time up Cloud Burst Summit

Ever since I left Southern California, about 19 years ago, I would keep visiting LA and actually doing more climbing than when I used to live in LA. Yes, I’ve done all the epic climbs

  • Mt. Baldy
  • GMR/GRR
  • Mt. Wilson
  • Deer Creek Challenge
  • PV Loop
  • Potrero
  • Grimes

But one that I have not done is Cloud Burst Summit. Ken Mathis posts a ride, going up Hwy 39 to Cloud Burst .. Hey I’m in, and more importantly, a chance to hang out with my So Cal friends, and hanging out with some new friends too.

We started at the first parking lot above East Fork Road. I’ve never started a ride from here, but it’s actually nice, not having to fight the traffic from Azusa up to this point. However, next time I’ll have to remember to get an Adventure Pass (thanks Ken for the spare pass).

The temps were mild, but was unsure how cold it would be in the shade, so I brought my windbreaker just to be on the safe side.

There’s something about Ken’s group rides … he always attracts hoards of riders to come along. I guess that’s why I love coming back all the time.

It felt odd climbing this part of Hwy 39, with less than 2 miles into the ride.

Part way up the climb, there seemed to be a search and rescue chopper hovering over the canyon. That chopper was loud, and of course, we had to stop and check out what’s going on. We didn’t see anything, but it was cool to see that big chopper hovering overhead.

One concern was availability of water on this ride. Other than Crystal Lake, there is no water, with the exception of the spring off the mountain. About 2/3 the way up the hill, there is one such spring. It’s fresh, and cool, and most likely more clean than any water we’d get from a drinking fountain.

When we get past Crystal Lake, someone drove up with refreshments just before we continue past the road closed gate. That was a welcome sign, with cold water, soda, and potato chips. Aww, that was really refreshing, before continuing up the climb.

Now onto the climb. First getting around this road closure. It didn’t say anything about no bikes, so off we go.

The road conditions up here are not that great. You had rocks falling down from the hillside, to the point where it is not driveable. It’s a technical ascent on road bikes, but at least it wasn’t a steep grade. I’ve heard some of the rocks can be so sharp that it would gash a tire.

The last time I attempted this section of Hwy 39, it was cold, I had hot feet, and I was aching everywhere. I was so exhausted I bailed about a mile from the top. As Ken mentioned, I fumbled at the 99 yard line. Not this time … I was determined to make it at least to the other side.

Onto Cloud Burst … I didn’t know I was going to go through a tunnel. Damn, I didn’t have my blinkers with me. Luckily there weren’t any cars out here. There’s always something about riding through a tunnel though.

Even though the grades to Cloud Burst is not too bad, it’s still the amount of climbing in the legs, up to 7000 foot elevation. Of course, being one of three newbies to this climb, we had to take a few pictures.

Of course, this deserves a group photo.

Whew now for the return back, however it is not just a simple downhill … On the way back are a bunch of rollies.

Oh and there is the 2 mile climb up to Crystal Lake Cafe. After this epic climb fest, Crystal Lake is a must. Mmmm … Food!!!

Oh one more group picture …

And the rest of the ride??? Well give into your tight tuck, as we are bombing down this mountain. Strava says I got 47.5 mph …. Well that was fun.

Time to Revisit Crystal Lake

It’s time to visit Southern California again, but this weekend, most of my buddies are out doing Solvang Autumn Double. I’m not in double shape at all, so that is out of the question for me. My friend Rick was doing Crystal Lake, and I haven’t done that in a long time, and conditions look great for this.

We met up at Encanto Park, and there was a big group of riders there (thinking that’s the group Rick was riding with, but no, it was just a solo ride). There were a large number of Filipino riders, but not what you would expect. There were only a few Adobo Velo jerseys there. I think they were going to Baldy, because we didn’t see any of them pass us up on they way up to Crystal Lake.

It was a bit chill to start off with, but was comfortable for vest and arm warmer weather. I think a full jacket would have been way too warm, and too much to carry. While on the climb, we saw a lot of runners running down the mountain. We even saw runners coming down even above East Fork Road. It’s kinda weird … I’ve never seen a large group running down a mountain. Rick tells me he saw a group of runners doing a marathon, all downhill.

We kept going in and out of the shade, and that kept the ride interesting.

On the way up, we heard a loud rumble, and it was the sheriff or some surveillance, hovering over the mountains. I’m not sure if they are looking for someone lost, but it’s strange how this would be done this early in the morning.

The grades were not intense, but this was a long climb. It’s not like Mt. Hamilton climb, although it is long … it’s just different. It’s about 25 miles from the park up to Crystal Lake. As you can imagine, with the length of the climb, it would wear on your legs eventually. Lucky I brought my triple.

Oh yes, 5000 ft elevation … This is an indication that I am close to the final destination, but also a sense of accomplishment. I’m 5000 feet up! We don’t have hills that go to this elevation. In order to get up this high, we’d have to go to the eastern sierras. I looked at my Garmin at this point, and notice my elevation was only at 4850 feet. Hmm … I wonder which one is calibrated wrong?

And the road to Crystal Lake is around the corner. I could feel the fatigue creep into my right leg, but I didn’t shift into my absolute lowest gear, which tells me I wasn’t completely spent, and still had some energy left in reserve.

As with any remote coffee shop, you see all types here, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, hikers, and of course, firefighters. I know the grilled cheese sandwiches are great here, but I’m not sure that would be the best thing for my stomach, after climbing 5000+ feet (although the rest of the ride is a long descent).

The descent allows you to pick up some very high speed, in a short time. Without trying, you could get to 40 mph. This was fun … up until I see a bunch of cyclists slowing down, and the horrifying look of fire trucks and sheriff trucks stopped along the roadway.

Approaching the scene closer, unfortunately it is a downed cyclist. Damn, that sure puts a downer for the group of cyclists, and this was probably still about 3500 feet up, so still a bunch of descending to go.

On the way back on the bike path, we see a formation of National Guards, and they were on the bike path. At least they were formed on either side of the bike path, so we had a lane to ride through. When’s the last time you’ve seen that!

Mt. Umunhum to the Top

Finally, Mt. Umunhum is open to the public … no longer do I have to do this partial hill climb … no more “No Trespassing” signs … and we can climb all the way to the top. The road was officially opened to the public Monday. I was itching to get up to the top, but unfortunately, a co-worker already has Monday off for PTO. So I went ahead and schedule to take Tuesday off.

Plan was all set, but then I caught some cold/flu bug at work, and that put me under the covers, in bed, from Saturday all the way through the weekend. Ugh … this is putting my plans for climbing Umunhum on Tuesday in jeopardy. If I didn’t go Tuesday, I would have to wait two further weekends, as I’m on call this coming weekend.

I woke up on Tuesday, and just decided to tough it out. See how far I can make it, and if I can only do partial, well at least I tried. I definitely am not climbing in the best shape (being off the bike for the past 4 days). Getting to Hicks is a good 10-15 miles, so at least I could get a nice warmup.

I was probably going at 80%, and surprisingly, I was making good time, and legs strength is still in good shape.  One thing I noticed is there is a lot more traffic on Hicks, than I’m used to.  I guess this is expected, if people are going up to the top of Umunhum.  In the past, I’d be lucky to see 3 cars on my Hicks climb, but there have probably been about 20 cars in my stretch.

Whoa, that is one smooth road.  This is going to be fun!  No potholes?  No cracks in the road?  This is awesome.  And that box on the top of that hill … that is my destination!

There were several people who had the same idea that I had.  About 5 other people decided to ride up, on a Tuesday morning … although a couple of them may be retired, but at least it’s good to have some company.

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Well, whaddayaknow … no gate here.  And the road continues to be smooth.  One thing I noticed I didn’t run into … cattle grates!  Wow, it’s worth doing this, knowing you won’t even have any cow grates.

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I remember the no trespassing point, and as I climbed further, it just seemed to level off a little bit, so it turns out the toughest part of the climb was before the white line of death, something I already climbed on LKHC before anyways.  The rest of the climb was nice … it flattened, with some descents, before kicking up again at the end.

And here’s the final push

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A finally, getting to the final destination … all I could say is wow!

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Oh and probably the biggest reason to climb this, is to see the views.  Tremendous views up here.

 

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Now descending down the mountain … this is going to be fun.  In the past, the road was full of crater sized potholes, tons of cracks in the road.  This time though, with smoothly paved road, it’ll be a pleasure.  No more stress on the wrist trying to reduce your speed.  Now if we could only get Hicks Rd to be repaved this smooth … but that’s asking for a lot!

Spring is Here and Hopefully Rain Is Gone

It’s April and it looks like the weather is starting to look like it.  After a record rain season this past winter, I’m ready for it to dry up.  Temps got to 80° this past weekend, and that’s good news for cycling.

For the first time, I didn’t have to wear arm or knee warmers for a ride.  It was nice (although I kept a light windbreaker, just in case it got windy or cold).

I went with Al, my co-worker, to do an epic ride, up Morgan Territory (which we normally descent).  This is affectionately known as “the plunge”, but we’re doing it in reverse.  The reason why we do this is the road is not completely passable on the other side in Clayton.  So the plan is go up Morgan Territory, then down, then over to Mt. Diablo.

It was a gorgeous day out, however it was also very windy.  Morgan Territory had some stretches of 12-15% grades, and some stiff headwinds, as well as some crosswinds.  It made a tough climb even tougher.  I think my fitness is starting to come back as I got to the summit at the same time that Al did.

On the descent, I wanted to be careful of the crosswinds, and make sure I don’t get blown off the cliff.  There were a few times in past DMD events where a rider went off the cliff.  Luckily, the crosswinds didn’t kick up too much while on out descent.

Onto Diablo, and we were heading a little bit into the wind.  I kinda like flat stretches, going into a headwind.  I get down into an aero position, and just power it through.  I may not be fast, but get some steady power, and it feels good.  Al didn’t like the headwind, so he was more than happy to draft behind me.

All that pulling may have had an adverse affect on me, when we made the turn onto Blackhawk and onto Diablo.  My legs were not feeling it, and my knee even felt a twinge.  I didn’t want to push it too hard, and I was way behind.  I decided to just go up to the junction at the ranger’s station, and head back at that point.  It took a lot out of my legs.

At least on the way back it was easier.  There was a nice fast stretch on Collier Canyon on the way back.  However, with the winds, and the vegetation out there, it really attacked my allergies.  Eyes were all red, sneezing left and right … Yeah, spring is here.  My allergies were kicking into high gear, but that’s ok.  I can feel the fitness coming, and it feels good.  This was a much tougher off-season than in years passed.