Tag Archives: Diablo

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.

Epic Suffering on L’Etape du California, Mt.Diablo

It is the peak of the century riding season, and so far, I haven’t even begun getting into any events.  DMD was this weekend, Wildflower is also this weekend, so I decided to tackle L’Etape du California, which does the same route that ATOC Stage 7 will be doing.  I didn’t really decide until Friday night, and the ride was Sunday.

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As part of the registration process, they required everyone to sit through a safety talk first, then register.  They wanted to stress that this is not a race, and to point out the danger areas.

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Since I had to drive this far, I might as well bring my bike and do a quick Patterson Pass loop, and do part of tomorrow’s course. Good thing I did, acclimated my body to the heat. It was friggin hot out there, and no wind.

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Okay, Sunday morning and it’s a mass start at 7 am. The turnout was a little less than they expected .. 300, and they were expecting 1000. I was up near the front with all sorts of racer types. We rolled out pretty quickly, with a brisk pace. I started wondering what did I get myself into. People were passing me left and right. Even more people past me going up Morgan Territory.

Morgan Territory is the first climb of the day. We normally descend down this road and we call it the plunge. However this time we’re climbing it. Epic. After we crest this, it’s down the hill on the other side. This is a rough surface, and I know others are hurting, because all the different bumps. My Volagi did just fine, absorbing then all, making it a bit more comfortable than if I brought the Seven. One thing that was annoying was a slow descender, and wouldn’t allow many to pass. Took me awhile, but I finally passed him. Sheesh!

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At the bottom, rest stop #1. They need to learn how to support social rides as they only had 1 porta potty. This added time to the wait. This was also the only rest stop until the finish which had bread for pbj. Epic fail.

From here, the route to the next climb would be pretty flat, out Marsh Creek onto the city of Byron. There is nothing out here, and it’s brown. Nothing scenic about this, but at least it didn’t stink. I latched onto a pelaton of about 8 riders. Nice pace, not too fast so I didn’t blow myself up, but brisk enough to make some good time.

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Rest stop 2 is at the base of the Patterson Pass climb. This is their second time doing this in two days. I conserved my energy in preparation for this. It was about 10 am when I started the climb, which is a lot better than 1 pm, which is when I started this yesterday. I did do a lot better. There still was not much wind. This is Patterson Pass, which usually had wind. For once I was wishing
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Diablo in Heat … bad combination

So we decided to do Diablo repeats, as a trainer for the Death Ride.  No, I’m not doing the Death Ride … so why am I doing this?  Well, I do have the Grand Tour Double coming up at end of month … but I’ll probably have as much climbing on this as I would on the entire double.

We started from North Gate, and the plan was to climb to the summit, down to South gate, climb to summit, down to North Gate, then climb to summit one more time.  Just to add to this, the temps were going to be pretty high, in the mid 80’s.

The start of the climb felt pretty good.  Despite that, I was far behind everyone else.  Michael wasn’t feeling too well, but even he was able to pull away from me.  Chris was on a mission, and was time trialing this climb.  I just wanted to make it up the hill, and get to the summit.

I was making some pretty good time, but wanted to make sure I didn’t over do it (otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to climb up the South side).  I made it to the ranger’s station in ~ 45 minutes, which is respectable.  However, I still had another 4+ miles and 1500 feet more to climb to the summit.  The closer I got to the summit, the more my lower back started to strain.  My body is not in sufficient climbing shape, so I think I may need to do more Montebello rides after work … but that’s another issue … making sure I can get out of work on time.

The last time we did Diablo, I started seeing the group descend down the hill, one switchback before the final climb.  The same thing happened today.  But this time, I was determined to make it to the top.  I figure by the time I make it down the south side, I will U-turn when I see the group start climbing from South side.

At the summit, there was a swarm of bugs greeting me, just before the wall, and before the summit.  Damn, just what I needed … close my mouth, breath through my nose, while making the final push up the steep grade.  Really disgusting.

Finally made it to the top.  That felt good … back not feeling too bad, but now I can try to recover.  Come to think of it, I really wanted to get to the summit so I can get a refill on water.  Yea, that’s the ticket.

Down the hill, then over to south gate.  I didn’t make it all the way down … I saw Ramon leading the climb back up, so that’s when I make my U-Turn, at around the 1,000 foot elevation.

On the way up, I had an interesting encounter.  There was a coyote taking a stroll on the road about 500 feet ahead of me.  Sorry no pics, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.  I deliberately slowed to a crawl, giving him space, to just continue his stroll to the other side of the road.  He proceeded over the hill side and I was able to continue my climb without issues.

I was aching, and was going to go slowly, with no intentions of making it all the way to the summit.  I see Michael at the Ranger’s station, and find he’s not climbing the summit, so I figure that’s good enough for me.  Plus, it’s hitting high noon, the hottest time of the day … we waited for the group to come down the mountain, and then went down with everyone.

I probably could have gone a little more, but the prospect of climbing from north gate one more time during the hottest time of the day did not seem very attractive.  Michael and I called it a day.  Everyone else continued on.

Some stats:

Distance: 34.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 4806 feet

More info at http://www.strava.com/rides/113408