Devil’s Mountain Double was Epic, but DNF’d

I finally got the courage to enter and ride Devil’s Mountain Double, despite the advertised 206 mile, 18,600 feet total elevation.  However, the result was a DNF, but it’s not that I am disappointed at this.  I am pretty happy with my performance.


I got really good news on Thursday, that my co-worker, who lives 12 minutes from the start, was offering to let me stay overnight.  Cool.  I was originally going to drive over at 3:30 am (meaning I’d have to wait up by 2:30 am).  This meant getting at least an hour more sleep, and a much shorter drive, and a civilized start of the day.  This was better than a 5 star hotel.



We rolled out at 4:59 am, and started out with Curtis and Rick.  I made sure I took it easy at the start, as I knew we’d be heading straight up Mt. Diablo first.  I was amazed how many riders had the bad luck of having a mechanical, even before starting the climb.

This year, DMD is not one of the Triple Crown Stage races, and the organizers wanted to stress being able to enjoy the surroundings, and enjoy the scenery.  Ok, I can do that … don’t have to twist my arm.  One thing I’ll have to say … early morning Mt. Diablo climbs are spectacular, and even the best pictures, and best descriptions don’t do it justice.

Curtis and Rick ended up summiting Mt. Diablo before I did.  I was trying to stay within comfortable limits.


When I finally got up to the top, my friend Victor was helping support the ride, and he was taking pictures if everyone summiting Mt. Diablo. Funny, he didn’t realize it was me until I pass by him. Very cool.

OK, down the hill, and here I made up some time because for some reason, I acclimated to the cold better than others, which caused them to be a lot more cautious on the descent, and I eventually caught up with Curtis and Rick.

We continued ride together through Morgan Territory, then over to Livermore, but split up by the time we got to Paterson Pass. This was the defining moment of the ride, as this is what kicked us all in the ass. We had gale force winds, plus the Double digit grades we had to climb. This combination was brutal.

I descended down the other side, and the route merged with the Wente RR.  As they pass me, I get a real cool kudos from the lead pack.  “Is that DMD you’re riding?  Awesome” … that’s pretty cool to get kudos from some hot shot racer.

One thing I have always feared was making the time cut off. We had to get to the Mines Road checkpoint and leave no later than 1:30 pm, then get to lunch at The Junction by 4:30 pm. It was pretty flat getting to Mines Road but I wasn’t sure how well I was doing on time. There were other riders near me, so that made me feel a lot better. We ended up getting there a little past 1 pm, so that’s one hurdle we crossed.

Now it’s onto Mines Rd., which Eye on the Bay called “the road that goes to nowhere”. That is such an appropriate adjective, as it just kept going on forever. I also had Scott in the SAG wagon, checking up on me just to see how well I’m doing. I started thinking if I’m the last rider, and will I make the cutoff for lunch? About 10 miles from lunch, we had a water stop and they confirmed I’m not the last one … It just felt like it, with no one behind me.


Finally, I get to lunch, and there are still people here .. Woohoo. Victor was there to greet me, along with Kermit and a few other Double Century notables. More importantly, they had food here … Mmm chicken sandwich never tasted so good.

Off to climb Mt. Hamilton. I didn’t climb from the Junction to the top of Hamilton in a while … Maybe I should have? I forgot about the double digit grades at mile 10-12. I thought it was all from mile 5 but they still have some kickers before that. At this stage, the climbing was all a matter of survival .. Just turn the crank and keep moving. I had just done this climb a week ago, so at least my body is used to this, except I only had 25 miles in my legs, as opposed to 120 miles. The one saving grace is at least there is still some sunlight left.

I get to the top and only one person passed me. I was a little surprised by that. I thought there were more behind me. There was no rest stop at the top, and I had to go down to Brothers, so time to layer up, and get ready for a cold descent. I had no toe covers so I just gotta suffer through it.

The sunset coming through the clouds was a cool and eerie sight. I was descending this but really enjoying the scenery (I guess you can say I’m taking Scott’s advise, and take in the beauty). I wasn’t cold either, and this was probably my favorite part of the ride, as I’ve never descended Hamilton at this time of the evening.

The rest stop is off of Crothers and in someone’s home. Now that’s the way to have a rest stop. Nice warm soup awaits. I caught up to Curtis here, not knowing he was ready to their in the towel, due to cold, and not being able to keep control. That’s too bad, as I finally was able to ride along with him.

Ok, continuing on, and Sierra Road awaits. Lucky for me it’s dark so I won’t have to see how steep the road is that I have to tackle. As I climb, a group of DMD volunteers were parked in the hill, cheering me on, ringing cowbells … I I’ve that enthusiasm and I really appreciated it. This was just awesome .. Now if only I can finish the climb. Well that’s easier said than done.

I was struggling to find leg strength and it just wasn’t there. I found myself stopping about 5 times. I even walked a few hundred steps, but I had to keep on going. Another push, then I see a car coming down thinking “I wonder if that’s a SAG wagon” … and it was. I officially throw in the towel at this point. Checking my Garmin, I’m at 159 miles and just under 17,000 feet climbing. Wow these stats are out if this world.

So I DNF’d … I still feel great about what I accomplished. Some couldn’t even fathom doing this. I started but I simply did not finish. As my friend Lynn says, consider it as a kick ass training ride.

I got to chat with some of the finishers at the end, and it was refreshing to find out Patterson Pass affected them as much it affected me. This was brutal. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t hot, but the wind made it so tough. Now that we are off the road, we’re all smiles.


Finally Got in Mt. Diablo Morgan Territory Loop

I’ve been trying to get this ride together for awhile, but one thing or another gets in the way.  First time, I tried with a PSBBG++ ride, but only had 1 taker.  And even when doing this, both of us didn’t have it in us to do the whole ride.  Then, last week I scheduled it, but this was the day after doing Hicks and Metcalf.  That would have been a bit much.  So I got a request from Marco asking if I’d be up for it this Saturday … Hell yeah.

When we got to the climbs, that’s where we got separated.  I just concentrated on getting a good cadence, not going into zone 4, and just maintain a comfortable pace.

Even when you do ride Diablo solo, you do find camaraderie with others who ride solo, and sync up with others at about your pace. This happened to me on this climb. I climbed with Dave, who is FC 508 veteran. Chatting with someone at your climbing ability really make the time go by, and make the work not quite so bad. We chatted away until a idle past the 3000 foot level and that’s where he went on ahead. I was not in a hurry to try to catch him either.


By the time I got to the wall, I still felt good. This was a out better than last time, where everything ached.

Got up to the top in about 1:30, which is one of my better times. Funny how when you don’t try going for it, you get a surprisingly great time, and when you go for it, you end up languishing.



Getting down the hill, Marco and Ruth definitely had the advantage over me. They go down fast. They’d wait for me, and on the uphill, I’d have the upper hand, and I’d wait for them. We took our time getting to Morgan Territory, as we know it will take its toll on our body.

When we finally started climbing Morgan Territory, the scenery was a little lush, and the climbs were like a stair steep climb. It would climb, level off, descend, then climb again. It was also deceiving, as I would see what would appear to be the last switchback, but it would still continue. It’s like this climb would never end. At this point, my back was starting to ache. This is the same feeling I had the last time I did Diablo, but at least I felt stronger this time.

It has been a long time since I last did Morgan Territory (about 3 years), but it all started to come back to me. The last descent before the final pitch up to the park is one I remember. Finally, I slowly rolled into the park, and I remember having my head bent down, and just taking long deep breaths, just to help recover.


After some much deserved rest, and recovery, it’s time to take the plunge … A hair raising fast descent. This is what it’s all about.

From here, it was a spring back to the cats, and drafting behind Marco and Ruth, powering the tandem all the way back. What an awesome day, awesome ride … It was hard, tough, but it was all good.

I’m Not Quite Ready for DMD Yet

I finally was able to get in a good training ride for DMD.  This was an 80 miler, starting from Fremont, then climbing Mt. Diablo, then back.  It’s actually a pretty flat ride, with one bump in the middle … that’s a huge bump. meetup-01262014-2We went out along Niles Canyon (Hwy 84).  This is a two lane road that can be pretty busy at times.  Since there is not a whole lot of shoulder room, we had to paceline it through Niles Canyon.  We kept up a pretty nice 18 mph average, and we kept that up for a good part of the flat stretch before getting to Danville.  A couple guys got flats along the way, but they had us go on ahead, thinking they would catch us on the climb.  Later on, I flatted as well close to the base of the climb.  I guess the good thing is I didn’t get the flat on the descent.  The bad thing is the hole in the tire was pretty sizable, and I had to “boot” the tire.  The one time I don’t bring a boot, is when I need it the most.  The only thing I had was a $5 bill … this is one expensive boot. After getting this flat, it deflated me … ok, I’ll stop with the bad puns.  But ever since then, my motivation and energy was not the same.  I think the off season affected me a bit more than I thought, because I just wasn’t climbing like I was before.  My back could feel it, that my core was not that strong, so I need a bit more work on climbing, as well as endurance riding. With the combination of the flat, and my general lack of climbing fitness, most of the group was there waiting at the top.  There were a few guys from the first flat that were still climbing (ones that I that would surely pass me, but they had valve problems with their flat). We all re-grouped after descending the mountain back at the base of the climb.  After that point though, my legs felt like jello, and it had no energy, so I rode the second half of the ride solo.  No paceline, just timetrial it back.  At least there were no stiff headwinds, so that’s good. It’s a good thing that DMD is still 3 months away.  I still have time to train, but at least I got a good long hill ride in.  You gotta start somewhere, right?

Only 2 ways in 2 Days, but it’s Still Hamilton and Diablo on Back to Back Days

Lorri Lee Lown has created an annual climb feast event, what she calls 4 ways in 4 days. She opened up her contact book, and invited everyone in her racing and cycling circles. It’s amazing how far her reach is … I was looking at the list of invitees and I knew a lot of them, and thought “how does she know these folk”?

We’ll this turned into 3 days in 3 days instead, because she had a conflict for Sunday … Ok so it’s 3 ways in 3 days.

First day was turkey day, Thanksgiving Day. It’s a tradition every year that cyclists flock to Mt. Hamilton, to work off the stomach, so that they can have enough room for the turkey. LKHC has their ride scheduled at 9:45 am, but we started at 8 am, so that by the time we descend, LKHC climbers are just coming up the hill. Plus, our group is a little smaller, and more manageable.


Lorri couldn’t make it, so Jason Pierce, fixie extraordinaire, let the rides for all 3 days. We were hanging out in front of Starbucks, then all of a sudden, I noticed the group took off up the mountain. Oops.

Caught up with Tiina and Annie from Velogirls, and we proceeded to take a leisure climb up Hamilton. With 3 climbs in 3 days, we weren’t really in the mood to hammer it up. Plus, Tiina needed to do a ride in Zone 1. Hmm, climb Mt. Hamilton in Zone 1? Well, laugh as you must, she actually accomplished that. By the time we reached the top, LKHC was still setting up the finish. Some of the early finishers already headed down the mountain, being on a time crunch. One down, two to go.

For Mt. Diablo, Karen wanted to carpool with me, since she’s not too familiar with the area, so I met her at the Starbucks around my house. We carpooled up, but we weren’t really sure exactly where the start was supposed to be. One posting stated Starbucks, another said Peets … But then, there are two Starbucks in Danville … Ugh. So we showed up with one group at Starbucks, then headed over to Peets. We followed one group, and we took some short cut that bypassed the road to Athena School, which is the route I normally take. We eventually found our way to the main route, and on Mt. Diablo Road. Karen forgot her camera at home, so she relied on me to take pictures.






It was strange, but I caught up with one of the lead groups up the top of Diablo. I basically climbed the wall in a pack. That was strange, and I wasn’t used to that. I ended up boxing out one rider (as I was near the middle, and swerved a little too much to the left). I’m not used to having to climb a hill in a straight line. To whoever I boxed out, I truly apologize.

The third day is Mt. Tam, which starts at Mikes Bikes in Sausalito.  However, I could not work out the logistics of getting there by 9 am, so I had to bail on the 3rd day.  Oh well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Camping and Viewing ATOC Stage 7 at Mt. Diablo

For the first time in the history of Amgen Tour of California, the queen stage (the hardest, ultimate stage of the race), is in the Bay Area.  Also, since the tour was going from south to north, I didn’t follow the tour down … I basically waited for it to come here.  We were all waiting with great anticipation for this stage, and so when Ruth tweeted that she’s reserving a camp site for this, and asked if I was interested, you bet I jumped at the opportunity.


The only drawback of this was I was not going to be able to view the Time Trial in San Jose.  I probably could have seen it, then met up at the camp site, but I didn’t want to hassle with driving, and traffic, so met up with everyone at Marco and Ruth’s house, and load up for the weekend camping trip.


So we got to the campsite in Live Oak at Rock City. I’ve always whizzed past this on my previous rides up Diablo, so it was a little refreshing to actually enjoy the scenery … ooh, what a concept.


After seeing up camp, we decided to scope out the best views to see where we should see the stage. We found a spot about 3km from the top, just past Camp Juniper, with a view of the road leading up to Camp Juniper, then having them whip around the hairpin. This would be an awesome spot.

Going back to Camp, I just realized I didn’t really come camping prepared. I forgot how cold it would get overnight. I didn’t bring a jacket (other than a windbreaker) and had to rely on arm warmers and knee warmers.

Our camping neighbors were a pair of families with some 5-7 year olds … and you know what a challenge they could be. They were so challenging that we didn’t need an alarm clock. At 6 am, I could hear the kid yelling “I want to play in the bush”, and was telling that with an attitude and a vengeance. Oof … I hope things improve with the kid layer on. Later I told the dad he’s got a tough job. Luckily we didn’t have to be on the road till about 9 or 10.

Now I brought this solar powered battery pack, with hopes I can charge the phone. Well I was able to get a slight charger out of it, but I couldn’t get more out of it. My phone was down to 60% charge, but I was only setting one red led lit .. normally I should see a green led. I later found out it shuts off after it fully charged a unit. I didn’t realize that it has a switch, until I came home. That teaches me for trying a new gadget without testing before a camping trip. Oh well, let’s see how long the phone lasts.


Marco and I rode up ahead, but we could only get to a little past the 2 km mark. They had a bike valet there, and no bikes were allowed past that point. We met fellow ultra distance cyclist Jason. He made it up here .. you guessed it … on his fixie. If we wanted to continue on, we would have to hike it up the rest of the way. No thanks … we decided to just go back down to Camp Juniper.


We settled in above Camp Juniper, and we were the first ones at that spot. It was only a matter of time before everyone else discovered that spot as well, and it soon turned into a zoo. I was soon fighting for my spot, and what was a great unobstructed view became a challenge.



I don’t see how photographers do it .. film spring events with these challenges.


Then the race came up to our spot. Talk about a madhouse ….


Now usually when they race up, you wait for either the broom car, or the end of convoy car, and that gives you the sign it is safe to go down the hill.


I don’t know if this happens in other events, but in all the ATOC hill stages I have been to, fans always break that rule, and ride down the course before all the racers have completed the course. That just drives me crazy. Maybe that’s the course Marshall in me.

When we finally went down, there was mad confusion at the junction. Seems like the course marshalls were trying to direct the team’s to go straight, even trying to direct the fans to go straight. Well over of those fans was Joy, who was camping with us. It turned out she went a couple miles down the hill before realizing this did not look familiar, and better turn back. Marco went ahead and picked her up in the van, but at least she got more climbing than the rest of us.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Camping and watching the tour … what a great combination.

April’s a Wrap #30daysofbiking

Another April it’s done and another 30 days off biking is in the books.  It was also the month for Strava’s Classics Challenge, which was to see if you could ride 1319 km in the month of April.

The challenge of 1319 km seems daunting, but I figured if I ride every day, at least the distance to and from work, I might stand a chance.

As it turned out, I finished the challenge on the last weekend in April by doing a double metric, l’etape du California, which put me over the edge. Up to that point, I missed 4 days, but kept at it. After completing the challenge, I needed a rest, so I missed a total of 6 days. But the goal is to get on your bike, and that’s what counts anyways, right?

Now onto May, national bike month, and bike to work day. I just love this time of year, where the excitement of bicycling is in full bloom.

Mt. Diablo South Gate with Meetup



After the fiasco with my chain break on Saturday, and not being able to do Mt. Hamilton (both sides of it), I’m glad that the Meetup group had a ride planned for Sunday, up Mt. Diablo through South Gate.  So at least this could make up for not doing Hamilton.

Pre-Diablo Meetup at Dublin Civic Center

Pre-Diablo Meetup at Dublin Civic Center

Seven of us started out from the Dublin Civic Center, and headed out via Alamo Canal bike trail, and I used my Garmin as a guide through the trail.  I’m happy to report that it did not get us lost (although I did study the route pretty detailed the night before).

We made pretty good time, and got to the start 25 minutes before the start time.  After milling around for a bit, a few of us decided to just go ahead and climb the hill.  After that warm up, didn’t want to cool down, just to have to start it back up again.  Besides, there were about 36 people RSVP’d for this, so might as well break it up a bit.

Although there were reports that there is a slight chance of light sprinkles, it never materialized, and it turned out to be an excellent day.


Part of us regrouped at the Ranger’s station, halfway up, but the leader, who started climbing after us, continued up the hill.  Oh well, so much for the re-group.  Damn, it messed up our overall time up the hill.

As always, when climbing this long hill, you end up riding by yourself.  It’s too difficult to ride this hill while chatting.  I saw a few people resting by the side, so it felt good that I still had the strength to keep going, without really feeling a lot of pain on my backside.  I’m beginning to think the core exercises I’ve been doing every morning is starting to help.

I think I know why they were stopped … this is the point where the legs start weakening, and I noticed the winds started to really pick up at this point.  This was a little after passing the 3000 ft elevation sign, and that part of the route is pretty wide open.  I think the combination of climbing distance, the climbs, and the winds really made a factor.

Ok, time to climb the wall.  This time, I had my Contour mounted on my fork.  This gives a little different perspective, and it may not show suffering as much.  You be the judge.

It was a great Sunday, and a great way to cap off a weekend.  On the way back, it was a little bit of a challenge backtracing our way, but all turned out well in the end.  If this is not an indication of a great ride, I don’t know what is.


Ride stats … 47 miles, 4708 feet climbing.  Start from Dublin Civic Center is great.  Should lead rides from here more often.

Volunteering My First Ride

In an effort to fulfill my requirement for the gold triple crown jersey, it involves volunteering for one ride.  Devil Mountain Double (DMD) is the local double, and it is also, by far, the most difficult (with in excess of 18,000 feet of climbing).  This made my decision pretty easy to volunteer this ride, instead of riding it.

I was assigned the first rest stop, which is the summit of Mt. Diablo.  We had to get to the south gate by 5:20 am (with enough time to get to the summit before the first rider reaches the summit.  What dawned on me is I’m waking up around the same time the riders would (I had my alarm at 3 am).  But on the other hand, I knew that the last rider should be leaving the rest stop at 8:30 am, so we would be closing shop at that time.  I would then have the rest of the day to myself, and possibly a ride that day.

It was extremely windy up top.  You could see the trees waving from left to right, and also hear the howling wind.  I would not be one riding up this hill with this much wind.  We had to strategize where to set up the table for refreshments, water, snacks, etc … we ended up finding a corner that was not gusting quite as much.  I can only imagine how cold and miserable it is climbing up, and to battle with the gale force winds?

We had a good crew of 10 people for this rest stop.  Melanie was our token cow bell lady, greeting and cheering on the riders as the complete the last few feet of the climb up the wall.  We had spotters right along side her, checking the name, and marking their times.  As you can see, she is all bundled up, so you can tell it is a bit cold up here (at 3850 feet of elevation).

The first rider who got to the top didn’t even stop.  He just went around and headed down the mountain (he got his name marked off, so he got his checkpoint credit).  Chris was the second one up, at 6:40:09 am.  Damn, he’s fast and he’s strong.  Good job Chris.

I was primarily manning the water, perpetuem, and hammergel refills.  We had 4 flavors of perpetuem available, and I was surprised how many people expected us to have Heed.  I guess they figured we would have all Hammer products … uh, no, just Perpetuem and Sustained Energy.  We had an issue with Hammergel, especially with Chocolate.  The viscosity of it was so thick, and rich, and it was hard to get them into the flask that they provided everyone.  Air bubbles would form at the entry of the flask, making it a challenge to refills those flasks.  Funny how I never had this problem when filling it at home, but then again, it wasn’t 38 F and windy when I was doing that at home.  The banana flavored hammergel flowed much smoother.  I also noticed some riders would mix multiple flavors into their drinks … 2 scoops of Perpetuem and 2 scoops of Sustained Energy … wow, that’s potent.  I gotta try that some time.

A little later, my friend Dan (aka Lanceoldstrong) showed up, along with Bassem.  Dan’s gotten really strong, and glad to see he made it up.  I also saw Donald, Ramon, and Marco earlier.  Ramon commented how strong the wind was, and he almost got thrown off his bike.  Marco had some mechanical problem, as his front derailleur broke, so he came up without a front derailleur.  Well, since it’s all climbing, I guess not shifting into the big gear shouldn’t be an issue, and it does save a little bit of weight.

Later on, my friend Steve, from Southern Cal, showed up.  He’s a strong rider, a veteran of many doubles, and this is the first time coming up and doing DMD.  Good for him.  It’s funny, we actually looked at each other for about 10 seconds before realizing we know each other.  I think it’s because he didn’t recognize me without my kit on.

I actually saw one guy show up in a fixie … damn, 206 miles, and 18,600 feet climbing on a fixed gear?  That’s just nuts.  I also saw a recumbent tandem.  Now that’s a bit odd.  I can’t imagine climbing Diablo on a recumbent, much less a recumbent tandem.  Good for them.

The last rider showed up a little after 8 am.  That’s awesome … so we went ahead and closed up shop, dismantled everything at that point.  We had to get rid of perishables, so what better way to get rid of them than to eat them.  LOL … that’s one nice perk of volunteering for a ride … not riding, and getting free food.

There were a total of 100 volunteers for the entire ride.  They had enough staffing for the other rest stops, so as soon as we closed up this rest stop, that was it for me.  Even though I had to get up at 3 am, I got finished and back home by around 9:30 am … enough time to get in a ride during the day … well except the wind was still howling, and the pollen was flying around like crazy, and made my eyes run and very watery.  Oh well.  This was a good experience, and it was about time I gave back, and volunteered for a ride.  Now I know what it’s like to support one of these things.  I got so many people thanking us for being out there.

Diablo, Morgan Territory, and Patterson Pass with wind #30daysofbiking

Another weekend, another chance for a DMD trainer.  Oh, BTW, I am not doing the actual DMD Double century, so why am I subjecting myself to this pain?  I guess I’m a masochist.  The route was simple, Mt. Diablo, then Morgan Territory, then Patterson Pass.  I’d get in another 100+ miles.

Michael was going to meet us at the South Gate entrance of Diablo, but it just wasn’t his day.  He texted me just before we were leaving … he had wheel problems.  So it was Bassem, Marco, Ramon, Donald, and myself on the ride.  I would be at the back the whole ride.

As soon as we got on Diablo, and the first hint of a hill, I lost visual contact with everyone.  Oh boy, this is going to be one loooong day.  It was an incredibly clear day, and I could see a green Mt. Diablo.  That’s a rarity, as it would be either all brown, or visibility would be so bad you couldn’t enjoy the scenery.  Today was crystal clear and everything was green.

I kept looking for the guys to see if they were coming down from the top, but never saw them.  I guess I’ll keep climbing.  I made it to the top at about 90 minutes.  Not a bad time for me.  I think that’s about my average.  I didn’t see the guys, so I just refilled water.  I think I was climbing the wall as they were descending the other side.  I started thinking, did they actually go down and didn’t realize it was them?  Well, no time to worry about it now, just descend down the hill.

The group was waiting at north gate … whew, back with the pack again, but then, once we got to a slight incline, the hammer went down again, and distanced again.  It’s lucky for us the DMD route is marked on the road, so there was no question about where the route should go … just follow the markings on the road.

Followed a Team-in-Training group who was going the same way.  Passed them up, without realizing, that was jonathanb in the group.  But I was so focused on catching my group, I didn’t stop to realize that and say hi.  Sorry Jon.

The group was waiting for me again at the turnoff on Morgan Territory.  Thanks guys.  On for the next climb up.  It kinda lulls you to sleep before the real part of the climb starts up.  There was unusually a lot of car traffic coming the other side (a lot more than I usually see).  I did see the Team-in-Training support car, ringing their cowbell for me (even though I’m not on the ride).

When I finally get to the park at the summit, I see the gang there, taking deep breaths, resting up from the big climbs we’ve done.  Team-in-Training had the support rest stop there, and I see PrincessZippy from bikeforums.  Then, I see Jobob and Leebob there.  Cool … great to see them out there.  They were kind enough to offer us food and water.  Thanks guys, even though we weren’t on the TNT ride.

Now for the “plunge”.  In other words, fast descent down the other side of Morgan Territory.  I was taking it easy here, as the descent can get pretty technical.  Despite that, I still topped out at a max of 42 mph during that stretch.  Crazy, isn’t it?

Altimont Pass

We zig zag our way over to Livermore, and here is where we first feel the effects of the heavy winds.  It was hard to keep in the pack, but luckily this didn’t last too long.  We continued onto Altimont Pass, and that had a really nice fast descent too, but not technical at all.  Plus, that heavy winds I was talking about?  Well, that’s on our back.  Just get into a high gear, spin away, and have fun.  Plus, the road surface is so smooth.

We have one more snack break before tackling the climb up Patterson, and the headwinds.  This is the calm before the storm.  As soon as we made the right turn on Patterson Pass Road, the head winds really hit us hard.  I have no idea how strong they were, but I had difficulty in just pedaling.

In the past, when coming out to Patterson Pass, it’s either really hot (in summer where the hills are brown), or it’s really foggy, so you don’t get to see the green hillside, and the windmills.  Well, this time, it’s not foggy, and we do see green hills … but we do have the winds.  Can’t catch a break on this, can we?

I know there is one stretch at 20% near the top, which would be tough.  However, that was the easy part.  The tough part was the section right before that, and the winds were funneling through at such force, that the 12% climb was much tougher.  I actually had to get off and walk my bike for about 0.2 mile.  I just could not muster up any power to complete this hill.  You can hear the windmills spinning hard at this point.

Once I got over this summit, I see the next 20% grade I have to tackle.  The wind actually was calmer in this section, and that gave me enough respite to get my climbing legs up the hill.  It was still windy, but not as bad as the previous section.  I think it may have been because it isn’t funneling the wind through a pass like the previous section.


And of course, once I got to the top, we gotta take a picture of the windmill farm, right?

And just to prove I did the ride, Bassem was kind enough to take this candid shot.

From here, we head straight back to the cars, another 20 miles, but not all flat.  Some hills, and yes, the winds stayed with us all the way back till we got to Sycamore Valley Road.

I’m starting to wonder if this is normal for this area, at this time of year, or was it just that the weather forecast was for strong winds today?  Whatever it was, it made for a really tough ride, but it was a gorgeous day for it.

Mt. Diablo … Last ride before Camino Real

Ok, so they say you should train down a week before a double.  So I have … well, sort of.  My mileage is down, but not the climbing.  Oops.  Well … I did Mt. Tam last weekend, and Saturday, I did Mt. Hamilton, so I couldn’t resist … one more to do the trifecta.  Mt. Diablo.

Surprisingly, my legs weren’t wasted after doing 7000 feet yesterday.  It was 50 miles, so maybe the length of the ride may be a factor.  Plus, how can I not climb Diablo on a day like this?  It’s going to rain tomorrow, so gotta take advantage while I can.

Conditions were great … it was warm enough to just go with arm warmers and knee warmers.  Jacket would have been too much.  It wasn’t too windy either, and no bug eating either.  I only got passed by one person, so that is surprising.  I think I’m ready climbing wise … but the only concern I have is I haven’t really gotten the really long ride in.  The longest I got in was a 84 miler … but it definitely wasn’t flat, so I figure I should be in shape … we’ll have to see by the time next week comes around.  Now if only the weather would cooperate.  I’m optimistically thinking it will be dry.