Tag Archives: Mt. Diablo

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 http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/Post-Turkey-Ride-2010/14822935_3gXkk, or you could see a slideshow of the pics at http://spingineer.smugmug.com/photos/swfpopup.mg?AlbumID=14822935&AlbumKey=3gXkk

Diablo from Dublin #30daysofbiking

I was originally going to do Hop Lite then Diablo.  However, I was suffering from am upset stomach so this ride would have been interesting if I proceeded with the original plan.

On my way over, Michael texted me saying he wasn’t going to do HopLite, due to chest cold, and suggested riding Diablo from his in-law’s place.  That sounded more attractive considering my upset stomach…  So Diablo it is.

It wasn’t like my stomach was empty aa I had a good breakfast, plus I stopped by Starbucks for some additional food.  But I still felt a little queasy.  It’s kind of strange to describe.  It’s a feeling of being bloated, without actually being bloated … not sure if that makes sense.

Anyhow, I didn’t get passed by anyone, which really surprised me, up until we got near the junction.  I didn’t know till later, but one of those that passed me up was Ramon.  I guess I was so focused to get to the top, I didn’t realize it … neither did he.

I was passed again by a few others near the summit.  I do remember one rider, yelling at a car that was trying to pass him on the hairpin … something like “don’t ever pass on a blind curve”.  Nothing more developed from that, but that was some excitement.

At the top, Michael is there, and Ramon’s bike is there.  Later on, I see Chris come by.  Funny how we all met there, and aside from Michael and I, we never coordinated with each other that we would ride Diablo.

Chris was doing Diablo repeats (going South Gate to North Gate, and vice versa).  Ramon had the same plan, but I was so weak from my upset stomach, I really didn’t feel like going North gate, so I decided to head straight back.

On the way down, I saw Donald climbing up.  I stopped by to say hi, and just as he was about to stop, he lost balance and the bike tipped over.  Such a shame, because he had brand new Sram Red components, and he ended up scratching the brake lever.  A little touch up paint, and good as new, right?

We got back to the cars, and I was pleasantly invited to a little barbecue at Michael’s in-laws.  Thanks Michael, for letting me hang out with you and your family.  What’s more important, free food (recovery fuel).

One oddity about today’s ride.  Since my Garmin 500 mount broke, I had to send that in.  I was using my Garmin 305 in the meantime.  It kept turning itself off.  That’s weird.  I would turn it back on, then start it again.  When I went home to download on Strava, it would only capture the last 9 miles … and not the real climb.  I was able to download on Ascent, so I decided to export to a gpx file, then import into Strava.  That was successful, but it didn’t carry over the heart rate data.  Now that is just strange.

Totals:  47.5 miles, 4705 feet climbing.


Morgan Territory and Mt. Diablo in Reverse

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

More pics at http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/MT-Diablo-CCW/10241647_Vex2a#706224870_cg6DS