Tag Archives: Patterson Pass

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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
Continue reading

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.

Patterson Pass the Hard Way


Patterson Pass Road Race is next weekend and some of the guys wanted to ride the course so I decided to ride with them (even though we all know I will be easy behind at the back).  We started at  the intersection of Midway and Patterson Pass, which meant we begin with the climb up Patterson Pass, as you can see from the picture at the beginning of this blog.


As expected, I would be the caboose, the tail, the trailer … i.e.  Dropped royally.  But that’s okay … I expect to, and I wasn’t expecting them to wait for me, as this is a trainer for the race.  However, I was still able to pass a couple other riders (not sure if they were locals, or training for the race).  If they were training for the race, I pray for them.

The first time around, I climbed standing, but what I didn’t realize was how stiff the head winds were, especially near the top of the climb.  Now if the 15-20% grade wasn’t bad enough, let’s throw in some stiff headwinds.  I have no idea how strong the winds were (I’ll estimate 30-50 mph), but that just made the climb so so hard.  I only wish the Garmin had a pitot tube built in or something, so we can determine what the actual head wind was that I was battling.

Anyways, it was really tough, and I just couldn’t get any power.  Just to add to this, the sun was beating down too, and with no shade to speak of.  At least it wasn’t triple digit temps.

imageI got up to the top, but did not want to stop, so I continued my cadence as much as I could, knowing there is a downhill on the other side of the hill.

This is a fast downhill, but it’s not terribly steep, so maneuvering on this descent is not quite as hairy as you’d think.  This descent is nice, in that it gives you enough recovery before the next climb, which is a right turn on Flynn.

A side note … I normally do this loop in the reverse direction, so I usually come down Flynn, then up Patterson Pass.  However, this is definitely a lot tougher loop, as you add in the headwinds with the climbs.  On paper, this may be a lower category climb, but you need to put a big asterisk on this, considering the headwinds.

Ok, Flynn Road is not too steep, but it is a gradual climb (I’m talking 8-10%, compared to 20%), and it does work your legs a bit, but it doesn’t make you cry for mercy.  I could see where some attacks can come here.  I did see quite a few riders coming down Flynn in reverse direction where I was going, and they had team jerseys on … it kind of makes me wonder if the road race is actually going in the opposite direction, or if they were just doing some warmups.  In all of this, I am surprised no one has passed me up.  Whatever the case may be, I just continue on.

Flynn Road actually crosses over the I-580 freeway, and it’s actually a pretty interesting site.  You get quite an interesting mix of cars and big rigs that cross this pass through the freeway.  Once again, fierce cross winds hit you as you make this crossing, then it’s a nice downhill till you get to Altamont Pass, where you hang a right to go eastbound.

imageThe stretch on Altamont Pass is downhill, and you can pick up some really fast speeds coming through this stretch.  I didn’t really push it here, and just got down into a tight tuck, just to see how fast I can get without any pedaling.  The best I clocked in at was 40 mph, but could definitely have gone much higher, if I really needed to.  But with just me out there solo, why bother?

As far as traffic is concerned, it wasn’t too bad.  As you can see, the road is virtually empty, so that bodes well for a pack of large cyclists doing a road race.

One last little ridge, and then they make the right turn onto Midway.  This is the last stretch home for this lap.  As I’m speeding through here, I keep wondering how far ahead the rest of the group is.  There was some discussion of filling up at the cars, but we’ll see.

imageAfter going downhill at 35-40 mph for a while, the legs now have to get used to a little climb.  The climb is not bad at all … more like a speed bump compared to Patterson Pass, but still a painful reminder to your leg that hey, it’s a hill.

Ok, back to the cars, but no one there.  Either they went on ahead without re-fueling, or I was so far behind them that they go tired of waiting.  I think it was the former, not the latter … at least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Ok, I’m dreading the climb back up Patterson Pass again.  Halfway through the second climb of Patterson, I’m thinking to myself, I don’t need to do this.  But, since Patterson is the toughest, I figure I’ll do this a second time, then call it a day, then head back.

Second time around, I decided to climb seated.  This was working for the time being.  I didn’t notice the wind yet, so maybe mid-day, the wind is not so bad?  Wishful thinking?  … that’s a big yes.  By the time I got to the last steep sections, the wind picked up again.  Well, so much for climbing seated.  I just couldn’t get enough power sitting, so off the saddle I go.  The second time around was tougher, as expected, but boy was I in a world of hurt … the combination 20% ascent, and the fierce headwind makes for a really difficult climb.  It kicked my ass … if I may say so bluntly.


Now at the top of the climb, I look ahead, and see if I will change my mind?  Uh, no … I’m turning back.  I don’t need to do Flynn again, and besides, I don’t know how far behind I am, and they would be waiting a long time for me if I continued to do the full 2nd lap.

On the way down, I do see quite a few riders climbing up Patterson … so we may have been doing it the right direction.  Strange how earlier, I saw so many going the other direction.  Local club?  Maybe … or maybe they just want to get some miles in?

By the time I got to the cars, no one was there.  Well, I figure I’d tweet the gang, telling them I cut the 2nd lap short, but after about 5 minutes, I see Ben come by.  Wow … 1.25 laps, then come back, and Ben comes around almost the same time … so I was about .5 lap behind the group.  It’s a good thing I decided to turn around when I did.

This wasn’t a long ride, but I did get some good climbing in, and a good workout.  I got in 32.2 miles, and 3387 feet of climbing … so it still matches up to the Wrecking Crew ride status.

One interesting note … on Strava, for Patterson Pass, I actually made it in the top 10 KOM.  Who knows how long that’s going to last.  My time going up Patterson Pass?  29 minutes, about 8 minutes slower than the rest of the pack.  I’m fine with that.

Strava:  http://www.strava.com/rides/147586