Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Pre-monster monster….

This past weekend I had planned a big ride with quite a bit of climbing. I did this not just to torture myself, but to try to gauge my readiness for the upcoming Mendocino Monster. I invited some friends since it really is true that misery loves company.

Tracy, Troy, Bill, Gail and I started out at the place I work in Hayward, and within the first 3-4 miles we came to Carlos Bee Blvd which in the first quarter of a mile gains almost 400ft. (At some points it’s a 17% grade) from there we continued up through the Hayward hills, up, up and up until finally we headed down through 5 canyons and out towards Dublin Cyn.

The downhill didn’t last long though (it never does) and we were soon headed up again on Dublin Cyn and then later on Shaeffer Ranch Rd. before heading down again on a nice long glide into Dublin and San Ramon Valley Bl.
San Ramon Valley Bl. is a nice mostly flat run up into Danville where at about mile 30 we stopped to have a gel/clif/bathroom break before heading up the big climb for the day...Mt Diablo.

We cruised out of downtown Danville and up towards the mountain. The shortcut goes through Diablo Country Club which is where the rich people in the east bay used to buy homes before they built Blackhawk. It’s a very cool, very expensive area at the base of the mountain where even one of the smaller homes will set you back about $1½ mil...

Once you cut through the little path at the end of the road, you begin the real’re on the road up the mountain. Immediately after starting the climb, our group began to spread out. Even for Bill and Gail who had never been on this climb, it’s pretty much impossible to get lost. So, telling them to just keep climbing till they ran out of road, I pedaled off.

Not long after we started the climb I came across a few of the local residents. They didn’t seem too concerned about a group of cyclists and moseyed off the side of the road.

The climb is pretty uneventful. It’s just a long upward grind with a couple spots that allow you to catch your breath and get your heart rate under control.

For the most part, I just tried to go to my happy place and suffer along until it was over. And eventually as all things do, it did finally come to an end. Boy do I HATE that last little section.

Earlier in the day we had pedaled up into the fog in the Hayward Hills, as the day wore on though, the weather continued to get better and better. The views as we went up Diablo were gorgeous!

At the top we caught up to Jerry, Paciano, and Kim who had left Danville earlier that morning and were doing the regular Diablo loop that started and ended at Lunardi’s market in Danville.

After filling our bottles we turned and started back down, running in to Gail and Bill after going only a little ways. Seeing as we didn’t want Bill to summit alone, we turned around and headed up after him. Tracy and I chose not to do the “driveway” again at the top and instead waited for Bill and Troy to come down.

Once we had all gathered again, we started off down the mountain heading out the North Gate and down into Concord and eventually into Walnut Creek where we caught the Iron Horse Trail which eventually led us back to Lunardi’s for a late lunch.

I had only had a clif bar since 5 that morning and after doing all the climbing and miles we had done, I was feeling pretty beat. As we sat down to eat what would be the best sandwich I had ever eaten, I commented that I had never felt so tired and still been so far from the end of a ride. (Tracy said I also whined about wanting my mommy, but I’m sure he’s making that part up)

After sitting for a while and eating lunch, and having a couple of FRS energy drinks I started to feel human again and we set out for the last leg of the adventure. With 30 miles yet to go, we headed out down San Ramon Valley Bl. through Dublin, in to Sunol and out Niles Canyon to Fremont. After heading north on Mission Bl for a bit, we bid goodbye to Tracy and Troy as they were headed back to Tracy’s house in Union City.

We made good time and were almost back to the office when I heard a pop and felt my back tire going flat….quickly…sure enough I had taken something sharp to the sidewall of my brand new Michelin Pro Race 3 tires. After putting in a new tube and a boot, we were back on the road and shortly enough, back at the shop.

All in all a great ride with 98.4 miles, 7499 ft of climbing and one tire to be replaced...Bring on the Monster!

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