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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The video I uploaded was taken by Chris’ camera. I put together a movie with music, of this ride, and if any Hollywood producers are interested, I can send a DVD. But frankly I'm not interested in a Hollywood job so - hold the calls.

What I am interested in is a new camera. Still holding out for a donation to the Cycling Through Blog. The video of the Diablo MTB ride was all taken by Chris' camera, which is far superior to my own. Mine, clunky though it may be, takes fine pictures. The video however is worse than what you get from some cell phones.

This particular ride was intended to be a grand event culminating in a festival of colors and fans. We hoped to descend into Mitchell Canyon on the north side of Diablo, to waves of applause and cheers. I put it this way in an email to Chris...

"I’m CC’ing Bec on this, so that the social calendar can be perused for a date in October for the “Conquering of Mt. Diablo via Dirt Trails, and Subsequent Admiration of Conquerors and Steeds Amidst a Forest Banquet Under the Embracing Limbs of Mitchel Canyon’s Majestic Oaks.” (That’s a concise yet descriptive name I decided to give this proposed event.)"

The occasion was later renamed the COMDVDTASAOCASAAFBUTELOMCMO by Chris, in an effort to reduce the amount of time it was taking to plan this ride. Delay, and postponement was the general trend over the next month. The rains came. It got colder. We survived another election - like it or not. Chris didn't get to sue anyone over election fraud. (Yes he's a snake, er Attorney) And, finally a Saturday opened up in November. The Almighty scheduled the rain for late in the day, and we jumped on the opportunity.

7:30, Vince, Chris, and I, headed out from Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek. My Father in law, visiting from Michigan - or actually for the next few months, Florida - delivered Chris and I to the starting line. He then nursed a few coffee cups and waited at the far side of Mt. D.
(I owe him a huge THANK YOU for this service)

The ride was pleasant. The air, though a bit humid, was cool enough for windbreakers and leg warmers, but warmed slowly through the morning. We obviously spent the majority of the morning climbing. We started at approx. 280', climbed to 3849', then descended to approx. 600'.

The climbing felt good and was far from my worst or hardest ascent of that mountain. The company is always helpful, and Chris, not having ridden at all in the past months, ensured that the pace would be manageable. The windbreakers weren’t on for long, as the steady climb caused the heat to rise off our bodies in a nearly visible vapor. We stopped periodically – as needed to ensure our successful arrival at our initial destination – the top.

Two events of note took place.

First, Vince lost a pedal. Approx. an hour and a half into the ride, we noticed strange noises coming from Vince’s bike. With chagrin, Vince noted that this would be the last ride for his pedals. It felt as if the bearings were going out. No problem, since he had a brand new pair – at home. Within a few minutes the grinding noises seemed to dissipate, or at least I failed to notice them.

On a rutted section of the track we were following I soon came across a black bicycle pedal laying on the trail. Upon further inspection it was noted that just beyond the pedal were a mountain bike, missing similar accoutrement, and one rather dejected rider. What to do? In typical form and poise, Vince slid the pedal back onto the stud, Sans Bearings, and rode on. He found that with minimal inward pressure, the pedal would stay in place as he climbed.

Several more times the pedal was retrieved with good humor all around. We were all aware of the –shall we say – inconvenience of a pedal loss on one of the more technical downhill sections. By God’s grace this didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, I was the only one to biff. Technical miscalculation at approx. 15 mph. Sure beats a TM at 35 mph.

The second of two notable events occurred simultaneous to our ascent.

Somewhere near the bottom we passed a gentleman beset with backpack and water bottle. We remembered with slight embarrassment, the 2 joggers that had paced us sometime last summer on a short section of the same trail. Each time we had reached a summit and the last of our group finally reached the top, those joggers were there in the mix. We noted this anomaly with contempt over our past weakness. We blasted by, leaving him to covet the efficiency of inflatable tires and gear ratios.

The trail we chose is steep. We rested as needed at the various summits. We consumed our chosen hydration and caloric replenishments. We took pictures of the incredible vistas, and of each other overcoming great obstacles and climbing intense grades. We were passed by a gentleman with a backpack and water bottle.

We stopped less and rode more. We navigated stretches of trail that seemed to end on top of great fluffy cumulus. We rested again, and he passed us again.

Within a couple miles of the peak , wolverine like, he caught our scent again. We gave up hope. From here, his trail – from which bikes were banned from that point on – was more direct. We had no chance.

You will understand that it is with no small amount of dread that I expose this account. I was sworn to secrecy concerning this embarrassment. I was to bury it.

My conscience would not allow it. So here you have the stark reality of the ride. Someone on foot beat us to the top of the mountain.

Our one consolation – He was chauffeured to the bottom in a car, while we rocketed over the back side.

He beat us to the top, but we got to pick more bugs out of our teeth. So there.

3.5 hours to the top – 40 min. to the bottom. Yeeeee Hah.

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