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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lakeport, Diablo Ride and Hike, and the New Benicia Loop

I've undertaken a few adventures since posting last. Each of them was notable and each deserves a posting all for itself. However, they will just have to be content to share.


I invited myself up to Lakeport to our good friends Jeremy and Amy's house. I did so, in order to fulfill my desire to ride my road bike up there.

I left around 8:00 am on Friday, August 21.
I arrived around 4:15 having ridden just over 111 miles. My actual time on the bike was 7 hours and 30 minutes. Martinez was cool at 8:00, but Lakeport was well over 100 degrees when I showed up. It was actually a great ride, but following are the things I learned.

1. Leave earlier in the morning, so that Cobb Mtn. grade can be climbed before it is in triple digits.
2. I am smart enough to stop and rest in order to prevent heat exhaustion. (I have wondered this for years - as to whether I would fall over or have enough sense to stop first.)
3. Bring a third water bottle for the Pope Valley - Butts Canyon stage. (I nearly had to stop passing cars and ask for water. Check out this area on Google Maps - it is barren. It may have been OK on a cooler day, but I was going through a water bottle about every 15 - 30 minutes, and the second one was at least 90 degrees by the time I got to it. A fire truck passed me going the other way, but I couldn't bring myself to stop them and ask if they had water.)
4. I can successfully patch a tube. (I think this was my first successful patch - in Napa, about 30 miles into the ride. I have been woefully inept when it comes to patches.)
5. A garden hose shower feels great after 111 miles in August.

Diablo Ride and Hike

I tried again to ride up Mt. Diablo in under an hour from the North Gate, and failed. That's basically it. I'm told that 1 hour and 12 minutes is a good time, but there is something enchanting about 1 hour, and I may never be wholly content until I acheive it.
I saw an "older" couple on the wide sweeping corner at Juniper resting beside their tandem. I caught them kissing, and commented to them that I thought such an act should aid them in attaining the summit. They agreed. I passed them near the top, as I was descending and they, nearly arriving. We exchanged formalities noting that another kiss may be necessary to finish well.

This past weekend I saw them at the top again. This time I was on foot, and it wasn't till I had chatted with them, and several other cyclists, that I realized we had met before. They are training for an event in Oregon coming up soon - but I can't remember what event it is.

My cohorts, Vince, and Chris had joined me on a fast hike up Mt. Diablo from Clayton. We had ascended the north slope of Diablo, and found a "new to us" trail leading from Prospectors Gap going seemingly vertical the final 900' to the top. We jogged / hiked much of this last section, and came out at the top on the run. I lied to some cyclists that had seen us charge around the last bend of the trail and jump over the guard rail into the parking lot. I announce with authority as I looked at the time on my phone, "13 minutes from Clayton." (6 miles and approx. 3,600' in eleveation gain) All within ear shot were silent for a few seconds as they pondered the probability of my statement. It was great to see the varied reactions as they recognized or decried my jest.
We spent too long at the top taking in the views, talking with other hikers and cyclists, and re-fueling. We left the top with stiffening muscles, but didn't let that curb our enthusiasm. We literally hit the trail running, and only stopped to catch our breath and shoot a few video clips. Even with the stops, we managed to descend the 900' in under 10 minutes. And then we kept running for much of the return trip.

We made good time, though running down hill comes with its price. Vince didn't have his trail running shoes on, and his feet suffered from his boots. We were all stopping periodically to remove the stones from our shoes, and while going up we basically didn't stop - coming down we were forced to rest our weary limbs several times. That was Saturday.

Sunday - I could hardly get out of bed. Literally. I could hardly walk. Literally. I most certainly couldn't walk normal. Touching base with my companions, I found that they were in a similar plight. I managed to overdo it like I have never done - at least in recent memory. 2 days later I still push myself up from the chair with notable pain. Quadraceps, glutes, shins, calves, lower back - they are all indignant.

The New Benicia Loop

The odd thing is, I can ride my bike. I went out with Dave this morning - Monday, Labor Day, to explore our new access to Solano County via the recently revamped Benicia Bridge, returning over the Carquinez bridge and totalling just under 30 miles - on our mountain bikes.
This shows approx. our route, as we managed to travel on trails and closed roads (which Google won't map) for much of the way.

I felt some discomfort as I rode, though had the power I needed. But, setting down the bike and walking a few feet to the bathroom was intense. I keep forgetting and Ella comes and plops down on my lap (which consists of 2 rather prominent quadriceps), whereupon she finds herself fast flying.

I think I will take it easy the rest of this week, and swap some massages with my wife.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shell Ridge to Rock City

Sometimes the well dries up and there is just nothing to write about.

I guess that's not true. When I'm in the mood to write - I manage to write about most anything.

But when the well is dry I guiltily avoid the computer thinking I should probably compose something (because I have a blog after all) but just don't know what, or care to write.

That's now.

Why do I feel guilty?
Do I suppose that those reading actually mind if I pause for a few weeks at a time?
Is it my obsessive side slowly draining the pleasure from my free side?

My cycling goes the same way.
I find great pleasure in cycling, and the opportunity it provides for perceived accomplishment. (After all, what eternal value is there in making it to the top of a mountain 4 times in one day?) I suppose the value is real. Physical conditioning and the opportunity for solitude are things that many Americans could do with more of.


Sometimes I just don't feel like going out.
No one else wants to go out at the one opportunity I have to put in some miles. I'll be riding alone. Again.

Often I ride anyway.
And then I remember why I ride.

Rock City - Out and back from Shell Ridge Open Space on a quiet, lonely, and spiritually refreshing Saturday morning.

The wind evaporates the perspiration from the waterfall that is my face as I bomb down the back side of the climb I just crushed. My muscles groan with agony on that first climb and then resign to their duties and power me to greater heights with no more than moderate discomfort. My lungs follow suit.

I've seen the sun rise on the road or trail I'm traveling, and I've seen it set. (And what motivation; the setting sun on a cyclist that has forgotten his lights.)

So I remember why I ride.
And I remember why I write.