Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quince de Mayo de Diablo de Amgen

Part 2 as it were of the Duel Diablos rides, unplanned but not unwelcomed, as this mountain is always a pleasure to climb and I never go out there enough, like once a year normally.  This 2nd Diablo in ten days came as a result of the Amgen Tour of California cycling stage race.  Looking at the first 3 days of racing schedule, it was clear to me that viewing the race from atop Big D would be the most Velominati-cally correct way to worship the Gods of Racing.  Mt. Olympus....at least as close as we get to it in these parts.

My partner in Bike World today was Ken Jones, retired SF fireman and enthusiastically addicted veloman who rides a sweet Moots Ti  Ultegra Dura-Ace bike.   We always seem to be within 10% of each other's fitness levels and climbing speed, so we make, in my opinion, a well matched pair for distances up to and beyond 50 miles.   He supplements his power with quiet smoothness.  Nice combination.

Just in case you thought this whole "Flash" thing was an elaborate fabrication to obtain untold wealth from blogging, I offer non-Photoshopped images of me in action, courtesy of Ken.  This spot was 1K from the junction.  I'm not kidding.

There were thousands of cyclists on the mountain today, and the vast majority of them were wearing their local team kits.  Lots of cowbells and lawnchairs.  It was a very pleasant feeling climbing and being cheered on by the crowd.  Like I told Ken, this was more than taking a ride, it was improvisation, open air theater, and we were players in this unscripted play.  I also remarked that the Bay Area economy must have tanked today as all these able bodied people were not at work.  They were playing, as we were!  That's why we live here.  For the lifestyle other parts of the country cannot abide by.

Famous fast winning bicycle racer Levi Leipheimer in the light blue kit on the left

We took our watch at the junction ranger station, where the bright orange King Of the Mountain line was adhered to the pavement.  I took some spare time to buy a Mt. Diablo T-shirt in bay leaf green color from the friendly park volunteers working the hut.  Other friends were there.  Warren from Alameda Velo, Brian and Janet from TA/GP/AV and whatever other clubs they are in.   Debi Palmer, Flashblog fan #1 was there with Wayne Stetina's wife.  Google that former racing powerhouse and you will see Ms. Palmer is hanging with the legends of the sport.  Anyway, the peloton blew past us in 10 seconds, my camera saw much more than my eyes.  It was just a blur.

Observe the Three Faces of Suffering

 But seeing the peloton was not the main reason we were there.  We were there to worship at this magnificent mountain, this magnificent alter to climbing, and racing while climbing.  We were there to collectively celebrate our passion, to honor those elite riders we could never be, to indulge our senses for however briefly in the knowledge that we are all devoted riders, we all share knowledge of suffering as well as Volupte, we live, and breathe, and think of riding.  This is our world, we earned it with hard work, sweat, and endless miles beneath our wheels. 

After it was over, there were so many cyclists rolling down the hill it looked like Levi had thrown a second edition of his Grand Fondo.  I played the safe and sane card on this descent as many, many Lance wanna-bes were bombing down on the left, even though cars were trapped in the swarm below us.  Ken and I had picked up a third member of our little party, and although he is named Fred, he is anything but the stereotypical "Fred" riders out on the hill today.  This Fred rocks an authentic inner city vibe, his loud talking, over energized ADHD vibe is fascinating.  But I'll tell you what---he's the real deal.  He rides hard on an old bike and keeps attacking all the time.  He makes the best of what he's got.  He's my new favorite rider, seriously.  So we bagged 52 miles and 4,200' of climbing at 13.1 average.  Not too shabby for a Tuesday in May.

Keep riding, no matter what bike you got



  1. FYI its Dura Ace

  2. Thanks anonymous, updates like these are much appreciated. I was guessing anyway. At least I was one gruppo away from the Truth, I can't always claim that.

  3. It was the frosting on the cake when your #1 Fan (me ;-) happened on YOU and her cheerleader (Ken) up at the top of Mt. Diablo. You took some great pics of the peloton. They do go by fast . . .

    Barb and I waited 15 minutes after we walked back to her car before going down and passed maybe 2 cyclists. I had a wonderful day visiting with the Stetinas. I watched the end of the race on a TV outside a tent and I had dinner with Barb and Wayne and a combat veteran I met through the Ride 2 Recovery.

    I've really been blessed to meet a lot of wonderful people through cycling, including you and your better half ;-), Cathy.

    Nice to learn that Ken has Shimano parts on his bike. ;-) I asked Wayne which teams were powered by Shimano and I see the top 4 riders and their teams of the overall winners of the Tour of CA were using Shimano components. I swear those Shimano gears and of course my training with Marc and David were what got me up the hills along Hwy 1 on the R2R Golden State Challenge. No SRAM or Campagnola for this gal. I'm devoted to Shimano!

    Thanks again for making my day!

    Debi :-)
    Flash's #1 Fan