Sunday, April 7, 2013

Where The Hell is Mines Road?

Welcome back to another photo journalistic attempt to recreate my cycling specific memories of yesterday.  Team Alameda took an away trip to Livermore to ride a bucolic route south through the hills from Livermore to the junction of Nowhere, where there is, I'm told, some sort of cafe roadhouse.  I didn't make it there.  More on that later.  Before that, let's start where all good stories start, at the start.

Ok... I don't have any photos of the pre-load at Kaiser, so fast forward to the Livermore staging area in a big empty parking lot.

Hi, I'm Ken and I'll be your ride leader today...please sign my sheet!   Ken at the business end of the Jones Mk1 MPCSV (multi purpose cycling support vehicle)  Limit 1 additional rider, offer may vary, some restrictions apply.

Cap'n MacGyver, Sri "I eat jet lag for breakfast" Sub. and Rotarian Doug waiting for Godot to arrive 

 Matt and Lucy.  Gee, this semi-abandoned strip mall is kinda creepy...can we just go?

 Madkow and Capt. Euro listen when Bob says that this restroom is OK, but the plastic fence and the camo painted transformer just harsh the overall motif.

Mile 2: we start out at at brisk pace along the vineyards, where we encountered the Cinderella Riders in full regalia. Sorry, I was so stunned I forgot to snap a photo.  I just don't have Bruce's photog instincts yet.

Mile 4, we get into the country proper where the livin' is rural.

 Beverly Brown came all the way from Marin for this all new route.  She was kind enough to give Flash a ride to and from, but as to the ride, well, I never saw her after this pic.  Why?  Because right at the steep climb at Mines road proper, I pulled off the road to take of my jacket, and upon resuming I heard psssst coming from my front tire.  This was a major vibe harsher, for I knew I would never catch the group after a fix and might be looking at a LONG solo ride.  Sri came by, checked in, and kept going, only MacGyver was left and as he came up he thoughtfully stopped to assist in my repair, which probably took 10 mins, but the die was cast, and he and I became a semi-dynamic duo the rest of the tour.

Soon after the puncture repair, a long steep pitch.

And a little later after that.  The road seems to go on endlessly. Beautiful, interesting, mostly uphill, and I found myself feeling annoyed by the length of it.  Uh, oh, not a good sign...

Mile 25
 Hey Flash...Where the HELL have you been??
(except MacGyver, who knew where the hell I'd awesome)
The "short"--only 50 miles---group waiting for us to arrive

A memorial to Ruthy.  I know how she felt, because I kinda died a little the last mile or two to this, the junction jump off point, at mile 25.  I suffered low blood sugar, which almost never happens, so I decided to have  a little teriyaki jerky/boiled egg/banana muffin picnic right here.  I decided not to ride the extra  ten miles to and from the junction, which was a much smarter decision than Harold made.  When Harold rode down to the junction he had nothing left and knew the buzzards would soon be picking at his bones unless he called his faithful partner Eric to come pick him up, royalty style.  Which did happen.  Harold, dude, that's what happens get when you wear a flower in your hair on a bad-ass ride like this.  Flash carried a survival knife on this ride.  Yeah, I was ready to take a squirrel if I had to, and I almost did, but I won't go into that.

A hypoglycemic Flash about to consume jerky and egg.  SO good!

Ok, re-fueled and upon resuming, I noticed my rear wheel was *almost* flat.  Awesome.  I had used my one tube on the front wheel earlier, and was now looking at a tube repair.  MacGyver started gearing my bike for wheel removal, and I said, "Fuck it, I'll just pump it up and see if it holds air".  I wasn't in the mood.  Bottom line is yeah, it held all the way back, which considering some 30mph corners, was a really good thing.

The Usual Suspects depicted  3 photos above got "cold" waiting for me to finish eating, so they left, stating MacGyver and I would "catch up", which we never did, battling a pretty consistent and loud headwind the entire 25 miles back.  Here Mac pulls me the first half, then we switched and I pulled him the second.

I had to stop at this...gate to nowhere... on the side of a steep embankment.  It's a glorified portion of a barbed wire fence meant an artwork?...a hanger for lost and found items?...and why the rock cairn?  One boot and glove?  A fanciful welded A.  Lucky horseshoe and harness.  Is this a warning?  Or an invitation?

Epilogue:  This ride is harder than it appears.  Lots of seemingly endless uphill and gusty breezes.  It makes up for it in scenic splendor though.   Mac and I were pretty beat at the end, but it was a job well done.  It was one of those not so great rides for me, but still, I feel accomplishment at having completed it despite some challenges.  

Thanks for reading, and as always, Keep Pedaling!