near perfect day today. had my oatmeal, nuts, fruit in a somewhat leisurely if standing-at-the-counter fashion while Ben was out on his morning run. then realized, time to go, time to get dressed and out the door. two trips back and forth from downstairs/garage up into the house for water bottles (chillin’ temporarily in freezer) and bike gloves, then it’s comin’ up on 7:49 instead of the early 7:30 departure i’d planned…
still a pleasant scoot up Solano Ave to The Alameda and Los Angeles to Spruce… 22 minutes to Spruce/Grizz, fairly good time for me (yeah, i know… the Marks do it in about 10 or 15!!!).
once on Wildcat, smooth sailin’ and a few turns into it i am accompanied by another rider, strong guy…. i ask where he’s heading, he sez not so sure, doesn’t really know the roads around here so well… so i invite him to join our ASSR, explain the 5-route/5-pace group scenario. He sez he’ll follow me. Somewhere along the way i learn he is a fellow Albanian, but originally from Mexico. Juan…. from a village where there are only bikes, no cars.
Near the bottom of Wildcat, we catch Estella just before the turnoff… quick intro and i’m taking advantage of her mother-tongue to hopefully point out some of the finer details of the ASSR concept to Juan, who hails originally from Mexico.
Shortly after turning the corner, we see and catch Jim Scott… i quip that all we need now is Jim O’M and Mark H, and we’d have all 5 of the day’s ASSR leaders pace lining to the start together…. didn’t happen, but it was fun, anyway. At the last stop light in Orinda just before the BART entrance, i glance at my cyclometer and note my elapsed time from home is 52 minutes, i think a new record for me. Sweet. Fun to be getting stronger. Riding so much more enjoyable. Some of the improvement is in the climbing, more even in my sudden ease on the descents. A long time comin’!!
At Orinda we see John with the route sheets & sign-in sheets laid out so nicely on top of his jeep, Jeff K and a bunch of other Grizzlies starting to assemble. I pass the time with pals and then off to use the girls’ room at the BART station along with Nancy W and Janet H who have signed up to come on my route…. Fun, i say, we’ll have a nice, little “girls” ride and i am looking forward to spending time with both of these ladies. Back at the start, some others have joined our group on the sign-in sheet: Eddie, Mike S, Simon, Mark B, Larry and George. Perfect size group…..
Mark A starts off intros of the leaders (oops, i think we forgot intros of the troups, but my memory might be foggy). and off we go. Jim S set a nice pace along Camino Diablo/SPDR, then we pull into the parking lot at Castro Ranch Road.
Seems like we take a long time to get going from the regroup, but then we did…. Castro Ranch is smooth, and with good company, passes faster than normal. I’m in the front of our group having nice conversation with Mark B, and floooof, out fly some papers from the saggy bento box on my top tube…. oops, probably need those, the extra copies of the cue sheet and the purple rider-sign-in sheet. I circle back to fetch it and Nancy has already covered my back and picked up the papers off the road…. we do the hand-off as i double-back and pass in order to catch up to the rest of the group. YIKES at the top just below the crest that broken glass smack dab in the middle of the bike lane is still there …. this is at least the 2nd week i’ve seen it, maybe third. Everyone manages to avoid it without incident. PHEW!
About 1/2 way out Alhambra Valley Road, Nancy tells me that Janet is feeling some pain in her leg/hip — still recovering from injuries, so is going to split from our group and join the L-paced Larghettos up Bear Creek…. we get to the intersection at Bear Creek and pick up the rest of my group who have stopped there (Mark B, Larry, Eddie)…. Mike is behind the gals. In my rearview mirror, i think i’m hearing Nancy giving her farewell greetings to Janet, and off we go up toward Pig Farm Hill…..
we’re catching some of the 50-T riders in Estella’s group who had left Castro Ranch regroup ahead of us, Phil M & Charles… i’m feeling strong on Pig Farm and don’t change out of my middle chain ring until the last turn before the top. Regroup there, Estella takes off just after we arrive, and I wait with my group for the others. At the top, Mike comes along, and we all wait some more for Nancy. After a few minutes, I send the others forward to the next regroup while i wait, and double back between the shade tree and the summit a few times… i’ve left a msg, hoping there hasn’t been a mechanical or flat, and also want to check to see if maybe she decided to also accompany Janet with the Larghettos.
Finally decide i’ll be on my way, catch up to my group which is split between Simon & Eddie at the cemetery driveway and the others (Mark, Larry, George, Mike) at the golf course stop. Check for messages, none. Go to leave a msg on Nancy’s other number, but it is the same one as the “cell” listing.. so I leave a msg on the number Janet listed… “just checking in, hoping Nancy is on your ride, all ok here”.
Then we gather up the rest of our group and head out on Reliez Valley Rd. My other riders assure me i’ve done my job for recon, and we all ride pretty closely knit (although certainly not pace-lining) along Reliez Valley Road. Mike sez he will go for Deer Hill Rd this time, so we have a full consensus and I am thankful for John’s recent reworking of the cue sheet to switch the route from the sketchy freeway crossing scheme back and forth over Lafayette, to the cleaner, safer version up and over Deer Hill Road…. we all make jokes about “gee, if you get whacked by a car going across the freeway you never have to do it again… ” , “hmm, do you mean the Deer Hill part or the Happy Valley part”?? Meanwhile, i have teased my riders with talk about the little kids’ lemonade stand I came across last Saturday on Happy Valley Rd right near Upper Happy Valley… then George reminds me that school is now out, so it’s probably not there anymore… and my mind jogs back to the little flyer the kids had, that told the lemonade stand would be open through June 8th. DOH!! well, i’ll just have to settle for a nice iced coffee at Peet’s after the ride.
Up Happy Valley to Sundowner, i wait with the group for a few minutes then send them forward, inviting to join for coffee/lunch in Orinda afterward. Not sure who will be there, most folks choose the short loop because it frees up the afternoon schedule for other life activities…. Mike comes up and indicates he doesn’t need a breather, so down we fly along Sundowner. Man, that guy loves to bomb downhill! Fun!
always love the stretch from there to Miner, like kids out of school, speedy and breezy. Right after we’ve come through the little park at the bottom of Sundowner, here come two speedy guys, one commenting on our colorful, but mismatched GPC century jerseys (Mike is sporting the 2010 design, and I’ve chosen to wear the 2011 road-map model …. got to keep my regular GPC jersey clean for tomorrow’s Jane B memorial ride and gathering). I’m coming around the corner and don’t recognize who that is, and call out “Hi! Who’s that?” and learn it’s Gaston. We keep going and have a smooth ride to Miner. At Miner/Camino Diablo, Mike says he has social obligations and gatherings for the remainder of the weekend, so needs to curb his consumption… we pull in to BART, Eddie is putting his bike away, Simon’s bike is up on the rack of his car, but is coming for coffee.. decides to drive over to have the bike in view during coffee.
At Peet’s, the Larghettos are still there: Jim O’, Janet, Nancy, Danimal. Simon & I get our coffees (i have a giant iced one, just perfect for a sunny day) and we hang out chatting at the sidewalk table for about an hour. Very pleasant and relaxing.
Of course I still needed some more “bonus miles” and Coach Ben has said i’m supposed to do hills and little interval attacks now and again. In the lower part, before El Toyonal, I catch sight of Estellita with her fun helmet ribbons and frequently pedal-dancing riding style. Then I catch her and we ride together til just before the Brazil Room, and just as i’m about to crest the top, it’s Gaston coming up fast on my wheel. Whoosh! That guy is fast, too! Estella is dropped somewhere between the curve at the bottom and the beginning up the hill (and i know she has a preference for the little road off to the right that comes out on the other side of Island, so Gaston and I go together the rest of Wildcat ti I cross Spruce for my downhill home to Albany, and he peels off toward Boynton.
The descent down Spruce is about as smooth and fast as I’ve ever remembered, and at Marin Circle, i decide for a change to head down Marin for once instead of my usual scofflaw detour the wrong direction down one-way Los Angeles. The Alameda to San Lorenzo Ave rolling and glass smooth, and a few minutes later, after the various stops at all the cross streets i’m back in my driveway and home.
Ben is relaxing after a productive day of morning run, gardening/weed-whacking, some house cleaning, dinner prep, and TV soccer (Holland lost to Denmark, i think is the report)….
there’s a giant plate of sliced fresh veggies ready to grill and the pork roast is defrosting. My job is to grab a bottle of some strong, bold red wine, and then get the rest of the table ware down to our picnic area in the back yard after my shower….and also to tackle the scale infestation on the Meyer lemon tree in front. I mix my solution of dish soap, water, a bit of bleach and coffee grounds, grab a sponge and go at it for about 45 minutes until Ben sez wrap it up, it’s time to eat.
Grilled pork, veggies, a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Feeling pumped and strong after a most pleasant day of cycling with friends and meeting new folks, and then home to my “Sweatie” for dinner being cooked. After a beautiful meal shared in the garden, we’re upstairs watching the bicycle races (Dauphine Libere and now Tour de Suisse)….. life doesn’t get much better!
55.51 miles total, 12.2 mph avg, 38.7 mph max, 4:31:09 saddle time
No bike pics today, but here’s my kitty