New Year’s Day on Mount Diablo – PH BART – SouthGate – NorthGate


have i mentioned lately i love this club?

today was such a fine example of positive spirit and a commitment to having fun and accomplishing a good physical effort while honoring tradition outweighing “what if” excuses and erroneous data.

from PH BART, four leaders and 27 other riders headed out on a wonderful alternative (quiet, beautiful) route to the normal “direct” way we’re used to going on the traditional loop (Alamo Rd, Danville Rd to Stone Valley Rd..etc). [Thanks to Phil Morton for providing me the base cue sheet as well as ridewithgps link (/routes/6459400). As i mentioned at the start, Phil reports that much of the cue sheet is from Carol Feagles, with some refinements on the return by Charles Nighbor… so thanks to them, too!].

We did not meet our intended goal of convergence with Mark A’s M-paced Berkeley-SouthGate group at the Athenian School, but i understand from some in our PH-SouthGate group and from Chris & Pat’s PH-HeatherFarm-NorthGate group who ventured high and observed “Mark A sightings” that the M-pacers mostly summited and headed down before some of us reached Junction. Suffice to say, we had a few delays:

1) large group and a slightly modified/late start from PH BART (there was a flat tire getting changed, and also more people just kept showing up!), that was a GOOD thing – the more, the merrier, so we waited and took off a few minutes late…

2) most of the group went straight on the Canal Trail instead of seeing/making the turn onto Cherry Lane near the start (so we hollered and corralled them back – that took about 5 minutes or so);

3) some of us arrived at Livorna Park a lot later than the majority, having missed a turn onto Shady Glen from Walnut Blvd.. the mileage continued to accumulate until a “no through traffic” sign at the cul de sac at the end, so we made our way back to Bales/Mountain to make a left turn onto Palmer to get back on course… (that’s what happens when the lead leader has been out of town and has not had an opportunity to properly scout a route new to her!).

Also, once we arrived at Livorna Park for our first Regroup/Rest Stop, and the larger part of the group was ready to leave (which they did with co-leaders Ann and Janet), I spent a few minutes extra removing several layers down to my base layer so I could take off the Wool Jersey which proved to be one warm layer too many even for the flats (over SmartWool base layer and under GPC fleece-lined thermal jersey and GPC fleece-lined thermal vest), so made a solo ride continuing to the Athenian School where i waved my dutifully and kindly assembled group to continue forward and upward. (i left the thermal underwear on under my fleece-lined long-legged wind-stopper tights, even though they had started to feel warm the first few miles… and was glad to have them once i left Livorna Park, and especially in the cooler temperatures on the mountain.

I went only as far as Junction, as this was my first time on the road bike since the October ASSR! and when i made the last turn at Maple Nook to the Junction, my quads told me “this is enough for a first ride in a while”… a decision for which I am happy, as last time i attempted (and succeeded) in a Mt. Diablo Summit on NYD after not riding for a while (two years ago, to be exact), on the final, super-steep ramp to the summit I strained my left inside quad muscle just above the knee (yeah, i know – there is probably a better, more accurate anatomical term for that piece of physiology…. ), and it hasn’t been right ever since!

Hung around at Junction for a while, saw Chris & Pat descending from their journey upward to Juniper… enjoyed a delicious brownie from Alison (“pink panniers”), and chatted with several Grizzlies while waiting for much of the accumulated moisture to evaporate from my SmartWool base layer.  Happily loaned my thickest, longest, warmest neck gaiter to Cristian who returned from the Summit freezing and shivering (I had an extra which I donned before descending), switched out my lightweight, mesh-top, KOM cap that is good for winter climbing, with the heavier, warmer SmartWool beanie (for winter descending), put my green long-sleeved GPC wool jersey, arm warmers, fleece-lined GPC full-zip long-sleeved jersey, nylon GPC wind jacket, and rainbow tie-dye buff, back on, along with fleece/neoprene toe covers, lightweight wind-pants, and finally my fleece-lined wind-stopper GPC thermal vest for the descent down to Peet’s.

OK, why do i spend so much time, so many words describing my attire:  because partly one learns over the years what extra layers to bring on a cold morning that also involves a considerable amount of climbing followed by a bone-chilling descent.  For one day a year, it’s OK to pack the little satchel of contingency options… and it usually – as it did today – proves to help another Grizzly!  (the same was true in the loan of some ear warmers by Grizzly Doug Smith to a rider who appreciated it – and whom we are still trying to identify – Steve, i think, not of the Tracy variety, went all the way to the summit with Jessica??.  Think “Mark Homrighausen w/ a few more lbs and a bit of salt & pepper in the coiffure.”  Handsome in an Antonio Banderas look-alike way…. (oops, sorry, apparently i digress!  Hope my enthusiastic descriptions are not perceived as offensive or inappropriate, i mean it not that way… I can tell i’m overdue for going to see my Hindi-film hero, Shahrukh Khan’s latest film, “Dilwale”  which is getting mixed reviews but doesn’t he look great in the trailers!(oh sweet, one trailer is followed by trailers for upcoming SRK flicks “Raees” – premiering EID 2016, around early July – and “Fan!” coming to theaters near you on tax day, April 15, 2016!). Anyway, back to Steve, or Antonio, or ersatz Mark H….we were all at Peet’s together at the big community table after the descent.  If this is YOU, then please tag up with Doug for the return of the 180s ear warmers!

A bunch of Grizzlies were nestled in at Mountain Mike’s Pizza (maybe Mark A’s M-paced group???) when some of us reached the Ygnacio Plaza shopping center.  I headed straight for Peet’s to find most of Chris & Pat’s group enjoying coffee or hot cocoa or hot tea and other sweet and savory treats. That was fun, and more Grizzlies from our group kept appearing later…. these stalwarts had ventured all the way to the Summit (or at least to Juniper).  Good Gracious! That will be ME, next year.

Bottom line, fantastic day on the mountain… Thanks again to my wonderful co-leaders Ann Lehr, Janet Monks and Stephanie Clarke, and to all the riders who accompanied us to the Junction (and a lot of you braved the cold and the winds even higher!!), also to Chris Witt and Pat Greene who led the other group via Heather Farm up NorthGate and down, and to Mark Abrahams who led the M-paced group from Berkeley…. i look forward to a report on that adventure soon!

All in all, it was a perfect way to start out the New Year.  2016 is going to be Grand! I can just tell!  We missed those of you who “woulda coulda shoulda” and stayed home to savor indoor entertainment instead of joining in on the fun today.  it was indeed cold, but not in the least “crazy”.  Hope you do have a wonderful ride of your own tomorrow or in the next few days….

(did i mention i love this club?)…


MamaBear Sherie

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