Highlights (aka bragging points):
- Team Mud 'n Crud had lunch at Ed's Mudville Grill in Clayton, our turning around point on our out and back ride. Yummy!
- This was my second century ride ever after Death Ride.
- It was my first time riding up Mt Diablo. It was also my second time riding up Mt. Diablo.
Last Sunday, when Erik and Derek rode through Clayton, they saw Mudville. Erik said that we had to do a ride out there someday just so that we, the Mud 'n Crud team, could eat at Mudville. And later in the week, Derek proposed we finish a century ride by end of the year. Here is where I came in: I realized I had become more and more grumpy recently because in the past month, I wasn't able to do anything due to my unexplained ankle problem followed by a cold, so I had to get out ASAP. How about a century ride this weekend that will lead us to Mudville for lunch mid-ride? Deal!
When Erik, Derek, and I started riding at 8:30am, it was overcast. Clouds above us acted as a blanket, so despite the rain on Friday, it was pleasantly not too cold. But the guys looked up and made a comment that Diablo was IN the clouds so it might be cold up there. I quietly threw the poncho in my stash. I received the poncho at the Death Ride but did not need to use it.
An hour and half later, we turned onto Diablo Scenic Blvd. My first ride up Diablo thus began (via the South Gate). The climb in the beginning was at a delightful grade that I was able to spin my middle chain ring comfortably. I started to wonder if I could stick to the middle ring the whole way up. Derek said he had done it before when he rode it fresh. After I turned on to Summit Road at the ranger station towards the summit (4.5 mi from the ranger station), I started to feel the effort in my legs. To shift, or not to shift? That was a question constantly popping up in my mind. Suddenly, the bike ghost-shifted — that's right, it shifted down to my small chain ring without me doing anything! Well, that solved my dilemma. Also then, I had just climbed into the fog/clouds. Dark and wet, and precipitation was dripping down my helmet. My toes had gone completely numb and I was so cold that I didn't want to wiggle them. My quads were burning and the overlapped straps from my shorts and leg warms were restricting the blood flow which aggravated the burn, but again, I was so cold that I didn't feel like fumbling with it. And I was so cold that I didn't even want to stand out of saddle occasionally just to change up the position a little. I laboriously spun my granny gear inching my way up. Earlier I could occasionally see Erik about 200 yards ahead of me, but he pulled away. I had heard of the final kick right before the summit and here I was at the bottom of it. Immediately, I felt the grade. With every stroke, I wondered if my quads (esp. in the left leg) were going to cramp; with every stroke, I wondered if I could manage the next stroke before tipping over; and with every stroke, I felt weaker. But then, I was at the top. I went straight to a vertical fence and leaned against it. My vision almost blacked out. It took some sport drink, potatoes, dried fruits, and 10 minutes for me to feel normal again.
I was happy to have the Death Ride poncho with me, which Derek and Erik kept referring to as the plastic bag. I had to correct them multiple times. Despite having that extra layer, the descent was cold. I found myself filled with the pleasant (but more desperate) thoughts of hot coffee. That was a first thing we asked for when we arrived at Ed's Mudville Grill. The food was yummy and the service was fast. We were in and out within 45 minutes. Time to return. We still had to re-trace the 50 miles to get back.
I dreaded climbing into that cold and wet fog again, and who knows, I might just really tip over this time on that very last hill. I was so close last time. After N. Gate, Erik and Derek got in a playful mode, and a couple of times in front a little hill, they would exchange a "friendly smile" as they called it and started to sprint for the crest like two rabbits. I watched them pull away, shook my head with a smile, and kept at my own rhythm. It was 6+ miles from the N. Gate to the ranger station. It was so long that I surprisingly caught up with Derek! The story about the rabbit and the tortoise flashed in my mind quickly. I think I spaced out when I rode by the ranger station and continued on UP. I must have because I was really planning on skipping that last out and back trip to the summit. But there was not fog to turn me back though, not until the very top. This time, I remembered to keep wiggling my toes to keep them semi warm. I also remembered to push down my leg warmers a little so the elastic strap was not restricting me. I shifted down to my granny gear early on. I stood occasionally to flush out the burn in my quads. I actually felt good!
Erik stayed in front of me within a varying distance from 50 yards to 150 yards, but the closer to the top, the closer I got to him. I passed him right before the last hill. Wow! Then I dug deep. 1,2,3… I was counting the strokes in the back of my mind. This time, I didn't even bother looking up to the top, which was a depressing sight anyway when you were still a distance away. I just knew that last time it took me somewhere around 60 strokes to finish the hill. That's all I needed. 30, 31, 32… 58, 58, 60! I was at the summit, again!
The cold descent was even worse this time. I followed Erik down, who had the least layers. I watched his high speed shimmy in horror. It was only because he was shivering uncontrollably. I was not much better even with my plastic bag, no, my Death Ride poncho on. It's amazing we survived that descent.
We did our last stretch of the ride in dark with the help of my little head lamp. When we got back to the cars, all of us had a huge grin.
I carried my camera with me, but I was so cold at the summit that it did not occur to me to take it out either time. But that's okay. The goal of this ride was not to climb Diablo; the goal was to eat at Mudville.
The route (MapMyRide link):
Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park -> Foothill Rd-> R: Castlewood Dr -> L: Sunol -> L: Bernal Ave -> R: Main St -> C: Santa Rita Rd -> C: Tassajara Rd -> L: Tassajara Rd-> C: Camino Tassajara -> R: Blackhawk Rd -> R: Mt Diablo Scenic Blvd -> R: Summit Rd to Summit and return -> R: N. Gate Rd -> R: Oak Grove Rd -> R: Ygnacio Valley Rd -> R: Clayton Rd -> Ed's Mudville Grill in Clayton. Reverse the route to get back.
Stats: 101.2 miles ; 9362' total ascent.