Well, I put in a 190 kilometer day! Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate the headwinds of the Altamont Pass , which I discovered on the westbound ascent. My initial report of 6 mph didn’t look right. Running down Tracy Boulevard (N-S), I felt a decent crosswind.
I called Roberto, riding east from San Jose. He was riding with a tailwind, climbing toward Livermore. He was far enough ahead that he decided to run Mines Road for the KOM stage. On the climb, you can get a great viewing position.
Then it all went to hell in a handbasket. My speed dropped from almost 40km/h, down to 16, as I fought the 27km/h headwind for 13km, climbing Altamont. The view was beautiful, though, sunny at first, then a bit hazy, but comfortable at about 65 degrees. The various wind turbines was my hint that something was afoot. They were spinning like mad, hardly the thing one would expect for a reported 6mph. Those things are noisy too, with each blade version making its own swishing sound.
On a few brief downhill runs, I had to drop down a gear, pointed downhill, to hold my speed. The winds really fly through those valleys!
The time for the peleton to arrive had long since arrived, looking at the clock. Man! 1240, and I still have to thread the needle under the 205 freeway into livermore. Where was my goal? Ah yes, Mines road at Tesla. Flying down Greenville Road, I pulled the route sheet from my pocket. With the paper flapping in the wind, it listed: turn right on Las Positas, then left at Vasco, left at Patterson pass, and an apparent right at East. I should have simply printed the destination end of the route! Otherwise, I would have simply ridden Vasco to the south end, at Tesla, and met the peleton as they passed.
Instead, I rode like an idiot in a 3km circle, burning up all of my remaining time, just as the rain started.
Now, I felt like Charlie Brown standing atop the pitcher’s mound. Running the odds, I left all of my rain gear back at home. The peleton passed to my south, evidenced by passing aircraft. I wished them well, as I listened to the shhhhhhh of my wheels rolling in the freshly moistened pavement. Grungy water rolled down my calves, refreshing and cold.
I headed over the freeway and the local Starbuck’s to warm up, and wait out the rain. I could see bands of lighter clouds approaching from the west. Roberto called, telling me of the King Of the Mountain section.
Cycling is wonderful, whether you arrive at your destination, or roll like a moron in a Google-induced circle. I enjoyed the thought that I could feel the same burning legs and wind in my face as a hundred-plus professional racers, and doing it solo, without a peleton to carve the wind, made it sweeter. It still would have been great to cheer them on.
Cycling home, I confirmed the wind speed in the Altamont Pass. Coasting at 27km/h, I was in a coccoon of still air. The sweat on my brow had no breeze to cool me off. Ah, we can fix that! I mashed the pedals, anticipating a 13km descent. There’s something sweet about hitting almost 70km/h, rolling in top gear, effortlessly pulling the short uphills on the return descent. It was great.
With a tailwind for the bulk of the return, on the flats, the gentle push made the ride so much faster. A second band of rain passed overhead, big droplets. More glossy pavement. Somehow, the rain was just fine this time, after the elation of the descent. I’m looking forward to more torture. I could be at work today. Getting soaked on the bicycle is a welcome trade indeed.
I’ll be returning to climb Altamont again, and Mines Road is calling, a winding road that I’ll have to ride.
Message Edited by neutron_bob on 05-20-2010 07:44 AM