Altamont/Patterson – A Tale of Two Rides

Today’s ride was technically list as “BART” ride. You could take BART from Oakland down to the last southern stop at Dublin/Pleasanton. It would cost almost 8 bucks round trip, would take more than hour each way and would only get you to within 7 miles of the starting point in Livermore. So I drove. So did almost everyone else. Should have carpooled, but what the hell.
Altamont Windmills

It was ugly morning. Cold, overcast and windy, but not raining. Despite this, there were about 100 riders assembled at the Safeway parking lot at 8am. Lots of fretting about the weather, so we didn’t get rolling til about 8:20 or so. Lucky for me because I needed that time to gear up, take a leak, and put some air in my tires. I also helped another club member get the PSI up in her tubes. She came over and told me she was having problems getting ait into her tires. I introduced myself. She introduced her herself as Angela, but I already knew that. It wasn’t any Angela. It was Angela Davis. Yes.That Angela Davis. Radical feminist turned cyclist. And, no, the irony was not lost on me, but I was happy to help.

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Tunnel Road

Oakland Hills Homes
Just this past Monday, I had driven up in the Oakland Hills coming up Sheppard Canyon and down along Syline and Tunnel Road. We got stuck behind a few cyclists, decidedly nervous on the perilous descent down to flats. There were dozens of riders heading up as we headed down and they just looked miserable. It was a cold day and the winding hills seemed steep enough to destroy the strongest legs.
But it was all an optical illusion. Today after work, I decided to tackle Tunnel Rd. myself to see what the big deal was. The big deal the view and the descent. The climb was a piece of cake. I’m not saying that because I’m getting in great shape or anything. It was just a cruise.

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Point Pinole

By the time I joined th OYJ, they had already had a few club rides, so on Sundays, I’m trying to make up the rides that I missed by working my way through the ride calendar. Today I headed out to Pioint Pinole, a place I didn’t event know existed.
The ride out there was really nice, mostly flat, skirting north through Berkeley, Albany and El Ceritto under Arlington Avenue. Then it heads out on San Pablo Dam Rd through El Sobrante, but instead of continuing on like the Arlington Ave Loop through Orinda and Moraga and eventually up Pinehurst, It heads north through the suburb of Pinole to the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline.

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Dublin Grade Redux, Return to Painhurst

San Leandro Rest Stop

When I woke on Saturday, I said say when Mak woke me on Saturday morning, it was miserable outside. The sky was steel grey and a mist like rain was falling steadily. No chance I was going to ride today. Right.
But I had to go Lake Merritt to pick up one of my gloves that I left in the back of someone’s car after last weekend’s ride in Sonoma. My bike and gear was already in my car and I threw a couple of water bottles and a rain jacket in just in case and took off for the lake.
It was still nasty as fuck when I got to the lake. On a typically saturday morning at 8am, there are more than a 100 Yellowjackets getting ready to ride. Today there was less than 25. Not hard to understand why. The sky was pissing rain. It was about 60 degrees and the prospect of a long ride in those conditions was not promising.

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Dublin Grade

I was feeling pretty damn good on Sunday morning, so instead of doing my usual, sitting around doing nothing, I saddled and rode out to see if I could take on next week’s advanced club ride, The Dublin Grade. The ride itself is 62 miles, but it’s more than 5 miles from my place to the start finish line at the lake, so I was looking at 73 miles or so. I thought I could do it, no problem. Oops. 5 hours in the saddle later, I didn’t feel so smug about it.

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OYJ Lake Sonoma 2008

This week’s ride with the Yellowjackets was up in Sonoma, one of the infrequent, “Away” rides. I wasn’t feeling great on Friday night. It was a long week at work. I stayed up way to late and the cats woke me up at 6am. By Friday, i was exhausted. I just wanted to sleep and sleep long. But I wanted to do this ride, so I sucked it up.
Hop Kiln Vineyards

The event was a potluck, so not only would I have to get up early, I had to find the time to put together my side dish, feta and cherry tomato salad with basil and parsley. Very simple dish, seasoned only with salt and pepper and a very light dressing of olive oil and champagne vinegar. It’s simple, but time consuming. I got it done before I hit the sack and it’s damn good thing, because like usual, I was running late and barely made the meet up place in time to get a lift to Lake Sonoma.

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Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work Day
I couldn’t really join the Bike to Work fun this year because it would have been ridiculous. For one thing, I can’t ride to work. There’s no bike path over the Bay Bridge. The new bridge project is going to include a bike path (to at least Treasure Island) which is cool, but it won’t be ready for a while now. I could ride to the bus stop, which takes about 4 minutes to walk now, put my bike on the bus, thus depriving someone who actually needs one of the two spots in the bike rack, and the ride my bike from the terminal to my office, a walk of about 3 minutes. It would have been a complete and total waste of time.
But I wanted to have a solidarity ride with my fellow bikers, so I got out on my mountain bike (road bike had a flat) and went for a short ride around the neighborhood. Felt good getting outside so early. So good, that I’m going to start making early morning rides a regular part of my week.

OYJ Arlington Loop 2008

My first ride with the Yellowjackets was the 40+ mile Arlington Avenue loop.
There were about 100 riders ready to go at Lake Merritt around 8am. I handed in my membership application and check (30 dollar annual fee) and saddled up. Riders went out in three waves, Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner (roughly). I went with the middle group and it was a good choice. We didn’t see the advanced guys again. They must have been hauling ass.

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Velocity & Society

It’s official. I’m now a Yellowjacket I’ve been wanting to the join the Oakland cycling club for a while, ever since I bought my road bike, but have put it off for many reasons, mostly lethargy and, well, the ski season. The ski season is over, the sun is shinning and I need people to ride with to get me out on the road consistently, so I plunked down my 30 bikes and I’m now a member of the club.
Oakland Yellowjackets logo

The group is much different than I thought. In my warped mind, cycling is a very homogenous sport, but not with the Yellowjackets. It’s a very diverse group. Young and old, although mostly older than me. Men and women, although mostly men. Black and white. Straight and gay. Skilled and novice.
The group rides at 8am every Saturday with routes designed for all levels. Most of the rides leave from Lake Merritt in Oakland (about 2 miles from my place), but there are also routes that start from BART stations around the Bay Area and some that require a little drive, like next weekend’s roll around Sonoma. Here’s the ride calendar on the club’s impressively up to date website.

Giro TTT or American in Pink

The Giro kicked off today with the always Interesting Team Time Trial (TTT). It works like this. All the riders from the team (in the Giro, there are 8 per) leave the starting gate at the same time. The ride together in a long line for 26 kilometers. The clock is stopped when the 5th rider from the team crosses the finish line. The fastest team wins the TTT and each individual member gets the same time as the team. Interesting, no?
Giro TTT or American in Pink
So while it’s hard to win with the Giro with the Team Time Trial, one could easily lose it. Say, for example, you’re a strong rider on poor team, you could find yourself minutes behind the other contenders on stronger teams. It’s hard to make up that kind of time, even over 3 weeks of racing.
There are two American teams in the Giro this (up from the normal 0), High Road and Slipstream/Chipotle. Both are solid teams. High Road has been racking up victories all over the world and Slipsteam has the national time trial champs of USA, Canada and England, David Zabriskie, David Millar and Ryder Hesjedal respectively. They had just come off a TTT win at Road Atlanta in the Tour of Georgia.
Slipsteam went off early and posted a fast time. Favored teams like CSC and Astana finished behond and the end the of the day, Slipsteam’s time held up and they won the stage. Better yet, because American rider Christian Vande Velde actually crossed the finish line first, he was leading the race and would don the Maglia Rosa, a first for an American in 20 years!
I’m not going to write about every stage in the Giro, since I know not too many people are interested, but it’s great to see American cycling on the rise.
On a side note, Team Slipsteam/Chipotle uses Flickr to host their image and here’s a link to the Giro d’Italia Set.