Sunday, June 17, 2012


Mt Diablo North Peak, viewed from South Peak
Last weekend, I climbed Mt Diablo for the first time in about 4 years.

South Gate road: 11 miles to the top
We headed out on South Gate road (nicely repaved for the Tour of California) and I settled into my all-day-enduro pace. Yes, slow as a turtle, but nice and steady.

 South Gate road is mostly quite exposed, with big views. Its relatively mellow grade (5%ish) makes it easy to just put the bike into a gear and spin up the hill. I was pleasantly surprised to reach the junction (with Summit Road) with energy in reserve. After a water break, we headed up the final three miles up to the summit.

Big views at the summit

View from Mt Diablo south peak

I started to get a bit tired, but the summit building and beacon loomed ahead so I had to finish the climb. Plus, there's ice cream at the gift shop in the summit building. I pedaled away, then ground up the final 200 yards, which is a bit of a wall at an 18% grade. I was pretty happy to make it to the top-- the longest sustained climb since I injured myself a few years ago.

 After sightseeing at the peak, we headed down on the descent. Car traffic was fairly limited, and we safely cruised around the corners and back to our starting point. What a great day! And thanks to Dan for climbing Diablo at my rather glacial pace!

11.6 miles of climbing, 3300 vertical feet

Mt Diablo South Gate route map

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spectating at the 2012 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

First pack comes out of the water in the 2012 Escape from Alcatraz triathlon (swim leader Andy Potts came out about 1 minute earlier)
We headed out at 6:30 am by bike. Our destination: the 2012 Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

Unusually clear views for early morning in San Francisco. Just a tiny bit of mist!

We reached the swim "exit" in the Marina and hung around watching the swimmers approach through binoculars. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous day here in SF, and the morning was unusually warm and quite clear.

Age groupers come out of the water at the 2012 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Tons of swimmers are visible in the bay at this point.

It was super cool to see the swimmers exit the water and run along the beach. The bay seemed unusually surf-y and several people were toppled by waves as they tried to run onto the beach.
Ouch! Barefoot runner heading to T1
After a while, we headed out to the bike course, pausing to watch the wetsuit strippers in action and to watch people start the longish run to T1.  Some folks did it without shoes, but most stopped to put on sneakers.

Heading out on the bike course, on Crissy Field Ave
We rode out along the Crissy Field bike path and watched the riders, mostly age-groupers at this point.  Dan stopped to help a guy with his bike- his rear brake had locked up. They ended up disabling his rear brake so he could ride.

Riders heading out towards the Golden Gate bridge
 The bike course is an out-and-back (mostly), so we hung around on the bike course until the race leaders came back along the course. We cheered on about the first twenty or so (including the top women), then headed off to spectate at the infamous sand ladder on the run course.

Pretty portion of Escape from Alcatraz run course
The run course is super scenic and follows trails along the area near the Golden Gate bridge.
Escape from Alcatraz runners approach the sand ladder on Baker Beach
We missed the top of the sand ladder (off of Lincoln Ave), so headed down to Baker Beach to the base of the sand ladder. This  involved some riding on sand, portage down a log staircase, then some pushing of bikes along a long stretchy of beach. Cyclocross anyone??  Our reward: a great view of the racers coming up the beach, confronting the sand ladder, then heading on up...

The sand ladder on the Escape from Alcatraz run course
 The thing is a beast and most folks were walking it, some even using the cable railing to pull themselves up. It was interesting to watch the reaction of the runners when they hit the sand ladder. There was some colorful commentary and some folks were visibly shocked at the sight of it. While we were there, mega-blogger DC Rainmaker raced by. I think we startled him when we said hi- sorry Ray!

Runners head up the sand ladder on the 2012 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
After a while, we headed home on the bike course through Lincoln Park and down to the Great Highway (the roads were still closed though all of the riders were through at this point), then turned off into Golden Gate park to head homewards. I had a major cranky bonk at this point, even though we'd done only about 20 miles of riding-- too much time in the sun without eating, I think. Dan was a very nice boyfriend and bought me a smoothie at the Haight street fair, which helped a lot. Thanks Dan!

2012 Escape from Alcatraz runners on Baker Beach
What a great day! Congrats to all of the racers!

Thanks Dan for a wonderful day (and for the anti-bonk smoothie and for carrying my camera when my back got tired)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back to it on Mt Tam

View of Tiburon, Angel Island and Diablo from Old Railroad Grade

A few shots from the maiden post-crash voyage on my cross-country mountain bike.  Yes, the bike that crashed with me a few years ago.  For the first trip back, we headed out to Old Railroad Grade on Mt Tam, a fireroad that follows the path of the old railway.  It's wide and fairly smooth with a moderate grade and climbs 2200 vertical feet in about six miles with spectacular views. It's very beginner friendly.

After five miles, we arrived at the West Point Inn and enjoyed a glass of lemonade on the porch. The view was great- clear with great views to Mt Diablo to the east. Then, we continued on another mile or so to the East Peak viewpoint, which has an expansive view sweeping from the bay to San Francisco (fogged in in the photo above) to the ocean.

Map of Old Railroad Grade Trail, Mt Tam

I felt pretty good on the bike and enjoyed the climb even though I was slow as a turtle. The downhill was a ripping good time and it was fun to roll over the rocks with the cushy suspension. I have to admit that I was apprehensive getting on this bike again, more apprehensive than I was on my first downhill mountain bike ride a few months ago. The bike had become linked with my crash in my mind. But, it all went smoothly (except for some minor issues with my cleat adjustment) and I am optimistic that I might continue to enjoy riding this bike on dirt.