This past Sunday was the Diablo Century ride and it was a great day to be out riding. There were just over 700 people who showed up and around 200 started the full 100mile ride around the East Bay. I convinced my neighbor to start with me and to have some fun out there. He joined me last year for the Tahoe Century and was able to hang. This year was slightly different, as I’ve been training heavily and was just coming off Oceanside a few weeks back. We had a quick 40min pre-ride on Saturday and I quickly dropped him on the rollers. That wasn’t the plan, but I was in full aero on my new Kestrel and in my zone. He was a little intimidated going into Sunday, but he did great.
Below is the map that I downloaded off my Garmin after the ride:
It was great to get out there and ride some new roads and explore my area! Going into the ride, we had heard two conflicting elevation numbers. the mapmyride number was about 4,300ft of climbing, yet some friends mentioned it was closer to 6,300. Either way, I was excited to get some great hill work in. My weakness on the hills showed at Oceanside, so I was ready to suffer. As you can see below from my Garmin, the total gain was just under 6,400ft!
The ride was a century and not a race, but I wanted to make sure to get the most training for my buck. I had a free Sunday to ride and was looking forward to a great workout. It was a rolling start and people started at 6:30. We got started about 10min after the first peeps rolled out. It was fun to roll through downtown Walnut Creek that early in the morning with no traffic and very little lights to deal with. Soon we were starting up the backside of Mt. Diablo heading out to Morgan Territory. At around mile 20, we had passed a ton of people and Ed was strong. We chatted and were enjoying the ride. I was riding my Kestrel 4000 tri bike, so I was cautious on the climbs when passing peeps. I learned a long time ago not to judge a book by its cover in life and especially while cycling. All day, I only saw two other tri bikes! It may have hampered my climbing with my 54T chainring, but I loved my aero later in the day fighting the winds! We made a few more passes and dropped everyone we passed. Ed started to crack a bit around mile 25. We had these two climbers right in front of us and I kept trying to get eye contact from Ed before making the pass. He just wouldn’t look up!!! I went for it hoping that he would follow…after about 30 sec I turned back to see him in no mans land in between the climber guys and me. I knew that was just going to motivate the climbers to bridge the gap. 30 sec later I heard them chatting right behind me and when I looked Ed was nowhere to be found! The guys were great and we played catch-up with each other all day. They pulled ahead and I tried to hang to no avail! I used this opportunity to push as hard as I could to get in my hillwork. I met up with them at the top at the mile 29 reststop. They were laughing that I was going to crush them on the rollers. This was the one stop where I waited a bit for Ed and I was surprised that he crested next and no one had passed him.
We then started on what we thought was going to be a fun descent. The problem was the lingering fog had socked in the mtn top and it was a treacherous decent on the wet and windy one lane road. We had to be very careful on the turns, but we escaped unscathed! Next we hit the rolling hills I train on all the time. This is where the wind picked up and stayed with us the whole day. It felt like we had a constant 15-20mph headwind all day. Within seconds of hitting the wind, I pulled away rocking in my aero bars and decided to hammer out some watts. The climbers were right in front of me, but I held back on passing to see if Ed was going to be able to hang. It was obvious that wasn’t going to happen so I hammered my pedals and fought the wind. I passed the climbing duo soon and held onto what I though was the virtual lead until the 56mi stop. I chatted briefly with those guys after they rode in and they were training for the Shasta double century with 17k in climbing…say what?! They are nuts!
The climbers took off right before me and I stayed with them till just before the 78mi stop. We had gone from Livermore, through Sunol & Castro Valley and were now somewhere on Redwood road. That is where the climbing began again and they pulled away. At the stop, I just had a quick refill and was off. They told me that I was now in fourth and not third. They had even been surprised when the new leader showed up at that 78mi stop, as that was his first stop. At this point I was happy with my position and continued the hill training. As I struggled up a nice 12% climb a tandem with race numbers flew by me, as if I was standing still…I couldn’t believe a tandem could climb that well! That fired me up and I just worked the remaining hills.
They did a great job of marking the route with arrows on the roads throughout the day. At mile 91, I saw an arrow turning left and was in a fog and just went along until my garmin screamed that I was attempting to climb a 31% hill! This was the first time I’ve ever jumped off my bike and pushed it up the hill. It was about 1/4 of a mile to the stop sign at the top and I was sure this wasn’t part of the course. I pulled out the course map and of course it says in caps: “DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLIMB BATES RD”. So I cruised down and saw that the left arrow was pointing to a trail alongside the highway. Just as I turned onto the trail my back tire blew out. I didn’t want to lose my position, so I treated the flat as a speed test. I was able to get back on the road in under 2min and was psyched with that time.
I was pretty fired up to finish at that point and worked the last 8 or so miles. I finished the day in 6:08:38 averaging 16.3mph on a windy course with 6,398 of climbing. My buddy Ed finished around 6:30 and had a good time out there. I was psyched to be able to accomplish some key goals on this ride. The first was to get a long hard workout in. Then to address my two weaknesses from Oceanside 70.3 in climbing and wind training. I’m psyched with how my biking is progressing and looking forward to a fun summer of racing.
Now I have less than six weeks until Hawaii 70.3 and have a few weeks of heavy training before my Alcatraz swim on May 22nd. I’m looking forward to going all out on that swim and to be rocking my TYR Cat – 5 Hurricane wetsuit!