The Joys and Sorrows of Biking

Lately, I’ve been going on longer bike rides. Last week, I decided to take my brother’s advice and climb more hills. So, looking for a challenge, I found myself going up Mt. Diablo. I went farther than I expected (about 7.8 miles up the mountain). I didn’t take as much water/G2 that I needed to stave off dehydration, and I knew that by the time I came home, showered, and ate, I would suffer a familiar pain in my Gulliver (that’s A Clockwork Orange reference) that comes with a lack of liquids. I recovered, but it took most of the day, lots of fluids and food to get my body back to normal. While it was a pretty great feeling to have ridden that far, I sort of beat myself up for being kind of stupid by not planning better for the ride. And a few days before the Mt. Diablo ride, my boss and I went on a bike ride from Pleasanton to Livermore that was about 23 miles round trip. Now after that ride, I felt pretty energized, but famished and craving red meat (which is pretty much my usual craving after a long ride). Thankfully, Julie made steak and I was so very grateful that she basically read my mind.

Today, I went out on a 21 mile ride that started at the John Muir house in Martinez and looped though Crockett and back to Martinez. It’s a very scenic ride with great views of the water, boats, and bridges.  Here’s a snapshot of the map of my ride from our trusty friends at Google:


Click the map to make it larger

Now, I gotta tell you that I was a little reticent about going on this loop. A few years ago, I went with my friend Paul on the same trip and it was a tough ride for me. The reason? Simple. I was really out of shape. But now I’m in better shape and can do these trips with minimal fatigue during the ride.

Speaking of the ride…

The first leg of the trip is a gradual climb up Franklin Canyon Road. It’s not too bad at first. The grade is about 1-2%. But the last 1/2 mile, the grade goes up to about 6-8%. You get a bit of a break with a slight downhill decent, and then there’s another steepish climb to the top of the Cummings Skyway. From there it’s a rapid decent on Crockett Blvd into the the city of Crockett. I saw on my computer that I was topping out at 38mph on the down slope of the hill — which doesn’t seem that fast when you’re concentrating on navigating the twists and turns on the road.

Once you get through Crockett, the road winds up and down for a few miles ’til coming to Carquinez Scenic Drive. That’s where I got lost. There was a fork in the road, and went left instead of right — which enabled me to visit Port Costa very briefly. I’ve been there before, and, quite frankly, the place is pretty run down, but it has some charm. I believe on the weekends the town is a haven for the biker crowd (I’m talking motorcycles), but during the week, it’s a pretty sleepy town.

The main drag in Port Costa

It’s at this point in the trip I got confused…

I doubled back up a steep hill to the Bull Valley Staging area ’cause I knew they had a map at the park entrance.  After consulting the map, I realized I had to go back the way I had just come (except to veer right when I came to the fork in the road). I set off feeling kind of dumb, but ready for the rest of the ride. When I finally got to the point of the trip where the road is closed to autos and motorcycles, I knew it was only about 10 more miles to go. Well, the rest of the ride was uneventful (except for my bike computer’s battery dying) and I finally made it back to my car. I gotta say, what a difference a few years makes. When I rode with Paul, I was really struggling at times. This time? Well, let’s just say that while I did sweat a lot, I was never tired to the point where I felt I had to rest.

I’m not sure if I’m going to ride tomorrow or just have a rest day, but I feel like I’m progressing as a rider with more stamina, riding skills, better technique on hills. So yay for me. 🙂

And lastly… I was going through my iPhoto library, and found a bunch of random photos of some of my bike adventures with friends.  So, I thought I would share the pics.  Enjoy.

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