As soon as I found out there was a mountain in the neighborhood, I knew I wanted to ride to the top. As soon as I found out the Amgen Tour of California was going to have a mountain top finish there, I knew I wanted to be there. Since arriving here I rode to the mountain several times, and even tried to climb it on two occasions. The problem was two-fold. First,....I am not built for climbing (or conditioned). Second,....my gear ratio was set up for the flat lands of Ohio & Florida. The second was an easy fix, and done so the day before the event. Not much time for any practice rides,.....oh well. I had a date with Mt Diablo.
My plan was simple. Put on my DCC gear ( complete w/ Dolphins flag in back pocket ), go watch the start then ride off ( and up ) to the mountain. All the while getting as many pictures as I could.
At this point I had no idea what I was in for, or that I would ride 62 miles by the time I arrived back at home.
It was a mere 9 miles from home to Livermore, the site of the start to Stage 7. If you know me, you know I get where I'm going early as to beat the crowds. Hence a few nice photo-ops,....
As the crowd started to grow, you have to know I got "the look" form more than one person. It seems the more into cycling one gets, the more they turn into a bike snob. Either that, or they got no love for the Dolphins. Either way,....I was going to see this adventure through.
Around 10AM the team buses and support vehicles started to arrive.
SPOILER ALERT !!!
The winner was an American,....and he rode for Team BMC, Tejay Van Garderen.
Now time for something funny,.....something uniquely OFF4L.
After I bought my merch, got my pics, I settled in over by the starting line. It was here that I saw Barry Bonds walk right past me. I quickly tried to get a picture, but I was slow on the draw and only got the side/back of him. It only took a moment before I realized I could roll up on him and get a pic "with" him. Now,....I don't like baseball and from what I know of him,......Barry is not my kind of athlete. However, why not get a picture with him. Except,.....I had no idea my camera was set to video. The next two minutes is something I call : Me, My Crotch,.....and Barry Bonds. Enjoy,...
Now that is an interesting perspective,....lol.
Now I thought I have perfected the art of the taking my own pics,....not true. Here is one pic that I wished would have turned out. Jens Voight is the oldest rider on the Tour, and he won stage 6. Here we are,......perfectly blurred,....ughhh.
It was so cool taking in all the sights of a major cycling event. When the race started and all 100+ pro riders rolled out just feet from me, my adrenalin surged. Not to mention the mass exodus of riders heading off to Mt Diablo. I felt good.
On my ride to Livermore, and again on the way to Mt Diablo I felt strong. This soon passed whenI started my climb. The race started at 11:30, putting on the mountain by 12:30,......and it was hot ! While I reeled in several riders on the flats, I was passed by everyone on my climb. I didn't care,....I'm a wide-body, and the biggest hill I rode on a regular basis is the Sanibel Causeway ( 200ft ). Mt Diablo is 3,849ft. In fact, cycling,climbs are rated Cat 1 thru 4,.....or HC which means beyond category. Diablo is an HC, 10 miles from the base to the summit.
It was painfully humbling to be passed by both young & old, men & women. But my strategy was simple; keep the pace slow and stop when I needed a breather.
I was struggling up the mountain when I looked to my right and saw this fellow. I had to get a couple of pictures and here his story.
It turns out that he is really into his Nordic heritage and he has several different versions of his head gear that he wears a various cycling events. Needless to say I like his style.
This photo moves me. 10 KM to the finish is what I was shooting, but it's the guy pulling his kid up the mountain that makes this picture. And he wasn't the only one I saw hauling a load. I saw at least 4 others doing the same. I could barely make it with my fat ass and a small backpack,......again I was humbled.
As I pressed on I passed this sign. I had to get photo,....and another 2 minute breather.
I'll say this, by the time this picture was taken I was gassed ! My legs stung with each rotation and there were times I was barely moving. There was plenty of opportunities to stop, plenty of vantage points with great views to see the race,.....but I willed myself on. Slow,....and rest when needed, that was the plan. And I was sticking to it.
Onward on rode when I spotted another spectator wearing something I could relate too. It was time for a rest, and what better place to take that rest than by a guy sporting a #58 Jack Lambert & Terrible Towel. We yukked it up a bit, and he about shit when I shared my story ( complete w/ pic of Shula, Myself, & my HOF bust). Chalk this one up to "you see the darnedest things, in the darnedest places".
If you haven't noticed, there wasn't much shade on this ride. I was burning up and running low on water when I decided to take another breather. It was then this other rider said, " don't stop you're only 500 yards from the furthest the police will let you ride your bike". Sure enough,...the summit was a mob scene and they bike coral was full. We were given the option to leave our bikes and hike to the top. But who in their right mind is going to leave their bike unattended for a couple of hours,......not me. My climbing for today was done.
You can barely see it, but straight above my head is a small radio tower. That is the summit. I got close, but yet so far away.
There are those of us, DolFans, that are suffering. Nothing like the pain & discomfort I may have felt for a temporary basis,.....they suffering from something far more substantial. Cancer is a fucking bitch. This year I saw even more wreckage, I heard more stories. So soon after I got home from my mountain adventure I enrolled in my 3rd Dolphins Cycling Challenge. Now a few days later, I hear of Ray Manzarek's lost his battle with cancer and it saddens me.
Here is the link :
The ride will be the easy part. Something a bit more difficult,....asking for donations. I again have set a lofty goal of attempting to raise $10,000, yet it could be easily reached if each member of The Phinsider contributed just $1. And to that end end I will climb any mountain,.....even one named Mt Diablo.
I am committed, yet I can do nothing without the help of others. This is your chance to make a difference.
GO DOLPHINS !!!