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  1. #1
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    Restoring my faith in cyclists - Mt Diablo ride

    Sorry in advance for the long post, i realize brevity is valued here, but I've never been accused of being concise:

    So, I'm guilty of occasionally disparaging road cyclists as a group, and it's easy to do - I can't tell you how many times I've passed (or been passed by) a guy riding an exotic bike, full rapha/assos/whatever kit who is unable to respond to a simple good morning. Or, on a quiet back road, passing an oncoming cyclist who responds to a nod or wave with a sneer or glare. It's easy to paint cyclists as an aloof and unfriendly crowd.

    However, this weekend, I was reminded that this is not really the case. I live in northern california, and I frequently ride up and down Mt. Diablo via the North Gate road (for those not familiar, it's a grueling 3.5K foot, 11 mile climb). On Sunday morning, I made the ride up, and started down to enjoy the long curvy descent. About 6.5 miles down, I got stuck behind a slow moving car, and got a little too close. Consequently, I was unable to react when a pothole appeared out of nowhere. I hit it dead on, and my front tire started hissing immediately.

    I got over to the side of the road, and pulled out my spare tube and CO2 cartridge. As I pried the tire off and worked on replacing the tube, 3 cyclists stopped to make sure I was okay, including a guy on an italian bike with a skinsuit and a set of Zipp wheels worth more than my car. He was heading down the mountain, and actually slammed on his brakes at about 35mph to make sure I was okay. I thanked them all, but assured them that I had everything i needed and they continued on their rides. Tube in, tire on, ready to inflate. Good to go. So i pressed the CO2 fitting to the valve and BOOM! my only spare tube blew like a shotgun shell. Ears ringing.

    Stuck. Normally no big deal, a 4 mile walk until i can call a cab. But in this case I started to worry a bit because I was taking care of my dad that day - he has advanced Parkinson's and he panics if left alone too long. No cell reception, so lost the phone-a-friend option. Eff me!

    I waited about 10 minutes until I saw a woman riding up the hill, and sure enough, she stopped to ask if everything was okay. Putting aside my pride for being so stupid, I asked if she had a spare tube, and offered to give her some money for it. Not only did she give me her only tube, she refused to take any cash for it. She also let me use her mini pump to get my tire inflated to a pressure suitable to limp home. I thanked her profusely, and pedaled the remaining 12 miles to my dad's house. He was relieved to see me.

    Anyway, if anyone is reading this who stopped (particularly the lovely woman who gave me her spare tube), THANK YOU!! You have restored my faith in my fellow cyclists

  2. #2
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Faith is believing something without proof.

    Glad you made it out alright.

  3. #3
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    Glad you made it back, I've been meaning to get over to Diablo, maybe in a couple of weeks. Good thing, it wasn't that rode by, if I saw that you were stuck because you only used co2, I would have left you there for the wolves...just kidding! but you should really get a mini.
    fogriderlooking for sun

  4. #4
    Senior Member dleccord's Avatar
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    good story. now, is there less car traffic on the weekends or weekday? and when is a good time you recommend to climb mt diablo? thanks!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ice41000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speling_champ View Post
    Sorry in advance for the long post, i realize brevity is valued here, but I've never been accused of being concise:

    So, I'm guilty of occasionally disparaging road cyclists as a group, and it's easy to do - I can't tell you how many times I've passed (or been passed by) a guy riding an exotic bike, full rapha/assos/whatever kit who is unable to respond to a simple good morning. Or, on a quiet back road, passing an oncoming cyclist who responds to a nod or wave with a sneer or glare. It's easy to paint cyclists as an aloof and unfriendly crowd.

    However, this weekend, I was reminded that this is not really the case. I live in northern california, and I frequently ride up and down Mt. Diablo via the North Gate road (for those not familiar, it's a grueling 3.5K foot, 11 mile climb). On Sunday morning, I made the ride up, and started down to enjoy the long curvy descent. About 6.5 miles down, I got stuck behind a slow moving car, and got a little too close. Consequently, I was unable to react when a pothole appeared out of nowhere. I hit it dead on, and my front tire started hissing immediately.

    I got over to the side of the road, and pulled out my spare tube and CO2 cartridge. As I pried the tire off and worked on replacing the tube, 3 cyclists stopped to make sure I was okay, including a guy on an italian bike with a skinsuit and a set of Zipp wheels worth more than my car. He was heading down the mountain, and actually slammed on his brakes at about 35mph to make sure I was okay. I thanked them all, but assured them that I had everything i needed and they continued on their rides. Tube in, tire on, ready to inflate. Good to go. So i pressed the CO2 fitting to the valve and BOOM! my only spare tube blew like a shotgun shell. Ears ringing.

    Stuck. Normally no big deal, a 4 mile walk until i can call a cab. But in this case I started to worry a bit because I was taking care of my dad that day - he has advanced Parkinson's and he panics if left alone too long. No cell reception, so lost the phone-a-friend option. Eff me!

    I waited about 10 minutes until I saw a woman riding up the hill, and sure enough, she stopped to ask if everything was okay. Putting aside my pride for being so stupid, I asked if she had a spare tube, and offered to give her some money for it. Not only did she give me her only tube, she refused to take any cash for it. She also let me use her mini pump to get my tire inflated to a pressure suitable to limp home. I thanked her profusely, and pedaled the remaining 12 miles to my dad's house. He was relieved to see me.

    Anyway, if anyone is reading this who stopped (particularly the lovely woman who gave me her spare tube), THANK YOU!! You have restored my faith in my fellow cyclists
    Tiny glueless patch set would make huge difference.
    Just sayin'.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ice41000 View Post
    Tiny glueless patch set would make huge difference.
    Just sayin'.
    In his case , probably not, Just sayin'. Most likely the original and tube he installed were beyond that.

  7. #7
    Senior Member snidely's Avatar
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    There are good and bad in all groups, ethnicities, economic ranges, internet forums, or whatever other categories you can lump people into. Good and bad in all of them. Glad you had a good day, and that you learned something.

    Now, carry an extra tube from now on for the next guy.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    I used to ride with a gent who is still the local master race hero around here. I was amazed at how he slowed to chat with any and every bike rider that we caught. He was always so pleasant and really an ambassador to cycling. I have carried that spirit and always stop and ask a cyclist if they have everything they need. Several people have been very surprised by this. Two weeks ago I was in my car and saw three cyclists stopped on the side of the road wrenching on a seat post. I had my cat in the car and no parts/tools with me and could not stop and felt terrible about it. I did see them all riding shortly afterwards and was happy they got it sorted. Anyway, last week, I went out for a ride on my road bike and my front wheel went wobbly. I was limping it home when a nice couple offered me a lift in their truck. I thought that was nice. So I made it home and grabbed my CX bike to squeeze some sort of ride in and came across three cyclists sitting by the road with one of them staring at a broken Cervelo frame. I felt so bad about not stopping for the guys the week before, that I offered them my bike to finish their ride. Since I am not training so much anymore, I would have been happy to walk his bike a few miles to my house so he could finish the ride and pick it up later. They had already called for help so there was no need but it felt good to offer.

    I continued my ride and actually caught the other two guys later and rode together for a few miles. I have ridden solo for so long that I forgot how fun it can be to have a few other riders around. They were riding at a good pace and it took some effort to catch them on my CX bike.

    This has gotten me to thinking that we should make a location and phone database of anyone here who is willing to make a network to help a stranded rider if he/she is within helping range. Anyone up for making an app?

  9. #9
    Senior Member CactoesGel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snidely View Post
    There are good and bad in all groups, ethnicities, economic ranges, internet forums, or whatever other categories you can lump people into. Good and bad in all of them. Glad you had a good day, and that you learned something.

    Now, carry an extra tube from now on for the next guy.
    It's always nice to read a story like this. You can never have enough good things in life. Glad you're okay.

    +1 on paying it forward


  10. #10
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    There real question is whether those nattily outfitted riders would have waved had you not been stopped and in need of assistance. They likely wouldn't deign to acknowledge your existence ordinarily but helping out someone less fortunate than themselves appeals to their sense of magnanimous superiority.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  11. #11
    Senior Member goenrdoug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
    This has gotten me to thinking that we should make a location and phone database of anyone here who is willing to make a network to help a stranded rider if he/she is within helping range. Anyone up for making an app?
    There's an app called LIFE360 that is mainly made for family tracking, but one can join multiple groups and turn on/off the sharing of their location with any/all of the groups they are in at any time. If one were to create a 'the41' group and invite others from the forum to join, one could conceivably use it for this purpose.

    I understand Strava premium has a feature that allows friends to share their location, but I don't have premium, so can't really comment on it. Life360 is a free app.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dleccord View Post
    good story. now, is there less car traffic on the weekends or weekday? and when is a good time you recommend to climb mt diablo? thanks!
    Weekdays definitely have less traffic. On weekends traffic starts picking up around 10:30am, if you start around 8am you'll see mostly bikes. I generally choose start times based on the heat. Late afternoon also has almost no traffic.

  13. #13
    Senior Member gc3's Avatar
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    Way too much feel good stuff going on here. Bah humbug, I say, bah humbug!
    "I tried being reasonable, I didn‘t like it."

    "I understand. I just don't care"

  14. #14
    Senior Member dleccord's Avatar
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    how long does it take to go back down? and do you recommend the north or the south for beginners? im thinking about biking from the costco in san ramon parking lot and going up mt diablo.

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    Really... This is just another waving post.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Ice41000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Smedley View Post
    In his case , probably not, Just sayin'. Most likely the original and tube he installed were beyond that.
    Hitting pothole and puncturing means snake bite which is easily repairable by patches.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ice41000 View Post
    Hitting pothole and puncturing means snake bite which is easily repairable by patches.
    Sometimes it is , often not.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Almost always snake bites are repairable with patches. Personally, I've had many on road and mtb and never had any I couldn't repair with a patch, even ones that were bad enough to rupture the sidewall of the tires and bend the brake track of the rim. I had a ride a few years ago where I hit a bad succession of potholes and wound up with two pinch flats (4 holes) in the front tire and one pinch (two holes) in the back. I replace the tube with four holes and used a stick-on patch on the rear (to be replace later with a glue-on).

    If a tube blows while inflating, it's due to its being pinched between the rim and tire bead.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dleccord View Post
    and do you recommend the north or the south for beginners? im thinking about biking from the costco in san ramon parking lot and going up mt diablo.
    The south side is a little easier (and closer to that Costco). You start at an elevation a few hundred feet higher on the south side and you get a little breather in the flat section around Rock City.

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    Had a similar experience once when I bonked and took a rest on the side of the road. Many stopped to ask if I was OK and needed food / drink.
    Name should be Yac Zam... Apparently I may be dyslexic?

  21. #21
    Senior Member IronHorseRiderX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dleccord View Post
    how long does it take to go back down? and do you recommend the north or the south for beginners? im thinking about biking from the costco in san ramon parking lot and going up mt diablo.
    South Side (Danville)
    Strava Segment | Athenian School (South Gate) to summit W/O the piddle paddle in the parking lot at the top!!!
    Strava Segment | Mt Diablo Descent - Summit to S Gate

    North Side (Walnut Creek)
    Strava Segment | Diablo North Gate entrance sign to summit parking lot (LKHC)
    Strava Segment | Mt Diablo Summit to North Gate Decent

    If you know your FTP you can estimate your climb time quite accurately looking at Strava data (look at riders with powermeters and narrow down by weight).
    As far as descending goes I would say it is 35mins or so either side - depends on your skills and how much risk you willing to take.

    There is almost no traffic on working day up until 10AM or so and minimal traffic on evenings.
    Keep in mind that the sun will be right in your eyes descending in the late afternoon (after 6PM or so).

    On a weekend try to start climbing as early as 7AM or even earlier, car traffic starts at around 8AM and will be heavy entire day.
    Lot's of non-local folks - the ones who drive all over the lines and will not hesitate overtaking in blind turns or come to complete stop going up / down (it's crazy but does happen) and such.
    Take it easy descending - be prepared to come to full stop right after the blind curve because of a car right at front of you stopped or someone overtaking using your line.

    There's a kiosk on top (located inside the beacon lighting) - they usually open 10AM-4PM and sell Gatoraid and power bars, there's also water fountain (open all the time).

    Athena school gymnasium has bathrooms and they usually open at around 7AM - afaik that is the only bathroom available outside of the Mt Diablo park.
    Athena school parking lot opens at 8AM.

    There's all kind of riders there - some riding very hard and will not bother waiving or stopping as this will simply ruin their entire attempt, same goes for someone who descending very fast - not a good time to be friendly.
    But most casual riders are very friendly and will stop and help, I was on both sides and must say it is really nice atmosphere there.

    Have fun

  22. #22
    Senior Member dleccord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronHorseRiderX View Post
    South Side (Danville)
    Strava Segment | Athenian School (South Gate) to summit W/O the piddle paddle in the parking lot at the top!!!
    Strava Segment | Mt Diablo Descent - Summit to S Gate

    North Side (Walnut Creek)
    Strava Segment | Diablo North Gate entrance sign to summit parking lot (LKHC)
    Strava Segment | Mt Diablo Summit to North Gate Decent

    If you know your FTP you can estimate your climb time quite accurately looking at Strava data (look at riders with powermeters and narrow down by weight).
    As far as descending goes I would say it is 35mins or so either side - depends on your skills and how much risk you willing to take.

    There is almost no traffic on working day up until 10AM or so and minimal traffic on evenings.
    Keep in mind that the sun will be right in your eyes descending in the late afternoon (after 6PM or so).

    On a weekend try to start climbing as early as 7AM or even earlier, car traffic starts at around 8AM and will be heavy entire day.
    Lot's of non-local folks - the ones who drive all over the lines and will not hesitate overtaking in blind turns or come to complete stop going up / down (it's crazy but does happen) and such.
    Take it easy descending - be prepared to come to full stop right after the blind curve because of a car right at front of you stopped or someone overtaking using your line.

    There's a kiosk on top (located inside the beacon lighting) - they usually open 10AM-4PM and sell Gatoraid and power bars, there's also water fountain (open all the time).

    Athena school gymnasium has bathrooms and they usually open at around 7AM - afaik that is the only bathroom available outside of the Mt Diablo park.
    Athena school parking lot opens at 8AM.

    There's all kind of riders there - some riding very hard and will not bother waiving or stopping as this will simply ruin their entire attempt, same goes for someone who descending very fast - not a good time to be friendly.
    But most casual riders are very friendly and will stop and help, I was on both sides and must say it is really nice atmosphere there.

    Have fun
    You are very kind in taking your time with your reply. Thanks

    As soon as I get a hold of a set of aluminum clinchers, this will be my first big climb.

    Do you recommend lower psi initially since the descend will surely heat the tires up quite a bit? I normally run 100 psi on the flats.

    Thanks again!

  23. #23
    Senior Member IronHorseRiderX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dleccord View Post
    As soon as I get a hold of a set of aluminum clinchers, this will be my first big climb.
    Do you recommend lower psi initially since the descend will surely heat the tires up quite a bit? I normally run 100 psi on the flats.
    Honestly I do not think you need any kind of special wheels for Diablo (what you do need as big as you can get cassette )- I see ppl riding all kind of CF wheels all the time.
    My average speed descending is barely above 22mph (bottom 50% of strava's leaderboard for that descent).
    There's few places where you can go 30mph+ easily (that is without any pedaling) but even that is not really fast.
    Just take it easy and pay attention to turns and signs - those warning 15 mph yellow sings will help you to start braking early.
    You probably don't want to ride Diablo on a very windy day with 60mm+ deep wheels - wind is very strong up there, especially on a last third of the climb.
    I rode couple times with my recently purchased 50mm wheels in ~20mph wind and it was far from pleasant experience but I expected that

    I always pump up to recommended tire pressure - 100psi or so.
    Right now I have Vittoria Open Corsa SC and ride them at recommended 115/120psi (did a least dozen climbs in that configuration within 3 months).

    If I climb on a cooler day - let's say anything below 85F or early morning I put lightweight cycling windbreaker jacket (like t his Amazon.com : Pearl Izumi Men's Elite Barrier Jacket : Cycling Jackets : Sports & Outdoors ) in my jersey back pocket.
    Usually there's about 10F difference and while 85F feels perfect for cycling once you made it all the way up 75F in a moderately windy day will be not so comfortable and even less so when you will be gunning down at ~20mph with no pedaling .
    I've noticed that many people are wearing scullcaps on a cool days as well.

    There's several members on this board who ride Diablo and blog about it - Diablo Scott's Bike Blog , you may find it useful.
    There's also several regular group rides - google for details, they usually start at around 8AM on weekends from Peet's (Danville/Walnut Creek) but I never tried it so do not know details.

    Hope it helps

  24. #24
    Senior Member IronHorseRiderX's Avatar
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    Saw these guys yeasterday NorCal Group Rides: Cycling and Training In the Bay Area | NorCal Cycling News - Cycling and Racing in Northern California

    Quest for the Golden Pine Cone (AKA: Junction Hammerfest).

    When: Every Thursday following Daylight Savings Time through early October.
    Where: Meet at Peet’s in Danville, 6PM departure, or meet at the South Gate boundary at 6:17.
    Lowdown: A solid effort from the boundary at South Gate to the Junction Ranger Station (Mount Diablo State Park). A great climb.

    Most of these guys are very fit & fast.

    More leisure rides done on a weekends from Mike's Bikes but I can't find working link at this moment.

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    I was riding in Napa and a guy asked for a patch. I handed him a tube. He offered to pay, I said no. He asked where we lived, so he could bring one - I said don't worry about it. I didn't stick around to help because I wanted to get my ride done, so I felt a little bad about that. He seemed to be shocked about the tube. I felt bad for the guy, figured he needed some good luck.

    I also needed some good karma. While taking a break I taunted some folks on a ride around Tahoe who were getting snowed on (on Facebook). It then started to rain in Napa. I figured I needed to make an offering to the cycling gods.

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