Every so often I have the opportunity to share the joy of cycling on the West Coast with my friends that live far far away.

I had such a joyous occasion last year. My good pal Dan arrived with bike in tow and for a week I proceeded to show the splendors of Northern California.

We have kept in touch always planning the 'Next Big Trip"

Since Dan had the good fortune of whetting his pallet with the pavement that rolled through the hills, to the coast and around the Bay, this year when I was notified that another journey to the West was planned I knew that I had to 'out do' myself this time.

This virgin cycling out west was coddled and looked after on the long climbs. Allowed to 'sit in' & 'suck wheels' on the flats ensuring that these hours on the bike would be memorable.

Jump forward a year.

With several months of smack talk from my East Coast I knew that I had to plan several rides that would send him back to the flat lands of Long Island whimpering, begging to ride on the Long Beach Board walk. Some place that had zero elevation and that he could feel better about himself zipping by the seniors in there 3 wheel cycles treks.

Being fair, I have to complete a brutal road race on Saturday. With several thousand feet of climbing and all but NONE flat sections. Ending on a steep 2 mile climb.

After I suffer through this I am up at 5 am the next day where I am entered in 2 blistering fast criteriums, the first starting at 7 am and then the next at 9:30.

We are setting up a teammate for the win and this is a big race for the team.

So, when my Nassau County buddy arrives I would have had my lower half shredded and worked over.

Monday being a day of rest, Tuesday is going to be a respectable ride to loosen the legs.

Wednesday will be the day where I finally bring the man of elevation of zero to dizzying heights of over 4 thousand feet of climbing.

From the 3, 849 foot summit - you can see from Marin to Modesto - a large part of Northern California from atop the summit.
From the 3,849 foot summit - you can see from Marin to Modesto - a large part of Northern California from atop the summit


Descending on the back side of the mountain we will head out into the remote hills of Morgan Territory. The 14.5 mile Morgan Territory Road, one of the most beautiful roads in the San Francisco East Bay. Here we will need to ascend the thousand foot climb and then be on the South East side of the mountain we had summit earlier in the day.

Morgan Terrirory
Morgan Territory

Sandstone hills within the park's 4,147 acres are adorned in spring with more than 90 species of wildflowers, including the Diablo sunflower (Helianthella castanea), which grows only in the foothills of Mount Diablo. Deer, coyote and even the elusive mountain lion may be seen here, and a variety of raptors frequently soar overhead.

Circumventing the mountain, we'll arrive back at the starting point. With good intention I fully expect our New Yorker to dribble out of his mouth "NO MAS"

Thursday, I will allow for some rest and easy spinning and on Friday might have him climb Mt. Hamilton with me where the home of Lick Observatory is. Mt Hamilton is approx. 4,209 ft. A link for the readers to fully enjoy what is in store for our friend. http://www.chainreaction.com/mthamilton.htm

You are at the top
Summit of Mt. Hamilton

At 4200ft+, it is the tallest peak in the Bay Area, eclipsing Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tamalpais and Loma Prieta. And, at 18 miles, it's also the longest (although the climb is punctuated by two descents of approximately a mile each).

Mt. Hamilton
Mt. Hamilton

On Saturday, if he brings his MTB pedals I'll take him on a local MTB ride through lake chabot.

We'll play it by ear from there.....

Either he'll become a chiseled, hardened cyclist or a pile of limp wet noodles begging for the Cedar Creek bike trail.


More info on the rides

Remote and lonely is often the description associated with Morgan Territory.

According to Native American folklore, at the dawn of time, Tuyshtak (today's Mount Diablo) was the sacred birthplace of the world.


Morgan Territory Road
The 14.5 mile Morgan Territory Road, one of the most beautiful roads in the San Francisco East Bay, stretches from Manning Road north of Livermore to Marsh Creek Road east of Clayton, at times a single lane wide—for ten miles there is no center line—and without a single intersecting through road. It began as a muddy wagon track linking ranches in the Black Hills and east of Mount Diablo. The northern slope of the road largely follows Marsh Creek. The northern part of the road was officially accepted by Contra Costa County in 1886 and designated “Morgan Road” in 1892.

After realignment the southern section was accepted by the County as a public highway in 1895. A short southern section in Alameda County was designated “Beck Road” in 1907 for John Beck, a nearby landowner and for some years the through road south was Finley Road. The southern section rises from the 600’ contour to 2,063’ at the summit. A quarter mile section with a 14% grade is known as “the Levy” for early landowner Samuel Levy, who owned the adjoining property. A “summer road” until 1937 the southern road section was graveled from Manning to the Levy; locals called it the “Black Hills Road.” The northern section from the last creek bridge north was graveled in the 1930s. The road was paved in the 1950s. Bowerman (1944) shows the road as the “Livermore Road” according to historian Annie Homan.

06/06: Santa Rosa.......

Well, it was disappointing that only Rick and I raced at this outstanding downtown technical criterium.

That was the icing on the cake of a week that totally sucked. Early in the week I had been to the doctor regarding a very painful shoulder issue. Looks like it could be or couldn't be for that matter a slight tear in my rotator cuff.

Jump forward a few days. Won't bother with the gory details but to make a long story short, it sucked.

Driving up to Santa Rosa I must have missed the exit. I took 680 and then was going to cut over.....after getting through Napa I realized that I was going the wrong way....29 37, 121, 166, man, all those roads look the same esp. at night.

So, what should have taken an hour took 2 and a half.

Arriving at the motel at 10:30 pm, I was up and down and up and down and up and down trying to get the door key to work.

Fast forward to Sunday morning.

BEAUTIFUL day. It was even more beautiful that Mr. Storm drove up for the races.

We were on the line, Rick, Ray and I. Ready to roll...all the men and boys ready for battle eyed one another, sizing up the competition.

Casey blew the whistle and we were off for 45 minutes of pure racing fun.

The course bends to the right about 100 meters from the line, then a right turn and then a left turn and then a right turn and another right turn for 2 blocks before you make another right toward to home stretch.

Feeling better than I thought I would or that I should considering the last few days that I have had I was quickly starting to enjoy myself. YEAH, this is bike racing, I am having fun, diving in the corners, riding fast, moving up, taking wheels, spitting, snotting and loving every minute of it.

The encouragement of Lou the unofficial team mascot (Lou is a large and lazy Rot with a bad hip)and 2 pies shouting made it that much more special.

After the first right turn and getting ready to make a left, wouldn’t you know that an unattached rider, wearing a blue non descript jersey and plain black knickers with unshaved legs who happen to tell me his name was Isaac after the fact swung a little wide. The turn was wide enough that his rear derailleur went into MY front wheel. The sound of metal on metal was loud and distinct. Losing control of my front wheel and pretty much my bike the date with the pavement looked like a sure thing. I shimmied left, I shimmed right getting ready to do the roll so that I wouldn’t land on my shoulder and become another collar bone casualty.

Not sure how or why for that matter, perhaps I had suffered enough this week and the kindness gods where showing me some favor I was able to keep the bike upright.

The crowd went wild. The songs of praise filled the air. I had given the spectators what they came to see, exceptional bike handling skills and danger and adventure.

My wheel was wobbly my go get ‘em drive was gone plus I didn’t have another set of wheels in the pit. My day was over. I would soon join 2 pies and Lou. Together we’d bark at the pack as they sped by.

I’ll make a long story shorter.

I borrowed Ray’s front wheel. This was the dirtiest, worn, training wheel I have used. Ever.

He complained that he rode like shit and couldn’t control the bike in the corners.

When I put the wheel on, when the race started, when we hit the first turn…..I, yes I was one of the objects of the angry shouts “ HOLD YOUR LINE”

Could this be? Next turn, the bike got away from me again and I was having a hard time cornering.

The tire seems to be extremely over inflated and from what I hear the spokes were suspect.

I didn’t last long in that race.

Rick rode fantastic and was nipped on the line for 5th place taking a 6th place finish.

The race had deep, lucrative prizes. 1st place in the 4s was awarded $250, with several cash prizes.

Next year.

25/05: Berkeley Hills Road Race Report 5/14/06

(Please see the attached maps to get a sense of the lap route and climbing involved in this race. My race did three laps, including climbing the three climbs - which are called the Three Bears - three-times)

After feeling pretty ripped-off by Saturday's Cat's Hill, I came into Sunday feeling very motivated and strong. My only fear was the fact that I had not switched out my 11-21 cassette. I was not sure if I could do 3-Bears three times in only a 21. However, I refused to change the cassette the night before out of fear of possible mis-shifting.

I had never raced this course before, except for the Pinole TT 2-years ago. So, I was not sure about the course after the Bears. However, I felt pretty confident about the course. I don;t think that I am a real climber b/c I am just too big. However, I know that most riders have even less of a climb than I do, so I figured that I should be able to stay with any breaks that could possibly stick.

We lined up after a 30-minute delay. The morning temps were soaring and before we knew it the sun was beating on us and temps were sizzling near 90-degrees. My race had three climbs up the 3-Bears. On the first lap I wanted to get a feel for who could climb and who would struggle. So, the first lap I found myself leading the pack up the 2nd and 3rd climbs. I wanted to ride my pace and just see if people would fall off the back or what. After the first lap most of the 50-riders were still in tact.

During the second lap I decided that the field would probably not break up too much more. We had 35 of the 50 riders still in tact, so clearly we had a strong field. I decided that I would work no more and literally sat on the back of the pack. During the flat stretches of the 2nd lap I was quite often the last rider. As breaks went off the front, I let them go knowing that no one is going to break away before the climbs. Therefore, folks up front covered breaks and I just sat in... (go figure, I guess I do listen a bit).

The third lap found me up in the top-15 for most of the lap. My plan was to attack before anyone else on the final climb. I listened to the breathing and lack of conversation after our second trip up the climbs and knew that people were suffering. Therefore, I knew no breaks would stick before the final climb and that I would have stronger legs than most folks. A couple of breaks got off on our last lap, and one even got up close to 15-seconds. However, I knew that they were coming back...

We approached the final climb with the pack together and we were riding at a good speed. Just before the climb, a good friend of mine from Fusion mentioned out the side of his mouth that I was the man...At that moment I thought, Damn Right I Am!!! The rode kicked up a bit and off I went... Attacking my little heart and lungs out... I got a big gap on the group. I saw one rider bridging up to me and he finally caught me. The pack was still a ways down the road... I rode with my catcher for a bit then he powered off without me. I was running out of steam fast, but damn if I was losing second place. I just rode hard, with sweat dropping all over me trying to power up that ridiculous last climb.

The winner finished about 3-seconds ahead of me and I came in second with the third place rider and pack finishing about 10-seconds down. My best result ever and I was pretty stoked!!!

What did I learn (as Teddy always asks):
1) Don't look back or ahead when attacking. I wished that I had just looked down and powered up that climb. Looking back created fear and when I looked up I felt that the finish line was a mile away.

2) Sit-In... It helps out a lot ;)

3) If you attack, attack so that no one can grab your wheel. Attack with full desire.

4) It doesn't feel so bad to be the first loser :)

24/05: Patrick L. on the Tour du Park

I was in the Cat 3/4 race at Cedar Creek Park. Not my best race performance, as I was caught behind the field split with about 21 other riders and we all got pulled on the 15th lap of 25. The race started at a blistering pace. I managed to get a prime starting spot right on the line and I gave it a strong kick to be first wheel into the hairpin. I crashed in that corner last spring and broke my collarbone, so I didn't relish the notion of diving in there in a pack of 80 anxious racers. Thru the corner quickly and I'm still on the front (foolish waste of energy) pulling into a very strong wind as we approached the rise at the top of the park. As I crested the rise, Ken Harris came by on my right and it was 'game on.' The field started accelerating past me as we turned our backs to the wind. I probably lost 20-30 places before I could find a spot to tuck in. The first lap averaged 24 mph, even with the standing start. The speeds just increased from there. Lap 2 avg speed was 26.8mph, lap 3 was 27.9mph(!) and took just 02:02. That's probably the fastest lap I've ever done at Cedar Creek. The speed seemed to settle down after that third lap, with most laps at 25.5-26.5 mph. The field was pretty strung out and I wasn't paying attention to what was happening up the road. Shame on me. A gap opened about 10 riders up and split the field by about 8-10 yards. Moments later, a crash in the hairpin slowed the back of the field a bit and the small split suddenly became a big split. Realizing what happened (and cursing myself for letting this happen to me) I went to the front of my group and tried to chase. A few other riders helped a lot, most notably Rob Kolb from Edgemont, Scott Lipe from Babylon Bike and another rider in a dark blue kit (though I can't recall the team). We never really got the chase organized however, and one rider (who shall remain nameless) insisted on sitting 3rd or 4th wheel but wouldn't pull through, which kept breaking up the rotation. In hindsight, I really don't understand his tactics. He's a good sprinter, so if he just got out of the way and let us try to close the gap he might have gotten a chance to sprint with the main pack. As it was, he was just spoiling his own chances. We eventually gave up and at the 14th lap the officials let us know that our group had 1 lap to go as the lead breakaway of four was closing in on us. A few guys sprinted for the glory of 35th place, but I just rolled in, frustrated at having to watch my own field finish from the sidelines. Next time.....

For the numbers geeks among you, here's some power data:

The first lap was the hardest at 346w avg. (I went hard from the gun and pulled into the wind until the hill), the next 4 laps averaged 279w, 272w, 263w, 300w respectively.

Here's the overall data for my race (while it lasted)
Duration: 33:33
Work: 553 kJ
TSS: 69.1 (intensity factor 1.111)
Norm Power: 289
Distance: 14.562 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 840 275 watts
Heart Rate: 139 186 179 bpm
Cadence: 45 116 97 rpm
Speed: 3.3 32.6 25 mph
Torque: 0 374 74 lb-in

Patrick Littlefield