January 1st brings high hopes, absurd goals, new zeal, and a practiced ignorance of everything that fell by the wayside in the past year. It’s the time of the year when gyms get their highest enrolments, we get dunned with Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig ads, and training plans for the year get inked. We wipe the slate clean (well, some of us just smudge the slate) and start over again. A blank slate looks so much more positive than one filled with excuses, lapses, and astounding failed resolve!
Actually for me 2012 was a damn good year. After four years of wrestling with a knee injury I finally have been pain and irritation free for the latter half of the 2012. Believe me, nothing has been more dispiriting than repeatedly tweaking an injured knee and not being able to get it to heal. That was the best Christmas gift ever! Roger and I cycled our tandem through the French Alps in June and then the French Pyrenees in September. The highlights were challenging ascents up cols—the Col de Saisees and the Cormet de Roselend in the Alps, and Superbagneres and the Tourmalet in the Pyrenees—made all the more enjoyable by having a pain-free knee! Different Spokes didn’t do so badly either for hitting the big 3-0. We had an unusually high number of rides offered, our membership grew modestly but steadily, and we had a pleasant array of social events throughout the year including the club picnic in a new venue, Redwood Park, and the return of the Orinda pool party. Turnouts for rides especially the monthly Jersey Ride have been, well, not crowd swarming but still big and nowhere as diminished as the tiny grouplets we saw when the club was in the doldrums when it hit 20 years.
Starting off the year with a Big Ride, say up Mt. Diablo, is a statement. We resolve to ride awesome roads, climb and descend breathtaking hills, lead/participate in ass-kicking club rides, and hoover up scrumptious pastries whenever possible. We resolve to get stronger, train more, party more, and eat to excess more than ever. If you’ve been lurking on the sidelines, this is the year when you can resolve to come on a club ride finally. If you’ve been riding by yourself mostly, this is the year when you can resolve to show up on more club rides. And, if you’ve been coming to club rides for a while, this is the year when you can resolve to lead a club ride. Let’s make 2013 bigger, awesomer, and just way more kickass than 2012!
Speaking of kicking ass, nine people resolved and showed up for the club’s New Year’s ride up Mt. Diablo. No rain, good sunshine, and perhaps less excessive drinking meant we had a bigger than usual turnout. Riding up Mt. Diablo is a challenge at any time of the year, but on January 1 it’s like a slap in the face: do me if you dare. It’s friggin’ cold, sometimes there’s ice (or snow), and every honch in the area who isn’t doing the San Bruno Hill Climb is instead motoring up Diablo putting your measly, withered legs to shame for all the indulging you’ve been doing over the holidays. Those Christmas cookies and egg nog come home to roost when your hurling (in both senses of the word) up North Gate Road trying to catch your buds. David Gaus, soon to be past President, and Nancy Levin, soon to be ex-Women’s Outrach, came with something to prove: neither had been to the top before. David Sexton and Gordon Dinsdale were starting another intense year; last year both did over 12,000 miles (that’s a 1,000 miles a month!) and this year they’re contemplating doing a million vertical feet of climbing (that’s about 20,000 feet of climbing every week of the year. Since Diablo is about 4,000 feet, that’s like climbing Diablo five times every week.) The rest of us were just along for the ride—David Volkmann, David Goldsmith, Roger Sayre, and Peter Graney. The fabulous Mrs. Moy aka Roger Hoyer offered to meet us at the junction with hot coffee and freshly baked maple scones to take some of the sting out of the cold weather.
All the local clubs were heading up as well—Valley Spokesmen, Diablo, and Grizzly Peak—so the mountain was swarming with cyclists of literally every type and shape, from BMX bikes to tandems to mountain bikes to every type of road bike. And, every age too from young preteens to lots of grey haired elders and everything in between. After woofing down as many scones and cups of hot coffee as we could, everyone took off for the final push to the top. It was like salmon heading upstream to spawn: cyclists were swarming everywhere, pushing upward and shooting downhill. In this madhouse were a few cars trying to make it to the summit as well. It was amazing that no one was hit. Speaking about salmon swimming upstream, the weather was very amenable until we started getting eastern exposures, which revealed that a nasty east wind was brewing. Fighting the headwind and feeling it sap what little body heat I had made me feel like I was in a mountain stream. The temperature was in the high 30s but the wind made it feel much worse. Just before the last pitch Nancy and I saw snow by the side of the road. The final 19% slog wasn’t blocked by a stalled car as it was last year, but somehow it didn’t feel any easier. Oh right, I was pushing a 42×24 gear instead of a triple. That would have been ho-hum when I was younger but I’m almost 60 and gears that high on major climbs are mostly a faint memory. But I made it! The top was crowded with cyclists and cars, the former mostly crowing over having made it all the way to the top on a frosty morning. Nancy and I were the last ones up and everyone else had already left to escape frostbite for sure. After piling on every piece of clothing we had for the descent we took off. We had to ride the brakes all the way back to the junction because of the traffic! Off we went to Danville. The temperature returned to the saner 50s by the time we got to the bottom. Lunch at Chow topped off the day: warm soup and more hot coffee! Great things this year? We shall see.