This past Saturday a few friends planned to ride a portion(100/200 miles) of the Devil Mountain Double (DMD) century as part of their training for the official ride in two weeks. The real DMD ride basically starts out from Dublin and climb over Mt. Diablo to Patterson and then over the backside of Mt Hamilton and the famous Sierra road then back to Dublin. The overall elevation gain is roughly 20,000 feet (note Mt. Everest is 29,000ft).
I decided to tag along with a decision to cut it short and turn around somewhere in Livermore. 100 miles seemed very long for me at this point. The longest I rode thus far is 75 miles and mostly flat. These guys I know ride almost 100 miles every week all year round so it will be hard for me to keep up.
The first 40 miles was the typical Sunol stuff that was not anything new to me but the moment we turned away from Livermore onto Altamont Pass road the scenery changed significantly. Traffic got thinner and thinner. Air got fresher and fresher. The hills are greener and greener. Cows are happy and fat. Then we came to our half way turn around approximately 3-1/2 hours later in Mountain Homes/Tracy and that was when I realized I committed to the whole 100 miles ride. I was just hoping that the route back will be the same or flatter.
We took Patterson Pass road back instead of Altamont just because it is part of their training ride. It is really remote out there and up closed to all the wind mills. The view was spectacular but to get to the summit we have to climb a 6 miles long with an average grade about 10% and wind gut around 20mph. The wind mills are there for a reason! Couple of miles into the climb the group started to spread out. Stronger riders became a tiny dots in front of me and slowly vanished in thin air. Those I left behind were nowhere in sight. Until we hit the summit and regroup I was by myself inching up the hill with every pedal stroke. I stood up on the steeper part and sat down when my lower back started to hurt. Not a single soul nearby except for the cows occasionally moo to cheer me on. The whistling sound of the wind was background music to the lush green hillsides motion picture. Despite the hard work and dripping sweat on a cold and cloudy day I found some sense of happiness – alone in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Perhaps it is my way of coping and finding happiness. The psychiatry term for it is proactive avoidance (when the person gains control of situations through their own actions, anxiety diminishes). During that instant moment I felt free and relaxed.
I do not suggest anyone wasting gas to drive out there since I wouldn’t do it myself but it is a nice scenic area to check out. I would suggest to start riding in Livermore – Altamont – Patterson and back to Livermore to finish the day with dinner at the Wente winery.