Morgan Fire Burn Area Hike

September 24th, 2013

In Sept 2013, the Morgan Fire burned  3,100 acres in Mt. Diablo State Park. Although the park is on the edge of the San Francisco metropolitan area, the back side is rugged terrain and can feel very remote.  We took a hike through the burn area and took a few photos. We plan to return semi-regularly over the next year and document nature’s recovery.


We hiked down a fire road to a spot on the map labeled “Frog Pond”. We were hoping to see some dragonflies, but this late in the season, the “pond” wasn’t even a marsh – just a dry bowl.  We happened upon the remains of a private residence called Green Ranch. It has been a weekend/Summer home for a family that lived south of the mountain from around 1938 until the mid 1960’s when the state bought the property as part of expanding the Park. The house was demolished in the early 1990s. All that remains is an empty swimming pool, a tennis court and some foundations with chimneys. The house was on the edge of a high ridge and must have had spectacular views over several valleys. The Morgan Fire didn’t quite reach the foundations, but got very close. Finding this bit of history in the woods was a real surprise.





Tour of California 2013 – Stage 7

May 19th, 2013

Every since the first edition of the Tour of California in 2006, SF Bay Area riders have hoped and dreamed for a stage finish on Mount Diablo. Rising 3,200 feet above the surrounding terrain, the summit of Diablo offers spectacular views. The road the the summit is a local cycling icon.  For stage 7 of the 2013 event, the race started in Livermore, looped over Morgan Territory and Patterson Pass before taking on this ten mile climb. We knew we had to be there to see the action.

Logistics of the finish were going to be tricky. There is a huge portable road show that has to be setup at the finish line and very little room to do it on Diablo. The upper parking lot at the summit of the mountain is tiny, with maybe a dozen parking spots.  The final stretch of the road up is one-lane wide, with essentially no shoulder. We expected the summit lot  be closed to spectators and the final 200 meters of road to be jam packed with spectators. On race day, cars were being stopped about 4.5 mile down from the summit, where the two lower roads merge into the Summit Road. Bicycles were being allowed higher on Summit road, to about 2.5 miles from the summit. We decided to make the day a hiking day, capped by a bike race.

We parked on the North Gate Road and hiked about 3 miles up to the summit. 5 hours before the end of the race, the summit lot was already closed and spectators were starting to crowd the final approach to the finish. Since we do not like crowds, we went back down the trail to Devil’s Elbow. This final switchback, a mile below the summit, gave us a great vantage point to relax and admire the view. We opted to sit on the hillside, rather than at road side so we would have better panoramic views. 

I just bought my first macro lens, so while we waited for the race, I wondered around looking for bugs to shoot.

The Tour organizers published a first-rate app that allowed us to track the race progress throughout the day. It started with reading text feeds, but with 2 hours to go, they turned on the live video. We sat on the hillside and watched live coverage on my phone. Eventually a couple of other spectators came over and we shared the video stream. Everyone was amazed that AT&T had better coverage in that spot than Verizon. This meant that we had to use my phone instead of my tablet (I cover all my telecom bases), but it worked out extraordinarily well.  We were able to watch the race unfold and enjoy being on-site. When the race came by, we actually knew what was going on.

Once the race was over, we hiked back down the car.  When we got home, we fired up the Tivo and watched the climb again. Live streaming was cool, but there is only so much you can see on a 4.5″ screen in the bright sun.


Happy New Year

January 4th, 2009

If we are not traveling and it isn’t raining, we try to get out to ride our bikes up Mt. Diablo on New Year’s Day. This local tradition brings all sorts of riders to the mountain on all sorts of machines. The odd machine this year was the rare carbon fiber tandem recumbent trike. When we stopped at the mid point to mingle with the crowds we happened to roll up next to a couple of other Rivendell bikes. It was amusing to have a stranger walk over and ask if it was a gathering of vintage bikes. “Yes.” I said. “Mine is vintage 2005.” and another rider said, “Yes, mine is vintage 2007.”

This year’s weather was complex. Winter around here can mean bright sunny days in the 50s or cloudy, dreary cloudy days in the 40s. We’d had some pretty steady days of living in Deary Town since mid-December and New Year’s Day was no exception. This is where it pays to be able to see further ahead than your nose. The dreary days are days of thick morning fog and a layer of low clouds the rest of the day. The trick is the remember that the clouds only go up to about the 2,000 foot mark. Mt. Diablo is over 3,800 feet tall. The view from the summit was worth the slog through the dull lower slopes.

  • Tandemhearts' photo
  • The road up slope on the left is in bright sunlight, while the road on the right is in thick fog.
  • Veronica takes a break high above the dreary land below.
  • From the summit of Mt. Diablo, the cloud layer below rolls in and out of the draw.
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Rivendell Bike Weekend – III

May 22nd, 2007

  • Beautiful headbadge on a gorgeous custom Rivendell.

This past weekend, Rivendell Bike Works hosted their third, not quite annual, gathering for owners and enthusiasts. We met on Saturday morning at RBW World Headquarters for some snacks and socializing. The highlight for me was being introduced to the delicacy known as “breakfast pizza”. I never heard of such a thing in the past, but I’m a convert. Gone are the days of left over, cold pizza for breakfast. Now I’m on a quest for pizza meant to be “the most important meal of the day”.

  • The Riv guys and gals fed us well. Breakfast pizza - what's not to love!


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Devil Mountain Double – 2006

April 30th, 2006

For the 3rd time, Veronica took on the Devil Mountain Double. This 206 mile, single day event, is arguable the hardest double century ride in California. The day started cool, and ended hot. Veronica improved on her personal best by completing 133 miles, with 13,000 feet of climbing. Just wait ’til next year. (more…)

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