Last year, 2012, I was made aware by an email sent to the San Francisco Randonnuers (SFR) mailing list of a Kickstarter project involving a new bicycle light concept. Using eddy-current a guy in Germany had figured out how to harvest energy from the moving wheels of a bicycle and deliver enough light for riding at normal speeds, not just light to be seen but light to ride with. Cool! I love new ideas and if I can help an individual more points!. Many randonneurs took a skeptical stand. To some degree, randonneurs are usually divided in two camps, the retro/grouches that don't want/consider change and stick to tradition and the ones who are very much into gadgets, doodah and such. I think I fall somewhere in between. I am pragmatic, If I like the function, aesthetic and after doing my research I come to the conclusion it would work for me and I can afford it, I'll adopt it. I went and read and watch videos and made up my mind. I would order the Magnic Light, a set of two front lights, $250.
As the project evolved the developer figured a way to make the light smaller and more efficient keeping the same cost. At the end he offered to deliver double on his original concept. Instead of two front lights, I would get two front and two rear lights, double cool.
The developer keep sending updates and finally about 7 months after they were promised I received my two front lights and two rear lights. The SFR 600 km brevet from San Francisco to Fort Bragg and back was in 5 days the perfect opportunity for...
Show up a little before the start, claim my Brevet card, do my little ride and come home to a hot shower. Simple.
So I did. I was able to get to the start with a few minutes to spare and enough time to chat with John P before we headed out. We were ahead of the pack crossing the Golden Gate Bridge which is nice, after that I rode with the lead and second group until we got to White's Hill where I did not want to chase anyone so early. I had a chance to chat a little with other riders, talking about La Ruta Loca Randonnee with Jeremiah J who did it a few years ago and wants to do it again but has not been able due to schedule conflicts also talked with Eric W who was doing his first 400k and longest ride so far, Metin U team partner on the recent 2013 NorCal Fleche, Mike B who I rode with for more than half the SFR 2012 400k and many other riders. All happy to be riding on such nice day.
A little Northwest brezze was getting stronger.
By the time we turn from Nicasio Valley into Point Reyes Petaluma Rd the group was probably 15 riders strong. Mike and I rode to the Cheese Factory where he stopped for a short break. I kept going alone and and the long miles from there to the Valley Ford only one or two riders passed me. I could not see anybody ahead on the distance or behind me, something unusual so early on this ride. It was now officially windy when a group of riders passed me on the big rollers of Hwy 1, I jump into that train. We got to the Bodega control where I went in got a soda, some water and....
After last year's crazy Fleche with Brian K. where we rode just the two of us from the start knowing we would not get "credit" and being late to all controls because of the tough mixed terrain route, I wanted to ride the San Francisco Randonneurs (SFR) Northern California Fleche using an easier route. At the end of this year's SFR Point Reyes Light House 200k Brian asked me if I was interested in doing the Fleche and create a team, of course!
So the emails went out to a few potential suffering partners/victims, I mean teammates.
At the end of the SFR Russian River 300k Heath A. asked me if I was doing the Fleche and I invited him to join us. A few days after, his bike got most parts stolen while parked outside overnight and he was not sure he would have a bike for the ride.
As the Fleche day was getting close Megan A. contacted me via email. I had meet Megan briefly at the end of 2012 SFR 400k when she was volunteering. She had heard from our Fleche Coordinator Extraordinaire Roland B that we were looking for more team members for a mixed terrain route. Her timing was almost perfect, I had still not received confirmation from some of the friends I had sent invitations and within a week they confirmed they were not able to do it. Megan was in our team and I was trilled. It makes a huge difference to have a randonneusse as team member.
Very close to the Fleche day we were 4 members. Having done this Fleche business for 4 years before I had learned that a lot can change from the time one decides to join a team and the event day. One morning I woke up and remember Metin U. He first rode one of my mixed terrain rides last year and also started the first run of La Ruta Loca Randonnee 200k Populaire. Why didn't I though of Meting before! I sent him an invitation to joined us and he was very exited to do it....
Late to the start, again! Got there when riders were starting to roll. For some odd reason all riders were riding on the west side of the bridge instead of the East. Bryan C told me Rob (our RBA) had asked riders to do so but I wondered why. The Bridge crew is notorious for forgetting to remove the signs that announce "No bikes beyond this point" all the time. Anyway since I was already late and in the back of the pack I did as everybody else and rode on the West side.
I do not like to start on the back of the pack because traffic on the bridge is crazy. People start the ride riding side by side and blocking everybody else behind them. I think if we all need to ride on only one of the bridge sidewalks perhaps we should also set courtesy rules so we ride on single file and only use the extra space to pass other riders.
I was able get a little pass the worse of the randonneuring traffic with the help of my bell and "on your left". Near the top of Camino Alto I was alone and just another supper visible rider ahead, that had to be Jack H. As I got closer I confirmed it was Jack but also start laughing as he had....
This beauty has been in use by RUSA since the very beginning, I think. I have always thought it is as current as the cold war, pay phones and VCRs and pretty as the back of my stove. My intention with this comment is NOT to offend whoever came up with the logo above but just to express how I feel about it.
Too much time in my hands? One day while waiting for a riding partner to arrive I started playing with the memo app of my Galaxy S3. This is the raw idea I came up with. A concept for a RUSA logo
On a slooow morning, I came up with this RUSA logo, (© 2013 Carlos Duque) What do you think? I have never purchased anything with the RUSA logo on it as I think it is the ugliest thing. This one can be easily be reproduced as a reflective patch and also lends itself to be used in the same way as the current (uggly) one. Want to attract new riders, young riders, more women? Perhaps an update to the image is in order? PLEASE RUSA powers that be, would you consider changing that ugly thing with anything else? Does not need to be mine above but anything else that looks better than what you use now. Oh yes many would feel my version is worse than the current one and I am perfectly fine with that, create your own new version and let's move this idea of changing RUSA's anticuated image.
BTW if you, RUSA, want to use my logo design all you have to do is ask and I'll give you all use rights.
Once again, no sleep the night before, the head kept spinning and dreams full of numbers and math problems, completely wired all night. I'm sure the espresso with brandy I had early evening had nothing to do with it :)
I had registered for the event earlier in the month and a couple of days before I had commited to be a good SFR host and "guide" Ana Helena, A randonneuse visiting us from Brazil, to the start of the event. She was staying a couple of blocks from my place on the way to the Bridge. Had I not told Ana I was going to show her the way I would have stayed home inside the cozy sheets.
My plan was to get ready as if I was riding but just take Ana to the start and then come back home to continue napping. However once we started rolling I started feeling better, by the time we arrived to the Golden Gate Bridge I was almost ok. I signed up my name on the box and that was it, I was doing the 200k....
What the heck I'll do it I told myself while on a beach in Mexico where I had not been riding and just drinking cocktails and eating so-so buffet food non-stop. I confirmed my registration and my fate was sealed.
Upon return from the short vacation I had only one opportunity to ride and it was a short one. Promised myself to do some indoor riding at home on the rollers but work got on the way and my plan quickly faded.
Unlike most other San Francisco Randonneurs events, this brevet starts at 8:00am, a luxury. However the start is out there on the boonies (for me) the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station that meant I either drove ~45-60 minutes to the start or took BART. John P was taking bart so we arranged to meet on the way to the station and take the train....
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