You can do it
From the San Francisco Randonneurs website "A brevet is a long distance recreational ride that is timed. Brevets are offered in progressively longer distances in order to prepare you for the challenges of the longest events such as the Gold Rush Randonnee, Boston Montreal Boston, or the Last Chance Randonnee in 2005. A brevet tests your endurance and provides a unique opportunity for self -discovery. This Brevet was organized by the San Francisco Randonneurs and the entry fee is a super low $5 (for the 200K distance.) I'm not a fan or organized rides but this type of ride has a very different feeling to it.
I woke up around 5 am and could not go back to sleep so I decided to make some coffee, take a shower and get ready to ride to the starting point of the brevet, which was at the visitor center parking lot on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate bridge. Left home on my regular commute/war bike, my beloved Miyata 1000 MTB, at about 6:15AM and rode to my daughter's work to say hi and get a full cup of espresso (she works at the Peet's Coffee - lower level of Whole foods @ Franklin and California). It was still dark so I was riding with my helmet and handlebar lights, the weather was not too cold and it seemed that it was going to be a clear day. When I arrived at the starting point there were at least 40 riders ready to start, I tried finding Todd our brevet administrator, since this was my first time I had never met him before and I was looking for a cyclist with a bunch of papers, but as it turned out he wasn't riding this time. He gave me my card and soon after provided few instructions/comments and set us off at 7:00 AM.
It did not take long for the group to break up into smaller groups, the riders at the front group were setting a very fast pace, a little too fast for my taste so I just rode at my own pace. We descended into Sausalito and rode the bike route all the way to Fairfax, the morning was beautiful. After climbing out of Fairfax the route descended into the San Geronimo Valley; on this side of the hill the sun was obscured by the thick fog and many riders stopped to put their jackets back on, the temperature dropped a bit. I started getting cramps in my legs, it was colder (I think 40F) than what I consider comfortable riding weather. I stopped to get something to eat from my large hydration backpack and moved on. Once I got to the bottom of the Olema hill, right after Samuel P. Taylor park, the fog had lifted and the sun was shining. So far it was all familiar roads but then the route pointed towards Point Reyes Light house, I had never been to that part of the north bay. I stopped to get some Gatorade at a convenience store before Inverness, A number of brevet riders where there buying supplies. I got some Gatorade and thought it will be a good idea to buy some Tumms (calcium tablets) since I had experienced cramps earlier, this proved to be a very good idea.
The road was very quiet and scenic. Soon after Inverness the road started climbing, something I enjoy. The road had many rollers and they turned to longer hills near the first check point, the parking lot at the light house. The last hill before the checkpoint was steep. I got there and had my card stamped went to the restroom and left soon after that. On my way out to the checkpoint, the riders ahead of me were coming back, this part of the route is an out and back so I calculated they had a 45 min. gap on me. Those guys were riding a fast paceline. I continued riding at my comfortable pace. Got to the same convenience store I had stopped earlier and replenish my badder with more Gatorade. Now the route rejoined hwy 1 going north, I was again riding familiar roads. The next stop was in Marshall, a small community inside Bodega Bay. A large number of riders were at the store where we all were to get our card stamped , most of them where having clam chowder, a specialty of this store. I decided to have another cliff bar, do a pit stop in the bathroom and get going. So far I had been fueling my body with cliff bars, Gel packs and Tumms. So far this diet had been working very well for me.
Marshall is the point where the ride starts moving back towards San Francisco, this has a big psychological effect on me. I can feel I am closer to the finish. The route backtracks on hwy 1 to right before Point Reyes (the town) and then follows the Nicasio reservoir shore. Some brevet riders passed me on this part of the ride. By now the roads were more crowded, nothing too bad. There was a longish climb out of Nicasio Valley where I caught up with and lead the same riders up the hill. We then descended into the valley, the same one that earlier in the morning was covered with fog. Now the sun was shining and the temperature was very pleasant. I had to go to the bathroom to get rid of all that Gatorade I had been drinking, there is not a single place out of public view in this busy stretch of road. So I'll have to wait until Fairfax. I was going to get an espresso at a coffee shop where I usually stop on my rides but it was very crowded so I kept on going to the bike shop in town (Can't remember the name) and asked the guys at the shop if I could use the bathroom and of coarse they let me. This is a very nice bathroom and the toilet seat felt very comfortable on my tired butt. Gave the shop guys a big thank you and moved on. It will be no more stops from now to the end.
From this point on I fell energized, I was getting closer to home and the body was feeling fine. I pass some more brevet riders on the hill out of Corte Madera and then caught up with another group. I climbed out of Sausalito and flew across the Golden Gate bridge to the final check point. I think I was 5:40. Talked a little with Todd, thanked him and rode home where a nice bath and greasy calzonne where waiting for me. My total distance including the ride from and to home was 140 miles. I really enjoyed this, my first ever Randonneuring brevet.
(First posted February- 1-2005 at 08:00 am)