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So I had fun on my first brevet a month back, and I had registered for this brevet also so it was time to go ride again. I will have to apologize before hand to all riders I met this time, I forgot ALL their names, I am really bad with names... This time the riding started at 6 AM so I woke up at 5 AM and started asking myself if I really wanted to go ride based on questionable weather reports. The forecasts called for clouds, and then rain after 6 PM. I figured I would be able to complete this 300 K brevet in about 16/18 hours, so that meant I would be riding in the rain at night, not a pleasant thought for me. I decided to take my chances and go. All this lazing around under the blankets made me late and I had to race trough San Francisco streets to get to the starting point on time. Barely made it when the group was listening to Todd's (our brevet administrator) final instructions before the go. After the group left I got my card from the Brevet Administrator and tried to catch up with the main group.
Right before the first hill of the day, Camino Alto, I was with a group of riders. We kind of climbed together I was riding with a rider (forgot the name or never asked him?) and all of the sudden I realized a larger group was behind us. It turned out they were following us, I know this part of the route very well, these streets are part of many popular routes that start in San Francisco. Once we got on Sir Francis Drake I left the group to get some food stuff at a convenience store. While riding near Samuel P Taylor park a group of riders passed me at a good pace. I jumped at the back of the line then they decided to take the bike path inside the park, I continued on the main road. When I got to the intersection of Platform Bridge, and Pt. Reyes Petaluma Rd. I stopped to eat something, soon after the two groups I had ridden with earlier showed up, I rode with them. Somewhere near Nicasio Valley Rd there was the "secret" control, more riders were there getting their cards signed. We all left pretty much at the same time and soon after the hill broke up the group into smaller ones. Two of those groups arrived very close together to the first control, the Petaluma Safeway. Others where there and everyone seemed in good spirits. After a restroom stop and the required purchase (to get a receipt) we left pretty much in the same order we arrived. I rode with the group out of Petaluma and through Santa Rosa, it was getting cold again so I decided to stop to put on my wool jersey. When I resumed riding I could see the group in the distance and then they disappeared from my view when I stopped at a long traffic light. I had the cue sheet in my pocket and knew I had to turn right on Mendocino, sure enough I turned left and end up adding about 4-5 miles to reconnect with the route. I was having fun riding with the group and wanted to catch up with them, bad idea I will pay for it later. I caught up with a lone recumbent rider said hi and told the story of my bad turn he was not very talkative and riding I little bit slower than me so I moved on, but not for long. At the the next traffic light I rode straight and heard somebody shouting, the recumbent rider was letting me know we were supposed to follow the same road we were on (it was a weird turn as the the road made a 90 degree turn) More catching up, I think I thanked him when I passed him and rode alone to the next Control, the Safeway in Healdsburg. The group I had been chasing was there but by the time I finished my restroom break and purchase they were long gone.
I felt tired for the first time. When leaving the parking lot I almost took the wrong turn, this time it was the turn for other riders to shout "this way!" I had forgotten to move some power bars from deep inside my hydration pack to my pockets so stopped to do that and then for the next couple of miles I was trying to join those riders. By the time I got to them I was even more tired. It was nice riding with them as they were talkative. I pretty much sucked wheel behind all the way to Hwy 1 where they dropped me at the first hill. The group I had been chasing earlier was in view. All this effort and energy chasing them had taken a toll. The next 10 miles to Bodega Bay where long. I got to the control at 3 PM and bought some Gatorade and a slice of pizza. I was ready to claim a piece of the ground to put my food down when the pizza when flying and landed face down on the ground, it was very funny and we all had a good laugh at my expense. Bought a new slice and ate it. Changed the lenses of my cycling glasses for clear ones, installed the backup light on my helmet and left towards the last control. This time I was not chasing anybody.
I am very familiar with the road from Bodega Bay to San Francisco. At least once a year I ride to Bodega Dunes Park and camp overnight; a place I first discovered when doing a tour from Seattle to San Francisco some years ago. By 5 PM I was at Marshall, got my card stamped but did not eat there. Most riders like to eat the Clam Chowder at this small store, I don't care much about this soup so it was a very short stop for me. By the time I got to the intersection of Hwy 1 and Petaluma Valley Rd. I had turned my lights on, the road was busier than what I expected to be considering it was overcast and a good chance for rain (according to our own inaccurate local news weather casters) As I approached the Nicasio Valley Rd. hill it started drizzling as I climbed the hill it turned to rain and then it stopped. On the urban side of the Fairfax hill it was raining again, and it continued all the way into Mill Valley. Then into Sausalito where the ride was very easy and then to the end of the ride at the Golden Gate Bridge visitor center parking lot on the San Francisco side. The time was a few minutes shy of 9 PM, I had completed this brevet in about 15 hours, less time than my best estimate. There were two other riders talking with Todd, they left and I stayed behind talking with him for a little while.
I consider myself a seasoned rider. I always ride at my own pace, I am not afraid of riding alone (I actually enjoy it) and know how my body reacts to different efforts. However this time I broke several of my own rules and paid for it. Although my overall time was better than what I expected I think I would have had even more fun had I not decided to chase anybody and paid more attention to the cue sheet :) I think that counting myself there were only two riders on mountain bikes, both of us had similar early 90's frames with Shimano DX components. I bought mine online for $36 (complete bike including shipping!) last year when I was looking for a commute/trash bike. It came with thumbshifters DX derraileur and a bunch of other old stuff. It has served me very well but I have replaced the original wheels with some first generation XTR hubs that I built with some old Mavic 117 rims, also replaced the seat with an Avocet O2 and the pedals with cheapo Performance Campus pedals all of which I had in the parts bin. For me its all about how I relate to the bike I am riding. Does it "talk" to me? Do we have some fun history together? do we take care of each other etc. It's not much about brands, prices, tradition or weight, it's all about my relationship with my bike, like a relationship with a pet. As pets, machines have a way of communicating with you. I have three other bikes most of their individual parts alone cost double what I paid for this complete bike. However for the last year the heavy ugly scratched Miyata 1000 MTB has had most of my attention. Maybe next year will be the folding or the custom MTB... I just know I prefer MTBs over road designs, in fact I have never owned a bike with drop bars. For me the next SFRandonneur ride will be the Populaire, I probably will do that one of the other MTB bikes.
For me the appeal of the San Francisco brevets is their unsupported nature, the very low entry fee ($12 for this distance) and of course the fact that they start in town where I can ride to the starting point. After this my second brevet I know I like this randonneuring thing but I'm not interested in completing a series leading to a 1200K brevet. I just enjoy the camaraderie and riding through areas I would normally not ride, unless I was touring which involves more time and planning.
(First posted February-28-2005 at 08:00 am)