"I don't give $@!7 how you're feeling, you're f&*#&@$ riding... who else is gonna provide the fart soundtrack to the adventure?" That was my response to John's lame attempt to wimp out of the Dart. So what, it was going to be hot, somewhere around 95F° on the warmest areas of the San Francisco East Bay. I'll be fun! With my BART ticket in hand I left home at 6am Saturday morning. John and I where meeting at the station but he caught up with me a few blocks away from it. The ride to our start location was uneventful except a drunken homeless guy annoying everybody on the train. Gabe was also getting off the train; we rode together to the start of our route, the Safeway at 63rd Ave and College Ave in Berkeley. Within a few minutes Bryan arrived and while I was inside getting some Ensure, Theresa came. With the Ensure distributed among us we started pretty much on time at 7:00am. I was serving as paper Captain for the team, El Rey Sordo y sus Audifonos, but the route was all Bryan's, the East Bay is his domain. As per John, I am El Rey Sordo (The Deaf King). ....
With two backpacks on my back I left towards the start of the San Francisco Randonnuers 2013 Fort Bragg 600k. I have done this event a few times before with mixed results but alway had a good time overall.
This time I was using the Magnic Lights I had just received and tested earlier on the week. Two front lights and two rear lights that, unlike dynohubs, don't create any drag and unlike battery operated lights, don't require an external power source.
Got to the start and looked for Eric W who was taking our dropbags to the Indian Creek campground, a non required stop that most riders would be using to rest and get some extra food in the middle of a long stretch without services (at night)
Took a few photos of riders listening to last minute instructions and we were on our way. I would be riding at an easy pace and trying to make short stops. It has been tow years since i have not been able to ride brevets where I feel well all the time. It is getting better but I still don't feel I am at my "normal".
Just a few miles from the start, when it was time for another photo my camera decided it was time to stop working. The retractable lens got stuck on the middle position and that was the end of it. No more photos, at least not with that camera. Phone photos would have to do.
While ridding through Southern Marin, Rob H asked me what was my plan for the ride. I usually don't have one but this time I had used the calculator I did for the SFR website to print a guide of where I should be and when I should be drinking my plastic calories aka Ensure. I printed two versions one very optimistic finishing on 30 hours and another more realistic, finishing in 33 hours, considering how....
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....
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