No rain and nice temperatures during the day, a little cold at night. That's what was expected for Saturday so no fenders were needed this time. I would ride the lighter Habanero frame just like I did on the same route in 2007. The 6am start was a little rough on me, I am not a morning person but a ride is a ride; at 4:30 the alarm went off and I got ready to go face the road.
As usual, I arrived at the start with only just a few minutes to spare and had forgotten to turn the GPS on. Said hi to Greg and Max and other riders that were near where I placed my bike and within moments we were moving. Well they were moving, I let most riders go before me. Somewhere along the Mill Valley bike path I remembered that I had to turn the GPS on to record this route so I did it at the first chance I had, the bottom of Camino Alto Hill. The same miles we always ride to get out of the urban area went fast. On the other side of White Hill, just past Fairfax the temperature dropped quite a few degrees, I hear it was 31°, it was cold. As the road went under the tires the day became warmer to the point that at Valley Ford, a stop to peel some layers and buy water was not a bad idea. I had been riding with a larger group but when I was riding towards the back of the paceline Rob suggested we waited for Bruce. We left the Valley Ford store together heading West and faced the damned looong rollers that I am so familiar with. It is all good, it is all good was inside my head.
My left leg was holding ok for now but Joy road was coming up. We had lost contact with Bruce so Rob was going to wait a little for him. I started climbing this lovely torture and this time it did not feel as bad as in 2007. At least now I knew it was a bitch of a hill with many false summits. I took it easy and made it to the top in one piece, I could hear familiar voices pushing their pedals behind me. Now we were connecting to Bohemian Hwy and I could not help but to hum a few lines from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. I was moving on the downhills taking advantage where I could to compensate for he shortcomings of my left leg. I needed to ride at the edge; enough speed to make it with a group but slow enough to have a somewhat healthy leg for the next weekend when I would be riding the Fleche. Rob, Bruce and Tim H. caught up with me and we rode together to the first Control just a few miles away. The Guernville Safeway did not have good soups today so chili would have to do, ate and got ready to go. A second group of riders came not long after us, Gabe, John, and Brian (JimG missing this time from their group) We left without the last group but gained other riders who where there before us. Now the group leaving the store was larger...and faster. I took my turn on some rollers on the nice road that connects to Healdsburg, here the leg complained and I felt very tired, it would take a while for me to recover.
The now larger group lead by Chris B., Ken S. and Tim moved us towards Cloverdale, we were not going that fast but I was feeling tired. Having a larger group meant we had more people to chat with and also a wider range of rider skills. By now temperatures were very pleasant actually even warm at times. The green hills and spring flowers were inviting me to spend time with them on a picnic, too bad no time for that today. At Cloverdale we stopped to get water and a hope for fresh legs. Again Gabe, John and Brian came short after. After Cloverdale the road climbs in a gentle way, however being as tired as I was it felt like if I had a few pounds of rocks inside my frame and seat bags. The leg again complained. I had plenty of time to think about my riding. Climbing at a different cadence that what I am used to has been the hardest part of being injured. I am used to push a larger gear going uphill and that workes very well for me but for almost a year now I have been affected by first an accute pain on the left side of my crotch and then from trying to adapt to the pain it seems I pulled a muscle in my thigh that has not completely heal. I am registered for the 600k but as I was going up the hill in pain it did not feel like a good idea to do it this year. I had plenty of other hard rides coming my way but the longer (600k) and this year's version of my own LRLR (200k mixed terrain with ~15k of climbing) are the rides that concern me. If I had to choose, my love goes to the mixed terrain, that is the most epic ride I have ever done and would love to repeat it. Plus if I get stranded in the hills with an injured leg I am only a few miles from San Francisco urban area. In the 600k the story is different.
Back to this program. After a while the road decided it was time time to give us a break and I took advantage of its benevolence, downhill fast I went... for a while and then up again and down again and once more. We saw no traffic at all on this road, great for riding. At the end of the hill the Hopland control was waiting, almost 4pm. Our second Control of the day. We all did our shopping and took over all but one of the tables on the porch. I bought some powered doughnuts and offered to other riders but SFR are a healthy bunch, nobody took me up on the powered doughnuts, most of them went for the more healthy choice of salty chips and crackers :)
Again we got up and left. My butt did not want to go and my left leg was not happy. Now we had even more riders, Christian F., Kitty G and Antony G. among them. I did hide in the back for a while but eventually the paceline head found me. We were now, after riding close to the highway, riding ON Hwy 101. Rumble strips and all the shoulder was a lot cleaner than what I remember from 2007. This stretch is very scenic at least from the bike seat. When I was at the front of the paceline and close to the exit we were taking, Tim rode up to me and told me somebody had a flat. I could see the exit sign so we rode to the exit and waited there. Ken and Christian came not too long after.
Now off of the hwy the road parallels it and small rollers kept the legs busy. Right at Geyservile we stopped for water and regroup. Then came the drama for the day. Bruce noticed he did not have his brevet card and more important his wallet! Last time he had it was 30 some miles back at Hopland. I told him we could hope the group behind ours had picked it up. He was getting ready to go back but we all had our time wasting theories. Eventually time won and the next group of riders come through. They had Bruce's fannypack! I think they agree to spend the reward money Bruce offered them on a free round of beer at a future brevet.
We were moving again, and I was still tired. More rollers more small hills and now a little chill in the air, time to stop and put the layers back on. Almost time for the lights. I was using lithium batteries on my taillight and primary (Dinotte 200L) light, the helmet light did not like the lithium disposables, it would not go to high or med when I tested it at home, the regular NiMH rechargables worked just fine. The taillight and the Dinotte looked to be brighter when running on the disposable lithiums. I used the Dinotte on low except when descending fast.
So the night came and we rode at a nice pace all roads moved us closer to Petaluma. Ken got a second flat but this time on a rural road (can't remember which one) it was a break I welcomed. Fortunately we ride the very boring, straight and and flat roads at night, that breaks the monotony of this most unremarkable stretch.
When we got to the third Control at the Petaluma Safeway I asked if we were going to have dinner at a restaurant or at the Safeway. The Safeway. I was a little disappointed but also understood most riders were eager to finish and we were very close to the end. We had dinner, a not so good sandwich for me and some tomato juice.0
Now again the group had new riders that were there when we arrived or came after us. We all left together, maybe 10-13 riders. As soon as the shifters were used to move to a lower gear we split into several smaller groups. My left leg was not happy but I told it not to worry I will give her a break later on. I was climbing in the very back at my steady pace. Some of the riders started to fade near the top, I pushed on and pedaled down the other side of the hill. Full speed all systems on, lights at the maximum brightness, a rush. I love descending fast at night.
The front group was too far ahead for me to even see their red taillights but I was happy descending. Somewhere way ahead I saw a little red spot and worked towards it. I caught up with a rider and then Ken joined us. Now our three quiet bicycles were near another hill, smaller but at this point elevation gains were painful. Another exhilarating descent, again full lights and full speed. My two companions stayed a little behind. I would keep looking back to check how soon before they joined me. It would take a while, actually they joined me as I started climbing the last part of the Nicasio hill.
One more time, full lights...at the bottom, Sir Francis Drake was waiting. Ken rode in front, I was too tired to even try to lead. Right before the hill that separates this valley from Fairfax I told Ken I was going to do a restroom stop. They moved on. A rider went by while I was there, he asked if everything was ok.I waited a little and checked the road behind me for randonneuring lights but none were visible. I was starting to get very cold so it was time for me to move.
I eventually caught up with Christian and we rode together to Larkspur and then climbed Camino Alto, we had only one more hill after that. I had to dig into the frame bag for a gel to help me climb out of Sausalito. We did this last hill at a slow pace. The night was clear and near the top the temperature was significantly warmer. The view of San Francisco from the Golden Gate deck was, as usual, spectacular. We rode the last couple of miles to the final Control where we got 19:35 hours after our start the day before. The friendly SFR volunteers cheered our arrival.
I stayed there long enough to see other riders I had spent the better part of a day come in, Bruce, Rob, Ken (when/where did I pass him?) Kitty and many others. JimG was volunteering at the final control we chatted while waiting for Gabe, Brian and John to arrive. After they arrived and more conversation, Brian (on his way to downtown to take a bus back to Oakland) JimG and I rode to our beds. A nice ride but I am worried my leg is not going to be up to the 600k challenge. We'll see. Next weekend I will be doing the Northern California Fleche, a 360k, 24 hour event.
Results for this event are here
My GPS Map & Profile (Can download file in KLM or GPX format) However note the track is a little short and does not go all the way back to the bridge. This is the result of using GPSBabel to make the original GPX file smaller and then uploading to the fiile to everytrail.com. If you want to have the original file please contact me.
(First posted May- 1-2009 at 12:41 pm)