Randonneurs 2007 200 km Brevet - 1/27/07
SF to Pt. Reyes
Lighthouse, Marshall Store & Return - Approx 125 Miles
a misty and hazy pre-dawn my tires rolled southward over the asphalt
of the Golden Gate Bridge walkway. Normally, bicycles are restricted
to the western side of the span, and it is only in darkness hours
that we get herded over to the "City Side", so it's a treat to see
the first glimmers of the day illuminate the outlines of San Francisco.
Not another person walked or rode, and even the auto traffic was
reasonably light. The bridge seemed as deserted as it could
be. It was odd then to roll onto land at the other end and
see a large moving cluster of reflecting, glowing, blinking and
lit cyclists, gathered near the Strauss statue, chatting and conversing
admist all variety of bikes - a virtual oasis of reflective gear
and protective headwear which confirmed that this was the gathering
for the San
Francisco Randonneurs 200 km Brevet.
Skirting the gang, I took the road under the toll plaza and found
my way to another small knot of riders, clustered around Todd Teachout's
white pickup. Out of the darkness, JimG appeared, and introduced
me to another rider who was planning to cover the ride on a fixed
gear. I promptly forgot his name (and was reminded later that it
was Mojo Cosgrove), as I had to remember mine so that they could
sign me in. Normally I'm not quite that mentally challenged,
but it was still around 6:45 am, and I was recovering from panick
about losing my car key at home and the nervousness about just what
the heck I had gotten myself into.
Weather reports kept decaying during the week preceeding the ride,
and rain had fallen in measurable amounts on Thursday and Friday.
It began to seem pretty clear that there might be some less than
perfect conditions, but nothing on the scale the of last year's
deluge. I managed to miss that ride (though I'd heard about it from
JimG and Carlos and read through Rob
H's writings more than once). In fact this would be my
first brevet attempt. Cleverly, I also had decided to ride it on
Quickbeam, rigged with a 14T fixed gear cog and an 18T freewheel
on the flip-flop hub.
Quickbeam had gotten the nod as it seemed to be my most comfortable
and versatile bicycle. Of my other bikes, the open-wheeled racer
didn't have much room for fenders, my cross frame (probably
the bicycle I would've ridden) had cracked through it's headtube
welds and was awaiting a new fork, and my commute beasts were fine
for the basics of to-and-from-work, but I ultimately didn't trust
them for the full circuit. I'd been doing segments of the
planned route over the last month or so, and knew I could get up
and over the topography with the Quickbeam's manual gearing.
The worst of the bits could always be covered by foot, if it came
to that, and I knew of a couple stretches where it probably would.
JimG accompanied me back to the start, and we found an open spot
near the curb, and looked around for Carlos, who rolled up just
moments later. I had to leave the hustle-bustle to pass back some
coffee rental, and took the opportunity to swap my jacket for a
wind vest. Although cool, the temperatures were nowhere near
where they'd been during previous weeks, which had meant ice
on the roadways.
Returning to the gang, all were reasonably quiet as Todd gave warnings
and instructions to the riders. Couldn't hear a thing.
Too much rock'n roll as a youth. Oh well. I caught some bits
about stop signs in Ross and following traffic rules, figuring that
if anything was really important and different, someone would've
asked for clarification. Of course, I do get these recurrent dreams
of stewardesses plucking the oxygen mask off my face and saying,
"You didn't LISTEN, did you? NO oxygen for you..."
And with nary more than a cessation of the speech, plus a "Good
Luck", riders rolled away towards the bridge. It was 7 am
and the brevet had begun.
& I immediately lost site of Carlos, who had gotten swept forward
with the tide of the riders. The two of us threaded through
some other cyclists, avoided the odd runner and daybreak pedestrian
on the bridge. Nothing but courteous riding and clear hand-signals
in the group, though the speed didn't agree with our early morning
antsiness. We stop-n-go'd our way around the two bridge towers and
rolled clear of the span. As we were still riding on the east
side, our route took us through the Vista Point parking lot on the
north end of the bridge. Some poor but patient couple in a
car got to watch us all roll through the crosswalk, and most people
gave them a kind wave. Even by this point, the lead riders
were well clear of the bunch, and JimG posited that Carlos was probably
already over Camino Alto hill.
Riders spread out as we dropped down into Sausalito, came together
as we hit traffic and signals, and stretched again as we worked
our way north. JimG and I took turns in finding good wheels
to follow, as folks hit the end of their initial adrenaline and
eased into the rythmn of the day. I could tell that Jim was feeling
pretty frisky, and we motored a good pace until the end of the Mill
Valley Bike Path. From there, we found Carlos, who had been
caught up at the light, and hopped up and over the Camino Alto hill.
Mounting fenders on the Quickbeam had already paid off, as the roads
were damp and splashy in places. The miles passed quickly
to Fairfax, which was the first of my time checks for the day.
According to Carlos' clock, it was 8:08 as we waited for the light
to change - pretty much right on target. We had coalesced
into a group of about 12-15 riders as we continued to the first
real climb of the day - White's Hill out of Fairfax.
Roughly speaking, there are four usable climbing gears on a fixed
gear bicycle. First, you kick your tuckus back slightly and drive
from a seated position. This is a strong way to climb, but
does take its toll on one's leg muscles. Second, you can hitch
your chamois off the saddle and use your body weight. Luckily,
I have some of that, and it allows you to rest a bit as you climb.
Third, you stand and push a bit harder, with a tightened upper body
to transmit the energy to the pedals. Fourth, you are driving with
the legs and wrenching with the upper body. This last method,
as the coaches like to put it, means you're burning matches, and
you've only got so many in the box.
my earlier rides, I knew that I needed to minimize the match-burning,
and take it easy where others were smart enough to bring along appropriate
gears. Carlos moved easily away as we headed upward, climbing
his Miyata with a smooth, seated cadence that looked easy but always
meant you were going to be dropped. Further on, the be-fendered
RB-1 of JimG eased past me. Jim looked fresh and spun nicely
as he headed upwards. There was no question - he was on today.
At the White's Hill crest, Carlos pulled off to doff a jacket and
told us not to wait, so JimG & I hooked into a two-man paceline
which took us through the San Geronimo Valley. We work well
together when we ride, and this morning it felt even better, trading
pulls and moving past a huge flock of wild turkeys, masticating
cows and a couple of golfers who got the early-bird tee times for
the day. We hit the curvey bits past Lagunitas quickly
and found ourselves at Ink Wells Bridge, which was where we planned
on picking up the unpaved end of the Cross Marin Bike Trail - a
legal option on the route. In the past, Jim has enjoyed a pinch
flat and fender-ripping stick on this section of trial, so he said
he was going to take it easy as we hit the wet dirt. I rolled
onto the spine of the trail, and hit a nice cyclocrossy pace. There's
a speed which tends to make the bumps easier, which I maintained
until splashing through a puddle which soaked my foot pretty well.
Drat. Looking back, I realized that JimG was no longer to be seen.
Double-drat - I should've kept him in sight. Well, at worst, Carlos
would be coming through in a few minutes, so I figured that he was
covered if something bad had happened.
I decided to pause to use the Samuel P. Taylor Park facilities,
refilling my water bottle as well. After remounting the bike,
I could hear some voices across on the roadway - riders who had
stayed on Sir Francis Drake - but saw no one until reaching the
terminus of the trail at Tocaloma Bridge. Popping out of the
bike bath, I ended up in the middle of another small band of riders,
and we all started sawing away at the climb towards Bolinas Ridge.
This one is a nasty "mental" sort of climb, which starts dead straight
for its initial pitch and then steepens a touch. It isn't
all that tough, but it tries to psyche you out. Rising out of the
Lagunitas Creek valley, the temperature became a bit warmer, with
sun breaking through, and my riding apparel felt warm for the first
time in memory. We crested out and I enjoyed my first real downhill
spin-out, hoping to relax my legs for the climbing which remained.
Once hitting level ground again at Olema, I found myself curiously
alone. The two riders in front of me had eased into the parking
lot of a roadside business and the other riders hadn't caught up
yet. Turning left on Bear Valley road, I snapped a "timestamp"
photo with my cameraphone and pedaled onward. Though I knew I was
on the route, I had a very real pang of "you're going the wrong
way" head-messing. It was wrong. I knew it was wrong. But,
it didn't fully force the thought away.
Inverness, Carlos' bicycle sat in front of the coffee & pastry
shop on my left, with a number of other rides and riders. One
of them clutched a muffin that looked as big as his head and waved
a cup of coffee at me as I passed by. Just ahead over the next
rise, JimG framed up a photo of his bicycle in front of the Inverness
store and hailed me. It seemed like a good time to enjoy not
pedaling, and so stepped off the bike and we traded notes. They
saw my bike back in SP Park. I saw Carlos' bike at the cafe.
Our hands are both nasty clammy from soggy gloves, even though there's
been no rain. I was not quite ready to take a real break yet,
and so eased forward toward the post-Inverness climb. It's
kind of a bitch, one I had to walk when I rode out to the Lighthouse
before, and both anxious to get it behind me and aware that Carlos
and Jim will both probably catch me on it.
road hugs the edge of Tomales Bay here, rising and falling slightly.
The winds have not yet touched the water yet, and for the most part
it remains silent and calm. One of those magical times when you
feel blessed to be experiencing it.
Further on, the road cuts away from the water, and the upward trend
begins in earnest. I'm feeling a little less blessed and more
gravitationally challenged as I flip quickly up through the four
climbing gears, find a new one called "Seated, Wrenching and Gasping",
then decide to see if the "20 paces and remount" trick will work.
I walk my bike and try a cyclocross hop-on trick, then the momentum
fades quickly further up the climb. Swinging off into a driveway,
I decide that it's a good time to doff gloves and make sure everything
is situated correctly. About that time, JimG and Carlos roll
past, make sure I haven't thrown a rod or cracked the block, and
spin upwards. Waving them on, my breathing settles down and I use
the slope of the driveway to reenter the roadway and chunk my way
to the crest.
From there it's a long steady spin down to sea level again, with
the final approach to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse now within realistic
consideration. A series of "step-ups" follow, and way off
in the distance, someone appears who looks a bit like Carlos, so
I pretend it is and try to slowly reel him back. We slinky
a bit, as I regain on the climbs and he slips away as I recover
on the flatter bits. I dink around with the pencam a bit and
take photos of the roadway to distract myself. Rolling
upwards, I'm enjoying a gorgeous view and warming sunlight when
a new sound suddenly occurs - "Tick-tick-tick-tick" in time
with my front tire rotation. I look down to see the front
sidewall bulging out enormously, and tube starting to stick out.
Crap. Steering quickly to the side of the roadway, I
try to dive for the stem to let air out, but the sounds of nature
are punctuated by an ear-ringing "BLAMM!" which just as suddenly
dissipates with the winds.
I've got tubes and a pump, obviously. What I'm worried about
is why the tire decided to lift off the rim. I'd installed
new Paselas earlier in the week, did a little test ride, but hadn't
really pushed them too hard before this ride. If the bead
was bad, or severed, I could be in a bit of trouble. Removing
the tire was pretty easy, as nearly the entire left side bead had
come off. The tube had a 20" split with a clear "X" where the blowout
began. I lined tube up with tire and can see no specific
flaw in the bead or tire, and the casing seems happy throughout.
Upon closer scrutiny, I can see a few little bits of light tan rubber
on the tube, near the initial point of failure. It seems that
I managed to catch the tube with the bead, and it held on for a
while until the stresses of riding finally jostled it to freedom.
That'd be "user error".
Some riders sweep past during the repair, and every group makes
sure I've got necessary tools and gear. I start thinking about
the downhills and swoopy bits already covered and get a shudder
at how good my luck really was. Nothing safer than an uphill flat.
Heading off again, I descend and then realize after a nice sweeping
turn and ascent that I've neglected to reattach my front brake cable.
I sheepishly pull over, quickly connect things and head off again.
I decide that maybe I should stop screwing around with the camera
and pay attention to things, and chew through the lettered farms
on the way to the final climb to the Lighthouse.
plan was to flip the rear wheel for the last steep pitch up to the
Lighthouse, those extra four teeth on the coastable side being pretty
helpful. I've done this many times, but with the addition
of the rear fender, and my hands being tired-dopey, it just seems
to take hours. I get it set and tensioned only to get on,
start pedaling and find that the chain is not on the teeth of the
freewheel. I fix this and start again, only to realize the rear
brake is still disconnected. I get chain grease everywhere.
In short, I am doing a succession of Really Stupid Things, and it
gets to me.
To top this off, as I get near the top of the climb, the pencam,
which has been around my neck on a cord, taps the stem just right,
opening the cover and causing the batteries to drop out. I
see one rolling back down the road, set the bike down and nab it,
but the other is nowhere to be seen. I start foraging around
the thick grass near the road edge, and suddenly realize I've worked
my way 10 or 15 yards back without finding it. Some inner
clear voice finally points out that this is not the best use of
my time, and I admit defeat, further vexed that I won't have the
camera to use for the rest of the ride.
Coasting (ahhhh....coasting...mmm!) the rest of the way to the Lighthouse,
a knot of bikes and riders hover around the Control Station, making
short work of available water and a Costco-sized box of Nilla Vanilla
wafers. They stamp my card at 11:18. I see Jim's RB-1
against the bushes near the truck, but need to hit the restroom
on the other side of the lot and so walk over there. I'm tired,
hot, feel like I'm wearing too much and am grumpy about losing the
battery. It finally dawns on me, after I scrape the grease
off my fingers and munch a Clif Bar, that the efforts had gotten
to me a bit more than I'd realized and I've gotten more than a little
this time, Jim's bike has gone, though I never saw him (and find
out later that he thought I'd already left, and upon catching up
to Carlos without seeing me, wondered if something had happened
to me.) It dawns on me that my backup blinkie has AAA batteries,
so I steal one and get the pencam working again. My arrival time
is about a half hour behind plan, so I try to get going with a minimum
of additional fuss. Physically, the most difficult sections
are behind me, and now that my core temp has cooled and some calories
are pinging around my innards, my thoughts clear and calm a bit.
The front tire has held together and shows no signs of moving now,
the bike is working well, and although I'm tired, it seems more
as a direct result of the recent efforts rather than any kind of
physical cave-in. I snap a photo with my newly-repowered pencam
and get ready to roll.
continue rolling into the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse checkpoint and upon
locating Todd and the truck, gather into little knots of ride buddies
and new found route pals. There's a pretty constant dribbling
of riders away from the Lighthouse parking lot as well, and suddenly
I just know it's my turn to leave. After double-checking to
be sure my brevet card is stowed safely in the front pack, confirming
that everything detachable has been reattached, and giving another
careful examination to the tire sidewalls, I step forward and regain
my saddle for a bit more riding. Within a couple hundred yards,
I've stepped off the bike and am putting on my wind vest again -
though I'd been feeling comfortable behind the knoll near the parking
lot, the temperature suddenly felt a bit cool once back on the roadway.
You don't really appreciate the luxury of coasting until it is not
an option. As planned, the flip-flop remained flopped to the coastable
side of the drivetrain, and being able to level out the cranks and
swoop over the cracked and bumpy road surface, complete with metal
cattle guards, was like having a decadant dessert. I tried
to ride light and smart, seeking the smooth singletrack line hidden
in the abused asphalt, enjoying every bit of cush that the 32 mm
tires afforded. A few riders worked their way up the final
pitch and I tried to jabber some encouragements through my rattling
I continued to coast through the "A" Ranch, which got the award
for the most consistently slimy road surface, and caught up with
a couple of riders who had passed me while I relayered after my
restart. As they had gone by initially, the one woman had
been saying that she didn't want to fall down in the bovine output
section and I'd laughed before my manners could stifle the reaction.
I mean, there were not a lot of other conversations going on, so
it was hard not to overhear. But, as we all successfully negotiated
the sticky and slippy bits, we ended up relieved and happy
at about the same time. The other woman asked if I had encountered
a particularly noxious smelling truck earlier, and I responded that
I'd been spared that pleasure. Actually, I said something
clever like, "um...no." before commenting that we were definitely
out on the farm here. I'm always more articulate in
retrospect. Oh well.
We chatted a bit more before separating a on the next incline. I
always feel a bit rude when climbing on the single geared beam-beast,
because I get quiet and have to honor the momentum when it starts
to happen. The downside of running a single/fixed system is that
you can't easily sit and spin your way up, keeping conversations
going as the topography changes. That section leaving the Lighthouse
rises and falls a bit, and I continued using the freewheel.
On the last little pitch near the turn for South Beach, I kicked
it down into the small chainring, and enjoyed the low/low combination.
Since I'd spent a lot of time adjusting the fender stays to permit
this end-of-the-forkends rear wheel position to spin rub-free, I
would've used it even it I didn't need it. But, fact is, I
pretty much needed it.
up on the plateau again, I commenced flopping to the flipside and
got the Quickbeam "fixed" again. A few other riders went past while
I executed this move, and I heard the phrase "...Rivendell shift..."
dance past on the breeze. Didn't look up to get the attribution,
and I'm not even sure it was directed at my activities, but it seemed
to fit the moment.
Before heading off again, I double-re-checked all the brake connections.
Nothing overlooked this time, so I started spinning out on my way
through the step-downs back toward the flats. This kind of
riding is always a bit reinvigorating, as just a hint of power to
the pedals seems to gain much more momentum than it should. As the
roadway flattened for good, a group of 4 or 5 riders zipped past
me, enjoying the fruits of 100 or so gear inches. If
they'd just held back for a couple more of Todd's Vanilla Wafers,
it would have worked better for me, as their momentum slowed just
a bit further up the road and we moved forward at a similar pace.
Unfortunately, you can't draft from a quarter mile back, and as
the road jogged right, the crosswind became a headwind. I slowed,
and they slowed a bit, but had the collective to spread the load
and steadily began disappearing around the bends as they worked
The winds themselves were a bit interesting. By all rights, it should
have been a headwind as we left the Lighthouse, but now seemed to
be blowing offshore. By the time I got into the cover
of the ridges and trees past the Oyster flats of Drake's Bay, they
became less noticeable, but weren't really following the normal
now, the road was easing upwards before the drop back down to the
Tomales Bay side and Inverness. This side of the incline lent
itself perfectly to fixed-gear climbing, and I found a nice cadence,
rolling past a cluster of riders which included the two Atlantis
riders who were decked in the most stylin' duds of the ride.
Hours earlier, I'd chatted a bit with one of the riders as we eased
through Larkspur - recognizable by his "Box
Dog Bikes" wool jersey. This time though I was just
thinking about an Odwalla Protein Smoothie at the Inverness store,
and didn't really do much more than gasp a "hidy". Miss Manners
would simply be appalled.
Inverness appeared reasonably suddenly after the downhill, so I
crossed over to the store and happily clomped to the back coolers
to ferret out my drinks of choice - water for the bottle, mango
"Vitamin" water (pretty much sugar water, but it said "endurance"
on the outside and I like the taste) for the other bottle, and the
aforementioned Odwalla. The latter went down in about three quick
swallows, and I dug into one of my sandwiches. Ate about half
and walked around a bit outside the front of the store, wandering
back to recycle the bottles in the marked container. I had
the very clear and detached thought that recycling plastic doesn't
really fix the core flawed assumption of using the plastic.
Funny what pops into your head.
As I refueled, the bunch of riders who I'd leap-frogged on the incline
buzzed past and waved. Then a tandem I'd seen earlier
rolled up and eased off the gas across the street. One half
of the team wandered across to the porta-a-loo on the far side of
the parking lot. The other person took off some gear and stayed
with the bicycle. The tasteful blue-grey Berthoud rear bags
were noticeable, and we'd actually crossed the Golden Gate Bridge
together at the day's start. Restarting again, I rolled past him,
asked how things were going and wished him luck.
Since my dance card had been punched at Inverness, I decided to
skip Pt. Reyes Station. A good-sized knot of riders had formed in
front of the Bovine Bakery, and while it was tempting to drop in
for a cup of coffee and some sugary goodness, I still had some thin
hopes of catching Carlos and JimG. If they had stopped here
or there, we could still reconnect, but I really had no way of knowing
just where they were. As I slogged up the incline from town,
I tried to work the math on the possibility of seeing them on the
Marshall leg of the route. In order to miss them, they would've
had to have gotten 16 miles ahead - so maybe 45 minutes to an hour?
While feeling that I'd lost some time coming back from the Lighthouse,
it didn't seem that I could've fallen that far back. Still
as the mile markers increased on Highway One and I still hadn't
seen them, the possibility loomed larger.
I did notice that I was making fairly good time on the road to Marshall
But it was a cheap gain, as the waves out on Tomales Bay indicated
that the winds blew at my back. They weren't whitecaps, but
there would be some interest due on this loan once the turnaround
point came. Some other riders finally began appearing on the
return leg, most waving but noticeably gritting their teeth.
Almost all were in their drops. Yep, it was a headwind return,
that was for sure.
Just shy of the turnaround point, a red jacket caught my attention.
Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl... wait,
that's a different song. JimG and Carlos crisply turned over
their pedals towards me. Wasn't quite quick enough on the
draw to record their passing with the pencam, but we hollered and
waved and somehow all knew everyone was fine. And just
ahead of me now stood the boatworks and the Marshall store, which
seemed to have become a bike dealer in addition to a sandwich and
clam chowder bar.
of fine cycling hardware had been shoehorned in and laid up against
every available surface outside, and all manner of riders banged
in and out of the front door, clutching soup, drinks, muffins and
other snacks. I found a drink from the cooler and queued up
to get my card stamped. 1:20 pm. Things seem both too
crowded and too comfortable inside, so I retreated back towards
my bike, where I drank a bit, downed the other half of my sandwich
and stretched my back out a bit. I figured that the worst thing
I could do would be to sit down and get settled, especially with
a headwind looming .
I tried to get my business done reasonably quickly, but kept ogling
the bikes - finally breaking down and snapping a quick shot of the
Berthoud-clad Erickson tandem, which had arrived and was now leaning
riderless against the side of the building, plus a nice looking
orange Rambouillet. Looking over the other machines, it was
hard to find one that hadn't been Rivendellized, either from the
addition of Brooks saddles, rational bar height, Rolly-Poly
or Ruffy-Tuffy tires (and even a set of Speedblends - dang I miss
mine...), or by being an actual Rivendell frame, by design or name.
And carrying bits? Sure, Carradice was well represented,
but most of the bikes were totally Baggins Bag-alicious - Candy
Bar bags, Banana Bags, Adams, Little Joes and more hung almost everywhere
More riders arrived and I once again got the ticky-itchy feeling
of needing to be moving again. A visit to the personal plastic room
and one more quick back, arms, quads & calf stretch cycle and
I rolled away the finishing leg of the ride. I didn't have high
hopes for catching Carlos and JimG, as they seemed to have passed
by hours ago. One thing this all-day biking adventure seems
to do is mess with my very tenuous grasp of linear time passage.
I may actually have to break down and put some quantitative electronics
on the bike, so I can have some reality check. Though I'd been using
my cameraphone to zap "timestamp" photos up to my Flickr pages,
I seem to send them and snap the beast shut before I focus on what
time it is. A curious quirk, but a real one.
Highway One rolls and sweeps a bit as it heads south, and I try
to recall what it felt like a week earlier, when Carlos & I
did a Marshall run, and then got blown home by the winds. The southbound
leg feels quicker than I would have guessed, with one small vertical
exception that finds me walking for 20 or 30 paces. But,
before I know it, I've made the left hand turn inland towards Nicasio
and am heading upstream next to Lagunitas creek, in the wide valley
which contains horse pastures and a couple farm houses. A
couple roadies ease past me, and comment favorably on the Quickbeam. I'm
pretty sure they aren't part of the brevet crowd, as they seem to
favor tiny seat bags , minimal extra gear and have nothing on that
reflects. They pass by another couple of riders ahead of me,
who I soon recognize as the women I'd met while surfing the
"A" Ranch effluent. We talk briefly and then separate again. Alone
again, I lapse into self-induced entertainment behaviors; when riding
solo, I tend to moo at cows, caw at crows, mimic the piercing whistles
of hawks and snort at the horses. The horses always tend to
look at me like I've badly mispronounced something.
Another left turn at the Continually Repainted Bridge has the road
climbing up through the canyon where the Nicasio Reservoir is held
back by the earthen dam. For some reason, this little uphill
always gets me singing. On this day, it was a medley of early
Elvis Costello songs, with a couple of Joe Jackson tunes from the
"Look Sharp" album. Don't worry if it was before your time,
but the live bootleg version of "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea"
has an excellent climbing rhythm to it. "No Action" (studio
version) works pretty well here, too. Joe's "Is She Really
Going Out With Him" clicks in and out with a hyped-up live version
of "Mystery Dance" driven by a baritone Elvis and the young and
hungry musical drive of the 1979 Attractions. All that
early English new wave gets me up on level roads again, and
I see that the two roadies have lost a little ground. I
throw a mental noose around them and use their progress as a carrot
for the open and breezy section around the choppy waters of Nicasio
Reservoir. managing to keep them in sight until the town proper,
where they pull in to Rancho Nicasio. I roll around the baseball
diamond and snap a photo next to the church and a discarded "Walton's
Saw Works" hat, which gets sent to my wife and the Flickr site.
Again I fail to look at the clock.
The next section will jump me over the last steep climb of the day
and start retracing the route which we all took many hours earlier.
At this point in the ride, it doesn't even seem to be the same week
that occurred - so much seems different; the weather, lighting,
my own wobbliness. I take a moment to dig out my flecto-vest.
The next stretch of road is dark under the best of circumstances,
and folks usually drive too damned fast there.
It begins easily enough, rolling past the Arabian horse ranch just
past the turn to Lucas Valley. Then the roadway edges up a bit and
I realize the bacon cooking smell is related to my legs. I've ridden
this section a great many times, and honestly didn't consider the
mild incline to be that challenging, but now things are a bit different.
Flipping up and down through sitting, standing, sitting while wrenching,
standing and leaning on the pedals, I finally opt for the 20-paces
fix. This slowing doesn't seem to warrant flipping the rear
wheel, but it becomes a good 40 pace segment before I feel like
stepping back over the bike. Even back on the bike, my legs feel
pretty dopey. Time for "La Bomba"...
Normally, I try to avoid non-food items, but now dig out one of
the "Honey Stinger" GU-equivilents that I'd stashed in the front
bag. GU actually had been my glob of choice, but recently
I'd been unable to find the caffeinated version. Honey Stinger
tastes like a dollop of honey, but sneaks in a bit of the what-makes-coffee-fun
extract, along with some ginseng. After making sure that it
isn't the mini-pack of Chamois Butt'r, I tear off the top and down
the stuff. The worst part is actually the messy, post-squeeze
wrapper, but my folding-fu is good, and I crease repeatedly with
fixated intent to make sure that the extra stickness remains well
I wish I could say that the crows all broke into singing parts of
"Carmina Burana" while the horses in the next fields stomped out
the cadence to "Ride of the Valkyries", but fact is, I bonked as
the climb got serious and hoofed up the last bit of steep pitch
to the crest. Near the top, the gradient eased a bit, and
I was able to ride through the narrow section where Cece Krone was
killed by a drunk driver. As gravity took over, I spun quietly
memorial which stands looking over a beautiful part of the San
Double and triple checking the cross traffic, I swung back onto
Sir Francis Drake and begin the serious push for home. The
rise up out of the valley at White's Hill tried to humiliate me,
but I kept my eyes down and take it one pavement expansion crack
at a time, until the flashing 25 MPH sign eased past. Just
for old time's sake, the sky dropped rain for about 30 seconds,
honoring the fenders, I reckon. But that thought quickly whisked
away, for it becomes spin-like-a-madman time down the face of the
hill. The momentum carries me all the way into Fairfax, where
the Java Hut sings its siren song. With
a bottle of water, a double shot of espresso and a hand-sized maple
scone, I sit for a few minutes to mix in the new fuel. This
time I pay attention while snapping a photo, and find out it's 4:05.
It would be difficult to pull off a :54 minute time to the City
from here , so my secondary goal of "finishing before dark" notches
My wife had texted me a couple times during the day, and I take
a moment to check in with her and let her know my location, condition
and mood. I wouldn't jinx things by saying it's a done deal,
as there remained a few variables between where I sat and where
I needed to be, but optimism and excitement continued to increase.
A few brevet riders went past, unaware of the need for espresso
ritualizations and I roused myself back to the bike.
Things became a bit blessedly auto-pilot at this point, with a strong
lookout for drivers about to do stupid things while I'm tired. Before
long, I'm rechecking chain tension at the base of the Camino Alto
climb, and then pushing my way up the last bits. As I crest
the hill, the sun is still evident, though in a bit of a haze.
I snap a quick photo of my idiot grin and whump-whump my way down
the far side. Mill Valley Bike Path, Bridgeway, bark at an oblivous
motorist who parks in one of the many "NO STOPPING" sections of
tourist-end Sausalito and causes a cyclist pinch point between traffic
and his front bumper. Then I'm rising up from the waterfront, swooping
left and climbing, swinging around a guy on a mountain bike who
is doing his level best to destroy his drivetrain by shifting wildly
on the first pitch while he stands on the pedals. Squeezing
all the momentum I can find, the Quickbeam jumps me up the narrow
steep pitch and we all pop out, panting a bit, where the road widens
once more and finishes the climbing to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Two weird things happen. First, the road visibly flattens before
me. It's an incline, obviously, but it just seems almost downhill.
Now, I've always stated that momentum is a fickle mistress, so I'll
take accept this hallucination. The bike finds a pace and we escalate
upwards. Parallel to this is the thought that I need a rear
light. My stylin' Bruce Gordon single LED stopped working
reliably some time earlier (turned out to be a battery issue), and
the Planet Bike eye burner is the backup. Except one of the batteries
from that is in the pencam. I envision this horribly detailed scenario
of some sort of required bike check - a mini technical trials if
you will - at the finish, in which it is discovered that my rear
light doesn't work, and they strip me of my brevet card and stamp
a "DNF" on my forehead.
quell this irrational outburst, I pop up the little rise that leads
to the bridge crossing, snap the final two photos for the day and
replace the battery in the light. Just then, the red tandem zings
past with a shouted hail, so I jump on my bike and try to catch
them. We all scream across the bridge and come together as we negotiate
the south tower, chat a bit, then make our way underneath and into
the finishing plaza.
Todd stands about 20 feet away from where we left him just over
10 hours earlier. JimG and Carlos are hanging out nearby and
a dig out my brevet card, which Todd checks and has me sign.
The time immediately pops out of my head (Turns out it was 5:31
pm) as Jim and Carlos tell me they ended up coming in at 4:45!
Those kids were on today!
loopy and tired, but enjoying the serious buzz of finishing my first
brevet. We hang out and chat a bit, but both of them look a bit
cold - I still can't believe they hung out there for another 45
minutes to greet me at the finish! Other riders come in steadily
and I throw on my jacket for an extra layer. We continue talking
a bit, and I suggest an easy ride up to Marshall for the next day.
Carlos' eyes widen a bit before he realizes I'm talkin' guff and
agrees to the "ride". Jim looks at us like we're nutty and
then realizes the put-on and we all get a good laugh.
It would be nice to stay and watch more folks finish, but the temperature
continues to quickly drop and calories call. Jim breaks into
some jumping jacks while we talk and I begin to feel really bad
for keeping them out in the cold. So I bid my friends a good bye
and thanks , turn on my headlight and pick my way along the Golden
Gate Bridge walkway, heading north again on the eastern side. The
pedestrian traffic is quite heavy, and I find there's no polite
way to be heard over the traffic. So, I bide my time behind a few
oblivious walkers, and cheer on a few more finishers - who themselves
are coming in under the lights - and reach the subway back to the
parking lot. I stow the bike, make another call to my wife and I
wolf down the remaining sandwich before heading homeward.
125.6 miles according to the route sheet, plus a few more to jump
across the bridge and back. A heckuva day.
Epilog & Other Considerations:
week which followed the ride was a bit interesting. Woke up reasonably
sore on Sunday, and took it pretty easy - enjoying a day off the
bike. I stayed off the bike Monday, but took the Dawes (fixed-gear)
out for an easy commute and errands on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
My legs were noticeably sore on Tuesday, and it felt damned uncomfortable
to be on the bike - especially a different bike - for the first
5 or 10 minutes.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I had a serious afternoon crash,
and probably would have been found drooling onto my desk sound asleep
if I hadn't gotten up and splashed some cold water on my face. But,
the following Saturday, I took the cleaned and lubed Quickbeam out
for an early morning ride, maybe 45 miles or thereabouts. Funny
how that seems like a "short" ride now.
the ride itself, my hands were a bit of a problem. My gloves (full
fingered and reasonably cool weather) were just sopping wet, so
I removed them and strung them through the elastic on my front bag,
riding no handed for most of the way out to the Lighthouse and up
to Marshall. (I actually try to ride without gloves whenever possible,
and my commute bikes have very thin tape on them.) But during the
day, I could feel my hands swelling up a bit - especially the meaty
bits by my wrists. Even with the gloves back on for the latter third
of the ride, they didn't really feel comfortable. I think if I'd
had a lighter pair of gloves for the first part of the ride, or
even a dry pair to switch into, that would've been helpful. Also,
with my hands held on the bars (below my heart) for most of the
day, that might have led to blood pooling up. Althought I stretch
legs, neck, arms, shoulders and back, I didn't really do anything
to flush out my hands. Gotta think about that next time.
squeamish might want to skip this paragraph... it's about the saddle
contact points. Things went very well in all respects but one -
the outside seam on the Pearl Izumi shorts I've always worn comfortably
tattoo'ed me pretty good on the cheeks. I reckon that as I tired,
my posture shifted a bit more upright, which caused the chaffing.
Didn't use the Chamois ButtR that I'd brought, and it never really
seemed an issue when I was riding (ok, there were a few twinges,
but nothing actually painful). The worst of it correspoded to an
area on the edge of the chamois where three seams intersect. Not
sure how I'm going to deal with that, but I will be looking at trying
only other unexpected pain was in my right ankle, which was sore
the day or two after. Hadn't really had any issues there before,
so I'm not sure of the cause. The only thing I can think of is that
the cleats I've been running are seriously worn down. I didn't want
to replace them before the event. The ATAC's which I used on the
ride have also seen some miles, so there may be a slight bend in
the axle, or wear to the pedal body.
Items needed but didn't have:
batteries for the camera.
Extra set of gloves.
Items brought but not needed:
Things to refine:
Aid Kit - probably a little too much in the bag.
Gear that failed:
Gordon rear light - battery issue.
Neck strap for camera - caused camera to hit stem while leaned forward
by Carlos D. - Aggregated
Photos - Sortable
Randonneurs Yahoo Group
Randonneurs Flickr Page
JimG - Flickr
Carlos D. - Flickr
Stream - Ride
Set - Ride Report
Joe Gross - Photos
Rob Hawks - Ride
If you have photos or a ride
report from this, please let me know.
Back to the Top