Sure has been cold and rainy around here! Some have called it incessant. Seems like whenever I have a break in my schedule to ride, mother nature suggests staying indoors. At least, all of this indoor time has enabled me to submit a couple of old perms for conversion to the new RUSA system. There are still several archival ones I’m working on and one new one as well. All of the recent slipouts on my favorite back roads have got me thinking that more options are needed when involved with attempting an R-12. And as far as mixed terrain perms… this year, I’m feeling ok about letting the trails dry out a bit before I visit them too much. So, holding off on SadBoiz and no Mount Tam to Moscow. As far as anything near the Santa Cruz mountains, seems like it’s pretty much off limits? Rainfall has been even crazier there than up by me, and with such catastrophic fires it’s survived… it feels like the land, and the roads that rest on it, are so fragile. No Bonny Doom. With the Pajaro River flooding its banks, Watsonville is now completely underwater, with the Monterey peninsula nearing island status. I think back to John’s and my old fleche route through Watsonville and San Juan Bautista with a wisp of longing. Global warming and consequent extreme weather are wreaking major havoc on peoples’ lives. Being prevented from riding various perm routes is not a big deal, but the cause of this situation feels pretty heavy.
Soooo with work and stuff, and bad weather, and February being a short month as well, ahhh… I missed doing my 200k. Yes, dear readers, the R-12 is dead. At least, last year’s version. Bummer? I don’t know, actually. As much as I prefer to ride, sometimes one must tend to grownup issues. Adulting facilitates long rides in the long run, and as a randonneur, I’m all about the long run. And not catching pneumonia from riding in the freezing wet weather is a good thing. I did that once, years ago–and attempted again on the final day of February but bailed on because I couldn’t feel my hands after less than an hour of riding. Now I find myself wondering how I did six consecutive R-12s!
Because I missed my February 200k, I felt like I needed a big comeback! One route from the old perm system I always had my eye on but never tried was Skip-two-mile-ou. 200k and close to 3400m of climbing sounded like fun… Actually I do enjoy routes with a lot of climbing. I submitted Skip-two-mile-ou 200k for conversion to the new perms system, but wasn’t able to quite get it through for my February ride, so I decided to do it as early in March as possible. Finally there was a day I could ride that wasn’t supposed to be pouring rain, and I snatched the opportunity.
It’s a pretty simple route. All roads on it are open anyway! I’ve been thinking about the old days of rando, with the season opener always heading out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. How fun that was! I don’t remember the last time I rode out to the Point Reyes Light House, but I know it’s been several years. There were so. many. people. on those SFR season openers. Shout out to anyone reading this who rode in those days!
Skip-two-mile-ou is quite a different route than the old SFR Light House brevet, since it starts in Fairfax and has a lot more climbing. It starts by going up to Alpine Dam, then up a little more on Ridgecrest to Pan Toll. Then down, up, down, up, and down to Stinson Beach, and up just a little to the town of Bolinas. After Bolinas, there are a couple nice back roads that parallel CA-1 that reminded me of riding up near Eureka on the Humboldt 600k last year. Then CA-1 to Point Reyes for resupply, SFD to Inverness for one last chance for water, then you visit both the light house on the south end of Point Reyes, and to Pierce Point ranch at the far north end. There is no water, potable or otherwise, along this 80 km section of the route, so you have to be prepared. Eric Larsen, the original route designer, has a magical way of sharing routes that feel remote even though Point Reyes is so close to home.
Since the route starts in Fairfax, I get a 2 hour warmup ride. I wanted to start the clock no later than 7 am, so leaving at 5 meant it was chilly outside! The moon was full that day, and it set quite a mood as I made my way over the RSR bridge.
When I got to Fairfax, it was still pretty cold so I stopped for a hot tea before starting the trip recording. After a couple-few months of riding in the cold and wet, I was not going to fool around with my outerwear choices, the most important one being gloves/mittens. This time, I wore both right from the start! John loaned me a pair of his verrrrry old lobster claw mittens, and my hands were toasty warm.
Riding up BoFax was still cold, and the air, the road, the trees–everything–was damp. Lots of fog hung over the lake at Alpine Dam, giving the ride an air of excitement and mystery right from the beginning. I usually try to avoid taking lots of pictures at the beginning of a ride because I think it jinxes me, but I broke my habit here and I’m glad I did. I think this new-to-me camera is interesting–I never try for realism, and I like it when the camera seems to have a mind of its own. It definitely captured the mood, even if things didn’t look precisely this way:
There was no one out at this time, at least until I got to the turnoff to Ridgecrest, where a roadie surprised me with a friendly greeting. I proceeded up the rest of Ridgecrest. I had been dreading this, since it had been years since I rode this section in this direction, but I was feeling good and the light continued to transform me. On this day in between storms, the sky had a lot to say! It was amazing to be out riding on such a day.
I saw just a few other riders out–one who was wearing shorts! Brr, I was still pretty freezing and really glad for the mitten loan. When it came time to descend, the air was absolutely frigid. The dampness in Muir Beach made it feel even colder. I didn’t start to warm up until just before Bolinas. I had never been there before, and the roads around it are very nice! Lovely small farms with little meadows tucked in under tree canopies… there is a small public park in Bolinas that has a restroom, a bubbler with spout for water bottles, and a one eyed cat that is very affectionate. It was warm and sunny in the park, so I was able to dry out the inside of my jacket which had gotten sweaty, and eat a rice ball and some home made energy bars I’d tested out. I think that was my longest break the whole day, which I permitted myself since I got through the biggest climb of the ride.
After that, the route goes along CA-1 to Point Reyes Station where another free restroom and water bottle filler awaited me; Sir Francis Drake to Inverness…
and then out to the lighthouse. There were lots of spots along the route where the road was down to one lane, so I got to chat with road crews waiting for them to open my side. Mostly trees down and being removed. The road crews were all really nice to me, and the workers on the climb to Inverness ridge even wished me a fun downhill on the other side.
It was a pretty fun downhill, in fact! The ride to the light house was so beautiful. I rode past all the ranches: Historic E Ranch, Historic F Ranch, Historic AF Ranch…
…haha of course there is no Historic AF Ranch! Lots of cows all around though, just like I remember them from the old SFR Lighthouse days. The beaches looked the same, too. So did the rocky summit on the last approach to the Lighthouse.
Getting to the Lighthouse was such a triumphant feeling, just like the old days as well!
And just like the old days, there was that slight feeling of deflation on the way back… like “Holy crap, how much longer is left???” On this day however, I had a tail wind most of the way to Pierce Point. I still am in a phase where I can’t accurately estimate how long it will take me to get anywhere though, so I was hammering pretty hard, not totally convinced I would finish within the time limit. The riding was so lovely, I was still enjoying myself, enjoying the rarified feeling of the sun on my face, enjoying the beautiful fields full of yellow flowers and even a few tule elk here and there.
I saw a larger group of tule elk closer to Pierce Point, maybe 12? They trotted across the road about 50 feet in front of me. Then I descended to the ranch, had a very quick snack, and bolted out of there, riding past another group of tule elk on the climb out!
Closer to Sir Francis Drake, I heard a pack of coyotes barking and howling, and saw a coyote running along the road as I passed by. I love listening to coyotes barking together when I camp. Usually I hear them at the tail end of twilight, and it signals bedtime. This time, it was more like a sign it’s time to finish this ride.
At this point I was smelling the barn in a big way. I really wanted to get to the finish within the time limit… and I did! Thus begins another R-12? Well if I can keep it up this time, you’ll surely hear about it here on mmmmbike!