R6: Halfway there

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

The San Franciscadero permanent route, like the Coastal Cruz route, begins in San Francisco and heads southwest along the coast, contains a fair amount of climbing and rural roads, and like the Coastal Cruz, has earned its place in my heart. It is a tough bike ride; some polite riders might call it ‘challenging’. Results for this route tend to be an hour longer than for the Coastal Cruz. Geoffrey H set the course record at nine hours, fifty-one minutes. Aaron W holds the Lanterne Rouge for this route at thirteen hours, thirty-one minutes. This just shows what a difficult route the San Franciscadero is: 200k permanent routes are supposed to have a time limit of thirteen hours, thirty minutes, but because of the elevation gain and five extra kilometers, you get a few extra minutes. Both Ely and John P have done it in the pouring rain, which can increase finish time also.

John and I did not have that excuse for finishing on the late side (um, results pending, but I seem to remember something about over thirteen hours), but we did have a full day on our bikes. He had just rebuilt his white Pelican as a Towny-and-Countryy bike, and was wanting to test it out for a 200k. IMG_2207I am not very good at even basic level bike maintenance in spite of having great hand skills from a lifetime in manual trades, so unfortunately most of John’s randonengineering goes way over my head. I do love the new version, though… possibly because this bike is a little like my own white townie, but with much (, much!!!) nicer parts. Also I love MKS touring pedals. I know by now this is way outside the bounds of conventional cycling wisdom, but check out this email response on the national randolist on the topic of hot foot: “+1 on the platform pedals. I tried the custom orthotics, expensive custom built bike shoes etc. with limited success. I now use the MKS Touring platform pedal with No Clips. I recently completed my 10 Super Randonneur series with this set up.” Wow…yay! You truly see everything in randonneuring, once you stick around.

Anyway, I rode my trusty blue Pelican for this ride as I have for all others. I was nearing 7000 miles on it as of this ride since I got it in early December 2011. I have replaced the chain & cog set once (probably due for another chain), the tires once (will be replacing those also), and the brake pads numerous times, but otherwise it’s just like new. sniff.

JP giving himself the victory sign in spite of losing the Moss Beach city limit sign sprint. Ha!

JP giving himself the victory sign in spite of losing the Moss Beach city limit sign sprint. Ha!

Here’s the descent on Stage Road, heading toward Pescadero, where I lost the city limit sprint (@%*!!)

IMG_2221Normally we take a long break to eat in the backyard of the grocery that serves as the contrôle in Pescadero, but we had decided just to buy a sandwich there to eat in the evening and have our lunch at the Beach House further along. So, off we went, departing from the section of the route as is used by the Coastal Cruz we did a couple weeks before.

Domesticated Wild Mountain Lions? Large-ish Horses? Don't ask John

Shhh! Don’t disturb the Domesticated Wild Mountain Lions

Or the, er, never mind

Or the, er, never mind

Large-ish tree

Large-ish tree

If you are reading this blog, you probably participate in long distance cycling to some extent, and if that is indeed the case, you may be interested to learn that Kroger brand Ensure is just as good as regular Ensure, at about half the price. Six buxx for a six pack on my sixth ride of the ol’ R-12. Unfortunately, although I brought two of these lovely savers (one for me and one for my companion), I failed to choose the correct time to consume mine and bonked haard on the climb up Alpine to Skyline Boulevard. I didn’t sleep enough the night before either, which kind of ruined a stretch of this route I usually love. Having chosen the proper time to consume his sensibly-purchased Ensure, John darted up Alpine like a spry mountain goat; he had also done the Hot Dart the week before (115 degrees on Mount Diablo ain’t noo joke), so while I wilted in the sweltering sun, he hardly noticed the heat in spite of his black t-shirt. At the info control, John encouraged me to drink my Ensure, and I did.

We arrived at the contrôle in Woodside with several minutes to spare, though fewer than my last run of this route. We enjoyed ice cream sandwiches, and John announced he wanted me to pull him over Cañada Road. Feeling refreshed, I was most happy to fulfill this request. He said if we made good time, we could have a picnic at a spot he’d picked out along the Sawyer Camp Trail. Yay! It seemed unlikely we’d have enough time at that point, but I was pleased to find I had the energy to try.

Cañada Road is hot and dry under the sun

Cañada Road is hot and dry under the sun

Crystal Springs Reservoir looks enticing... I want to jump in!

Crystal Springs Reservoir looks enticing… I want to jump in!

Headwind, headwind after our picnic

Headwind, headwind, headwind after our picnic

Once we get to the end of the bike path and have to ride along the highway, we ride into the wind for some miles more. The road pitches up, the road pitches down. It has been a long day, and now we are on the most trafficky, auto-speedy part. We ride quietly, with our heads down. On one of the uphills, I lift my head, and in the soft distance up ahead, I see– but wait! Could it be?? I dare not look back to see if John has seen it: the PACIFICA CITY LIMIT SIGN! I increase my speed imperceptibly. Slowly, slowly, I gradually go faster. Getting closer to the sign, I increase my speed faster, then faster. I hear a loud whine behind me, and then I know I’ve got it! Yessss!

John took this defeat rather to heart, so when we neared the San Francisco city limit sign, I handed the final city limit sign of this day’s cycling endeavor over to him. I did not race him for it; I left all my sprinting energy in Pacifica.

I'll always have Pacifica

I’ll always have Pacifica

Totems: a week away from the longest day of the year, we still have daylight

Totems: a week away from the longest day of the year, we still have daylight

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

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