sfr Fort Bragg 600k: Ending the series on a high note

It’s been a while since this ride, but there were some things about it I still think are worth writing about. Other than the obvious one, being the fact that it was the longest of this year’s series. Several points will always make it stand out for me, and then there’s the totally magical, mystifying, unlikely, and amazing thing that happened toward the end! Saving that one for last! But the other five points are good too…

titanium pelican

Where’s the Pelican? Stealthican at the Petaluma Safeway hiding among the flower pots

  1. Sadly I was not able to get my wheels rebuilt in enough time after the 400k to have decent and safe wheels for my bike. So, because I happen to be dating the bicycle equivalent of a shoe horse (who also happens to be a loving and caring and generous person), my boyfriend loaned me one of his bikes. He loaned me… his titanium Steve Potts custom rando. Yes. He hasn’t been riding it too much since he stopped riding most RUSA events, and maybe he thought it needed to be ridden some. I wasn’t gonna ask why, I just rode the crap out of that bike (carefully!) and enjoyed every moment. And I can say I didn’t ask why, but I did feel a slight bit guilty about riding John’s bike. A Ti frame with Pelican geometry that took many a long month to make. Custom made by Steve Potts… A slight bit guilty, but it was nice to have that gesture of support from my sweetheart, and I knew that I would appreciate the bike through every kilometer. The gearing was quite different from my usual setup, but it wasn’t a problem at all. I even wondered if I should change my current gearing.

    Jitensha medium handlebar bag

    Mini handlebar bag… so refreshing!

  2. Another great thing about riding the Potts was it was set up for only a small handlebar bag and a small saddle mounted tool bag. One of my constant issues with my current setup is that I enjoy the convenience of the highly compartmentalized Berthoud bag, but it discourages me from carrying less somehow. I was really looking forward to the freedom of carrying less. On a 600k, the extra energy expended in carrying more stuff does add up. The bike itself was lighter too, adding up to a real feeling of liberation.
  3. Graffiti on the bathroom wall in Cloverdale. This is kind of an offshoot of the pleasures of riding alone, since I doubt if I were riding with others, would I have proposed stopping in Cloverdale. But, heavy climbing is uncomfortable if you need to go to the bathroom, and I haven’t ever been comfortable taking a leak en plein air like the mensfolk. So just as I was about to give up on finding a good place with a loo in Cloverdale, I saw the Public Library sign! Having been a librarian, public libraries are real oases to me, and I was curious what the Cloverdale one would be like. So, I went in and found the following graffiti on the ladies’ room wall:
    I <3 BOOKS

    ME TOO

    On the way out, I found a nice copy of Two Years Before the Mast in the for sale box in the vestibule. I had a hard time leaving that behind, though would have felt silly carrying it over the hill.

  4. The campground. It is my second time for this beautiful place. The campground this year had a different feel than the last time, but was even better because John was volunteering there and had brought me a tent to sleep in. I got almost twice as much sleep as when I did this ride in 2014! It’s always hard for me to leave.
    Indian Creek entry

    Indian Creek entry

    Indian Creek setup

    Indian Creek setup

  5. The ride itself! Here, look at some pictures. I rode it mostly solo, though I did ride with Eric M, Therese C, and Dan B for a little while, and some others through Samuel P. Taylor park.
    Eric M totally stoked for 600k goodness

    Eric M totally stoked for 600k goodness

    Through Samuel P. with these great guys

    Through Samuel P. with these great guys

    Onward toward PRS with great company

    Onward toward PRS with great company

    That one landmark... it is great that each route builds on the others for a sense of familiarity

    That one landmark… it is great that each route builds on the others for a sense of familiarity

    Me and my shadow strolling down D avenue

    Me and my shadow strolling down D avenue

    Aaah finally! The open fields and vineyards

    Aaah finally! The open fields and vineyards

    Lovely light

    Lovely light

    Play of light and shadow

    Play of light and shadow

    Topping off the climb to the Yorkville highlands

    Topping off the climb to the Yorkville highlands

    Now I'm really getting somewhere

    Now I’m really getting somewhere

    More beautiful vineyards

    More beautiful vineyards

    Sheeeep

    Sheeeep

    The tree tunnel...photos never do it justice

    The tree tunnel…photos never do it justice

    18 miles to the turnaround!

    18 miles to the turnaround!

    Climbing up to the sea cliffs

    Climbing up to the sea cliffs

    ...more climbing, the air's getting misty and very chilly

    …more climbing, the air’s getting misty and very chilly. I rode all the way out to Fort Bragg with the darkness descending around Mendocino. Then, all the way back to the campground through the tree tunnel in complete darkness, without falling asleep on my bike at all! My attention was certainly on edge, though there were very few motorists out, and only one small animal that I saw.

    Believe it or not, looking forward to more riding!

    After a great 3.5 hours sleep at the campground, and an egg sandwich and kiss from my sweetheart who stayed up all night to staff the control. Believe it or not, looking forward to more riding!

    In the mmmmisty morning

    In the mmmmisty morning

    Yorkville highlands making me feel high! The sun is up!

    Yorkville highlands making me feel high! The sun is up!

    Westside Road near Guerneville: the Russian River is low, spirits are still high

    Westside Road near Guerneville: the Russian River is low, spirits are still high

    When I started to enter the rolling hills of Marin County farms, I really felt excited. Getting closer!

    When I started to enter the rolling hills of Marin County farms, I really felt excited. Getting closer!

    more beautiful farmland

    more beautiful farmland

    Country roads... supple tires

    Country roads… supple tires

    Vast expanse of gorgeous farmland

    Vast expanse of gorgeous farmland

    Eucaleupt on Tomales Bay

    Eucaleupt on Tomales Bay

    More Tomales Bay

    More Tomales Bay

    my staple hangout

    my staple hangout… I had wanted to get back to PRS in time to visit Mike at Black Mountain Cycles, and I made it! I told him I was riding John’s Steve Potts titanium bike, and he agreed I was the luckiest girlfriend ever.

    Marin Headlands! I am truly home.

    Marin Headlands! I am truly home.

    That more obvious orange landmark

    That more obvious orange landmark

    This bike.

    This bike.

  6. Lastly, the unlikely and magical thing. When I was descending Olema hill toward Point Reyes Station in the morning of the first day, my changeable-lens sunglasses bounced out of the rear pocket of my wind vest. They were astronomically expensive and purchased with the aid of an REI gift card from my brother, REI membership dividends, and annual member sale and were still expensive, so I was pretty bummed about that. This is the second pair of changeable lens sunglasses I have lost, and I also dislike having the lenses when the sunglasses are no longer there. But I resigned myself to this fate and pedaled on. In the past I have bought a pair of sunglasses from the dollar store in Healdsburg to get me through…
    dollar store sunglasses

    dollar store sunglasses… what can you do…

    kinda ridiculous, but whatever. Well. On the inbound leg of this route, we climb back up Olema hill. So I’m climbing, and hoping, and scanning the roadside, and climbing, and hoping, and… yes, they were there. I found them! They were not too far from a trailhead, so anyone could have picked them up. But I got them back.
    And, more importantly, I finished the ride. I was the last one in, just like the 300k and the 400k, which kind of made me glad in a way. Participation has been down slightly this year for us SFRs. I don’t think I’ve gotten slower; in fact, I improved my time by two hours this year (due to the much lighter bike, most likely). John was there to greet me at the finish (even though he woke up at the same time the day before that I did, then went through all the duties of working at the campground, setting up a tent for me as well as staying up throughout the night, and striking camp and cleaning the campground the next day!), and two Erics were there, and I got to tell the story about my lost and found sunglasses! All good. There were some cloudy skies on this ride, but no rain, I met or surpassed all my time goals, and felt great at the finish.

 

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