R9, feeling fine…

For the month of September,  Ely and I agreed to attempt Mark Gunther’s San Franciscadero permanent. I say attempt because the last time Ely attempted this ride, he had to bail on it, so he was pretty concerned about taking on this challenge. He warned me that there is a lot of climbing (which is true– 10-12K’), and that if it’s not timed correctly, you end up having to ride in darkness for much of the ride. Riding in darkness is a major showstopper for Ely since he has night blindness. When he and his friend Chloe rode it, it was rainy and cold, and that was also a factor that could potentially affect us as well.

Mr. Potis contacted us to see if he could join us for the ride, and we happily agreed. I thought the ride would not be as difficult as Ely warned it would be, especially with John riding with us. He’s a strong rider who knows the route well. He proposed doing some slight detours through some trail known as Planet of the Apes, and trails around Half Moon Bay and Old Haul Road. Um, John, that is not on the cue sheet–won’t we get in trouble? He said Mark wouldn’t mind. Lately Ely and I have started doing some trail riding in the Marin Headlands, and I was psyched to try some more trails, so I said we’d see how it goes. But Ely was still pretty concerned about finishing the ride in time, and did not want to venture into the Planet of the Apes. We were also doing this ride on the same day as the Santa Cruz 400k, in which our permanent owner would likely be participating. Anyway, once we got down Highway One around Davenport or Half Moon Bay, we saw not Mark Gunther but Jason Pierce, Ken, and Rob Hawks riding along! I was super happy to see our RBA, and we all rang our bells and waved at them. Later, Rob posted on Facebook that he was happy to see the three of us as well, since he had been working hard to keep up with Jason and Ken all morning. It is a huge morale boost to see people you know out on the road. Especially when you see someone who is not doing the same ride as you, it’s a great feeling.

Shortly after that, a silver Jeep Cherokee buzzed too close to me on the highway, and we decided to break off onto the trail parallel to the 1. We saw a group of seven pelicans flying together along the coast, possibly the same group we saw while riding along the Great Highway in San Francisco! John pointed out a camping area near the coast, and we continued along the scenic path for a bit. I don’t mind riding along with traffic and am pretty accustomed to that stretch of Highway One in particular. Riding on trails is so much more relaxing and pleasant though, since you don’t have the speeding cars and trucks to worry about.

In any case, we reached Arcangeli’s in good time, and the next control as well. The control after that was preceded by a tough climb, and we stopped part way up at the turn for Alpine Road to refuel. My derailleur was shifting on its own again, probably stemming from a well-intentioned but ineffectual stem swapout (and swap-back) the week before, and Ely and John did their best to resolve the issue. Having ridden a single- speed for many years in Chicago, I am very appreciative of what a good derailleur can do, but often frustrated by basic derailleur operation and maintenance. Once it was reassembled and we started rolling again, I had to blow off steam and tore off up the road to the next control, where I waited patiently for Ely and John to catch up with me. Whew! While I pounded up and around the hills I heard laughter from Ely and John echoing against the hillsides, which made me smile.

That control was an info control– no receipt, just answer a question pertaining to the location on your printed brevet card. This was the third to last control for this route, and we were doing well on time. Ely still seemed to be a little nervous that we would finish after dark, because he kept pulling up ahead. I dropped back with John as it was a pretty hot day up on Skyline and after all, it had been a steep climb. Somehow the three of us pulled it together for the descent into Woodside, and I got to watch Ely and John use their descending and cornering skills. Now that I’ve taken a couple bike handling classes, I pay close attention to other riders’ cornering techniques. Watching John and Ely doing their descents together that afternoon was totally fascinating to me– it is wonderful to watch cyclists who are good at it.

At Roberts Market in Woodside, we ate and drank, and petted an outgoing Lab that had been waiting in the driver’s seat of its owner’s car for some time, when the owner returned and loaded up her groceries.  Then we headed off on Canada Road toward the Crystal Springs Reservoir and the Camp Sawyer path. The path is so beautiful! Many joggers, walkers and other cyclists were out on the path enjoying the sunny weather. As we continued north, we could see the fog coming over the ridge miles ahead of us like a giant puffy glacier. So much for beautiful sunny weather. We reached the final Safeway control after navigating successfully through a risky merge with freeway- bound car traffic. Yikes! Jarred back into coexisting with cars from the peaceful lakeside path.

No photos for San Franciscadero… only memories: waving at Rob Hawks on Highway One, flocks of Pelicans zooming through the air above the ocean shore, sitting next to Potis and Ely for a lunch break at the scenic corner of Pescadero Creek and Alpine Roads, descending through the tight switchbacks into Woodside, and riding along the sun- dappled reservoir in the late afternoon. I hope to do this ride again soon.


R8: The Happy Birthday Ride/ SCR Dart

The more randonneurs I meet, the less it seems like any has an exact age. Some seem wise far beyond their years, others are many years young. So it may be a little ironic that this month’s ride falls so close to my birthday. My role model in life is the French lady who lived well into her centièmes, eating chocolat, drinking le vin du pays, and riding her vélo every day… so each birthday brings me closer to this goal, right? There is some cause for celebration in that. And riding on (the day after) my birthday had some major perks, especially since it was a fun, social, and well- organized ride like the Santa Cruz Randonneurs Dart.

I knew I wanted to team up with Ely for this event, since I had ridden with him several times before and knew we could ride together well. I had no idea what was involved in putting a team together, but I figured since the ride was scheduled for the day after my birthday, I had to do whatever it took! Fortunately, a far more experienced individual offered to pick up the slack for me, someone who (like me) happens to enjoy a Pelican (or three?) as much as or more than anyone…the illustrious and jolly John Potis. I knew right away when John volunteered to captain that we would have a terrific time.

And we did! The high point of the ride for me was when we arrived in Los Gatos and my brother and my soon-to-be sister-in-law, who just happened to be in Los Gatos that weekend,  met our team at Great Bear Coffee.  The piece of chocolate cake I got out of the deal was certainly not unwelcome, either… thanks, brother Scott!! Did I mention that other perk of riding on my birthday: everybody kept buying me food! The captain picked up my chicken pot pie at the Ugly Mug, Jim got my sandwich at Arcangeli’s, and then of course SCR provided meals for everyone at the finish, where John bought everyone on our team a beer… what more could a randonneuse ask for, really?

How about great weather?

just overcast enough to be pleasantly temperate

Or a nice team photo?

Nous coeur Jesse! Sean Chon jumped ship from Jesse’s team, since we were clearly having much more fun…

The dinner at the Tied House was really touching, since Scott Brittle had hired fellow randonneuse Alice Stribling to design a poster for the event, and we all got to sign the mat it was mounted in. I did not realize that SCR was picking up the cost of dinner for everybody, a generous act I’m sure we all appreciated. SCR also provided monitored bike parking for us– a couple of young people hanging out in deck chairs watching over all our bikes in downtown Mountain View! Adorable.

A hard workout it surely wasn’t… Well, maybe I will make up for it next month. I did get a little sprinting in when I raced to chase down our teammate Jim, who got lost in the moment riding too far off the front and missed a turn. Interestingly enough, the SFR skills class in group riding was scheduled for the following weekend, something I probably could have used before this ride as I’m sure my cycling manners could stand to step up a bit. John was a great captain, though, and kept us all together and on schedule.

I’m not sure yet what September has in store for me. Davis night 200K? Marin Mountains? SCR 400K? Sanfranciscadero permanent? The next full moon is on September 30– perhaps a moonlit permanent? There are too many enticing possibilities for delicious bike riding– I want to do them all, but because of work and other responsibilities, I have to choose just one. See which one I pick in the next exciting installment of mmmmbike!


For my July contribution to the R-12, I humbly submit the Double Brevet Ride Report: To Cloverdale Best Western Swimming Pool and Back in a Jiffy.

The work week prior to this ride was very busy, not to mention all the hill sprints I’ve been doing in the Presidio with Ely, Gabrielle, and Alice, so I started out already feeling pooped. In fact, I was nervous about this ride and questioned whether it was a good thing to attempt.

Foggy and a bit blustery starting out… Not feeling great about this ride so far…

I’ve come to recognize the feelings of anxiety about doing these long rides, though, and now that I’d successfully completed six of them, I let those feelings pass and just showed up, open to whatever might happen and willing to do my best. And in the end, I completed both the weekend’s 200k rides successfully this time too, one in record time for me.

I don’t think I could have done it without all the super people I rode with intermittently along the way. After having missed a turn, becoming totally lost on the wrong road on the first day, I ran into Kimber Guzik and her crew, also having missed the turn… We logged a few more bonus miles together and then finally, she was able to get reception on her mobile phone and get us back in the right direction to make it to the penultimate control.

Westside Road… Beautiful, if a bit too much of it

They had sandwiches at the control, but I just refilled my water, ate some food from my pack, and kept going. I don’t know what fire got under me on this ride, but I surely wasted no time at any of the controls.

In fact, because I got through the first control of the day on day two so quickly, I somehow had the good fortune to catch up with another super person with whom I got to ride for a bit, Gabe Ehlert. Gabe designed my bike frame, recommended the parts for the build, and assembled my bike, something I have gotten many happy miles out of, so I have a lot of respect for the guy. Oddly enough, I rolled over something spiky right after we started riding together and blew my front tire. This was the first flat I’ve had on a brevet. I felt a little self- conscious about my repair skills, but Gabe was cool as a cucumber about it and we got back on the road in short order to enjoy an uneventful stretch to the next control.

Heading out along 116 to the coast… the fog awaits

Another unusual thing that happened during this double brevet series, though on day one, was that I came upon a rider I knew who turned out to be having a mild heart attack. A very strong rider, he had just finished riding his bike with two others across the US via the southern tier through Arizona, Texas, Louisiana etc. I had followed his blog as he went and even posted a link to it here on my own blog– you can still read his account of that ride. Anyway,  I was just leaving Guerneville on the morning of the first day, and saw him walking his bike by the roadside. Just to check, I asked him if everything was ok, and he said he wasn’t sure, and that his chest hurt. Once I stopped, he also told me his right arm and hand felt numb for a moment. Of course at that point, I encouraged him to sit down in the shade. By all appearances, he seemed perfectly normal, but I knew this was not a normal situation. He told me how worried he was about not finishing the brevet since he had had to ditch the 1000K a couple weeks before, to which my kneejerk response was, “F*ck that!” All I could think was, “This guy just rode his bike from the Pacific Ocean all the way across the continent to the Atlantic Ocean, and he’s worried about not finishing a 200K?” From his point of view, though, I can see that it is hard to accept that one moment, you’re enjoying a beautiful day of cycling on the Russian River… and the next, you have to give up the brevet and find the nearest hospital. Especially when you’re not sure what’s wrong with you, or if the feeling will simply pass. Personally I have a lot of mistrust of the medical profession and he seemed to as well, but I was pretty firm in the feeling that he get checked out, and did my best to talk him out of continuing the ride until he get checked out. I walked him the few blocks back to the center of town where we thought there was a clinic, but it turned out to be closed. By that point, he had repeatedly said he felt bad about taking up my time, and wasn’t I worried about my finish time (obviously he didn’t know me well, I could not care less about my time!) etc etc. I actually started to feel I was infringing on his time– I didn’t want to tell him what to do. He did seem to be less shaky now, so we talked about him finding a place with air conditioning to cool down for a while, and he said that he could call Brooks, who was driving our drop bags, to come get him if necessary. That sounded like a good plan to me, so I left him there. Once I got to the Best Western in Cloverdale, I heard that he had in fact had gone to the hospital, had a blockage in his heart which resulted in a mild heart attack, and they were holding him there until Monday. So it turns out that going to the hospital instead of trying to finish the brevet is a good idea.

There is no sag service for these rides, so in my view, we all have to provide a sort of sag service for each other to some extent when necessary. I do not enjoy the idea of a sag wagon following me around while I’m just trying to have a good day on the bike, but then again, I felt grossly unprepared for the situation I just described, particularly if the situation had been more urgent. When I got to the hotel in Cloverdale, some people said to me that it was a nice thing I did for him to convince him to seek medical attention, but I felt guilty for not staying with him until he left for a hospital. Of course, if the situation had been more immediate, the way to respond would have been more obvious. Maybe a first aid class is in order.

Okay. One more shout out to some fun randonneurs. After the Point Reyes Station control on the second day, I ran into two riders with whom I finished the first day, and we agreed to finish the second ride together as well. One was Chris Eisenbarth, a very seasoned randonneur, the other was one for whom Saturday was his first brevet (Doug… ? Doug E Fresh?)! Fun! As we rode into Fairfax, I caught sight of the inimitable John Potis, probably heading back to San Francisco from an afternoon of holding down the couch at Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station.

Chris and John sprinting to the bubbler

John is the captain of my dart team, so we had a lot to discuss along the way! More on that to come in the August installment of mmmmbike!

R3 (belated post): SFR Russian River 300K

With this ride, I really pushed the boundaries out. I entered into the experience wanting to know how far was too far, and… I think I found out! It was a difficult ride for a good reason, though: work had become very busy in the week leading up to the ride, so I wasn’t able to get enough good food, sleep, or practice-riding to prepare.  As luck would have it, the day before the ride, the choir I sing with had a concert, too! In spite of my higher instincts to go straight home afterward, my friends prevailed upon me to go out with them. I even had a Beer. Whoops. But somehow I managed to make it to the start control early enough to check in and get my act on the road.

I wanted to ride as fast as I could at the beginning to avoid losing time or getting too far behind. On the first two brevets, I took a pace that would allow me to finish within the time limit and no faster. It’s a brevet, NOT a race! Anyway, this time I ran into some very sweet guys toward the beginning of the ride– Brian Oei, Carlin Eng, and Robert… did not get his last name. We rode together until they dropped me on the last hill going into Petaluma. It was terrific riding with them on the trail through Samuel P. Taylor park instead of the bumpy road, and they were so nice to chat with as we rolled along. But their pace was just slightly too much for me, just slightly hung over as I was and a bit sleep and carb deprived.

After passing through the first two controls, riding through the vineyards was just heaven. The weather couldn’t have been better. Rob had warned us all about combustible-engine traffic in the vineyards region due to wine tastings that day, but the traffic was not too bad. I rode with Charlie Jonas for some time, and we got stopped by a jerk in a pickup truck who wanted to take his bad mood out on us by shaking his finger and scolding us. That dampened my mood in turn for several miles. Once we entered the forested area around Gurneville, though, I started to get more energy. I love the fresh air you get to breathe when riding through a forest! I also anticipated reaching the coast before long.

At some point, Charlie and I ran into Jim Gourgoutis. I was glad to see another rider as it was starting to feel like Charlie and I were the only randonneurs left in the world! The three of us continued on until we reached the next control, a small grocery store on the coast. I was starting to feel pretty sapped of energy by this time, yet I did not realize at that control how many calories I was burning– I should have eaten much more. I did refill my water bottles, dropping nuun tablets in each. Apparently the caffeinated tablet went straight to my head, and I’m quite embarrassed to say I dropped both Jim and Charlie on the rollers after we pulled out of the control! Rather stupidly I kept pointing out hazards in the road, thinking they were just behind me. Charlie finally caught up to me just before the Marshall control to say that Jim stopped in Valley Ford to refill his water and catch his breath… I always feel I am the slowest one in any given group, so when it was my turn to pull, I would really pull to avoid letting the group slow down. Well, no more of that! Once we regrouped in Marshall, we agreed we should stick together. It was starting to get dark, and riding alone is much more dangerous.

The rest of the ride from Marshall was familiar territory for us, and though it was getting late, and though we were all pretty worn out from just about 12 hours of riding by that point, I had no doubt we’d make decent time back to the finish. Strangely enough, that actually did happen. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, except for the fact that we somehow lost Charlie–in Nicasio, Jim wanted to stop and drink some Ensure, but Charlie just kept going. I’m not sure if he missed our cues to turn off or just needed some personal time. In any event, Jim and I had both independently had the expectation from the beginning of the ride that it would take 17 hours, and our official time was 16h20.

In the end I met some really strong riders and had terrific fun for most of the ride. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually did it! The countryside was exhilaratingly beautiful, and riding around Nicasio Reservoir in the dark was so quiet and peaceful. The last few hours, though, were really tough. My hands were aching from resting on the handlebars all day, and road vibration as well as the vibration from the dynamo hub were taking their toll on me. I had worn thick wool socks that day, and toward the end of the ride my shoes started to seem tighter. Most of all, though, I was burning calories faster than I could digest them, and though I didn’t bonk exactly, I felt an incredible gnawing hunger that would not go away. I have a very high metabolism, so I have to be a lot more careful to eat more during the week leading up to a ride of this length. Eating a big meal the night before is not enough.  Jim and I also remarked, as we struggled toward the finish, how it can be difficult to get in enough time to train to accomplish longer and longer rides when work and other responsibilities are competing for one’s time.

Another thing I learned was that front and rear lights and a reflective belt, though helpful and “RUSA Kosher”, are not enough for safe, confident night riding. I was impressed with Jim’s brightness at night– it was really effective. If I’m going to do more night riding, I have to put more effort into the lighting scenario to be seen better. Since that ride, Jack has put his famous Moonbeam reflective material on my jacket, but I know it’s not going to end there.

I did not take any pictures during this ride. I knew it would take all my effort just to complete it. Nancy Yu has a fantastic photo series of this ride on her blog, here (she was riding on a tandem, so she was able to get some great shots!). The next day when my roommate was cutting open a red pepper for her lunches for the week, it caught my eye and for some reason, the shape of it seemed to encapsulate my feelings about the ride I had completed the day before……lots of winding roads, I guess was what I saw.

R6: Coastal Cruz part deux

This was a delightful ride, and I got to meet for the first time and ride with two super people. Lots of chill time and lovely weather. Rather uneventful in a good way. I was sort of on the fence about whether to actually do the ride, since I had been planning to do a double brevet overnight permanent to Healdsburg and back with Ely. We had planned to do the first 200K (out) on the last day of June, and the second day’s 200K (back) on the first day of July, thus making each leg count for one month of the R12. But I had a feeling that we weren’t going to end up actually doing that ride for whatever reason… which ended up being justified. So I’m glad I did decide in the end to ride with Jesse and Gabrielle! What actually clinched the decision for me was when I woke up, my clock radio was playing Joni Mitchell’s song ‘California’. Awww.

As usually happens, we ran into some interesting folk at the Summit Store, at the top of the climb out of Soquel. One guy had some Adventure Cycling stickers on his pack, and Jesse chatted with him for a bit about touring, and another guy complimented me about riding with platform pedals… which seems to only rarely escape comment of one kind or another when I’m out riding. But this guy was nice about it.

Full photo coverage of the ride, including pictures of all our bikes, the socks of the lady at the Ugly Mug, the pastry rack at Arcangeli’s in Pescadero, &c can be found on my flickr page.

R5: The Jittery Jaunt

By all projections, this should have been an easy ride, but it ended up being a tough one. Both Ely and I had done the route before, and it’s not a difficult one– there is little climbing, only a couple short stretches with no shoulder or uneven pavement, and good opportunities for water and amenities along the way. Ely had projected we should be able to finish in nine or ten hours. This seemed reasonable, though slightly ambitious, to me. When I did essentially the same route as a brevet in February, I finished in 10:40. Since it was no longer a new route to me and I have kept riding and training since then, I thought it would be easy to shave off at least that forty minutes!

Ely waiting patiently for me at my corner. A good friend is he!

How did we make it to Safeway in under 15 minutes??

Well, the fates were just not with us that day. After fighting a nasty headwind all along Point Reyes- Petaluma Road, we fought some more headwind all the way from Petaluma to Valley Ford and beyond to the coast. We had tried pacelining to conserve energy, but traffic along the highway was thick that day, and in several stretches the shoulder was too narrow.

Hip-hop comedy flavors of Ely “mousetail-on-your-booty” Rodriguez… Singing Missy Elliott all the way to the Marshall Store is how we roll.

The bright sunny day was wonderful and exhilarating, since I was diligent in applying plenty of clown makeup (a.k.a. sunscreen:  I am learning a bit about the California sun in relation to my WASPy Wisconsin- bred skin). There were gorgeous green hills, deep blue skies, and lazy black and white cows everywhere I looked. I now have a completely different perspective on ‘pink’, ‘purple’, and ‘yellow’, having seen the bursts of roadside wildflowers in May. Ely pointed out the stretch of road where, when he did the same route last year, the embankments next to the road were covered with blackberries. Yet… I felt my energy severely sapped in sections where no shade was to be found, and where the wind was as diligent in pushing against us as we were diligent in pressing forward.

I was so thrilled to reach the buoyant rolling hills on the coast– finally, a tailwind!! But by this time my riding companion was exhausted and out of water. When we reached the iconic Marshall Store, we made a brief stop for water and quickly moved on to Point Reyes Station.

I nearly tip over a bunch of carbon fiber bikes like dominoes at Bovine Bakery while trying to get a glam shot of our rando-rific ones… sigh.

This is about the mile marker in a ride when I discover my second wind. I love to reach the familiar territory of Samuel P. Taylor Park, Fairfax, San Anselmo, and so on, and get the feeling that the finish line is nearly within my grasp. I really haul ass at this point, excited that I’m about to accomplish another brevet.

Unfortunately, Ely was not feeling that way. Riding into tough headwinds for so much of the day under the hot sun had worn him out (and now I feel guilty as I realize he was out in front most of the way; although I wasn’t drafting him, it still takes more effort to be in front), so we took it easy getting back to town. This turned out to be a huge plus, because we took the scenic route through Samuel P. Taylor Park, and took a chill break at the San Anselmo town hall, where the public library was having a book sale that day. Bicycling books, anyone? Aaaagh!

I have never been less tempted at a public library booster sale

I have never been less tempted at a public library booster sale

Now I fondly recall riding through the beautiful park in the afternoon with the soft pine needle-strewn path below and noble redwoods towering above, not to mention all the giant, prehistoric- looking birds of prey swooping around, and I’m glad we didn’t rush to finish. If we had ridden hard in the final section, all I would have remembered of the day would have been solid work, instead of what I understand randonneuring is supposed to be: pushing one’s limits to be sure, but in the spirit of a fun day out on the bike in good company. And in the end, I believe we both rode well, we ate well and drank our water and made sensible decisions about how to spend the day. It was another great learning experience for me, this time about pacing and my limitations. I rode harder than I usually do at the beginning, and I wasn’t able to keep that pace throughout the day. We ended up checking out at the Starbucks across from the Marina Dateway (which was so congested with people on a Saturday night, I guess living up to its nickname, that we had to go to Starbucks for our receipts) at 18h18, finishing in 11h18. I guess it’s going to be some time before I can finish a brevet, even a straightforward route like the Jittery Jaunt, in nine hours. But that’s the point of my doing an R12: just keep at it, and for one year, don’t be attached to the result. Keep riding, keep good company, be mentally as well as physically prepared for anything, and ride just enough that you want to keep doing it. Experiment with different kinds of nutrition and gear– as Rob Hawks says, “Do your homework,” with a view to going even longer in the future. I am grateful that Ely stuck with me through this ride, and thank him for his great company and for sharing ideas about riding.

In that vein, here is a list of what I ate that day, my gear choices, and our rates of speed broken out by section. Just for the record. Who knows when it might be useful?

Breakfast: oatmeal, two scrambled eggs, coffee with hot milk, 1/2 liter water
1st section (before Petaluma): Perpetuem-maca-Inka-honey shake, water with lemon wedges, 1 t. salt & 1 T. honey
Seven Eleven at Petaluma: Breakfast sandwich, small light blue Gatorade
Valley Ford: Clam chowder (pint), dark blue Gatorade, banana, It’s-It (shoutout to Brian Oei!)
Point Reyes Station: Peanut butter and nutella sandwich, dates and almonds, refill water bottles with water and Nuun
Top of White’s Hill: 1 Ensure
Finish Control: One cookie and another Ensure
2 hours after finish: Odwalla protein shake
8 hours after finish: Homemade apple bread pudding, and pasta

just made a new ss wool jersey for myself & pretty proud of it!
cotton undershirt
cotton shorts with no chamois
soft soled sneakers (yes, still no cleats or toe clips and not really wanting to change that. I hate how toe clips grind on the ground at a stop, and I like having the ability to change my foot position on the pedal throughout a ride. Am I from a different planet?? I feel compelled to change to cleats, but as it feels so akin to mere peer pressure, my stubbornness with the pedal issue reigns for now.)
dollar store sunglasses (since my glasses with changeable lenses fell out of my pocket one day, never to be found again, I have used plain sunglasses on the last two brevets. They’re working just fine so far, and actually those changeable- lens Serfas glasses were really awkward to change the lenses, not to mention them being a safety hazard because they completely cut out my peripheral vision)
head kerchief to keep the sun off my scalp (worked well compared to other rides when I did not wear one)
thin wool socks
cotton arm warmers and blue windbreaker (though these were taken off by 9 am and unfortunately carted around all day somewhat unnecessarily)
Panaracer Pasela 32mm tires, I love you. 1700+ miles and not even a flat. Potholes, sticks, glass, rocks, you climb over it all, thanks to the heavens for that. I know that soon enough I will start the learning experience of roadside repairs, but I am grateful I’ve had some time before those lessons to learn some others.

Speed (mph)
SF to Petaluma &-Eleven: 13.89
Petaluma to Valley Ford: 10.30
Valley Ford to PRS: 11.42
PRS to SF: 9.35
We would have had to maintain an average speed of 13.89 to finish in 9 hours, 12.5 in 10. This includes time at controls, which I need to work on shortening.

Bilenky rig with new dyno wheel. Hm. But check out the swank new kicks!!

Ely’s shooting-from-the-ankle curbside shot. I’m just thankful for not getting a massive sunburn!

I’m not sure yet what my June R12 installment will be. I am really busy with work at the moment, so I’m glad May is out of the way early, so I can get back to work (remember bookbinding?? oh yeah…). Stay tuned!

R4: Coastal Cruz

Fourth installment in the R12 series for me: San Francisco to Mountain View Permanent route #1288: the Coastal Cruz. Ely Rodriguez invited me to ride with him and his friends Omar and Sean. When Jesse Marsh, the route owner, issued me my brevet card and route sheet, he kindly reminded me to do my taxes before the ride. I did, so without a care in the world (well, mostly no cares), I set off on the morning of April 14 for Peet’s Coffee on Geary.

This ride was a great skill-builder for me. The route has a lot to offer: beautiful views of the ocean along highway 1, some nice climbing along Stage Road, a technical descent or two (a good chance to practice the lessons learned in the SFR bike handling skills class, which I feel becoming more habitual), a chill cafe atmosphere at Ugly Mug in Soquel (another new and important skill for me to learn: this practice of “chillin'”. wish me luck), more road climbing along Soquel- San Jose Road, and even some climbing and descending on a dirt trail! Whew. It was all completely new territory for me, as all my riding thus far has been in Marin County.

Another new experience for me on this ride was pacelining. Most of my training rides I do solo, so I haven’t had the chance to learn this. I still have a lot to learn about it, but toward the end of the segment when we were pacelining, I think it started to click for me. Ely gave us some helpful tips about it, which I tried to put into practice as much as possible.

When we were about 20 miles north of Santa Cruz, Sean’s bike started to shimmy dramatically on a steep descent, and his rear tire blew.

Right where the cloud is shadowing the highway in this photo is where Sean’s tire blew out.

I was behind him, and could smell the rubber burning– he ended up with a skid hole through tire and tube about five inches long! He handled the situation amazingly well, and was able to control his bike enough to move off the road and come to a safe stop. Unfortunately he did not have a spare tire, only a spare tube, and the tire boots that Ely had brought were not long enough to  cover the hole. However, Sean “made do”, as we say, and was able to make it for about ten more miles before blowing out the spare tube. We were all close enough to the next control that Sean told us to go ahead while he waited for the patch glue to set, and he would catch up with us at the Ugly Mug control.  Poor Sean ended up having to jog with his bike part of the way to Santa Cruz to reach a bike shop to get a new tire. Sean is a really strong rider, and he finally caught up with us on the ascent to Summit Road. Once I got home I read the Lennard Zinn interview in the latest Bicycle Quarterly about tall riders and frame fitting issues– as Sean is indeed a tall rider, I wonder if that had something to do with the blowout.

In spite of that unfortunate incident, our group made good time overall– 11h16 from start to finish. We had a fantastic meal near the train in Mountain View (meatloaf with mashed potatoes and spinach for me, yum!) and hopped on Caltrain for the return home. Beautiful weather had prevailed for us throughout the day, and once again I feel so lucky to be able to spend so much time on the bike.

Peace out dudes!!… (did I say that right??)

As we were riding with Ely the Bagmaker, I had to document the bags we all used. For more photos, visit my flickr page (linked at right). Mine is still in somewhat of a testing phase. I added a strip of leather and bookbinder’s board to the rider side to be able to attach my decaleur at the correct height (which had been set for my other bag). I love the orange brocade on the inside of this bag, and the burgundy outer color and heart shape on the front pocket work for me too. It’s a good bag for me to take on a warm 200k, since it’s smaller and lighter than my other one. In cold or rainy weather, I might need more room for spare socks &c, but on a ride like this one, I didn’t have to worry about that.  Ely was road- testing his bag as well. It’s a new design he’s been working on that can attach to the handlebars without a rack for shorter brevets. The perfect thing for an R12!  Next up for R5 is the Jittery Jaunt. To be continued…