R8: SCR Dart

The Santa Cruz Randonneurs’ Dart event was the highlight of my 2012 riding year. (A Dart is a 200k team event similar to a flèche, but it is shorter, and teams do not ride through the night.) The finish control dinner was held at the Tied House in Mountain View, with great food, beer, and company. It’s a large enough venue that all teams could show up at more or less the same time and all sit down together to eat, drink, and swap stories. To commemorate the occasion, the Dart organizer commissioned this poster from a fellow randonneure who also happens to be a very talented artist. IMG_0445

This year, I would be sure to participate. John had been trying to arrange a way to get several teams together on the same route, yet with slightly different start times, so we could have a big movable party along the way, but we couldn’t get enough people together for it. I thought it was a brilliant idea, one I hope someone uses sometime! But for this year, John assembled just one team, comprised of everyone from last year’s team except Heath–replaced by the creator of the above poster: Alice Stribling!

It was fun to get the chance to ride with all of them. I haven’t been able to ride with Ely or Jim too much, since both have young families. Despite Jim’s pre-ride moaning about his lack of being in shape, I was pretty impressed with how he rode.


Jim enjoying the coast

The weather was slightly cloudy for most of the morning, though it cleared up later on the climb up Soquel-San Jose Road. We used the same route as last year, Jesse Marsh’s Coastal Cruz permanent.

Me n Capitaine Quelle Heure Est-Il at the Half Moon Bay wayside...

Me n Capitaine Quelle Heure Est-Il at the Half Moon Bay wayside… photo courtesy of Alice

Randonneuring is soo classy

Typically classy randonneur behaviours on display at Arcangeli’s. Visible in front is Alice’s war wound in her recent battle with the train tracks near Townsend Street in SF

As far as city limit sign sprints, I think John took most of them, though I do recall an intense early-morning contest for Daly City between Ely and John. For some bizarre reason, John and Ely arrived at the Pescadero sign before me but did not cross it, so I won that one. That was odd. But then I stole a really good one at Davenport from a completely unsuspecting Jim, and decided to stop and reward myself with a pint of roadside blueberries, being so far ahead and all…

ride to eat to ride to eat to ride...

ride to eat to ride to eat to ride…

There was a very unfortunate bike crash near the city limit sign: a woman had gone over the railroad tracks at the wrong angle, gotten her wheel stuck, and flipped (according to the blueberry vendors); then, unable to find assistance in Davenport, she got back on her bike to go back the way she came and tripped over the tracks a second time. Agghhh we saw her being loaded into an ambulance as we passed (she still seemed conscious), and the guys at the fruit table spilled the whole story to me as they gave me testers of the honey they were selling. Alice had just taken a dive in SF due to some misplaced railroad tracks, so I’m sure it gave her extra shivers.

The weather was even nicer than last year, a bit more sunny but about the same temperature. Typical coastline views made me think that the SCR strategy of placing most of its brevet routes along CA1 is not such a bad idea after all.

Laid back at the Ugly Mug

Laid back at the Ugly Mug

You can't take riding too seriously.

You can’t take riding too seriously… If you do, it could drive you crazy!

After leaving our old haunt The Ugly Mug cafe in Soquel, we began The Climb. This is the longest climb of the route, an elevation gain of about 1600 feet in ten miles. I started off with my team, Jim taking the lead, and Senor Captain dropping back. I just kept riding at my own pace. I caught up with Jim and we agreed to stop and catch our breath at Stetson Road, about seven miles in. Soquel-San Jose Road is shaded through most of the way, but it was a hot day. The rest of our team were nowhere to be seen, but we figured we’d all collect ourselves at the Summit Store.

Climbing pain...elevation gained.

Climbing pain…elevation gained. We heart Summit Store!

We did! It is truly all downhill from there, so we savored the beautiful downhill stretch of the Old Santa Cruz Highway. Alice, Jim, Ely, and I all took the bike handling skills classes last year, and I still constantly think about putting into practice good cornering and handling techniques. I love how my bike handles descents… like buttercream frosting. mmmm. Not too much later I got to eat some buttercream frosting at Great Bear Coffee in Los Gatos at our penultimate control.

Everybody wave!

Everybody wave!



When it was time to leave Great Bear, we wound our way through the odd Silicon Valley suburbs to the beautiful Mary Avenue Bike Bridge and took some glam shots of ourselves and our bikes.

Setting up the shot

Setting up the shot… the pedals must be in the correct position

Dramatic angles

Dramatic angles

Les Wotnaughts

Les Wotnaughts

We picked up some weird dude on the way to the Tied House

We picked up some weird dude on the way to the Tied House

Another biketastic California day thanks to the Santa Cruz Randonneurs. John and I got wind vests from the SCR group order to remember how happy we are they put on the summer Dart. Next year they’ll be holding the Central Coast 1000k/1200k instead. Will this be my first 1200 or 1000k? Only time and mmmmbike will tell.

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!