Workers’ Ride: Two Rock/Valley Ford 200k

I had not originally intended to ride this brevet. After two years of R12s, I wanted to break the chain and focus on my first SR series, and ultimately the Santa Cruz 1000k this summer. But since I would be Volunteer Coordinator for this event, and I invited my friends to volunteer, a bunch of us ended up riding together. In the end, I am really glad I did the ride. I had always been a bit scared of workers’ rides–even though I have become a serial volunteer, I never did a workers’ ride. People who work finish controls have often been the more experienced (read: faster) randonneurs. If there’s one thing I do not enjoy on a brevet, it is struggling to keep up, so I generally stay with the brevet and ride my own pace. Lately, there have been some no-drop workers’ rides that have functioned more like a team ride, with everyone staying together regardless of pace. That is how we did this one, lucky me! It was very sweet of Mike T-G to offer to hold back from his usual rapid pace and wait for us on the longer climbs of this route. He brought his camera along and took some great shots of the beautiful landscape along the way. Mike has an awesome bike with a relatively light setup, so when it would start raining, he didn’t have anywhere to put his camera to keep it from getting wet. But no worries: we orchestrated a couple mid-ride camera pass-offs so I could stow it in my handlebar bag for him. Ah, friendonneuring!

Starting out, it is warm and misty

Starting out, it is warm and misty -photo swiped from Mike

cardamommmm knot

cardamommmm knot -photo swiped from Mike

espressooohhh woah

espressooohhh woah -photo swiped from Mike

coffee stop in San Anselmo = best thing about a workers' ride!

coffee stop in San Anselmo = best thing about a workers’ ride! -photo swiped from Mike

funnn! Thanks Mike for the picture

funnn!
Thanks Mike for the pictures!

The Two Rock route is flatter than most of the SFR routes, and much of it traverses well-known territory for SFR regulars. According to the comments on the SFR google group in the week leading up to the brevet, it has become a bit like a populaire in that seasoned riders look for additional ways to make the ride harder, just to make it interesting. One group decided to take an extra detour to Sebastopol in order to visit a gallery show by one of our members. As for me, I was aiming just to practice riding on the roads that make up some of the longer rides later in the season. This route shares sections with the 300k, the 400k, and the 600k, though not necessarily in the same direction. Not to be a total randonnerd, but it is a great feeling when wrapping up a long ride to come to a section you’ve ridden many times before. Fatigue becomes Familiarity… and that means Finish! So even though this ride is not going to count toward my SR series, it will help me with it.

One other perk that happened on this ride was I met a Girl Scout who recognized my Girl Scout pin that I keep on my handlebar bag! That was fun, and the second time that has happened on a ride. She was with her parents in the Petaluma Peet’s Coffee, our first control. I didn’t stop to talk to her for too long since we had to stay on the move, but I am always amazed anyone sees that pin since it’s kind of hidden. I got so much out of being a Girl Scout and am so thrilled to see young gals still interested in it.

Something that got me thinking while riding through the farms of Marin and Sonoma Counties was the signs you see by the roadside stating, “PROTECTED AS FARMLAND FOREVER”. What do they mean, protected by whom and from what, etc. When I got home, I looked into it just a little and found MALT. Lately there has been so much discussion about the cost of living and price of real estate in our lovely little town of San Francisco… Imagine if real estate developers had their way and divided up all the historic family farms of Marin County into gated communities or suburbs like the old proposed Marincello.

MALT_MAP_small_2013_June

Cycling would not be so fun anymore if Marincello were a town and not a trail. We are so fortunate in the bay area to have so much protected land to enjoy, and yet, it doesn’t come purely through luck. Some find the Two Rock route boring, and it’s true that it doesn’t have the challenges other routes have, but it’s still a good day out on the bike. Compared with the endless roving suburbo-power-grid of places like Chicago (where I used to live), it’s really nothing to complain about.

pretty farmland toward Petaluma

pretty farmland toward Petaluma, once again Mike’s picture

windmill

windmill -thanks again Mike for the picture

sheeps near Petaluma

sheeps near Petaluma

more sheep near Valley Ford

more sheep near Valley Ford

Taking a breather in Valley Ford

Taking a breather in Valley Ford…another great phot from Mike

Misty day along CA-1

Misty day along CA-1

We love the Marshall Store

We love the Marshall Store… taken by Ely

Unfortunately we did not all make it to the finish of the route. Ely had to call it quits as we got back toward Sir Francis Drake due to a reaction to some medication he’d been given for a bad case of poison oak. I was pretty worried about him, but we helped him find a way to a bus going back to San Francisco from Lagunitas. While he waited at the little grocery store there, he had some of their homemade beef stew, which he said was “bomber”. I worried about him getting home safely throughout the rest of my ride, but it turned out the bus he took was comfy and direct.

Mike, Jesse, and I continued on toward Fairfax and home. The heavy mist gave way to drizzle, but it never fully rained. The moisture in the air made everything seem more peaceful. I pushed hard to keep up, and only asked once for them to slow down (at least, that’s how I remember it!). We made decent time back to San Francisco where the rain had vanished, and in its place, my boyfriend appeared, eager to meet us for a beer at Rogue. Jesse ditched us, but Mike, John and I had a couple beers and gobbled down some food together. Another brevet in the bag, another rainy ride to make me feel more comfortable with riding in the rain. I almost like it now.

IMG_3744

R2 (belatedly entered): Two Rock- Valley Ford: One good ride deserves another

I did not come up with the idea of keeping a blog about my rides for the R-12 until I actually thought I might do an R-12, so I never wrote a ride report for this ride. Now that it is ten months later, of course, I don’t remember a whole lot about it. However in the interest of completeness, to have an entry for each ride in the series, I will put down what I do remember for this ride and in another post, for my first brevet, the Point Reyes Lighthouse 200k.

One thing I remember is being superpsyched to do the ride. For my first ride, I was a few minutes late to the start, being a little nervous and insecure about congregating with accomplished randonneurs. For the second ride, I did not care; I had tried one brevet, and I finished!!! (Really, at least three exclamation points. Maybe a few more.) I also had discovered on the Lighthouse 200K that I liked arriving and riding by myself, and meeting people along the way. I was really looking forward to meeting new friends, and I did!

And so it begins...

And so it begins…

On our way to the bridge

On our way to the bridge

Golden Gate Bridge is hazy in late- winter mist

Golden Gate Bridge is hazy in late- winter mist

One rider I met who would become a huge influence and great friend was Ely Rodriguez. We met while riding around the Nicasio Reservoir because he rode up to me and asked me if I made my mudflaps, which I did. I explained to him what I do for a living, which opened the conversation onto talking about leather, thread, tools for leatherwork, and so on. Once we turned off onto Point Reyes- Petaluma Road, Ely spied Jason Pierce up ahead, powering up the first hill on that road, and wanted to catch up with him and his group, so he raced off.

morning mist lifting off the dairy farms along Point Reyes- Petaluma Road

morning mist lifting off the dairy farms along Point Reyes- Petaluma Road; Ron Lau pausing to remove a layer

We met up again at the intersection of Valley Ford Road and Highway 1… I was just about to turn the wrong way and miss the Valley Ford control! But Ely happened to be at the intersection coming back from Valley Ford at that very moment and steered me in the correct direction, thank goodness or else I would not have gotten credit for the ride!

Valley Ford Post Office

Valley Ford Post Office

That is another thing I remember distinctly from this ride: I was still pretty unfamiliar with the rural roads in Marin and Sonoma Counties, and getting lost repeatedly had been a constant, frustrating feature of my training rides. Now I’ve figured out that many of the roads are simply named for their beginning and end points: Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, Fallon-Two Rock Road, Tomales-Petaluma Road, Marshall-Petaluma Road.

I also remember riding with David Nichols and Mariah Whitney on this ride (I had met them in the Marshall Store on the Lighthouse brevet), as well as Alex Zeh. I met Alex on the stretch of the 1 from Valley Ford to the coast, that wind corridor agh! I drafted him for a little bit I guess, then he asked me if I wanted to speed up the pace to try and catch up with his friend who was up further. I said sure, though by that time I was pretty tired! Well, I think that was the first time I experienced how riding with another person can give you a burst of energy even when you’re tired, because we really upped the pace and caught up with his friend quickly! We also found David and Mariah, but unfortunately while ascending into Point Reyes Station, Alex crashed into David, causing his derailleur to break off! Aagh. I could not think of a single thing I was capable of doing to help him, and he waved me on, so I kept going. Bummer.

Lastly, I remember Jason Pierce working the finish control and somehow convincing me to sign up for the 300k. Whaaatttt? How did he do that? I guess after finishing my second brevet, I was on a natural high. How else can I explain it?