S2: 300k SFR Russian River

The day before this brevet, I happened to be on my way into my local bike shop and glimpsed a Really Nice Bike leaning against the counter. I thought, “Wow, I wonder whose bike that is…,” looked up, and it was E Protorio! I rode with him on and off during the Lighthouse brevet, and after chatting a bit he said he’d be riding the 300k as well and was in the shop looking for a decaleur. I took care of my business there and we said “See ya tomorrow!”

I had a feeling when I saw him that this would be a great ride, and it was: for me, for Protorio, for many other riders I saw that day, and even for the club itself. There were around 120 riders, the biggest roster SFR has had for the 300k.

at check-in, with the Bridge looming overhead in the mist

at check-in, with the Bridge looming overhead in the mist

lots of us out riding today

lots of us out riding today

at the secret control, still quite misty

at the secret control, still quite misty

whew! at the secret control after holding the wheels of some of the speedier crew

whew! at the secret control after holding the wheels of some of the speedier crew

I did not take too many pictures for much of this ride, since I was desperately holding on to some of the faster group with Protorio, led by the Dixon tandem. This helped me make an early time goal to Petaluma. I didn’t waste time there, set out with Jack H, and caught up with another fast-ish group. I led the paceline… then got dumped by the paceline… and was on my own for a while. It was kind of nice to stop hammering anyway, and I enjoyed a peaceful stretch to the Healdsburg Safeway. Seeing many of the people I rode with in the morning still eating their lunch made me feel like I hadn’t lost too much time, and I didn’t want to eat a big meal. Some yogurt, iced tea and chips sufficed, and I filled out my card, slapped on some sunscreen, and was off again through the vineyards of Westside Road.

in bloom

in bloom

open sky toward Mount Saint Helena

open sky toward Mount Saint Helena

lovely in the shade

lovely in the shade

At this point, I encountered Theresa, and we discussed cameras and photography. It was very nice to see her, and when we ran into Jack and his cohorts pulling out of the Guerneville Safeway, we developed a full-on paceline out to the coast.

P1000273 P1000274 P1000275 P1000277I let them go ahead of me on the climb after the mouth of the Russian River, since I knew that the pace would be too much for me. I enjoyed a lovely stretch of coastline southward to Bodega Bay and the next control: Diekmann’s General Store.

pretty view off the deck at Diekmann's

pretty view off the deck at Diekmann’s

we pause for a mouthful

we pause for a mouthful

When I’ve done this as a permanent in the past, I’ve enjoyed the pizza at Diekmann’s very much, so I was looking forward to having some again.Of course, they were out of pizza, but just like on the Lighthouse brevet this year, I discovered something better (breakfast burrito! eggs, potatoes, cheese, and bacon–perfect for long distance bike riding!) and kept moving.

At this control, I saw Jesse and French, who I have ridden with before. This was a terrific ride for seeing many of my rando-friends. Lots of great people out riding on this gorgeous day. And as it turned out, I kept making my time goals for the various controls throughout the ride! First time that has ever happened, really. I think it was the weather. Yes, the weather… (or the paceline after paceline I hopped on…) But I did hear of many people having a great day. And I finished fifteen minutes under my most optimistic goal. So weird. Another weird thing about the finish was running into Jesse and French again just before the Bridge! French really got jazzed once he got on the Bridge, and we all followed him, going FAST. I went over one of the seams in the pavement, and wouldn’t you know my cell phone popped out of my bag… unfortunately it did not drop into the water, but instead the very kind Jesse doubled back to look for it for me. Ah well, maybe next time.

My sweetheart John P was there working the finish and had brought me some special vittles on which to dine. I sat around eating and chatting with people for a while then finally had to make my way towards home. Part two of the SR series is complete. What a great day! I hope it doesn’t make me feel too full of myself as the hardest rides are yet to come.

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R9: Davis Night 200k

SFR RBA Rob Hawks gives the pre-ride schpiel and oath

SFR RBA Rob Hawks gives the pre-ride schpiel and oath

I was very happy to be able to ride this unusual brevet held each year at night. It begins in the evening and takes riders through quiet rural roads from just north of Berkeley to Davis (ouside Sacramento) and back. In my preparations I got a little nervous when I realized that all the Google Streetview pictures of the intersections were taken during the day–what if I didn’t recognize them at night? It’s not easy to read a cue sheet in the dark, either, nor my poorly-backlit cheapo odometer. I think that getting lost, and riding alone in the dark (cyclists are more visible to cars and trucks when in groups) topped my list of anxieties about this ride. Well, as usually happens on these ride thingies often called brevets, my worst fears end up being answered with a resounding call to stop worrying. My primary riding companion was none other than the King of Conspicuity, Jack Moonbeam! Jack earned his title last year by volunteering to sew 4″ wide strips of orange or yellow retroreflective material on the wind vests and jackets of many grateful randonneurs. He also has given informative talks on the importance of being visible in traffic, and it seems to be an idea that is gaining ground among us. Several randonneurs have publicly admitted to wondering “What would Jack Moonbeam do?” when choosing their bike attire when randonneuring or commuting. So, you can imagine the peace of mind I felt upon running across Mr. Moonbeam! I also assumed (though incorrectly) that he knew where we were going. In any case, between the two of us and more we gathered along the way, we had a grand time reaching our destination of Davis and heading back as well.

Aaaand we're off!

Aaaand we’re off! Over the Carquinez Bridge

Raccoons, stray dogs, who knows what-all will cross our path

Raccoons, stray dogs, who knows what-all will cross our path

I come across a curious figure

I come across a curious figure

On this stretch, I saw a rider stop far ahead and tell us later a raccoon ran between his front fender and his pedal! Several miles later, a stray dog ran out from the roadside, inches from my front wheel. I think my blood curdling scream may have scared Jack more than the dog scared me… sorry Jack.

At the Davis Safeway, I steal away to the mailbox

At the Davis Safeway, I steal away to the mailbox to drop an unofficial postcard in the mail to my sweetie

Taking a break at the intersection

Taking a break at the intersection

Retroreflection comparison

Retroreflection comparison

Bob P, Mark B, and Jack M compare tales of PBP 1898 and the Davis Night Brevet

Bob P, Mark B, and Jack M : circa 5:15 am, Cordelia Denny’s… is that un maillot Alex Singer?

Hazy first light of morning

Hazy first light of morning

This stretch seemed endless

This stretch seemed endless. I was so grateful for Jack’s company and his stories about the early SFR 1200k grand randonnĂ©es in which 4-5 riders participated. Jack was one, and Willy Nevin was another, though Willy DNF’ed for some unknown reason…

Back on the bridge

Back on the bridge; I didn’t think my vest would pass the Moonbeam test, but Jack approved.

We made it! Thank you Jack Moonbeam.

We made it! Thank you Jack Moonbeam. That’s a very stylie Singer maillot.

Oh What a Beeyooteeful Morrrrninggg

Oh What a Beeyooteeful Morrrrninggg