2017 Davis Dart: Team Steel Away

My timeliness of ride reports was doing better for a while there, and then I didn’t quite get this out before heading off on a ride of mildly inappropriate distance – and now there’s that whole story to tell – and then I got back from that – the ride that is – and The Fire happened, which somehow made writing about bike rides seem a little pointless. But now, well, the fires aren’t out, and things certainly aren’t back to normal – whatever the hell that is, anyway, but it’s calmed down a bit. And OK, maybe it is self-indulgent, but it was a nice mental break to go back and relive a simple, solid, fun day on bikes with good people.

For my first time on the Davis Dart I got to be token non-Walstad on Team Steel Away. (Yes, we all rode steel frame bikes.) Somehow Eric’s nephew Justin had found out about the event and decided to form a team. He did a great job as captain, taking care of all the paperwork and coming up with a fun route.

The start was at a 7-11 near Justin’s home in Loomis, and then we rode through downtown Loomis, which was new to me. It was still dark, so I couldn’t see much, but it seemed nice, and it sounds like there has been recent revitalization with local businesses and an event center going in to unused fruit packing sheds. Currently there is a repaving project going on, and we were surprised that they were out working on a Saturday morning.

Outside of town was quiet, and we had a few rollers before the “Big Hill of The Day” up to Auburn. The sky hinted at a pretty sunrise, but it didn’t end up coloring up as much as I thought it might. It was still nice to have daylight, and a view back over the valley. Justin pointed out Folsom Lake, which we had ridden past signs for.

I’d never been through old downtown Auburn either, so my head was swiveling around trying to take in all the historic buildings. One that looked like it ought to be at the beach with a pointy red and white striped roof turned out to be an old fire station. Our first control was at the awesome Auburn Coffee Company right across from the beautiful courthouse. Brown Butter Pumpkin Muffin FTW. Yeah, I know, it wasn’t Month of Pumpkin quite yet, but the day before was close enough for me.

From Auburn we had quick repayment for the climb, with a swoopy descent past ranchettes and pine and oak dotted hillsides. I split my time between enjoying the descent and the views. I think the guys were more focused on the descent – at least they were soon out of sight down the road, but they waited at the bottom of the hill. Eric was telling Justin and Cal how EricM would probably say this was “bucolic AF.”

There was a bit more rollery terrain as we headed toward Camp Far West Lake. Goats, yaks, irrigation canals, signs for the Wine Trail, look kids, Big Ben! (Road) – oh, that’s probably named after a person, not the clock… The Lake seemed pretty far down, apparently it had been full over the winter. Well those people parked down by the edge better hope it doesn’t start raining! OK, I guess it would take a while to fill enough for it to be a problem for them. At least they’d probably notice before it became a problem. Anyway. We saw a couple of herons and an osprey, which was cool.

The Butt(e)s. Sutter Buttes, that would be, off in the distance. World’s Smallest Mountain Range! Our info control, and then some single point perspective (long straight road) with graffiti. Huh. it looked like a high school rite of passage – I saw several different years represented. And, well I guess when you live in the middle of a big flat area, where else are you going to go spray paint but out on the road… We also rode past an awesome looking front yard jump park, although I think you’d need a motor to hit them.

Point of Historical Interest. (Not sure exactly what) Barn of the Day. Alfalfa being turned. Unidentified orchard. Walnut orchard. LONGHORNS!!! Beale Air Force Base. Rice processing facility. More orchards. Vineyard all netted over. Marysville Raceway.

And wow I had no idea Marysville had such a cute old-time downtown – lots of brick buildings and big metal archways over several of the intersections. Lunch time! Justin had found The Brick Coffee House Cafe, which was supper yummy – thank you Yelp! We enjoyed a nice sit-down meal. I got the scramble, and chose the tortilla rather than toast, thinking I wasn’t that hungry and could use the tortilla to wrap up anything I didn’t eat to take on the road. Once I got going though it ended up all going down the hatch.

Did someone say there would be pancakes??? Oh… flat as a pancake – was pretty much the rest of the ride, although it was all new to me, so there was that. We did have a bit of mixed-terrain, getting up on a levee road, which gave us a bit of elevation to see over various orchards and agriculture and another view back to the Buttes. It also got us away from traffic, which was really nice. Again we were surprised by construction going on – well, OK, there was a sign, so the surprise was that they were working on Saturday – but the operator was very nice and explained how we could get around the torn up part.

We continued to follow the Feather River, although along pavement for the rest of the way. It was interesting to see various water related infrastructure, and the different ways houses along the river were built to be above high water. There was actually a pretty long stretch without any towns or services, and I didn’t realize that maybe it would have been a good idea to stop for more fluids after we were past one little store we did see. Then I wasn’t really thinking of it when we passed a man out watering his yard. Eric did though, and stopped and got his bottles filled up. And of course was nice enough to share.

We saw the airport in the distance, and passed under I-5, and then started to see the Sacramento skyline. We followed a bike path over 80, and arrived at our 11 hour control with a couple of hours to spare. Fortunately there was pizza and beer to be had!

Then it was the final push to Davis. Justin was into his longest ride ever (yet) – Woohoo! We followed more nice bike path, got a c-c-c-c-cob-b-b-blest-tttt-one section through old town and rode over the Gold Bridge. More new stuffs! Alas Eric had foreign object impalement in his rear tire. As we were stopped for that another team went by.

We were soon back on the road, and threaded our way past the convenience stores and low rent motels to tire and auto shops and light industrial edge of town sort of businesses on the west side of Sacramento. This got us to the Yolo Causeway, which was sort of cool, being a totally separated bikeway, but also noisy, being right next to the freeway.

There were dramatical skies for the final leg to the finish in Davis. Justin’s family and Cal’s wife were meeting them at the finish, and actually drove past while we were still on the road. It was nice to see all the friendly rando faces at the finish, although we were still full from the 11 hour control pizza and beer, so didn’t get any food, and didn’t hang out too long, since we wanted to catch the earlier train back to the Bay Area, so it was pretty much take care of the paperwork/hi/bye. But it did turn out that a number of other folks were on the train, so we did get to hear about some of the other teams’ adventures there.

Thank you to Super Captain Justin for organizing and designing a fun route, and to Justin, Eric and Cal for being such a great team. Thank you to Eric Senter for being Davis Dart Coordinator and to all other volunteers. Another great day on the bike!

allthepictures, Eric’s

Ride date: September 30, 2017

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The News This Week

At the Quarterly Employee Recognition Event at work a couple of weeks ago they were handing out collapsible water containers for emergency preparedness, which mostly made me think of earthquakes and that yes there’s some things I should do to be more ready for those. That might have been in the back of my head when Eric and I got back from a ride of mildly inappropriate distance last Sunday night, in the midst of an unsettling crazy dry wind that made me wonder “is this what they call earthquake weather?” I didn’t even think of fire, although that’s another common, perhaps more common than earthquakes, event here in California.

We woke up to the heavy smell of smoke on Monday morning (October 9). I didn’t have cell signal on Verizon, Eric had some on AT&T, and between that and the radio we were able to get an idea of what was happening. Fire. Big Fire. Close. Parts of town – Santa Rosa, CA – burnt down. Hospitals evacuated. Neighborhoods evacuated. Not my neighborhood, but everything to the north and somewhat to the east, the boundary a mile to two away in the closest spots. I realized the thumps I’d heard in the early morning must have been propane tanks or transformers exploding.

We had been planning to go to Eric’s place in San Francisco anyway, but the circumstances made it a bit surreal. It was after daylight, so I never saw any orange glow or flames, but the sky was very smokey. Neighbors were out in the street, discussing the situation. One had a friend who’d had to evacuate. It sounded like his neighborhood was burned out.

So instead of doing laundry, I was packing up “the essentials.” What does that even mean?! (notetoself make list) For better or worse, I had the luxury of time. What’s important? OK. Practical – some clothes and toiletries. Then documents. Then… well, it’s “just stuff.” Photos, items of sentimental value. How do you choose? It made me realize how much I have. Too much, but I couldn’t/didn’t want to think of it all being gone. Everything I took might be something I wouldn’t have to replace. No, don’t think about that.

I started to spin out a bit, Eric encouraged me to wrap it up so we could get on the road, and helped me load up the van. We had our bikes, so regardless we’d be mobile. We decided to go the scenic route, out through west Sonoma and Marin counties, to avoid the 101 corridor. The van needed gas, so we stopped before we left town. I was worried the closest station would be mobbed – there was a line and a bit of a wait, but people were pretty well-mannered. The line at the other station we passed before Sebastopol had a longer line so I was glad we were topped up.

After being on the bike for four days, being at car speed was a little disconcerting, and traveling roads we usually cycle was another layer of surreality for the day. (In case you’re wondering, Middle Road is much easier with internal combustion. Of the not the burrito variety.) Eric asked if I was hungry. I couldn’t tell if the feeling in my stomach was hunger or nerves. But yes, life goes on, I should probably have something to eat. Alas, the bakery in Tomales was closed, so we continued on to Pt. Reyes Station, which was surprisingly busy.

The smoke followed us into Marin and out to the coast. Not until southern Marin did it clear. Skies were also clear in San Francisco, and – if one didn’t listen to the news or get on social media one could almost think it was all a bad dream. I tried to not incessantly check for updates.

I woke up to the smell of smoke even in San Francisco the next day – Tuesday 10th, and went to work that day and the rest of the week – which was in some ways a welcome “normality” and distraction, but in other ways seemed like – fiddling while Rome burns (ugh, too literal?) – but yeah, that feeling of what is the point?! What am I doing here when my town is burning down?! It was a little difficult to focus, especially when there was an advisory evacuation notice which was within a few blocks of my house. I hoped it was just that they were erring on the side of caution. The advisory notice was lifted later in the week, as were some of the mandatory areas, and it seemed that perhaps the tide was turning towards control of the fire, but then we woke up Saturday morning to more mandatory evacuations.

Throughout the week the smoke was better or worse, depending on the weather. There was a fear of more high winds, which fortunately didn’t materialize. Help streamed in from all over. The Press Democrat started a banner with bar graphs of fire containment percentages, today, Sunday October 15, The Tubbs Fire is at 60%. The word is cautious optimism. OK, I guess that would be words.

All week I’ve had tightness in the head and chest – hard to tell what is the mental overhead stress of the uncertainty, the grief for the community and trying to not cry and what are the physical effects of the smoke. On Tuesday I heard about the fire moving into Annadel State Park, where I mountain bike, and then saw a picture of the Round Barn engulfed in flames – both things, which, in the grand scheme of things, where people have lost their homes and lives – are almost insignificant – and yet it was such a gut punch as far as the magnitute of the fire, consuming icons – the things that make Santa Rosa such a special place to live.

And other landmarks damaged and destroyed, and hearing about friends losing their homes, and the death toll rising. Everyone is someone who is directly affected – losing a home or business, or knows someone who is. In some ways it’s hard to get my head around the magnitude of this. The outpourings of support are amazing, but this is not even the start. The fires are not contained yet, that will certainly be a happy milestone. The Nixle alerts will stop, the news cameras will go away, but there will be a long long road of rebuilding.

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art in progress

< previous also

Art in the Mail! YAY! that then sat in various of my pile collection for a while and then finally taken with me to the shop for my NOT PRINTING night and this time I really noticed how Yu’s bits are more organic (is that the right word?) – curves, and more flowing shapes, and I tend to be all geometric straight lines and angles which sometimes is a clash and sometimes contrast in a good way and if nothing else reminds me the myriad of ways to be and create and then fun of difference and how you can enjoy and appreciate another style, and learn and be influenced by it, but at the end of the day you have to find/be your own

so the blue one felt like there was still room to work – literally and figuratively – while the other didn’t feel done/complete but I just couldn’t figure out where to go with it, how to add anything to it, so I just made a couple of cuts (yes, straight lines) and glued the shapes down on another sheet, starting over so to speak, and put the rest of it in the envelope with the other raw material.

next >

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IONTW – October 1, 2017

North Bay Letterpress Arts has a great slate of Fall classes available, including one each from Lisa Rappoport and Macy Chadwick, who usually teach in San Francisco or the East Bay, so this is a great opportunity to learn from them locally for North Bay folks.

For SoCal folks, the Ninth Annual Los Angeles Printers Fair at the International Printing Museum is coming up on October 14, 2017.

Annual fundraising auction for Point Reyes National Seashore Association is in progress.

WOW! Letters hand cut out of paper.

A family’s story hidden in envelope art.

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a VOWELentine

so last week I had procrastinated by printing – adding a tagline I guess you could call it – which, yeah, I could have printed at the same time I did the press name etc, but then again procrastination isn’t about being efficient now is it? one of my shop mates had said something about an intervention so this week when we were checking in before the session I said I was NOT PRINTING that’s my story and I’m sticking to it and so I did! heh. stick to it that is. literally. theglues… and my printed pages of As and pages from the dictionary oh well those are printed to, but not by me, and cutting into shapes and arranging and then of course I have to pick them up and put the glue on and put them back down and never quite exactly the same place where I’d had them unglued and sometimes that’s fine or even better and sometimes not so much but this particular glue and papers combination don’t get much of the go back option so there it is. it’s fun to work with the ones I printed on – that having something other than a completely blank page to start with, but I do some of those too – using scissors so everything looks like a nail – that is well no reason they have to be, except for my linearity – straight cuts, geometric shapes all corners and angles not that there’s anything wrong with that, just noticing – and why does this layering seem so much different from the layering and combinations I do on the press? is it the more degrees of freedom, more choices to make? almost infinite, compared to having a form all set in the press. huh.

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2017 SRR Novato-Cazadero 200k

Month of Cazadero continues! Although last week we were just in the greater metropolitan Cazadero area, and did not actually go downtown, it still seems like it should count. I’d actually seen this Novato-Cazadero ride when I signed up for Santa Rosa Randos’ new coastal 300k, but had been a little meh for one reason and another and didn’t sign up for it. Then my Rando-doGooder spirit convinced me it would be nice to support new local RBA Ryan, and so I did sign up.

The turnout was into double digits, although I didn’t count, probably not quite twenty of us at the Novato Park and Ride on one of those crystal clear picture perfect early fall – ha! actually first full day of – mornings. There was a slight hint of briskness at the 0700 start, but that vanished as soon as we were moving, and it turned into one of those excellent cycling weather all day days.

One fellow was immediately out in front, followed shortly by Lisa-Susan and then myself and RyanM. As we rolled out Novato Boulevard, El Toro Miguel passed us. Lisa-Susan took his wheel, and Ryan and I jumped on as well. Ryan and I were having a nice chat, and then I started to get frog-in-the-potted (you know where the frog is put in the pot of cold water then the burner gets turned on underneath the pot and the frog doesn’t realize until it’s too late that it’s in boiling water) – whoo, I can either talk or I can breathe… fortunately Ryan seemed to be OK with a somewhat one-sided conversation, and then the road narrowed and we singled up. I had no idea if there was anyone behind me, but just after Stafford Lake the two racery guys (from Las Vegas, apparently, and on their first brevet!) went by. And… oh they were the only ones.

I managed to hang on to the others without passing out until the first little hillish thing gave me an excuse to reverse drop. OK, get the breathing under control. That was a kinda silly way to start a 200k. Breathe…. breathe. I figured Eric would be catching me any time, and rolled along enjoying the gloriously splendid morning. Hicks Valley had an all-of-a-sudden warm micro-climate, even though I was still in shade. Pretty sun on the hills, and there was Eric, with his friend Arnim, who took off on the Wilson Hill climb. Eric hung back with me, and Ryan was at the top enjoying the view.

We enjoyed the swoopy descent and headed out Chileno Valley, where the temperature dropped noticeably. But still What a BEAUTIFUL morning! squirrel. crossingtheroad Squirrel. no, not crossing. leftrightleft. SQUIRREL!!! thwimp. impact. ACK! DUDE!!! What the heck, you had plenty of time… urgh. But Eric said he saw it pick itself up and run off, and wondered what it was thinking – so I tried to not feel too bad.

Tomales-Petaluma Road, and oh yeah that’s different to keep going past Alexander Road. Gosh, when WAS the last time I went this direction on this bit of road on a bike? We saw Arnim and Lisa-Susan ahead of us – turns out they know each other from Grizzly Peaks Cyclists. Small world!

I just wanted to get some juice in Tomales, but the store wasn’t quite open yet so I went across the street to the Deli. There was one person in front of me, getting coffee drinks, and it took FOREVER! The guys went next door to the bakery and got stuff (including The Most Divine Cinnamon Twist) and came back and I was STILL waiting. It probably would have been faster to just wait until the store opened and gotten my juice there – now I know. I wasn’t in any particular hurry, but it was pretty ridiculous – there were actually three people behind the counter, but apparently only one knows how to make the coffee drinks and work the register, and there seemed to be no recognition that a line was forming, no “hey, we’ll be right with you” or anything. (Which, even if it’s pretty obvious that they won’t actually be right with you, it’s still nice to get some sort of acknowledgement that they know you are waiting.) Anyway. Lesson learned.

We decided to take Middle Road, which was almost blissfully car free. Moo. Baa! Oh, a little lamb all by itself… where’s Mom? Moo. Valley Ford Cutoff – three. No, four! Five!! Hawks circling and diving in the breeze. I wonder if they are having fun. It sure looks like they are playing. Since Eric had shared his bakery treats in Tomales I wasn’t feeling a strong pull to stop at Wild Flour, especially when it looked like there was a line, so once again we rolled by. As we were heading up the hill to Occidental, Eric said he’s going to stop and use the bathroom at the Skate Park. “Uh, that isn’t for a while…” (on the other side of the hill in Monte Rio.) “Yeah, I know,” he replied.

They turned out to be very nice restrooms – I’d never stopped there before. When I came out, Eric’s bike was gone. I looked over – yep, he was in the Skate Park. heh “bathroom stop” … We had it to ourselves. Good times! Although it’s kinda crazy how something can get soverymuchmore steep looking the closer you get to it. And funny how I felt like I was getting pretty high up on the wall, but then looking at the video Eric took it looks like I’m just riding around in the bottom of the bowl.

As we got to the bridge at the Russian River, we saw Miguel headed inbound, and then the Vegas racer guys and the guy who was out front first thing at the start. Eric laughed, “I wonder if they hit the skate park?” Haha. I was just thinking, “already on the way back… they must not have stopped at the skate park.”

River Road/116 wasn’t too bad, and then we took the lower section of Austin Creek Road to Cazadero Highway. We saw Michael headed back. Ryan had told us that the Bakery (Raymond’s) wasn’t far enough to count as a control, and as we got close Eric mentions he’d heard it was closed anyway. As we rolled by it, in fact, sadly did not look open. Well, if it were open it would have been sad to roll by. So sad either way. Lose lose. Just as we get to town there was Lisa-Susan heading inbound.

Drew, Ken, Ryan and Arnim were on the porch of the Cazadero Store, having lunch and disobeying the sign. The woman at the counter was wearing a lovely blue velvety blouse, which I really wanted to pet to see if it felt as nice as it looked, but she was rather sullen, even when I complimented the blouse, so I didn’t dare ask about the petting thing. I wondered if she’d feel better if she took the thing out of her nose (horizontal piercing across the bridge – it just looked painful – OK, yes, I’m an old fuddy duddy) but I didn’t suggest that either. She did make a tasty smoked turkey and jack sandwich, which is maybe better than being cheery and making a crappy sandwich? When Eric tried to get a beer he got an earful about the disobeying the sign, but then Arnim tried and said we’ll go drink the beers in the park, and that seemed to appease her. John had arrived while we were eating, I admired the reflecto bits on his shoes – scrap vinyl from a municipal sign shop! Who knew?! The noon horn sounded while we were sitting on the porch – glad it’s never gone off when we’ve been riding by!

I was planning to go to the park anyway, since it has an awesome curly slide, and it was on the way – I had talked the guys into taking the entire Austin Creek Road on the inbound. It’s a little bumpier than the main road, but very pretty and much quieter, especially since there’s a little hike-a-bike section. Although it looks like they have started to work on fixing the slip out.

We availed ourselves of the Very Nice Restrooms at the Skate Park again, and the Park. Ryan joined us for a lap. This time there was a skater, but he didn’t seem to mind our brief interlude. And, oh look, a gypsy wagon had appeared while we were in Cazadero… Actually it was the Musical Instrument Library. Try a musical instrument. With three white guys with dreadlocks. Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Rolling out on Bohemian Highway, there was someone headed the other way that seems like someone we should know. At least they looked pretty rando – the big boxy front handlebar bag thing going on – but I didn’t recognize him. Eric checked later and it turned out it’s someone he “knows” from Strava. Huh. More small world.

We were surprised to hear Ryan and Arnim behind us just after we turned on Middle Road – they had gone past then thought we might be going that way and decided to come back and check. When we got to Tomales this time the store was open, and John was on the porch eating an It’s-It. “That’s the way to do it!” Somehow I missed the vanilla ones, but it forced me to try a coffee one, which turned out to be pretty tasty.

The wind had picked up for the return leg, sometimes being our friend, sometimes not so much. At the turn toward Wilson Hill the sign said “Novato 23 miles” still that far?! really?? OK then. Time/distance accordioning, the next sign we only had 11 miles to go, and then we were in town, but that thing of how an out-and-back actually can seem very different, getting to the Park and Ride seemed like Novato went on for much longer than it had in the morning. Of course we eventually got there, to Ryan and Mary’s warm welcome, which included pizza dough balls and fancy cheese! YUM!

Another awesome day on the bike. And a great reminder that things are what you make of them. I hadn’t been super excited about the route (OK – that low expectations thing FTW) but then knowing the area so being able to take Middle Road and Austin Creek Road made for improvement, and really having great company – riding with folks who are up for secret control stops at the skate park and the curly slide park made this ride super fun. Thank you to Eric, RyanM and Arnim, and to RyanT and Mary for organizing and volunteering!

more pictures: me, Eric

Ride date: September 23, 2017

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another thing I don’t understand, #280

Friday afternoon slow to stop and go traffic, I was getting on the freeway – the on ramp is long and straight and starts from an overpass, so you have a good view of the traffic your merging into. I try to time it so I get into an existing gap, with the flow of traffic rather than flooring it up to the end of the ramp and forcing my way in. There was a spot as I got about 75-80% of the way down the ramp, so I put my blinker on. As soon as I did that, the guy with the space in front of him sped up so there was no longer any room for me to merge over until he was out of the way.

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