The forecast for Ukiah included “abundant sunshine”. That seemed like a good thing. Putting new tires on the new wheels and putting them on the bike at 9 something the night before was probably not so much, but then again, although I’d been riding, my last long ride was the Del Puerto 200k back in November, so the whole thing was perhaps a bit ill-advised. But you gotta start somewhere. Actually I think this was my first long event ride of the year last year too.
Anyway, it’s such a great route I couldn’t resist. Starting in Healdsburg, up to Cloverdale, out to Boonville, over to Ukiah and then back to Healdsburg. I’d done it last year for the first time, and despite not ideal mental or physical conditions, I still quite enjoyed it.
The Word of the Day on the Saturday of the ride was whipsaw. Which, while maybe not as auspicious sounding as “abundant sunshine”, is certainly applicable to distance riding. As they say, whether you’re feeling totally awesome or totally horrible, don’t take it too seriously. It will pass.
It was a bit chilly at the start, and I debated about a jacket but ended up not going back and getting it. Rolled out toward the front, and got in with a group following a tandem. The pace was a tad higher than I would have liked for starting off with, but it was hang on or go at the serious headwinds solo. Managed to keep it together to Cloverdale (wow, we’re here already?!) and a little ways out onto 128.
Then settled in to a climb at my own pace, won the county line sprint (yes, against myself, if you must know) and putted along towards Boonville. Another climb, I could hear someone coming up behind me, but he didn’t say anything. I was tempted to blow my nose, “Oh sorry, I didn’t know you were there!” but didn’t. He didn’t say anything as he went by either. Then I was sorta wishing I had.
Nice twisty descent, another climb. It’s beautiful countryside and was a beautiful day. Oh, and splendid headwinds. I tried to imagine my torso being porous so that the wind was just passing right through, not slowing me down. Onesie-twosies rode with others for a bit here and there, but never formed up to a big group again. One bump early thought we were to Boonville already. Ah, no. More up. But then there was the fun ahead sign little truck on the triangle pointing down.
First stop of the day, bought something for the receipt and then rolled out with the RBA extraordinaire of San Francisco Randonneurs. My legs were feeling a little twitchy pre-crampy or something, which was weird and unusual, but I figured it was better to keep moving rather than spending a lot of time at the stop, and hopefully they would work it out.
Extended dance mix climb on 253 out of Boonville. RBA started to pull away and I said, “Have fun storming the castle!” He replied, “yeah right” and proceeded to ride away. It was amazingly green and beautiful, which helped a bit as I plugged away at the incline. The vultures circling and the big blood smear on the road were not so helpful.
The first pitch seemed longer than last year, then the second not so long. I stopped for a view and to take some pictures, another rider asked if it was the top. Well, the top of that. From there it sorta rolled along for a bit more elevation gain and at one point I could see riders ahead in the distance that seemed again higher than we were.
Eventually got to the descent. The truckntriangle at 8% for 2 miles and then a 10% for two miles. Woohoo!!! There was a view to the north and I saw a ridge of snow-capped peaks. I was glad it was dry where I was riding though. Oh yeah, last year I was trying to keep up with a tandem going down this hill. Yeah, you can laugh, I know that’s funny.
Even solo this year it was fast. Felt like flying. Words can’t describe. The sweetness continued even as the road flattened out I couldn’t stop smiling and I had one of those wowI’msoluckytobeouthereinallthisamazingness moments followed closely by ohjesus sobbing for those who aren’t out here anymore. shit. Where did that come from? breathe.
OK, and then I was to Ukiah. Well, the outskirts of Ukiah, I still had to get into town to the control. A couple had caught up with me, funny we’d been riding together on this section last year too. I remember it feeling interminable getting up to the Safeway last year, and that was the same as well. Wicked headwind, he pulled, but it still seemed like an awful long way. Where the F* is that Safeway?! Needless to say, I was very glad to see it when we finally got there.
Oh Chicken Noodle Soup. Yes, soup is good food. Hung out in the sun and chatted with other riders and collected myself for the return trip. Or the bits of myself that I could find, anyway.
Rolled out with the RBAsey twins, the aforementioned SFR and the SRCC mastermind of today’s excursion, as well as another SRCCer. As we headed south we got a tailwind and the boys were feeling frisky. I was trying to not think too much about the impending climb on Mountain House.
Ah yes, and there was the whipsaw. I was having alternating bouts of total exhilaration flying feeling and uhohgonnabeachickensoupreplayandnotinthegooddirection. Oh yes, I figured out the exhilaration corresponded to being in the sweet spot of someone’s draft, so I tried to stay there. And finally OK, yes just a touch down on the pace please.
Then we got to Mountain House, and it wasn’t super steep right off the bat like for some reason I was expecting. A bit of up, then actually some descent and then oh yeah there was more up and yeah it went on for a while. I started to fall behind, and said I was fine riding on my own, they could go ahead, but they adjusted their pace to mine. grrr. I am not so good at being the one holding up the wagon train. Really, just go ahead. I’ll be fine. I tried to channel that energy into going faster, which the legs got on board for to varying degrees as the steepness of the road varied.
More amazing scenery got me over myself at moments as well. And I couldn’t really talk, but the others were, so I got to hear some cool stories about PBP, which certainly helped the climb pass more pleasantly. It just never ceases to amaze me how gracious people are in keeping me moving on the bike. You know when assuming the fetal position on the side of the road and whimpering for a while just seems like the thing to do… and they won’t let you. Damn them.
Anyway, got back up to 128, and there was some rollery stuff and then a super sweet descent into Cloverdale, and I was pretty much (more) ready to be done, but we weren’t to the finish yet. So just kept making the circles, and eventually there was Healdsburg. And the finish at the Bear Republic. Oh yes, burger and beer, thank you very much. Hung out for a while with the crew welcoming other riders in, which is always super fun. There were some first time 200k finishers, and someone getting their R12, and everyone with their own moments from the day.
Another best day ever.