2014 SFR Healdsburg/Russian River 300k (Workers’ Ride)

A ride I’d originally had plans for getting rain checked and one thing and another and Friday afternoon found me e-mailing the RBA and the other volunteer planning to do the worker’s ride “well if I had better judgment this would probably go against it, but I’m gonna say I’m in for riding tomorrow.” Sometimes it helps to have a hook to put yourself on.

Remind me of that when the alarm goes off at o-dark-thirty. urk. Out of bed, breakfast. COFFEE. Load the car. Blustery out, but no rain. Head south, passing through bands of precipitation along the way. The last forecast I’d seen had said AM showers, and then I’d stopped looking. It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.

there's a bridge there. really.

there’s a bridge there. really.

Light drizzle at the bridge but not cold. Put on the rain gear and get myself to the toll plaza. Just starting to wonder if maybe the start is somewhere different since it’s a workers’ ride when the other volunteer rolls up.


Off we go. He rode over, so is warmed up, well and has pretty much two speeds: riding, and not-riding. He’d also mentioned going for a sub-twelve hour time today. I had made him promise that he’d go on if I couldn’t keep the pace. bwahahahhaha… if, what am I saying. when, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

It’s nice having the west sidewalk to ourselves, but it sure is noisy on the bridge from the cars. Not that I have the breath to talk anyway, but it’s nice to get past that. Somehow we manage to hit all the lights in Sausalito on green!

There must have been a super high tide, the bike path has swaths of mud and gravel debris. Pedal pedal pedal. OK maybe I’m starting to get warmed up here. gah Camino Alto. no I do not need to throw up. no I do not need to throw up. As we zip through the towns of southern Marin the sky dries and lightens.

Why yes, the fellow I’m riding with has done this before, 3 times, in previous even years apparently. Fastest time was 11:20 and slowest was 12:04 I think it was. If I could breathe I’d laugh. Sounded like the intermediate control times were fairly similar, year to year, with the main time difference coming in the last leg from Marshall to San Francisco.

This pace is not so comfortable. Well there is something to be said for pushing oneself and a challenge and all that, but if I’m feeling that now, and oh how long has it been since I’ve done anything longer than a 200k and yeah reality check. Part of me does want to see just how long I can hang on, but there’s more of me that does not want to blow myself up and drag through the rest of the day. I do want to finish, yes sooner rather than later, but I don’t want to be hating the ride or myself.

So I let the other rider know I probably won’t be keeping up much longer, and not to worry and go on ahead. He says OK, then asks if I’ll think he’s a bad person. Of course not! Only later do I wonder if it would have made any difference if I’d said yes.

He motors off up White’s Hill, I settle in to my pace. I see him up ahead for a couple turns, by the time I’m to the summit and to the straightaway of the San Geronimo Valley he’s long out of sight. I toodle along, ignoring Nicasio Valley Road going off to the right.

The valley is splendidly beautiful green, and, while the drizzle has stopped, the water theme continues, with full drainage ditches alongside the road, impromptu waterfalls off hillsides and Lagunitas Creek flowing well further down the valley.

The pavement and redwoods are beautiful through Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Fire Danger High today?! Really? I stop at the intersection with Platform Bridge Road and take off my rain jacket.

The wind is starting to kick up, and as the valley narrows and I get to Petaluma-Pt. Reyes Road it’s all getting funneled down the notch at me. 0900 in Petaluma probably not so much. But dang it’s beautiful out here!

Too bad I didn’t bring my camera. With the drizzle at the start I didn’t bother, and now I’m kicking myself. Or maybe that’s why it stopped raining. Anyway, I do have my cell phone, which has a camera, but requires me to stop, take it out of the case, peeeeeel the neoprene glove off to use the touch screen, etc. etc. But dang it’s beautiful!


OK OK OK, I’m stopping. Can’t resist some shots of Nicasio Reservoir with more water in it. Of course once I get myself back together and roll a few yards down the road there’s something even more picturesque seeming. Oh well. Mind picture.

Hey I could go by my house and get the camera and some different gloves. But no I’m not carrying my house key. There’s probably a reason for that…

Recite taiko songs to help get me up the hill. Or distract me. OH! Rainbow!!!!

Pedal pedal pedal. Petaluma here I come! Red-winged blackbirds calling. I just love that sound. Wait, it’s really only the shoulder that’s red, not the whole wing…

Oh hey I think that’s the first cyclist I’ve seen going the other way. No greeting from them. A bit later a second. No greeting from them either. Really? Almost to town and maybe third time’s the charm. Yep! Howdy to you too!

Once I get to town I’m tempted to go one of the other ways, but I stick to the route sheet. Safeway, Safeway, oh I think it said we’d be going right after the control so yeah it’s not the shopping center on the west side of McDowell, oh yep that’s a Raley’s. OK so it’s the other shopping center wait there’s nothing there oh guess it moved further down in the complex.

I wonder if the RBA would say anything if he saw "Hello Kitty balloon" on my receipt. Wait, how many more miles do I have to ride?

I wonder if the RBA would say anything if he saw “Hello Kitty balloon” on my receipt. Wait, how many more miles do I have to ride?

The other rider had mentioned probably seeing me arrive as he left, but no such thing. I’m sure he’s long gone. Hmn… what to get. Some fluids. Briefly debate some juice then OOO! Smoothie thing, that sounds good. And some water. Drink some and fill up the bottles.

Back on the road, headed north. Didn’t make 0900 in Petaluma, but let’s see if I can make it to Healdsburg by noon. Oh, apparently I used up all my traffic light juju in Sausalito this morning, as I seem to hit everything on McDowell Boulevard on red.

I thought with the change in direction I’d get a bit of tailwind too, but not so much. It’s a cross wind, but at least pretty steady rather than gusty. The hawks seem to enjoy surfing in it, and watching them makes Petaluma Hill Road pass a little more quickly. And the mustard is starting to bloom! <snap> Mind picture.

Santa Rosa! If you lived here you’d be home now. Oh wait, I do live here. Don’t think about the preposterousness of that too much. Again I’m tempted to follow a different route to get through town, but I don’t. I wonder what it’s like, riding through here, for folks who don’t live here.

Old Redwood, oh yay, park with a bathroom, go go go, Windsor … Healdsburg!!! Awesome metal sculpture, Healdsburger mmmm burger no time for that today. Safeway 11:55. Woohoo! I’ve been thinking about a bottle of Starbucks coffee drinkie, but the impulse buy fridges by the checkout stands don’t seem to have any and I don’t want to have to go all over the store so whatever I’ll just get water and then hey ginger ale! How ‘bout that for a Plan B? Indeed. As I’m drinking it outside on the sidewalk I notice a half full bottle of water and wonder if the other rider left that for me.

Northernmost point on the route but not halfway. OK, now to get myself to the Marshall Store by 5 o’clock. Or I’ll have to mail a postcard that I don’t have. Hmn. Alrighty then. Out Westside Road. MUSTARD! I’m not trying to photobomb but I’m not going to stop oh maybe he wants a cyclist in the picture. Gosh when was the last time I rode up this way? It’s Barrel Tasting weekend but traffic doesn’t seem to be really any heavier than any other time I’ve been up here.

Lookee! The Bissell Cycling Team coming the other way. Two up paceline, not hammering, but definitely organized, and with a team car following them. I smile, wave, and say hello. They don’t.

The nice floofy poofy clouds that have been making the sky very picturesque all morning have gathered together and darkened, but that’s to the north, so I’m not looking at that for too long.


OK OK OK I’ll stop and take a picture of the vineyards and Mt. St. Helena. Now go go go. Sweetwater, save that for another day. I’m not sure what it is but I really like this section of Westside past Wohler Bridge <snap> <snap> <snap> with the mind pictures and Russian River OK stopping for that.

much awesomer in person - could see the river and Hacienda Bridge and the poofy clouds

much awesomer in person – could see the river and Hacienda Bridge with more detail and the poofy clouds dramatical sky but it didn’t seem so dark

the canoe pulled out perpendicular to the river also caught my eye

the canoe pulled out perpendicular to the river also caught my eye

Out on to River Road now how am I doing pace wise oh maybe a little behind schedule whatever the heck that is I’m just making this up as I go along anyway it’ll be what it is but yeah keep moving. There’s a speed sign at Rio Nido, whee! 31 hey shouldn’t I be to the next control already then? No that’s the car going by.

First cyclist I see is in a black kit, all serious looking. No greeting. Second is in a colorful outfit. Waves and smiles. Third is in a dark kit but not so serious looking. I give it 50-50 and it’s a yes. Another colorful and a yes. Later three guys all pro-kitted up, I’m thinking no but they actually wave before I do. Oops wrong stereotype.

The towns tick by, Guerneville (oh Old Caz! Old Monte Rio. no, those are other rides.) Monte Rio. the turn-off to Cazadero. Duncans Mills. Oh look, a WATERSHED. Hahaha.

So green and the views with the clouds and everything are just spectacular, especially as I get close to the mouth of the river. YAY, Highway 1. There’s the magical kingdom to the north, but no I’m going south. BOO, headwind. Why does is seem like whatever way I go on the Coast I’m almost always catching that? Guess I’m just lucky that way. Or is it that I just remember the headwinds?

Oh Willow Creek! No, no, not today. And no smoked salmon guy on the side of the road with the salmon with a pipe. One of those things I always think oh I should stop but never have. Not sure what makes me think of it, oh duh maybe smoked salmon, but my face is probably as red as the stripes on my jersey. Iris in bloom (and later poppies!) The swoopy house. Gosh it would be fun to see the inside of that sometime. Red on my mind, two red kayaks hung on the side of a gray house <snap> mind picture and then a stand of red hot pokers.

Houses sliding down to the sea, abandoned/condemned. One is just remnants of foundation on the side of the cliff but it’s got a for sale sign. Wonder how much they want for that.

spledid day on the Sonoma Coast

spledid day on the Sonoma Coast

so beautiful

OK one more

OK one more

Lots of people at the beach, also enjoying the lovely day. There’s a game warden parked, wonder what he’s looking at/for. A bit further down the road there’s a park ranger.

A slug of traffic as I get to the outskirts of Bodega Bay, most give me plenty of room but at the tail end of the line there’s a pickup truck that passes just a bit closer and faster than would be my preference. Oh, the game warden. Nice. Bay Road anyone? oh that would miss the control.

Getting on towards 1500 when I hit the control at Diekmann’s. Not looking so good for the Marshall Store (I later realize Diekmann’s is not the halfway point. So much for my arithmetic skills while on a brevet.) I must look like need help or am in a hurry, as soon as I walk in the clerk asks if I need help finding something. “Starbucks coffee drink.” “In the Pepsi case, straight back.” no, not through the candy rack. but that way. Vaguely consider a corn dog, but decide against it in the interests of time.

As I’m paying he asks where I’m riding from. When I say San Francisco he commends me. (Yes, he did actually use that word!) I admit I’m getting to the point of being ready to be done, except I have to get back to San Francisco. He asks if I have a rescue car. “Nope… well I suppose I could call someone…” “But you don’t need one, you’ll make it.” thanks for the boost.

I buy a postcard. No they don’t sell stamps, but if I’m going south there’s a post office. Which turns out to be not open on Saturday. and no self service kiosk. (same story in Valley Ford and Tomales.)

I got this one since it said Sonoma Coast. What? I swear it did.... and on closer look that's probably Big Sur. hmn.

I got this one since it said Sonoma Coast. What? I swear it did…. and on closer look that’s probably Big Sur. hmn.

I’m smiling again. Or maybe still. I realize I have had a silly grin most of the day. I want to ask myself what I’m on, I’ve just been in the best goofy happy mood all day, but why question it? Enjoy.

grazing sheep, like clouds come to rest in the fields. or is it that the sheep are up playing in the sky today?

Into the wind. More water, puddles across the road south of Tomales. See a jacked up pickup scream through, sheeting up the water on both sides of it, but by the time I get there I have the road to myself and make it through with no sprayage.

Not quite out to the coast and the wind dies down for a bit. snack time. wafflewafflewaffle gah this end won’t open okfine how about the other GAH OPEN GIMME THE WAFFLE. breathe. finally get it open without having to stop or dropping it on the road. oh yes I am a little hungry. mmfmfmmwaffurlmmmsmmmm make cookie monster noises and laugh at myself.

oh swoopy turns rollery sorta things keep my momentum up oh oops little bit more of a climb and blind turn, hear the growl of a big diesel behind me. swell. it waits until the sight lines are clear and pulls out to pass giving me a wide berth. thanks COWGRL

and again with the water theme for the day there’s Tomales Bay. how much further, how many bumps before Marshall is there one more or two let’s see the Audobon Research place yes this is the last one drop down yes there’s Marshall-Petaluma Road (the Wall) thanks but no thanks today 16:52 and my watch is a tad fast OK sprint mode and the crowd goes wild!


there’s still folks sitting outside the store, but the chairs are all up inside, one woman is sweeping the floor and another is counting out the tip jar. I ask if I’m too late. She looks at my helmet and bike clothes, “for chowder?” “No, I just want a drink and chips.” “Oh that’s fine.” YES. Reed’s ginger beer. YES YES. chips. Sea Salt and Vinegar? mmm yeah no. Sea Salt.


Now that I’ve made the goal of Marshall Store by 5 I’m a bit at loose ends, and between eating and whatnot am off the bike almost half an hour. As I’m finally collecting myself to get going again, a woman asks where I’d ridden from.

“San Francisco”
“how long did that take?”
(oh, what to say here…) “well, it’s a 300 k route which goes through Petaluma and up to Healdsburg, so I left at 6 am.”
moment of silence. “that’s crazy”
(no this isn’t even the half of crazy bike rides, honey, I think, but don’t say) “but in a good way”
“um yeah, in a good way … tell me you’re staying the night here.”
shake my head no
“you’re riding back now?!”
nod yes
“well have a safe ride” (with that look of doing the finger circle by the side of the head cuckoo motion) “that makes me feel really good about myself” she says under her breath as she walks away. I’m not going to touch that one.

Beautiful evening light, and I’m thinking perhaps I should have a 14 hour finish goal, but can’t seem to get too excited about it. At least the sun seems to be taking the wind with it. Well speaking of feeling good about oneself, I should have timed the section by Nicasio to see how much slower I am the second time around. Except I didn’t, so I don’t really know, and it turns out to feel a bit easier, even with more miles on the legs, since it’s minus headwind.

twilight on Tomales Bay

twilight on Tomales Bay

darker grey. pick up the pace, minimize the riding at night. briefly wish I had some company. oops, forgot to put my helmet light on while I was stopped in Marshall. double oops, somehow it got turned on in my pocket. still shining, but no, needs new batteries. not cold but put the jacket on since its got more reflectorization. later I’m glad to have done it.

OOOO! The heart after Nicasio is lit up at night!

don’t think I’ve ever done that end section after sundown, so a bit surprised by the street lights on White’s Hill from the top down the Fairfax side and then how DARK it is on the climb up Camino Alto. something about the backtracking, retracing the route to the finish, unwinding the spell of the day is quite comforting.

the blaze city lights, shining jewels reflected in the Bay. and there. is. the. Bridge. East Side. DO NOT BE ALARMED BY THE LOUD BUZZER.

8:50 on the clock at the toll plaza

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ride Date: March 1, 2014
[Elapsed time to ride report: 12 days]
wpk (words per kilometer): 10.1 (not counting captions)

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4 Responses to 2014 SFR Healdsburg/Russian River 300k (Workers’ Ride)

  1. bookisland says:

    What a perfect report. I have done this route as a solo permanent a couple times. Thanks for sharing!

    • nutMeg says:

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. I was so fortunate to have a splendid day. You must have had good times on it as a perm if you’ve repeated! That’s awesome.

  2. Greg Merritt says:

    I’ve wondered about oddest thing on a control receipt. I think about a giant tub of Crisco.
    …and /I’m/ not afraid of that buzAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! (Hate that.)

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