2014 SFR Hopland 400k

ooo shiny! perhaps no so bright, but definitely shiny.

ooo shiny! perhaps not so bright, but definitely shiny.

“I (insert your name here) promise to not do stupid stuff.”
The facts that it’s dark, there’s rain in the forecast, and I’m about to go on a 250 mile bike ride past a place I just drove from notwithstanding, yeah sure, I’m all about that.


Here we go! A few jackrabbits immediately off the front, then I’m towards the front of the main wave. We’ll see how this goes.

The increasingly familiar outbound on the west sidewalk of the bridge, burp up to Conzelman and drop down to Sausalito. Cruise through town and out the bike path. Fixie Boy wants to know if we go left or right at the tee after Nicasio. He’s done the ride before, so we all figure he’s just kidding around (he does that a lot too), but it turns out that he really does want to know what the turns are. Alrighty then.

Camino Alto pick your climbing pace not adrenaline jitters but not quite settled in at long haul mode. And some where in here yes that rain they forecast is happening.

Follow “the SFR wiggle” out to Fairfax (cue sheets would be a couple of pages shorter if you substituted that phrase for all the turns through Kentfield, Ross and San Anselmo) and WOOHOO! we’s got us a tandem to follow! They’ve got an awesome pace, and we all duckling up behind them on the flats.

Wow, here’s the golf course already, and somewhere along the way it’s nominally become day time, but it’s still cloudy raining, and then we’re under redwoods for the descent towards Nicasio, so day does not = light. Limited visibility zooming along in a pack following a tandem down hill on a wet road in the rain can’t/don’t/won’t think about how close to the edge we are potential sketchiness (stupid stuff?) just go with faith/trust/dumb luck feels like flying.

Past the reservoir, the Cheese Factory, either it’s raining harder or we’re more exposed on the bit of descent on Hicks Valley but oh that stings rain on the face.

Chileno Valley someone says “My feet are not so dry now.” I try not to think about how pruney mine are probably getting. The RBA of Awesome chides me about my short fenders. And the quote of the day – bovine something which seemed quite memorable at the time but got lost to brevet brain plus a later upstaging by oral hygiene

The cows mooing prompts one rider to share his attempts at learning Tuvan throat singing, prompting a quick “OK, that’s enough” from another. “That’s what they say at home too,” says the aspiring singer. Worms worms worms on the pavement. Someone points out that it’s stopped raining. We all shush him, but after cresting the hill it starts again.

Fortunately not much traffic on Tomales-Petaluma Road, then we’re back to more back roads. Carmody seems like more pot holes than road in spots, and the RBA of Awesome warns folks new to the route that the coming descent of the other side is quite bumpy (unlike what we’re riding on now.)

I’d never ridden a 400k before, and word was for this route the average time is around 20 hours, without adverse weather. For once I was hoping to be below average. I actually did some calculations for what might be good target times for hitting the controls, but all I could remember was 10ish for Bodega.

get a stamp at the Bodega Store

get a stamp at the Bodega Store

Which we actually did! Yes, HOT CHOCOLATE, a Snickers bar and some juice for my second bottle. Nantucket Nectars mix. Inside of the bottle cap with the day’s first factoid: Ben Franklin’s mom was born on Nantucket.

The rain has let up, but being off the bike I’m starting to get cold. No one else seems ready to head out, so I roll out on my own. Still overcast, but still not raining. Beautiful green. Heading toward Joy Road. Cue scary music. Oh there’s an Ode to Joy, isn’t there? Not sure if it’s the right tune, but I get some classical piece playing in my head, which then morphs into a mashup with one of the Star Wars themes. Great climbing music. And Joy Road is really not as horrible as it gets made out to be. I am glad to have low gears and a free hub though.

I figure folks will catch up with me, turns out no one does, but I do catch up with someone who’d left the control before I did. We make it to Bittner, and head down to Occidental. First time I’ve ridden Bittner. Funny to have to come all the way from San Francisco to do that.

Down Bohemian Highway to Monte Rio and then inland to Guerneville. There’s a bike or two already at the Safeway, then a large contingent shows up. Welcome to Guerneville!

why didn't they have these before Joy Road?

why didn’t they have these before Joy Road?

I ask a clerk stocking in an aisle where the smoothies are. She doesn’t seem to sure what I’m looking for. “What kind of smoothie?” uh… does she want to know what flavor I want or I mean really, how many types of smoothies are there, how do I explain smoothie? juice and stuff in a bottle? a bit of a glimmer for her – “like Odwalla?” “sure” that’s not quite what I want, but they are usually in the same section. Yep! I think the brand is actually Naked, a protein smoothie I had one on the 300k and it seemed quite agreeable. Oh and a banana!

One of the riders in the group who caught us is offering pens. “The cheapest way to get a pen is to get 7 pens.” He looks familiar but I can’t bring up a name. He helps me out with that, and that we rode some of the Old Caz 300k together, “you were part of the Volagi Mafia that mocked about having times for all the controls.” What? I was on my Viaje, but I wouldn’t mock anyone… <insert sweet innocent look here>

Even though the water is no longer coming out of the sky, I’m not dry, and again as I’m stopped I’m getting cold. Someone asks if I’m practicing my dance moves. No, just gotta keep moving. OK, time to get back on the bike. Another person is in the same getting cold situation and ready to leave. We see if anyone else wants to roll and get one other taker.

River Road, watch for the Sunset turnoff. Ah… Westside. “How many calories in a cream filled chocolate doughnut?” … “Is that a toothbrush?” “Yes, I brushed my teeth on Joy Road. It was really refreshing!” which replaces bovine whatever as quote of the day. Later on West Dry Creek we get a tooth brushing demo as well.

Turn at Lambert Bridge and there’s two wild pigs! Peccaries, someone calls them.

Dry Creek, no not turning on Canyon. Ugh Dutcher Creek is further away than I remember it and then ugh ugh bit of a climb. My enthusiasm is not so fresh. I’m not the only one. “Cloverdale came a lot faster last year.” “dale. Clover dale. that means a descent, right? A dale is down?”

It is pretty though, Dutcher Creek Road. Debate about the right word to use. Bucolic? What exactly does bucolic mean? Maybe that’s better for Mountain House.

Two more catch up with us, giving a lift for the remainder of the distance to Cloverdale. I need a pit stop. There’s a Shell on the right, but apparently we always go to the Chevron on the left. They have $1 tacos advertised. uh yeah no. Hmn. How ’bout a Pepsi and … and … let’s see. Banana Bread. That’ll do.

Don’t need the rain pants any more.

Climb out of town on 128. “How is the pace? I can’t go faster, but I can go slower.” I vote for slower, but y’all go on if you want to. “How’s the suffering?” I wonder if that’s a trick question. Like if we aren’t you’re going to make us? “Well, you have to get it out of the way before Mountain House.” (Remember Mountain House Rules – no suffering on Mountain House.)



The rest of the group does get ahead of me, so I get Mountain House to myself. It’s the first time I’ve done it this direction. It is SO. BEAUTIFUL. No suffering. Totally frickin’ bucolic.



(rain drops left over from the morning)


These climbs are getting random electronic dance music. Which then turns into Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough. sure, that goes with bucolic.



Next control is the Hopland Valero. Hmn. Gas station mini mart. OH if there’s corn dogs I am SO gonna have one.

In the mean time I have waffle, don’t just carry that around all day. Dang, I should have pre-opened it. OK, it’s me or the waffle package, me or the waffle package. In the efforts to subdue it I weave around a bit. Unbeknownst to me another rider had caught me. Ack! Where did you come from?! “Cloverdale…” He asks if I’m OK. I laugh, explain I’m just doing battle with my waffle package. He seems to understand, although after a bit of chatting he rides off. “See you in Hopland.”

On the outskirts of Hopland, a couple of large dogs sitting at a corner. Stay. Stay… As if hearing and misinterpreting my thoughts about the impending eating of corn dog one growls and starts to chase, the skitter and scrape of nails on pavement. Some combination of it losing interest or me having enough momentum to get by there’s no collision.

I am for SURE having that corn dog.


And oh I have a dry jersey! No point just hauling that around all day. Wow that makes such a difference. niceniceniceaaaah….

Factoid the second: there are about 3000 beans in a pound of coffee.

More folks roll in, the group I’d been riding with before is about ready to go, but hold up a couple of minutes while I get my damp jersey packed away.

Alrighty, we’re on the return leg now. And here’s the dangerous intersection with 101. It’s clear both ways and we all make it across. The river is flowing high, fast and muddy. Roiling, perhaps? And we’re headed with it, down stream. Meaning… overall down hill. woohoo! Which fortunately makes the stretch along the shoulder of 101 go pretty quickly.

Shortly after we get off the highway there’s a flat. The Grand Bois tires get blamed, but a staple is found. As we’re waiting for the repair, another rider catches up with us. The six of us end up riding the rest of the way together.

view while waiting for flat repair

view while waiting for flat repair

On our way again, nice back road, then a house here and there. A gaggle of kids on bikes headed the opposite direction.

Tee intersection. Yeah we can save the Geysers for another day. Oh hey we’re back to Cloverdale. Wouldn’t it have been faster to just stay here?

Brief stop in Geyserville and rolling on 128. Let’s get as far as we can before dark. Most SRCC rides take Red Winery, so staying on 128 is a bit different.

Oh there’s a bit of blue sky to the north and west. Maybe we’ll get a sunset.

Ooof, who put this hill on Chalk Hill Road?

Fulton Road? meh. Maybe not my first choice of how to show case Santa Rosa, but it will get us south. Magic light and yes, some sunset.

sunset over Santa Rosa

sunset over Santa Rosa

Hmn I’ve never ridden on Ludwig, oh that does avoid some trafficky no shoulder areas but wow that’s some craptastic pavement. “Write your mayor!”

Dark now.

Stony Point almost to Petaluma and another flat. Strike 2 for Grand Bois.

The crew debates Denny’s. If I went in and sat down and ate… “You’d feel so much better.” uh more likely I wouldn’t be able to get going again!

Next control is at Safeway and I’m thinking mocha with extra extra whipped cream but duh no. The Starbucks is closed. Soup service is over too. Talking magic rice cakes oh yeah there’s sushi. Can’t quite do any fishy ones but that inari has my name on it. And well a cold Starbucks drink will have to do. After the fact realize we were at Safeway, I could have gotten whipped cream.

The cashiers are all a little incredulous about what we’re doing, but encouraging as we leave.

Stop lights on East Washington. Group gets separated. Wait, regroup. Get separated again at the next one. Wait, regroup. At the Boulevard get serenaded by a motorist also waiting at the light. Lovin’ You – off-key but loud and enthusiastic.

There’s gotta be more words to that song. No one seems to know what they are. Or will admit that they know. Every now and again over the remainder of the ride one or another of us will bust out a “lo-vin’ you…” although not with quite the same effect as stoplight lady.

Petty Theft at the Mystic tonight.

How many climbs to go? Not that I’m counting. Want to know/don’t want to know. Oh that’s longer than I remember. But oh yes some down hill.

The rest of the group puts a little gap on me on the climbs, but not so much that I’m not able to catch them on the descents. Nicasio. San Geronimo Valley.

Drop off White’s Hill into Fairfax. Bike ears and/or a bit punchy, “It’s cold here” becomes cold beer. what? Other things that rhyme with those words…bold, fold, told… gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em. know when to walk away, know when to run…

There’s a guy in front of the movie theatre making giant bubbles. Awesome. Iron Springs is closed?! What time is it? After 11…

The wiggle in reverse. We’re starting to smell the barn.

Who put all these bumps in the bike path back to Sausalito? Seriously. They were NOT here this morning.

“The thing about coming back now is you don’t have to dodge the tourists in Sausalito or the Blazing Saddles.” Haha. An optimist! Always looking on the bright side. And don’t have to do that little kicker up Conzelman. Cool.

“Oh, Cup Noodles!” I know, I’ve been trying to not think about that since Fairfax. Maybe before. What if they don’t have any?

But they do, the lovely smiling volunteers who welcome us back to the toll plaza. Chicken, Beef or Shrimp! A choice even. Best. Noodles. Ever.


I can now say I’ve done a 400k! (and not be lying.) (oh and I got a PR!)

Ride date: March 29, 2014
[Elapsed time to ride report: 10 days]
wpk (words per kilometer): 6.0 (not counting captions)

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5 Responses to 2014 SFR Hopland 400k

  1. rob hawks says:

    Ah, RBA of Awesome would be a refreshing change from Jason’s version.

  2. Greg Merritt says:

    Oh! I’d already forgotten some of those quotes/conversations. It’s like I’m reliving the ride…but with fewer chips and fewer donuts.

  3. Pingback: 2015 SLO W(h)ine & Waves 400k (R4) | 2m2t

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