Sound asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow Friday night, then wide awake. Actually felt fairly rested, hmn maybe it’s time to get up already. Well maybe I should check. It’s only eleven something. Huh. Yeah no, more sleep.
Soon enough it is go time. Sarah was kind enough to let me stay over with her in Mill Valley, so I was closer to the start, but then I’d volunteered to help with check in. Fortunately she was OK with going early, we ended up being the first people at the parking at Sports Basement. A bit of debate about which island we were supposed to park around, but it seemed close enough, and they did have my vehicle information so hopefully my car would still be there when I got back.
Talk about how nice it is for them – Sports Basement that is – to let us use some parking spots. Well if they’re open when I get back I should probably buy something. You think you’ll feel like shopping? Sure, that’s what everyone needs after a long bike ride. Some retail therapy.
Make sure I’ve got all the bits on the bike and myself and we ride up to the toll plaza. It’s not bad temperature for riding, but a tad chilly for standing around. Fortunately I’m soon distracted by the tasks at hand, directing riders to bag drop vehicle and bike check, and getting them signed in. Sarah pitches in even though she isn’t an official volunteer and hands out the cards. (We’d been sternly warned – no card until they’d signed, no signing until they’d had their bike checked.) There’s still a few more to go, but we’re getting close to start time, and Roland says he and Kimber will take it from there since they aren’t riding today.
The sun is not up yet, but the sky has lightened considerably. Rob administers The Oath and we head North. Max is immediately off the front on his sub-24 hour quest. Um, have fun with that. Patrick and I are in the front group, this is his first 600k and my second. I’d wanted to roll straight through on my first, but was stymied by a tire-eating flat. So part of me wants to have another go at that (the riding through, not the tire-eating flat), and Patrick is willing to try, although we agreed to be flexible in the event that circumstances require plan changes.
Matthew had done a spreadsheet with segment times and rest stop durations for a 30ish hour finish, which gave some perspective, and Metin helped quell my pre-ride jitters with the comment that I could do 3 regular 10 hour 200ks, have an hour between them, then still have 8 hours to deal with anything that might come up. Right, plenty of time.
So why am I with the speedsters? Ha. Well, it’s a beautiful morning, I feel good, and I do want to be done sooner rather than later. The further I can get before dark is probably a good thing too.
Lovely sunrise over the Bay and Angel Island. Sausalito splendidly quiet before the tourii are stirring. Out the bike path and here’s Camino Alto. Oh, a rider pulling over with a broken chain. That’s not a good start for a long ride. Chortling turkeys make me laugh. The wiggle out through the rest of the south Marin towns, a rider peels off at Java Hut in Fairfax.
Still no Magic Pocket (zero volume, but I can reach in and pull out whatever it is that I want/need at the moment), so I’m still in search of the perfect bag(s). This ride I’m trying out a Revelate Pika seat bag. (Which seems sturdy and well made, attaches securely and does not seem to affect bike handling, and has the nice feature of expandability. It’s a good size, and does carry everything I ask it to over the course of the weekend, but it does seem more suited for bikepacking, where you pack it up in the morning and don’t really need anything till you stop at night, since it’s just one large compartment.)
I’m also eyeing other folks’ bags to see what solutions they’ve come up with. Metin has some attractive new bags from Dill Pickle, and as we’re riding out of Fairfax, I notice Erik has a bag that runs the length of his top tube, which seems like an efficient use of space. He says he had it custom-made to fit two Sin Dawgs. He allows as how this might be a 3 Sin Dawg ride, so he’s got another in his drop bag going to Indian Creek. We also have a nice chat about Randonneuring in Sweden, his home country.
Blast out the San Geronimo Valley. Some of the boys are feeling frisky and sprint for town limit signs. The sign at Samuel P. Taylor says the fire danger is HIGH. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it say anything else. Swoop through the redwoods, enjoying the smooth pavement and a great group paceline. By the inexorable logistics of rotation I end up on the front. Reality Check. OK, just make it to the base of the Olema hill. Pedal pedal pedal. Whew now just climb at my own speed.
Over the hill and north to the first control at Pt. Reyes Station. Patrick has a copy of the spreadsheet and we’re ahead of schedule. I wasn’t expecting to see Max again, but there he is in the parking lot at the market, just finishing filling his bottles. We head inside to obtain our proof of passage. Banana. And an impulse buy from the register display, Nougat Passion. How could I pass that up? It has a backing paper that I hope is edible, since it sure ain’t coming off.
Back in the saddle and over to Pt. Reyes Petaluma Road. There’s a bunch of cars stacked up in the opposite direction lane trying to get on to Highway 1. Some cyclists too, I hear one of them yelling at a car that cut him off. Glad we’re not going that direction.
The road tips down for a stretch, and Eric L. goes by in a mad rush. I don’t realize until later that he’s riding fixie. OK, that would explain the freneticness and no greeting.
Notice that Bryan C. and Tom ride flat pedals with toe straps and what looks to be pretty much just tennies (or at least not particularly bike shoes.) Wow! Distracted by this fun factoid I totally miss the splendor of Tom’s calves.
I do notice that most of the folks in this group have very minimal luggage. Going for speed. Again have one of those “what am I doing here?” moments. Um, riding my bike, that’s what I’m doing. Yeah, keep at it.
Nicasio Reservoir, pay no mind to that flag by the tee intersection pointing emphatically in the non-helpful direction, hill, Cheese Factory, Fire Station, hill. There’s a guy on a TTish bike who I think is on this ride, although the bike does not particularly say Rando. He’s yo-yoing the group, flying past on downhills and staying toward the front as long as momentum or flat terrain keep him there, then trailing off any time the pitch goes up. On the descent to McEvoy he goes over the center line to pass me. Really? On a 600k you want to save a few seconds like that? Whatever.
And here we are at Petaluma. I’m tempted to go a slightly different way through town, but the group is still pretty large, and it would probably get too confusing. Trafficky on East Washington and some of the folks go on the right of a concrete mixer truck, between it and the curb. Not somewhere I’d want to be, but we’ve all got our own ways of doing things. A bit further down there’s a car that wants to go right, in front of us, then we have to get across the freeway on ramp. Agh. I just want to get to Safeway in one piece.
Which we do. Another fairly efficient stop, although I thought the bathroom was at the back of the store so had a little extra distance as it’s actually in the front to the right. Receipt obtained, calories ingested, fluids shifted, back on the road with the group.
To the extent possible hide from the wind behind others. Smooth smooth don’t get too close. Here’s Santa Rosa. Don’t think about being just a few blocks from home. TT bike guy cuts a left turn in front of traffic, the rest of us wait. At the next stoplight I debate saying something (um, yeah, there was that Oath this morning) but the light turns and we’re off again.
Out of town, back into the wind. Someone at the front makes a comment about fresh legs and Patrick moves up. Construction at a stop light, I give him grief for stopping in front of the temporary sign that says “STOP HERE ON RED”, although Rob does point out that there’s no red to stop on. (Do they send out this material with the RBA kit? I ask if there’s regalia too. Apparently not. We’ll have to come up with something.)
Traffic slows for a car show, and the shoulder is all parked up. We’re picking our way through, then there’s shouts of rider down. Not sure what happened, but it gets sorted and we’re on our way again. North, into the wind. Rolling rolling rolling. Oh here’s the River. Hmn, a canoe trip. Maybe I should be doing that.
Crazy spiderweb intersection in Healdsburg and is it left or straight? We have different names for it but all go the same way to the Safeway. Most folks make a bit more of a stop here, and head out in smaller groups after varying amounts of time. Fun to see the different food choices people make. Matthew finds a squeezy chia thing which he seems excited about, except that it’s only 70 calories.
Patrick and I are ready to roll, Rob asks us to wait a minute, “keep the group together.” Which, I’ve figured out at this point when he talks about riding together he really means he’s going to drop me. (Not that I’m bitter.) But seriously, if I’m gonna be dropped by someone, it may as well be the RBA of Awesome. Super cool to see him riding so strong. I’m looking forward to him dropping me on the Old Caz 300k. Heck, on the whole Adventure Series! C’mon, you know you wanna, Rob.
Around Geyeserville I end up on the front and Holy Headwinds Batman it’s rough up there and I’m probably not keeping the pace up but I do the best I can for a bit and then rotate out and ugh recover recover uh no not so much all of a sudden I’m off the back. Bit too much effort on top of maybe not quite keeping up with the calories or who knows what, the circles are still happening but not seeming to be particularly effective in producing forward movement. Patrick notices and comes back for me and pulls me to Cloverdale.
I eat and drink and start feeling better, having a break from keeping up with the paceline helps, as does getting to the climb out of Cloverdale on 128, since it’s somewhat sheltered from the wind. Oh there’s still wildflowers out! Sweet peas! and a yellow thing I feel like I should know what it’s called but can’t quite come up with a name. Maybe fairy lanterns? And later foxgloves. Nice.
Down and up and etc. and back into the wind and I need to stop in Boonville. Oh it feels SO good to be inside out of the wind. There’s a family getting sandwiches at the deli counter which seems to take forever, but I’ve sort of lost any sense of urgency about time at this point. We have a bit of a chat with them and another customer about what we’re doing and get the impressed but you’re kinda crazy reaction. There’s a cute kitty sleeping in sun in the front window. That’s the ticket. Nap in the sun!
Sit out in front and eat and drink. See a few other riders go by. Woohoo! Bits of mariachi music float in on the wind. Patrick thinks one is a Beatles song. Everyone rips off the Beatles. Or maybe, oh nevermind.
Feeling a bit better about getting back to it, but first a restroom stop. Yes, didn’t need to haul that to Fort Bragg. Alrighty then. My ex’s parents had built a house and moved to Mendocino, so we’d driven 128 many many times, but I’d never ridden it on a bicycle until doing the SRCC HBUH 200k brevet, and that only goes to Boonville on 128. So past Boonville was new on a bicycle, and it had been a few years since I’d been on it even in a car, since once we’d split up I didn’t have much reason to go up that way. In some ways a trip down memory lane, but also nice to revisit in a different context.
Road construction with ground pavement, which we’ve been warned about. Not really any worse than some of the so-called road that’s not under construction. Catch up to a rider, it’s Metin. So smooth and elegant it’s easy to forget he’s riding fixie. He tucks in behind me, sharing the ride behind Patrick.
Party at the grange! Is that more mariachi music? Someone’s doing it up right. A van with a U-haul trailer that had passed us earlier is parked outside. Band or caterer?
Metin peels off at Indian Creek and we continue on. I did send a drop bag, but don’t need anything out of it until the return trip, and we’d fed and watered in Boonville. Nice to see there’s still some apple orchard. ooo! Sheep. Fuzzy lambs frolic in the late afternoon sun. Wineries, and then into the redwoods. Navarro at elevation 272, we’re headed to sea level so overall down trend for a while.
Through the tree tunnel. It’s like a Disney Ride! No, this is REAL! Oh there’s Flynn Creek Road. And Flynn Creek. What a coincidence. Dimmick State Park, where they used to have the staffed stop. Navarro River, headed to the sea. Oh this means a climb up to Highway 1 running north along the bluffs.
Expecting to see Max any time now, on his way back. Out in the open now along the coast and more miles on the legs the headwind seems even more severe. How far to Fort Bragg? Enjoy the beautiful views. Enjoy the beautiful views.
Coming up on Little River, there’s Max!!! Heading south with a smile on his face – how could he not with that tailwind?!
A dropped chain gives me a few moments to re-evaluate my life choices. What am I doing here? Oh, right, riding my bike. Back at it.
All those trees along 128 I had been thinking maybe one needed to be watered but we were moving along well and I hated to break that. Then the sound of the ocean… OK, I’m not going to make it to Fort Bragg. Turn off the Highway. Shoot, no trees. Fortunately, contrary to usual occurrence on bio breaks, no one comes by. Whew. Ah… can think straight again.
Now where’s that Safeway, where’s the Safeway? No, that’s Harvest Market. Keep pedaling. Start seeing folks headed back on the return leg. WOOHOO! Almost there, and as if to prove some final point (like we didn’t get it) the wind kicks up with a few furious gusts almost blowing us off the bridge into Noyo Harbor.
And once again, I had no idea Safeways would become so important in my life and I would be SO glad to see them. There’s a bit of a vestibule, we bring our bikes in. OUT.OF.THE.WIND.
At one point I’d been thinking about sushi, but now something hot sounds much more appealing. Ugh, no, not chowder or chili. And apparently they can’t heat up a quiche for me. I’m sure there’s some very good reason, but I don’t have the energy to get into it with the deli clerk. She’s just doing her job. OK, some potatoes and chicken. I keep forgetting you can get water out of the soda machine.
The tandem is here, and some other folks. I’ve lost whatever control efficiency I had, it feels so good to be inside sitting down and eating. But then I start to get cold. Yay for dry jersey to change into. And long socks!!!
Although the sun has set it’s not completely dark when we roll out, and the wind hasn’t died completely, so we get a bit of a tail wind. But soon it’s full dark. There’s a tail light ahead of us that we never quite catch up to, and once there’s some twists in the road it disappears. We see well-lit folks rolling toward Ft. Bragg and give them all woohoos! but maybe it gets lost in the wind, only a few seem to get return acknowledgements.
The reflective spots on Patrick’s vest and shorts remind me that Mr. Shiny Jack said the Moonbeam material can be cut to shapes. Wouldn’t that be cool to do a skeleton?
128 comes much quicker going this direction, and then we’re back in the tree tunnel, headed inland. Dark. Glad I have someone to ride with.
Next stop, Indian Creek Campground. There’s a reflective sash hung on the sign on the highway, but once we get off the road it’s not completely clear where to go. But we figure it out – the Volunteers of Amazing have a campfire going and all sorts of goodies they ply us with. Again there’s the tandem, and some other folks around the fire, and I hear that a few are taking advantage of the sleeping accommodations. Find a chair by the fire and have the best macaroni and cheese ever and a mocha. Few more snackies and oh even with the fire I’m getting cold. OK, time to find the drop bag and change. Somehow I can’t quite muster the energy to take my shoes off and change bottoms, but the fresh jersey sure does feel good and helps with the temperature thing.
We’re still planning on riding straight through, but there’s a definite time warp here. I don’t know when we arrived, but after we’d been there a bit I look at my watch and it is 11:55, next time I look at the watch, which doesn’t seem much later, it’s 12:30 already. Fortunately they didn’t have s’mores makings, or I never would have made it out of there.
At some point we do manage to pull ourselves away and get back on the road. I’m still feeling pretty good, and the fresh jersey and an extra layer make the temperature seem comfortable. It’s a beautiful evening, the moon is out, and the road is quiet. Rolling by the grange looks like the party is over for the night. The van and U-Haul trailer are still there, they pass us again later down the road.
Enter that ridiculous/sublime portion of the ride. This is your brain on bike. In the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.
Uh oh. Sleepy. Eat something. Drink. Helps for a while. Chew gum. Chew caffeine gum. Darnit, nothing seems to be working now. It’s. just. so. dark. Eyes. want. to. be. closed…
Don’t get to fully enjoy the descent on 128 due to the alertness issues, and let Patrick know I’m going to have to stop in Cloverdale.
Chevron Chevron Chevron YES it is open. The light is making me feel more alert, but I probably should take a few off the bike. The woman working doesn’t ask any questions about what we’re doing, I’m not sure what I would say if she did. I go to the furthest booth and put my head down. Ah… not ideal but it will do.
Patrick is talking with someone. It’s a disturbingly chipper Jason. Apparently a shower and nap has been quite restorative. WAY too perky, he should probably be punched somewhere special. con mucho gusto. If only I had the energy. He redeems himself, or at least saves himself from the intended punching, with the good news (for me) that he left the room door ajar (just in case he got a ways down the road and realized he’d forgotten something.) It’s on the ground floor. He gives me the number. It’s a back track but I’m not going to complain. Oh and “don’t be alarmed by the bibs in the trash.” Last trip for them, off to the great brevet in the sky. Apparently he can’t bear to dispose of them at home.
I text Patrick when I get in the room and tell him to go on. He says he’s fine with waiting if I’m OK with rolling again in an hour. Sure. I set an alarm, take of my helmet and jacket, and roll myself up in the top bed cover with my feet hanging off the edge since it feels like if I took my shoes off I’d never put them back on.
That was an hour? Very tempting to keep sleeping, but I actually do feel much better. (It’s all relative.) Or at least more alert. My tummy is not quite on board with things at the moment, so, although I know I should probably eat something, I don’t.
The light is returning to the sky as we roll out and what a HUGE difference that makes. Like night and day. Tummy is feeling a bit better by Healdsburg, or at least I’m feeling more like convincing it we really do need to eat something, so even though it’s not a control in this direction, the pull of the Safeway is unavoidable. Find some food that goes and stays down, which helps immensely with my opinions of my life choices.
As a result of all my faffing about, we get to enjoy the run down Westside in early morning splendor, with almost no traffic. So wonderful it exceeds my capacity for superlatives, although the later part is a bit marred by a something in the throat that won’t go up or down. Dangit, would you just choose a direction and go (and stay) there. pleasethankyou.
Guerneville Safeway is a control, and since I’m finding out the price of bananas I may as well buy and eat one. See a few folks here, including Metin, who rolls out a bit before we do, asking if we’re stopping at Wild Flour. Oh YES! Another upside to getting here later, they will be open! We pass him on the flats, then he catches and passes us on the climb a bit before Occidental. He does realize that now we’re going to have to pass him on the downhill… Which, I didn’t think he went over the crest that much before us, so I’m expecting at each turn to catch him but it seems like almost to the bottom before we do. DANG! Boy’s got skills with that fixie nonsense.
Walk in and right up to the counter at Wild Flour. NO LINE! Look at the table overflowing with amazing baked wonderfulness behind the counter. Um, yes please. OK, seriously though. Savory scone – BACON! and cheese and also a sweet one for later there are ones with blueberries so tempting but go with the Rhubarb Strawberry. Savory is down the hatch, and just a taste (I do manage to stop after a bite) (or two) of the sweet one.
Back on the road, the next control at Pt. Reyes is timed again, we’ve just got to get there by 18:04. Plenty of time. Even so, we’re starting to feel the pull of the finish and the wind in the now helpful direction. Roller along the coast enjoying the splendid day. Alas there are lots of folks in their automobiles out enjoying the splendidness as well. Some of whom are unwilling to wait until it’s really clear to pass us and go over the center line despite oncoming traffic. I appreciate the space, but how hard is it to not be a doofus about it, really?
Couple of roadies zip by – at least feels pretty zippy – relative speeds. Oh shoulda asked to borrow their legs! I’d give them back when we get to San Francisco. Ha, or maybe if they’d gone by on the next decline instead of the uphill we coulda jumped on. Yeah right.
We go to the market for our receipts in Pt. Reyes, and see Metin getting in the line at Bovine Bakery when we come out. I’m not super hungry, but I want to put a layer in the pack, and I don’t think the Wild Flour scone will be quite the same after being cooped up with sweaty wool for almost 40 miles so I eat it. Manage to choke it down, shall I say. And I could use a comfort stop, so we go over to the park. Turns out Metin thought we were gone gone on the road, so he spent the rest of his ride chasing us and so ended up finishing before we did.
Reprise of the run by Nicasio Reservoir. Guy on a single speed (maybe even in skinny jeans, or perhaps I was hallucinating) sails past on the climb. Alrighty. Fellow on a road bike passes next, no he won’t give me a tow, he’s trying to catch the single speed guy. Town of Nicasio is buzzing with a baseball game. Another pair of roadies passes outside of town, and again no help with the loan of fresh legs.
Trafficky over White’s Hill, and the return to civilization is a bit jarring. Navigate the maze of town streets heading south. A rider heading the other direction through Larkspur is sporting bib shorts and no jersey. That’s a look. Camino Alto and a gaggle of folks out on a group ride. Fortunately they stop to regroup after getting on to the bike path and we get around them.
Patrick is smelling the barn now and we’ve got a tailwind he wants to take max advantage of. Argh, really? But we’ll get there 30 seconds faster. I don’t think it’s counted to the second. He makes like he’s going to speed up, well we’ll have to make it a full minute faster then. Haha.
In contrast to our outbound leg, Sausalito is now festering with tourii. I didn’t come this far to get taken out by someone’s aunt visiting from Witchita, so I take it very conservatively through town. Once I’m through the mess the finish gravity starts to kick in for me too. Last categorized climb. No, wait, it’s daytime so we gotta go up that kicker on Conzelman to get to the west side of the bridge. A few roadies pass. I totally could have taken them… If I hadn’t just ridden three hundred seventy something miles. Yeah whatever, lame excuse.
It’s super clear, the views are amazing! Make it across the bridge without incident and roll into the toll plaza to a warm welcome from volunteers and other riders. Once again there’s a boggling array of goodies, but nothing seems appetizing. I don’t even feel particularly hungry, but I do have some homemade banana bread, which is super tasty. I still feel like I should consume some more calories, but nothing catches my interest. Potis recommends an Ensure. It’s what they give dying people – it’s easy (since it’s a drink) and it’s got everything you need. 250 calories. Hmn. Dying people. I didn’t think I look that bad. But I have one, and some fizzy water, which hits the spot.
Then for the first time all weekend I feel like having ice cream. The Bridge store has Three Twins! Salted Caramel for me and Mocha Difference for Patrick. Jason wants to know where they came from. The store. So they’re not free? Nope, well unless you want to try a five-fingered discount. You should buy me one. I’m not going to say he’s right, but yeah, I probably should. Nope, no Vanilla. OK, then Mint Confetti. Same person at check out but they don’t say anything about me getting more.
Changing of the shift of volunteers, one of the new ones asks if I’m Jenny. Nope. I’m not Karen either, before he can ask. Well at least he didn’t think I’m Jason. (ID tip: Jason’s hair is longer than mine now. And on the bike I have this silly weakness for gears and a free hub.)
More folks have been rolling in, including some who I’d figured would have been long done and gone home. And their actual moving time was probably less, but whether and how long you take a rest break for changes the equation for the finish time. Funny how when you’re out there you can have no idea if someone is ahead or behind your or that there might be someone in close proximity.
I’d been thinking I’d head home straight away, but it’s really fun to welcome others in and hear about their ride experience. The pavers are nice and warm from the sun, so I give in and sit down and hang out for a while. Finally the breeze starts to kick up a bit more and to get the edge of a chill so I decide it’s time to go.
Patrick is heading out too, and where I would have gone straight he signals a left. Really? You can get through there? Well, I’ve been following him around all weekend, why quit now. Get to the bottom of the hill and there’s a no right turn sign. So if we were in a car we couldn’t get there from here, but we sneak through on our bikes. Make it back to Sports Basement, I think they are open, but somehow I don’t feel like that retail therapy. My car is still there, yay! Although it would have been nice if it had been replaced with a teleporter for an instant trip home. Ah well, you can’t have everything.
With that, I completed my first series! or a series, anyway, do I want to imply there will be more? Again didn’t make it on the riding straight through thing, and I definitely see the benefits of stopping for a rest, so I wish that voice about checking that box on the list for ride straight through would just shut the h up.
Huge thanks to Patrick for being such a great riding buddy and so gracious in sharing his first 600k with me. Also to all the other folks that I rode with at various times, even you, Rob. It’s such a boost knowing there are others out there. And last, but certainly not least, massive gratitude to the volunteers for all their hard work to make our ride easier. So amazing and wonderful.
What a fantastic ride! (hey is that randonesia font?)
Turns out the word for the day May 10 was zephyr.
1. a gentle, mild breeze.
Where were they?!
more pictures – by Patrick. I lost the bandwidth for it after a while, and seemed like every time I thought about taking my camera out he already had his or was going to get it. Plus he does extra stuff afterwards to make em all purty and stuff.
Ride date: May 10/11, 2014
[Elapsed time to ride report: 18 days]
wpk (words per kilometer): 8.7 (not counting captions)