2014 SFR Old Cazadero 171k

Oh, Spoiler Alert! As you may know, Old Caz is a 300k, so yes, I DNFed. There’s still a story though. Always a story.

Bonus shot of de-construction in GGB toll plaza.

Bonus shot of de-construction in toll plaza.

The Adventure Series started with the 600k in June, and is going in decreasing distance order, which has been really nice, winding down the season, heading toward finishing a ride the same day I start. We’re down to *only* 300k. (Foreshadowing?) Yeah, careful with that. No matter what the distance you never really know how it’s going to go.

With the full series now Max has also mentioned a shiny trinket for those who complete all the rides. Which, I’m generally not a magpie, but this one (sight unseen) I want. Darnit.

Ohdarkthirty at the Golden Gate Bridge, this is the original Adventure Series ride, the first to be run as an official brevet, and this year there’s enough people to warrant two clip boards at sign in! The usual hellos and chit-chat with folks that I know. Hmn, no sign of Mike, who’s supposed to be coming out for his first brevet. He’s also got a Viaje, and this will be their longest ride to date. No last-minute message he’s not going to make it, but I’ve just about given up, then he rolls up right before the start time.

and now a few words from the Adventurer-in-Chief

and now a few words from the Adventurer-in-Chief

Max reminds us all to be careful, and cautions about trying to make up time on the descents. Yep, be safe, have fun. It’s the first SFR event since Matthew O’Neill was killed on the 3CR, we have a moment of silence for him. Then we’re off over the west side of the bridge.

I don’t have a particular plan for the day, but end up in the front group. Heh, burn all the matches now, then I won’t have to make any decisions later about when to use them.

Jon sprints past on the downhill straightaway, I don’t quite catch what he says, but oh yeah there’s the speed trap sign, must have been I’m going to try for thirty. It doesn’t pick him up. Bah! You’re too skinny!

Follow the standard SFR roll out through Sausalito, the bike path, Camino Alto, Larkspur, the wiggle through Ross and San Anselmo out to Fairfax. It’s overcast but not cold. As we approach White’s Hill Ernesto makes a comment about seeing people later, as if he’s expecting to be dropped, but that doesn’t happen.

White's Hill

White’s Hill

San Geronimo Valley, the golf course, again Ernesto says something but none of us are buying it. The sky is lightening, but not clearing. Dogleg through the town of Nicasio, and out past the reservoir, which is down low enough to see the old road and bridge. Max and a few others make the jump to MaxSpeed, and the group I’m rolling with sorts out to include Patrick, first-time Mike, BFK and MichaelSv.

Nicasio Reservoir

Nicasio Reservoir

Oddly I don’t have a recollection of Chileno Valley Road from last year, but since we’re going out Wilson Hill and ending up over on Tomales-Petaluma Road it must be in there. Newish looking trees along the side of the road just past the turn. Wait, are those quince?! Mike voices his surprise at how “spirited” the pace has been for the beginning of a long ride. Heh. Good times, yes?

Wilson Hill

Wilson Hill

Early, still quiet on Tomales-Petaluma Road. Oh, Carmody, how do I love thee. Left, and right, don’t blink you’ll miss Bloomfield. Tractor! Still overcast. Info control, there’s been a slight change to the object at hand but we figure it out. And up the Burnside burn. Still overcast, not so much views today. But ooo! Tree faces! And more tractors. The others have gotten a bit ahead again, but I catch up on the descent and it’s a left turn yeah you wanna be in a lower gear for that. oof.



Tree faces!

Tree faces!

This time I am not going to make the mistake of bypassing Wild Flour. As we roll down the hill toward Freestone we confirm the plans to stop and that there will be no line. manifesting no line. And so it is. A sweet scone really hits the spot. A savory one for later would be nice too, but I don’t have a good way to carry it. I know, I know, what kind of rando am I? As we’re eating a large group including Metin, Larry, Roy and a number of others roll in.

impending scone of awesome

impending scone of awesome

Finish up, brush off the crumbs, saddle up and head up to the receipt control in Occidental. Some familiar looking cyclists, oh boy a whole whatever the collective noun for cyclists is stopped for a regroup at the south end of town! Sarah S, MarC, Carl S, Pauli, Ken, Paul McK, Miguel and more of the usual suspects out on the SRCC picnic ride, fast edition. I stop and say hi, then we all continue on our respective ways.

Crossing The River

Crossing The River

Take care of the control issues, I mean requirements. On the way out of town BFK asks, Negri’s? Is that racist? When I finally stop laughing, No. Italian. Funny, all the years I’ve been to and through Occidental and that never occurred to me. Bohemian Highway and the swoopy fun roll down through the redwoods to the Russian River. Cross the bridge, I know we’re heading inland so I take the first right just past the quonset hut movie theater, going from the end of the line to the front. As reward for knowing the way you now get to pull us all the Old Monte Rio Road Patrick intones. Winner Winner!

Old Monte Rio Road

Old Monte Rio Road

There’s a shoulder for part of the way, but I’m glad we’re not on River Road for very long. It’s very nice to get off the beaten track. Just up the hill, and yet it feels like we’re in a secret/alternate/parallel universe. Pleasant riding through the woods feeling, and some great views of the River. The others get ahead, and I need a nature break anyway, so that works out.


Back on the bike, oh large person crossing the street. Crossed. OK well here comes their better half. Hello! Glad I saw them in plenty of time.


Patrick has slowed to make sure I’m still coming along. Yep, just watering trees and avoiding the natives. We get back up to the others and already time to keep an eye out for Cherry St. Wow, that seemed to go much faster than last year. Close, close don’t get going too fast on the descent no not this one but yes, here it is. Definitely missable.

Woopdedoo through the neighborhood toward the namesake road. Man it must be dank in here during the winter. Anyway, oh yeah here we go with the regularly scheduled climbing portion of the program. Have fun storming the castle. I settle in to my climbing speed. Heh, I mean pace. Speed would be very loose definition of the word. BFK, Mike and Michael are faster. Well, so is Patrick, but he hangs back and rides with me. Nice chat – yes, ice cream does come up as a topic – makes it go by a little quicker.


Through gaps in the tree cover looks like the overcast is starting to break up. Signs for a wedding. Never seen that before. Must be at the retreat center.


Woohoo! There’s the gate. Alrighty then, guess the others decided not to wait. The top of the dirt is open, with great views, and yes the skies have cleared. Splendid! We stop to take pictures, I do a panorama, Patrick enjoys the machine gun noise the camera makes. Another stop at the next gate, there’s the Old Caz tree. A bit further along and there’s Jon, fixing a flat.

Old Caz-orama

Old Caz-orama

P1040443 P1040446

Old Caz tree

Old Caz tree

Back into the woods, Patrick has the classic SFR jersey on and the green would make a great picture with the trees in the background. I don’t dare take a hand off the bars to take one, and by the time I’d get stopped he’d be long gone. Ah well, another mind picture.


The three musketeers are not at the bottom of the hill at the creek either. Patrick rides the crossing, so yes I can see that it’s doable, but I choose to get off and walk. I’m surprised by the amount of water, but it’s low enough to pick my way across on rocks and not get my feet wet. Patrick says he wanted to get a picture of me riding through, but I think he really wants a picture of me going in the drink.

P1040453 P1040452

I’m trying some new tires, 28mm Paselas, and am not quite sure how low of pressure I can get away with. Pumped up for rolling on pavement and avoidance of pinch flats puts me on the edge of sliding out on the gravel climb. A little focus and happy thoughts and I make it.

We get to the top, the others aren’t waiting here either, not that I was expecting to see them anymore. The gate is closed but not locked. I’ve never noticed that before, always just assumed it was locked and had to be gotten over, under or around. Patrick wants to leave it open for the riders behind us. Guess Australia has different rules. I’ve always heard to leave a gate the way you found it.

The first part of the descent past the gate is gravel still, then back to pavement and the curlicue chute down to the intersection of adventure. Out Fort Ross Road today. Oh wrong gear wrong gear we’re back to climbing.

Neither of us really needs to stop at the store, but we talk about it. Patrick says if he does stop it’ll be a longer one as he’ll be having a beer. That decides it, lets keep rolling to Jenner, have a good break there. (Little do I know how true that will be. Well, the break part anyway.)

The bell rings as we pass the school, must not be a way to specify it’s the weekend. Then the noon horn at the fire department goes off. There’s a fellow clearing brush on the side of the road by his driveway, he shhhs-es us and says something about keeping it down so as not to disturb the fish in the creek. Um, OK. Then he laughs, No, just kidding.


and a green mailbox at the Green Mailbox Ranch. what are the odds of that?

and a green mailbox at the Green Mailbox Ranch. what are the odds of that?

Up the first climb, start hearing voices. It’s Mike, BFK and Michael. They had stopped at the store. We all roll together for a while, then the last climb to the ridge they go ahead again. They do know that whoever gets there first is to have a full basket of perfect blackberries all ready for the later arrivals, right?


It really is too bad about the views. And hey there’s a cool rock outcropping I’ve never noticed before. Most excellent. Back in the trees, getting close to the top now. Yay! Although apparently they didn’t get the memo. Well I’ll just pick my own damn blackberries then.



Answer the question and I get away with a bit of a head start. Some swirling fog and overcast, but it never socks in completely and although we seem to be above it on the ridge we don’t descend into it either. Oh that is much the preferred direction on Meyers Grade. Then another fun descent on Highway 1.



Patrick, BFK and Michael open a gap but I don’t worry about it too much, as it’s not far to the control stop at Jenner. It’s overall flat to downhillish, bit of a tailwind, and a beautiful day on the Coast. I’m cruising along, feeling good and looking forward to an ice cream. When…



BAM! Bug impact followed by sharp stabby pain in my lower lip. *Expletive deleted* Something just stung me! Brush at my face, OK, whatever it is is gone. Good thing there’s a stop ahead, hopefully I can get some ice and deal with it.

Roll in at the “C” store. Have Patrick take a look, oh I guess it was a bee – it’s left a stinger. Get that out. Good. On with the control. Still no It’s-It. Have to do with a Hagen-Dazs bar. No ice in the machine. Rats. Water. Hmn, beer does look kinda good, but I don’t have an opener. BFK thinks I’m making a face at him. No, I got stung. Guess it’s starting to puff up. Oh they have Benedryl. And bananas.


Take a Benedryl. Not sure why I’m worried, but the box says it’s OK for adults to take two, so I take another. Drink some water and eat the banana, which is a bit of a challenge with my larger than usual lower lip, but I manage. I’m thinking that the Angelina Jolie after a bad bar fight is not my first choice of looks for the rest of the ride, but HTFU. Then I start to feel itchy. All. Over. I make the mistake of looking. Angry red welty rash. (Is this what they call hives?) Yeah no, I don’t think I’ll be riding 80ish more miles with this, thank you very much.

Example of where the wife would come in handy. Lacking that I’m thinking of a friend to call. Then I’m starting to feel, not full spinny dizzy, but not right. And I don’t have any cold sensation, but I’m getting the shivers. Well this is all new, and it certainly doesn’t seem to be headed in the good direction. (And, I have absolutely no interest in the ice cream bar.) Yes, I would feel better if there was some medical professional involvement. Patrick calls 911.

Another store customer says his wife is a nurse, he’s not sure where she is at the moment. She does come by a bit later, takes one look at me and asks if anyone has a epipen. Nope. Sounds like she might be going to look for one but I don’t see them again.

At this point the cavalry is arriving though. First on scene is a CHP officer. I’m wondering what he brings to the party, but apparently later he does get the paramedics directed to the right location. Next are Cal Fire from Cazadero and Monte Rio Fire. They ask me some identification and condition questions, one of the guys is making notes on his glove, but warns me I’ll probably have to answer them again. I’m 42, name, address. I’m not having trouble breathing, but they give me oxygen. They check my blood pressure too, apparently that’s not a problem either. Now it’s just wait for the ambulance, they’re coming from Guerneville.

Jon, Metin, Larry, Roy and a whole bunch of others have rolled in during all the hullaballoo, and are taking care of their control stop requirements. Metin says later that he thought I was in surprisingly good spirits, all he could figure was that I was happy to not have to finish the ride.

Ambulance arrives. Yep, I’m still 42. (Pushing 43 with a short stick, if you must know.) One of them “ma’am”s me. Heh well yeah I guess I am old enough to be your mother. Still ITCHY. And the shakes. But doesn’t seem to have gotten worse.

BFK, Mike and Michael roll out. No point in anyone else DNFing.

They ask if I can walk to the ambulance. Yes. Some part of me is figuring on surviving this, and wanting to get back into my house at some point, and remembers that my keys are in my saddle bag. I make a detour by my bike, which I don’t think they are too happy about, but we sort it out and I get stowed away. I get an IV port in one arm and the blood pressure cuff on the other.

Patrick sticks around and deals with my bike. Monte Rio Fire has said they can take it and store it at their station and I can pick it up from them. He also eats my ice cream bar. He said the CHP officer didn’t quite believe he was going to and asked, Really?! You’re going to eat her ice cream? Of course! The officer must not be an ice cream person, I’m glad it didn’t go to waste.

Since the reaction seems to have stabilized, there’s no lights and sirens. They give me some IV Benedryl. That stops the shakes and knocks down the rash a few notches. And zones me out for a while. They check my blood pressure again. Then we’re at the hospital.

Roll me in, they’re very nice about making sure my things come along and that I know it’s there. Scooch off the gurney onto the hospital bed. Blood pressure again. They leave the cuff on and it periodically automatically takes it. Doctor. More Benedryl. Epinephrine. That goes in muscle, not directly into the bloodstream, and they want me to stay for a bit after they give it to me. They want me to ice my lip too, but there’s the IV tube in one arm and the blood pressure cuff on the other, which is not happy about measuring if my arm is bent. Paltry logistical dilemmas.

Woo yeah that epinephrine has a kick. Yes, let’s just let things sort themselves out, shall we? I’ve totally lost track of time. OK, this is probably about as back to normal as I’m going to get today. No shakes, rash is gone, face only slightly puffy. Call a friend for a ride. I’m still in my bike clothes, on my way out a staff member asks if it was a crash. Just my lip into the south end of a northbound bee. Pick up the epipen prescription and some Benedryl from the pharmacy.

Don’t think about propping my head up, and end up sleeping in the next day so there’s a big interval in the med dosage, I wake up with my lower lip and chin all puffed up again. It’s like one of those flip books where you can mix and match face sections. The lower third does NOT go with the upper two-thirds. I start using a big stack of pillows and set the alarm to keep on a regular schedule with the Benedryl. And ice. Between the reaction and the meds to take care of the reaction I’m pretty out of it for a few days.

But I do recover. And now I know I’m allergic. Not how I was planning to spend that afternoon and the subsequent days, but all things considered it could have been much worse. When I went to pick up my bike, the fireman said most times when he’s seen people with all the other symptoms I had, they’ve also had breathing problems. I was glad you didn’t vapor lock on us. Yeah you and me both buddy.

A friend who wasn’t able to come on the ride asks how it went. I mention the unexpected change in plans for me. I bet your lip really messed up that bee’s weekend plans too. Yes, well there’s that.

Thanks to Patrick, Emergency Personnel/First Responders from the CHP, Cal Fire in Cazadero, Monte Rio Fire, Guerneville Ambulance, and Kaiser Santa Rosa Emergency Department Staff.

Ride date: August 23, 2014

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10 Responses to 2014 SFR Old Cazadero 171k

  1. judigoldberg says:

    never a dull moment. and now an epi-pen to boot

  2. Glad you got through that, Megan. I saw you at the store and wondered how you fared after the paramedics showed. Nice that you got to complete Old Caz last weekend, and I love to read your blog, too!

  3. Pablo says:

    Get an extra epipen. You can use it for a steep grade or a close finish. Another adventure. You can always call me/us if you find yourself subject to another close encounter in the hood. By the way I noticed a helpful sign at the local gas station. It’s subject is “How to identify bugs by the splatter pattern” on the windshield … face? Might be of use. Also, it was just another excuse for getting beehind during the ride. ;))

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