Classic SRCC Memorial Day Weekend ride:
Note 7:30 official start time. Earlier starters allowed. Registration Required.
Another extremely hilly and challenging ride. A good final tune-up for those training for the Terrible Two or just as a stand alone epic ride. Major climbs (and descents) on Hwy 128, Mountain View, Annapolis, and Skaggs Springs.
Photo Tour Version, or continue on for the blah blah blah:
I’d done this ride once before, in 2010, and quite enjoyed it, but somehow it had never fit in my schedule again until this year. The highlight that year had been meeting and riding with Becky Berka, although at the time I didn’t know she was a Princess, much less The Princess. (I have since been enlightened.)
Mountain View had been new to me and quite scenic, so I was looking forward to seeing that again in particular. On the previous excursion I’d done the Coastal route – spellcheck suggests rout – this time I decided to give the Ridge route a go, mostly since I’d been on part of the south end of Old Stage Road on an SFR route and was sorta curious where the rest of it went. (Ah the pathological wondering about where does THAT go?)
Am I wrong? playing in my head when I woke up. As always, made me wonder if it (or whatever song it happens to be) had been going around in there all night. Lattice of coincidence, it was on the radio when I turned on the car. It continued to play in my head the rest of the day, although later it started trading off with One Less Problem Without You.
Picked up Pauli and headed to Lake Sonoma, he’d been doing a lot of riding this year, preparing for a go at two laps (back-to-back) of the Mount Tam Double.
There was a group of riders just leaving as we got to the Visitors’ Center, and a few more still in the parking lot. Greg, the ride organizer, was there as well, and took drop bags for Pt. Arena. I hadn’t really planned to ride with anyone, so I let Pauli know that if the others rolled out before I was ready and he wanted to go, that’s fine. Which is what ended up happening.
I was a few minutes behind my target start time of 0630, but not bad. As I’m about to exit the parking lot I go to take a picture and realize I’d left my camera in the car. Fat lot of good it will do me there. I go back and get it. Take two.
Beautiful early morning sun was lighting up the dam and starting to touch the vineyards as I rolled out and over Dutcher Creek Road. Cloverdale comes soon when you start at Lake Sonoma (as compared to starting from San Francisco.) The downside of earliness is that Pick’s wasn’t open yet, so no root beer float.
Back on the plus side, 128 was still quiet, and I enjoyed the unfolding day. On the way up one of the first climbs I happened to look to my right at a spot I never had before and caught a splendid view. Amazing how there’s always something new to see, even on roads you’ve been on before.
Things were starting to turn to California golden, but there were still some buckeye in bloom. A row of flags decorated a fence line, too bad they were all pointing toward me. Somehow even the headwind didn’t get me down.
Greg passed me just before Boonville, and stopped in town. I chatted with him a bit, and got some water, and some snacks at the store. Then it was off to Mountain View. Passed the Airport, and remembered that soon the steepies will be coming. Oh yes, that’s right. Oh and the refuse disposal area. Nice.
Chugged along in my own little world, climbing up through the trees. Started to hear voices. Loud ones. WTH? I’m trying to enjoy a nice peaceful quiet bike ride here. They get closer. “She’s trying to ignore us.” It was MarC, Carl and Jady from the 0730 start. A bit more heckling and they motored past. Here and there more from the official start trickled past.
Out of the trees. Oh, monkey flower in bloom! Whee, great descent. And a great view, oh what to do what to do after a bit of debate I did stop and take some pictures. So beautiful!
More climbing then the descent to the Coast. The vegetation changed as did the climate. Cooler, with bits of clouds, but not completely socked in. The run South on Highway 1 to Point Arena was quite a hoot with a steaming tail wind.
Pulled in to the rest stop area and was surprised to see Carl still there. He’d had two flats that he’d had to fix. A handful to others were milling about as well, eating, comparing notes on the first half and gearing up for the second. Leland rolled in, sporting bright white shoes. Must have been brand new. Wait, it wasn’t after Memorial Day yet, he shouldn’t have been wearing those!
It was hard to turn away from that tail wind, but I wanted to check out the ridge, and I told myself I’d be getting away from traffic as further justification. Some entertaining signs on the way out of Pt. Arena, and a field of cute fuzzy sheep that I was chatting with when Leland rolled past. He laughed (with me, right?), saying “you’re having too much fun.”
Which I really was quite enjoying myself. Perhaps even disproportionally so.
Even though I’d never ridden it, I had this thought that it would be pretty much one climb up and then flat(ish) along the top. But, you know what they say about expectations… There were actually several climbs, and it was more rollery than flattish along the top of the ridge. It was beautiful though, and still some wildflowers in bloom. Oh and another refuse disposal area.
Another rider from the official start caught up with me toward the end of the ridge. It sounded like the pace had been fast from the get-go – no warm up – and that had put him in a bit of hurt. We rode together down to the ocean and through Sea Ranch.
Scot was there as SAG at the turn inland onto Annapolis Road. It was nice to see another friendly face. Heading inland I thought of Matt, it had been around here that he’d passed us the other time I’d done the ride. I had seen a sign for ice cream at the turn, and thought if I could see the shop from the road I would go. Ice cream sounded really good. I couldn’t see the shop, and did not quite have the energy for unknown bonus miles, so just continued on the standard route.
Annapolis Road went on a bit longer than my recollection of it did, but there was plenty of spectacular scenery to keep me entertained. And another refuse disposal area. I thought maybe the ride should be renamed “Tour de Dumps.”
Tony and Greg were SAG after the turn at the bridge, and there were a handful of riders who I think had done the coastal route. I saw them on and off the rest of the route, mostly at the SAG stops. In between we all rode our own paces.
Skaggs is one of those roads that whichever way I’m going on it I always kinda think it might be better going the other way. Well, each way has its particular charms. I got a bit distracted by wildflowers along the way. Then the views. Then trying to remember how many climbs people say there are. Oh well I couldn’t keep track of how many I’d done anyway, so what did it matter. There always seemed to be another.
The lake appeared in the distance. Tiny lake. I took out my camera for pictures. A couple of other riders were in the vicinity at the time. One asked, “you have a camera?” Yes. “You brought a camera?” Um, yes. He seemed to think that was noteworthy, and told the other guy, “she brought a camera on this ride.”
Oh hey, maybe I could finish in 12 hours. Not that anyone is counting. Pick up the pace a bit. Then finally, descending, and the last turn, and the straightaway in the parking lot and yep I’ll call that 12 hours.
Greg and some other riders were there, it’s always nice to get a bit of a welcome. And a recommendation of where to get a root beer float in Healdsburg! Which I did!!!
It was tough, and I definitely felt it, but it was a crazy amazing wonderful day on the bike. I rode solo most of the day, but in that Bubble of Happy that sometimes happens on these silly things.