December 2014 was the first offering of the Uvas Gold 200k as a brevet on the SFR calendar. It was billed as a nice, flat end-of-season wrap up ride. There was some back pedaling about the “flat” claim, but I went ahead and signed up anyway, intrigued by the chance to check out a new route.
The forecast was a little unsettled, but the percentage chances of rain decreased as the weekend approached, and it’s dry when it’s time to leave my house, so I do. There’s a few squalls necessitating fast wipe setting as I head south, but I keep thinking happy thoughts. It’s a light but steady drizzle when I get to Fremont. Er, heavy mist.
OK, I am a little early, but not THAT early. Drive around a little more and find the start on the other side of the BART station. Check in and get my brevet card, then put off actually getting out until the last possible moment. The precipitation does seem to be letting up though, and by the time we take the oath and roll out it’s pretty much stopped. Still overcast though, and the streets are damp.
Roll out through suburbia, the group gets split up by the stop lights. Warming up as we ride, people are shedding their rain jackets, a couple last sputters make me somewhat glad I haven’t yet. A few of the roads were on the Tandemonium route, and some new stuff, or not seeming familiar and then oh hey this is on the DMD route but going the other way.
Still in a nice group, pleasant chatting helping the miles tick along and oh hey, it’s Deb Banks, enabler of the elderly! She asks me about my recent trip to Cuba, which of course there’s lots to say, but I probably should be doing more breathing than talking, as now we’re heading up Mt. Hamilton. I’ve never been up this section from Alum Rock Ave on a bike. Not too steep, great company of Deb, Drew and Patrick, hills greening up after some rain, and although it hasn’t cleared completely, there is a bit of a view.
Alas, I’m starting to feel my lack of riding over the previous month. Urgh. Can’t keep the pace. Oh and I’m probably overheating a bit too. Yeah I think it’s safe to say the rain is over for today and I don’t need to have this jacket on anymore. Stop by the Grandview and take it off.
Carry on, Andrea and Mike catch us and we roll in to the info control at Grant Ranch together. There’s a bit of a crowd, we get the question answered and get back on course. There are still clouds obscuring the summit and observatories.
Around the corner onto Quimby, it’s the first time going this direction on a bike here too. A small climb – ooo! Oreo-cookie-cows – and then what might be a screaming descent, except the pavement is still pretty wet. And there are a couple of pretty sharp turns that would be good to not overshoot.
Descent safely navigated and back into the ‘burbs. Wend our way through some neighborhoods, a bit of time on some busier roads (with bike lanes or good shoulders for the most part) and then back to more rural feel on San Felipe Road. Changing cast of characters through this section, Vidas laughs at my fender envy of his very pretty ones. Then again I’m on my own pace when the pitch goes up a bit. The road wends its way up a narrow canyon; I enjoy my extra time in the beauty.
Bunch up a bit at the info control, then spread out again onto Metcalf Road. Although I know we’re not far from the Bay Area as the crow flies, it feels pretty remote. These remaining rural pockets never cease to amaze me.
Great barn. Cluster of houses – I wonder what their address is, and where they’d go for groceries. Orange speckles all over a hillside backyard – must shoot clays off the back porch. Glad they’re not at it today. Jet engine testing facility. Climbing. Motocross park at the top of the hill. Winding chute back down to the 101 corridor. Whee! Oh this is probably what people are talking about when they grumble about climbing Metcalf.
On to the bike path and heading south. RC airplane field. Golf Course. Water and Restrooms at the end of the path. Other folks are stopped here too, Gilroy is still 15 miles away, sounds like some didn’t quite realize how long it would be between places to get food.
Back onto regular streets, though some neighborhoods, then into agricultural suburbia. Some still remains as farm production, some is vineyards – we’re on the wine trail for a while. There are ranchettes – mix of horse properties and those that want a big house on a chunk of land. Harvey Bear and Coe are off to the East. Not today.
Patrick patiently pulls me along. We briefly discuss a sit down lunch somewhere, but oh Safeway is the control, I don’t think I’m up for two stops. I’m sure I can find something to eat at Safeway. Patrick is agreeable.
We pass the Outlet Mall. A few others have joined us, someone jokes about going Christmas shopping. Even though I’ve never been there, it feels like someone has moved the Gilroy Safeway. At least it’s further away than I want it to be. But eventually we get there.
And yay! There’s still Chicken Noodle Soup! Pita chips sound really good too. I find a bag that’s about 3x what I’m looking for. I ask a clerk if there’s a small one. He says that is the small size. OK.
Quite a few other randos are there when we arrive, but it’s mostly cleared out a bit by the time we’re ready to saddle up. I find my rear tire has gone flat. Boo. After all the time we’ve been stopped now I see that. Oh well, I suppose it could have been at a worse place. I fix it and away we go.
Back out in to the countryside. At mile 78.1 on to the brevet’s namesake Uvas Road. Some green here as well, but still lots of shoreline showing in the reservoir. Late afternoon shadows, nice light, but I’m kinda ready to be done. Having some company helps keep me going.
Back over a ridge and drop down to the 101 corridor again. Retrace part of the outbound on the Coyote Creek Trail, then the fake-out turn on to Metcalf Road but take the bike path cutoff going north before the climb starts. Back into suburbia now, and somehow our numbers have grown.
Sunset from Silver Creek Valley Road. It’s a hill. My legs are not amused. OK, just keep making circles. Eventually I get to the top, and at least there’s a glorious swoopy descent. Oh I hope I wasn’t supposed to turn on any of those streets I just went jamming past. No, I see Patrick ahead in the left turn lane at San Felipe Road. Whew. And it’s a control. Nice to stop and eat and chat with people.
But no it’s not the finish control. It’s dark now. Lights and reflective gear time. Then a surreal slog back to Fremont. Not quite expressways, but two lanes each way and a bike lane, pretty flat and Patrick is smelling the barn and doesn’t seem to be hearing my whimpers. I can’t decide if having to stop at the stop lights makes it better or worse.
I start to see Fremont Peak. Well, not the peak itself, it’s dark out, but lights on towers. Turns out it’s not actually Fremont Peak, but nearby, and it’s getting closer. Ugh, I am so ready for this to be done.
I’m getting gapped on any kind of climb, but somehow keep managing to get back with the group, then miss a light. Fortunately I still have the company of Jack, the SFR Conspicuity Czar, and after he critiques my gear we have a very pleasant time chatting. After a bit I realize I haven’t seen any tail lights, and ask if we’re on course. Jack says he’s made a career of following others. Oh, now you tell me! I give myself a mental kick, anticipating (very unwelcome) bonus miles, but at the next intersection I see that we are on Paseo Padre Parkway, which is the street the finish is on. ohthankyouthankyouthankyou to who/whatever it is that looks after wayward randos.
Chug away the last few miles and roll in to a very welcome finish at the Peet’s. As always, a great volunteer crew, with smiles and congratulations helped make it seem worthwhile. A hot drink, snack and visiting with other riders were quite restorative as well. There were definitely moments I was wondering what I’d been thinking to be out there at all, but at the end of the day I was glad I’d done it.