I’d never done this brevet before, somehow it had never fit in my schedule. Or maybe I should say I’d never fit it in to my schedule, as the flat route never really piqued my interest, and the resulting fast times give it a somewhat testosteroney vibe that I’m not so keen on.
But it is convenient, and would fit in with the focus on doing new routes, possibly a whole series with brevets I haven’t done before, and getting an R12. Although there’s also the wanting to get more dirt time, which doesn’t really dovetail with those things. We’ll see how this all goes, there’s only so many weekends in a year.
And really, a brevet is whatever you want to make it. You can ride hard, solo or in a group, or use up every moment of the alloted time. So, despite there being a 60% chance of precipitation, I got over myself and signed up. Fortunately that number shrank to 10% as the day got closer, but the fenders were already on the bike, so I left them on.
The Duncans are kind enough to open their business for the start control, so we’re able to check in inside and use the restroom. It’s fun to see and chat with other riders. A bit overcast, but not cold.
Joe gives me a “Happy Thoughts Rock” – he said he saw it and it made him think of me. That totally makes my day – so sweet and unexpected, and the rock is so cute and cheerful I can’t help but smile. It almost doesn’t matter what happens the rest of the day! (Can it get any better?!)
There’s a few words of wisdom from RBA Bob, then SRCC President Sarah presents him with an appreciation (emphatically not retirement!) gift. We roll out at 0800, although the rain hasn’t materialized the streets are a bit damp, but everyone is well mannered. For all my humbugging, there is something about the energy of being in a pack of cyclists setting off on a big ride.
The route is described as “an unbalanced out and back”, which also amuses me. The unbalanced part that is. On the outbound leg there’s an extra loop up to Geyserville to get to the requisite distance. We navigate a few turns out of town and on to West Dry Creek, where there’s a large number of runners. I’m not sure if we’re more surprised to see all them or the other way ’round. CarlS chats with me a bit, then motors ahead to his more usual spot up toward the pointy end of the crowd.
A few undulations spread the group a bit, but the collective effort makes short work of the miles up to Yoakim Bridge. There’s a few turns here, and that, the bit of incline on Canyon and the speedsters putting the hammer down split the group. I’ve been debating how hard I want to go at this, and miss the window of opportunity to go with the front. I am wanting to push myself, but not get totally shelled and limp to Napa and back.
Anyway, it’s a smaller group now, but we’re still behind a tandem piloted by theAmazingCraig Robertson. This will work. Whee! into Geyserville and out on to 128, picking up a rider here and there. A rider who’s with the tandem notices the front tire on the tandem is low, they stop to fix it. Not sure about the etiquette, the rest of us roll on.
There’s some confusion at Red Winery Road – nope, stay on 128. Yogy says there are trails at Skyline Park (the turnaround) and asks if I’m interested in checking them out. “You could ride them on that bike!” (I’m on the Viaje.)
One thing and another it sorts down to me, Kaley (on her beautiful Bob Jackson) and Cyndi, on her first brevet! Didn’t know Cyndi before, but it turns out we have a mutual cycling friend. They’d ridden the Old Caz Grasshopper course the weekend before, and he’d somehow neglected to mention the creek crossing. We had a good laugh about that. We get a nice paceline going. Definitely another highlight for the day, rolling smoothly through wine country with two strong women.
For a while it seems we’re just on our own ride, then Cyndi needs to stop in Calistoga, and a wave catches us. Get in a with a group that includes Kamran and Joyce Chang. I’m surprised we haven’t seen the tandem again. It’s not quite as smooth, but nice having more folks to share the work as we continue on 128 then jog over to Silverado Trail. Pick up DougM on his fixie, he’s a little burnt that his teammates left him when he got a flat.
OK, time for some navigating. Ah, here’s some reverse of the Knoxville course. Why does Vichy sound familiar? Pull my route sheet out again. Yes, we do turn here, almost immediately after a turn at a stoplight. A few folks had gotten ahead, we yell but they don’t hear us. No one’s up to chase them down. Well, they’ll figure it out.
More turns, through some country neighborhoods. OOO, pretty red Farmall, don’t get a picture. Maybe on the way back. Do get the bicycle shed though.
Oh there’s some people heading back (they’d actually challenged the control – that is, arrived before the opening time!) The only one I recognize for sure is the flying Belgian, MarC Moons. “He’s such a nice guy,” Kamran says. Yes, super sweet.
A foursome, this time I recognize Max and CarlS. Then a bigger group, lampreying the Sarah and Paul tandem. Then a vision, could that be Amy riding solo? She’d been putting down fast times on the hard NorCal doubles a few years back but I hadn’t seen her in a while. (I did catch up with her at the finish, yes it was her and she had disappeared for a bit, then got back to riding but not doing the doubles thing. Come to her senses, some might say.)
And more riders heading back to Healdsburg – that is fun about an out-and-back. And soon we’re at the turn around. Bob, Greg and some other friendly volunteers are there with lunch. I’m not sure how a burrito will sit with a potentially zippy return to Healdsburg, but not everyone has the same qualms, in fact they seem to be quite popular. I hit the bathroom, have a few snacks and refill my bottles.
The group we rolled in with has scattered a bit, Kayley’s the first ready to go and ends up rolling out. I was surprised to see BrianK when we came in, and he’s still there, flat issues I think, but sounds interested in rolling together. Cyndi is riding back with a friend, Joyce is still working on a burrito… Jason comes in and asks if there’s time for him to pound a couple of Cokes. Well, theAmazingCraig tandem has come in and is ready to go now… dilemmas. Um yeah I thought about waiting. Really, I did. DougM and Del also jump on the Robertson train back to Healdsburg.
It’s retrace our steps, minus the loop around Geyserville. Again fun to see folks heading the opposite direction. Some racer guy goes by when were back on to Silverado Trail, DougM can’t help himself and jumps on. When we catch up with him later (Doug, that is) he drops some name that apparently we’re supposed to know has ridden in the Tour de France.
Later in the day, more trafficky now and I’m sorta ready to be done with this ride. Just keep following. Happy Thoughts! Right, I’ve got a smile in my pocket. Make sure to keep up on any incline, cause if the tandem gets a gap going they’ll be gone on the downhill. Whew, back in Sonoma County. That was the big one. Pick up some other riders along the way. Good times.
Sweep around to Jimtown and heading to Healdsburg on the final stretch now. Hey maybe we’ll be done by 3. (er, 1500) Oh there’s CarlA headed back out for Gabby. Silly. Remember to turn on Grove. Ugh somehow making the turn and there are railroad tracks I ease up just a bit and poof the group is pulling away. Oh well I know the way from here it’s fine, oh jeez all that way and now you’re just going to lie down? Ugh OK push then, hmn not so much happening. Well maybe they are getting closer, or at least not getting further away.
Ah there’s a traffic light coming up. For once I wish for red. Oh they did have to stop. It’s cheap but I’ll take it – it turns green just as I’m rolling up so I’m able to reassimilate, and I make sure to stick close for the remaining few blocks to the Bear.
Again there’s cheery volunteers to welcome us in and get our brevet cards. 1455! That means This brevet was completed in: 6 hours and 55 minutes! New PR for a 200k. Probably by a pretty big chunk, too. Not that I’ve been interested enough to look it up and find out, but not a bad day’s outing. There’s a nice crowd still on the patio as well, I get changed, get some food and hang out and enjoy the company.
Ride date: January 17, 2015