Lorri and I had been talking about riding together for I don’t know how many years now, and it finally worked out that we were both able to do the inaugural running of the Bike Monkey Hermano, a fundraiser for a local rider’s brother who suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a degenerative autoimmune arthritic condition.
I’d actually done all of the route before, just not in this particular configuration, but it was all new for Lorri, so besides finally getting to spend time on bikes together I was looking forward to her getting to experience some north of the Bay awesomeness. On her brand new super purty SyCip graventure touring bike, no less! And I got to hitch a ride in the SavvyBikeMobile! Good times.
When we first dropped in to the Anderson Valley there was a lingering foglet that made me wonder if perhaps a wardrobe adjustment was in order, but it had dissipated by the time we parked at the Fairgrounds. Looks like a pretty typical cast of characters. There’s Mr. Elevengear, Rick Pepper, representing with the Two Tone Siren, George Hope, the NorCal crew, etc. and oh hey there’s Julie!
The start is over at the High School. As we’re assembling, a jacked-up pick up truck roars by, the driver gives us a middle finger salute and yells, “You’re assholes!” Geez. No need to be so hostile, it’s not our fault you’re short and/or have a small man area. Or is it that the sight of a bunch of fit men in tight outfits gives you a warm tingling feeling that you’re not comfortable with?
But, speaking of warm and tingly, where was I? Oh yeah, Carlos gives us the benediction, then Jonathan reads a letter from David, his brother, the beneficiary of today’s ride. BANG! What, is someone shooting at us now? No, just a tire blow out.
And… we’re off. It’s actually not as fast as I’m expecting (well duh we do have 70 miles and 10k of climbing ahead of us and the sprint would be at the finish) but once we hit the rude hill (which is not far out of the gate) it’s as if the front has hit the elevator button. Well that, the twists in the road and all the trees they are soon out of sight.
There are still other folks around, but I make a conscious effort to just go my own pace. WAY too soon to be blowing myself up.
A couple of little yappy dogs come out to the end of their driveway and bark at us. Heh. Dog sprint! Well it wouldn’t be much of one up the hill. Fortunately they don’t actually chase.
I thought Lorri was just behind me, but when the steepness abates a bit I look around and realize she isn’t. Doh! We didn’t make a plan for if we got separated. I ease up a bit but keep going. I don’t think she’s ahead of me, but what if she is? Well, what would make sense to do? Let’s just say we said we’d meet at the first rest stop. Alrighty then.
Car back. Oh, another SAG vehicle. The irony. Almost all the traffic today is the SAGs. If you came out here any other day you might not see any cars at all.
At this point it’s thinned out considerably, I see another rider here and there but mostly by myself. Here comes the mental jukebox.
Won’t you come and put it down on me?
yeah, I know. Maroon 5, should I really be admitting to that on the record?
Yeah, you show me good loving
Make it alright
Need a little sweetness in my life
… Won’t you come and put it down on me?
… just wanna be deep in your love
um er, just what is he really talking about there?!
It turns in to a mashup with the circus music jingle. awe.some.
Wow! Here’s the big swoopy descent already! WHEEE!!! That’s quite restorative. Bridge. And… we now resume the regularly scheduled climbing portion of the program.
Pop out of the trees to the top of the world sweeper. Lauren is driving SAG and stops at the top to take a picture of the view with the sign with David’s name on it.
Jen catches up with me. Well, I didn’t know it was Jen, but she said I looked familiar and we figured out we’d both done Murphy’s Gravel Gauntlet rides and we introduced ourselves and had a great chat until the first rest stop.
Where, sadly, there were no cookies. But one of the SAG drivers had bananas, which hit the spot, and confirmed that Lorri and Julie were on their way. I hung out and waited for them, Jen continued on.
There was another rider also waiting for a friend. He said something about learning a new word – Hermano. He seemed serious. Maybe I should have asked.
Chatted with the guys working the rest stop. Didn’t sound like they were cyclists particularly, but one of their teachers was the volunteer coordinator, so that’s how they ended up on the side of the road on a Sunday afternoon. Lorri asked what school. I’m glad she did, I was thinking what high school, turns out they are JC students. Oops.
Bit of rolling along the ridge, then a descent with signs claiming 16% and some volunteers warning us about something, the turn maybe? neither of which seemed to be that remarkable. Still in the trees and then the open drop toward the coast. Oh, someone coming up! Don’t usually see riders going the other way. Have to try it that direction some day. Deer on the side of the road. Where there’s one there’s probably more. You just stay there now, don’t be darting out in front of me… Thank you.
Gusty crosswind as we head towards Highway 1, then becomes a tailwind as we make the left turn and head south. The sun is out, not a cloud in the sky, but the air temperature is still cool. Cows, lighthouse, cemetery, no one challenges me for the Pt. Arena city limit sign. Easter yard decorations – giant egg-shaped cut outs hanging from the tree that are colored on one side (like dyed Easter eggs) and white and yolk (like the inside of a hardboiled egg) on the other. The buoy house!
Next left turn on to Riverside Drive. Lorri has been talking about the zebras. (Actually someone else at the start had said something about zebras too. Hmn. News to me.) They used to be right here. A little further up the road there’s a sign for B. Bryan Preserve and yeah, it has zebras and giraffes on it. Then in the next field, ZEEBA! Julie thinks she sees a giraffe but we miss it. Sheep on the other side of the field. Bit further down the road and I happen to look back and YES, GIRAFFES! How cool is that?!
And yay we get to climb again! There’s been a few wildflowers here and there, but not as many as I’d been thinking there might be. Still very pretty.
Lauren goes by in the truck. Julie and I are good, Lorri asks for a banana so she stops. By this point we’ve pretty sure we’re lanterne rouge. Make sure they save some tri-tip and beer for us! Oh don’t worry, there will be plenty.
Our trio stretches and regroups as the grade waxes and wanes. Lorri admires the cheery yellow-flowered shrubs lining the road. I have to tell her it’s Scotch Broom. Non-native and very invasive. She still thinks it’s pretty.
Still not to the gravel yet, but Julie buzzes off onto a little singletrack alongside the road. Later I ask how she and Bruce, her husband, met. It’s a long story… Uh yeah, we got some time. Turns out she had to import him from Australia. Funny, I heard a friend of a friend has one from UK. Maybe I should look in to that. Ugh, sounds like a lot of work though.
There’s some coins on the road, I almost stop, but we’re on a pretty steep hill (Lorri’s GPS says 42%) and I’m kinda liking the fact that I’m having forward momentum. She has a great story about an ex who would always stop for change. One time when they were touring he found a shower of silver dollars that was enough to pay for a night at the hostel! Later there’s 3 large unused zipties that I’m also somewhat tempted by.
We’re getting close to Fish Rock Road, but I don’t know exactly how much further it is. Lorri and Julie both have GPS units, one is saying 25 miles to the turn, the other is saying 45. Do we even have 45 miles left to go? I don’t have a widget, but I KNOW it’s not that far to the turn. There’s a big arrow at the turn at Fish Rock, but they’re still a bit dubious. Well, this is Fish Rock Road, which is what we take to get back to Boonville. I’m turning here. Suit yourself.
Super fun descent, and then there’s food at the bottom! More JC kids – here we find out that they are getting extra credit – and I’m just a good person, one of them says in response to why they are out here/don’t they have anything better to do on a Sunday afternoon? One of them is the Bike Monkey intern. OK, you have a valid excuse. Er, reason.
The PB&J is tasty, although we’re going to be climbing from here. Well, can’t let that last half go to waste. There actually is still bacon, but I’m not interested. Yeah, I know, wtf?
Away we go up the hill. Wow, I don’t remember Fish Rock being so smooth. It’s not quite the hero dirt it was the first time I rode it, but not as dry as it was in June last year. All the trees get in the way of the views, but keep it pleasantly shady.
OK yeah the washboard on the descent is still here. No snow over on Snow Mountain. The curlicue turn sign is getting a little overgrown, but they have volunteers stationed to warn us. Looked like I woke one up from napping.
It’s gonna be a longer day than I’d been thinking it was going to be, but it’s beautiful weather and scenery and fun riding with Lorri and Julie. We’re now for sure lanterne rouge. The sweep driver is very patient. We find out later he’s David and Jonathan’s Dad. I get some water from him. I’d had an empty bottle at the last stop, and they thought they were out of water. By the time they found some I’d forgotten about the empty. I probably would have been fine with the one, but since he was there, what the heck.
I thank him for being out there. You probably weren’t expecting to still be out here. Rueful chuckle. They told me I’d be done by now, but I didn’t believe them. This is about what I was figuring on.
Unfortunately I then got a bit exuberant on a downhill catching up to Julie and Lorri and why yes that is the sad sad sound of air escaping its proper confines within my rear tube. The sweep truck had a floor pump but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work so just used my on board provisions for the repair.
I’d forgotten there was some going back and forth between gravel and pavement. The big vistas are as awesome as ever, Julie Andrews’ elusiveness not withstanding. Lorri graces us with a few bars, and gets one of the songs stuck in her head.
And, yes, there is a third aid station. Apparently Julie (not Andrews) wants to be a little more presentable and has a little swerve, Don’t crash zipping up! from one of the volunteers. There are cookies here, from Schat’s! (We hear later that the ones we missed were just Costco cookies.) So the joke for the guys here was I Schat myself. They are super tasty. The cookies.
Back on pavement for reals this time, super fun descent, Mailliard Redwoods, back out of the trees to the Meadow, and another smile inducing rip down to 128.
Cruise back over the bumps toward Boonville, cars with bikes are headed east on 128 and honk and wave to us. Last up and there’s the truck-n-cheese and it’s downhill and flat in to town.
Only a few volunteers and Bike Monkey people still around, but still plenty of tri-tip and beer. Everyone was super sweet – at the finish and all along the way – even though we were lanterne rouge. Really fun day on the bike!