Another new (to me) route! Although it’s been part of the SFR repertoire for a while, I’d never made it out on the Winters brevet before. Not a San Francisco start, which probably contributed to the somewhat smaller turn out. Pity, since it’s a lovely route.
Unfortunately the RBAoA was a bit under the weather so didn’t ride, but he was there at the start to give us the last-minute advice and administer the oath.
And… away we went. Into the moist grey overcast morning. This was going to be my longest ride since the 1000k, which had been my Big Goal Ride for the year. Since I’d finished that and felt pretty good, I didn’t feel any big motivation to go hard on this ride. I wanted to finish, check the R box for the month, but other than that the primary objective was to have a fun day. OK, and I was kinda curious if I could still ride a bike.
Chatted with a rotating cast of characters as we rolled out through the Rodeo/Hercules refineries. Not quite beautiful – at least that’s not a word most people would use for them, but certainly visually fascinating.
Foggy blowy over the Carquinez Bridge for the first time on a bike, there’s a nice wide pathway. Resume a conversation started earlier with Steffen, and we end up riding together the rest of the day, which is PERFECT for the primary objective, as he’s super chill, never seems to be concerned with time and is always up for experience enhancing opportunities.
Roll past the Maritime Academy (one of only seven degree-granting maritime academies in the United States and the only one on the West Coast) and through Vallejo. Note to self: DAIRY QUEEN! In fairly short order we’re out on the very country feeling Lake Herman Road. Still grey foggy, and in a few spots with trees the moisture has collected enough to fall like rain.
Out on to Lopes Road, which parallels Highway 680 for a while. The clouds begin to part and there’s some dramatical sun peeking through moments. Also along for the ride are Ethan, who Steffan knows from work and had gotten out on other events, and Ethan’s friend Carlos, on his first 200k (and longest ride to date!) Rando trickle down… Although I assumed Steffan had been the instigator, it turned out he hadn’t even known the others would be riding until seeing them at the start.
First control at The Best Tower Market Ever, the cashier tries to talk me in to some fig bars as an impulse buy at the register. Still a pretty good concentration of riders – some there already and rolling again, others come in while we’re taking care of control duties. There’s a bit more of the stick – this is a lollypop route – and then we cross over Highway 80 and start around the lolly – or is it the pop? – on the way to Winters.
Through a bit of business park, some no-man’s land along the Interstate, outskirts of Fairfield then back to rural on the aptly named Pleasants Valley Road. Oh, I think this is on the Knoxville Double Century, but the other direction, and it was dark. Neat to see it in daylight! Putah Creek Road, Steffen mentions a swimming hole, but it seems a little early for that, we keep rolling to the lunch stop in Winters. Looks like a cute downtown, lunch is set up in the park.
Scott is doing a masterful job of keeping the flies off the sausages and chili. OH AND PIE!!!! Very nice. It’s warming up, and the swimming hole is sounding better. Steffen finds a description that includes ROPE SWING but even that can’t entice the rest of us to back track, especially since it sounds like there is other potential water ahead on the route.
Head out on to 128. A recumbent quadcycle passes us at a pretty good clip. Some sort of electric assist going on there… One impatient sports car, otherwise not too bad. Evidence of wild fire on the hills. We stop and look at the Lake Berryessa dam and the glory hole (teehee). Climbing in the sun. Glad it’s not any warmer. Start to feel a slight breeze – oh am I near the top? Fun descent then rolling through beautiful oak woodlands.
Welcome respite of a shady deck and cold fluids at Lake Berryessa Market. Rob had warned us about the prices, and admonished us to be patient and nice. We are. Chit chat with some other riders, everyone seems to be (for the most part anyway) enjoying the day.
Eventually get going again, more rolling through oaks and then through the Wooden Valley – another section in reverse from Knoxville. Oh huh. We aren’t going by Lake Hennessey. This is very pretty though. BONUS GOATS! Signs for the corn maze again. Tower Mart! No, not the Tower Mart we are looking for. Lots of cool mailboxes, none of which I manage to get a photo of though.
Intersection. Steffen’s cue sheet says turn right. Mine says left. Tie breaker? The version Ethan has also says left. But that would take us back out the way we went this morning… After a bit of debate we go right. Which ends up being also correct. We hear at the (correct/Best Ever) Tower Mart control that some folks got some bonus miles that they are not too happy about.
Back on the stick – of the lollypop route, that is. Lopes Road, Lake Herman Road, feeling very different in full sun now. Oh hey, there IS a Lake Herman. What are the odds of that? We’ll get a water feature stop after all. We pull in. Nice little park. There’s someone fishing, and a group of kids and a goose.
The sun glints on the water. What is it about water? Obviously we need it to live, but there’s some other draw. Maybe the fact that so much of our body is made up of it, like to like, soothed by that feels like home sensation. From The Research Department: 50 to 75% by weight. Yeah that thing in Tank Girl that sucks the water out of people must not be very efficient.
The kids may have been feeding the goose, but it’s devolved into that sorta playing/sorta teasing thing the neither the goose nor the kids seem to be able to leave. The goose charges one of the kids. Squeals and a bit of distance given to the goose. For a while. Don’t see exactly what happens next, but then one of the kids is running away, with the goose latched on to her shorts. She’s screaming pretty good. Steffan manages to get the goose to let go and shoos it off. The kids decide to go and see what the fisherman is up to.
OK, back on the bikes. ROB!!! WTH with this headwind already?! Oh dump trucks. Ah, right, a quarry. Yeah, I guess I did see that on the way out. Back in the suburbs and OH YEAH DAIRY QUEEN! I announce that I am stopping. Steffen joins me, Ethan and Carlos keep rolling. Vanilla cone with the chocolate dip FTW. Through Vallejo, Steffen wants to have beer for the finish, we stop at a liquor store. Yes, a Revelate seat bag *CAN* hold a six-pack. I have learned my new thing for the day.
Carquinez Bridge crossing with bright sun feeling very different from this morning’s fog fest. Great views of the Bay and the Maritime Academy’s training ship. Oh and this restaurant is very busy now.
Fascinating geometry of the refineries again, and I imagine the controls would be really interesting, but more danger potential than water. And someone I chatted with who was applying at the district the same time I was said he could just never get the smells out of his head.
Ah, for future reference there are stores closer to the finish. And there did turn out to already be beer at the finish, but better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it! Hang around for a bit. Ann rolls in, good to see her on the bike. And BFK and his better half, Amy, on her first 200k! Good times. And somehow not all the pie had been eaten a lunch. I can help with that!
Ride date: October 10, 2015