2016 SRCC Healdsburg to Napa 200k

SRCC’s first 200k brevet of the year – AKA the Napa speed run. Last year I’d had no particular intentions, but managed a good time with the help of Captain Craig (Robertson, with his tandem), Kaley and Cyndi. This year I’m having a go at an R60 (did I just put that in writing?) and feeling pretty out of shape. And there’s rain in the forecast. Yeah, I know. What am I thinking?

I’d had a horrible apocalyptic dream just before waking up, which didn’t seem like a good sign, and then there were on and off showers on the drive up to Healdsburg – ugh, really? No, wait, go ahead and do it now, get it over with. There’s a bit of a break for check in and the start, with some nice morning color in the sky. As always, it was fun to see all the familiar rando faces. RBA Bob has the usual benediction, then Bob Owen, the newly elected SRCC Board President has some nice recognition remarks for Sarah Schroer, who just completed a two-year term in that office.

Somewhere between 50-60 riders, not a bad turnout considering the forecast. The roll out is fairly sedate, and even when the MacKenzie-Schroer machine drifts to the front there doesn’t seem to be a ramp up in pace. I’m figuring they’ll be off with the super speedsters and I’ll never see them again. Hmn, were there any other tandems? Oh right! There’s the Dixons! They are soo cute! Way bonus points for the accents. And they have the most lovely fenders. And, I find out later, a RAAM record.

No one seems to be in a rush though, and the giant conga line rolls up West Dry Creek road behind the tandems. Eventually Jady can’t stand it any more and makes the jump to warp speed. A couple of folks follow – hope they know what they are getting themselves into! Another handful filters off the front, the rest of us hunker in for the duration.

I chat a bit here and there, confess my lack of ridingness to CarlS – which he scoffs at, commiserate about the moistness with BFK, mostly try to conserve my energy and not get mixed up with any other riders in the pack. It’s a bit disorganized due to the road conditions – people trying to avoid debris and spray from the person/people ahead of them.

The group accordions out a bit on the climb up Canyon. No point expending any extra energy, just have to crest with the tandems. Roll down into Geyserville and consolidate onto 128. Cross the River, long time since it’s been running that high – and ooo! Heron! Around the bend and a group of vineyard workers, out in their rain gear, pruning.

Smooth smooth smooth… just stay on the wheel in front of you. I’m fairly close to the front of the train, which makes it easier, but it still takes some attention. I can hear people chatting, but I’m happy in my own little world. Shower, dry, road spray, someone on the side of the road with a flat, don’t forget to eat and drink, Joe pulls off with a flat, ew cow stink, SO beautiful green!

OK, here’s the Big Hill to the county line. Again, just keep pace with the tandem. Fortunately the descent isn’t any longer or more technical, and I’m able to stick on Paul and Sarah’s wheel. Not sure I would have been able to jump on if I’d been ahead – I think the speed sign flashed 35. I enjoy being first wheel til a bit past Calistoga when the Dixons and CarlS rejoin us. Jonathan asks to come in, I’ve gone in my own little world again and it takes me a moment to register what he said. Oh yes, of course. Carl teases me about still being on the pace line – not riding. ha.

Cut over to Silverado Trail and head south. Pass a vineyard with sprinklers on. There’s a dam to the east I’ve noticed before, today it’s spilling. We see a handful of riders ahead and eventually catch them.

The last bit before the turn around has more turns and some little rollers, which spreads the group out a bit, but at least half the riders, if not more, arrive within minutes of each other. Jady is still there, with his badboy Cheshire cat smile, laughing at my grimy face. Yep, that’s wheelsuck, some of us need a pull. RBA Bob is there with a great lunch spread under a tent, and the Ellises are checking in riders and signing brevet cards.

Restroom stop, snack, fill bottles. EricW and BFK are ready to roll, yeah the tandems will catch us but I’m feeling like I’m going to get chilled if I stand around waiting, so what the heck. Metin and Roy also join us. Retrace our steps. See inbound riders, mostly pairs or solo, no other big groups.

I’m fine steady state on the flats, but not so much on any sort of incline. The guys mostly notice and hold up a bit, one longer one they’re chit-chatting and start to get away. I make a distress noise. Metin asks what’s wrong. Um… I’m slow…

We start to wonder when we’ll get caught. RandoMath – if rider A leaves Napa travelling B miles per hour and rider X leaves Y minutes later travelling Z miles per hour… turns out to be about 12 or 13 miles out. Why yes, we are going to Healdsburg!

EXPLETIVES DELETED from the RBA of Awesome. Flat? Eric, BFK and Roy stop with him, the rest of the train rolls on. Pass the vineyard with the sprinklers. They are still on. RAINBOW!!! Oh, DOUBLE RAINBOW! Left turn, back over to 128. Someone else pulls over with a flat. Michael Burke peels off in Calistoga. Ugh I’m not looking forward to the “climb” to the county line. The skies open up and dump. Just when I’d gotten used to the feeling of dry… Some folks pull over to put on rain gear.

Carl and Metin pull ahead of the tandem on the climb – oh! Metin is riding fixie! Ha. I hadn’t noticed. At first I’m doing OK, then maybe it’s self-fulfilling prophecy but I start to fade. I pull over and wave the folks behind me on, expecting a long string. Turns out there’s only one person. They don’t get that far ahead, but when they hit the crest I know they’re gone.

I’m actually kinda over the pace line headspace requirements and glad for a little solo time. And there’s not that much further to go, so even if it is all me it shouldn’t be a problem to finish within 8 hours. I settle in and chug along.

Oh, here’s one of the people who stopped to put on rain gear! OK, might as well be done sooner rather than later, jump on his wheel. He pulls a bit, then I take a turn, then (cue hero music) here’s the Dixons (who’d also stopped to rain gear up), who most kindly proceed to pull us back to Healdsburg. Along the way we pick up another rider as well.

The fellow who’d caught me looks familiar, I want to say some name that starts with a ‘D’ but can’t fill in the rest so eventually I ask. Doug. Oh, that’s right. He asks if I’m Joyce – which loops me for a second, how would you know my sister? but pretty sure he means Chang. LOL

The sun comes out, there’s a few moments of blinding silver off the wet road. Hook around and head into town, where the streets are dry – looks like it hasn’t rained at all. Shoulda just stayed here.

Roll in to the Bear somewhere around 7 hours – yeah, after all that I didn’t write down the exact time. Jady and Eric LaFranchi were in first, then Paul & Sarah, Carl and Metin – sounds like some folks have gone to change and will be back, the only people on the patio are some DNCs. I chat a bit then need to be in dry clothes. By the time I do that and put my bike away there’s many more riders back, hanging out, eating and drinking. I join them, have a tasty burger and beer and a lovely time welcoming back riders, although I don’t quite make it to lanterne rouge.

Super fun day! Thanks to Bob Redmond and all the volunteers, Paul & Sarah and the Dixons for the awesome pulls, and everyone else I rode with for the good energy.

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
~ Dolly Parton

Ride date: January 23, 2016

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