2016 SFR Healdsburg/Russian River 300k (Workers’ Ride) (“R15″*)

Last year the RBAoA caught me at a weak moment, and I agreed to be Volunteer Coordinator for the SFR Healdsburg/Russian River 300k. Then I somehow got talked into doing the Workers’ Ride, which ended up being quite the crew and a fantastically fun day. This year Rob voluntold all the Coordinators, er, asked if we’d be interested in reprising our roles. Sure, why not.

And ohhey let me just borrow, er, steal that technique and ask people who volunteered for the event last year if they would be so kind as to do again this year. There was a decent rate of recidivism then a general call to the e-mail list filled in the remaining spots. SFR volunteers all y’all ROCK!!! I don’t think we were ever quite in double digits for the Workers’ Ride this year, then one thing and another – last-minute weddings, illness, injury – we ended up with 5 of us – Jason and Ann who had been along last year – it was Ann’s first 300k – plus Roland and BrianC.

my photo tour version

EricW forewent the ride, letting his knee recover, but came out to see us off, with fresh homemade bread and coffee! I was sorta wishing I had toe covers, but there was nothing to be done about that, and in theory things would be warming up as the day went along. Weather forecast was actually looking pretty good.

After a few grace minutes we decided the cold (disease, not temperature, although maybe that too) and/or Pliny had gotten the best of SarahB and we wouldn’t be having the pleasure of her company, and headed out over the Bridge. Beautiful morning light as we passed through slumbering southern Marin. Roland pointed out the SFR portal on White’s Hill. I didn’t think to knock and see if any mini-randos came out. (Ha! maybe if I leave a scale-appropriate beer!)

The descent off the hill went into a solid fog bank filling the San Geronimo Valley. Whoa! How long are we going to be in this?! It thinned a bit as we headed out the valley and through Samuel P. Taylor, more as we went up past Nicasio, and cleared by the Cheese Factory.

Is it too early for jokes?

What happened when the pig pen broke?
He used his pencil.

Why did the chicken cross the playground?
To get to the other slide.

At the secret control, Roland informed us his magic widget had seen 34 degrees on the way through the Valley. Did I really need to know that?

The group rubberbanded past Nicasio Reservoir, the Cheese Factory and the Olive Ranch, not quite finding a common pace on the bumps but never getting too far separated. We grouped up on the way in to Petaluma, and they followed my lead when I expressed my dislike of riding through downtown on the boulevard and getting on Washington. There was some sort of carnival set up at the Fairgrounds but it wasn’t open yet.

A moderate stop at the Petaluma Safeway and rolled on toward Santa Rosa. Mustard was blooming yellow in the fields, a few clouds were clinging stubbornly to the hills, and pleasant views around and across the plain. Jason felt compelled to take the city limit sign, and claimed double points since it’s my town.

Heading north, we find a small stuffed bear at the edge of an intersection. It seems sad to leave it, so Roland kindly becomes the bearer of the bear. Ann carried on to Healdsburg, I convinced the others to make a slight detour to BurtoNZ Bakery. Take that for bailing on us, Patrick! Great, friendly shop with super tasty baked goods, both sweet and savory.

Ann had a good rest by the time we got to the Safeway, and got going again before most of the rest of us were ready. She was riding really well, and I didn’t see her again until almost the next control in Bodega Bay.

Westside was magnificently splendiferous, green and flowers and cherry blossoms and did I say GREEN?! River Road was a bit trafficky, but not overly troublesome, and there was some headwind to finish the reach to the Coast. Worth it all though, we were treated to awesome ocean views on the run down to Diekmann’s.

Where, come to find out, Ann had NEVER had a corn dog before! Can you put ketchup on them? Sure! She got one, and apparently it sufficed as a ketchup delivery vehicle.

Again a staggered roll out, and folks rode their own paces over the remaining coastal rollers to Pt. Reyes Station. South of valley ford, there was a small stuffed dog on the side of the road. Somehow it seemed appropriate to add him to the menagerie. I didn’t have any way to strap him on anywhere outside, so he went inside the Revelate seat bag. Roland said it would probably be good for him to have a little sensory deprivation time after the trauma of seeing so many cars go by and not getting picked up.

The other animal of the day was roadkill skunks. I don’t remeber all the places we saw them, but it seemed like many more than I’ve ever seen on a ride before. I’d forgotten the roadkill bingo cards, but whoever would’ve gotten the one with skunk would have won!

Extended magic light, and there was an almost full moon up in the eastern sky. Ridiculously beautiful. I had to stop to take a picture of the final sunset glow on Tomales Bay.

And then Rob, Mika and EricW were there in Pt. Reyes Station with pizza for us! Super deluxe. Mika sat expectantly as Rob had a piece of pizza. Yes, you’ll get the pizza bone.

Lovely as it was to sit and chat, it was getting chilly. BrianC had pace concerns, and despite our reassurances we’d all stick together from there, with it being after dark, he took off on his own ahead of us. Hmn. Now that I’m writing this, maybe it was that he was sick of us but was just too nice to say so! (No worries either way, Brian!)

Headed toward Olema, a car honked at us rather insistently, just as I was starting to think, “WTF?!” it passed and I realized it was Rob and Eric. Heh. The climb inland from Olema warmed us all up, and we had a smooth ride through the valley. Over White’s Hill, Ann asked if the SFR portal would take us directly back to the bridge.

Through the wiggle, then Roland wanted a snack or beverage or something so stopped at the 7-11 in Sausalito. Turned out Brian was there too, so we were able to ride the rest of the way and finish together, which was really great.

Quite the lovely day it was. Alas for those who did the actual event on the first weekend of March, a storm rolled in for the afternoon and evening, with strong gusty winds and rain. I did a finish control shift, it sounded like things were pretty intense out there – here’s Juliayn’s report. Truly amazing and inspiring to see the perseverance, and that most riders were in good spirits, despite the storm lashing they had gotten.

Ride date: February 20, 2016

* You might think this would be my R15, but, since the actual event was in March, even though I actually rode in February, it doesn’t “count” for that month, it goes on the March tally. Your moment of RUSA arcanity for the day. Which, maybe I could have squeezed a perm in somewhere else, or ridden this as a perm to get “credit” for February, but my contrariness got the better of my sticktoitivity and refused to jump through any hoops. Made it to 12, and even past a couple. Whatever. Next.

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