Note: no pictures, as the primary objective for this ride was speedy. Which, I know, does not necessarily preclude pictures, but for me, on this ride, it did.
Word was this route from Davis to Cobb, and back, was a good one for an R60 bid. I’d done parts of it on various other rides, but this exact configuration would be new to me, so, even if I didn’t make the time, there was that. Also, the start was a very civilized 0700, at the super easy to deal with Mace Avenue Park-n-Ride.
There were many familiar faces and usual pre-ride chit-chat. In addition to a plethora of SFRs (hmn, what is the collective noun for randonneurs?), DougM from SRCC was there, and Charlie, the Redding Randonneur, and his wife, who would be attempting her first 300k.
As we rolled over the overpass Andreas said on the 200k a few weeks before, he and a tandem had been doing 28-29 out of the gate and not seen anyone else until the turn around. The 300k pace was a bit more sedate, and a large group stayed together until the first climb of significance at Monticello Dam.
It was a beautiful mild morning, promising a good day of riding bikes. The pack was a bit surgy, but one can’t complain too much when getting a free ride. The sky brightened to full daylight as we transited the agricultural geometricity to Winters. I can understand why people might hesitate to use the word beautiful, but there is a scenic quality and quiet dignity about the land and the production of food, even if you aren’t wild about corporate farming and agribusiness practices.
Past Winters the route continued along Putah Creek and Pleasants Valley to 128. What with the rain, the fire damage on the hills before the dam was much less noticeable than last time I was through there in the fall. Not sure if the front was upping the tempo, the rollery road and subsequent accordioning of the pack, or I was just getting tired, but it was starting to seem like much more of a chore to stay with the group. When Scott hit a pothole and pinch flatted there was a bit of a scramble as he pulled off. I lost touch and decided no point in chasing, since the Dam climb was just ahead and I wouldn’t be hanging with the front at that point anyway.
And… there they went. Perfectly executed reverse drop. I was glad for a break from the overhead of the rubberbandy group, but had to switch gears to the solo push. No one but Max* had definitively explicitly said they’d ride with me, and it ended up he wasn’t able to make it. Well, if I do have an R60 ride it won’t be purely on coattails, so there’s that.
The temperature continued to be pleasant, and I was able to take in the beautiful scenery with more than my peripheral vision. C’mon now, keep moving! I saw a couple other people here and there, but different climbing paces separated us. Dan, the Davis RBA, drove by in his wagon, then was stopped at the junction with 121 – which was closed, making that route selection point easy. It was nice to see a friendly face and get some encouraging words.
Chugged along, had a brief break with a trade of pulls with a rider in a Folsom kit – a club or bike shop, not the prison. Wow! What a glorious day for a bike ride. Everything was so fresh and green. I was kinda hurting, but couldn’t be cranky. More quality solo time. Deb and Mark drove by on their way to staff the turnaround control at Cobb.
I rolled into Pope Valley a little before 11, which, to the extent I’d done any planning, was my target time. Patrick was there waiting for me, despite not getting the memo about the reverse drop plan, and we rode together the rest of the day. I got my card signed, rearranged fluids, snacked and was ready to roll again pretty quickly it seemed.
This would be the first time I’d been to the area since the Valley Fire. We started seeing the damage around Honey Hill – I hadn’t heard that name for it before – that annoying bump before (on the outbound) the crazy field of water – Detert Reservoir – and white fence that goes on forever. The fence was oddly still intact and bright shiny white, despite evidence of burn on both sides. A guard rail was burn and twisted in some parts, still like new in others.
The damage was both muted and accentuated by all the new spring growth. One hillside by Langtry Winery was particularly striking – black black blacker than black burned limbs and stumps looking beyond dead, and then among all that devastation – carpet would be strong – but a very heavy sprinkling of a white star-like wild flower. The destructive and regenerative power of nature in a nutshell.
Middletown Main Street, at least the section we rode, was also surprisingly intact – I had heard the whole town was burned, and I do know someone just a few blocks off Main who lost her home – but the tree tunnel outside of town on 175 was horribly singed. I got distracted and drifted into Patrick’s wheel but was able to keep it upright and ride it out into the drainage ditch and back on to the road. Nice recovery. Yeah, but better not to need to. Pay attention…
I’d never climbed 175 before, and knowing what a screamin’ awesome fun descent it is I was predicting, er, trying to not dread, the going up direction. Shortly after we started up the lead group of 3 – Andreas, DougM(?) and someone else – went past in the preferred direction. Further up more riders went by headed down hill.
Going up 175 was pretty decimated from the fire, some rebuilding already happening, other places still burned foundations. And then… crest… and… Whispering Pines looked pretty much intact. With an island of pines. Still whispering. Crazy. Cobb was still there too – the little shopping center – I had heard that was burned.
Eventually I made it to the turn around control at the school. Definitely verified that hill is much better as a descent. Deb and Mark were there to sign cards and provide tasty treats and encouragement. It was about quarter after one, so past halfway time wise for 12 hours, but I figured the return should go a bit quicker. Although it was not all downhill as promised.
There was some for sure Type 1 fun on the way back down to Middletown though. Got to see and cheer the rest of the riders, including The Princess, who knocked it out fixed gear!!!, on their way up. There were a few other riders headed our direction, and we rode on and off with Tim Mason, but otherwise didn’t group up with anyone.
EricS, the saint of last year’s Davis 600k, and Todd were manning Pope Valley on the inbound. I was getting tired and losing interest in the whole R60 thing, but felt like I did OK on my off the bike time.
It never ceases to surprise me how different the same road can be when “just” going the other direction. With this length of out-and-back there’s also the change in light and temperature from it being different time of day.
Made it back to the flat lands. Past Winters Patrick helpfully noted We need to maintain 20.6 mph. Um, yeah. I had no idea what speed we were at, but a turn put us into a stiff and unhelpful cross wind. And there would probably be more of that. As if on cue, the bike started to feel a bit odd. Front tire going soft. Literal deflation… wahwaah… not sure when it happened, but it seemed like it was probably a slow enough leak I could just pump it up and that would get me to the end. It actually ended up needing a second shot, but I was not feeling like a full fix that close to the finish.
After that the required average speed was up to 30 something mph and notgonnahappen. So we relaxed a bit and enjoyed the lovely twilight. Hit the final categorized climb over the freeway and back at the Park-N-Ride for 12:28 total elapsed time.
Not R60, but PR for the course, and for the 300k distance as well, by over an hour.
I was very glad to be done, and only briefly and very vaguely disappointed at not making the R60 time. Had it been a matter of a few minutes I might have felt differently, but looking back at the day I didn’t feel that I could have made up that 28 minutes. In fact, given the amount I’d been riding – notsomuch – I was kinda surprised I was even in the ballpark. To be honest, I was actually somewhat relieved, I don’t think my heart had ever really been in it – if I’d been more invested I actually would have prepared, that is, ridden more and worked on intensity – and missing the 300k time got me off the hook for the 400k and 600k, which, the 600k especially would be a HUGE stretch for me. On the other hand… 28 minutes. If I WERE actually prepared…
*Special thanks to Max for offering to ride with me, it really meant a lot, but it really probably was just as well, since it might have tested his patience. In addition to being a super strong rider he’s amazingly efficient at stops. I really appreciate the offer though. That was one of the things about this whole R60 idea. The one who’s done it – and suggested I could/should – shall remain nameless but notMax – was saying how it’s helpful to have a good group to ride with, which I had a hard time about asking anyone since most likely I’d be the weak link. I didn’t think I was R60 material, which the contrary personality now feels vindicated. Bleh.
All the voices in my head aside, it was an awesome day on the bike. I’m very grateful I’m able to do these rides.
Ride date: March 19, 2016