The HBUH (Healdsburg – Boonville – Ukiah – Healdsburg, pronounced Hubba) – formerly SRCC, now Santa Rosa Randonneurs – is one of my favorite brevets, such a splendid route. Somehow I had missed it last year, and I think the year before as well. So I was really looking forward to riding it this year, despite there being some rain on the forecast, not having been on my bike for 2 weeks, and in fact, not sure when the last time I’d ridden 200k was.
It was nice to see familiar faces at the start, and new RBA Ryan seemed to be doing just fine hosting his second brevet. Not that I had it in me, but I didn’t even try to stay near the front from the get go. Bonus of being the caboose – everyone else had to stop or slow down for the couple of traffic lights on the way out of town, but they had gone to green from the group and we were able to just roll through on the tail end.
It had just been overcast at the start, but I’d decided to put the rain jacket on, since it seemed threatening, and I didn’t want to be sad about getting rained on. But then it wasn’t really raining and I was overheating. Eric had to stop for a bio break so I stopped also and changed to my vest. Much better.
We had been riding with Patrick and Karen, Eric took the lead to try to catch up with them. Rando math time: “If Patrick and Karen are riding at X mph (oh wait, that should be kph), and Eric and Megan leave Y minutes later, traveling at Z mph …” “When is the next beer stop?” Eric finished the question.
This time of year the vineyards are dormant and being pruned, but there was lots of other green out, and even some flowers starting to bloom. And so much water, flowing everywhere! All day, the streams and roadside waterfalls, the sound of running water was a constant companion. The Russian River looked almost like Willy Wonka’s chocolate.
The route had four breweries marked – in Cloverdale, Boonville, Ukiah and then the finish at the Bear in Healdsburg. Even with the decadent 0800 start, we were early for the one in Cloverdale, but we substituted a stop at Plank Coffee. First time for Patrick and I, Eric had been before, so knew that it was good. Excellent coffee and tasty treats, both sweet and savory.
From Cloverdale we headed out 128 to Boonville. So beautiful, and a light traffic day, yay! At one point we were treated to a rainbow! Patrick moved to the front, “here let me take a pull for a while,” conveniently just before the Yorkville town sign. Very funny. Did I say I’ve missed riding with that guy? He also persisted in saying, “That looks promising” every time the skies seemed to be clearing a bit, inevitably making it rain again.
Boonville was busy – at least there were a bunch of cars parked at the fairgrounds. Turned out it was a scion, seed and cutting exchange and grafting day! Cool!
There were still a few riders in front of the market when we pulled in, but all had gotten on their ways by the time we came out with our food. I knew the market didn’t have potato wedges anymore (disappointed on another ride) so I wasn’t thinking about them, but had gotten the idea of a corn dog in my head. Turns out they don’t have a deep fryer (duh, that probably explains the no potatoes too. The other time the person just said, “oh we don’t have those anymore”), so no corn dog for me. The woman at the deli counter said they have a fryer at the gas station so I could go get a corn dog there. Thanks, but I wasn’t THAT set on one, and there were other choices there at the market. In fact, the croissant breakfast sandwich – egg, cheese and bacon – turned out to really hit the spot.
Although I did have to wait to eat it until we’d rolled over to Anderson Valley Brewing. I know, the hardship. Actually it did feel quite a bit cooler outside after we’d stopped and been inside. But soon we were inside again, and eating and drinking beer!
Tempting as it was to stay there, the hill to Ukiah wasn’t going to climb itself, so away we went. I got rolling first, but the guys soon caught and passed me. The first stretch actually went a bit more quickly than I’d thought it would, but it was followed by the optical delusion section where the road sorta looked like it should be a descent, but I had to keep pedaling and it felt like I should be going faster for the amount of effort I was putting in. The creek next to the road was flowing the opposite direction from the one I was heading though, so yeah I guess it wasn’t really a descent.
Then another steeper bit, and the plateau leading to the trunck-n-cheesey goodness. The views of cloud play were quite lovely, if a touch damp. I stopped to put on my jacket before the dive to Ukiah. Good life choice. Even taking it easy due to the wet roads, the descent was pretty fun. Before every downhill Patrick would say he wasn’t going to go fast, but he was always quickly away and out of sight.
Unfortunately the descent doesn’t get you all the way in to Ukiah, and there’s a section heading north into town that is the one part of the route I don’t like. Fortunately it didn’t seem quite as interminable as the last time I rode it. Or maybe they have moved the Safeway.
Warm beverage seemed like another good life choice, and I headed straight for the Starbucks after a restroom stop. “Large mocha with lots of whipped cream.” “Ohand I don’t need a lid.” Once he’d made it, the barista asked about the whipped cream “Did you mean …” and gestured up above the top of the cup. “SURE! If you can do it!”
Then the Girl Scouts had a table selling cookies by where we’d parked our bikes. They were very sweet and fundraising for a trip to San Francisco, which they seemed very excited about, so, what the heck, I got a box of Samoas. One of the girls asked, “Are you sure you don’t want two? They’re good for bike riding!” I didn’t have room for more, but I added a donation.
As we were rolling out, Eric said/asked “To the brewery…” but I was still pretty set in that department from our stop at Anderson Valley. “Maybe in Cloverdale?” “Well at that point may as well just press on and get to the Bear,” Patrick said. Good point.
Between the two of them taking big pulls we made fairly short work of the stretch to Hopland. The scenery along here included pear orchards in various stages of being pruned, vineyards – some with grazing sheep, a Jose sighting and the weather, mostly in the distance.
In Hopland, no hot lap of the roundabout, but Eric suggested a secret control stop at the Tap House. Sure, why not. Make the most of our Lanterne Rougery. The woman at the bar was nice enough to let us bring our bikes inside, although, alas, she was out of cheesecake.
From Hopland it was on to Mountain House, which is a lovely road that winds back to 128. For some reason I had in my mind that it was all a climb, but it turned out to be a nice mix, and even the climbing didn’t seem as arduous as I was half-expecting. Perhaps the magic light helped keep me in a good mood.
It was dark by the time we got to 128. There was a little more climbing and then mostly descent to Cloverdale. An owl swooped overhead. Whee! We pulled over by the Hamburger Ranch to check in with Ryan and let him know he didn’t have to wait for us. Tara, another rider we’d been seeing now and again throughout the day came out of the Ranch. After chatting a bit she rolled on.
From Cloverdale, we mostly retraced our steps, although the return route just stays on Dry Creek Road. We took turns at the front, picked up Tara along the way, and rolled in to the finish having used all but forty-five minutes of the alloted time. Ryan was still there to sign us in, and even after changing into wonderfully non-moist clothes there were a few folks other wrapping up at the Bear. We joined them, ordered some food and beer and thoroughly enjoyed it. Another Best Day Ever!
Ride date: February 4, 2017