Although I was still less than excited to hear the alarm, it did feel pretty decadent that it was not dark outside. I pulled out the Day 3 baggie and suited up in my Paul Stimson Never Forget/Never Give Up jersey, which I had packed for the last day knowing I would need all the help I could get.
No word from Patrick or Jason, but I assumed they had come in and tried again. This time I got a response – they had made it to Fort Bragg and – yay! – had not left yet. We met up and headed to the golden arches. Yep, that’s right. Mickey D’s. These rides make you do crazy things – I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been to McDonald’s, and I don’t think I’d ever been for breakfast. But – salt, fat, calories. And, not that we were particularly pressed for time, but fast food.
From Fort Bragg the route went south on Highway 1 all the way to Pt. Reyes Station. Easy navigation, and the profile made it look relatively flat – but that was when you had the whole route up and the large climbs of the previous days squished down the bumps along the coast. “Death by rollers” is the phrase people use. And there were those previous two days of climbing in the legs.
Anyway, it was feeling like the home stretch, and nice to know that we’d be heading to a finish on a familiar route. We did not envy the out of town riders getting to navigate the page long wiggle through Marin at the end of this ride, possibly in the dark.
Actually none of this day’s route was completely new to me, although part I’d only ridden once – from 128 to Manchester – and other parts, although ridden more than once, were infrequent and/or had been a while so it still had a bit of that new feel. Even the parts in Sonoma and Marin county that I had ridden many times felt quite different with that many miles in my legs.
After a bit of sun in Fort Bragg a high overcast rolled in and lingered the rest of the day. Fortunately it was not cold or too moist. Jason regaled us with stories of riding in the rain on a previous SFR 1000k. I was glad we did not have that to contend with, but we did get an uncharacteristic headwind.
The guys wanted to stop for Real Food in Gualala(lalala). The first choice pizza place was closed, but we found a Mexican restaurant in the little mall area. There was a lost in translation moment about taco size, and Jason ended up with eight tacos that took up two plates. The man who brought them out seemed a bit taken aback that they were going to one person, and indeed the tacos ended up defeating even the Pudu’s prodigious appetite.
Just past Fort Ross there was a special guest appearance from my friend Mike, the Intrepid Kayaker, returning from a paddle. It was fun to see a familiar face. As we headed south we also leapfrogged a few times with Metin and Roy, and then the five of us all ended up together at Diekmann’s, the control in Bodega Bay, and rode the rest of the way together.
Although he didn’t complain at all, Patrick was having some stomach issues and looked a little green around the gills when we stopped. I was actually a little worried about him, since it was the first time I’d seen him refuse a beer. He rode through it, and later had a Tums which completed the rally.
Usually I keep my camera in my jersey pocket, but they were higher – the pockets, that is – on that particular jersey, and I was having a hard time taking it out and putting it back in so had been using the side pocket on my handlebar bag. After taking some pictures at the control I went to put it away and somehow missed the pocket and the camera went over the edge and into the bushes. <Insert expletive here … if I had had the energy.> I figured it was a goner – lesson in letting go – but Eric went above and beyond, well, actually around and below, and was able to retrieve it.
I don’t think any of us were super excited about getting back on our bikes, but no other way to finish the ride, so eventually we did. There was a bit more rollering down the coast, then we turned inland at Point Reyes Station. There was an info control question to answer there. While we were stopped I broke out the Almond Roca that I’d bought at one of the earlier stops, which seemed like pretty good ride food. Metin had never had it before – bonus points for expanding culinary horizons.
Here I also finally let myself have the thought that I might actually finish this crazy ride. Only 39.2 miles to go. My hands and bee-hind were not so happy with me, but other than that I was still making fairly happy circles. In fact I seemed to be driving the pace, at least on the flattish bits. The guys were still climbing faster, but I’d catch up on descents, and then they’d seem to slow, one time in particular Jason and Metin started chitchatting about bike parts. Don’t you people want to be done with this ride??? went off in my head but I didn’t have the energy to get it out of there, instead just riding around and taking the front again.
It felt good to check White’s Hill of the list of remaining climbs, and that dammit I’m going to finish this thing! feeling was expanding. We were temporarily delayed in San Anselmo, as Patrick’s friskiness had returned, and he jumped a curb, resulting in a flat. Other than that it was an uneventful roll through southern Marin and up to the bridge. Roy and I got to press the call button for the bridge gate since it was our first 1000k.
The roll across the bridge felt particularly sweet, then there was a last bit of navigation to get to the finish control at a hotel in the Marina. Real Deb was there to meet us! There was a spot to stash our bikes and then Stairs? Really?! Somehow I made it up them, and had beer and some food, and then the most awesome shower ever and then… what had I been thinking? That I was going to ride over to my car and then drive home? Yeah, no. Deb was nice enough to let me catch some ZZZs at the hotel and I rolled over to retrieve my car the next day in daylight. Ten turns in 2.6 miles for a San Francisco flat route.
It still didn’t (doesn’t) seem quite real. Maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to write it up, in some ways I feel like I don’t have the words to convey the experience. It was really neat to see such a cross section of California and ride through such varied terrain – from the lava beds, over the mountains and through the redwoods and down the coast. It was a physical and mental push, but I’d prepared, so, although there were moments, and you can never really say you can do it until you’ve done it, it never felt impossible. Thanks to Eric for developing the route and huge thanks for being out on course supporting the ride, along with Kevin and Tim. Thanks also to Charlie, Andrea for volunteering along the way and Deb at the finish. And to ride buddies Patrick and Jason on Days 1 and 3 and Jon on Day 2, along with all the other riders – even when you’re riding solo it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
Note: Even if you have no interest in a 1000k on a brevet time frame, this route could be done as a tour so you could see everything during daylight, or there are many areas that would be worth doing as day rides or spending more time exploring – the Lava Beds in particular seemed like an intriguing part of the world.
Ride date September 28, 2015
Word of the day: wayworn