2017 SFR Dart Populaire: Tandemonium

Although the last time I made it out on the event was a few years ago now and my stoker is no longer riding – not, as far as I know, anything I did – I was still on the team roster and got an invite for the Dart Populaire with Tandemonium. I was a bit on the fence but in the end couldn’t pass up the chance to ride with Max and his daughter before their family moves to Switzerland. And, due to it being a team event, actually ride with Max rather than just seeing him briefly at the start.

In the end, Max and Marilisa ended up being the token tandem, since Andrew and his family have moved to Southern California, as mentioned my stoker isn’t riding anymore, and both Brian and Vidas’ sons are on to single bikes. Brian and Vidas were going to tandem to get us within the five bike limit, but then Brian’s son was under the weather so they ended up on single bikes.

I had a most excellent ferry + BART + Amtrak trip to Davis on Friday after work, turned out everyone else came up on Saturday – we had a thisdoesn’tfeellikerando start time of 1000, and there was a morning train. Since I was already in town I got a receipt at the Co-op so we could roll as soon as the others arrived.

Friday had been sunny and pretty toasty, Saturday turned out to be high overcast and almost not quite feeling like rain. It turned out to not rain, and it did eventually clear up, but the early overcast kept it from getting too hot, which was nice.

From Davis there was a slightly different way than I’ve gone before getting to Winters, staying on a more main road, going over the 505 and through more of town. Our first stop was at Steady Eddy’s, which looked to be the cyclists’ go to spot, with full bike racks out front, and a steady stream of lycra clad clientele. I’d heard the name, but never been before – every other time I’ve ridden through Winters I’ve turned left at the main intersection – Steady Eddie’s is a half block down to the right from that spot. Funny how you can be so close but totally miss somewhere.

After Winters we rolled along Putah Creek, past Lake Solano and on to the aptly named Pleasants Valley Road. After being so used to how green everything was it seemed like almost overnight we’d gone to golden hills. Although we didn’t have any time record to beat, Max had his rando math calculator going, and kept us updated on our progress. *60 miles to go and 6 hours.

We came out of the countryside to the Highway 80 corridor and our lunch stop in Vacaville. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but there was an extended back and forth telephone game amongst the others which seemed to result in a decision but then some of us went to Peet’s (to the left) and others went to Subway (to the right.) At the end of it all we did end up back together.

After getting something to drink I went back outside to get something off my bike and there was a little boy entranced by the tandem. His mom(?) asked if it was mine. “Nope, but I’m riding with them – they’re right inside.” The boy got shy about telling the owners he thought their bike was cool though. The mom(?) said, “oh there’s another bike” – pointing to mine – “do you think that’s cool?” “Nope!” was his reply. Haha. Thanks.

They came by later when we were getting ready to go, Max asked if he wanted to go for a ride, the boy didn’t seem interested in that. His mom(?) prompted him a bit to express that he thought the bike was cool at least but he just made a funny face.

As we continued along it looked as if we were going to get on Highway 80, but it turned out there was a bike path right next to the on-ramp. I had no idea! That brought us over to the business parks of greater Cordelia, and then we crossed over 80 onto the frontage road of 680. It was a bit headwindy, and Brian got a flat, but he and Vidas waved the rest of us on and caught up with us later.

We started to get more views of Mt. Diablo, which made it feel like we were getting back to the Bay Area. I had the new-to-me experience of riding through a bit of Benicia and over the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, which had a nice wide separate bike lane – signed as part of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

The next bit through Martinez was also new to me. We passed by the John Muir National Historic Site. Who knew? Alas no time to visit, but note to self for future. We did take a brief unscheduled drink stop at a gas station – longer than four minutes, but Max did his best to keep us moving.

From Martinez it was into suburban ranchettes and then estates of Lafayette. I also saw several signs for various entrances to Briones Park – Vidas had mentioned some possible mixed terrain options in the park earlier in the day, but that didn’t come up again. The climbing was back-end loaded, and there was a bit of a grunt uphill here, although it was pleasantly shaded.

We hit just about every stoplight in downtown Lafayette on red, making it seem interminable, but, as all things do, it eventually came to an end. Through a bit of neighborhood and then the bike path to Orinda. Vidas’ son, who has that underfed pro look (TM), had been mostly sitting in on the flat windy parts, but jetted ahead on all the climbs – the parts toward the end are also near where they live, so he’s more familiar with it. As we waited to regroup, Vidas asked him if it was too easy. He just shrugged.

Another gas station stop for fluid rearrangement. One of the guys was in the bathroom and a man came back and asked if a blonde woman was in there. “Uh, no.” “Well then, I’ve lost my wife.” He didn’t seem too concerned about it though – he was laughing as he walked away.

We had a nice downhill on Camino Pablo, passing a noteworthy line of dump trucks on our way to the final climb up Wildcat. Again it was pleasantly shaded, and there were some nice openings to views in the distance.

We stopped for pictures at Inspiration Point and then Max updated us that we had “Half an hour and 10k, all downhill.” Brian, Vidas and I all laughed at that last part, putting in the subtitles of “overall downtrend/loss of elevation.”

Which was a nice way to end – the overall downhill – and the welcome from the friendly rando volunteers waiting for us at Lama Beans. For some reason there didn’t seem to be too many teams participating this year, but it was still fun, and the food was super tasty. We didn’t wait around for all the teams to finish – it had been the longest ride ever for both the kids WOOHOO! so they were ready to get home.

Continuing my multi-modal weekend, I BARTed back to San Francisco and then (eventually) caught the bus. I was somewhat delayed by ClusterFest and my lack of planning, but after missing one both me and my bike were able to get on a northbound bus. It ended up for a little bit longer day than I’d originally planned on, but it was still pretty cool to have an all bike and public transportation adventure.

Thanks to Captain Max for keeping us on schedule, and all the team for a fun ride. Congratulations to Marilisa and Domas for their longest ride – the next step on the slippery rando slope. Thanks to Roland for coordinating the event and all the other SFR volunteers.

Route, MorePictures

Ride date: June 3, 2017

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