Well the title sorta gives away the ending, so I don’t spose it really ruins anything to say I hadn’t really planned to do this ride. That is, I hadn’t prepared as in doing rides with the mindset and focus that they were building up to completing this particular challenge. In fact, for much of the month previous I’d been off gallivanting about other countries, sans bike. But sure, sign me up. Not the sharpest crayon in the tool shed.
Which, part of it was that it was going to be Eric’s first go at it, and then there was the perhaps misguided feeling there should be some representation from the XX side of the aisle – in the inaugural running SarahS and I had completed it, but then the sophomore event had no women even start. Maybe that’s a sign of superior intelligence. Or not. I don’t want this to have the weight of some agenda – after all, it’s only a bike ride (TM) – but one can’t help but notice the dearth of women riders on some of these things. Anyway…
Ohdarkthirty collection of the usual suspects at the Toll Plaza. Things seemed off to a promising start with some of Eric’s fresh baked sourdough, and a solid contender for quote of the day (if not weekend) to Eric – “Your loaf is better than Max’s.” Erm, yeah. Did I say how early it was?
As soon as the climbing started out of Tam Valley I reverse dropped, but Eric stuck with me. It was us and Gary from Nevada City, and I didn’t think there was anyone behind us. Not that that matters. But it was already seeming like it might be a bit of a slog for me.
There were different levels of overcast, some rather moist, as we headed up the Coast, with a lovely glow over Black Mountain outside Pt. Reyes Station. We eventually saw some other riders that had stopped in town – Aron Mason, and SoCal Jay – and Aron went into diesel mode for a huge pull that I enjoyed for a while but eventually couldn’t hang on to so it was back to the merry band of two.
Inland and up to Occidental, back down to the Russian River and on to Cazadero. At the Intersection of Adventure it was the continue on King Ridge Road option. We had been leapfrogging/riding on and off with Gary, and this section also featured a guest appearance by kt out on a ride of her own, and a stop for blackberries.
I did my best to keep moving and enjoy the scenery. We had pencilled in some numbers for when we needed to be where, and, by that, seemed to be doing OK. Not to foreshadow what you already know, but numbers don’t always tell the story.
There was the drop back into some overcast at the coast and YAY! the gelato cart at Gualalalalala. Then I had to drag myself up the ridge and over to Fish Rock. Which should be a highlight, but I was having a rough time of it and even had to walk some bits. Eric went ahead on the hills, and found a spot for a bit of a ditch nap.
I was surprised to see Jay go by – I had thought, with the climbing, she would be far ahead, but she’d made an incorrect choice at the Intersection of Adventure and put in some bonus miles and elevation. Even so, she passed pretty much as if I was standing still. With her and Cheryl on the roster there would be women finishers – I needn’t have felt like I had to represent. Well, I suppose even though I didn’t finish there’s something to be said for starting.
Eventually we got to 128 and Eric towed me in to Boonville. It was nice to have some refuel time off the bike. Gary was talking about making it to Ukiah by 10 PM, which seemed pretty optimistic. I knew how much more climbing there was, and I would have been happy with midnight, but realistically figured more like 1 AM.
128, Flynn Creek Road – info control in Comptche – heading inland on Comptche-Ukiah Road which turns to the ride’s namesake Orr Springs Road – the miles slowly ticked by. Eric played some music on his phone I suppose in hopes to distract or motivate me. E for effort.
As we passed the hot springs we were treated to a loud cover of Prince’s Kiss. Ah the quiet, peaceful countryside. Or should I say the benefits of being in the countryside and not having close by neighbors?
Eric went ahead up the climb again, and found a spot to lie down. When I reached him he persuaded me to join him and take a few moments to enjoy the night sky and WOWMOON, although I made it brief as I was worried about getting chilled and also not being able to get up and get going again.
And there was still more climbing to go, which I hauled myself through on the thought we were almost to Ukiah. I know, right?! Being glad about getting to Ukiah… not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Which was after midnight – probably closer to the predicted 1 AM, although I don’t remember now and can’t find the brevet card. And why would I keep an uncompleted brevet card anyway? It was nice to see Metin, who had snacks and our drop bags. I don’t think it was that much later than I’d arrived with Patrick the time I did finish the ride, but I was in much worse shape both physically and mentally.
And I knew I wasn’t going to be getting any faster the second day, so we (I) figured it would be best to be rolling again by 3 AM. Ugh. That didn’t seem super exciting on the going in end of it, and when the alarm rang I was way super not excited. I suppose I would have gotten up and gotten back on my bike if Eric had been pumped about continuing, but he went along with my DNC feeling that I’d done the more interesting bits, I didn’t figure – with how I was feeling – that the second day would get more funner, and I didn’t feel any particular compulsion to flog myself through just to get a finish on this ride. After all, one has only so many shits to give…
Turning off the light and rolling over back in bed for more sleep felt SO. GOOD. Getting up when it was light out and going to the Maple Cafe for an awesome breakfast reinforced my clarity that I had made the right decision. We still had to get back to San Francisco though, but at least we were going to do it under our own power.
Even going the easy way back to Santa Rosa I was draggin’ ass, and a tad cranky – Eric wisely gave me some space for some solo riding, and then suggested a stop for affogado in Cloverdale – which my first instinct was to say NO, but I ended up agreeing to and was glad I did. At least it seemed to make the rest of the ride go better.
In Santa Rosa we caught the Golden Gate Transit 101 bus, which I’d never done before, but again worked out quite nicely. It was a bit of a shock though to go at faster than bike speed from the heat of Sonoma County to the blowing chilly fog at the Toll Plaza. We hurriedly collected our drop bags and vehicle and headed home.
So, even without riding the entire route it was still a solid weekend of riding, and I had the new experience of riding the GGT bus with my bike. It also reminded me of the importance of the mental component on these rides, and I think gave me some practice with starting something that I really was unsure whether I would finish it or not, and allowing myself to not finish (and being OK about it) – if that makes any sense. As someone said – you always learn something on these rides.
Thanks to Max for coming up with the Adventure Series, SFR for putting them on the calendar and supporting them, and all the riders, especially Eric for being so patient and riding with me, and DNCing with me even though he totally could have completed it – which he did later in the season. As a perm. Solo. That’s some serious badassery right there. Yes indeedy.
Ride date: July 16-17, 2016
The 2017 edition is going off this weekend, July 22-23, so I’m getting in under the wire of posting about the last one before I try the next one. For what it’s worth, I’m feeling a little more prepared this time around, but we’ll see how it goes!