Ah yes, another dart. Another Dart event where I control the route, the choice of team mates, and most importantly, the team name. This year I was choosing between the Delta Fairies (since we ride on a ferry) and one of best names ever, Too Big To Fail.

Roster included the usual Juliayn and Carlos, plus the addition of Angela and Jon B. Carlos and I prepared for the event by gaining weight and not riding bikes, Juliayn and Angela trained by putting in long hours at work, and Jon trained by doing the SFR1000 a few days before our event.

The day started off with a phone call from Jon that he had gotten off the train at West Oakland and was riding the mile or two to the start location and would be a few minutes late. Unfortunately Juliayn and I were awakened from a sound sleep by the phone call and we ended up being about an hour late to the start.

At the start, Angela and Jon were there, but no Carlos! Who is going to complain? Who is going to not listen to me? Who is going to be the one person on the team who is older than me? All of these concerns were quickly lost in the mad dash to make up time. Lucky for the team, the only thing that matters is getting to the 11.5 hour control on time, and the rest is up for grabs.

I lead us out and set the pace all the way to Black Diamonds – or at least set the pace when Jon will let me. Nothing much happens along the way, but later my team mates said I was doing 20+ mph on the multi-use paths mixing it up with the grannies. I thought I was just maintaining a brisk, yet civil pace.

At Black Diamonds we enjoy the steep climbs and the bumpy descents, but we still bail half way through because no one wants to do any more climbing, especially after we are delayed by a pinch flat Jon had. Sigh.

Riding through the sad suburbs of Brentwood, etc we are forced to detour through a vacant lot. The lot was covered with goat’s head weeds. I have Pacenti Parimotos. I call a halt to check our tires for thorns and we all spend 5 minutes removing thorns from our tires and another 5 with all of us removing thorns from Jon’s tires. He has conti extra thick tread slicks that suck up the goat’s head thorns like a vacuum cleaner. 5 minutes down the road we pause for anther flat fix for Jon.

Soon we are back on the road after a quick stop at the usual family Vietnamese food restaurant. Nothing much exciting happens after that, we enjoy the ferry ride and the beautiful delta, stop for a beer in Clarksburg, eat dinner at the wonderful Sac Natural Foods Coop (thanks for picking that stop Jake!) and even have time to stop at the pretty good Rubicon Brewing for a beer.

Fun is had meeting up with the rest of the teams in Davis, and the train ride home is quite nice. Good job team! Thank you Davis Bike Club and Budzilla, for another nice day on the bike. I have some new ideas for a mostly quiet and scenic ride that is flatter.

Ah, the fleche! This is the one event in the SFR randonee calendar that has me still interested, still wanting to put in some big miles.

As stated previously in this blog I am intrigued with developing a name for the team and figuring out the route. This year the name selection was a struggle. Shall we be Je Suis Rob, Oblio’s Antfarm, Quo vadis?, or just plain old Madera log rolleurs? In the end I was urged to select the Madera log rolleurs, and to stop picking on our RBA, Rob Hawks whose team is called Oblio’s dog.

Why Madera log rolleurs? First, madera means ‘wood’ in Spanish and Madera, where we were going to start our ride used to be a log distribution center in the central valley for logging interests in the Sierras, so the name is quite obvious is it not?

Years back I did a bit of camping down toward Pinnacles National Monument and when on the Airline Highway, Highway 25, we passed the town of Pincines and a little road leading to nowhere called Panoche Road.

Madera is a straight-ish shot west across the central valley to Panoche road and just after Interstate 5 the road is dirt for 8 miles! Another 40 or so miles gets us to the Airline Highway. This would give us quiet roads all day, and then familiar if less quiet roads to Santa Cruz and then the usual all night ride up the coast. Fun! All new stuff in the daylight and all familiar stuff in the dark!

My team this year was to be the same as last year with the inclusion of Andrea from my Delta Montagnards dart team. Sadly Andrea could not join us so it was just the four of us who were Super Strong Cousin Russ, Lovely Juliayn, and Experienced Easygoing Sophisticated Theresa – and then there is me, Captain Controle, formerly known as Captain Ne Plus Ultra.

To get to Madera for the start we took Amtrak and we did not have to box our bikes, which was a huge bonus. The trip took all afternoon on Friday, and was very pleasant. I brought beers to share, and Juliayn made sandwiches for us two.

enjoying the train

enjoying the train

In the rush to get to the train Theresa forgot her cycle shorts but a quick search using her phone located the only bike shop in Madera County, just a couple blocks from our hotel. After our arrival in Madera we disembark from the train and head the five miles to town and the bike shop. I lead us straight to the shop after a glance at the map on Theresa’s phone and firmly establish my navigational skills to my team.

only bike shop in the county

only bike shop in the county

The bike shop is full range and full service, and Theresa gets a nice pair of shorts and the shop manager gives us a give of some bicycle food after they learn of our impending adventure – very nice shop, and very nice people. We check into the hotel, and head out to wander the town.

We just bum around a bit looking in resale shops and collecting stares from the locals and the local police, and eat a tasty and inexpensive dinner. Returning to our room we enjoy a good night’s sleep and are greeted in the morning with a power outage and with a beautiful view of the moon eclipse.

Our start controle is the Black Bear Diner and is open an hour before we leave, so we can have a decent breakfast. I have the biscuits and gravy which is a big mistake because my stomach has not liked pork the last few weeks and there is pork sausage in the gravy.

Out the door of the restaurant at 715, a few short delays due to Juliayn calling the hotel looking for her sunglasses and we are off!

Bicycle choices for the team included three pelicans and a single scorpion. My pelican sported 650bx38 tires, Russ’s had big 700×38 (actual 34) slicks, a pass and stowe rack and a huge porteur bag, Juliayn’s was her venerable 700×32 pasela do everything and go everywhere bike and Theresa’s scorpion is her latest project and tourer cycle, sporting 650×42 tyres and a bottle generator.

Empty roads punctuated with considerate drivers and cute little dogs chasing us are our experience for the next four hours. The monster truck drivers all wave to us as they pass.

Theresa's nerves are frazzled as she manuevers through the high stress environment of a fujifilm camera menu

Theresa’s nerves are frazzled as she manuevers through the high stress environment of a fujifilm camera menu

After a quick malted shake at a Fosters Freeze at I5 we are off to the empty dirt road of Panoche punctuated with sandy washouts, complete silence (after that informal shooting range on the side of the road) and a single 500 hundred foot climb that starts gently but tops out at a 20% grade. Juliayn flats on a rock on one of our descents in the dirt, and after that fix we enjoy our water crossing.

water hazard

A few more miles we are at the Panoche Inn and get a sandwich and a beer, and hang out on the porch with the dog.

Panoche Inn porch poochie

Panoche Inn porch poochie

Leaving the Inn we climb for about an hour at a gentle grade, are greeted by a nice French woman who gives us fruit, and then we descend a steep grade that flattens a few miles before we join the Airline Highway. The wind had picked up a bit and my bad stomach had weakened me so I was off the back for much of this stretch.

leaving the Inn and out into the afternoon breeze

leaving the Inn and out into the afternoon breeze

Recording the strenuous climb to Panoche Pass

Recording the strenuous climb to Panoche Pass

After a brief stop for relief for the Captain at Paicines we headed north the 5 miles on busy Airline Highway to dinner in Tres Pinos, which is just south of Hollister. Captain is still weak with an unreliable stomach. Captain also spoke in the third person for a while, as in: ‘Captain does not want to close the gap when he is off the back. Captain wants the team to slow down and collect him’ and ‘Captain will be in the john for a while, don’t leave without him’.

dusk falls on Anzar Road, nestled into the San Andreas fault

dusk falls on Anzar Road

Night falls and we continue on to busy Watsonville where traffic is a bit hectic, and then some extra deserted roads until we get to Soquel and the Santa Cruz conurbation.

Our long stop for the day is at Jefferey’s and I would have to say it is at least as good as the usual Denny’s and Santa Cruz Diner, but in a quieter location. Another team had a bike stolen outside the Santa Cruz Diner, which is very sad not to say inconvenient. We Log Rolleurs have always been paranoid and have always locked our bikes up when in Santa Cruz.

Jefferey’s is a bit of a pre-party with the arrival of the Boyz on the Hoodz, good friend Jake (who grew up nearby) and the Madonna Mountain Ghost Hunters. We chat, goof off and exchange the days experiences.

The boyz leave first, then us. We catch every red light in town and the boyz are gone until Davenport. We all stop to chat a bit and then we leave separately, careful to not break any fleche rules. Along the way we also share the road with another team of people who we don’t know who all ride quite separately rather than together.

As the night progresses I feel better and better and my team mates get tired and drowsy – good for me, bad for them.

morale is low just before Pacifica

morale is low just before Pacifica

We miss out on a brief stop in Half Moon Bay because we don’t have time to stop and as soon as we arrive in Pacifica my team crashes out on the cold concrete. Even after the store opens at 5am they opt to sleep a bit more out on the concrete rather than the warmer floor inside. I try to recover a bit of good graces with Juliayn by buying her a present at the store (it worked!).

Stupid Captain that I am, I let my team rest a little too long in Pacifica, but do not realize it until later.

Leaving Pacifica, just after we get onto deserted highway 1 a local cop drives up next to us and asks me to ride in the bike lane. Diplomatic me says ‘Bike lane?! I don seeee any bike lane! Is there a bike lane here I am not seeeeeing?! The dumb cop shines his spot light on a shoulder barely visible because of the sand and garbage that fill it and tells me to ride there. I am sure my body language said ‘hell no!’ but I simply said. ‘Ok, thank yoooou, thank yooou.’ In my best dismissive tone. Luckily he drove off and did not care to engage me further. I know the CVC, apparently he does not.

There is a mean climb out of Pacifica and my team is waiting for me at the top. I get there and tell them to get going as we don’t want to time trial. But of course, as soon as we get to the zoo I realize we better engage in a bit of brisk cycling – a big morale buster, I assure you.

Now my Juliayn is mad at me again and Russ and Theresa are a bit incredulous at the need for the effort at such a late and inconvenient moment. I just assure them that we will make it, trust Captain Controle, and viola! I did it! We did it! We got there exactly on time, and I completed my first randonnee of the year! Woo hoo! Food! Beer! Stories!

Much fun and comradery was enjoyed, tales of adventure and woe. Andrea came to see us with Francisco, and provided all of us Log Rolleurs with soft warm scarves from a recent trip she enjoyed in Nepal – so nice of her to see us in, and she and Francisco even offered us a ride home since it was raining.  In recognition of my efforts to be a good captain, Theresa awarded me a Velocio medal that now resides on my Lamp Shade of Accomplishment.

My team mates are the best! We all work together well and we are even pretty good at bickering for a bit and then forgetting about it, so we can do it again! Fun!

new chatchki for my lampshade/reading light to inspire deep thoughts

new chatchki for my lampshade/reading light to inspire deep thoughts

Such a great time! Can’t wait til next year.

Not much to say, it was a nice quiet ride. Here are some pictures.

Bottom of Pine Mountain

Bottom of Pine Mountain

Kent Lake

Kent Lake

top of Pine Mountain

top of Pine Mountain

Poison Spring

Poison Spring

saddle to the top

saddle to the top

close to Repack

close to Repack

san geronimo ridge

san geronimo ridge

I have been riding the thing for about 6 months. It is a fun bike. No, it is not for sale – yet.

Getting it home was easy with the help of Carlos and his car. A dusty dirty rusty (almost) complete Steve Potts! Took me a week to break the seatpost free. The stem is a 140mm, way too long for short little me. It is a 21″ frame which translates to a 55cm. The component group is Suntour XC Pro grease guard, without the derailer or rear wheel – not much to complain about for the price I paid.

 

200 bucks, load it up and we are on our way home

200 bucks, load it up and we are on our way home

I took my time cleaning and finding parts and had it in mock up stage for quite a while.

partly complete with the xtr/matrix wheelset I bought for the same price as the whole bike, $200.

stripped down with the xtr/matrix wheelset I bought for the same price as the whole bike, $200. Potts and WTB bikes came with matrix rims back in the day (91?) when they all collaborated with Trek. The 180mm cranks are on the floor to the right.

One of the first things I did was to ride the bike up mount tam, out bolinas ridge to Black Mountain Cycles. Mike helped me with tips on the cleanup of the bike, and that saved me some troubles – thank you Mike.

The bike is, of course very nice off road, but Juliayn says I climb very slowly on it.

up on hill 88

up on hill 88

I like it a lot, but I also tend toward using a Pelican for off road riding too. I have done repack on it (repack sucks now, ain’t going back) and I want to revisit Pine Mountain soon.

See you on Tam!

The waning days of fall bring us to the time for the Davis Dart! This ride, like many randonnees has its good parts and bad parts, but the good parts keep us coming back.

The waning days of fall also mirrored my own waning enthusiasm for big miles and when Sub-Commandante Sordo told me the ferry at Rio Vista was out of service I really wanted to cancel because the ferry is our gateway to the good parts of the ride. Adding to that obstacle the Box Dog 10th anniversary Fauxvet I was really ready to cancel, but I am Captain and have a reputation to keep up so like it or not we are doing the Dart. Sigh.

The ride from Oakland to Moraga is uneventful and chilly, and I wish for the gloves I usually have but don’t and the bike path stretch from Moraga to Black Diamonds is crowded with aged strollers and dumbass roadies riding too fast for conditions. Strangely, one of the roadies is fascinated with my handle bar bag (true, it is a Guu-Watanabe).

Carlos complains loudly when we leave the crowded bike paths for the crowded roads with a wide shoulder and the crowded roads with no shoulder and before we know it, we are at the first good part, Black Diamonds.

Good times at Black Diamonds

Good times at Black Diamonds

Conditions are perfect, the trail is smooth, and we meet a bunch of nice people out enjoying themselves, but we gotta stop coming here, it is too hard to include in this Dart.

Leaving the dirt we keep to back streets as much as possible until we have to negotiate the only crossing of Hwy 4 for several miles on Lone Tree Way. Nothing horrid happens and we get to enjoy some decent Vietnamese food at Pho-Le! (cool name, huh?).

The ride to Monte Rio is as completely awful as always, this time punctuated with some scum throwing a bottle at us on the 160 bridge and a pathetic driver who totally blocked the shoulder for absolutely no reason and made us pull into traffic to go around him. Good job people – I will be sure and vote for those tunnels in the delta if it ruins the economy out there and makes you all move to Fresno seeking dead end jobs in some warehouse.

Just before Monte Rio there has been a dog that at first was really nice, then the second time we encountered it was a snarling beast. I wanted the nice dog back so I requested of my team to bring treats for the dog. I brought a bone and El Sordo brought some treats, but the dog was gone. Sigh.

In Monte Rio we do a quick stop and try and confirm if the ferry is running. No one knows when we ask. In the interest of taming a snarling beast, I walk over to a Harley-biker dude lighting up a cigarette and ask him if he knows if the ferry is running. He meekly replies he has no idea, but to please let him know if I find anything out. Some beast.

I head into the bar he is standing outside of seeking wisdom – and am rewarded with nothing but a sneer that I seem to be riding a bicycle (she saw my helmet under my arm) and good luck out there.

Turns out the ferry is closed and we have to detour a bit to the J-Mack ferry on Hwy 220. The detour is not awful, but takes time.

The ferry is quick and enjoyable.

Team mates adoring the J-Mack hula dolly dude

Team mates adoring the J-Mack hula dolly dude

The delta is as sweet as always, with just two cars present, both going toward us and not with us. We have to ruin it a bit because we are very behind schedule from Black Diamonds and the detour and ride a lot faster than I prefer.

The ride from Clarksburg to Sacramento is the same as always, not horrible and central Sacramento is very relaxed and enjoyable and the Natural Foods Coop has the usual excellent food and even more smiling staff than last time.

Riding off from our dinner to the finish at Davis we share the road with a local cyclist that likes to ride a wheelie through red lights. He is pretty talented and faster than us so we get to see him perform a couple times on the way.

The finish at Davis is fun, and I get an equal number of dirty looks as well as warm greetings from fellow riders so I think I must be doing something right. This ride was pretty ok, I guess I will be back, maybe with a different, easier route without Black Diamonds.

The Delta Montagnards scaling the heights of fun and adventure!

The Delta Montagnards scaling the heights of fun and adventure!

Del Puerto time is Daylight Saving Time! I do like the SFR calendar because we can always count on a few things, like the Fort Bragg 600 being on Mother’s Day, the Fleche being on the day before Easter, and the Del Puerto being on the Daylight Saving Time Saturday.

I have been on sabbatical from the rigors of rando for a while as during the last rando adventure I had a rather unfortunate thing happen to me that involved an industrial metal rust remover/preservative permeating my cycle clothes and giving me a chemical burn on my body that got worse the longer I wore them. The clothes got the solvent in them because the same sink that cycle clothes get washed in is the same sink that solvent covered hands got washed in. The solvent got transferred from the sink and into my cycle clothes. Ouch.

The burns prevented my participation in the old caz 300 and Rob the RBA transferred my registration to the Del Puerto so things were not a total loss.

This ride starts out on the edge of the Bay Area conurbation and is accessed by a BART ride – I shared my hour long BART ride with Max, Angela and Mike. I was able to show them my mud flaps with a picture of RBA Rob on them complete with a reflective mustache. Few people purchased the flaps ($3 a pair) until I put Rob on em. Thank you Rob.

At the start I get to say hi to lots of rando buddies and then we are off! I ride behind Gintautas until I am dropped and steadily drop back as the course is covered. I end up with Manny for a bit, along with several others whom I regale with my current favorite story, the ufo sighting during the fourth of july back in 2013. It is a great story and I never get tired of telling it.

That's Mr. Manny to you, buddy.

That’s Mr. Manny to you, buddy.

I get a flat after the big fun descent on Corral Hollow from a staple and Vidas from the story telling group generously stays with me and escorts me all the way to Del Puerto Road. Thank you Vidas!

Storytime for the randos! There I was... Vidas there in front.

Storytime for the randos! There I was…
Vidas there in front.

On Del Puerto I introduce Eric, Vidas, and Therese to my pass-time of sprinting for the mile markers. I have fun for the first 8 or so, but then Eric rides me off his wheel and takes everyone with him. Sigh.

At adobe springs just before that big climb, there is a bunch of people waving their arms trying to get people to stop and get some water. It is nice to see others doing that instead of just me. While there Irving, my riding buddy from last year appears from nowhere and we ride up the big hill together.

On the big hill I lose Irving but I gain Jack Moonbeam and Jenny O and they are nice to chat with until Jenny drops us. We regroup at the top and Irving wins the sprint to the county line by riding over to the sign while Jack, Jenny and I are chatting. Hooray for Irving.

The junction has new management, dark beer and a nice dog wandering around the yard getting scraps and getting petted. Nice dog, good beer.

I leave the junction alone but soon come across Eric and Therese and we ride out the rest of the ride together, Eric setting the pace about 200 feet in front of us and Therese and I chatting. I explain to her my theories on descending and she politely listens.

 

Hey Therese, wait up you haven't heard all of my theories on descending on a bike!

Hey Therese, wait up! You haven’t heard all of my theories on descending on a bike! Hello?

Such a nice day on the bike, made much nicer by riding with Vidas, Eric, Therese and Irving and everyone else. Thanks again SFR and all!

$3 a set of front and rear, $5 for two. A portion of the proceeds will go toward beer purchases.
Reflective Mustache available on request

Reflective Mustache available on request

I currently have two pair of blue, green, and orange, and one set of the off white color, each with a picture of a Randonneuring Rock Star on it!

The flaps measure 60mm x 240mm for the rear and 60mm x 120mm for the front, pre-punched with a single hole for mounting and they are constructed of stiff plastic that will not flap in the wind or break easily.

Proper nutrition and reading material is essential for maintaining a developing intellect

Proper nutrition and reading material is essential for maintaining a developing intellect

 

Tailwinds,

4 sale

photo credit mme. velocia

Wisconsin made Pelican 58cm frame/fork/headset (a9) only, $1200. No paypal. shipping on you.

Custom aspects of frame: 7/4/7 tubes with 8/5/8 downtube (not sure what brand, maybe OX platinum), columbus sl fork blades and columbus rear dropouts, no idea what crown is.

Fender eyelets, no rack eyelets front or rear. Chainstays are 43cm.

Offers for entire bike considered.

 

This is it! The ride I have in a half-hearted and half-assed way prepared for by doing the standard SFR brevet series and a few other less regimented rides in the Marin Headlands. I want to do this ride because it will take me where I have never been, to those roads I see off to the side of the standard randonnees and wonder where they will take me, what will I see.

I develop a formal final bit of ‘training’ and even make a calendar of it to follow. I follow little of it, but at least I had some good intentions paving my way.

my road to Orr Springs was paved with these intentions

my road to Orr Springs was paved with these intentions

At the start I see a few of the usual SFR riders for this sort of thing, plus a bunch of strangers attracted to the adventure from far away. Max gives me my brevet card along with an admonishment for being almost late to the start.

I do my usual thing at the start of a randonnee by getting to the front so as to miss any mishaps around bridge uprights, random bollards and other obstacles that I know of but that can panic or take out another until we get to the turn off the bike path to highway 1. On highway 1 I get to chat with Bryan and Greg, and to offer a spare tail light to Ernesto. Aaron is long gone, my having lost sight of him in Sausalito before the little bump on the way out of town.

The rest of the bunch catches me near the top of the descent to Muir Beach but I want a little more control over my space on the downhill so I get to the front once more. The group catches me after on the way up and then quickly disappears before I get to Stinson. I am relieved to be able to set my own pace and think my own thoughts.

The morning is breezy and I enjoy the cooling slight headwind all the way to Occidental where I catch up with Roland. I do my thing at the control and leave slightly before he does, but I do not see Roland again until we are near the top of King Ridge. I am stopped for a short rest and a bit of water when he arrives – that first pitch is a bit of a climb. I leave the flat spot I am perched on and continue climbing on to the pretty part of King Ridge with the brown grass and the switchbacks. In the switchbacks a bunch of yahoos on Harleys come at me at speed, the first two almost take me out, the third almost panic crashes, the fourth passes safely and the last one shakes a finger at me as if I am the problem out there.

Harley riders are so pathetic. I have no need for a mechanical contraption to haul me up steep grades or to make loud noises that set off car alarms and strikes terror into the hearts of passersby, just give me a couple bottles of ensure and 50 miles as any of my riding partners can attest to! I too can gain the attention of the ladies with a blip and a pop as easily as any Harley rider.

Roland soon passes me after the Harley yahoos and I see him again at Tin Barn Road and I assist him with the answer of the info question. Roland leaves me while I drink water and look around.

There are a lot of cattle grates in this region and they are very smooth to ride on, except the next one I encounter at speed. This one looks like all the trailer hitches hit the pavement in front and it looks bad as there is a group of cyclists changing flats on the far side of it. I smack it pretty good but get off without any damage. This grate ended the ride for one of our group, I heard.

The day had been breezy, but getting to the coast the day has turned windy. After that bit of climbing on King Ridge what might have been a bit easier stretch turns out to be nearly as much work too. I get to Gualala and force myself to eat a tasty burrito and drink an ensure. I try to relax and rest but nothing is making me feel better, so I figure I better leave and see how things go.

Climbing Pacific Woods is the longest sustained steep pitch of the ride, and then there is more climbing before I get to descend to Fish Rock. The climb is hot and not even a little bit of that strong wind is present to cool me as I head up. I get to the top, rest, and keep moving, keep climbing, and things are getting worse, digging that hole that I fear I cannot climb out of, that hole of exhaustion.

I halt in a shady spot and Roland rides up and I explain how where I am right now is the last place to bail on the ride. To go any further is to be committed to the whole ride, the unofficial sag wagon is sure to be full in Ukiah if there were even any chance of that. Roland heads off to the heat and dust of Fish Rock and I turn back home. Too tired to cry either for the joy of heading home or the humiliation of defeat.

Roland leaves me behind. Sob. photo swiped from Roland without asking

Roland leaves me behind. Sob. photo swiped from Roland without asking

The coast is gorgeous, and the traffic picks up a bit so I decide to take a side trip up Kruse Ranch, a quiet dirt road to the top of the coast hill. This road is featured on another of Max’s adventure rides and is beautiful, bumpy and not at all hard a climb except for a couple of spots. I string together a few more of Max’s quiet steepish roads on the way home and get back about 330am, having completed what turns out to be a Gualala 400k.

The next day I return to the Golden Gate Bridge at 7pm to see the finishers and get my drop bag of food. On the way to the bridge I get to chat with Angela who worked the Ukiah control and at the bridge congratulate the finishers and see Roy’s broken bike.

Will I be back? Maybe. We will see.