Training  – who needs it? Training is endemic to Serious Cycling, something that I am seriously allergic to and thus for my own health I completely avoid it. To clarify, I don’t train, I ride. Unfortunately I have only taken to riding infrequently and thus my form is in perfect Curling shape.

Despite my best efforts at receding into the background of the randonneur subculture that I am a small participant in, I am not allowed to languish in comfort. This year we have a new randonnee, a dart. The SFR dart is a team event, sure to be full of fun and laughs and since the individual teams decide the route, what is there to complain about? Nothing!

I was planning to have absolutely nothing to complain about by not doing the SFR dart and just maybe volunteer at the finish or just maybe look at the photos of the participants from the ease of my comfy reading chair at home, dunking ginger snaps in my herbal relaxing tea, soft KALX in the background, maybe the fan wafting a soft breeze over my body. While in my chair I can close my eyes and imagine myself on the ride with the others or preferably take a short involuntary nap.

Despite my best efforts, I was included in an invite for a team captained by Carlos, and rounded out with Bryan, Gabe and Theresa. I like riding and being around each of these characters and what is more important, they seem to like being around me. Carlos did the paperwork and cue sheet, Bryan offered to make a route, and Theresa and Gabe offered to ride along. I contributed the team name:

El Rey Sordos y sus Audifonos

Bryan rides the east bay all the time (he lives there) and knows lots of trails that I have not even heard of or even knew existing as legal cycling trails. Bryan developed a great 200k route that is only, say 80% as hard as La Ruta Loca, that way we could stop and eat lunch, something that is difficult for La Ruta.

The finish of the route has to be in Berkeley, so it made sense to have the start and the entire route in the east bay as well. Our route starts in north Oakland, heads up to the top of the Oakland hills, pops onto trails near the top of Pinehurst and continues on those trails all the way to Castro Valley, then on roads and bike paths to Mount Diablo, back on a dirt fire road off Mount Diablo to Walnut Creek, returns to the road for a ride to the delta, back on a trail to Berkeley, and then we are done! 120 miles of Fun!

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco 120 miles of fun

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco
120 miles of fun

I was worried about not having fun because my training regimen had me dragging the week before and then I went into panic mode when I learned that it was supposed to be over 100 degrees for the Mount Diablo stretch and I knew fun would be hard to find. I sent off my cowardly and self-preserving email of resignation from the team only to be bullied back into the adventure by my own notions of riding prowess and toughness, plus a few emails from my team mates expressing disappointment at my silly need to stay healthy and alive.

Ok! So I am in no matter what. How to have fun in the murderous heat? After a few moments of deep soul searching the brilliant notion of emulating my little cousins by playing dress-up pops into my mind – this is perfect! This will be fun.

I have some sexy seersucker plaid knickers in red and white and a nearly matching red and white Hawaiian shirt in rayon with only the one cigarette burn in the middle of the back to aid in ventilation. I accessorized the two tone awesomeness with some black, green and white argyle socks and a slow moving vehicle Amish triangle on my butt (as an acknowledgement of my on road speed and the need to alert sleepy distracted aged motorists who are hands free texting and eating French fries while on medication [all perfectly legal, mind you, not to complain] as to my presence).

I plan to ride my new Steve Potts randonneur in mixed terrain mode with knobby 700×40 tires and carry my stuff in a brevet bag by Ely on my handlebars and a small rivendell sack in the back. The bike worked just fine on our mixed terrain route.

The Bart ride to the start with Carlos features a disgusting and vile drunk who isn’t worth the $5 charge his cohorts were asking to set him on fire and a few blasé fellow passengers. At the start we all assemble on time and head up to the hills. The ride to the Skyline Gate on the road is uneventful and at that info controle I decide to ditch my undershirt and run my Hawaiian shirt with just the top button buttoned – this is an effective, functional, and super sexy riding kit!

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco Me on Claremont heading up

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco
Me on Claremont heading up

We ride at a brisk pace and I hold up the rear blinking and choking in the dust but it is a total blast to be on new trails in a familiar setting. We run into a large group of mountain bikers who are astonished and floored by my awesome sexy kit and take pictures for the interwebs. I apologize for the triangle on my butt, sheepishly explaining that I feel ridiculous with it on, but it makes me feel much safer.

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco That ridiculous but safe triangle

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco
That ridiculous but safe triangle

One of the mountain bikers shouts: ‘Safety is no Accident!’ and all his buddies roar with approval. Thanking my newly won fans we shoot down the trail. Before we know it we have two team portraits completed and we are in Castro Valley.

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco The audifonos

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco
The audifonos and my sexy kit

Brian has us on typical suburban hell roads for only a short while and then we pop over onto Niles Canyon for some peace, quiet, and pee breaks.

The temperatures rise with the traffic counts and before I know it I am climbing Mount Diablo and it feels hot. The hot 400 had the warmest 85 degree temperature I had ever experienced when it turned out to be 105. This 100 degree temperature felt pretty hot too, as it turned out to be 112. I felt pretty good on the climb – why it felt like I was in a Manny Acosta photo or something.

Then we stopped at the ranger station and it all hit me. I felt really bad. DNF bad. Bryan said he was riding an additional mile up to a better spot and I left with him and trailed behind. At the better spot I poured water bottle after water bottle on my head to cool off. Then I hobbled over to a picnic table to sip on an ensure and pour water on myself. Hot. Hot. Hot.

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco chillin in the heat

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco
chillin in the heat in my sexy functional kit – note fly open for added sexiness and ventilation

We cool off a little and then climb a little more so we can descend to Walnut Creek and lunch via the famous shell ridge. Shell ridge is that place that the Rivendell folks do all their s24o rides and where Manny takes a lot of photos. It is also still 112 degrees.

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco that famous shell ridge trail

photo credit: el fotógrafo número cinco
that famous shell ridge trail

On the Climb of Mount Diablo Gabe decided to DNF, and on the descent I started having lost moments riding so I decided to bag it as well. Theresa broke her rear fender and took it off so she could keep going.

We ate lunch at the safeway and I was as red as my outfit. I was languishing in the Starbucks café for about 5 minutes before I noticed I was sitting with my fly open as well as my shirt. Oops. The fly open trick  is very helpful for air circulation while riding and sort of tops off the sexiness of my kit. I sit up, zip up and button up, to the relief of the line of 20 people in the express line who were in full view of my splendor and then wander off to the restroom and to pick out some lunch.

We part ways with Theresa, El Rey Sordo and Bryan heading off for adventure and Gabe and I heading to bart. Bart, where the air conditioning does not work in any of the cars.  I endure a short ride to Rockridge and then get off in the much nicer 70 degree overcast weather and ride to my cousins’ house to convalesce for a few hours and then meet the team and my girl Juliayn at the finish. Gabe continues home to a cold shower and he will return later.

Juliayn collects me from the cousins, where I was enjoying the 9th birthday of the cousin who inspired me to dress up. Happy Birthday Kalina! I am glad I was there to help you celebrate, and that I was able to present you with your little Magyar/English dictionary.

Dinner was nice, I was sort of surprised to find that so many teams DNF’ed that were not even on Diablo. A few people joked with me during their rides they consoled themselves with ‘at least we aren’t on Diablo’. Guess it was hot. Guess it was fun too.

Thank you team, and thank you SFR for showing me some new parts of the world and parts of myself that I never knew existed.

photo credit: photographe numéro cinq

photo credit: photographe numéro cinq