This ride is the season closer for the SF Randonneuring club and like our season opener that takes place in two short months, this ‘last chance’ attracts many new people plus old friends and can be just as much fun as a populaire, just a bit more work. 150 people signed up and for me, when that many people show for a ride I jump to the conclusion that 150 randonneurs equals 150 ways to get crashed, but nobody crashed not even Carlos (there was a whoopsie last year) so good job folks!

I show up a bit late because of BART maintenance keeping me on the train an extra 20 minutes and get to greet and thank Bruce Berg, the guy who helped to make this ride a standard on our calendar and proceed through sign-in procedures.  I get to say hi to Brian and Eric from the old Caz 300 while I stand apart from the group. The solemn SRF oath is given and then we all stand around for a while shivering until Rob starts riding and I follow.

By starting at the front of the group I can let everyone pass me and I have the chance to talk to some new people. Usually they start with a ‘nice bike’ (thank you for thinking so) and we start chatting. A young rider talks to me for a little while and I get the notion he is a racer so I point out Max to him as a solid fast rider who will give him a run for his money for the next 7 hours. I later heard he stuck with Max the whole way and that Max appreciated his company, so I did at least one good thing that day.

I ended up riding almost the whole way with two people I have been meaning to ride with for a long time – Manny and Irving. Manny is always happy and always strong and a noted photographer, and Irving is Irving.

Manny and Irving

Manny and Irving

I ride just a little faster than I like to on this ride for the first couple of hours, partly because a lot of it is a false flat downhill, but also because I want to get to Del Puerto Canyon where it is so beautiful, so different from what I usually get to see here in California.

typical Del Puerto experience

typical Del Puerto experience

more boring and typical Del Puerto

more boring and typical Del Puerto

At mile 19 of del Puerto I stop at Adobe Springs and drink some water even though I am not thirsty just because I can. Manny has long ago dropped me and Irving effortlessly riding and laughing with friends Gabe and Carlos way back at mile 5 give or take a mile. After a short refreshing pause Irving and I start the climb together but I am at the top a little quicker and take pictures of people summiting the climb until Irving arrives.

Eric from the old caz 300 is first

Eric from the old caz 300 is first

Francisco is next

Francisco is next

Wrench Science friends from last year are next

Wrench Science friends from last year are next

Willy speeds by saying he will beat me to the county line - and he does

Willy speeds by saying he will beat me to the county line – and he does

and Irving! lets go Irving!

and Irving! lets go Irving!

Riding the few rollers before getting to the next control Lee catches us and we get to catch up a tad before a break at the Junction Bar and Grill. The tavern keeps served up the food randomly and some like I, waited over an hour while others arrived and got food instantly. Last year I toted a 32oz mug for drinking and this time I brought it along again. While waiting I consume two mugsworth of beer and probably went through the several stages of grief while waiting the 90 minutes it took for my grilled cheese and French fries. Maybe I was entertaining to the others as I found myself passing through shock, disbelief, anger and acceptance, but I was probably just plain obnoxious the whole time. I refuse to apologize, but you can forgive me anytime you like.

languishing and starving at the old folks bar and grille

languishing and starving at the old folks bar and grille

a hearty thumbs up for the service and food

a hearty thumbs up for the service and food

Never again will I depend on the efforts of the befuddled seniors of the Junction for my food! I will return to my technique of last year and carry a large heavy sandwich filled with food security made with self-love and flavorful pampering. Maybe I will buy beer from the befuddled seniors if the line is short. Maybe.

Leaving the old folks control we get the added bonus of Steve H. and Jack Moonbeam in our group, but once the descending starts Steve and Manny drop away from us not to be seen until 10 miles later in Livermore where they are delayed by a difficult to repair flat visited on them by the Spirit of Randonneuring. Ha! The long wait at the junction stole all of the beautiful evening light from us for the long descent to the Diablo Valley on Mines Road, leaving us just the dregs of the gloam, reminding me of yet one more reason to bring my own food and not linger at the Junction.

Jack moons at the camera - Stylie!

Jack moons at the camera – Stylie!

Irving approves of the easy grade down to diablo valley.

Irving approves of the easy grade down to diablo valley.

Just as darkness takes hold we arrive at the finish in Dublin and enjoy some Starbucks hospitality. I get my mug filled with hot water for green tea, and to further warm my heart Irving presents me with my Stokens that I have earned for the day, and Manny thanks me for wearing a jersey with photogenic qualities.

hot tea and stokens

hot tea and stokens

Our group had talked about for going to a pub for dinner after the ride, but no one has that sort of ambition any more. Irving did point out the combination of a Bevmo and an in-n-out burger joint 500 feet from the finish that gets our brains churning for feeding ourselves next year in these food-that-comes-frozen-in-a-box wastelands. While waiting at the BART station for the train home and I realize Manny has gifted me with a Peek-a-pooh for my bike. Irving and Manny are very generous with their hearts and their possessions and remind me I can do better as a human being.

Farrah and I are happy to go home

Farrah and I are happy to go home

Goals met! I rode with the people I wanted to, chatted with a few new ones, reacquainted myself with a few old/new ones from last time, and learned an important lesson about feeding myself at the Junction.

Nice ride. Thanks volunteers and thanks SFR and Bruce.

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