Archives for the month of: March, 2014

A nice weekend for a ride – the weather for this version of the 400 was forecast as being just that – 70 or so for a high temperature and not much below 50 for a low, with light breezes. Yes it was very nice, but boy was it cold for a long time during the morning. When packing for the ride I forgot to look for additional coverings for my feet and I did not have anything even close to being handy before I walked out the door and so I had to leave without any toe covers or booties. I was worried about being late because I had the brevet cards and waiver for the other two riders that were joining me and I could not keep them waiting at the start.

In my haste to get to the bridge I some how end up arriving ten minutes early and no one else is there. I should have looked for the booties. Plus, I suddenly realize that if either of the other two are late I have to wait for them. Sigh.

Soon Carlos arrives five minutes early and Tom shows up just a couple minutes later and we are off into the mist that does not lift until Hicks Valley and the bottom of Wilson Hill where Tom’s bottom bracket shears off and leaves his left crankarm on the ground. Tom is a powerful slow cadence rider, but I wonder if he had maybe a couple of pedal strikes that started the crack in his bottom bracket caused it to fail. At least it broke when he was going 4 mph and not 40 down a big hill.

Carlos and I leave Tom to make his way home and climb into the sun shine for a short while. After Wilson Hill Chileno valley gets increasingly fogged in and displays some pretty white rainbows. I could see the rainbow shape and the usual colors very faintly, but the rainbows were essentially white arches in front of us.  Pretty. The fog stays with us until bodega, and finally leaves us on the steep inclines of Joy Road.

Joy road serves up a veritable feast of all-you-can-eat gnats swarming around us and they keep us company all the way to the top. The descent from there has Carlos drop me and I do not see him until Guernville. Like during the 300k, Guernville is still overrun by individuals escaping the rat race of vast metropolises such as Santa Rosa and Ukiah and serves up a unique mix of baggy pants, neck tattoos and hair cream.

River Road was as filled with traffic as always and only two or three clapped out honda accords buzzed me, so it was pretty nice! After River Road the traffic almost completely disappeared the whole way to Hopland. Perhaps the hive-minds were all watching college basketball or hearing the latest updates on that missing plane.

The following big climbs out of Cloverdale on 128 and Mountain House were not too hot and not too pretty, as it is still early for wildflowers. Not totally gorgeous, but certainly good enough for a Saturday afternoon interlude. I was hugely frustrated in Hopland by a large group of large people who swiped ALL THE PIZZA. I had to wait ten minutes for a fresh one. Sheesh.

128 to chalk hill was as pleasant as ever and I enjoyed a first time experience of an elderly lady buzzing me to get to the casino – good luck granny! Hope you win the big one some day soon. After chalk hill it gets dark and I wish for some booties again. We had a slight tail wind all day and now it is a slight head wind, slowing us and adding to the chilly temperatures.

The whole endless stretch of Fulton Road and Stoney Point Road have me craving some Denny’s hospitality at the end. I negotiate a quick stop for warmth and food with Carlos and we end up spending almost an hour sitting on seats wider than our butts and being served up warm food by a waitress. We don’t have to lift a finger! We intrepid manly men need our pampering.

The return home is punctuated by a flat, my first in quite some time. Seems my use of old handlebar tape for a rim strip is perhaps not the best idea. The puncture slows us a bit further for our finish at almost 3AM.

400 done! Next the fleche, and then the 600. Soon! Soon I will be done with my volunteering for a bit.

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This is my least favorite route in the SR series, but it is not all bad. This version had nice weather and for some of it, empty roads. I was able to do a weekday workers ride because the usual day was taken up by a fun ride, a Fauxvet. The fauxvet was an impromptu and sometimes chaotic mixed terrain ride down the coast where I got to see a lot of familiar territory from a different view point and I was also able to add a little of some of the special areas I have learned of.

The fauxvet had a wonderful mix of showers, sun and rainbows all day and I was hoping for more of the same for the workers ride, but it was merely pleasant weather, not wonderful. This ride is early in the season and I have even seen snow on this ride so merely pleasant is a good thing.

In Marin County, Carlos drops me for a while in Ross when he decides to go through a corner parking lot (like 80% of the cyclists do) instead of wait at the stop light. I wait at the stop light. I catch up in San Geronimo.

The rest of the ride to Petaluma is a bit cold and traffic filled, but we are on a reverse commute so most of the traffic is going the other way. Petaluma itself is very traffic filled and very construction filled. There is a huge new strip mall going in just before the safeway control on a stretch of road where the city decided to not add bike lanes (this stretch will really suck even more after the strip mall opens) and a bunch of new car driver attracting developments going in after the safeway control on another crappy car filled road with no bike lanes.

The sun is shining for our ride from Petaluma, but every diesel burning vehicle is out enjoying the sun too. The 101 corridor leaves a lot to be desired, but it is the flattest way from Petaluma to Healdsburg.

The Safeway control in Healdsburg is out of the good flavors of soup and I settle for the potato/cheese soup and add some tomato soup to it. I got to try the cucumber flavored gatorade too, I sort of like it because it is not as sweet.

West side road is gorgeous as ever, with an even balance of nice new pavement and more deteriorated old pavement. River Road has a constant stream of diesel monster trucks ruining the air quality, but they behave themselves and do not harass us. Guernville is overrun with the most picturesque mob of vagabonds sporting tank tops, pony tails and camo outfits. River road empties after Monte Rio and we get the benefit of a weekday ride on the coast – minimal tourist traffic and empty roads.

The Sonoma Coast was the usual incredible sight, but still paled against the coast we saw during the Fauxvet.

More empty beautiful roads and finally we are back in Fairfax and the traffic is back. In downtown Fairfax I yield for a pedestrian in a cross walk that Carlos did not see and then 200 feet later an ass in a pickup forces me to the curb jamming through for the stop sign.

I scream at the idiot motorist that nothing justifies what he did (he said I needed to be further to the right than I was and that made his running me off the road ok – thank you automobile industry and corporate talk radio for spreading your mis-information to the driving public) and Carlos cringes and wonders when he will witness my death under the wheels of some idiot.

Between eating a few snacks and almost dying (an over dramatic exaggeration) I end up dropping Carlos even though I am stopping at stop signs. He catches up at the bottom of Camino Alto and we finish together. Done.

This randonnee will continue to be my least favorite.