La Ruta used to be just for fun. I would show up to the informal start, get my home-made brevet card from Carlos, and go goof off the rest of the day stopping when I felt like it, riding an unsteady pace gawking around with my helmet-less head – Good times.

Now all of that is in the past. La Ruta is sanctioned by RUSA and SFR so now I gotta pay $10 and wear a helmet. Sigh.

It is still the same ride but it is not the same ride. Real changes include only one receipt control instead of two (Point Reyes Station is now an info control) and the need to finish on time to support Carlos in his hard work making this an accepted ride on the SFR and RUSA calendar. I probably could treat the ride as I have in the past and show up without paying $10 and without a helmet, but I know Carlos would say ‘nah!’ to that notion that way he does that makes him look like he is going to bite me.

So I show up to the start at Crissy Beach with a helmet on my head at 6am. Friend JimG is working the start also supporting Carlos’ ride and I see more people than ever at the start of a La Ruta – over 10 riders. Some of the riders are cross-overs from regular randonnees like Barley, Metin, Megan, and Greg, but the rest are unfamiliar to me excepting Carl and Geoff whom I know from Box Dog Bikes.

At the start - I am on the right - photo swiped from Greg without permission

At the start – I am on the right – photo swiped from Greg without permission

Like any Randonnee, cycle of choice varies. Most everyone is on a cross-bike of some sort, but notable exceptions are three Volagi’s (long distance cycle) two Black Mountain Cycles (monstercrossers), and Carl’s full fendered, generator lighted boxer 650b. I rode a fenderless 700c Pelican as my Potts was having some equipment issues. Double sigh.

Carl’s bike is very beautiful and very fendered – I warn Carl that La Ruta is not fender friendly in parts, but Carl is pretty philosophical about losing them and if he needs to replace them it is ok with him. Carl has lots of bikes but I suppose he chose the boxer because La Ruta is a Randonnee.

We head out and while I was on and off the bridge first, I was quickly second to last excepting Metin and unofficially third to last because of Henry showing up late and not getting checked in.

Like previous iterations of La Ruta I take note of the info control question well before the info control, confirm the answer while rolling through the control, and then write the answer many miles down the road when I happen to stop for a moment. The roads and trails are empty all the way to Pantoll. I ride for a short while with one rider or the other, but I am on my own for nearly the whole ride.

On Muir Woods Road I hear some loud knobbies approaching quickly. It is Barley with Megan in tow on their Volagi’s. Barley is on a carbon one, and Megan is on a steel one. Barley pats me on the back and is quickly gone.

At the top of Deer Park I run into Barley again and thank him for taking care of the Hoags on the 400k. The Hoags had a front flat on their tandem on a descent and crashed and Barley abandoned the ride to get them to a hospital. After leaving Barley at the info control I catch Ernesto and we chat for a moment or two. Ernesto asks how I am doing. ‘Muchas quejas’ is the reply, along with ‘Por favor, reduzca la velocidad’. Ernesto laughed but kept going when I stopped at the restrooms at the Pantol Ranger Station. I top off my bottles and scoot.

I am alone on Rock Springs (where I marveled at the incredible views that are always there) and all the way to Five Corners where Carl and Geoff are resting. Carl is removing his rear fender that failed on the way down mount tam.

alone on rock springs - photo swiped from Metin without asking

alone on rock springs – photo swiped from Metin without asking

I don’t stop other than to say howdy, finish up Concrete Pipe road and start up bo-fax to Bolinas ridge. Bolinas ridge is a little damp, but no muddier than I have seen in the past. I was wearing a white world champion jersey and I counted maybe three small specks of mud when I washed it the next day.

the start of bolinas ridge - that is Metin's bike - photo swiped from Metin without asking

the start of bolinas ridge – that is Metin’s bike – photo swiped from Metin without asking

I alternately claim to have won the jersey in the headless recumbent trike world championship criterium (before the miraculous transplant surgery) or that I won it in the LGBT world road championships (I got a boob job because I could only garner sponsorship as a transgender) that I nearly lost because of an ‘equipment’ malfunction. Please ask me about the details (of either intrepid exploit) next time you see me and have some time to spare.

I felt really weak and jittery after descending Randall trail but I decided to see how I recovered by riding on Hwy 1. I rode through the spring loaded gate on the left that everyone fails to notice (others on the ride carried their bike through the hiker chicane in the fence) and I felt fine within 100 feet. I felt good enough that  a few miles later I rode through Point Reyes without stopping.

I did not stop until Sameul P Taylor, and then only for a minute or two, again to top off my bottles.

Carlos and Ernesto passed me as I was leaving, and Barley and Megan passed me again near San Geronimo. I pick up Greg in Fairfax but he drops me as I stop a little more completely than he at stop signs. Later on Paradise Greg shows up behind me so he can draft me a bit (knee problems) as he got lost – Greg used to be the route master for the club…

As I am almost leaving Café Acri in Tiburon I spy Carlos leaving. A mile or two later on the bike path to Blithedale Barley, Megan and Greg pass me. Ernesto catches me at the base of Camino Alto, but stops in Mill Valley for gelato that he never gets because the line is too long.

At West Point Inn I see Barley and Megan again and schuss down to Miwok, Coyote, Tennessee Valley, and climb most of Marincello before Barley and Greg pass me again. Megan settles down and rides with me for a while. We group up again at the top of Coastal Trail (where I saw Jake! Jake was doing a shake-down run on his setup for a bikepacking expedition to Colorado) and more or less finish together. Carlos finished an half-hour before, and the first finisher was something like an hour before Carlos.

Juliayn hands me a beer from my own stash, as beer was not to be offered officially (RUSA rules?) and Rob H. serves up warm potato soup. Ernesto arrives, and soon after come Geoff and Carl, and Metin and Henry, all of us within the 13.5 hour limit comfortably.

Beer! Juliayn and I frame the finishers and finish crew - photo swiped from Greg without asking

Beer! Juliayn and I frame the finishers and finish crew – photo swiped from Greg without asking

Such a beautiful ride! All of the hard work is amply repaid with quiet trails and views few ever experience despite 7 million souls being within a couple of miles. Carl has been in the bay area just a few weeks – such an introduction to the neighborhood! This ride has even rekindled some of my affection for this place too, thank you Carlos and everyone else.