yes! nicely bound and out of the shoe box in the closet - this is a coffee table book worth putting out and collecting the ooohs and aaahs.

Yes! Nicely bound and out of the shoe box in the closet – this is a coffee table book worth putting out and collecting the ooohs and aaahs.

With the passing of On the Wheel, Dirt Rag ruining itself by going from black and white to full color and Velo News going ‘all Lance all the time’ there was nothing bike related worth reading except the occasional Rivendell Reader. That was when Grant gave his subscription list to Jan Heine who offered us Vintage Bicycle Quarterly.

racing stripes of a different color on this fine coffee table book for my atelier salon

Racing stripes of a different color on this fine coffee table book for my atelier/salon

Vintage Bicycle Quarterly was such a revelation! Lost bicycle secrets and history in every issue! I would devour each issue and attempt to adapt my high trail bikes to look like the old 650b bikes with big tires and big fenders. My Ramboulliette and my Gunnar Crosshairs gained fenders but never the style, grace and good handling of one of those old bikes. Sigh.

the first cover and the first interview - Ernest Csuka gave Jan a bunch of cred

The first cover and the first interview – Ernest Csuka gave Jan a bunch of cred

It took three years before Jan did a bike test in his magazine, that on a Heron, but he started on his pet thing ‘planing’ from the very start in his recounting of one of his intrepid adventures on a 400k, poor guy. Almost all the bikes that Jan featured during this time had relatively skinny (28cm) 700c tires.

What makes a good randonneur bike? Why Jan's own bikes - that riv of Jan's later had the fork crown break and Jan does not even use it for cyclocross or errands.

What makes a good randonneur bike? Why Jan’s own bikes – that riv of Jan’s later had the fork crown break and Jan does not even use it for cyclocross or errands anymore. Note all those skinny 700c tires – not a 650b bike to recommend yet, as there are no supple tires available.

I learned about low trail and the theoretical advantages thereof, the technical trials and how so many of the ‘new’ ideas in cycles were already tried and scrapped. During this time I also moved to California, did my first (partial) brevet – the light house 200, starting two hours late and skipping the Marshall leg – and also tried to get a Singer camping bike through Jan. It was going to cost me $5k, but Euro shock happened while it was being built (it was going to double in price) so I cancelled the order. I also did my first volunteering for SFR, pulling the final volunteer shift for the 400 in 2003 for Darryl Skrabek.



Instead of a Singer for my first low trail bike I purchased an Ebisu 700c bike, standard tubing size and low trail, just like Jan said I should in his review of the bike in VBQ. Hiroshi and Jitensha were local; just a short bike ride away and that bike started me off in my official randonneuring career. Hiroshi’s bikes are really something special.

This is the test article that got me to go out and get my own ebisu

This is the test article that got me to go out and get my own ebisu

Bookbinding notes: The early issues were only around 20 pages, similar to On The Wheel. After a couple years heavier paper was used for greater durability during the harsh printing and mailing processes.

top of the binding, all lined up, note the thicker paper of the issues on the right.

Top of the binding, all lined up. Note the thicker paper of the later issues on the right.

Bottom of the binding. Like On The Wheel, sizes of the different issues are all over the place.

Bottom of the binding. Like On The Wheel sizes of the different issues are all over the place.

See, all the issues fail to line up or to plane - binding is very supple though.

See, all the issues fail to line up or to plane – binding is very supple though.

This time period, the first four years, is what I liken to the golden age of VBQ, when everything was newly discovered and newly appreciated. The issues of Jan’s magazine that are titled ‘Vintage’ are truly that, the good stuff from earlier times.


A while back, there was some discussion here what would be the best – or fastest – cycle and tyre for the La Ruta Loca 200-kilometeur gravel rando/ride.

The event was last weekend. (Quite possibly a number of riders probably are still out there.) The roads were among the most difficult gravel roads I’ve encountered anywhere – it really was a punishing ride.

Carlos D. came third on a 559C cyclocross bike with $5 reflective sidewall 38 mm tires. I was fourth on my Steve Potts with Loopity Loop Pass Extrathick 700 x 38 (actual 34mm on 23mm rim) supple tires. I feel that a little wider tires would have been beneficial on the soft gravel and sand (and I truly wished for even a hint of tread numerous times), but direct comparison to mountain bikers showed that their stiff sidewalls and lack of give in the forks (almost all were on rigid setups) slowed them down more than our relatively narrow tires even though some dude on a mountain bike 29’er finished two hours ahead of me.

My randonneur cycle and supple tyres truly kicked ass. Purchase them here. Cudos to all the event participants and volunteers.

A full report of Carlos’ ride last year is here:

I posted mostly about my feelings about the ride here:


Bonk if you don’t know Velocio

All twelve issues, nicely bound

All twelve issues, nicely bound

I am just as much an armchair cyclist as I am an active cyclist, or at least I used to be when I read bicycle magazines more regularly. I collected several shoeboxes full of the Rivendell reader, including the first BOB club issues and would re-read them from time to time. Grant Petersen shaped much of my understanding of bicycles (along with the writers of Bicycle Guide in the 1980’s before) which would mean I rode steel, standard size, and no suspension on my ‘mountain’ bike.

As Grant has matured over the years he has left behind much of what I have accepted as the way things should be, but he still is a great nurturer of cycling in a very positive way. Grant has also introduced me to other writers of cycling and the next one to catch my interest was Gabe Konrad with his On The Wheel (OTW). OTW came in black and white just like Dirt Rag did when it was worth reading and included exactly what I was looking for – history, touring and old bikes – that Grant would touch on but as the Rivendell Reader was mainly selling Rivendells, did not touch on as much as I was looking for.

I subscribed for the duration of the publication of OTW and even though some of the scholarly aspects of the historical articles have been questioned, I decided to preserve my collection of OTW in a special way by having them bound into a book.

The cover of the first issue - gotta have Eddy on it. Gabe changed the font used throughout the magazine extravagantly and extensively

The cover of the first issue – gotta have Eddy on it. Gabe changed the font used throughout the magazine extravagantly and extensively

table of contents (can you read 'contents'? crazy font) Jan Heine is listed as a contributor, but not an article, hmmm.

table of contents (can you read ‘contents’? crazy font) Jan Heine is listed as a contributor, but not an article, hmmm.

Cartoon page of first issue displays the bumpersticker with the name of my blog.

Cartoon page of first issue displays the bumper sticker with the name of my blog.

Here is Jan's contribution - a letter to the editor about his exploits as a cyclo-cross competitor, complete with photo of him looking manic with mud all over his face.

Here is Jan’s contribution – a letter to the editor about his exploits as a cyclocross competitor, complete with photo of him looking manic with mud all over his face.

Issue four, with an image just as iconic as that one taken by Paulette in the Pyrenees that is used all the time for old timey rando pictures

Issue four, with an image just as iconic as that one taken by Paulette in the Pyrenees that is used all the time for old timey rando pictures

Took Gabe four issues to get around to Velocio, but hey! this ain't no rando magazine.

Took Gabe four issues to get around to Velocio, but hey! this ain’t no rando magazine.

Issue eight finally has Rebour.

Issue eight finally has Rebour.

Gabe would include perks like book marks and post cards in with the magazine.

Gabe would include perks like book marks and post cards in with the magazine.

Gabe featured his own bike on the cover of issue nine - at least it is not a hand drawn center spread, sheesh.

Gabe featured his own bike on the cover of issue nine – at least it is not a hand drawn center spread, sheesh.

In getting the 12 issues bound, I learned a few things about binding periodicals:

Thick binder's board is used for binding periodicals. The boards are as thick as one of the issues. Stripes on the cover mimic world champion stripes.

Thick binder’s board is used for binding periodicals. The boards are as thick as one of the issues. Stripes on the cover mimic world champion stripes.

Periodicals are not especially precise in form. This is the top of the spine, with the edge of the issues lining up.

Periodicals are not especially precise in form. This is the top of the spine, with the edge of the issues lining up.

This is the bottom of the spine - the height of the issues is very irregular - the width is too, if one looks at the top view image that shows the edge of issues, they are all different widths as well as heights.

This is the bottom of the spine – the height of the issues is very irregular – the width is too, if one looks at the top view image that shows the edge of issues, they are all different widths as well as heights.

Getting my OTW bound and out of the shoe boxes has encouraged me to rediscover some material that has helped me to understand and enjoy my cycling passion in a very delightful way. The luxurious feel of even a simple hand bound cloth book is quite extraordinary. I definitely encourage anyone who has something that they want to preserve in a beautiful and respectful way to get themselves to a hand book binder. I certainly am glad I did.

wish me luck!

out in the fog and rain for several years


Potts Steelhead

If anyone has a bike they do not use anymore, they can consider donating it to green gulch farm for the workers to use getting from field to field. Anyone got an xt (or better) back wheel lying around?

Stokemeter™ warranty department,

Please find enclosed my Stokemeter. It has not registered any stokened-ness this whole blessed randonneuring season. Is something broken? Please advise.

Cheers, RUSA #5067

I did the SF Fort Bragg 600k workers ride last weekend. Thank goodness it is over.

I always forgive and forget how difficult this ride is for me. Last year I learned from my sufferings and was going to ride a cushy 650b bike but that bike broke on the way to the ride and I rode a 700c bike instead. This year I forgot about why I wanted to ride a cushy bike and boy, did I get a reminder! Every bump and expansion joint reminded me from mile 280 to the finish, hidden potholes saying ‘remember this jolt to your wrists?’ expansion joints on bridges poking needles into my feet, and the sun burning my enthusiasm to the ground in a heap of dead ashes.

My stokemeter must have burnt out too, it has not registered much stoking this current brevet season, and I kept putting off packing and checking my bike for the ride and other than clothing choice, I did not think too much about anything. My insouciance paid me back for thinking ‘meh, just another 600k, get on bike, ride’.

Fellow worker’s rider Carlos was feeling much the same and our pre-ride coordination was something like ride together most of the way until daybreak, then see what happens. RBA Rob was also distracted and we needed to remind him to give us our brevet cards and the waiver. This ride was far from everyone’s mind, it seemed.

Day of the ride Carlos and I met at the Golden Gate Bridge at the usual 6am start time and Carlos informs me he did not sleep at all the night before. I am not too concerned because this has become pretty normal for him to not sleep well before a ride, but a 600k is a looong ride. We sort of ride together until the traffic light on the border of San Anselmo and Ross, where I stop at the red light and Carlos with a ‘ha-ha’ rides through the parking lot on the corner and is gone.

I ride alone until I get to Point Reyes Station where I first drink an ensure and then pump up my tires which have felt soft and slow until then. As I pump up the first tire Carlos arrives and asks how long I have been there, implying that I have been there quite some time. I reply just a few minutes and he said he saw a rider ahead of him back in Fairfax (after the red light and parking lot) and thought it was me, and so he chased a phantom me all the way to Point Reyes. I just sort of look at him and wonder why he would work so hard when he did not sleep all night even if it was me instead of a phantom.

Soon we are being pushed by a nice tail wind to Petaluma. The forecast was calling for a breezy day and maybe headwinds, but I cannot get too excited, been there, done that, blah blah blah. Petaluma has been steadily developing regional shopping with regional traffic and so getting to the Safeway and leaving has us in lots of busy shopper traffic.

Shopper traffic stays thick and heavy all the way to Healdsburg, masking much of the beauty of the fields and hills with diesel fumes and roaring tailpipes.

The Healdsburg Safeway is very busy, but there is a good choice of soups so I get a soup, a jarritos, and some bubbly water. The table out front where we parked our bikes and were going to sit at was taken by a young mother, her three year old daughter and her infant son. No problem, there are plenty of tables. During the break I go back and forth between my bike and our table a few times to do some rando things.

The first time I went back to my bike the mom was admonishing her daughter to eat her chicken nuggets and I offered to eat them if she didn’t want them. I have never seen such a feral look on a child! Her mom said ‘Ooh, looks like someone has made an enemy!’ On subsequent trips back to the bike I complement the girl on her progress with eating the chicken nuggets and she turned out to have a very nice smile.

On the way out of town Carlos wants to take Grove Street instead of Healdsburg Avenue, and I get my way and Healdsburg Avenue although next time (if there is a next time) I will take Grove. The pavement is smoother and there are bike lanes, two worthy rewards for a slightly longer route.

The wind is picking up a bit but still it is only a 10-12 mph breeze, so nothing awful, just a little more work. Then I get a flat.

I was just finishing a long pull in the wind and my tire went soft. I yell at El Rey Sordo (King of the Deaf) that I need to stop. I start with the tire fixing duties and Carlos languishes in the shade telling me how slow I am, not offering to check my tire for sharp things or any other flat fixing chores. I slap in a patched tube and pump it up, but it has a removable core and my pump removes the core. Sigh.

Carlos in disgust gives me his pump ‘it is a good pump’ – a friend gave it to him instead of throwing it away – and I squeak in 250 strokes of soft air to get the tire up. My pump only needs 25 strokes and the tire was hard, but good luck keeping the core in. Then the spare tube goes flat in another mile and much snarling and snapping at each other ensues as we limp into Cloverdale and wander around looking for the bike shop.

The bike shop is found and 3 tubes are purchased as well as rim strips (I could find no sharp objects in the tire) and I am ready to leave. The shop owner came out as we finished up and sort of bragged about how good the cycling is in Cloverdale and generously invited us back to town anytime we wanted. I said we would be back around 5am tomorrow because we were riding to Fort Bragg, back to Cloverdale and continuing back to San Francisco. Watching his eyes bug out was very satisfying.

Finally patched up we can get out and get going. The climb out on 128 was warm but not hot, but Carlos thinks it is hot, so he and I argue about which year was hottest, this year or that year, etc. The ups and downs are endless before we get to Boonville, but so pretty.

I refrain from speculating where I am as everything blends together, one two mile climb looking pretty much like any of the 6 or 7 others, with the exception of the moonscape climb that is the only one that is devoid of trees that I know is pretty close to Boonville. To add spice to the ups and downs my front derailer has gotten sticky and I have to push it with my hand so I can get in the little ring to climb. Carlos gave me some oil for it back in Cloverdale, but it is not working.

On the final descent into Boonville the Highway department has a corporation yard along the road where they store boulders and rocks and various aggregates. I note a very large pile of dark stuff that at first I think is soil, but on closer inspection I decide it is asphalt grindings. A lot of asphalt grindings.

Boonville is usually a sleepy place that is nice to stop at for water and what not, but this day the Boonville Beer fest is going on so there is a traffic jam of cars, bikes, and drunk people. I tell Carlos we better go to the next town for food and water but he insists on stopping in the middle of the melee. I tell him the lines will be long but he is stubborn. I linger outside the market and do rando things and he comes out quickly saying the line is too long. I remind him to drink an ensure and we head to Philo, the next town.

The winds pick up a tad and I discover where all the asphalt grindings came from, the stretch of highway between Boonville and Philo. The surface is rough, but not much different than it was pre-grinding (it was pretty awful before), with the addition of a liberal sprinkling of random gravel.

We get to Philo and receive our poor treatment from surly staff. Carlos sits down to eat his food with a look to me that says – ‘do not ask me to move because I won’t’. I patiently wait for food to be eaten and things to be drunk so we can leave. Carlos is steadily getting weaker the closer we get to Fort Bragg.

Despite my flat tire fiddling and Carlos’ being tired we still make it to Mendocino before full dark which is not bad and I am pretty surprised at our progress. Carlos wants to go to McDonalds in Fort Bragg for hot food, but I convince him to go to Safeway so we can get in and get out. At Safeway we putz around for nearly an hour, eating bad Safeway food and gearing up for the cold ride back home.

We leave and Carlos is getting weaker and keeps dropping off the back until somewhere between Novarro and Philo he tells me to just ride my own pace and leave him be.

I lose the sight of his lights pretty quickly and get a little boost at being able to ride my own pace. Deer in the brush crashing about in the darkness helps me keep my pace up with shots of adrenalin.

The sun rises in Healdsburg and I am sick of all my food, too sweet, nothing savory and I want breakfast food badly. There is nothing open in Healdsburg  so I continue on to Guerneville via West Side Road. West Side Road is very bumpy and every bump sends a shot of pain through my feet and hands and keeps me from enjoying the rural beauty of the road. In Guerneville I find a diner (River Inn Grill) that recently started opening at 7am and so I pop in for a big breakfast, and watch for Carlos to pass.

Carlos does not pass and I leave to go to the Safeway to answer the info question on the brevet card and then out and over to Point Reyes Station. The sun has been up for over 2 hours but it has not warmed up the temperatures. The day turns out beautiful and care free and I try to ignore my quickly increasing list of body parts that are chafing and sore and sensitive.

In Point Reyes I get an ice cream sandwich and watch ebb and flow of the line of cyclists outside the bovine bakery. Leaving Point Reyes I collect a group of Aids Lifecycle yahoos who are trained to yell ‘ON YOUR LEFT’ into my ear each time they pass. They stop a lot to fiddle with things so they yelled ‘ON YOUR LEFT’ into my ear a lot. What I yelled back after the fourth time of them passing me is unprintable, even in my blog.

The Golden Gate Bridge was totally packed with wobbly newbies and tourists being blown around by the wind. I had mentally steeled myself for just such an experience but the first dudes to get in my way first rolled right into me without looking causing me to emergency maneuvers, and then they proceeded to panic stop when other newbies were wobbly too much in their vicinity. When they were not panic stopping they were obsessed with their bike computers looking down and moving things and pressing buttons. I zipped around the first chance I got which took a while to show up. I did not say ‘ON YOUR LEFT’.

I survived the ordeal by bridge and wobbly cyclists and finished at 325pm, which makes for a 33:25. Good enough for flat tires and big breakfasts and loss of enthusiasm 100 miles out, and good enough for me.

Positives for this ride is not a single bad moment with a motorist, not one close pass, not one stupid impatient maneuver – good job motorists, keep it up – and uh, um… good job motorists!

Carlos gets a gold star for sticking with it and not expecting me to be overly burdened with his suffering, although it high time he gets a hearing aid. I get tired of repeating myself and am pretty sure he can get a good cheap one online from deal extreme. I might even contribute to the cost.

Good luck to the rest of the club riding next week, should be a nice day (and night) to get out on the bike.

that is what you see if you go to

that is what you see if you go to

I deleted all the 50-odd pictures I had on flickr today. I usually don’t care about how free stuff works on the web, but flickr has been screwing with everything every few weeks and I got tired of it, especially when I could only see MY OWN pictures if I logged into yahoo. Screw that. I will use some other free service for my photos and crap until that becomes too much of a pain and then I will just write in a blank book and sketch once in a while and only use a camera for work. Digital cameras suck without the interwebs or a computer, two things I really don’t need too badly.

Anyway, this is a long introduction to the caterpillar. Some privileged people that flickr does not malfunction for saw picture of a caterpillar I saw on the cross marin trail and missed out with the blanket deletion.

Well, here it is:

according to the interwebs this is a Battus-philenor, a pipevine butterfly caterpillar

according to the interwebs this is a Battus-philenor, a pipevine butterfly caterpillar


it was wiggling the front, that is why it is out of focus


with scale – it was about two inches long

deviations from pelican standard: 57 square, 43cm chainstays, room for rock n roads or 40's and fenders

deviations from pelican standard: 57 square, 43cm chainstays, room for rock n roads or 40’s and fenders

I have a couple/few pelicans, two of them are prototypes. The first prototype is from the first batch of test pelicans when Gabe of box dog first started the process of production pelicans for everyone and is and always was my townie. I ride that bike the most of any of my bikes. The second prototype is a 650b in 58 size. Originally pelicans only came in 650b in the small sizes but I got Gabe to make me a custom (and one for him) in larger size and got lightweight tubes in the bargain as well. That pelican is red.

front end

front end

I used to own the pelican that was tested in VBQ a while back but that has gone to a better home. I have some of the first pelicans made by Ahren Rodgers and I also have one of the last, a standard 650b 58 size pelican, which is just a frame at the moment so it takes up less room in my apartment and in my mind.

modified rivendell bag

modified rivendell bag – the rag is for wiping stuff off the wheel rims when I am riding

I guess I like pelicans a lot, enough so that I spent way too much money and got a titanium pelican built for me by Steve Potts. Steve is a nice guy, getting my bike from him took a couple years. I like my titanium pelican – perhaps a monster randonneur – quite a lot and it has surely filled the empty space in my rides when I got rid of the VBQ test pelican. In addition to a custom bike, I also got two custom front racks for this bike from Jim G. The first is made to order, and the second is a modified standard rack. I am very lucky to have Jim for a friend.

titanium pelican somewhere on mount vision

titanium pelican somewhere on mount vision


The Fleche event is easy to like. If you take the trouble to form a team you get to pick your route and your riding partners, a sure recipe for fun! For the last few years I have been refining a route lent to me by Willy N. and modifying the team roster to make things better for me as captain and for everyone who participates. I made no changes to the route from last year, but this was good because I had to spend that extra energy on forming a team.

At first we had too many people, so we went through a wishy washy month or two of team members not wanting to steal the fun from others and offering to go away but not really going away and me, being middle aged and male solved things the only way that makes sense. I made like King Solomon and the baby and decided to cut the team in half. The half I kept was related to me one way or another, girlfriend Juliayn and Cousin Russ, and the half I jettisoned was Gabe, Bryan and Theresa. Gabe and Bryan found a home on different teams and Theresa came back. Gabe got invited to an adventurous mixed terrain ride and Bryan was invited to a team that is noted for developing routes with as little climbing as possible in the route.

The best part of a fleche in addition to the previously mentioned perks is making up your own team name. The team name I really wanted to use, the Flechebags is always taken by Alfie’s team, so instead of Schwetty Flechebags, or maybe Flaming Flechebags (that is for next year, although I am considering Oblio’s Ant Farm as well) I settled for Quo Vadis? which is Latin for ‘where ya goin?’ this team name is appropriate for a person from Indiana like me, where the nickname for residents is ‘hoosier’ which some say is a contraction of ‘who’s you?’. Questioning, we hoosiers are always questioning.

Like I said, I have steadily refined the route over the last few years, sometimes changing the start venue from here to there and I have a few different cue sheets lying around on my computer and of course this year I sent one cue with a start near golden gate park to my team, and a cue with a different start venue to the event coordinator. I did not notice the switcheroo, but Juliayn did and averted a bit of drama from the start of the ride. Our route does not have much opportunity for making up time in a graceful way if we have troubles.

The weather forecast was going to be beautiful, but that always worries me about car traffic for a ride. Nicer weekend days always seem to attract more people to hop in the car and drive somewhere, often ruining things for us poor cyclists that need the roads too.

The route is about 400k with something more than 15,000 feet of climbing. Almost all the climbing comes early in the ride when we are strongest.


Russ has a new helmet this time

This year wind and stoplights slowed our progress out of town, and a fellow at the Roberts Market in Woodside sidetracked us for way too long talking of his exploits in Italy and showing off his humongous 25mm tires jammed into his ‘bike made for the cobblestones’. I resisted the urge to ask him if his bike was the $5,000 dollar cobblestone jobby or the $10,000 dollar cobblestone jobby and got my team moving over to our 1400 foot ascent of Old La Honda after which we climb another 1000 or so. Listening to Mr. Cobblestone Jobby we missed out on the 100 rider strong training ride on Mountain Home Road like we usually would, but we did get to see them all run the stop sign in front of the store before we left.

As we left that control I realized in panic that I was experiencing another cue sheet malfunction. My Farrah Fawcett swimsuit cue sheet was missing! Who was going to tell me with a flounce of curls, a flash of brilliant teeth and a jiggle that I needed to turn right in 0.78 miles! I was totally lost for a moment and shared my discovery of woe and all I got was a wrinkled-nose sour look from girlfriend Juliayn and Cousin Russ asking me how I would like if Juliayn had an Eric Estrada cue sheet. Bah! Eric Estrada is fat – maybe I could be jealous of Tom Jones or Sean Cassidy, but not a fat motorcycle cop. Jeeze.

Have you seen her? Come back Farrah, come back.

Have you seen her? Come back Farrah, come back.

On Old La Honda we shared the climb with a bunch of other local Woodside riders including two recumbent riders Theresa knows. I was feeling best at that moment and arrived first at the top, followed soon by Cousin Russ, then Theresa, then Juliayn and then the recumbent riders. We all rest a minute or two while Theresa chats with her fellow PBP anciennes the recumbent riders before we continue our climbing on Skyline.

Skyline is usually traffic filled with speeding cars and motorcycles but this year, like last year, there was minimal traffic. Last year I surmised they were home because of a rainy day forecast, but this year who knows? Basketball? Golf? 4/20?


traffic free skyline

The wind was cold but the sun was hot so I put a neckerchief (I am often quite stylie) on to shield my neck. I use sunblock but it never seems to work well enough. The neckerchief worked very well for me. At the end of Skyline we make our first luxury stop at Summit Market. This time the sandwich counter was totally over run with mountain bikers and locals so I grabbed some pre-made sushi, a big bubbly water and a big beer for my meal. Theresa mimicked my sushi choice, Juliayn and Russ reached for a pre-made sandwich. The patio we ate at was shared with mountain biker people who have come from Nisene Marks which is further down the road on our route.

Theresa on skyline

Theresa on skyline

We finish up and leave, but the road is busier than normal due to all the mountain biker people driving to and from Nisene Marks. People who drive a car to ride their bike are tiresome. I wonder how many are driving because of all the cars on the road that scare them. As soon as we get past Nisene Marks we get the empty roads I am hoping for.

sometimes the road is all patches and potholes, but no cars

sometimes the road is all patches and potholes, but no cars

Dropping down to the Watsonville area the roads get more traffic, but all the drivers wait patiently to pass us safely and then do so with a very wide berth! Whatever is in the water down here needs to be added to the water of the rest of the nation – I will write my elected representative right now.

Theresa and Russ on Anzar Road

Theresa and Russ on Anzar Road

I request that we skip our usual group foto at the Mission and head to another luxury stop at an Italian Restaurant because the café we stopped at last year was closed. Food was good, the service was very good. With full bellies we rolled off to the highlight of the whole ride, the de Anza trail to Salinas.

This time the wind was strong and against us, and the hills the most brilliant green I have seen in years. A small gathering of bullocks were on the trail but were scared off by our movements and we took our usual group foto at the bench at the top of the first climb. At the bottom of the trail on the far side I chatted with a young fellow who claimed to be addicted to the trail – an affliction I can appreciate.

frightened bullocks

frightened bullocks

After the big hill the de Anza trail is paved on the way to Salinas but does not have traffic until we get within a mile or two of Salinas. The clerks at the 7-11 are extremely happy and encouraging to us about our ride and have not visited the de Anza trail once! I recommend they picnic there soon and we move on toward Santa Cruz.

Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis?

The stretch of road from Salinas to Santa Cruz is one that I dread because of the wind we always encounter, but this year the wind shifts and even pushes us along effortlessly at 20mph for a while until it dies with the coming darkness.

time to put on reflective gear

time to put on reflective gear

Passing through the Santa Cruz/Capitola/Soquel/Aptos conurbation idlers on bus stop benches and roaming teenagers give us hoot or a cheer of appreciation when we roll past, warming our hearts and we hoot back or ring our bells in response. Those people made what is often a not very pleasant urban experience a very nice one.

Our server at the Denny’s in Santa Cruz took care of us despite the crowds and birthday parties she was also serving and even had time to relate how she has been run over by cars several times while riding her bicycle. I suggested off-road riding and she said when she tried that, she was attacked by a mountain lion. I refrained from making further suggestions, fearing for what I might learn has happened to her. While we ate the team from Atascadero stopped by and chatted with us. They are all very accomplished distance riders and each has placed well or won the Furnace Creek 508. Serious Cycling.

Leaving Santa Cruz we immediately encounter JT Conklin’s fleche team. Kitty hears of our start time and admonishes us we better get a move on! Well, we do. All of us (excepting me – I am captain) work hard and up the pace to 18 or more mph on the flats and smaller hills and keep it up for the next 30 miles or so. During that time we pass another team, Steve H.’s and fend off the approaches of the Atascadero people. We make up about 45 minutes to an hour with our faster pace and make it to Pacifica at 4am.

I do paperwork while Juliayn sleeps, the Atascadero team is in the background

I do paperwork while Juliayn sleeps, the Atascadero team is in the background

Warming up and eating fries and a shake, the three teams we passed show up and pile in to eat and sleep. We leave in the darkness a little after 5am and take our sweet time getting to the finish and still show up 5 minutes early to the greetings of Rob H.’s team and the volunteers. One of the volunteers just purchased a Box Dog Pelican frame and admired our complete team of Pelicans. It is difficult to find a better bike than a Pelican for what we do.

I get a spot against the wall and watch the spectacle of the teams arriving noting who looks good, who looks like they rode 24 hours, applauding as they come in the door. As the restaurant fills with other non-riding patrons they sometimes join in with the applause and add to the fun. Tall tales of woe and wonder are exchanged and cameras are passed around so we can see where each other has been. Sadly, the two teams I really wanted to see roll in did not while I was there, Brian O.’s team (with Gabe) dnf’ed somewhere down south and Max Polletto’s team had to change both the 22 hour control and the 24 hour control. I hope they both had a good time despite their setbacks.

Another year down and many more to go! Thanks Team, thanks SFR and the volunteers, another fine event!

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.

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.