my SFR ride on Saturday

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Greg Merritt

Jan 25, 2010, 1:20:42 AM1/25/10
to San Francisco Randonneurs, Grizzly Peak Mail List
This is a bit of a ride report, but it's also a "progress" report on
what I've been learning about myself on the bike and what I've been
trying to do with my riding. It's a never-ending process!

I've now done this brevet four times officially, and ridden the route
more-or-less a couple of times unofficially.

My last run (November) was my best time on this ride, and was month #2
in my current, first R-12 attempt. On the November run I worked hard
to chase wheels and really minimize stopping. That was a lot of fun.
This time, however, I had different goals.

My idealized goal is to finish a brevet feeling fairly fresh and ready
to ride a bunch of miles. That is rarely possible, but it's my goal.
The easy way to blow this plan is to have fun riding really hard --
especially early in a ride. So, rather than try to match or beat my
November time, my goal yesterday was to slow down a bit and add the
better part of an hour to my ride time, while doing my best to
minimize off-the-bike time. Basically I wanted this 200k to be a
practice run for longer events, so I didn't want to finish it totally

I left my Berkeley home at about 5:15am to ride to Broadway at 14th in
Oakland to catch the #800 AC Transit all-nighter bus to Market at Van
Ness in San Francisco. Of course... it was raining.

I waited in a bus shelter on Broadway. The bus was due, so I had a
look around at the buses waiting in case it had pulled up and I hadn't
seen it. Whoops! There's "800 TRANSBAY" parked around the corner on
14th. I thought I'd always caught it on Broadway; I was glad to have
kept my eyes peeled.

I put my bike on the front rack next to another (quite obviously)
randonneuring bike. Bryan was already on board the bus.

As I was feeding my $4 into the fare box, another rider was talking to
the driver about the route. Whoops! This was the 800 *from* San
Francisco *to* Richmond. Bryan and I went into red alert mode as we
grabbed our bikes and ran over to the 800 going *to* SF, now waiting
on Broadway. Whew! (My severe miss-the-bus plan for a 7am-start
brevet is the 6:18 BART train from West Oakland, which gets to
Emarcadero at 6:26.)

It pretty much rained modestly but steadily for most of the ~30-minute
ride across SF to the Golden Gate Bridge, but let up before 7am. Whoa
-- there were *lines* of people to sign in! Wow! Really quite a

All in all, I had a fairly uneventful ride -- in all the good ways.
Rain and sun came and went through the day -- sometimes sunny and
raining at the same time, which was a good recipe for rainbows. I saw
a few little white bouncing balls of hail mixed with rain on Highway
1, but it didn't really properly hail on me. On Friday I bought a new
pair of Ibex wool gloves, kind of between thick liners and thin
gloves. My hands were bearably cold, even with the gloves quite wet.
Pretty good for gloves that thin.

I rode with a variety of combinations of different people through the
day. These included Lisa-Susan McP., Wyatt & Nancy, Kitty G. &
co-tandemer, Lane P., and Mike (B.? K.?). With the out & backs of the
lighthouse and Marshall portions of the ride, I also got to wave hi to
Lisa L., Alfie E., Jason P., several GPCers... and everyone else I
saw. :)

A nice, low-flying hawk made some nice calls right above me on the
lighthouse road. I also heard some (I think!) frogs croaking.

I've gotten into the habit of looking back and often waving hello at
cars that come up behind me on two-lane roads. I get the impression
that it helps a lot of drivers to chill out a bit since it
personalizes the interaction and lets them know that you know they're
there. Going through the Point Reyes park, it turns out that like
three or four times I was waving at the little electric park ranger
SUV, apparently making its rounds!

I was riding with a small group on the return to Highway 1, and my
rear shift cable started to be finicky. A couple of months ago one of
the strands had broken right at the bar-end. I suppose I'd been
tempting fate, not replacing it at the first sign of wear.

Point Reyes Station was not far off, so I pulled into the little park
with the nice restroom on the street behind the supermarket. I carry
a spare shifter cable, so I began the replacement. It was actually
hard to extract with the fraying -- much harder than a simply broken
cable. At one point I'd ended up with a strand stuck inside the
housing. Whoops! For a few moments I considered locking my front
derailleur into the middle ring and rewiring the left bar-end to the
rear to give myself a nine-speed, but, with a little more fuss, I
cleared the housing of the old strand and got my new cable wired up.

With full bottles and some time off the bike in Point Reyes Station, I
decided to try to make my visit to Marshall fairly quick. Wow, a
pretty good crowd of randonneurs at the Marshall Store, eating inside
& out, and several in line! Keith B. was right in front of me in
line, and was in the process of discovering that he'd lost his brevet
card... and his cash. On the November brevet, a rider who lost his
card asked for a receipt with his purchase and got it stamped as proof
of his control. I explained this to Keith and suggested that he might
like to do likewise.

The staff person behind the register was clearly frustrated with Keith
trying to figure out what to do when his turn at the register came up.
Meanwhile, I had seen her write the 1-something-pm time on someone's
card with a 1:xx instead of 13:xx. I asked if she could write my time
as 13:xx. She gave me a frustrated look, stamped my card, turned it
around, and slid it back across the counter at me. Ahhh... ok, I was
getting the picture -- she was clearly trying to tell the world that
we cyclists, as a group, were pushing her patience today. I sincerely
thanked her for helping out with the cards and let her know that it
was very important and helpful for our event. She seemed to brighten
up a little, as if recognizing that she'd been heard.

It was nice seeing so many folks at the finish control. Everybody
seemed in good spirits. I enjoyed talking with folks, but started to
get cold standing around. I still had the five-mile ride back to BART
to go home, so I layered up again, said my goodbyes and headed for the
train. I phoned home en route from West Oakland to suggest pizza for
dinner, but the gals had already decided on Indian food from Mehak.
That hit the spot just fine. :)

I seem to be packing almost all of my food for 200ks these days. It's
becoming obvious, however, that I need greater variety. I'm learning
that I'm liable to become sick of any favorite during a ride, so I'm
going to have to mix it up more heavily. Yesterday was... let me
see.... three bananas, two and a half pb&js, a Nutella & rice burrito
(my new specialty), a bunch of home-made Cliff-style bars, three gels,
some chips, and one bottle of Cytomax... plus, en route, I grabbed a
Halloween-size Payday at the control and bought an Odwalla juice at
the Marshall store. By the end I was forcing myself to eat the nut
bars, my at remaining food, even though I had really gotten tired of

I had about 57 minutes not-rolling time for the event. This included
about 12 minutes at the lighthouse, maybe a good 15+ minutes for the
shift cable repair, 10ish minutes at the Marshall Store, 5ish minutes
at Nicasio, some quick pee breaks, one or two quick roadside layer
changing stops... and red light time, including what must have been 3+
loooong minutes at the light at the bottom of Camino Alto on the
return. ;) This compares with 53 minutes not-rolling time on my
November ride. My rolling-time speed was down about 0.6mph and
average whole-event heartrate down 4bpm. I added about 36 minutes to
my event time, a bit less of an increase than I'd been shooting for.
However, I was due for a long stretch break and/or hot tea break; if I
had been doing a longer event, I would have included such a break at
about the 200k point, or a bit sooner.

Meanwhile, I'm some weeks into doing weight training for cycling for
the first time. My weight is also down. I did feel a good deal of
fatigue out on the road later in the ride. I was kind of frustrated
by that -- I really wanted to feel fresh-fresh the whole day. I've
come to decide that this is really just a hard route, and that it'll
probably never feel easy.

On the flip side, I felt really, really good standing and making
efforts on hills again and again the whole day. I think this is some
combination of the weight training and not overcooking myself early in
the ride. It felt great to be able to work it on the return on Camino
Alto and climbing back up out of Sausalito. Promising!

I don't have many pictures from the day. Lots of time in the rain or
with cumbersome gloves, and my camera lens fogged up under my rain
jacket. Shoot. Here's what I have, including a few shots of me taken
by Lane P.:

If you'd like to see pictures of this route from a sunny day last
November, take a look at these:

I was pretty tired after getting home, but was pleased to find that my
muscles weren't terribly tight. I did plenty of stretching. I was
pleasantly surprised to feel quite good this morning -- my muscles
were still pretty loose. Probably about the best I've felt the day
after a ride like that -- 140 miles on the day, including my travel to
& from. A couple of hours on the mountain bike with the high school
team and some errands around on the bike all felt good today, so I'll
say mission accomplished -- I think I picked the right effort level
for my event. Good thing -- I'm doing the Two Rock 200k worker's ride
next weekend, yikes! I'm looking forward to working the finish
control on the 6th. Hope to see some of you then!


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