300k ride report

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Greg Merritt

Mar 5, 2010, 5:41:12 PM3/5/10
to San Francisco Randonneurs
(Ok, this has sat in my drafts box long enough. Off with it!)

Last year I rode the SFR Russian River 300k as my first 300k. That
2009 ride was my first over-250k day. I went super-super hard and
made stunningly good time for the first two thirds of the event.
Unfortunately I totally overcooked and the ~100k or so from Bodega
back to Marshall took me well over six hours. ;)

My goal for the 2010 SFR 300k -- my second 300k ever and my longest
day since last May -- was to make good decisions about pace, breaks,
and eating and to finish the ride with miles left in my legs.

I awoke to the sound of rain Saturday morning. Boo. At least I got
almost half an hour of extra sleep: instead of my usual routine
catching the AC Transit #800 all-nighter transbay bus in downtown
Oakland, I got a ride with Jack H. Thanks, Jack!

Oooh there were lots and lots of riders at the bridge. The numbers
have been really impressive this year, even in iffy weather.

As Rob gave his various pre-ride instructions, I filled my bottles at
the fountain and transferred my various jersey-pocket things from
where they'd been stowed in my bag for the car ride.

Whoops! It was time to roll out, and there I was sorting out my food,
camera, gloves, and whatnot.

Aw heck -- I'd be ready in a minute or two. What was the hurry? It
was a good reminder that my goal on the day was a wee bit more
tortoise and a lot less hare. I chilled out and it was all good. :)

With only a few of us stragglers remaining at the start, Jason
McPhate, who wasn't riding, came over to wish me off. I was soon
ready and headed out across the bridge.

There were plenty of folks to ride with through Sausalito and the bike
path. I chatted a bit with Bryan K., who then went on ahead to meet
up with some other riders. I saw him again not long after when he was
stopped alongside the path with a puncture -- one of many that I would
see on the day.

I got to chat a bit with Joseph M. as the group came to the end of the
bike path and started up Camino Alto. He was sporting a new little
red cloth headlamp battery bag on his back that his wife had just
sewn. Cool!

I rode and chatted with Lisa McP. from Camino Alto to White's Hill. I
got to hear more about the McP.s' upcoming trip to France and their
crash course in French to get ready.

Along Sir Francis Drake and through to Petaluma I rode with some small
groups. It was fairly drippy during this part of the day, but the
rain was never fierce and it wasn't too cold. I met... Don M.(?) in
this section and also rode with Bryan C., Gabe E., Ricardo M.(?) and
John P.



A friend recently gave me some Hammer Perpetuem to try. Some time
back I used to drink loads of Cytomax as I rode, but, on longer rides,
my digestive system would complain and it would make my teeth hurt!
That made me switch to more real food rather than straight sugar as I
ride. On the longer rides, however, while I haven't had digestive
troubles, eating all of that solid food can start to make me just feel
full. Perpetuem is largely soy powder and maltodextrin. I thought
that this might be a reasonable compromise for a lot of my calories
for the day.

There were loads of folks coming & going and eating & chatting at the
Petaluma Safeway. Michele S. pulled up with a busted pedal cleat
mount -- not fun! Apparently this got field-repaired soon after.

Rob, check Bruce B.'s receipt from that control: 1/2 gallon of
chocolate milk. :)

My Petaluma control turn-around was not particularly fast, but I
steadily tended to my various replenishings, exchanges and clothing
adjustments and headed back out onto the road.

Through the stoplights I was more-or-less in the company of two other
riders, or at least we tended to be within sight of one another. One
of them reminded me a bit of myself last year: he seemed to be having
loads of fun, but working a bit hard for a 300k day. I wondered if I
should check in with him about his effort level, but it seemed sort of
awkward to do with a total stranger. I do like that the rando crowd
is pretty low-key, come-as-you-are, and do-your-own-thing, so I just
rode. Plus, for all I knew, maybe he always rides like that and puts
in double the mileage I do. Well, if not, maybe he would learn
something the way I did last year. :)

As I rode along on the flats out of Petaluma -- ugh, flats, the
hardest part of any ride, it seems -- it occurred to me that I was in
tandem territory. I had seen several at the Petaluma control, so I
started to hope for one to come along.

I got my wish. :)

Deborah and David H. appeared in the distance behind me, so I eased up
on my steady-as-you-go pace to assist the catch and to give me some
reserves for hopping on board. They soon overtook me with their cool
belt-synced Co-Mo, and I suddenly had the best seat in the house all
the way to Healdsburg.


They set a really nice pace. I did have to crank up me effort level a
bit -- just a *wee* bit -- even to stay in the slipstream, but I
judged it a manageable increase and it seemed worth the cost.

We soon came upon the fellow who I'd judged as putting out an
enthusiastic pace. He hopped on board, too, for a while. As the
terrain began to go through some subtle variations in elevation, his
gap got a little stretchy at times, and then it snapped and he went
backwards. (Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!!)

Plenty of folks at the Healdsburg Safeway doing their thing. I bought
a banana (I'd left home with three) and was wooed by a can of salty
Pringles chips. I ate half that can of chips before leaving the
control. Yum.

Again, not a lightning-speed turnaround for me at this control, but
some casual chatting as I tended to business before getting back onto
the road.

I'd been doing one bottle of Perpetuem and one bottle of water up to
this point. I decided to try all Perpetuem for this leg. Ugh... too
much of a good thing. At some point before Bodega I just felt a wee
bit thirsty despite drinking the Perpetuem at a reasonable rate, and I
simply wanted some straight water.

As I made my way solo...


...through the wineries outside of Healdburg...


...I could see another rider a ways behind me. On the way out of
Guerneville, I stopped to look at the road signs and make *absolutely*
sure that I was taking the right road out of town. Up rolled Ken, my
shadow from Healdsburg. He confirmed the direction, and we headed


I'd not ridden with Ken before. I enjoyed riding and chatting with
him on and off from Guerneville to somewhere between Bodega and

Saw a couple of other folks on the road on the way to Bodega. The
ocean, as usual, outdid itself. So amazing.

Got to the store for the control, where a few folks were doing their thing:


I did my thing, too:


(For the record: I bought some bananas, too, for a balanced meal.
Seven bananas on the day.)

As I was chomping away on my BAKLAVA(!!!!!!) from the store, I phoned
home to let 'em know I was doing ok. My wife answered, and I told her
"Baklava in Bodega, Baby!" She said "Cool." I retorted with "Ok, I
gotta go." She had started to say something at the same time.
(Whoops!) She just laughed and wished me a good rest of my ride. :)

I decided to give the Perpetuem a break and go for straight water in
the bottles. A nice change, and all the better to wash down the

I was surprised at how many riders went FLYING past this control.
Those of us already there would call out to them to come back. I
think we caught all of them. One of them pulled up and asked, "is
this another secret control?" Wowzers. I try to be low-key on these
events, but, compared to that, I guess I'm positively neurotic. O.o

It was at the Bodega control where I saw the motorcyclist waiting for
"her rider" to come through to the control. She offered me some
electrolytes. It was sort of odd -- it's within the rules and all,
but I'd never seen someone use independent support at a control.
(Hey, wanna carry my jacket to Marshall? No, don't go there...)

By the time I got to those shorter, steeper climbs on the way to
Tomales, I'd met up with Ken again and a pair of fixie riders. I had
a nice chat up the hill with one of the fixsters.

At the Marshall store, the proprietor was in a fine mood. He rang me
up for $11.92[sic] for my Wallaby Australian-style yogurt. I asked if
it was imported directly from Australia, but he said that it was made
just up the road! Cool! My daughter goes through about four of those
a week; I had no idea they were local. He gave me about a 90%
discount off of the $11.92 price, I thanked him for working the event,
and I went on my way.

Heading out of Marshall, something started poking my hand from my
right 9-speed Shimano bar-end shifter. Noooo, not another cable
breaking! That just happened on the January 200k!

Well, no indeed: the dang thing was coming apart, and it was this
dimpled ring segment -- the thing that makes the click stops -- that
was making its way out from the shifter body.

That explained why the indexing had gone soft and unreliable a little
ways back up the road. I had put it on friction and hadn't been
worrying about it. What to do now?

I was going to want my big cogs getting back to the bridge, not to
mention getting out of Nicasio and over Camino Alto. The shifter was
still working as friction-only, holding the cable, but I didn't want
it to give up and let go. Here's a shot of the "extra" bits after I
got home:


Ok, the plan was to avoid using that shifter. I selected the 18-tooth
cog, and then proceeded to ride my three-speed (26/36/46 rings) until
the hill kicked up on the way out of Nicasio.

On my way to Marshall, I had been dreading the upcoming section of 1
from Marshall to Pt. Reyes Station. I don't think that I've ever not
been tired on that segment.

Well, there's a first time for everything: I felt great! Was it the
simplicity of the three-speed? The sunshine? The Nutter Butters?
Who cares! I just rode. Yipee!


I don't think that my road speed was outside of norms for me, but the
miles passed very quickly. I encountered Todd T. en route to Nicasio.
Nice to see ya, Todd!

The rising, nearly-full moon was playing hide-and-seek behind the
hills. Very cool.


I stopped just outside of Nicasio to put on my reflective sash and
ankle bands. I was a little chilly, but wanted to save a layer for
post-ride since I was planning on hanging out at the finish control.

Night fell on the way out of Nicasio. That's the 25-miles-to-go
point, which is always nice to reach. Unless you're having a very bad
day, it feels like the home stretch.

Despite my instinct to bring it on home, I made myself swear to stop
and get off of the bike in Fairfax and have a nice cup of steamed milk
at the cafe in the interest of finishing feeling fresh. I was glad I
had my cable lock, which I'd used at the Safeways and at Marshall. I
hitched my steed to a post just in front of the cafe, and ordered a
16oz steamed almond milk to go. I cycled my fluids in the back of the
cafe, and took my cup of milk on the road with me.

I saw a couple of riders roll past, including, I think, the fixie
pair, as I was with my bike in front of the cafe. They asked if I was
all right, and I gave them the thumbs up.

The steamed milk was nice. Good idea to stop. I felt good through
the Fairfax / San Anselmo bike route, but my progress felt very
puttery. All the stop and go? The suburban darkness? The splattery
rain? Or just all in my head? Oh well, no matter; just pedal on.

It was nice to hang out at the finish control and talk with the
volunteers, some of the speed demons who where still hanging around,
and this guy who was drinking all of the chocolate milk:


(Nah -- there was still plenty to go around.)

I was glad I'd saved my extra top & bottom layers, since I soon needed
them to keep warm as I stood around at the finish control.

It was fun to cheer in riders as they finished, including these
characters who rolled up together:


I joined some folks for some car pooling out of SF, and we went back
over bridge & into Mill Valley. We saw a trickle of riders with their
fabulously bright headlights making their way along the bridge and the
Sausalito bike path. Wahoo!

Once cleaned up and stretched a bit at home, I went straight to bed.
My legs felt great Sunday! Yay! Mission accomplished! I've beat
them up badly on rides under 50 miles having "fun", so it was nice to
do a measured effort across 300k and have them still be happy campers.

I had a nice recovery ride with the high school mountain bike racing
team on Sunday... until we got to our evil uphill time trial and all
did our efforts. I paid for that with some sore joints Sunday evening
and Monday. (Sorry, knees. Fair is fair, I suppose.)

I'll be doing my first 400k at the end of April. I did a fleche and a
600 last year (my first an only tries at those events so far), but the
400k seems like it will be its own kind of animal. Time to start
reviewing the route sheet and make plans.

See you all next time!


Greg Merritt

Mar 6, 2010, 9:48:02 AM3/6/10
to San Francisco Randonneurs

> That
> 2009 ride was my first over-250k day. I went super-super hard and
> made stunningly good time for the first two thirds of the event.
> Unfortunately I totally overcooked and the ~100k or so from Bodega
> back to Marshall took me well over six hours.

Hmmm... I suppose it felt that long to get to Marshall, but I meant to
write "from Bodega back to SF." :)


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