RIde Report: SFR 200K

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Aaron Brownlee

Jan 25, 2010, 2:42:04 AM1/25/10
to sfra...@googlegroups.com
First off, a warning. This is a long email, containing a large amount of non-sense. I belong to another cycling list (The Chubikecabra!), and we tend to send each other 'embellished' ride reports. I figured I'd pass it along here, since many of you were on this ride, and may appreciate a re-telling of the days events. Email is free, and so is the use of your delete key. Those who abstain from long-winded blathering, feel free to pull the curtains on my act now.

Ahem. So, for those with little else to do, a ride report on the SFR 200K Brevet that went off yesterday:

I picked up my new friend Sam (whom I had never met) at 6am, so we were at the start by 6:45am sharp. Or maybe not exactly feeling sharp, but we were there. Sam had checked the weather, which said it would stop raining in the early morning, and be 'more or less' rain free all day, with temps getting has high as 55 degrees! On that news, the rain pants stayed in the car, which ending up being a fine choice. It was cold and overcast, but dry, for most of the day. It was cold enough to say 'winter ride' and not feel like we were getting away with something. I signed the clipboard, put my green card in the zip lock I had remembered to bring all on my own, tucked it under 2 layers of nylon and 3 layers of wool, and I was ready.

While waiting for the official departure time, I saw some people I knew (LisaMc, Jason Pierce, Alfie, LisaLisa), and some other people I didn't know. I might have even seen a couple people I'm pretty sure I'm glad I don't know, but they didn't have bikes. I thought Sam and I might join up with the people I knew. Sadly, we lost contact with them. This was right after I took off my size large, left glove, and stooped down to adjust my mil-spec, hurricane rated, RUSA certified, never fall off mid-ride no matter what, reflective ankle bands. We got some advice about riding through puddles (fun wreckers!), and I took down quite a few fashion do's and don'ts (mostly don'ts) while we sized up the crowd. Next thing I know, there's the commotion of the start, and we're off in a sea of red LED lights. Jason Pierce left at 6:59:59am, and was quickly sprinting across the bridge. Not out of competition; Jason wanted to be sure he got to the Marshall store before
they ran out of hot dogs. I spotted Alfie and LisaLisa strapping 50lb sand bags to their fixies, but I was caught in a flood of reflective vests, and could not stop. Since this was to be Sam's first brevet, and also his first ride longer than 80 miles, we decided to leave the heroics to another time, and take it easy. The fact that I had been on 5 bike rides since July had nothing to do with this decision.

Life was good, as we wheeled our way through the civilized hamlets of lower Marin. Our damp tires quietly rolled through the light fog on the bridge, we chattered teeth down Alexander, found there was no need for a paddle or hip waders on the bike path, and then warmed ourselves nicely as we huffed over Camino Alto. I even rode through a puddle or two! Sam and I marveled at the variety of hardware people had chosen to solve the 200K problem. You could see (and be passed by) high-tech, low-tech, and dino-tec, all at any moment. To pass time, we played a game that was like 'punch-buggy', except you punch the other person when you see a tail light with batteries that are obviously more than 200 hours old. Sam saw the first one, and he punches REALLY HARD. Then we stopped playing that game.

Usually a winter ride longer than 45minutes has me wondering about the sadism that seems rampant in SFBA weather forecasters. Much to our delight, the 'more or less' dry was definitely panning out to be 'more'. We did see a 5 min or so sprinkle around San Geranimo, while heading out SFD. No worries. Feeling like fortune was mostly with us, we opted for the bike path when going through the park, which was inexplicably clean of all debris. It was like some unseen force was checking off the boxes on our 'have a great day' checklist. That was when we saw the rainbow! I celebrated a little with some cheering. Right then, I was reminded that, in order to have a rainbow, there needs to be some rain. Luckily it was light, and again only lasted about 2 minutes or so. After it stopped, a unicorn came down from the rainbow, just to tell Sam that he's awesome. I cried a little when that happened.

As we were leaving Olema, we saw LisaMc, who said her morning was going GREAT! Taking that as our inspiration, we set out for the lighthouse, with surprisingly light winds on the point. The sun came out, it warmed up, and we jigged our way over the 'agricultural' terrain. There was much climbing up and zooming down the short rollers that dotted the route. The last roller, however, was not so short. I was then that first check loomed above us, high up on the craggy point. I hit my lowest gear, gritted my teeth, and tried to ignore the vultures that suddenly began circling the climb. Sam got to the top about 5 minutes ahead of me. He then somehow managed to drink ALL the water. After a small detour out the visiter center to top my bottles, we were on the road again. We thought about carrying a few loads of water back and forth on our bikes. However, the ride volunteer was whistling and skipping along on foot, carrying 15 gallon jugs of water a 1/2
mile each way, as if the sheer joy of just watching people ride gave him super human strength. We didn't want to ruin his fun.

Leaving the point, we hit 47mph on the bumpy and curved hill, which went down at a 19% grade, straight into a mud filled cattle grate, which was surrounded by potholes. Luckily there was a minivan full of tourists in the middle of the road, who showed us the safe line through. On the way off the point, Sam's legs told him that finishing 5 minutes ahead of me on the steepest climb of the day was something he should reconsider in the future. We measured the difficulty of the return trip over the rollers by breaking them into smaller sections, and calculating a percentage of awful per section, and then multiplying by 3.14 and subtracting 32. Thanks to warnings at the ride start, we managed to not die on the wet and potholed decent into Inverness. Pretty soon we were in Pt.Reyes Station, and the scent of Marshall Store clam chowder was on the wind. As we rolled out of town, we saw the lead riders on their way *back* from Marshall, heading toward their
7hour 30 minute finish time. For 200K. With stops. You do the math.

Not at all demoralized, even in the slightest, we soldiered on to Marshall. The coast highway was beautifully green and soggy, the traffic was moderate, there was only a small cross wind off Tomalas Bay, and Sam and I were still on speaking terms, so it was probably one of the best parts of the day. We caught a little bit of rain on the trip up to Marshal, but I took the time to get my rain jacket out, which caused the rain to immediately stop.

The clam chowder was, of course, delicious. So were the potato chips. So was the lemonade. We saw Jason Pierce at the store, who was having cramps, but was not eating 5 hot dogs, which I took to be a bad sign. We also saw Michael Bredan, who was secretly lamenting being friends with Jason, and wishing he had more than 2 gears on his fixie. We saw Alfie and LisaLisa, who somehow managed to get Dim Sum served to them at the Marshall Store? We saw LisaMc again, who still looked GREAT! and said she was having a good ride. We also saw my water bottles sitting on the table, but decided leave them there and ride about a mile away, just for kicks. Then we rode back to get them, which mysteriously coincided with Sam not talking to me anymore.

From Marshall we had (only!) 45ish miles to go. While rolling back down Tomalas Bay, I discovered that I had (inadvertently) invented an new game, which is just like 'Rock-Paper-Scissors'. This game is called 'Chowder-Lemonade-Potato Chips', and you play it in your stomach. It was a bit hard to know exactly what happened in each round, and I'm not sure there was a clear winner. After, I would have to say it's probably not the best game I've played, but in cycling we must some times endure a discomfort or two.

We made pretty good time to Nicassio, where we saw an incredibly pale rider lay down for a nap. After making sure he didn't have any stuff we wanted to steal, we rode off toward SFD. It became quite cold in the woods, but since we were on a brevet, I had about 14 different outfits to choose from. After a couple of costume changes, I was just cozy enough, and soon we were on our way again. Sam did some practice juggling with his water bottle, we took our sweet time going up the grade into Fairfax, and talked about how great meat tastes while we rolled through Kentfield. Soon it was time to climb Camino Alto, where we saw three other riders. They rode straight out of the Rivendall catalog, then proceded to KICK OUR ASSES up the hill. There's nothing quite like getting stomped at mile 117 by someone on a 48lb three speed with a basket of wet wool on the front. I thought I might have imagined them, which then made me realize that I might have imagined Sam as
well. That would explain why he never once asked me to stop talking, even though I babbled pretty much non-stop all day.

Soon we were off Camino Alto, across the bike path, and zipping across Sausalito. We had a brief chance to join a taxi cab that had 4 rental bikes in the trunk, hauling weary German tourists back to Pier 39. Sadly, we had spent all our cash on potato chips, so we kept pedaling. The euphoria of being really actually almost done was offset by the fact that the Alexander climb stood between us and the GGB finish control. Funny thing, but for some reason Sam and I weren't looking quite as fresh as we had previously. I was reminded of Jason Pierce's first brevet, when he blew up in Dillon beach, with about 60 miles to go. The difference here was Sam and I faded into delirium rather quietly, where as Jason went about it by giggling, jabbering senselessly, and drooling. Sam mentioned that we could probably build a shelter out of driftwood and roadside garbage, then wait at the bottom of the hill until someone noticed we were missing. That was a fine idea, but
there's lousy burritos in Sausalito, and I think the ticket for building an unlicensed shanty is a bit pricey. Plans of resting were abandoned, and we dug in for one more climb.

Soon, we were crossing the bridge, and the last glimmers of sunset were making grey, yellow, and orangish blurs in the cloud mush over the Pacific. Sam said he couldn't feel his lower body anymore, and wondered if he might be able to just hop the railing and float down to the water below, like a feather? I slapped him hard a couple times, and he got some color back in his face. We kept riding, and soon were at the finish! We were done, and another 200K was on the books. Our time was not bad; we're calling an 11 hour sentence, with 23 minutes off for good behavior. Sam and I split an entire box of figgy cookies, and then stood around listening to Jason Pierce talk about gear inches or some such nonsense. Then we saw LisaMc arrive at the finish, who said she was GREAT! but felt like throwing up.

Because we all ride bikes, we know exactly what she ment.

After a bit, Sam and I realized we were freezing and hungry. We gave a tear-filled goodbye to all our SFR friends, and rolled down to the car. Sam slept like a baby all the way home, and I spent the drive wondering where I could get Bag Balm and a burrito in the same store. When I dropped Sam off, he mentioned how he really can hardly wait for the 300K, when we get to ride all the way to Healdsburg in back! It sure will be a hoot, and there will be clam chowder again! How can you beat that?

Until next time...

~ Aaron



Lisa Susan McPhate

Jan 25, 2010, 6:51:22 PM1/25/10
to SF Randonneurs
Was I the only person not to see any rainbows on this ride?

That was a great ride report by the way- extremely funny.


Until next time...

~ Aaron



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Rob Hawks

Jan 25, 2010, 6:53:21 PM1/25/10
to mcp...@sbcglobal.net, SF Randonneurs
I didn't see any rainbows, but I saw a mountain lion next to the
Strauss Statue. Or it may have been a tourist just back from clubbing.
I get the two confused.


> could see (and be passed by) high-tech, low-tech, and dino-tec, all at any


Jan 25, 2010, 9:41:42 PM1/25/10
to San Francisco Randonneurs

Man! send that to RUSA for the newsletter!

Greg Merritt

Jan 27, 2010, 12:52:27 PM1/27/10
to sfra...@googlegroups.com
AWESOME ride report, Aaron! Thanks for sharing. :)

> To pass time, we played a game that was like 'punch-buggy', except
> you punch the other person when you see a tail light with batteries
> that are obviously more than 200 hours old.  Sam saw the first one,
> and he punches REALLY HARD.  Then we stopped playing that game.

Ok, practically fell out of my chair on this one. I spent some time
with a small group that included a rider with not one, not two, but
THREE battery-powered taillights, all of which were on. Well, it took
me staring carefully at them for a while to be able to tell for sure
that they were on!

Reminds me of the joke about 6Volt Volkswagen Beetle headlights -- in
the dark, you need a flashlight to determine whether or not they're
on. ;)

As I followed this rider, I wondered what their thinking was behind
attaching probably $100 of virtually-dead lights to the bike, when
just one of those tiny, round promotional non-replaceable
watch-battery flashies would have been actually visible in comparison!


p.s.: I have one theory. Sometimes when batteries are pretty much
spent but have been sitting around, the light will shine relatively
brightly for a while when first turned on. Perhaps folks do a quick
check just before the ride, and find "oooh still shinin' brightly
after all this time!" and then never look back.


Jan 27, 2010, 1:35:31 PM1/27/10
to SF Randonneurs
on 1/27/10 9:52 AM, Greg Merritt at greg.m...@gmail.com wrote:

> p.s.: I have one theory. Sometimes when batteries are pretty much
> spent but have been sitting around, the light will shine relatively
> brightly for a while when first turned on. Perhaps folks do a quick
> check just before the ride, and find "oooh still shinin' brightly
> after all this time!" and then never look back.

Plus, I think some folks run them in flash mode more often, which can appear
brighter if by nothing other than contrast. If you are running
rechargeables, those can be impacted significantly by cold weather temps.

My ritual is to check light intensity at the end of the ride, and assume I
should replace before the first SFR 200K (and at the beginning of the dark
commute season.) If I can't look directly into the LED, that's "good".

- Jim

Jim Edgar

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