Monday, July 19, 2010

Point Reyes Populaire

115 KM (73 miles), 4250 feet elevation gain
5:30 hours total (4:45 on the bicycle)

My latest cycling event was enjoyable and a success. This was the second brevet that I have ever done (the first being the Chualar 200KM which I did two years ago). It is called a "Populaire" because it is less than the usual minimum 200KM for a brevet. It started in San Francisco, and the "Point Reyes" refers the furthest point on the route which is the town of Point Reyes Station.

Vaishali, Aasha, and I left home at 5:15am. I ate breakfast in the car while Vaishali drove. The starting point was at the visitors area at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. We reached there by 6:15am (including a stop for coffee for Vaishali). This gave me plenty of time to get my bicycle ready and get checked in. I chatted briefly with a couple people before the start, including Michele Santilhano, who recently complete the Race Across America. The whole group of around 150 riders started at 7:00am by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was distinctly cold at the beginning, but I did not want to put on my jacket because I knew the day would soon warm as the sun rose and as we left the fog of San Francisco. Plus I knew that I would build up enough heat with my pedaling. Knowing that this was not a particularly long distance and that the total elevation would be less than many of my training rides, I planned to keep a fast pace for the whole day. In addition, Vaishali had other plans for later in the day, so I needed to finish on time.

The route started in San Francisco and headed northwest through Marin County. The loop was ridden clockwise, and we retraced the route back to San Francisco and back across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The first 15 miles of the route passed through many city streets. After that, there were no more issues of coexisting with motor traffic, watching for turns and intersections, and dealing with stop signs and lights. I was determined to keep a relatively fast pace of 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour on the flat parts of the route. Many other riders were keeping the same pace, and several passed me, going even faster.

I made no stops until we reached the halfway point, which was about 35 miles from the start. We had a designated stop in the town of Point Reyes Station, which I reached 9:15am. I got a sandwich and soft drink at a store, and chatted with other riders as I ate lunch and rested a little. After a bathroom break, I headed back at 9:45am. This next part of the route is very popular with cyclists in general, and I was seeing many others now. The day had warmed considerably, but was thankfully not particularly hot. There was one more designated stop, which I reached by 10:30am. I only needed a brief bathroom break, and I knew that I would not need to stop again before the finish.

Although I do not bicycle in Marin County that often, I realized I was familiar with much of the route. Most of the scenic part overlapped with the Mt Tam Double Century which I did two years ago. Other parts, I had driven on at different times.

I stopped briefly at 11:30am to call Vaishali to let her know that I was about one hour from the finish. I reached the end at 12:30pm. My fast pace meant that we had plenty of time for our other plans. Although the route was less challenging than usual in terms of hills, my race against the clock made it interesting.

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