Sunday, November 7, 2010

2010 Two Rock Valley Ford 200KM Brevet

125 miles, 4100 feet elevation, 10:10 total time (8:50 on the bicycle)

The timing was right for me to try another 200KM ride. This was the final event of the year organized by San Francisco Randonneurs.

7:00am, 0 miles

It was still dark when we started. There was little motor traffic at this time. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and descending into Sausalito, daybreak started and the streets became visible.

The first part of the route is exactly the same as the 115KM Populaire I did a couple months back. The maze of city streets can be confusing with all the turns involved, but I had enough fellow cyclists to follow that I did not need to consult the map. Finally in the town of Fairfax, we started the more rural part of the route, with few intersections and more interesting terrain.

Once we climbed the first small hill, we entered a light fog. The sky was looking threatening, but the forecast said that rain would not hit until the next day. At this point I noticed that my chain was not always staying in the same gear. The shifting mechanism was out of alignment, but I did not want to stop and try to adjust it mid-ride. It was not too bad, and I did not want to risk making the problem worse on an unsupported ride.

On the final hill before the first stop, I had a minor mechanical issue. I tried to shift into my lowest gear, but the chain went off the edge of the sprocket. Fortunately I did not lose my balance as the wheel got stuck while pedaling uphill. I got off, pulled out the chain that had gotten wedged between the large sprocket and the spokes, and I guided it back in place. Each of the riders that passed me as I was stopped asked if I needed help, but I told them that I was fine. I got underway again suffering only from greasy fingertips. But I was careful for the rest of the ride to go no lower than my second-lowest gear.

10:05am, 43 miles

Our first stop was in the town of Petaluma and we had the choice of stopping at either a convenience store or a coffee shop. I thought I would have a better selection of high-calorie junk food at the convenience store. I did manage to get a satisfying donut (danish), but the store had no restroom. It was not urgent for me to use one, but it was a good idea to go at this time. After eating I continued on to the coffee shop and used the restroom there. This allowed me to also wash all the grease from my fingers.

The next part of the route was an almost straight west leg towards the coast through the Two Rock Valley. This part contained rolling hills and a steady headwind. Fortunately, the wind was lighter than usual so it did not make the ride too difficult.

Here, I again came close to crashing. As I approached a medium sized tree, I did not see that it had one dead branch that stuck out at face-level over the edge of the road where I was riding. The rest of the tree was green and leafy, but the dead branch was bare and brown like the hills in the background. Because it was camouflaged, I did not see it until the last second. I was startled as it appeared suddenly in my face. I reflexively swerved to avoid it, but the sudden turn made me feel like I was about to topple. I corrected, then re-corrected, and finally regained control and managed to stay upright. Fortunately the rest of the ride had no more thrills like this.

11:45am, 61 miles

The next stop was at the small hamlet of Valley Ford, which is on Highway 1. This was another convenience store. I was not hungry, but knew I needed to consume more calories. I thought it best to get something easy to digest, so I bought a small box of butter crackers and a soft drink. I could not eat all of the crackers so I took what I could not consume with me. They would be a good emergency snack if I ran low on energy.

Now the route turned south, and the wind was mostly at our back. The rolling hills continued as we followed the edge of Tomales Bay. Here the sky had thick clouds which blocked out a good amount of the sunlight. It felt like later in the evening, but a glance at my watch confirmed that it was still only early afternoon.

1:50pm, 84 miles

The final stop was in the town of Point Reyes Station. Although it is a small town, it is at the crossroads of several tourist destinations so it has a good amount of services and visitors. We could visit any establishment here, so I chose a market where I could get a vegetable sandwich and a soft drink. After eating simple carbohydrates thus far, I thought it would be a good idea to now eat something more balanced. Unfortunately, the eggplant in the sandwich was tough and fibrous. I thought it might disagree with my stomach, but I had no problems for the rest of the ride.

The next part of the route closes a loop before retracing much of the morning route. I usually see many other recreational cyclists in this area, but the threatening clouds seemed to have kept most of them away.

By the time I reached back to the city of Fairfax, the scenic part of the route was over and it was city streets again until the end. I needed to use my GPS unit to navigate through the maze since my fellow riders had spread out by this time.

As we approached San Fransisco again, the skies were clear and the sunshine was bright, so here there were many more recreational cyclists than near the coast.

5:10pm, 125 miles

The finish was at the same place we started, but I could see everything clearly in the daylight. I kept a good pace and kept close to the same time as my last brevet, which was the same distance but with less elevation. However, about two thirds of the 70 riders finished earlier than I did.

I packed up the bicycle and started what should have been the 50 minute drive home. However, I got caught in a traffic jam trying to get out of San Francisco. So, it ended up taking an hour and a half to get home. Surprisingly, my butt got more sore sitting in traffic than during the bicycle ride.

This will most likely be the final organized bicycle event of the calendar year. It is not too cold for events, but with the rains starting and short daylight hours, clubs do not bother to schedule anything now. I hope to find some time to ride on my own and keep in shape.