"We don't have the same strongest team as last year so we'll have to try another tactic."--Johan, 2002 P-R.
Chico Wildflower is special, held in a remote collage town, a clusterfuck of cyclist all over the place with baked goods all over that make it a weekend Cycling Party. Plus years ago we would come up here and then try to get my daughter interested in Chico for college--she has now graduated. Time has flown by.
Years ago lots of Diablo Cyclists used to do this ride. The numbers have dwindled over the years. Same handful of folks doing this ride as last year minus Big Mike and Super Joe--respectively our best man on the flats and our best climber. Maybe that is why we weren't as aggressive as last year, but worked well with other groups. Some big pacelines shot by on Whellock-Coal Cyn Rd without a hint of us chasing, but later on the long Durham Highway we pulled a huge line and on the first river road loop we teamed with some Sierra Nevada Jersey folks again to catch everyone in our path.
Our start time is open to debate but we always leave from Chico Fairgrounds Main Gate aka Disneyworld, Chico. Thanks to Ward for coming up with the photo from the Disney archieves..
But after last week real real relaxing ride, no rush to get out of rest stops, no placement--no need to catch anyone. Kinda cool.
See past years for detailed route description. Basically there are NO ROLLERS on this course. There are three semi serious climbs (all climbing in first 2/3rds of course) puncuated by fast flat sections, the last straightaway and loop hindered by wind but 20+ miles without a controlled intersection. Traffic is light to almost non existant in most sections.
Highlights-differences this year from the past. (Ward by covered bridge on preride; Donna and Ward with the Chico Buttes in the background, how come I've never seen them before.)
-Day before easy preride was done up Honey Run instead of piddling around Bidwell Park. Ward, Donna and I were amazed by the bluffs on each side--something you don't see when locked on the bikes in front of you on crowed Honey Run. We came now Neal Road which is a beautifully paved, lightly traveled road that only has one small drawback that I remember from doing this a few years ago when visiting my daughter at Chico State. It intersects Highway 99 with no over/ under pass. As the guy in Paradises' "The Bike Shop" said—“when you get there you have to play frogger.”
-Only 3 vendors at the check in--the Wildflower check in used to have a dozen dealers of unique cycling items, but no longer, which is a shame.
-Visited the 3 bike shops in downtown Chico--one is in the process of moving to larger digs. The ones that usually has tubes or rain jackets on deep discount for this weekend had neither. Considering all the odd crap I use (last saddle bought from a bike shop in Sweden, cleats from Northern Ireland as couldn’t be found closer) , none of the bike shops had anything I needed.
-Town was very quiet--the usually 20 minute wait to order from the traditional pizza house was no waiting and was half empty. Later took a walk through the semi deserted campus--Ward had never seen it and brought back memories for Donna and I, while Ward set a good Samaritan record for helping 3 coeds.
-For once no hint of rain in the morning that usually turns into a furnace blast by the time we hit Table Mountain. Today stayed cool and slightly overcast throughout the day. Cross wind off of Table Mountain and cross wind on the final loop. "Remember Your Time" Meeting up with Donna, Beth behind me, on the narrow road that is Honey Run. Much of the rustic road is filled solid with cyclists riding all over the place. Most of the road not that steep but with some sudden steep hairpins that creates a clusterF of cyclists. This is a very strange section as one of the few spots not marked with graffiti. CrazyPhoto used to take photos from up here--now he's moved to the lowlands with fields of weeds in the background. Much nicer here. Nice action shot by Ward, how we were in a space without other cyclists I'll never know.
-Just as stupidass cars drive now drive slower in the left lane, many stupidass cyclists piddling about while being on the left side of the narrow lane. One idiot (who first was on the wrong side of the road as he was looming backwards) sat on the yellow line leading onto Honey Run, going -4 mph slower than everyone speeding down the middle and left side. I said "on your left" where numbnuts said "oh I'll think about it--oh I'm not moving" as I cut around him. I yelled back "think some more idiot." I was too nice.
-At Oroville saw one worker fill up the bottles of supposed Spring Water
-The BIG change is that the Chico Century was never a real century--as it was just 96 miles so an out and back was added to the course. However IT WAS A SECRET.
At registration no one said that we should watch out for a detour/ add on to the very familiar course and the web site maps, clothe maps handed out had no hint of a course change. Well--there was a hint, on the cloth maps (but not on the paper/ web site ones) there was a rest stop icon thrown on the Sacramento River--about 5 miles from the colorful course on Ord Ferry Hwy right turns onto River Road--but the map didn't mark that the route goes to this rest stop Earlier in the day someone had told us that the course now goes to the Sacramento River and back; Jim who is a local said that make no sense and doesn't seem right. I had a paper map with me and there was no hint that the route did anything differently.
So when we got to the intersection, with Jim driving our group plus a dozen "new friends," the arrows pointed straight but a huge hand made sign pointed Chico to the right--the customary way, and everyone made the turn. When Ward and I did the bonus loop a worker was on the course waving everyone to make the right to turn to Chico.
Later we found out that Donna went straight and the road dead ends into a park and another rest stop before having to come back--nothing special.
-End meal kind of pedestrian. Last year they ran out of food and this year were stingily parceling out slices of tri tip.
In any event our group stayed together for most of the day, and had a nice fast run in to Chico mostly curtsey of Big Jim, and the guys from Sierra Nevada with assists from all of us. When Ward and I came around again slower folks were on the course; one local woman drafted behind us for 80% of the loop as we passed everyone in sight while yelling out encouragement. Nice ride-good times.