Monday, March 3, 2014

A Wet Davis Brevet 200 (2014)

(March 1, 2014) Davis Brevet 200k, w Mike and Matt.  130 miles, 5,268', 15mph, 7:00-5:07

The Davis Brevet series is the best bargain organized rides in California.  For a minimal fee you get rest stops with some basic food,  some surprise sag support, and real friendly volunteers.  In years that people are trying to qualify for "P-B-P" (just know that it's an insanely long ride in France with minimal support over 3-4 days and nights) the brevet series is crowded; this is not a P-B-P year so chatter about hub lights and sleeping in fields for 30 minutes was at a minimum.  As it was a brevet  huge reflective ankle brackets coupled with reflective triangles, and antique looking bike bags that look like mini-suitcases were prevalent.

One of the traditions of the Davis 200k and 300k brevet is that there is always a 30-40% chance of rain.  This year the threat was more serious than in the past as it rained here more in the last 4 days than in 4 months.   During the frequent thunderstorms of the past week riding 130 miles on Saturday was the furthest thing from my mind--when I called Mike on Friday to confirm we were gonna bag it, Mike said something like "it's only a 30% chance and drizzle at the most.  Yeah, we're riding."   Fn Mike, he's a bulldog.

So I hurriedly pulled the backup bike off the trainer--cleaned it, filled two bags with rain gear, change of clothes and food, and pumped up the heavy but sturdy wheels that go with the steel GT.    Speed wasn't important for this ride--most brevet riders aren't that fast, but they have an inordinate ability to ride 60 miles before having to stop.   Oh yeah-print application, find checkbook, freeze a half bottle of Perpetuem and a bottle of post ride recovery protein drink..

Sisters of Mercy "The Flood II" was appropriately named for this ride--played on my Drive up to Davis and swirled around in my head during the ride.

Morning started out "great!"  Woke up to the sound of moderate rain and my rear wheel was flat.  Lesson learned long ago--pump up tyres night before in case something happens--like a sheered valve stem (which, upon autopsy, was the cause of the flat,)  I'm starting to have a collection of rear wheels so a replacement should have been easy, but for a variety of reasons it came down between two "race" wheels--at 4:45 I mistakenly picked the light climbing wheel.  As this Davis brevet is relatively flat the aero wheel would have been a better choice--and with a bike that weighted 10+ lbs over my regular ride loaded with crap saving 200 grams didn't really matter..

Cleaned out the trunk yesterday so bike shoved in there, and need to run windshields half way up to Davis.  Matt and Mike are already at the start when I pulled in with 20 minutes to go--not a lot of time to register, and set up bike with rack bag, handlebar bag and lights.....I was just about putting toe warmers on the shoes and grabbing cycling gloves when everyone cued up for the start. 

Skies were dark grey all around but it wasn't raining--for about the first 3 minutes as we skirted around the edge of Davis.  Two groups took off down the road--a few years ago our group would have been with them but no more, we settled in with a large 3rd group.  Many people had fenders on their bikes--oh crap--I took a front fender but left it in the car.  One guy who looked out of place in this retro group was wearing a pointy time trial helmet.
Leaving Davis in the 3rd brevet group on the road.  Most riders have thick yellow reflective ankle bracelets.  Mike is up ahead of me to the left in same clear rain jacket I have.  Guy on right has on a time trial helmet -- he must be the Ludo Dierckxsens of brevets. 

As soon as we got out of Davis and into the flat ag land between Davis and Winters it started to rain.  Just a little drizzle at first and then the rain picked up.  Never heavy but light to moderate.

There was no wind and temperatures in the 50's so rain was more annoying than a hindrance.  What worked well--cap under helmet so glasses didn't get constantly blotted by water, long sleeve undershirt which kept me warm, and Shower Pass rain jacket.  Fun thing is that Shower Pass seems to be the official rain jacket of brevet riders but only Mike and I had the lightest clear Shower Pass jacket that is easy to stuff .  Wool buff was perfect.

What didn't work well were rain socks--as I wasn't wearing rain pants water wicked on my calf guards and my foot was eventually sloshing around in the socks.  I had waterproof  gloves--but they were in the rack bag and it was never that bad/ cold that I needed to dog  them out.  If the rain was heavier or had continued rain pants would have been nice--I think my leg seized up after the ride from being wet with the wet knickers earlier in the day.

Mike near the front taking a pull on very wet roads.

In any event we had a group of about 20.   Some farm fields were flooded with a spillover onto the roadway which let to a rapid fire succession of warning.    A few times I started to get cold so I'd go to the front and as soon as my heart rate went up my core temperature was OK.  Rain tapered off after an hour but with a rain jacket-vest-jersey-undershirt, it was hard digging camera out of pocket, no, check that, it was hard returning the camera to my jersey pocket hidden in some layer.

Nice stretch on tree lined (as opposed to farm lined) Putah Creek Road were the rain let up and I had the grand vision of taking off my rain jacket.   We got to Lake Solano--mile 30--and Mike, Matt and I pulled into the campgrounds as most people would stop across the street in the day use park.  Actually most people just kept going but we figured we catch many of them by the turnaround if we didn't stop again.
At Lake Solano campground--I'm checking for rain along with the men in blue, for some reason Mike is happy we are getting rained on.
Up to now only 600' of climbing, the next 35 miles to the Pope Valley turnaround would have 4x as much climbing as we go over the Cardiac climb and the rollers to Pope Valley.  Here the "unevenness" of our group showed.  A few years ago I could stay ahead of Matt on DMD--not any longer.  He did the Devil Mountain Challenge in less than a hour last year.  Mike was never a climber and now coming back from illness he has more form to regain.  So on the Cardiac climb stretch Matt zoomed up ahead, I paced up somewhere in the middle and Mike was far back.  The usual traffic towing boats was nicely absent and most SUV's and trucks gave us lots of room--all except a dick in a KIA.   The fire marshall of Monticello (joke--Monticello is the town submerged when Lake Berryessa was created) was outside his funky front yard cheering us on.  Luckily it hadn't rained on the downhill for awhile--when it leveled out I waited for Mike and Matt waited for us both.
The fire marshall of Monticello cheers us on
As luck would have it, it started to sprinkle at the same time Matt got a rear wheel flat--right in front of the lost junkyard of Monticello.  Any chance of us getting back to the main pack was now over.
At a scenic view Matt gets a flat while Mike helps increase the elevation recorded for the ride.
After the tire was changed most of the rain for the day ended, the sun decided to come out, and we did my favorite portion of the ride--the rollers through Pope Valley.  On the flat beginning we pacelined well but then rollers started and Mike lost ground.
Matt on Lower Chiles Valley Road--rustic, and gets fast at the end.  Which of course means slow climbing coming back.
The sky got dark again just when we reached the turn around control at mile 65-and the sky pissed down a little more for good measure.  Most brevets are "you're on your own" and a good general store is 200' up the road, but the Davis Bike club provide some basics and friendly volunteers.  On the Davis Double the dozen rest stops compete for "best rest stop"--I told the folks in Pope Valley they were the best rest stop, or course they were the only one.
Funny moment when I dug out a homemade Protein Liege Waffle (topped with hammargel) and a few people came over and wondered where I got it.  In retrospect I should have also had a banana and a soda at the general store.  Later was a little thirsty and  definitely potassium deficient by the end of the ride.
Brevet riders don't stay at control stops long--Mike "pulled a Jack" and took off telling us we'd catch up to him.  Matt and I were in no rush.  Anticipating warmer and dryer weather I  proceeded to exchange my wet "waterproof socks" for dry sock liners and change from heavier stuff into a thin t-shirt, regular head band--very good move.
Mike looking for a vegan tofu sandwich--with none existing he is ready to "pull a Jack" and take off.  Matt leisurely eating in the background (top) while I enjoy my whole wheat protein Liege Waffle (with Pearl Sugar!!) (below)

Matt and I were on a mission to catch back up to Mike, but Matt was the only person actually accomplishing anything.  Now on the rollers back Matt constantly pulled away from me and then had to wait for me to catch up.  On one steep section (Dr. Dave's bent favorite with short but sharp rollers) Matt rode away and I stopped to take some photos.

Olive Tree landscape on Lower Chiles Valley Road (top) --pygmy pony by the dental floss bush (below)
I basically solo'd the return from Pope Valley.  At one point I stopped to take photos of a group of pygmy ponies and saw some cyclists coming up.  I waited for them to pass close by while framing the photo--but they never did.  When I looked away from the camera they were still down the road--also stopped to take pony photos. 
Up Cardiac I caught some other riders but never saw Mike.   I figured there was a good chance I would never see Mike and Matt again as after Cardiac it is the fast farm roads back to Davis.    But Mike and Matt were nicely waiting for me at the reservoir county line before the descent--Matt had caught up to Mike moments before. 
Mike and I mugging for photos as life (or brevet riders) pass us by.
Mike and Matt coming off of Hwy 128
Another stop at Lake Sonoma for water.  This time we stopped at the day use area and ran into a few other brevet riders.  The great tree lined Putah Creek road back to Winters and then the sunny flat ag land roads to Davis.  Oh--did I mention the wind.
Mike thinks he deserves the James Brown treatment for reaching Lake Solano again at mile 101.
There was hardly any wind all day but once we hit the agriculture area around Davis the winds were a constant 12 mph with gusts of 20.  Mike said this is what did him in.  Matt and I took turns pulling while Mike worked on his comedy routine--though when the crosswind picked up again for the never ending 10 mile stretch going North on Sievers-Tremont Mike was very quiet while I was singing out the 'endless fuckin road' song. 

Matt and Mike back in the agricultural land around Davis.

The flooded agriculture land...what water shortage??
Matt in front of bike sculpture.
Mike out of gas or he would have sped up to ride with this female time trialist who was getting battered in the wind.
Here comes the sun--6 hours too late.
Funny--I had no top end speed at the end of the brevet but didn't feel bad--until I got off the bike.  My knee hurt, my quads seized up and the usual wave of Davis Double nausea came over me.  I bailed on joining Mike and Matt for a post ride meal--and dawdled in the right land back while occasionally punching out a knot in my leg.  I kept playing with the radio-CD-MP3, was real anise until a cut by Fela Kuti came on that had repetitive organ and trumpet lines at the beginning.  I listened to that cut over and over all they way home.
One can only hope that Paris Roubaix--the greatest wet weather race that has been dry too long (since 2002)--has the same weather we had today. 

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