|Elevation chart courtesy of Garmin 310xt for this ride|
Only reason I signed up for this ride was to support CA Mike, who needs to do the brevet series in order to go back to France for Paris-Brest-Paris next year, an insane ride where you have to cover 1200k in 90 hours. To quality you have to do a 200k, 300k, 400k, & 600k brevets--as I did 7 years ago I told Mike I’d ride with him on the two shortest rides in the series.
In years the early season 200k & 300k brevets were also a good way to acclimate for Double Centuries--get the miles in at a more relaxed pace. But now that I retired from Double Centuries no need to do this for a long mile base.
Another reason to do this ride was that it would be perfect to check out my cardio drift (as exercise time goes on, at same power your heart rate elevates), which killed me on Mt Shasta last year, and also do more easy gear spinning--which is more efficient that pushing the big gears as I tend to do. All the data from the Garmin would help me keep my power and heart rate below a certain level. From last post you may recall that I enjoy my new Garmin 510--unfortunately it sucks batter life so do a 300k I’d need the more miserly Garmin 310xt. Unfortunately it is also miserly when it comes to transferring data from the unit to the computer--and a Garmin suggested universal rested this week didn’t make downloads any better and made the operation of the unit worse.
Between trying to reset Garmin, Mike let me know he was bailing from the 300k brevet. He had flu like symptoms last week on the Santa Cruz 200k, and with some overall immunity issues he can’t push himself. F. Jack was signed up but Jack rides in "Jack universe" where he is either behind or didn’t stop at a rest stop and is way ahead. Dr. Dave said he‘d ride out and meet me on the course so he‘d do 100 miles in the middle. We figure that on the 200k a few weekend ago when it was raining on the Course and Matt got a flat we arrived to the gateway to Pope Valley (Hwy 128/121 Junction) at mile 46 at 9:45 so I should make it by 9:30 this time.
I planned to take a handlebar loaded with food, 982grams, so I wouldn’t get too far ahead of Mike on the climbs. After he dropped out I should have rethought the food idea --but even though the Davis Bike club does an incredible job running a few food/ rest stops en route, it is a Brevet that is technically self-sufficient. So I loaded up on waffles and biscotti. In retrospect I should just have eaten what Davis Bike club and local stores offered--and only important “food item” to carry was a sports drink mix I like & Chomps.
|Reflective convention at start of ride|
Another 3:30am wakeup for the drive up to Davis; see Jack at the beginning--he forgot his riding gloves (he always forgets something if he needs his car to get him to a ride), so I give him my spare set. Sun mercifully comes out a few minutes before 7am, the start of the ride. It is sunny with crosswind--much cooler than the day we started in the drizzle. 7am-mass start-glance at Garmin--it turned off. Huh, I had turned it on. Soft pedal in back of pack and turn it on as I watch it get satellites--on for about 30 seconds, then turns itself off. Half the peloton made it through the only traffic light we’d see all day--I’m stuck in the 2nd group at the red light. Plenty of time to play with Garmin--the red light takes about 2 minutes--I turn it on-Garmin turns itself off.
|Early morning paceline and long solo. Interesting in top photo how woman carries camera on her back--better than digging it out of pockets|
The group I’m in the last group on the road and they’re just chatting away as next group on the road is ¼ mile away and always increasing the distance. I want to take it easy but also ride with some energy so time later spend riding after sundown is short. I put in a solo effort to jump up to next group but with 185 miles to go don’t want to go balls out. And what is balls out? I don’t even know how fast I’m going. Bike is also not shifting smoothly to the big chain ring--is it loaded brevet bag on the cables causing this? Get about half way to them when I stop gaining, soon the group I had left had organized a paceline and comes back up to me--and we eventually join up with the group I was chasing.
|Company at Lake Solano|
|And just when I thought my morning couldn't get any worse?|
Now the run in to and Cardiac Climb. Can things get any worse. Oh yeah, a small group out on a joy ride come in from behind and one woman sees my Diablo Cyclist vest and loudly asks “hi, are you Kitty?” (Clubmate who is first female to do Race Across America. ) We laugh that she is so wrong--they are out on a pop???, some fancy French word that means a self-supported metric century. I ride with them to the base of the climb and then I take off.
|Nice morning view on Cardiac Climb|
So I hit Pope Valley about 10 minutes behind Dave--never know how fast I’m going and if I start cranking to see if I can catch him (heck, he might have started 40 minutes before me) I remind myself I’m supposed to take it easy. Half the time when I hit a downhill roller that calls for the big gear I don’t shift to the big chaining as that shift has been clunky all day. Pass a few people, one woman and I trade pulls until we hit the rollers. Loads of bare grapevines surrounding the pothole strewn road--if it wasn’t for Sonoma County Napa roads would be the worst. Occasionally they do a nice repavement on a 200’ stretch and one wonders if they ran out of money for the lumpy, bumpy mile that follows
|Gateway to Pope Valley|
The ride from Pope Valley to Middletown is great. Less traffic (wasn’t a lot to start off with), much better pavement (half is in Lake County) and some serious rollers. Pass a few other riders but no sign of Jack and Dave--heck, I probably lost more time to Jack as he never stays in rest stops. I start think about the leg after Middletown (mile 84), it’s the 9 miles mostly up the Cobb Mountain climb. The climb is hard but there are lots of harder climbs in Northern California that are MORE enjoyable. Cobb Mountain is basically going up a sunlit shoulder of Hwy 175 while being passed by a steady stream of cars. I start repeating the mantra that I’m not training for nothing, my Garmin failed so I’m getting no useful data, so if I turn around at Middletown I WOULD’T get home at midnight and I’ll still wind up doing about 160 miles. Plus my camera is working so I can ride looking for photos (shit, I can't look at my speed.) Absent seeing Dave in the next few miles (and then probably cutting the ride short when we pass his car), a turn around at Middletown it is.
|Welcome to Middletown|
|Why I didn't go up Cobb Mountain|
|23 miles to civilization|
Now nice and warm. I pass the front of a winery with a huge lawn and I have a waffle lunch. Very desolate going back to Pope Valley--now no traffic and no occasional cyclist. This time when I pass hubcap ranch I stop and take loads of photos.
|A great spot for a picnic|
I need to tell the Pope Valley brevet control that I never made it up Cobb Mountain, so no one goes looking for me, but first I go to the general store for a Coconut Frozen Fruit bar and a diet soda (if I gonna have 200 calories in a drink it will be a dark beer.) Then I get to the control and they make me my sandwich special—a slice of bread and a slice of deli. Yeah, no need to lug around food on this ride. The organizer for this event series is there and we talk a long time about the ride. In the past they used to have super sag driver Lee Mitchell driving around and blasting music and taking care of stranded riders so you never felt you were alone—now with Lee’s passing no one does this so you do feel like (a real brevet) you are alone. (The rest stop workers do police the road in their area.)
|Hubcap Ranch and other Pope Valley scenes|
I walk back to Control to fix the flat and use their pump. Instead of taking off Jack comes over and holds the bike while I reset the wheel. From then on we ride in together as we did such seminal events like the Terrible Twos years and years ago.
Jack is riding really well and we two man most of the way in. I told him I’d wait for him at the top of Cardiac, which I did, and he took something off on the long downhill. I told him I was stopping for water at Lake Solano and “no stop Jack” was very amenable.
The Davis farmlands were not nearly as windy as they were a few weeks ago on the 200k or even this morning. It was still nice and warm and sunny. Last bit of levity was when we overtook a group of coeds on bikes—many in miniskirts-cycling haphazardly around the road. They were all over—probably a little wasted. Jack started yelling as we approached “ON YOUR LEFT-ON YOUR LEFT” which caused them to barely move over. When we passed I yelled out “you guys look like you’re having more fun than we are” Big laugh.
Sun was setting as we hit the last 10 mile stretch and I was still warm so didn’t open stuffed handlebar bag to dig out armwarmers. Mistake. The temperature tumbled as soon as the sun set.
|Pope Valley late in the day|
|Cardiac Climb on the way back|
|Homage to "Mike View" spot on Cardiac--ask him about it the next time you see him|
|Jack passing the time trial sculpture heading back to Davis.|
Pull in @8:00 and told Control that I was dq’d for carrying an Open Bud Lite on the ride which caused a long discussion about beer. The great volunteers may be here another 7 hours. Davis Bike Club ran a great event, and riding the end with Jack was fun. A few years ago I thought we could have a dozen people from our Club on the shorter brevets—we had a half dozen a few years back on the 200k but unfortunately the number has since dwindled. In retrospect--instead of all the food I should have taken the mini bike radio.