Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Stockton Delta Century on a Fixie (2014)

**27 days to the Sierra Century***

(May 4, 2014)  Stockton Delta Century, 98 miles, 17.1 mph, 644' climbing (where??), w Don also on a fixie, Brian on a recumbent, Jack and Jeanne

Nice day on a pedestrian course.  I joined fixed gear king Don on my fixie, and we were accompanied by Jack, Jeanne, and Brian on an anti fixed gear recumbent.)

Ride through the Sacramento Delta is almost pancake flat except for the transition 100’ 10% hills between the rest stops and levee roads.  Usually one of the windiest portions of the Bay Area.  Big concern is the wind and it the wind chimes were going crazy overnight.   Luckily, at dawn the wind died down.

Day before we went on a metric club ride, also flat, but with constant attacks and a crosswind, so put in lots of effort.  Dr. Dave was worried I might be overdoing it but in the past we rode the Santa Rosa Double Metric had the day before doing the Delta Century on a fixie.  (This year skipped Santa Rosa to avoid the honor of paying $60+ to wake up at 2:30am to ride the crappy Sonoma roads and get fed rabbit food at the end.)

Oh--you are supposed to study the route before the ride?  No wonder I get lost often.

The pavement on this ride wasn't chewed up as in Sonoma, but was continually rough.  Didn't help that I keep my fastest but harshest front wheel (I hate it on my road bike)--an American Classic 420--on my fixie.

Delta Century route starts with a ride through vineyard and goes downhill from there.   Lots of decently paved but mundane farm roads, lots of roughly paved flat delta levees.  Some draw bridge crossing.  Lots of delta views, draw bridge views, vineyard views and “Stop the Tunnels” signs.

Don having the most fun on the fixie, Jeanne having the most fun when she is off the bike seat

I haven't used my Contour Action Video Camera in over a year--takes a very very long time editing into a movie.   I wanted to capture riding through the vineyard so I took the video camera out of deep freeze.  Would have helped if I cleaned the lens and didn't have the camera tilt.   The result--with a long portion devoted to vineyard riding and the high speed ferry crossing is at:

A fine Avant-garde film. ***Movie Review At the End**
The crazy fixed gear riders

Recumbent riders love happy trees

Rest stop food pretty pedestrian—things that you can find on the shelves of your local 7-11.   Nice that they have a selection of diet soda at all stops; no bananas but locally grown strawberries.   Causing trouble I’d pull into all the rest stops and ask for a fresh waffle as “Joanie (one of ride organizers—riding bike sag) said there would be fresh waffles here.”  Hopefully two or more people will ask her about it.

While food is basic the rest stops are interesting.  Rest stop #2 is in an old Sugar Mill converted into a winery—must have the most deluxe bathrooms of any Century.  Rest stop #4 is in an old public school with a creaky floor and high ceilings—it must be haunted.
Brian riding with the Delta in the background.

I'm in front of the haunted school--last rest stop of the day.  Where are those waffles Joanie promised?

Feature of the ride is a ferry crossing.  No-don’t think old Disneyland Mississippi paddle wheeler.  That is what I pictured years ago when I heard about it.  The ferry is basically a raft on a rope.  No one tried riding off the ferry—after starting on a wet deck you have at 100’ 14% hill to get started on.   While walking up I yelled we are all going for Strava time.  I think the pace quickened. 

Not that many people on this century and the turnout seemed down from in the past.  No much highjink.  Some nimrods in the morning—blocking across the road.  When Jack yelled “on your left” the guy outside moved over—maybe 2”.   Prompting me to yell-“DUDE (maybe he’s a mountain biker) –I’m NOT riding on the other side of the road—move over.”

Later two guys sat in the back of our paceline for awhile and then jumped.  Don and I chased with the group in tow and we caught and passed them 5 miles later. 

We were passed early by two fast guys on tri-setups.  Near the end a guy jumped and I wasn't going to chase but Jack kept looking around, so I had a go at him.  Gap was too big when I made my move and Jack said "that guy is MY age."  I then had to remind him about the thin blond who sped by him after the ferry ride when he was leading the paceline.
Final part of the ride then nice winery picnic grounds.

Nice little pasta picnic at the winery at the end of the ride—but it seemed the energy level was low , and sat around and bs’d for awhile (not about the ride—not much to talk about except for how sore we all were from the rough pavement.)
***We have received a classy movie review from Dr. Nunzio.  I just have to figure out if this is a thumbs up or down???***

The new film “Delta Century” by Belgian-Antioch filmmaker, Johan Knaven, offers an interesting blend of innovative and derivative subjective filming techniques in the service of a cinematic metaphor for the featurelessness of this life and, perhaps, the next. 

Emphasizing the banality of a life where one day blends with the next blends with the next ad infinitum, Knaven employs both an unyielding linear structure and the use of long, uncut single-camera scenes where the stagnant image lingers and lingers. 

Employing a day-long bike ride among friends (sic) as his subject, Knaven emphasizes the disconnection from those around us who we would generally consider to be our most intimate acquaintances, by focusing his camera unrelentingly on their backs. They ride beside us each day of our journey through life, and yet we never face them, never look into their eyes. Of these faceless characters, most interesting of all may be the one man who not only keeps his face from us, but from experience itself, as he navigates life feet first, as if protecting himself from the onslaught of even the most mundane encounters by kicking at life and not putting his face in the wind. 

The repetitive appearance of bridges serves to signify life’s brief but potentially important moments of transition. But these promising moments of impending change — will the scenery change? will life take us up or down some hills? will we face some dangers? some joys? — are followed by even more long mindless slogs through the mundanity of our empty daily existence. Pedal, pedal, pedal through your life, through day after day of flat, featureless experiences, inevitably toward death. 

And Death appears slowly on the horizon, giving us every opportunity to run from it, and still moving toward us in the shape of Charon’s ferry, taking us across the equally featureless River Stix. For Knaven, even this potentially climactic moment — and it isn’t just a moment: it lasts for several minutes — even this moment is just another segue to an afterlife (or reincarnation?) that is more of the same, same, same. Pedal, pedal, pedal.

Knaven’s subjective gritty, Cinema Verite’ camera work reinforces the hypnotic dullness of this life. The lens is slightly smudged, as if we are never able to truly focus on — be IN -- the present moment, but fight to see it clearly as it disappears before we have grasped it. (Interestingly, the camera never turns from its relentless foreword motion to catch a further glimpse of these passing images.) And, try as we may to impose structure or meaning on our lives with the introduction of a musical soundtrack or narrative subtitles, what is constantly there behind any post-production embellishment we attempt to impose on our journey, is the unrelenting rumble of the road, like a barely liminal scream in the back of our consciousness, an irritant, a verfremsdung, that keeps us from engaging fully with life, from connecting with the moment, or from fully believing the artificially imposed narrative of our chosen soundtrack. Without variance or respite, it reminds us that this life is harsh and dull and butt-numbing. 

And yet, Knaven’s vision is not entirely without hope, as this horrific journey of sameness appears, in brief snippets, to be made marginally more bearable by the company of those with whom we share the pain. 

--Dr Nunzio

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