Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Add water and mix

In the interests of chronological accuracy, this addition to the 'chasing K-hounds' series will be about the Worker's Ride version of the San Francisco Randonneurs (SFR) Point Reyes Lighthouse 200km, held the same day as the SFR Point Reyes Populaire. The latter is a subset of the former and covers the same routes save for two different out-and-back legs, one to the lighthouse which lends it's name to the 200km route and the other up to Marshall, CA on Highway One. Worker's Rides, according to RUSA rules, are held sometime within 15 days prior to the main event, to allow those volunteers that make the main event happen a chance to ride the brevet themselves. Trying to pack in enough rides to reach 10,000km this year will be a challenge. I can't justify riding two days out of the weekend on all day rides and there were only two weekends prior to the main event, and on the 2nd weekend in this time frame was a ride I really did not want to miss (more on that in the next post).

After much too long a time without any significant rainfall in California, Saturday the 11th day of January began under the threat of rain. Given the forecast detail I was hoping the rain would hold off until at least after the Populaire riders had finished and maybe I could sneak in later in the afternoon before the rain might begin. John had volunteered to work the start of the Populaire ride to check in riders and I had a number of things to cover with the riders before they left on their ride and all that, combined with Carlos being a few minutes late we three could not leave with the Populaire riders, but this was completely expected. Nevertheless, John, Carlos and I began to catch up to Populaire riders somewhere after going through Ross. Given the generous time allowances on brevets and populaires, there is no need to hurry if you really don't want to and the riders we passed were all in great spirits enjoying the socializing that a large crowd of riders presents. Many SFR brevets run the route from the Golden Gate Bridge out to Fairfax and beyond White's Hill but only a few go further on Sir Francis Drake Blvd past Platform Bridge Road. Those that do get to climb Bolinas Ridge where from the crest of the ridge you can get a full 180 degree view across the valley to the near side of the land mass of Point Reyes across the San Andreas Fault line.

Getting to the top of the Ridge is not that long of a climb but is made to seem longer because the crest is around a curve near the top and out of sight during most of the climb. By this time I had caught up to a number of riders, spending a little time with Deb as the route ducked under the redwoods and later on the climb up the Ridge along with Roy. Shortly after we would reach the bottom of the descent off the Ridge, my route would go left out past Inverness and on out to the point itself where the Lighthouse was, but the Populaire riders would continue north toward Point Reyes Station and the delicacies found at the Bovine Bakery in town. I did not get a big enough gap ahead of the next riders. Roy and another rider must have figured that since I was RBA I should know the populaire route and the best ting was to follow me. They followed me a short bit until I slowed and called back that I was on a different route this day. I thought Carlos and John were somewhere very close behind and riding together and that they should catch me soon, but for the moment I'd be alone headed out toward the Point. I stopped briefly in Inverness to eat and readjust some things but during that time Carlos and John did not roll by. Just after Inverness the route climbs the Inverness Ridge on it's way out toward the beaches and the Lighthouse. The mist that began near Olema was now drizzle in Inverness and the drizzle became more than drizzle on past the Life Saving Station Cemetary. On such a day as this, tourist traffic fades to next to non-existent so I largely had the road to myself. The few cars that passed by had me wondering what they might think as they passed me on my bike as rain blatted against their windshields. Charged with being stubborn at this point, I would have to plead guilty as I never stopped to put on rain gear. I could claim that the rain was just drizzle and would pass but the fact is that by the time I reached the Lighthouse parking lot calling myself damp wouldn't even qualify as an understatement.

The only overhead protection out there was the eaves of the roof over the restrooms but they did offer room enough there to get out of the wind and the rain while I pulled gear from my front bag. I ended up wearing the Showers Pass rain jacket the rest of the ride. Rain was falling in the Bay Area, finally, and I was happy for that and pretty well content at the moment too. I pushed off for the return run back toward the North American Plate. Along the way I first see Carlos on his way out to the Point and as we are stopped John comes along too. Like me, they both seem in fine spirits, barely noticing the rain, so after a few moments discussion we each head off in our own direction. The climb over Inverness Ridge is quiet and simple, with none of the difficulty I've experienced on past versions of the ride and on the way to Point Reyes Station (PRS) I only slow down enough to eat a bit while riding along. On this day, with the weather as it is, PRS is empty of the usual crowds of tourists and cyclists. Between me now and the next control are a series of mild rollers as CA 1 travels north in sight of the shores of Tomales Bay. I often wonder about the upheaval that could create this body of water and how what I see is only a piece of the long string that travels far to the north and south from this point. All that upheaval is in both the past and the future, and as I near Marshall, CA, the immediate present is that tiny little sliver of blue sky off to the northwest that portends clear weather and maybe even dry roads.

The Marshall Store is one of my favorite places and linked directly to cycling in my memories. Even on this lackluster weather day, the store is busy and I find only a place to stand to eat at the counter inside. That is fine with me though as I concentrate solely on the bowl of warm chowder and the bottle of Blue Moon in front of me, surrounded by the empty cellophane packages of oyster crackers littered all around my bowl. With no one to chat with, no one to slow down by my dithering and no one to slow me down with a belated run to the porta-johns, I am gone and heading south just 12 minutes after arriving. The sun has in fact started to poke through the clouds with a little more determination and as I near PRS once more I see Carlos, and then a while later John still heading north toward lunch and the Marshall Store control. My route will go inland before PRS and will then circumnavigate the Nicasio Reservoir before dog-legging through Nicasio itself on the way to Dixon Ridge. Dixon Ridge has always been at best a question mark for me, and at worst a hill that will make me crack. In terms of grade and length it is puny, but it's threat to me lies in its placement on the route, too near the end and always coming between the peaks of my energy on the ride. The roadway is dry here and there and traffic is no worse than otherwise so the climb is done and I'm back on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. heading toward Fairfax. The lower Marin cycling maze is next and though it is well after noon, it seems the area is on the verge of both coming to life and packing it in for the day, with people just trying to get some outdoor time in before sunset.

The climb out of Sausalito is once more counter-flow to the stream of tourists on Blazing Saddles rental bikes both on Alexander Road and also on the west sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge. I arrive at the finish control location 8 hours, 41 minutes after our start. Elapsed times often don't tell the full story of how well the ride went and on this day I recall having taken much, much longer to complete the course and felt much, much worse than this. While this is my second shortest elapsed time for the route, it is perhaps one of the best rides in terms of how I felt at the end: happy, comfortable and hungry for a good sit down meal earned by the day's exhertions.

Ride Date: 1-12-2014 (worker's ride for main ride on 1-26-2014)

Host Club: San Francisco Randonneurs

Total km: 200

Km needed for K-hound: 9,600

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