Skip to main content

First chance, first step

Way early on a Wednesday morning on the first day of the new year, I'm waiting and shivering in a shopping center parking lot along with 47 other riders. We're all there to ride the Davis Bike Club's (DBC) First Chance 200km brevet which will take us from the western edge of Davis, itself on the western edge of the great Central Valley up through the Vaca Mountains over to Calistoga where we'll retrace our steps back to Davis. Earlier in December the Bay Area had experienced a longish stretch of really cold weather and on this day it seemed to have come back for a curtain call. Despite wool gloves under my cycling gloves my hands are painfully cold on the first few miles out. Out of the parking lot, the pace was very sedate and only gradually picked up. I had made my way up to the front of the first group and hung around there, sitting in comfortably (pace wise) with the group.

My very first ever brevet, save for a team event the prior year was a DBC 200km in March of 2005. The most enduring memory of that ride was how fast the lead group rode right from the start. I was quite green as far as how to ride those events then and I made the effort to try to stay with my riding friends who were determined to stick with that lead group. I just figured that was what you do so I better do that too. Dumb. Really dumb. 20 miles into the ride I was way overheated and way off the back of the pack, and on the return leg that day I really paid the price. This year on this brevet though, the pace was easier, or at least it seemed so. It could be that I had learned a thing or two and as a smarter rider it was easier. I sure wasn't as nervous as I was nearly nine years before.

Around about the point where the route took us through the town of Winters, westbound, I checked back as we climbed an overpass over the Interstate and saw that groups were forming and this lead group had gapped the next group behind. I hung with Todd one or two riders from the front and we chatted and I tried not to think of how painful and immobile my fingers felt. Everything else was fine but I was quite disappointed in the performance of those wool gloves. An old joke from TV sitcoms and old movies has the guy decide to distract his friend from the pain of a bad tooth by stomping on his foot. To distract me from the pain in all my fingers, the fates decided to give me my first flat tire of 2014. I let Todd know that I needed to pull out of the pack and deal with the tire and he is immediately torn between sticking with me and helping me, and hanging with the pack. I let him off the hook immediately and we say our goodbyes because I know I'll *never* catch up with him and the group again.

I used the parking lot of the defunct 95 Food Mart (nee Pardesa Store) to work on the flat and it is quite some time before the next group of riders comes along. I quickly discover though that while I have a spare tube, it is the wrong tube for the tires I have and one I just can't use so I have to instead patch the hole in the tube that punctured. This takes time of course, longer than a simple tube change and amazingly the task allows my hands to warm. A lot of the passing riders don't even see me, but others call out a hello as they roll by. I never see Drew and Deb and only later do I find out that Drew has pipped me in the honors of first flat of the year, which explains why he doesn't roll by as I work on my own. Finally I'm on the road again and quickly catching small groups of riders. It was actually a fun way to get to ride with nearly everybody in the field that day as I would catch a group, chat for a bit and we'd compare notes on where other riders might be. Some of that info would turn out to be pretty off, but mostly it good intel.

I arrived at the turnaround point on the far side of Calistoga while most all the riders were still there. Todd and a few others were already headed back as I came in, but Peter and Russ were still there and agreed to wait a couple minutes more to allow me to roll off with them. The day never really warmed up like I had expected it to, but still this was the best part of the day in that regard. Later a haze would dull the blue sky but at this point it was still clear and we three chatted as we worked our way back to Highway 128 and the trip up past the various reservoirs in the area. Along the way we had caught up to another rider, Jamaica, but not far from the Nichelini Winery but Russ flatted and Jamaica rolled on by. Peter urged me to go catch up to Jamaica as he would stay with Russ so off I went, and it took quite some time before I did catch up. I was able to catch up just before the climb locally known as 'Cardiac'. While the climb itself is over a mile long and steep enough to get your attention it is not the hardest climb in the wider area. I was told though that it got it's name from the fact it appeared late in a race route when riders were particularly tired and spent.

While we chatted we passed the Monticello Dam and dropped down through the rolling downhill terrain where the Vaca Mountains transition to the Central Valley. Along the way we passed Don who had taken a short break and was just getting back on the road. We three rolled along trading off leading the pace line until we neared Winters. Jamaica had fallen off at one point and I could not spot him behind us and at about that time we ended up picking up another rider who was completing his first brevet and longest ride ever. The sky had hazed over at this point and the chill had begun to return as the daylight was fading. With just 6 miles to go, I began to run out of steam and when I pushed harder, cramps would begin to take over my legs.

Our group arrived at the finish control at 16:10 so our elapsed time was just over 8 hours. My son was headed back to Sacramento for the upcoming semester and he and my wife met me for pizza as a post-ride meal. Hard to beat a fun day riding with friends topped off with some hot pizza and a beer.

Ride date: 1-1-2014

Host club: Davis Bike Club

Total km: 200

Km needed for K-hound: 9,800


Popular posts from this blog

Cycling mileage spreadsheet (using google docs)

Several years back I was looking for a good way to keep track of my annual cycling mileage and a little Googling resulted in finding this website and it's link to a downloadabe Excel spreadsheet for keeping track of cycling mileage. Mark Pankin, who created that Excel doc annually updates the document and makes it available to the public. I think the document is great and I've used it for several years. One issue I did have with it though was gaining access to the document remotely. I kept it on my computer at home but sometimes I wanted to update it when I was not at home or just pull data from it, again when I wasn't at home. I had had some email exchanges with Mark to ask about certain features of his document and this led to a discussion about porting the document over to Google Docs. Mark was not a Google Docs user but he didn't mind at all if I created a document using his Excel spreadsheet as a model. While there is some ability to import and export Excel format

The fourth time is a charm? PBP 2019 part 1

"I'm cured!". This was a posting I made within hours of having finished Paris, Brest, Paris 2015, hinting that it would be my last PBP. BS was officially called within seconds of that post hitting the interwebs, and this was not the first time that I was wrong (nor I suspect the last time I will be wrong). It is impossible to separate my experiences of riding PBP 2019 from any of those of past editions and the reader will have to forgive those moments of personal context that will follow below. Chartres Cathedral For the number of roadblocks I faced during the four year run-up to PBP 2019, as things transpired I led a somewhat charmed life once landing in France this past August. On the day before my flight, I received an email from Ed Felker inviting me to join Mary and him on a shake down ride out to Chartres. I had heard Craig Robertson describe the sight of the cathedral up on it's hill as he and Lori Cherry approached by bike from the west on a pre-PBP

The fourth time is a charm?, PBP 2019 part 4

Just one left to fill Unlike the fog that descended on the landscape overnight on Monday, the fog forming on Thursday morning was mental. But the chill was real. One downside to leaving Mortagne is that so much of the early terrain is down hill, and the coldest part of night was taking hold on that terrain for both the 84 hour riders and many if not most of the 90 hour riders. In the dark, it seemed that so few riders had gotten on the road, but as the kilometers clicked off the frequency of passing riders increased and packs were again forming, and as the sky lightened there was again a steady stream of red tail lights ahead. Foggy headed and chilled by early morning air that was nudging 40F, many riders reacted with indecision when navigational decisions were to be made and a simple left turn on the route that wasn't within a village caught 95% of the riders and large groups would have to navigate a u-turn amid the chaotic scene. At long last, the undulating landscape smo