I didn't plan on riding this 200k brevet by San Francisco Randonneurs (SFR), especially since it was scheduled only 2 weeks after the lighthouse 200k. However, several of my Internet bike buddies--Jim, Lee, and Esteban--were planning to do it, and Esteban is coming all the way from San Diego, so I sort of decided that I was going to do it. I waffled all week as the rainy forecast for saturday didn't change. I finally sent in my registration form on friday after sending an email to Rob Hawks, the SFR's brevet coordinator on thursday telling him that I plan on showing up on saturday. Friday night the 4 of us were shooting emails planning on the meet-up at the start, and also stipulated the conditions under which--pouring rain in the morning--we would bail out. I woke up saturday early morning and it wasn't raining, even though the ground was wet. I checked the weather for one last time and it still showed high chance rain all day. I packed up my Kogswell--so I don't have to take off my bottom bracket and seat post to let the water drain on my Ebisu in case it poured all day--and headed for the bus station.
Just as we approached the bridge sidewalk, the rain began to come down. Even though we all anticipated the rain and expected to get wet, there were still mutters of "here we go" all around. We crossed the bridge and rolled down hill toward Sausalito. Near the base of the hill, I saw a rider on a Rivendell Romulus. He turned out to be Nathan, to whom I sold my Romulus last year (and he was riding it today). From there we--Jim, Esteban, Lee, Nathan, and Tom on a Atlants--rode together on and off most of the day.
(Photo Courtesy of E. del Rio)
Just before Valley Ford, I saw Jim pulled up behind me, apparently he and Phil (whom I know from my GPC days and bought a roof bike rack from) traded pulls to save some energy in the vicious headwind. I was quite exhausted as I pulled in front of the general store in Valley Ford. I got in and wanted to see if they had bike energy food--I still have enough but thought I should grab some as an insurance policy, as this last windy section took more out of me than I expected. The store didn't have any energy food so I bought a bottle of water to fill up my bottles. We sat outside the store as Nathan, Tom, and later Lee pulled up. Several randonneurs were already sitting there. We all marveled/lamented the phenomenal headwind. I ate the rest of the sandwich and gulped down some Perpetuem and Hammer Gel.
We have 23 miles to get to Pt Reyes Station at this point, and just about half way through the Brevet. I felt a little weak as we left Valley Ford, but told myself that I would catch some tailwind as we headed south and west. After a couple more mouth of energy gel, I was riding in earnest again on HWY 1 toward Tomales. The climb up was very scenic, and the color of day has completely changed as the sun is out, and nice white clouds dotted the blue sky. The 5 miles between Valley Ford and Tomales disappeared quickly, and soon we were riding along a creek and the marshes west of the town going toward the coast. The water in the creek was quite full and I was enjoying myself at this point. After eating another energy bar--my last. I pulled to the front of the line and pulled for a little stretch just before the coast. I stayed ahead and now have caught the south tailwind. The section all the way down to Pt Reyes Station has only gentle rollers, and with the tailwind aiding my effort, I glided south and the miles seemed to have gone away easily.
Just after Marshall I felt pretty hungry. This is kind of a good sign, as it tells me that I am doing OK with electrolyte (as the lack of usually leads to loss of appetite and desire to drink), but I don't have too much food left. I still had 8 miles to ride before I can get some food at Bovine Bakery in Pt Reyes Station. I remembered that I still have the blueberry scone I got in Petaluma. I ate the scone slowly, not wanting to cause any indigestion as I rode. This is such a nice stretch I coasted a few long stretches to look at the Tomales Bay and some of the marshes.
Esteban caught up with me about 3 miles away from town and we yo-yo'ed all the way into Pt Reyes Station. This was an open control and I headed for my usual destination--bovine bakery--to get a vegan veggie roll. The shop clerk told me that many cyclists showed up today and asked for receipts, and then promptly gave me one. I took care of control business and began to chow down the roll. Jim rolled up at this point and went and got a Pepsi from the supermarket, and told us he had been hankering for one since Marshall. I got a text message from Lee saying that he decided to stop at Point Reyes Station. Jim, Esteban and I all thought that it was a bit of a shame as we were relatively close to finish, and Jim and I both thought that if Lee had more familiarity with the route he might have opted to finish. I left them for a while to get some energy food at Black Mountain Cycles and get my chain lubed up a little. I have read Mike's blog on and off and it was good that I had a chance to visit today.
(Photo Courtesy of E. del Rio)
After rolling downhill I stopped in Fairfax to call home and sucked on a couple packs of energy gel. The 5 or so minutes off the bike and the food seemed to have helped. With no one to ride with but feeling of a second wind, I rode at a comfortable but brisk pace through the hamlets. I was even able to maintain a good clip up Camino Alto. At this point I have the cateye small LED front light and the Dinotte 200 LED front light on. Toward the summit I saw Jim and Esteban standing on the shoulder. Jim apparently also bonked a little and had to get some donuts and drink a can of Ensure. I was grateful that they waited for me, as the last miles back to the city in the dark can be a little lonely and discouraging, especially if I had to ride by myself.
We got back to the bridge pretty quickly, and crossed it on the east side sidewalk. Jim had to push a button to open the gate on both side of the bridge. Soon, we were back at the starting point and handed over our brevet card and receipts to the wonderful volunteers and Rob there. After resting some and drank a can of soda. I headed for BART station and got home at around 8:30pm. The total time for my brevet today was 12:15; my total mileage was 134 miles, including riding from and to bus/BART station. Even though on the group list people felt that this route is slightly easier than the lighthouse route, the wind and the wet weather early clearly took their tolls, as I took one more hour than 2 weeks ago to finish, even though strangely I felt fresher at the end than I did two weeks ago.
Reflections on Gear, Bike, and Food
I took the Kogswell today, and it performed well. I think the frameset, tires, and the hubs are slightly heavier than the corresponding parts on the Ebisu. I also took an extra saddlebag as the front boxy bag--VO Campagne--is smaller than the Inujirushi bag on the Ebisu. I put my rain jacket in the saddle bag but actually next took it out. In hindsight I probably could have done without the saddle bag. When I rode out of the saddle and holding onto the drop--an option afforded by the shallow drop of the on-one midge and the tall headtube on the Kogswell--my knees would knock on the handlebar. This doesn't seem to happen on the Ebisu. The Hetres on the ebisu is noticeably better than the Fatty Rumpkins on the Kogswell. The slower tire might have something to do with my longer event time today, but I suspect that was not the main reason.
The fit on my Ebisu is just about perfect. I did not feel any noticeable physical discomfort on the 200k 2 weeks ago, even though I didn't wear padded shorts. I have a different handlebar--on-one midge--from the Jitensha Randonneur bar on the Ebisu. Overall I felt OK, with only light amount shoulder numbness toward the end of the ride. I actually like the MKS touring pedals with my addidas running shoes. I think the combo of crank brothers clipless pedals and shimano mountain bike shoes work fine on my Ebisu, too, but MKS half-clip with touring pedals are hard to beat.
The Dinotte LED headlight worked really well this time. Maybe the last two times when I used them, the batteries weren't charged fully, so the light crapped out quickly. I will give it another chance to prove itself. But I am thinking about putting on my SON wheel and B&M Cyo anyway.
I brought 3 energy bar, 3 packs of energy gel, and 5 more in a flask. I also brought perpetuem energy drink powers. In total, I brought almost 2000 calories of energy food, and I bought 450 calories more worth of gel in Pt Reyes Station on the way back, and consumed 2 out of 5 packs. At the end, I still have one serving of perpetuem powder that I didn't use. I should probably have been better to eat more frequently, as I always began to feel the effect of low calories (I usually feel some slight cramping in my legs when that's the case) before frantically trying to take in more. I bought a 12" veggie subway sandwich in Petaluma, and I should probably have bought an additional 6" sandwich as I knew no good option exists in Valley Ford.
My clothing worked well, mostly. I had a merino base layer and merino long tights. I then wore a Fox thin fleece jacket on top of the base layer. I had some wool socks from Rivendell and used a pair of neoprene toe covers from Performance Bikes. The only mistake is the pair of casual knickers I had on. They got wet and stayed wet for a while, and became heavy when soaked. They kept wanting to slide off my body. I would wear something different next time.