200km brevet
San Francisco, 01 Feb 2003

Well, it's the morning after probably the most brutal 200km I've ridden to date, and I'm sore. Not can't walk sore, but sore enough. No pics this brevet, cause i pulled my digital camera out at the start, and whaddya know... batteries dead... I knew there was a reason I liked my Rollei and Nikon so much...

Things started out interesting, breaking a spoke in my rear wheel Friday night at 1:30 am on the way home from the Opeth show, and then noticing at 5:30 am that hey, my taillight is behind my Carradice bag - totally invisible from the rear! Couldn't find my clip-on taillight, so I rigged my normally seatpost-mounted light to the left rear dropout, and that worked fine.

It was dark at the start, seeing as check-in started around 6am, but there were plenty of people hanging out - with a full complement of 75 riders for the brevet, there was going to be plenty of company out there. Found Todd's truck, got my brevet card, and chatted with people as they showed up. As my friend Cameron noted, I don't think I've ever seen so many Rivendells in one place...

Once 7am came around, things started off nicely, and I somewhat deliberately dropped off the back, which i think lost me some time in the end, but I was still thinking like I was touring, and when touring, I always like to ride alone. The first stretch, out the Fairfax, I could have ridden in my sleep - it was the standard sidestreet routing form Sausalito onwards, on the bike path, over Camino Alto, through Kent and out to Sir Francis Drake. From there, we rode out, through Samuel P.Taylor, to Hwy. 1, and then turned out towards Inverness and Point Reyes Lighthouse. Shortly thereafter, once we entered Point Reyes National Seashore, things got brutal.

The wind kicked in, blowing 45-50 mph it seemed, with stronger gusts, mostly crosswinds and headwinds. This continued all along the road out the lighthouse, and really strained rideability - I was getting blown all over the road. This was arguably the hardest section of a brevet that can be somewhat strenuous to begin with, simply because of the rolling terrain covered. Finally, I made it out to the lighthouse, where the wind was so strong that the stairway down to the lighthouse itself was closed. Time at this first Control was 11:43, if I remember correctly. Stopped for half my sandwich, and some fruit, but wasn't starving, cause I'd been snacking the whole way out, as I'd packed plenty of food.

On the way back, the immediate thought is that all those winds would now be at my back, but no... still mostly crosswinds, and plenty of headwind as well. The just over 20 miles from the lighthouse to the second control (counting my stop for lunch at the lighthouse) took 3 hours! This was due, once again, to the wind, which wasn't so bad once I reached the radio towers just before Inverness, where it became a nice bit of tailwind, but then switched again to headwind once we hopped back on Hwy. 1 north to Marshall. I'd been riding mostly solo the majority of this time, which definitely made it more difficult for me - no one to draft or anything like that. Walked a couple of the hills out of Pt. Reyes - had I known the wind was going to be that strong, I think I would have dropped a second cog onto my Sturmey-Archer, cause a 2:1 gear ratio just wasn't cutting it against that kind of headwind. The headwind to Marshall was still there, but not nearly as strong as the ones on the Point, probably only 30mph.

The Marshall Store was a welcome sight - Darryl had said at the start that they would have 3 pots of clam chowder ready for us, and boy was I ready for that. I had food on me, plenty of it, but something about warm soup in a cold wind just does it for you. In hindsight, should have gone for some oysters too, but another time... Time at the Marshall Control was 14:45, I think. The lady behind the counter declared me the best-dressed of the lot, which i think was largely due to my attire at the time of shorts and long sleeve t-shirt, rather than the barrage of brightly colored cycling jerseys and lycra tights she'd probably witnessed by the time I got there. Good chowder though. If you're ever out that way, I can't recommend it enough. Marshall Store, 19225 Hwy. 1, in Marshall.

It was tailwind time on the way out of Marshall, which was a welcome change of pace. I'd run into Henry Kingman and some others at the store, but they'd left a little before I did, and there were a few others riding around me, so I was no longer completely solo, which was kinda nice. Rode for a while and chatted with some South Carolinans, and generally had it pretty good on the way back in - I'd been saying that one we reached Marshall, we were home free, and I stand by that. Between the tailwind, and the real lack of significant hills on the way back, all was well. The only realy climb was up Point Reyes-Petaluma Road to Nicasio Reservoir, but that wasn't so bad. Once we'd reached Nicasio Valley Road, it was a good solid tailwind for a while longer.

I caught up with Henry and Catherine a little ways after Nicasio, on the old Cheese Factory route to Russian River, and rode with them all the rest of the way back in. Nice to be riding with 2 really consistant riders, and good conversation, at that. From Fairfax back in, it was again auto-pilot on the route - I've ridden that bike route so many times I couldn't possibly screw it up, and we were definitely hitting our home stretch kick. Hauled ass through the bike path and Sausalito, and popped back over the bridge to check in with Todd at the finish at 18:44. Not a great time for a 200k, but you have to take into consideration the heavy winds. Fastest riders were in around 15:00, but they were largely out for a long road ride, no bags, and on road bikes... I had it harder on a 3-speed with a big Carradice catching wind, but I think it was worth it.

Probably the hardest 200km I've ever ridden, though - that wind was just a killer. Considering that the 300km doesn't take the Point Reyes section in, I think it will almost seem easier, in a way. I'm pretty confident of my ability on that one, and think I can likely do a proportionately better time. It may have been a torture rack for at least part of the ride, but I did learn that I can take a beating like that, and recover well, and ride just as strongly near the end of 200km as I did at the start, which I think is going to prove valuable in the longer distances.

Full 200km results here

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