Morning after time again, and again, I'm surprisingly un-sore... My right knee suffered a little bit, but the pain is familiar, and I know it's not serious and will be gone shortly.
I chose the midnight start because I wanted the extra time - I didn't feel secure that I could finish 300 km within the shorter 16 hour time limit, and I chose wisely. I had this somewhat unrealistic "goal" beforehand of riding somewhere around 15 hours, but that got changed en route to simply finishing before dark, and not getting passed by any of the 4 am start riders, both of which i managed to accomplish, so chalk one up for realistic goal-setting...
The midnight start was great, though - it's fantastic riding out in the complete darkness (though we did have a little bit of light from the full moon behind thin cloud cover. The frog choruses along many of the Marin backroads were amazing. I'd gotten a few hours sleep from 7-1030 pm, so I think i was a little less tired than some people, and I was fully prepared to get completely soaked by rain once we hit Healdsburg in the marning - that's certainly what the Doppler radar was looking like when I left the house. The rain never really happened, so I think I'll credit me laminating my cue sheets for holding that off...
Made pretty good time along familiar roads through Fairfax, out Sir Francis Drake to Platform Bridge road, and the first control at nearly 50 km (0210), then more familiar roads from the 200 km brevet and past Russian River rides out to Point Reyes - Petaluma Road past the Rouge et Noir cheese factory (sadly not open at 3 am...) and downhill into Petaluma. Interestingly enough, my memory of the ride between the intersection of Nicasio Valley Road on to Petaluma was accurate, but distance-compressed. Arrived at Safeway in Petaluma (Control 2) at 0342 (77 km) - an arrival heralded by the rapid expulsion of air from my rear tire as we crossed over the 101 approaching said Safeway. Got a receipt at Safeway, changed my tube, rode halfway across the parking lot, and flatted again. came back, changed the tube, totally baffled as to what it was, inflated the tire after finidng no explanation, and discovered my problem - a bulge through a sidewall cut just above the bead. Argh! I'd changed tires Thursday night to get rid of the rear tire with the bald spot, and in my search for the spare tire that *didn't* have the razor blade cut across the tread, I'd grabbed the one with the brake wear sidewall cut instead of the actual good one... Thank god I carry a good boot - landscape fabric - and this held for the remainder of the ride.
I'd been riding with others for the entire distance up until this point, but they had left while I was changing my second flat, expecting that I would catch them in Healdsburg or somewhere along the way. After Petaluma, I rode with Darryl for a ways, until he encouraged me to go off faster than he was going to be going, so I made time to Healdsburg from just after Santa Rosa by myself, along flat, fast roads, arriving at control 3 (Healdsburg Safeway, 126 km) at 0700, just as the sun was coming up, a little behind schedule for my initial "goal", but on schedule for realism.
In Healdsburg, I met up with Todd, riding the only other hub gear at the brevet, another Sycip with a Rohloff. We headed out to Hwy 1 together, and I rode like that until just before I had another flat (this time some tiny piece of wire in the rear tire) just before the intersection of River Road and Hwy 1. Westside Road just out of Healdsburg to River Road had been somewhat rolling hills, but River Road goes right along the Russian River, so its' pretty much "downhill" the entire way. Todd's knees were giving him trouble, so I ended up getting ahead of him, but he caught up while I fixed my flat. Once we were on Hwy 1, and across the Russian River, the hills started up again, this time with a slight headwind, and Todd dropped off, so I was on my own again all the way to Bodega Bay, where the 4th control (Diekmann's Bay Store, 188 km, roughly the 2/3 point) was. The wind was starting to work against my pace, and I arrived (and left shortly thereafter, wanting to catch people in Marshall) at 1052.
Bodega Bay to Marshall was again, pretty much rolling hills - ones I hadn't seen since I toured Napa Valley and the Sonoma coast back in '89. Beautiful area, great rides, but the incoming storm had reversed the winds, so instead of a 10mph tailwind, I had a 15mph headwind, which was stripping time away like crazy. On top of this, my drive gear was slipping, and I plodded on like this until the Marin County line, where I discovered that I'd stripped the threads on my indicator spindle. Fortunately I had a replacement, and that fixed everything - no more gear slippage. More rolling coastal hills and headwinds, but i made fairly good time to the Marshall Store (control 5, 223 km, 1315) urged on my visions of clam chowder.
A short break in Marshall, knowing full well that this meant I was on track for beating the night back to SF, and having not been passed by any 4 am starters yet, meant the final bits of fighting against coastal headwind would soon be over. Met up with Catherine again, who I'd been riding with before Petaluma, and we headed out on the final leg with about 75 km to go. From there we were largely home free, having only 5 relatively minor climbs between us and the finish. The distance to Point Reyes - Petaluma Road dragged a bit, because of the headwind, but miles along PR - P to Nicasio Valley went pretty quickly, and then we hit a bit of headwind there. Mist set in just before the crest of the hill before dropping into Sir Francis Drake, at which point, It started to look like we might get some rain. The rain never really happenned, though - we did get some sprinkles, but the rain jacket stayed in the Carradice the whole time. Once we were in Fairfax, the ride was pretty much over - I still had plenty of snack food, and the route is auto-pilot from there in, and went smoothly, bringing us back to the finish at 1737, just before sunset.
Overall, I did what I came to do on this brevet - finished under the time limit, beat night back to the finish, didn't get passed my the 4 am starters (though Ginger rolled in about 15 minutes after we did, so we cut that close), and didn't bonk. Carried more than enough food, didn't cramp up, and the pain I did feel (knees and shoulders/neck) is either gone or largely gone now, the next morning. This bodes well for the 400, for which I think I'll be carrying small front panniers to store food in, and even out my weight a little bit. Once again, I finished riding pretty much as strong as when I started, and it was good to hear Ginger comment that I didn't really look all that tired, considering that I'd just ridden 300 km on a 3-speed, about 50/50 split between riding solo and with others...
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