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Hmm, this is going to be unedited because I have a bunch of other work to get done today.

So, scrottie arrived in town on Thursday evening, hurrah! But things have been something of a blur since then. We skipped Bike-Friendly Friday because there was just too much to do. To begin with, I spent a couple hours working with an undergraduate researcher on an assay that's of mutual interest (vanillan, used to quantify total lipids). Then I dashed off to a Postdoc Lunch on that perpetual topic of interest, "How to Get a Job." To some extent it's reassuring that most of their recommendations line up with the recommendations I've already gotten from others, elsewhere. I just need to keep at it. Then I worked with another undergraduate who I am setting up to run a cricket feeding experiment, and once that was underway I put in a couple of hours on the current leafcutter feeding manuscript.

Interspersed with all of that, I got underway with sorting out logistics for Saturday's 200k brevet. I hadn't realized until Thursday that the brevet start time of 7 am at the Golden Gate Bridge would be challenging to reach by public transit, because the BART doesn't start running on Saturday morning until 6 am. After S decided that he really couldn't do the brevet, I worked out a carpool with another randonneur from the East Bay. As we drove out to the start, he said there aren't any ways to bike across the Bay unless you go all the way down to Fremont (the South Bay, basically? Still learning the local geography). If I knew more of the other riders, I probably would have been willing to take the BART and just start a couple minutes late, but given that one of my goals for this ride was starting to meet the local riders, the carpool was helpful.

Ahh, logistics.

The rest of Friday evening, then, was full of the usual pre-brevet logistics: downloading the .gpx and then uploading it onto my phone, putting air in Froinlavin's tires, repacking the toolkit into the trunk bag, printing the cue sheet, prepping and stuffing four burritos. It's a bit of work, but it's familiar work by this stage.

There are some contrasts between the brevets here and the brevets in Nebraska. For one thing, a few more riders show up.

Starting crowd

For another thing, the terrain is much more lumpy.



The route took us through the Samuel Taylor State Park, dripping and full of redwoods and ferns, then up to Pierce Point, a peninsula on the coast that is separated from the mainland by the San Andreas fault. The course was basically wishbone-shaped, so from Pierce Point we backtracked back through Point Reyes Station, and then traveled along Coastal Highway 1 up to Nick's Cove. At Nick's Cove, we turned around and headed back through Fairfax to Sausalito and back across the bridge, enjoying some nice harbor views and views of the city skyline along the way.



I didn't take any photos of the lovely redwoods in Samuel Taylor. The forest gave me flashbacks to that wonderful bike touring trip around the Olympic Peninsula several summers back, although I have to tell you that the Olympic National Forest is even more grand. Plus there are better shoulders on those sections of road in Washington, and Washington drivers are generally more patient. Still! I have no cause for complaint, and am happy to have gotten the introduction to some of the great parks that are within biking distance.

Things got more interesting past Samuel Taylor, as we headed towards the second control at Pierce Point. If you look again at the elevation profile, right around mile 47.2, you might have some idea as to why. Last week my legs were sore up until right around Friday, from doing lunges early in the week. All through the first part of the ride, I just kept telling myself that if I got myself all the way to mile 50, the rest would be just fine. If I got to 50, then I could just do another 25 miles, and at that point, heck, I would only have 50 miles remaining, and my recollection from a hasty glance at the elevation profile was that things would be smooth sailing from then on.

Well.

By the time we had reached that lumpy business right at mile 47, I'd already chowed down on a bunch of stuff out of my feed bag, because URGH, hills, and not enough gears (banana, granola bar, Balance bar [gross!], mini-Clif bar, burrito). And dead legs. There were enough other riders around that I was pushing the pace to keep up, especially because other riders kept on passing me and I was nervous about finishing with a non-embarrassing time. Just picture me huffing and puffing away up the hills in slightly too high a gear, chowing down on a banana and trying not to choke on it, and you've got the right picture. I kept myself going by telling myself that it would be SUPER embarrassing if I had to stop in the middle of a hill to pant. Just keep going, self, just keep going!

And then, The Hill. My body was already working hard and disgruntled by the time we reached yet another hill where I pretty much just ran out of gears. Whoof. I watched with some envy as another rider shifted down to spin his way up this beast, while I did what I could to lurch along. I did the best I could, but finally, it happened. I redlined so hard (yes, that hard) and my legs went NO, and I just had. to stop. The "KEEP GOING!" instinct runs so strong, though. If I couldn't hang on and pedal my way up without asphyxiating, I could at least walk, right? I haven't walked up a hill in the midst of a bike ride since the days of the Chilly Hilly as a kid. But walk I did.

Really, I only needed to walk for about 50 yards before my heart rate dropped back down into a sensible range and my legs said, "Well, uh, okay, but don't overdo it again." And after that point I managed to smooth out my pace to something more sustainable. But OOF, that hill.

On the other hand, the reward was a view like this:

Lovely view from Pierce Point

(alternating with view of cows in grassy, hilly pastures reminiscent of the French countryside)

And I was only a mile from the second control, where the volunteers had plenty of water and some energy bars and fresh, home-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Pierce Point Control

I paused and ate one of the cookies, plus a second burrito, and then hit the road again, grateful to know that I was through some of the craziest bits (based on my hazy recollection of the elevation profile).

The second part of the wishbone, out to Nick's Cove, was lovely too. I was happy for a chance to see what Highway 1 is like, but it made me think that if I do more bike touring, I'll go elsewhere. I can understand why motorists on Highway 1 get tired of bicyclists. It's stressful to have to pass cyclists on narrow, winding highways, and frankly, the motor traffic sucks out a lot of the fun for me as a cyclist. I don't need to ride right along the ocean at all times.

On the return, I stopped in Point Reyes Station to check things out for a few minutes. I'd seen bikes parked while on my way out to Nick's Cove, but still wanted to keep pushing along since I know I can lose a lot of time if I stop. I had come up with a stupid goal of trying to see if I could get back to the Golden Gate Bridge before it was completely dark so I could take a fun tourist photo. On the return, though, I had this feeling that it would be a good idea to look for more calories, as I'd already gnawed my way through the Luna bar I'd snagged at the second control and M&Ms were sounding really good.

Calories appeared in a different form, though: a nice, big, walnut brownie from the Bovine Bakery. The bakery had a bunch of other things that also looked phenomenal, so I'm going to have to go back. I hung out and chatted with a couple other riders for a few minutes, then saddled up and hit the road again.

Somewhere along the return, about 30 miles from the end, as I was pedaling along and working on the remnants of an apple, a paceline passed me and the guy at the front of the paceline remarked to me, "Nice job," as he rode past. The effect was like striking a match: I finished the apple, tossed the core into the bushes, caught up with the back of the line, and managed to hang on and ride with the gang for the remaining miles. I was particularly grateful to the rider in their midst who was struggling the most, because he set the best pace on the remaining hills and made it possible for me to keep up.

And with that, we cruised into the finish, just after the sun went down, and just under 11 hours after we'd started.

I took a photo at the finish anyway, even though it was dark. Not too bad for a hilly little adventure.

Finished!

Comments

( 11 remarks — Remark )
dichroic
Feb. 1st, 2016 08:24 pm (UTC)
Just wow.
rebeccmeister
Feb. 1st, 2016 09:35 pm (UTC)
I know, right?

The riders here seem to stop at places with great food. Hopefully I'll get the hang of that as I learn my way around!
dichroic
Feb. 1st, 2016 10:16 pm (UTC)
Actually, I meant you, and your ability to just drop in and do a ride like that!
rebeccmeister
Feb. 1st, 2016 10:31 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh, hahaha. And there I was, thinking, "Boy am I out of shape!" :^)
wig
Feb. 1st, 2016 09:35 pm (UTC)
ooooh you are in Marin.... :-)
rebeccmeister
Feb. 2nd, 2016 12:32 am (UTC)
Yep!

The cyclists here say that the people who live in Marin don't like cyclists at all. I can understand why, and think that maybe they should take a hint from the people in Napa Valley, and just build some separate infrastructure for the cyclists. :^D
jamesfduncan
Feb. 2nd, 2016 04:08 pm (UTC)
Remarkable
Hi Rebecca: Remarkable that you can do a ride like this, almost as a spontaneous "pickup ride" that you sandwich into a very busy lifestyle in new surroundings. That you can do this with the gearing and situation at hand and with verve and aplomb is really something. Yeah, you're what we call a "trooper." Jim Duncan
(Anonymous)
Feb. 2nd, 2016 11:07 pm (UTC)
serendipity
My co-worker Andy was telling me about a great brevet he used to do when he lived in San Francisco, and how it started at the Golden Gate Bridge and went to a lighthouse, and how his friends did it this past weekend and he was envious of the pictures... and I pulled up your blog and said "this one?" :-) Small world moment. He said the lighthouse at Pierce Point is covered in mirrors on the inside, so take S and go back and see it sometime.

prrsss....
rebeccmeister
Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:38 pm (UTC)
Re: serendipity
How funny!

Pierce Point is close enough for future bicycling expeditions, so I'll put the lighthouse on our expedition list. :^)
thewronghands
Feb. 3rd, 2016 04:03 am (UTC)
Dang. Sympathy on the walking; I do a good bit of that, but I'm slowly doing it less. (And I eyed the Chilly Hilly, but I'm running the New Orleans Rock 'n Roll Marathon that day instead. I'm not sure which would be harder!)

The walnut brownie sounds amazing!
rebeccmeister
Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:38 pm (UTC)
The part where I had to walk was mostly just funny, given the nature of the whole ride! I also just didn't have low enough gearing to stay on it without horking my weight all over the place.

The Chilly Hilly is pretty "Whee!!" so long as you are over ~12 years old. At that age, I knew nothing of the concept of pacing myself, or how gears worked or anything. I am sure the sight of kids walking their bikes up the steep hills was entertaining to the other participants. It would take us allllllll dayyyyyyy to do just the one 30-mile lap of Bainbridge. From what I understand, plenty of cyclists would go out and do two laps, heh. And also, it would be good preparation for the Hurricane Ridge climb...but oh well.

I'm pretty sure there was crack in that brownie. I want to go back to that bakery.
( 11 remarks — Remark )

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