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So, Saturday was the February 200k brevet, and it was a doozy of the sort where the main thing that scrottie and I had to look forward to, after a certain point, was simply the feeling of relief of having finished the thing.

But let me back up.

Earlier in the week, I sent an e-mail to the list to inquire about bumming a ride over to the start. Another rider responded to let us know that we could make it to the start on time if we caught the very first train down at the West Oakland BART station. Well, okay. The West Oakland BART station is about a 10-mile ride from home. Since scrottie often has a hard time waking up at the ass-crack of dawn (okay, more like somewhere in dawn's colon), plus navigating over to the BART would cover new territory, I figured we would need to budget some extra time, just in case. S wasn't too keen on having to get up extra early, but after some discussion, he reluctantly agreed to the plan.

Saturday morning, we got up, I made coffee and breakfast sandwiches, we saddled our steeds, and we headed off towards the BART station with a decent time cushion. Better to have a little extra time so we don't have to rush, after all.

It was a good thing we had that decent time cushion because somewhere in West Oakland S rode over a nail. One of those nails that plows through the tube and then tattoos the far side of the tube with about 15 additional stabby little holes. I guess the Bontrager hardcases don't have a good Kevlar lining after all? He's interested in ideas for better tires again - they have to be under 25mm because of narrow clearance. We also managed to do a bunch of flailing in the process of fixing the flat, but somehow, in spite of all that, we STILL made it to the train about 3 minutes before it was due at the station. Phew. Only had to put on a little hustle to get there.

Team F-Minus 200k

That meant we were able to follow a couple of other riders from the Embarcadero station over to the start at Crissy Field, and make it to the start on time.

...not that making it to the start on time made that much of a difference. I could almost hear the RBA's announcements about things to pay attention to on the route. Almost. People towards the back were talking loudly and rustling all of their plastic baggies. Then we took the pledge to not do anything stupid, ate a few bites of our breakfast sandwiches, and set off behind the back of the horde of 100 or so riders.

We'd checked the weather the night before, and the prospects looked amazing - no chance of rain and a high of 70 degrees. However, we had failed to account for the fog. It's probably time for me to look into some of those anti-fog coatings one can get for one's eyeglasses, because some of those early downhill stretches were pretty terrifying, navigating around slower riders on unfamiliar curvy, foggy roads. On the other hand, I do love the sound of the foghorns out by the Golden Gate Bridge.

Eventually, by somewhere around Fairfax, the fog started to lift and we reached a point where we were riding along at a steady pace in a clear section on our own. It was starting to look like a lovely day. I had reached the bottom of the first page of the cue sheet, so I asked S to keep tabs on our route on his GPS instead of pulling over to flip over my cue sheet, and we carried along quite happily through the forest up until my Rando Senses started tingling. I was starting to wonder about the point where we needed to split to the east towards Petaluma on the lollipop-shaped route.

Inspection of the cue sheet plus my GPS suggested we had missed a turn about 7.5 miles back on Nicasio Valley Road. Well, shoot, argh, et cetera, cue mild panic. I had the sense that we would still be able to make it to the first control before the control closed, but there went any hope of a comfortable time cushion during the early stages of the brevet. We turned our bikes around and nosed back through Samuel P Taylor State Park and headed up and over the next hill at a more urgent pace.

Having a tight deadline can really suck the fun out of a bike ride, oof. We made it to Petaluma about 20 minutes before the control closed, in definite need of additional calories. We left the control right as it closed, which meant continuing at a solid pace up to the subsequent control, at Valley Ford. We got to Valley Ford with about 45 minutes to spare, which we used up again in refueling before heading back to the south towards Point Reyes Station.

When I pulled in at Point Reyes Station, I turned around and discovered that S wasn't behind me. Oh boy. I hadn't heard him shout anything about stopping, so I figured he must be just a moment or two behind me. I went back to the corner where Highway 1 descends down a big hill and waited for a minute or three to see if he would appear.

Several minutes later, no S. Oh dear. Now what.

After waiting another minute or two in a state of slightly tired befuddlement, it finally occurred to me that if he'd stopped due to another flat tire, he might be out of spare tubes and in need of a tube from me. Time to climb back up the hill to find him. Fortunately, he was right there, at the top of the hill, working on his his jerry-rigged rear derailleur which was giving him some trouble*. It turned out that he'd lost his taillight after hitting a bump on a prior curvy downhill corner, so he'd fallen behind in tracking it down, and meanwhile a zip-tie that had been holding his rear derailleur in place had broken, compromising his ability to shift.

Not a good situation given the California terrain.

Given how close we were to the control, he was able to coast on down the hill, and then after a lengthy and desperate search for a bathroom he managed to get things fixed up with some baling wire again.

Team F-Minus 200k

I was glad to get more calories from the bakery, and then once again we set off right at around the time the control closed. No rest for the wicked.

We made it to the end about an hour and a half before the final deadline, and felt a welcome sense of relief. It would have been nice to have had more time to enjoy the ride and scenery**, but all things considered, I'm satisfied with just having survived that one.

Then we hung out at the finish for a few minutes until the last two riders pulled in.

Team F-Minus 200k

This is A, who completed her first 200k ever, on a nice, solid cruiser, wearing some pretty cute shoes. Her brevet training consists of hauling along a two-year-old and six-year-old on this bike. Most of the other riders told her she should get a different bike. I just think she's a total badass, and a rockstar for doing her own thing. She seemed to be managing all the hills just fine, and she was totally jazzed at the finish.

One more month to go, and then I'll have completed an R-12 and will focus more on things like rowing a bike camping. In the meantime, maybe it's time for some bike maintenance, and time to make mental note to do a better job of previewing brevet routes when riding in unfamiliar regions.

*This is the second Campy 8-speed rear derailleur where the piece of metal that holds the set screw in place has sheared off. Campy doesn't make these anymore, so they can only be bought used, so it may just be the case that someone else abused the derailleur at some point.

**As much as one can, given the annoying volume of traffic out here.


( 6 remarks — Remark )
Feb. 15th, 2016 07:45 pm (UTC)
"This is A, who completed her first 200k ever, on a nice, solid cruiser, wearing some pretty cute shoes. Her brevet training consists of hauling along a two-year-old and six-year-old on this bike. Most of the other riders told her she should get a different bike. I just think she's a total badass, and a rockstar for doing her own thing. She seemed to be managing all the hills just fine, and she was totally jazzed at the finish."

I've been thinking a lot lately about how groups try to get outliers to conform, and how it might be because predators are attracted to bizarre behavior, and how it's easy to pick the strange-colored penquin out of the herd.
Feb. 15th, 2016 09:12 pm (UTC)
There's definitely an evolutionary element to that pressure to conform. For me, though, when all is said and done, people doing novel stuff seem cooler and more interesting. :^)
Feb. 16th, 2016 02:47 am (UTC)
This is the setscrew that rests against the derailleur hangar?
Gah. What a pain.
One of my plans, for some day when I have time, is to digitize some of my old Campy stuff and start milling replacement parts.

Man, that whole ride sounds just painful. I'm glad it's done. My mom used to say "Some day we will look back on this and laugh. Of course it'll be one of those laughs that starts out as a hollow sarcastic laugh and ends up as a shrieking hysterical laugh... but it will still be a laugh."
Feb. 16th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
Yep, that's the one. I learned all about it when I first learned how to ship my bike, because most people warn you to remove your rear derailleur to avoid breaking it.

S has been tracking the prices of the used Campy stuff, and prices keep going up and up...new career? ;^)

I guess S and I still have a certain 400k from Arizona that really took the cake in terms of insanity. So for this one we were just relieved when it was finished.
Feb. 17th, 2016 01:12 am (UTC)
It's going up a bit at swap meets, too. I'm not sure there's a lot of market for what I'd do: I presume everyone's picking them up for restoring vintage bikes, for which authenticity is the prime mover, and a clearly cnced piece would be heresy.
Feb. 16th, 2016 05:08 am (UTC)
"Dawn's colon"!! I know that time well, and despise it.
( 6 remarks — Remark )

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