Monday, October 8, 2012

Riding to Winters, and planning winter riding

Having enjoyed the Davis 200 three weeks ago, we realised that it was time to get back to regularly riding longer distances. A perusal of the RUSA calendar allowed us to pick the Winters 200 ride which is run by the San Francisco Randonneurs. So on Saturday morning, we once again found ourselves at dawn, in a dimly lit car park full of cycles and cyclists, preparing for a fun day out. We completed the SF Rando’s traditional raising of hands and pledging not to do anything stupid, and then just as we were mounting up to set-off Joth noticed one of the two other tandem teams looked familiar. It was JoAnn and Spencer Frink who we met on the SF Randonneur Brevet Populaire which we rode while visiting the area last year. There was no time for chatting however, as it was time to leave. No count down to the start, only a plea from the organiser (who was riding), not to set off until he was on his bike too.

Unlike the Davis brevet, there were a few nice lumps to warm up on in the first few km. Climbing out of Vallejo, we soon realised however, that we needed to stop. Firstly, I’d forgotten to pump up the tyres the day before and the front wheel was making that squelching noise on corners indicting it needed some air, and secondly, the front brakes were rubbing. A quick stop and pump and adjustment and we set off again, with most of the field ahead of us - something to chase. As we passed Lake Herman and onto Fairfield, we kept catching tantalising glimpses of riders ahead of us, which we finally caught at the traffic lights by the first control. A quick snack, and it was back on the bike on the road to Winters for lunch. It was mainly flat, a nice temperature, and we were both going well. It was fun! Tandem country.
The Winters control was in a car park where volunteers had produced huge tri-tip sandwiches, tasty hummus and olive rice crackers and delicious chocolate brownies. We were aware of the climb which we were approaching, so didn’t dare eat too much though! We had ridden the next stage as part of the Davis 200, and enjoyed seeing it again in slightly cooler weather. There was significantly less traffic than three weeks ago, and very few boats being towed. The next control was at the shop which had been closed on the Davis ride. We discovered that the owner had recently died, which provided a sad explanation. There was no need to resort to dodgy taps for water today however, as we were met by a volunteer who provided iced water.
The highlight of the next stage was the Wooden Valley Road. A great gradual descent through the wooded valley on a good road. It seemed no time at all before we rejoined the outbound route and made a quick stop at the market which was once again a control point. We were on the homeward stretch! Having chatted to JoAnn and Spencer at several controls, we actually got to ride with them for some of this stretch, which was nice. The traffic lights through Vallejo still didn’t like us on the return journey, causing us to stop at almost all of them. The rail tracks caused us more problems though, as we managed to jump the sync chain off of the chain rings as we bumped over one level crossing! to be honest, we had noted that the eccentric bottom bracket needed adjusting the previous weekend, but hadn’t done anything about it. Oops! We were soon back on board, and flying to the end where our computer rolled over to read 200.00km just as we reached the car park - no overdistance on this ride!
It felt great to finish a 200km ride and not feel completely destroyed by it. So good in fact, that it’s made us decide to go for another Randonneur Round The Year, or R12 as they call it on this side of the pond. In celebration of a new AUK points year (which now starts from October), we joined RUSA this morning and are now planning out our next few rides. Californian summer was extremely hot, but otherwise kind of like what we know summer to be. Californian winter maybe more unfamiliar to our expectations, but hopefully in a way that will work in favour of keeping out R12 hopes going through to spring.