Wine Country Century is one of my favorite rides, so I was looking forward to this ride so much. It has gorgeous scenery, and it gives you enough flats to practice spinning, and perfect warm up for Davis … that is when it is not raining!
Driving up Friday sucked! It was forecast to have continuous rain for Friday, then have a “chance” of showers on Saturday. With it raining on Friday, driving up to Santa Rosa just meant a lot of slow traffic, and many traffic jams. Ugh. I actually made pretty good time going up to San Francisco from Sunnyvale, but once we got across the GG Bridge, we hit traffic big time by the time we got to Novato, and then again near Santa Rosa. Ugh, not the way I wanted the weekend to start.
Saturday morning, Pete and I had the plan to ride to the Starbucks for coffee, then over to the start from there. The plan was to leave no later than 7:15 am.
Miguel showed up in the tandem. I didn’t recognize him at first without a folder.
Alex also showed up with fenders to match his white frame … oooh, the bike porn.
As promised, we took off at 7:15 am. We had a good turnout of BF riders … I didn’t count how many but I estimate about 12 of us ride out together as a group. Everything was going fine, then suddenly, I hear someone yell out something … flat! Richard got a flat.
I think we had gone about 5 miles before getting to the first flat. Took us a little longer than I thought to get that fixed, and I went back to check it out. Once we got it going, I hung back with Richard, as well pulled up the rear. Of course, this meant I would most likely end up in the back of the group once we got to the climb, and that was exactly what happened.
Soon after we got rolling again, it started to rain. Cool, no problem, light rain shouldn’t be an issue … well, it started out light, then started getting harder and harder. It’s that hard driving rain that hurts and stings more the faster you go.
Caught up with the rest of the group, and ready to climb Occidental. The climb is not really that bad, but what made it worse was the hard rain, and the cold temps. This was draining my energy to the point where it was not fun anymore. Got up to the top, and the rest stop, seeing everyone huddled around the tent. What was next after the rest stop was descending down to the coast. Since visibility was just terrible, I didn’t like the prospects of speeding downhill, on wet roads, and low visibility. So Pete suggested just going back the same way, and I went along with him.
We thought a bunch of the others were following, but it looks like everyone else went to the coast. On our way back, we saw one rider come the other way, topless. Dang! It’s cold and damp, and he’s not wearing a top???? I understand it’s wet, but damn, isn’t he cold? That was really weird.
The rain continued and it didn’t look like it was going to stop or slow down. The rain was pelting me harder and harder, and it was increasingly difficult to see out of my glasses. I tried riding without my glasses, but that meant more rain drops constantly attacking my face, and it was just stinging even more. Since I wear contacts, I was fearing too much water getting in my eyes, and flooding it to the point where the contacts may fall out. I decided to put my glasses back on, even though the raindrops on the glasses were impairing my visibility, but that’s better than having contacts falling out.
On our way back, we might a slightly wrong turn, and ended up on the 35 mile route. Suddenly, we see a rest stop … dang, that was quick. What ride is this? Wine Country, 35 mile … cool. Time to crash this party …. While at this rest stop, I caught up with my old neighbor, Janice. She had moved up to Santa Rosa years ago, and it was cool to catch up with her.
Of course, this gave Pete an opportunity to chat it up with the ladies …
Onwards to the course. Again, we made another turn, and we somehow wound up on the 100k route. Cool … at this point, I’m not sure where we’re going. All I know is it’s raining, I’m wet, I’m cold, and just following the bike in front of me. I lost contact with Pete, so it’s just time to grin and bear it. I see the 35 mile cut-off, but didn’t see Pete … so I guess we are going on the 100k, or 100 mile, or even doing the full 200k route. Mind you, the rain and cold had really gotten to me, and I was just struggling to turn the crank. We get to the next rest stop, and eventually I find Pete, and we also found Kevin, another BF’er. After a few quick bites, we’re off and running.
Kevin wasn’t feeling too confident, but Pete convinced him to forge on ahead. He continued on and did very well. It looks like the food was what the doctor ordered, as I had some regained energy at this point. I think my body also got acclimated to the rain and cold, and my second wind surfaced. From here till lunch, Pete, Kevin, and I, kept changing leads, and it was a pretty nice pice going into lunch. We saw lots of folks along the side of the road, fixing flats … almost one every 1000 feet or so. All along, I’m wishing that won’t be any of us.
We were almost at lunch, and Pete decides to drop back a little bit. We get to the lunch stop, but where’s Pete? I thought, maybe he needed to take a leak … in the meantime, this lady brings us hot chocolate … oooh … I’m all for that. That felt good, especially with it freezing out there. A little after finishing my sandwich, Pete rolls in. It turns out he got a flat. Just before heading out, he goes to the mechanic area to have his tired pumped.
We decide we are going to follow the 100 mile route going back. Soon afterwards, we notice Pete is nowhere to be found. One rider thinks he got a flat … another one? It turns out the mechanic at the rest stop tweaked the valve a little bit, and Pete can’t get enough air into the tire. We ended up having to stop, and replacing that tube again.
There’s Pete showing the state of the ride at the moment … with no outlet … hahaha
With all the stops we had on the ride today, it allowed me to take a few pictures. In all the years I have done Wine Country, it never allowed me to stop and take pictures.
Chalk Hill Road was awaiting us, with the last climbs of the ride. I ended up trailing in the back, which was fine for me. This was all training for Davis anyways. One thing that did upset me was that there was no arrow pointing us in the right direction on the last turn. I had a feeling we had to make a left on Old Redwood Hwy, but wasn’t sure.
Got back to the finish, wondering if everyone will be there … nope. Only found Pete, then Kevin showed up. We were wondering what happened to everyone? It turns out we were the only one to double back, and skip the coast. Oh well.
In the end, I wound up with 106.5 miles, and 3200 feet climbing. But at least we did the 35 mile, 100k, 100 mile, and 200k route … dang, that’s 300 miles worth of riding … lol
This ride will be memorable for several reasons … rain, cold, and riding portions of every route on the ride. Now I know what the Tour of California riders were going through this year and last year. I think your body gets numb to the rain and cold after about 30 miles, so I think that’s what gave me my second wind.