200km brevet
San Francisco, 31 Jan 2004

Well, I knew this year wasnt going to be as bad as last year's 200k, cause the wind was forecast to be normal out on the Point (15-20mph rather than the 45mph gusting to 60 that we had last year), so I was kinda hoping to better my time a bit, but i didnt have any real goals there. As usual, I just wanted to have a good ride and finish under the 13.5 hour time limit. simple enough, really.

Things started out at 7am at the Golden Gate Bridge, and people took off pretty quickly - though I think a little slower out the gate than last year. Not quite sure why, but I think not worrying about qualifying for PBP slowed everyone down a bit. The weather looked like things were shaping up to be a beautiful day, which turned out to be true - but the lackof cloud cover made the first couple hours of riding pretty darn cold - by the time we were through Fairfax and onto Sir Francis Drake, my fingers were totally numb and achy, and then taking the bike path through Samuel P. Taylor didn't help, cause that's a real cold pocket. But the avoidance of car traffic is nice, so I lived with the frozen hands. I never think to bring full-fingered gloves, mostly cause they irritate me so much at work that I'm just not used to remembering them.

By that time, we had one decent climb on Sir Francis Drake, just out of Fairfax, behind us, and another one right then outside Samuel P., and then we hit the coast in Olema, just barely south of Pt. Reyes Station. Well, Hwy. 1, not really the coast yet, but close. The route continues on Sir Francis Drake out to Inverness up the western edge of Tomales Bay, and then jags over another good climb to the coast, and then south towards Point Reyes Lighthouse, the first control point at about 50 miles. The wind picked up a bit, but was mostly a cross/tailwind, so we didn't really get bothered by this. Was riding for a whie post Samuel P. with this guy Barley (on a Surly with a fixed flip-flop 17/16), his wife, and some other people whose names I dont remember. Good company, but got dropped by them a little before the lighthouse. Ran into a cattle traffic jam at Ranch D, I beleive, which held us up a bit, but made for a good photo op (see below). Made the lighthouse in just under 4 hours, had Todd sign my brevet card, ate a sandwich and a banana, and headed back north.

By this time, the sun had started to warm things up, which mean, of course - wind. It had definitely picked up a bit, and enough to slow me down on the climbs enough sometimes that riding wasn't worth it. This is where I ended up started the solo portion of the ride. Lots of birds - ravens, redtails, harriers and turkey vultures, all having a ball with the wind. A couple flew down really close, right in front of me, but I couldn't get the camera fast enough - which reminds me that I really need to make a good holster for it for times like that. Fairly slow going until the road turns out of the wind, but nothing like last year. No tailwind of note down the bay, but no headwind either. Hit Hwy 1, turned north, and stopped in Point Reyes Station for a blueberry scone at Bovine Bakery, and then headed off again with about 10 miles to go to Marshall and clam chowder!

The chowder at the Marshall Store is quite the motivator, really. I got there late enough (150pm or so) that i got some of the last dregs of the pot, but there were still plenty of oysters. Kathie, the owner, was happy to see me, remembering me from last year as pretty much the only person in non-cycling gear. She was busy, but all of us were being good about having small change. Got my brevet card stamped (about 85 miles now) and went to the patio to eat. Ran into Kathleen and Barley and a few others who were stopping for a while to eat rather than just keeping rolling, and chatted there a bit. Didn't stay as long this year, cause it was busier at the store, and therefore crowded, but pretty much everyone else got on the road before I did, excepting the people who arrived after me.

We got somewhat of a tailwind heading back south on 1, but nothing that spectacular. I always consider myself home free once I hit Marshall on these brevets, cause there's nothing really that bad between there and home, and 50 miles isn't that bad a ride. Some rollers inbetween Marshall and Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, one and a half decent climbs on Point Reyes-Petaluma, a good climb on Nicasio Valley, one more on Sir Francis Drake, Corte Madera grade and then the climb out of Sausalito to the bridge. Was going pretty well until just before the climb on Nicasio, where I had to stop for some snacks, and then continued on - walked a bit of Nicasio out of sheer laziness, and then bombed down to SFD. Hit Fairfax at a little after 5, which made making it to the final control by 6 look feasible, which was nice. Arriving back before dark would have been nicer, but that was not to be. Made good time through San Anselmo, Mill Valley and into Sausalito, and then rolled up the hill and over the Golden Gate to hit the finish at 607pm. Not too shabby, a good 40 minutes off last year's time - but I may be cooked as far as more brevets on the work bike. My tourer is so close to complete that it's getting to be quite a bit less satisfying to ride the work bike on these. I may skip the 300k, and try to have the tourer ready for the 400k and ride that...

Some pics from the ride:

Full 200km results here

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