San Francisco Randonneurs 200K Brevet
This is the first ACP/RUSA sanctioned brevet I've ever been on. I felt pretty confident that I'd be able to manage the distance, thanks to lots of good riding I'd done all Autumn. But I also knew that I'd be going into this pretty outclassed. I mean, it's January, chrissakes. Who the heck comes out in the dark and cold to do a ride like this but the most dedicated and anxious randonneurs?

There were 48 of them that morning at the 6:30 check-in. And me, the one shy lurker who would have felt completely out of place were it not for the fact that Charlie, Mark and Bob were there. The array of bikes gathered around the Strauss statue of the Golden Gate Bride plaza was such a refreshing sight compared to the weight-weenie high tech stuff you'd typically see in big Spring and Summer events. No, here we had class. Steel. Lugs. Leather. 3x laced wheels. Carradice and Berthoud bags.

The ride brief was just that. And at 7:00A exactly, the riders were off. And at 7:05, barely off the bridge on the Marin side, I'd get a clear picture that I'd spend the whole day on my own. Shit -- not even past the bridge, and I'm completely OTB already. So much for a pretty picture of randonneur camaraderie I imagined before today. Silly rabbit, this ride is allure libre, not Audax style. Why did I pay a few bucks to get shelled and ride 200K by myself? I don't know, but I probably would have done a long ride by myself this time of year anyway, so whatever. Carry on. Eat your banana.

The course was this: GG Bridge to Pt. Reyes Lighthouse via Fairfax/Olema, then back and up to Tomales, then around Nicasio reservoir and back to SF. I rode from Lisa's place in the Outer Sunset at around 5:45A to the check-in. And upon finishing, I rode to the Embarcadero BART station and went back home. Definitely the most miles I've ever notched in January.

The run-out from Fairfax to Olema on the North side of White's Hill was coooooold. I think the cold air may have done well enough to knock out the dejected feeling I had. From the time I reached Sam P. Taylor park and on, I was in a better headspace. Legs still hurt every time Drake Blvd went upwards (and boy does it ever a LOT on the way out to the lighthouse), but hey, I was beginning to enjoy the day more.

There was a notable warning on the brevet route sheet that when in Pt. Reyes Nat'l Seashore, there was a turn that you really wouldn't want to miss, else you'd be troubled with an extra 2 miles of riding and a steepish 600' climb. Guess what? I missed the turn and paid the price. Worse yet, a patrol ranger who knew where all the other riders where supposed to go saw me at the visitor center (wrong place) and snorted, "Oh dude...".

So I think the rest of the way to the lighthouse really hurt badly because I was starting to see nearly all the riders heading back and out to Tomales. I knew I had another 30 minutes before I'd reach the control. Jeezus, I think my ego got a better workout than my body.

At the Tomales control, I got the second stamp on my brevet card and decided I wasn't going to hurry out of there. Good thing, too, as the roast beef sandwich I ordered would take 15 minutes to prepare. Most of the other brevet riders I'd seen there were relishing the clam chowder this place is known for, but none for me, thanks. I think I'd need about 6 more years of randonneuring experience before being able to hold down that kind of meal on a long ride.

Rarely do I feel better on the second half of a long ride, but this time it was definitely happening. I felt more fluid, more consistent. And for the first time all day, I'd be passing riders (OK, so I passed maybe 3 riders). But as lousy as I thought I felt in the morning, the numbers told me I wasn't doing too horribly at all: 6h25m at the century mark. Not a bad pace for me, really.

I rode all the way back to SF from Tomales with just one short coffee stop in San Anselmo (something I would have done were this another regular weekend ride on my own). My official completion time: 10h04m. I signed and handed in my brevet card, and melted back into the world of everyday riding, where some yahoo jerko along Crissy Field was repeatedly drag racing with me. And I'd just roll along and not even acknowledge he was even there... thinking only of catching the train, showering at home, and finding a big 'ol burger to eat.

Distance: 145 miles (incl. commutes) | Elevation gain: approx. 4,500' | Ride time: 10h08m
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