Santa Rosa 200K Brevet
Periods of rain and sleet. Possible snow at elevations above 1,000 feet. Low 30 degrees. High 48 degrees. You will freeze your ass off.

There was far more to report about the conditions we rode in during this event than the condition that both Lisa and I were in for it. In the early morning hours on the day of the ride, there had been a 28-car pile-up on Highway 101 in Sausalito due to freakishly wintry conditions. As we drove to the ride start in Healdsburg, we were routed off the highway and through downtown Sausalito because of it. And what we saw in the downtown area was amazing: SNOW on the ground and on parked cars. At sea level.

And we were headed for an even colder Bay Area region for a 200k bike ride?

Apparently, about 60 other people were unfazed by the frigid forecast and decided to do the same thing. And I would bet most of them - like we - felt really lucky when the sunshine broke through for most of the day we were out. Nevermind the 30-degree chill in the Alexander Valley air that we rode in for the first hour or so. If anything, the cold air was the surest safeguard against falling asleep from our lack of rest the night before.

The route was a picturesque ramble along wine country roads in Sonoma and Napa Counties. For the most part, Alexander Valley, Route 128 and Silverado Trail. From downtown Healdsburg to Skyline Park in Napa. And back. People pay thousands of dollars to visit the area and ride a fifth of what we were experiencing, yet circumstances led both Lisa and I have a merely OK day on the bike.

I had nagging digestive issues. Lisa's lungs froze to the size of a pea and never re-expanded. Her legs felt like mush from mile 0.5. I couldn't get much of a rhythm all day. Whine, bitch, moan, sigh, groan. If not for the rather delightful coffee and grub stops we made on our own in Calistoga and Soda Canyon, our ride experience was actually pretty monotonous.

Until our encounter with Mother Nature at around 4:30PM, that is. A few miles north of the Napa-Sonoma county line on Highway 128, the rain developed quickly. And just as quickly, rain turned to hail. And more hail. And good effen lord, even more. There was so much of it, that there was an accumulation of about 1 to 2 inches of slush we had to ride for a 2-mile stretch of the canyon road. The looks on the faces of drivers scared shitless to drive through it were priceless. They were extremely respectful of our position and never rushed to get past us.

For sheer excitement, the winter encounter was undeniably the BEST thing about our ride. It really picked up our spirits for the remaining 45 minutes of the journey, which concluded at the Bear Republic Brewery and Pub in Healdsburg. How perfect. A less-than-sunny ride attitude bitch-slapped by ice pellets so well that we were happy again to share stories with the other riders over garlic fries and microbrews.

Distance: 126 miles | Elevation gain: approx. 3,000' | Ride time: 9h26m
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