Davis 200K Brevet (fixed gear)
In typical short brevet tradition, this was an out and back ride, but a completely different route than the one used in 2006. I think the general intention behind the added difficulty (ie. few more notable climbs) in this years course stemmed from the fact that it's a PBP (Paris-Brest-Paris) year, and some people might appreciate the early hill training for a truly full brevet season.

This hardly applied to Lisa and me, not in the running for PBP ourselves, but we did enjoy the ride for its surprisingly pleasant run through Vacaville, and it did give us a good training all right. For one, we decided to take the fixed gear bikes out again, after just finishing another 200K brevet on them just one week earlier. And... the parcourse featured four notable climbs that felt pretty cruel on early-season legs, let alone legs without the privilege of pushing a granny gear.

The first and fourth of those was Cantelow Road in Vacaville. Not long, but tauntingly steep in parts (10% and higher in some switchbacks). Thankfully, also remote and rarely traveled by cars since it's really a rural thru-way far more inconvenient to use than nearby cross-roads as well as Interstate 80 itself. The return-bound (West to East) climb up this ridge was without a doubt the more difficult, and the one where I opted to hop off and push the bike on foot for a 100 yard stretch. Lisa, who was a minute or so behind me at that point, did the same thing. We both probably could have soldiered on like stubborn goats, but prudence ruled here. After all, this was more preparation for an upcoming double century we were planning on doing on these fixed gear bikes. Save the knee grinding for the real event then.

The second and third of the notable climbs was the Southern side of Monticello Road between Wooden Valley and Napa, the same road used in the early hours of the Knoxville Double Century. In the Westbound direction, the 1.5-mile climb was more manageable than I initially expected. The return trip over Mt. George, however, was a considerably tougher gruntfest, averaging 7% over 4 miles. I actually expected this to be the toughest part of the ride, so had planned to spend very little time at the second control (which, inconveniently, was at the very base of this climb). Somehow, that plan got foiled, and we set off on the climb after nearly 10 minutes off the bike. Owee.

With those climbs behind, still feeling good, I caught a palpable sense of that smell-the-barn syndrome and I spontaneously used the last 50 miles as a speed building time trial, which Lisa was game enough to play. But she was clearly not happy about it. Nonetheless, we switched off each other very efficiently with minute-long turns in front -- just the two of us -- for over two hours. Miles and minutes flew past (at least I thought so), and we were catching -- and passing/dropping -- riders on geared bikes and recumbents... on the flats. It felt awesome. Lisa, intermittently spent and probably irritated by the unnecessary pain, probably didn't get the significance immediately, despite me pointing it out several times. Until one of the guys whom we passed said it himself to Lisa and paid his compliments.

Once again, Davis Bike Club put on a well organized event with superbly run controls. Clearly, they have this business down pat.

Distance: 127 miles | Elevation gain: 5,990' | Ride time: 9h10m
Info: davisbikeclub.org
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