Brevet Weather

Saturday is the first brevet of the year on the Bay Area randonneuring calendar. “Brevet” and “randonneuring” are French words that mean — well, they mean something about riding your bike a long way (I covered that ground last year about this time). Anyway, first brevet of the year: From the Golden Gate Bridge, north into Marin County and through a string of small towns: Sausalito, Mill Valley, Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax before riding up west into rolling country out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, 50-some miles from the start. Then the route returns to the mainland and heads north for a piece, then doubles back, eventually, to the bridge. It’s a 200-kilometer route — the shortest regular brevet distance — about 125 miles. I’m signed up and mostly ready to go.

Just one thing: Here’s what the local National Weather Service forecaster has to say about Saturday:

“EXPECT RAIN TO DEVELOP BY SUNRISE ACROSS THE NORTH BAY AND THEN ENVELOP MOST OF THE BAY AREA BY LATE MORNING. RAINFALL SHOULD EVENTUALLY REACH AS FAR SOUTH AS MONTEREY. … THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A MODERATE RAIN PRODUCER … WITH RAIN TOTALS IN EXCESS OF AN INCH ACROSS THE NORTH BAY. … SOMEWHAT BREEZY CONDITIONS ARE LIKELY AS WELL ACROSS THE NORTH BAY ON SATURDAY WITH THE MAIN FOCUS ALONG THE COAST AND IN THE HILLS.”

Well, the upside is that it’s only a bunch of supercomputerized mathematical weather models that say this is going to happen. They could always be wrong.

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Blast from the (Cycling) Past

There’s a story to this. You could guess. You’re welcome to, in fact. I’ll give my version later. I will say this much, though: This was one of my happiest bicycling moments ever.

Saukcity051

Gone Cycling, and Back

I flew to Chicago over the weekend to ride in a 600-kilometer (375-mile) event I needed to qualify for next month’s Gold Rush Randonee here in California. The ride actually started in Wisconsin, from the little town of Delavan (a little northeast of Rockford, Illinois) and wandered around several of the state’s southern and central counties.

Beautiful riding, but cutting to the chase: I didn’t manage to finish. The first half of the ride went just fine, I was on pace to finish the first 400k in about 20 hours, get a couple of hours of sleep, and head back out to finish before the heat of the following day. I really had no doubts I would make it. Just at that point, though, a big storm hit and I got held up for several hours at a gas station in a little town called New Glarus. The ride never got back on track for me after that, though I had a memorable ride through a rainy night across some hilly and seemingly deserted back roads. After finishing the 400, I felt completely used up and wound up quitting the ride. There’s a little more to it than that, and I’ll write more later, because most of the part I did was exceptionally fun and challenging and the country beautiful. But that’s the bottom line.

The Bike Gig

Regular readers of this space — if it is a space, but I won’t wander into that corner of linguo-journalistic inquiry for now — know I’m fond of mentioning my exploits in the world of road cycling. One of the things I’ve been aiming for this year is a Paris-Brest-Paris-length endurance event — 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) in 90 hours — to be held next month here in California. A large part of the challenge is the preparation and training involved, especially a series of four shorter (but still long) rides (called brevets) that qualify you for the ride. The qualifying distances are 200 kilometers (125 miles) in 13.5 hours; 300 kilometers (187 miles) in 20 hours; 400 kilometers (250 miles) in 27 hours; and 600 kilometers (375 miles) in 40 hours.

All in all, I had no problem doing the rides to qualify for PBP in 2003 or in doing PBP itself. By that I mean my body held up well and my motivation only flagged once, during the cold, rainy, dark middle of the 600-kilometer qualifier as I ground very, very slowly up a steep mountain road in Mendocino County. The only other significant breakdowns — I didn’t get a flat tire all year — involved my ass and my good humor, though not necessarily in that order.

But this year it’s been a different story.

Continue reading “The Bike Gig”

On the Bike

200medal

Yesterday (Saturday) was a no-post day because of excessive bicycle-related preoccupations. I did the Davis Bike Club’s 200-kilometer brevet. For those uninitiated or uninterested in the argot of randonneuring — and I imagine that’s about 100 percent of non-randonneurs — what that means is I got on my bike at 7 a.m. in Davis to ride 62.5 miles or so out to a little Grange Hall out in the middle of what passes for nowhere in California, then turned around and rode 62.5 miles or so back. Beyond all the great scenery and Spandex you get to see, one of the reasons people go out and do this is to qualify for one of the 1,200-kilometer (750-mile), 90-hour rides (randonnee) held around the world as a test of cycling toughness, fatigue tolerance, and overall ability to outlast your sore ass. (Plus, you get nifty medals, like the one here, for a reasonable price after you climb off your bike at the end).

The ride went tolerably well for someone who had not ridden 100 miles in a day since last August. I went out a little too hard the first few miles — mostly because I just get swept along in the excitement of riding in a big group. I felt slightly queasy and found it hard to eat for a good part of the ride. There was something of a headwind coming back into Davis — not a killer, just a good consistent breeze from the north and east that made us work a little. And I lost my brevet card, the little passport you carry to check in at various spots along the way to prove you did the ride; I’m hoping I won’t be disqualified for that. But otherwise, the day was perfect — we went from gray, rainy, cool winter to spectacularly clear and warm spring overnight.

After the ride was over, I got a burger, drove back to Berkeley to pick up Kate, then went up to Napa to stay with our friend Pete. We were there to stay with his son Niko while he got up well before dawn to run the Napa Valley Marathon. He did well — running it in about 3 hours and 41 minutes and finishing in the 80th percentile of all runners. Then — the most impressive feat of all — he came back home and grilled up a midday repast for his visitors.