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Backroads and breakaways, June 2014

  • Tuesday, June 24, 2014 10:20 AM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Wild River Tour, 2014

    — Gordon Stewart

    The Wild Rivers Tour uses a route that was developed by Doug Simon (with an assist from Bill Oetinger) over 10 years ago and has been followed several times on SRCC tours. This year's edition of the tour, held in early June, was led by Gordon Stewart and Chris Jones. It starts about 40 miles northeast of Arcata (just north of Eureka) and then completes a six-day, 340-mile counter-clockwise loop, entering Oregon briefly and then heading down the coast back to Arcata.

    The same tour had been scheduled to be run in August of 2013 but had to be cancelled at the last moment due to an outbreak of fires which resulted in road closures and air quality issues. This year we had better luck: the roads were open, the weather was perfect, and there were no fires. 24 of the participants this year had been on the cancelled 2013 roster.

    There were 40 participants on the tour, supported by two rental trucks and two 12-passenger vans that served as buses on the way up and back and as SAG vehicles during the ride days. Four members of the group served as half-time SAG drivers, providing SAG support for three days and riding the other three days. We were also very fortunate to have Matt and Jenny Parks managing all the food and driving the trucks. They were a major part in the success of the tour.

    The group left Santa Rosa on Sunday, June 1 with the four vehicles and several private cars and successfully completed the trip to the first night’s camp site at Tish Tang Camp on the Trinity River on the Hoopa Reservation.

    The highlight of the first stage is the 1200’ climb up Ishi Pishi Road, providing spectacular views and treacherous drop-offs to the Klamath River below. We then climbed up the spectacular gorge of the Salmon River to our camp at Nordheimer, a USFS camp with a nice swimming hole.

    Stage 2 was the queen stage of this tour, featuring the 30-mile, 5800’ climb up and over Etna Summit. Michael Barnes and Christian Wagner led the charge, with the rest of the crew arriving over the next few hours in varying degrees of distress. When Liz Sinna made it to the top, her whoop rang down the valley and was echoed by the rest of the group. The climb to the top was rewarded by a swooping descent to the town of Etna but to the distress of all, the much anticipated soda bar with its huge ice-cream cones had closed since our last visit. The new smoothie bar was adequate but not the same.

    Next morning we got off to an intentionally late start, which seemed appropriate after the rigors of Mt Etna the day before. By this time we were getting used to the early morning support from the coffee wallahs – Chris Jones and Andy Deseran, who started the French Press working shortly after the birds woke up. This is a lovely stage, mostly downhill next to the pristine Scott River and then the larger Klamath, through several small communities and ending near the town of Happy Camp with its 15’ statue of Sasquatch. We got into camp as our shower wallah Dennis French was setting up the portable shower. Some used the warm shower and the rest of us migrated to sandy beach of the Klamath River for a long soak. After dinner, Frank Pedrick broke out several bottles of Champagne that Matt had been keeping on ice for him. This was to celebrate his fiancée Trudy Nye’s retirement from over 30 years of teaching. Those were some lucky students!

    Stage 4 was dominated by the 3800’ climb up Indian Creek Road. After Etna, Charlene Warne said that one was easy. At the top of the hill we crossed into Oregon and descended to the town of O’Brien, where we joined Hwy 199 and the real world. The shoulders were good but traffic is traffic and it made the remote country roads we had come accustomed to look pretty good. The opportunity to leave Hwy 199 for the old Oregon Mountain Road was selected by about half the group. This old road has since been replaced by a tunnel under the top of the mountain and is the new route of Hwy 199. Even though the old road gets little use, there was a crew on it doing some maintenance work. Once over Hazel View Summit, we took a long, fast descent to our camp at Panther Flat on the Smith River.

    Stage 5 took us farther down gorge of the Smith River before we hit the coast and headed south. This area is more heavily populated and occasionally we were able to leave Hwy 101 and ride through some costal communities, including Crescent City. The proscribed route took us through the magnificent Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This took us up the little used Alder Camp Road. Part way up a mature healthy bear had left his calling card in the middle of the road. Although we did not see this bear, Bill Severi and Scott Wing did see a bear cross the road in front of them. Bill was able to persuade Scott there was no danger but later gave in to temptation and yelled “Look out Scott, the bear’s right behind you”. Scott took off like greased lightning. thinking only that all he had to do was to out-ride Bill. Bill collapsed in laughter.

    A portion of Coastal Drive has been abandoned because it is slipping down the cliff into the Pacific. On our tour here two years ago, this road, though closed, was quite passable on bikes. Now portions of it have been reduced to a narrow single track which is guarded with a healthy crop of stinging nettles. However, there is a section where the slippage is more severe and longitudinal cracks have developed in the roadway. These were evident two years ago, but now have been overgrown by grass. Jim Albrecht dropped his front wheel in one of these hidden cracks and went over his bars. He suffered a bruised thigh but was able to ride on. We’re removing this road from the recommended route for future versions of this tour.

    This stage was concluded with a lovely ride through the towering trees of Redwood National Park and our arrival at Elk Prairie Campground. This was our final campground and everyone was in a celebratory mood. This was probably not grounds for Paul Musson, Chris Jones and Gordon Stewart to sing a tuneless version of Ilkley Moor bar t'at but they were not to be denied.

    On Saturday, we rode the final Stage 6, which is a 45-mile, fairly level stage through Trinidad and McKinleyville to Arcada. We got into Arcata about 12:30 and were on the road for Santa Rosa an hour later.

    The tour was a great success and was made that way be the combination of great roads and a wonderful degree of support and cooperation from all the participants.

    Thanks to all of you – Ben Lev, Brian Purcell, Charlene Warne, Chris Jones, Christian Wagner, David Johnson, Debbie Wymer, Dennis French, Don Billings, Donna Norrell, Firouzeh Attwood, Andy Deseran, Frank Pedrick, Harry Williamson, Hiroko Lambert, James Albrecht, James Gloystein, James Mcelroy, Joe Fassler, John Hervey, Jose Mundo, Karen Steele, Kendra Markle, Leslie Blankenship, Liz Sinna, Mark Gire, Mark Grismer, Michael Barnes, Nathan Moore, Nikola Farats, Paul Jamond, Paul Musson, Peter Verbiscar-Brown, Richard Lambert, Scott Wing, Ted Herman, Trudy Nye, William Severi, Gordon Stewart.

  • Monday, June 23, 2014 9:13 AM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Vanilla Strawberry Terrible Two

    SRCC member Marc Moons sent this great report on the 2014 Terrible Two to the club chat list…

    Ready to roll, glimpse cowboy Paul Stimson. Wish there was a way he could join us ... split second grab a pencil and tell Paul to print his name on my both forearms ... "this one his for you my friend" ... off we go in wee daylight hours. Crazy circus as usual, safest spot near bumper of pace car. Pace car Carlos done, Ted & Jady in charge ... ready to nuke the peloton. Speed goes up like rising sun. Brian leaves high speed train, agree we both know what it takes to win a TT ... ain't flying 30mph towards Trinity! Ted & Jady gone in a blink ... 2 desperados in slipstream.

    A quality pace line is formed for our trip to base of Geysers: Mr. TT Brian Anderson, Aaron Wise from LA, multiple Colorado Triple Crown champ and good friend MarK Lowe, Carl Sanders (2nd in Stage Race), Max (3th Stage Race), El Toro Miguel Sanchez and a few more strong legs ... each doing their share keeping a sweet pace around 25mph. Besides a little road rash crash all reach Geysers in good spirits.

    Geysers, time to test my and others legs. Feeling good. Also note that Aaron is following without any issues ... skinny guy ... has right amount of age, pounds and shape for climbs to come ... a guy to watch. We catch desperados on final climb to Geysers rest stop. Curtis looks pretty nuked, New Mexico guy looks burned but is able to hang in.

    Refill Perpetuem and down we go. I take a swag of my bottle and almost puke it out. Vanilla flavored?!! ... only one flavor my Belgian stomach likes ... Chocolate!

    Field reduced to 5, Brian, Aaron, Carl, New Mexican, me ... working the chain gang to catch Jady.

    Lunch stop, Rita hands me two chocolate flavored gels ... perfect to nuke that doomed vanilla.

    Aaron charges up Skaggs, impressive ... Brian, Carl and I decide to keep a more steady pace. Carl falls back a bit. Make a joint venture with Brian to combine our power to try catch Aaron. Flying down to bridge, we see Aaron going up Las Lomas climb. Game on!

    Rancheria, Shane Barnes tell us Aaron is 5 min ahead. My stomach tells me I have 5 min to dump that vanilla crap. Tell Brian need to hit dumpster. A fearsome looking Rancheria Native guards the hole ... looks at me like I'm watching you! I better don't mark the seat. After 5 min relieved ready to jump horse. Shane hands me my bottles "sorry dude they didn't have chocolate ... filled it with strawberry flavor". Strawberry flavored?!!  ... only one flavor my Belgian stomach likes ... Chocolate! Stomach gives me the look.

    Coast as stunning as ever ... cool and tailwind ... good sailing all way to Fort Ross Rest stop. Up and over Fort Ross. Need water to flush that Strawberry crap, so brief stop at Cazadero tennis court.

    Monte Rio, a quick sip of Coke and a few gels to burn those last miles ... guess what no Chocolate flavor ... I settle for Huckelberry Montana or something ... don't taste it, just swallow and flush with gallons water. Sorry stomach but lasagna, chicken and beer are next!

    At finish, greeted by cowboy Paul ... "we did it man, under 12hrs" I congratulate Aaron for his win, well deserved .... strong dude! Exchange high 5's with Brian for another good day on wheels!

    Thanks 1001 volunteers for all support ... you all deserve a big box of Belgian Chocolate Pralines!

  • Thursday, June 19, 2014 7:49 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    The always wonderful Karen Thompson--delightful writer, excellent rider, former California Triple Crown Stage Race podium-ette, former and current randonneuse--submitted the following crunched numbers...


    Bumped into the blogs off Sherry’s posting last night about education….so from last Saturday’s club ride, I offer the following if you are indeed accepting submissions:


    Fort Ross/Meyer's Grade/Hwy 1/Coleman Valley loop from Santa Rosa, by the numbers (and with apologies to the Harper’s Index)

    Minutes that I left the house after I had intended: 58

    Number of what rhymes with Ped Releton riders in a paceline passing me while calling out, “on your left.” 0 (out of six.)

    Number of minutes I was late to the start of the SRCC club ride starting in Occidental: 10

    Total miles ridden: 86.8

    In randonneuse: 139.691 kilometers

    Feet climbed: 6086 

    Which would be the equivalent of scaling the Burj Khalifa in Dubai 2.2358 times

    Number of fawns and does that ran in front of me on Frei Road and then hopped alongside for 100 meters: 3.

    Number of water bottles on the bike: 2

    Number of water bottle tops, as noted on mile six: 1 

    Number of bikes that passed me going up Fort Ross Road: 0 

    Number of bikes that were behind me at the start of the climb: 0  

    Number of minutes I was waiting in line at Raymond’s bakery in Cazadero to acquire a bottle of water with a top and a tasty foccacia for my back pocket when everyone else on the ride rode by: 15

    Number of Independent Fabrication bicycles i spy on this ride: 3

    Number of which are made of the same material: 0

    Number of riders with hi-viz yellow helmets: 3

    Number of riders with hi-viz yellow helmets and orange tops: 2

    Number of which were not me: 1 

    Number of cars that were in front of me on the Highway 1 corkscrew descent after turning left off of Meyer’s Grade: 0  

    Last time that happened: 2010

    Number of times I observed a vehicle violating California Vehicle Code section 27001 in sounding their horn in close proximity to cyclists: 4

    Number of coconut waters consumed : 1

    Number of Raymond Bakery’s Roma Tomato and Pesto foccacia’s consumed: 1

    Number of minutes having to lay down at the base of Coleman Valley because of eating too much foccacia with coconut water in Jenner: 10

    Number of new to me club members I met who were very friendly and even waited for me: 3

    Number of horses on Coleman Valley who had tails that were moving and caused me to ask myself: “is it the wind or is it the horse?” 2

    How fast my Garmin said I was traveling when I was stopped at a signal, unclipped and with a foot on the ground: 0.3 mph

    Number of calories expended on this ride as expressed in pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream: 3

    Actually quantity of ice cream consumed post ride: ½ pint of Steve’s salted caramel.

  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:42 AM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Our last B&B post was written jointly by stoker Sarah Schroer and captan Paul McKenzie about their first 600-K brevet of the season.

    This is another report about another 600-K, this one out of Davis. Sarah's report is not as long as her last one, and Paul's follow-up in this space only amounts to providing a link to his own blog, where a much more extensive, blow-by-blow account of the event is posted. (And when I say "blow-by-blow," I'm not kidding. You have to read it to believe it.)

    Here's Sarah's report…

    This event started at 8pm on Friday evening in Davis.  Once again I had the best seat in the house, on Paul McKenzie's tandem.  We were fortunate to have excellent company through the long night and following day.  After some initial shuffling, we found ourselves in an international group which included an Italian (Max Poletto), a German (Andreas Schultz), an Australian (Patrick Herlihy) and a Mexican (Jose Placencas).

    This event was supported in stellar fashion by the Davis Bike Club.  As we traveled through remote areas in the middle of the night, the controls were staffed by volunteers who plied us with food and words of encouragement.  Thanks to those volunteers, and to our riding partners, Paul and I met our goal of finishing within 24 hours.

    The route was flat for the first and last 85 miles between Davis and Oroville, and climbed gradually up through the Feather River canyon to Indian Valley and the turnaround point at Antelope Lake.  The moonlight in the river canyon was magical, and we reached the valley at dawn as temperatures dipped into the upper 30s.  Although the trip back was a net downhill journey, sleep deprivation and heat took its toll and my energy and enthusiasm waned steadily over the last hours of the trip.  The final miles stretched endlessly, and it seemed we would never reach the end.  There was plenty of time to consider the wisdom of embarking upon this particular adventure.

    This was a tough ride, made more so by the night time start.  Riders continued to trickle in throughout Saturday night and into Sunday morning, with many making the (sensible) choice to stop for a few hours of sleep along the way.

    And here's the link to Paul's long blog about the long ride…


    In case you don't read Paul's report--you really should, but in case you don't--you ought to know that in completing this ultra-hard ride in under 24 hours, they have achieved what is known in randonneuring as an R60. That is, they completed a full set of brevets--200-K, 300-K, 400-K, and 600-K--in less than 60% of the allowable time limit. This is a very big feather in the cap of any randonneur, and in fact it is so rare that Sarah becomes the first American woman to have ever achieved that lofty goal.

    Last year, the CTC Stage Race Champion (in her first year of attempting that challenge); this year, the first US woman to ever do an R60 (in her first year of attempting this challenge). What is she going to do next year? Paris-Brest-Paris? (No pressure, Sarah!)

  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:29 AM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    How To Ride Your First 600-K Brevet

    An Easy-To-Follow Guide to Completing a Not So Easy Bike Ride*

    By Sarah Schroer

    Step 1:  Just Say Yes . . . when your favorite tandem partner asks if you'd like to sign up for the Santa Cruz Randonneur's Surf City 600-K.

    Step 2:  Ask For Help . . . from many friends who have been there and done that.

    Step 3:  Make a Plan . . . then be ready to see it change on the fly.

    Step 4:  Test Your Limits . . . on a ride that exceeds anything else you've done before.

    Step 5:  Assess the Results . . . and start planning for the next one!

    OK, maybe these steps weren't quite as simple as they sound.  To begin with, when Paul McKenzie first suggested that we enter the Surf City 600K as a tandem team, I told him it was a bad idea.  After all, he would have completed back to back Stage Race double centuries in the two weeks prior to this event, and I was planning to ride a 400K brevet one week beforehand.  That didn't seem like much time for rest and recovery.  However, when he started talking about riding the Surf City 600K solo, I decided that I didn't want to miss out on the adventure and quickly changed my mind.  Note to self:  as a general policy, say "yes" anytime Paul invites you to ride the tandem, then work out the details later.

    With Step 1 taken care of, I started working on Step 2.  I sent some emails to fellow randonneurs who have done overnight rides before, and received a huge outpouring of advice regarding lighting, layers for the cold hours of the night, and dealing with fatigue along the way.  Armed with this information, I purchased the biggest seat bag I've ever owned and made a list of supplies that was two pages long.

    As for the plan, Paul already had one.  He told me that we would take a "civilized" approach to the event -- rather than riding straight through the night, we'd use our combined power to make good time in the first two thirds of the course then check into a hotel and get some sleep and still finish well within the 40 hour time limit.  The first edition of the plan called for 8 hours of sleep.  The final edition allowed for 4 hours of sleep.  Hmm.

    Paul has done several overnight rides in the past, but this was my first experience.  I've had plenty of practice taking care of myself on long rides of up to 200 miles, but the 600K distance is a whole 'nuther beast. For the metrically challenged, we're talking about 375 miles here!  I'm familiar with the low energy period that often hits me in the middle of a double century -- would there be another one somewhere beyond 200 miles?  How would I weather that?  And could I survive on convenience store food for that long?  What about the lack of sleep?  I was pretty sure that I could finish the event, but worried that it would involve a lot more suffering than I am used to.  One thing was for certain -- as the back half of a tandem I wouldn't be suffering alone.

    So how did it all turn out?  For the full story you'll have to tune in to Paul's report, coming soon.  I'll just say that while this was a very challenging ride, both mentally and physically, we came through it with flying colors.  Our success was due in no small measure to the advice of many friends which helped us prepare beforehand.  There was an intense period of planning that involved no less than 35 emails between captain and stoker in the three days leading up to the event which meant that no detail was left forgotten.  However, the most important factor that made this long ride go so well was the teamwork that kept the bike moving forward (or not, as appropriate) throughout the journey.  We are certainly a little wiser and humbler after this weekend's experience, but by no means deterred from doing it all over again.  Next on the calendar:  the Davis 600K on June 13/14th.


    *For those not familiar with randonneuring and brevets, here is a brief primer:
    Randonneuring is a style of self-paced, long-distance unsupported cycling which originated in France over 100 years ago. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring.  Brevets are organized randonneuring events which are sanctioned by Randonneurs USA or Audax Club Parisien.  Brevets vary in length from 200K to 1200K with time limits determined by the distance; a 200K event has a 13.5 hour time limit, while a 1200K event has a 90 hour time limit.  Results are published alphabetically, not by arrival time, and anyone who finishes within the official time period is considered a winner.  Riders are required to stop at specific checkpoints along the route and obtain proof that they passed through those checkpoints; this may involve making a purchase at a store to get a receipt, or writing down the answer to a location-specific question, or even mailing a postcard from a rural post office.

    Sarah's tandem captain Paul McKenzie added this…

    Thank you Sarah for the report on the 600K, and for leaving a bit of a Cliff Hanger. It prompted me to finish the report and get it posted!

    As you all can imagine, this was an epic hard ride, into the unkown zone. While I've ridden this far before, I've never done so on a tandem, unsupported, brevet style, and I could not imagine a better partner in this grueling ride, than Sarah. Here's the full story:


  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:00 AM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    The SRCC hard copy newsletter may be gone, but the Backroads & Breakaways column lives on in this space. I hope to keep the club conversation going, week by week, month after month. We'll see how it goes.

    In the old newsletter, space constraints forced us to savagely prune down some of the lengthy ride reports that were sent in (either to me, the Editor, or to the chat list). Now, in the wide open spaces of Cyberia, those constraints no longer apply. We can reproduce club member ride reports in their entirety.

    Many of these will have appeared already on the chat list, but that only reaches a fraction of the club membership and absolutely no part of the general public. So now that we're going prime time with the reports, I am tasked with doing approximately what I did in the newsletter space: not chopping them down to fit the space, but lightly editing them for a wider audience. I will try not to alter each writer's "voice," but will simply tidy up the occasional vocabulary and grammar glitches and the all-too-easy-to-do fat-finger typos.

    So…in the traditional B&B format, I will hark back in time to the last weekend we did not cover in the last newsletter and gather up any reports from those halcyon days of yore. The first ride we can cover then is a classic, and a great place to start this new era of ride reports: the Bad Little Brother, held on the Saturday, May 24.

    There were numerous reports on the 19th annual BLB, but we must begin with the official report from event chair Greg Durbin…

    For its last year as a teenager, I feel the 2014 Bad Little Brother behaved rather well.  

    Forty six riders, one of the larger turnouts we've had, started Saturday greeted by slightly windier than usual conditions at Lake Sonoma Marina. Almost half of the riders left before the official 7:30 am start time, who gathered for a group photo that may show up somewhere. This year's group had a much lower percentage of non-club members than in the recent past.

    As someone who was sitting in my truck instead of on my bike this year, I'll leave it to any of the the riders who want to chime in to give more details about the conditions, but from my view, the weather was warm but not over the top toasty, windy, but not everywhere.

    My take aways from the ride, (pardon my enthusiasm):  

    ~ Damn, we are so lucky to be able ride in such a beautiful area!

    ~ A larger than usual number opted for the Highland route this year.

    ~ Riders were great at expressing appreciation for the support.  We had one less SAG crew member than in the past, and Scot Castle, first timer Tony Buffa, and stationary Skaggs crew member Craig Johnson and first timer Skaggs roving crew member Mike McGuire were kept busy on the second half of the day from Annapolis Rd. (mile 86) to the finish. I was doing my best Kimberly Hoffman imitation, setting up the lunch stop at the halfway (mileage wise) point in Pt. Arena. As mentioned earlier, we had some challenges on Skaggs which we thought we addressed, but input from several riders will help us get it right next year.

    ~ As far as I know, there were no crashes or mishaps, save for a few close calls, for the more than 6,000 collective miles ridden yesterday! This speaks well to the skills of the group. Thank you for riding safely!

    ~ We had some damn happy riders - happy after they were finished that is, and thrilled and proud to have completed one of the more challenging rides around. Many were first timers. Congrats to all!

    ~ Get this: To my knowledge, we had a 100% finish rate!  I'm giving a finish to a rider who's chain got wedged between his cassette and spokes and was sagged in on the last five miles.

    ~ And yes, numerous inquiries about t-shirts and jerseys, of which I had nothing save for XL and XXLs.  I have the ball rolling developing a plan for presentation to the board to consider, along with a suggestion to charge a nominal amount, say $10, per rider to cover the cost of the supplies and gas for the SAGS, instead of it coming from the club.

    That being said, I'd like to challenge Bad Little Brother riders to show some leadership and return the favor to the club and fellow riders by volunteering at an SRCC event, if you haven't done so this year. It's a great experience learning what it takes to organize and be on the giving side of cycling. Besides, it's good bike-karma!  

    I've had a great time leading this ride for the past several years, and would like to give the reins to someone else next year. Feel free to drop me a line or suggest a name. I have a binder and plenty of info to make it less daunting than it may seem.

    Thank you and congrats again to all the BLB riders!

    And thank you back at Greg for six years on point for this ride.

    George Ockenfuss was the first to file a rider's-eye view of the BLB. Here's his report…

    On Saturday morning, I headed out to Lake Sonoma. It was nice and cool in the morning in Santa Rosa (no wind and about 52F). Getting out of the car at the visitor center I thought ‘Wow’, warm already and VERY windy. Sweater came off immediately and so did the arm-warmers. When I arrived I just saw an early group leaving at 7:00am. To my surprise there were still over 20 people getting ready for the 7:30am start. I thought this is good: the usual hardcore suspects--Mark, Carl, Jady, Miguel, Doug, Ken, and some other younger guys--were there; at least I might find someone to fight the headwinds to Boonville.

    After a brief announcement by Greg Durbin, the organizer, we headed off. I was able to hang on to the ‘fast’ group, and we had a good pace-line going against the headwind towards Boonville; except for the last two miles, where some guys thought they needed to go for the city limit. It looked like I was the only one who didn’t take the bait, thinking the pace is fast already…why be burning more matches early on?

    By Boonville, we already had caught up with some of the 7:00 am starters. After refueling, a small group of us--Ken, Greg (I think?, new young guy) and I--took off. The fast guys didn’t spend much time and more or less took off immediately. My two compatriots dropped me early on the Mountainview climb. I needed to go at my own pace and tried to avoid the chasing game; also I needed to recover from the initial burst to Boonville. This climb, or should I say series of climbs, actually were much steeper then I remembered (10%+ almost all the time). Cramps in my legs showed their initial signs, probably from riding too hard early on. Surprisingly after the second big climb I picked up Ken and Greg on the way down to the coast.

    In Point Arena, to our astonishment, we still saw the leading group hanging around. Carl had some major issue with both of his tires, and all his buddies were waiting for some time, till they finally decided that it was enough waiting and took of. Luckily, Carl got replacements for both his tires and was able to continue. After an extended lunch, the three of us (Ken, Greg, I) decided to take the Coastal route down Highway 1.The tailwind was awesome, and we had a pretty good pace-line going. The weather at the coast was perfect: no fog and comfortable temperatures. We got very lucky that the SAG guy just beat us to the Annapolis Rd. turnoff, which gave us the chance to refuel.

    Off we went again, up over the Annapolis bump. Ken had to stop for a nature brake half way up; I had a good rhythm going, was in my happy zone, and didn’t wait for him; also the third guy was fading away backwards. A little bit later on Annapolis Road I saw and passed the last rider till the end. It was a young guy, Pauli I think is his name who was doing his first BLB. The brave guy took the Ridge rout. I skipped Camp Gualala for the water refill (still had a full bottle) and went ahead, because a few miles later we should have had the ‘official’ stop. Again I got very lucky, because the guy who was volunteering to support us was running late due to holiday traffic and hadn’t set up shop yet; but he stopped for me in the middle of the road and provided me desperately needed fluids.

    At that point I only had about 22 miles left; how hard can it be? Hellish! The first ascent wasn’t too bad; it is mostly in the shade with humane grades of about 8%. Unfortunately my feet started complaining that they were too hot. On top of the first climb I got off the bike and took my shoes off, had some electrolytes, Ibuprofin, some Gue, and of course water. My hot-spots disappeared fast, but I wasn’t able to get my shoes back on. Every time I put my feet in the shoe and bent them  to get them all the way in I got horrible cramps in my shin. Eventually (5 minutes later), I succeeded and was ready to go. At that point I was worried a little bit about my water, because I only had one bottle left and still had to tackle the hardest part of the ride. Okay…after descending to the bridge, it’s only 12 miles to the finish line and ‘only’ about four miles to the very top of the last major climb, this doesn’t sound like a lot, but at 90F, fully exposed to the sun and mega steep, this feels like eternity, especially if you think anytime you come around a corner it will flatten out, but instead one is faced with even steeper grades. Also being on top of that second beast I am never really sure if I am done with it or if there are many more steep bumps further down the hill.

    Due to cramping, I needed to stop a few times up that climb; I actually was surprised that no one passed me at that point; I was going really slow. The rollers at the end weren’t too bad, and I just had enough water to make it to the finish, where the three Musketeers, Marc, Miguel and Jady, greeted me. These guys are just outstanding; they probably were there already for about an hour. Miguel, thank you very much for the beer! That hit the spot. And Greg and crew, thank you very much for pulling this off, GREAT job. This is an epic ride, and I hope I will forget the cruel details come next year. My stats for this one: 8:59 total time, 8:19 moving time at a bearable maximum temperature of 91F. And of course, I only did the coastal route.

    Ken Cabeen filed another report…

    Many, many thanks to ride leader/organizer Greg Durbin and support/rest stop crew of Scot Castle, Tony Buffa, Craig Johnson, Mike Maguire, and anyone else I may be forgetting for making possible a fantastic day and epic ride for us. 

    The wind at the start didn't seem to be as bad a problem I thought it would be on the leg to Boonville. I was well rested and feeling good, so I was either stronger than usual or the alpha dogs were taking it easy on me because I was able to stay with them to Boonville, including (for the very first time) that last rise, descent, and roll out on the flats into town, where I've always been dropped and come rolling in panting and spent from foolishly burning matches in attempts at catching them just before a stop!

    At the stop, it was all business for Doug, Miguel, Marc, Jady, and Carl, who quickly refilled and were back on the road. Georg remarked to me, "Well, pressure's off, they're gone!"

    The Mountain View leg was sunny and pleasant for only the second or third time in the seven times I've done this ride, with soakings by heavy drizzle or rain making up the rest. Over to the coast, it was a loosely arranged group comprising me, Scott D, Georg, and first timer Greg Plumb, who some of you probably would know from his time at Norcal shop and/or the Grasshopper rides -- a super nice guy and strong, steady rider. We four rolled into Pt Arena stop within a few minutes of each other and split from there, with Scott, being the good Scotsman he is, choosing the "Highlander" option while  the other three of us opting for, as Jady later described in his inimitable and always entertaining way, the "pansy route."

    The three of us worked well together down Hwy 1 to Annapolis Rd, where it was nice to get back into a more tranquil setting for the leg to Skaggs. I stopped for a pee (a "very long one" as Georg later joked at the finish) a couple miles into Annapolis Rd, and Georg disappeared for good (hence the pee joke), leaving Greg and me. We picked up Pauli several miles later. He had gone by the Hwy 1/Annapolis junction before the water truck arrived and was badly in need of water, which I was happy to help him with. The water at Camp Gualala was not far off. Leaving there, Pauli and I rode together while Greg steadily pulled away and also disappeared for good a few miles before the first Skaggs climb. Pauli and I rode together on this long, steady and gradual grind to Las Lomas and the screaming descent to the bridge before splitting somewhere on that evil second "guardrail" climb, as I like to put it.

    Once over this last major climb, the remaining rollers and their false summits pecked away at my remaining energy reserves, leaving me pretty well tapped out and very happy to once again see my favorite stop sign in the world -- that one at Skaggs and Rockpile that unequivocally signals an end to the suffering and an easy cruise to the parking lot.

    As usual, it was fun to hang around at the finish for a while joking and sharing bits and pieces of the ride with each other while cheering for riders as they rolled in. And I don't think I'll ever hear a more powerful testimonial to the restorative power of coconut water than I did from Doug McKenzie, whose tank reached "empty" somewhere on Skaggs before a passing motorist gave him most of a quart container of the magic drink, enabling him to make it the rest of the way.

    Thanks again to Greg and the volunteers for making this ride happen, and to all the riders with whom it was my joy and privilege to ride.

    Megan Arnold filed a brief report too…

    Ditto the thanks to Greg, Scot, Tony, Craig and Mike. The ice and cold drinks on Skaggs were super deluxe!

    I had a crazy amazing wonderful day on the bike. Only briefly interrupted by passing 07:30 start noisy hooligans. Fun to see everyone riding so strong and enjoying the day.

    My second time doing this ride, first time doing the ridge route. Solo most of the day, but in the Bubble of Happy that sometimes happens on these silly things.


    Amidst all the reports, I post this: Historical perspective on the BLB...

    Reading Georg's report inspired me to look back at my log book for the first ever Bad Little Brother.

    It was run on April 20, 1996. (They were in April for a few years before migrating to the Memorial Day weekend.) I think there were six of us on the route, although it's possible there were others I've since forgotten. In addition to me, there was Rich Fuglewicz (the creator of the ride), who now lives in Sacramento, Bill Ellis, who now lives in Novato, Kirk Beedle, who now lives in Redding, Trent Norlund, who now lives in Houston, and Trent’s son Lars. (Trent was the first one to do the Terrible Two twice around and Lars still holds the record for the youngest TT finisher.) A friend of Kirk's--I think his name was Jim--ran a sag for us.

    I don't recall too much about the ride. My log book contains this note: "VERY HARD!" I remember watching Trent and Lars pull away from me on that last, steepest descent on Mountainview, heading to the coast. It was a little damp, and they were way over my comfort zone. But I also recall that we were all--or mostly--together for a regroup at Las Lomas, and that I took the lead on the descent toward the bridge, with Trent on my tail.

    Georg says his time was 8:59, which I think he's saying was good for 4th overall. I think most of our little group finished together, or close to it, and my log book says 9:20. So not too far off today's pace. None of us was exactly at the level of the club’s current alpha dogs, but respectable. We all did the coastal route. (Kirk added that we all finished within ten minutes of each other.)

    Rich Fuglewicz added this, which will stand as our last word on this year's BLB…

    Congrats to all the BLB folk this year, on bike and support. After reading that Greg Durbin is looking to pass the baton, I wanted to point out that I could have chosen no one better to lead BLB after I led #13 in 2008. Greg has taken it to a better level each year. Thanks Greg, from me, for accepting the lead when I left town. The club was super lucky to have him on the pointy end. I hope the right person emerges to lead and be the spirit of the ride...to make it their own.

    Bill O and Kirk remember the very early years and a few others may still be around who were there. All the party van folk and strong riders on the club tours started showing early on also. The worst of the April starts had freezing rain over the mountains and on the coast...we abandoned several riders to hypothermia. Even with a sag and then two, it was understood that getting home could be up to you.  That said, the overriding element I wanted with the BLB was a very hard route on roads largely ignored by the club, but never meant to be a timed event....so all the dc folks and fast wheels could "enjoy" a tough ride without the outright competitiveness that comes with the ultra circuit racing. Our finish times varied greatly since we would mostly ride close together and regroup, for years this way, until BLB became known on the ultra circuit and began a ramp up in attendance and support.

    I hope to be at the start for the 20th anniversary…see ya there.

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