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Back Roads and Breakaways, November 2014

  • Monday, November 17, 2014 8:46 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    On Saturday, November 15, Hunt Moore listed a C-pace ride from Petaluma out to the Point Reyes Light Station. He sent in this report…

    As I write this epistle, with nothing but the feeble glow of a whale-oil lamp to illuminate my chambers, I realize that ride reports of lesser mileage are becoming as rare as a dodo's egg.

    However, I must offer my thanks to the nearly 30 explorers who left the fowl village of Petaluma, to accompany me on the amazing journey over the coastal moors to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse.

    We never saw whales--apparently the leviathans appear in late winter.* But flights of pelicans, deer, and an occasional tule elk account for something.

    The sight of the vast, calm ocean and the infinite sky at land's end puts one's humanity in its place, wherever that is. Seriously, it was a great day, with a wonderful group and equally wonderful weather.

    I'm always glad to be able to ride with folks who have never ventured out that  way. This route doesn't typically appear on the local cycling radar. I guess people don't generally like out-and-backs; the weather can also be pretty dire. Although it is only 20 miles from Pt. Reyes, it seems especially remote.

    #21 on Bill O.'s 75 classic NorCal rides.

    80 miles round trip from Petaluma, 5400 ft. elevation.

    *Bill O adds: the whales are out there. We saw several while cycling near Santa Cruz the previous week.

  • Monday, November 17, 2014 8:36 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    On Saturday, November 8, David Fitch listed a B-level loop up and over the Geysers.

    The ride began at City Hall in Healdsburg, and I would guess there were at least 30 people on hand. It was a lovely day: a little nippy to start--it is November, after all--but bright and shiny and even warm as the day went along. In fact, the predicted high was around 80° and on one exposed climb, up against a rocky cliff face, the real feel was more like 90. (This over the same weekend that saw temps down to ZERO in the upper midwest.)

    We did the loop in the clockwise direction, meaning we worked our way from Healdsburg up to Cloverdale before tackling the Geysers from the north side. This presented us with an opportunity to test drive the brand new, silk-smooth, black satin pavement on West Dry Creek Road. Boy, is that sweet!

    (An aside: you have to love what the Sonoma County road crews have been doing lately. The county with the reputation--well deserved--for the worst pavement in the Bay Area is now figuring out how to get things done. Money is being found and put to good use in laying down prime tar on all sorts of bike-friendly back roads. Consider: as the result of four different paving jobs, there is a stretch of our WCC course that runs for 20 miles, from Eastside Road to Yoakim Bridge Road, where 15 out of those 20 miles now have silk-smooth new paving. Think what a dream that will be for our WCC participants…or just for the rest of us.)

    Anyway… The entire group stayed comfortably together for the run up to Cloverdale, setting a brisk but sustainable tempo…at least until the little climb over Dutcher Creek. A few people struggled there, but we all regrouped at Plank Coffee before heading for the hills.

    Naturally, the big climbs heading up and over the Geysers sorted the group out. So thoroughly was the group fractured, that I really have no idea what happened to about half the riders. I at least had the company of a few other riders on the easy and hard pitches heading up to Mercuryville. But after taking a break at the TT rest stop site, my long descent was pretty much solo. I expected to find other riders at the bottom of the hill…but no.

    I did finally run into a few people at the Jimtown Store, but only a few, and no other riders rolled in while we were hanging out. We few went to the Bear Republic afterward and ran into another handful of riders there. But that still leaves over 20 people unaccounted for. I fired off a note to ride leader David Fitch to see if he had a better grasp of where everyone went. He said a few of them stopped for a flat-fixing party, but that only accounts for another five or so. The rest of the people may have all been eaten by mountain lions, for all I know.

    I'm going to make an assumption that everyone made it home safely and happily. We would have heard about any bad news, and it would be hard not to have been happy on such a wonderful Indian Summer day. As Matt Wilson would have said: "Another best day ever!"

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