SFR Russian River 300K Brevet

After I failed to complete the Devil Mountain Double back in 2007 I decided that super long rides were not for me.  So, the 300K (188 miles) seemed out of the question but I’ve been doing so well this year with distances up to 150 miles that I felt like the 300K would be tough but doable.  And there’s something different about the brevets, at least for me.  There seems to be so much comradarie among the riders than on other organized rides.  In the past, I would start getting frustrated after about mile 120 and mad at myself after about mile 150 for signing up for such a distance.  Saturday, I never felt that way.  It was a great day.

Now for the 300K.  My good buddy Ken Emerson picked me up at 4:20 and it was off to the Golden Gate Bridge for a pep talk from Rob Hawks followed by 188 miles in the saddle.  Sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing on a bicycle at 6AM.  It had been raining most of the night but by the time we rolled we just had wet roads and, as usual, I forgot something important: this time it was my fenders.  I’m sure the people following me like Russ & Sheila Stevens weren’t too happy about that.  Sorry. 

Like the last two brevets we wound our way through Sausalito, Corte Madera, Larkspur, then on up to Petaluma.  As forecasted, the rain started up again at mid-morning but thankfully it stopped by around noon.  For the first time this year, there was a secret checkpoint on the route.   When I signed the sheet I noticed that someone had left their route sheet and money in a plastic bag on the tailgate of the truck.  I asked Tim Houck, the checkpoint master, what was going to happen with it and he said he would take it back to Rob.  With some coercion he agreed to let me take it with me and that conversation separated me from Ken and one of his legion of friends, Kobayashi.  When I arrived at the check point in Petaluma, Ken told me his buddy Mojo needed money so I said “I have money.”  Mojo was standing at the front of the store wondering who was going to pay for the food and drinks he was holding in his hands so I asked him if he lost his route sheet.  When he said yes I handed him the plastic bag with his money and route sheet.  I can’t remember seeing anyone more grateful and I was really happy I found the owner.  It was a bonus that it was a good friend of Ken‘s.

Rolling out of Petaluma I was lucky to be in great company with Barley & Susan Forsman, Mojo, Ken, and ironwoman Michele Santilhano. With a strong crew we cruised the next 30 miles to Healdsburg through farms and vineyards.  Leaving Healdsburg at mile 80 I was feeling strong so when I got to the front I put the hammer down and when I looked back Ken and Michele were both rolling along with me so I ground out the next 25 miles or so averaging 20mph.  I should have asked them to take the lead a few times or dialed it back a bit because by the time we got to Hwy 1 to turn south I needed a break.  Ken and I stopped for some Advil and a bit of a stretch but Michele kept churning with some other guys who had latched on.

As we headed down Highway 1 I was amazed at how violent the ocean was.  I heard later about the earthquake in Chile and wondered if the ocean behavior was related in any way to the earthquake.  After the coastal run we caught up to Michele at Diekmann’s at mile 120 but didn’t see her again until the end.  Barley and Susan caught us there and after a brief stop they also took off ahead of us.  They said Mojo wasn’t feeling too well so he was a bit behind and we didn’t see him again. Just as we were rolling, Clyde Butt rolled up with his new best friend, Andrea Symons from Germany (another ironwoman).

Ken and I slowed the pace a bit from Diekmann’s for the next 24 miles to Marshall at mile 144 where we had the best clam chowder ever.  That was the last checkpoint and it was getting dark.  As we were prepping to roll, Andrea pulled in and asked if she could join us for the last 40 or so miles.  That’s when we discovered how strong she is.  I could tell she was capable of taking off at a faster pace but she wanted the company and it was good to have the three of us for the extra lights since it was very dark on the backroads before we got back to civilization.

I had estimated that we could finish in 14 total hours but we spent a little longer at a couple of the stops, thankfully.  So, Ken, Andrea, and I pulled in at 8:37PM.  It’s such a great feeling to finish a challenging ride and not be completely wiped out.

Thanks to Rob Hawks and all the volunteers who make these events such a great success.  And a big thanks to all the friendly cyclists who support each other so well throughout the ride. .

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