Departure from SR and arrival conditions at Boonville were similarly dismal, but once we’d got organized and headed toward the rider briefing there were blue skies. However, the temperature was still low about 45deg (highest I saw all day btw) and higher up it had been snowing. The start was delayed by 45 mins to allow that to thaw.
John Sullivan (Friend and Co-Worker) had a good idea of kicking off our ride a wee bit early before we froze and to get ahead of the “pack” (330 reg, 93 no-shows) So off we went. This ride kicks off straight into a climb of about 10% for a long way. 20mins or so min we were up 800ft and both feeling a bit guilt about kicking off early. Someone (not John) had the bright idea of heading back down to kick off with the pack after all and do it right. So, a rapid chilly descent and off we go again, literally just turning around at the start as the riders moved off.
Then the rain started again. It was a long way to 1st food stop. We passed through the snowy area and right enough it had mostly thawed by then. The cold rain was washing it away too. It was 39deg. Might have been different for the leaders who were probably a good 30 mins ahead by then (could have been us!).
First rest stop; we stayed long enough to get two handfuls of stuff to eat and the shivering to start – which was no more than ~60 secs. Off we went again. Bizarrely over the next mile or so we saw probably 2 doz. riders going the wrong way. My addled brain thought they must have wanted more food. People were now actually riding or even getting SAG’ed back the start. (in hindsight, including some folks I thought were harder/dafter and would’ve continued)
By this point the water had penetrated everything. VeloToze shoe covers did well for a while but gallons running down the legs pooling in the shoes now stayed in. You could feel it slopping around. The descent was fast and relatively fun (I thought) The adrenaline kept things warm as it’s a challenging descent at the best of times. Point Arena lighthouse became visible and the rain stopped briefly, but we turned South on 1 into a beefy headwind. John tried the tri-bars for about 50 yds before deciding it was way too windy. We traded pulls together. We briefly caught and had a caboose, rarely seeing other riders. Thankfully we didn’t have to address any marshaling duties the whole ride.
The rain was back on by the time we turned in land again. Met a couple of other guys but no-one was feeling particularly sociable. It was quiet. One of them had 42mm tyres (Scottish spelling!) that displaced a lot of water. With no fender it went right into a following riders face! John mentioned he felt wet and didn’t believe he could get any wetter. But then we did, in fact we certainly did. A real downpour for about 5 mins made sure we remembered what cold rain felt like with all our already wet clothes now on a rinse cycle with a new blast of cold water. This was on “Ten mile Rd” that felt like about 20 miles of purgatory with the wind, rain and about 3% grade. Arriving at the lunch stop it was a challenge to get the calories in before the shivering started. John mentioned he felt cold. The descent to Fish Rock Rd didn’t help as we picked up some descent speed on the descent so a wee bit wind chill into the bargain. Once we hit the gravel it was less of an issue as speeds dropped to about 3-4mph. The gravel was similar to Willow Creek Rd in that it was mostly fairly hardpacked with only the top surface dragging at the tyres, unless you hit some of the clay/adobe puddles that had at least an inch of sloppy mud adding to the resistance. We were about 10 mins slower this year on the climb. John mentioned he was cold. The descent of Fish Rock could be quite fun. It wasn’t. Afterward John stated he had to go slower on it since his brain wasn’t working fast enough and his frozen hands couldn’t distinguish the brakes from the shifters and he also got hit by a cramp. I think we were heading toward hypothermia. Thankfully next rest stop eventually arrived. There was hot water and John took on some coffee. (I don’t drink coffee) This is where things got bizarre. I’ve never seen the rejuvenating effect of hot coffee. John had a new lease of life and energy and was railing it down toward the Hwy turn. I just struggled. I also saw Adrian driving my truck, not a hallucination but it had been commandeered to help SAG folks off the hill, (but not us). We turned onto the Hwy with about 8 miles to go. There was no hope for a tailwind. John was motoring. I had resigned my fate to being in the rooster tail all the way back to get some benefit of a draft. I was beginning to get resentful about Adrian being away in the truck as all our dry clothes were in it!
Boonville! The Bike Monkey folks were still manning the finish line timing tent. We stopped just inside the brewery car park – Beep Beep Adrian was literally 10 secs behind us. Just as well! The folks he SAG’ed out were appreciative of their 30 miles in a nice warm truck – apart from one guy who pretty much refused to get out and was hoping for the last mile too down to where his car was parked. He finally left. John’s towel was missing. Mine was wet since it was used as a seat-cover. Just as well though, I wouldn’t fancy heading home on a wet & dirty seat. Poured out the water from my shoes. Stretched on dry clothes over a wet/damp body, cramping up at the contorted effort. We got our paella dish but no beer since we were a bit later than planned and it was after licensing hours – but it was warm inside, we were shivering. Adrian drove the truck home for us!
EPIC (now that it’s over)
Cat 2 (Cyclocross)