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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a pain in the butt 200k in Santa Cruz yesterday.

I thought of doing the SF400k but it is a bit early in the season. I am usually always in shape all year round but I learned in the 200k & 300k that this early in the season makes for cold rides after dark. But when I woke up early Sunday for the SC 200k I thought to myself as I was lying in bed, "If I had done the SF 400k I could be in bed right now".
The SC 200k is a hilly one which I did last year. Bill has an even tougher one but this ride seemed tougher this year than last year.

I was riding my new bike that only had about 100 miles on it. I know you shouldn't but I was using this ride as a shake out for it since I may use this bike for the Davis 24 hr TT. I had areobars on it to see if I will be comfy with them. Not a great ride for aero bars but since the final 30 or so miles was along Hw1 one back to Santa Cruz I knew I would get a chance to see if they will work for me.

Well at mile 20 you climb, climb, climb and don't really stop climbing till mile 40ish. Sure you get a few downhills, but these are so twisty and bumpy that it is no payoff for all the climbing. Why can't they just make you climb then level it off for a while rather than having to continually ride up, down, up ,down?

Mile 40ish is a store but not a control stop. Many riders stop here to refuel before the next leg. The next refueling opportunity will not be until about mile 70 and that is a tough section of riding. When I did this ride last year I stopped at the store and being after a long climb most tend to rest here too long. So I brought enough stuff so I could ride right by and did so.

The next control is at about mile 66 but Lois was hanging out at mile 55ish with cookies and water if needed. When I saw here at Hwy 9 I stopped for a cookie and to fill out my brevet card for the first control at mile 20. When I put my card back into my rear pocket I moved it to the middle pocket since it seemed to be sliding out of the pocket it was in. it was just two pieces of paper and my little golf pencil in a baggie. Ok you know what is going to happen right?

The next 11 or so miles to control 2 are rolling hills. But these are big as rollers and just one after another. As I mentioned earlier I had a new bike with only about 100 miles on it. It is a Vanilla road bike that is fairly light with compact 50-34 cranks and 12-25 in the rear. This is just the right gearing for me on this route IF EVERYTHING WAS WORKING RIGHT. Just before stopping to see Lois I was dropping my chain on the inside. It was only when I was in the 34-23 or 34-25 but I needed those two guys. I figured it may be due to cable stretch and decided I better sit on the real steep stuff. Well there were a couple of short but brutal climbs where I actually jumped off and walked up. I jumped off with another rider and actually kept up with him on the climb. Then I figured out that if I click my front der over one click I can get the chain to rub the der thereby not allowing the chain to drop inside. It was a bit annoying but not as bad as having the chain come off.
So I am now good to go to control 2 which is a dirt lot with an emergency phone box. When you get there you write down the box number and your time. Well I go to grab my card from my back pocket and, you guessed it, it was gone. At least I know it has to be somewhere in the last 11 miles back to Lois. I am 95% sure this will DNF me but I am at mile 66 which is half way. So I figured I might as well just ride the rest of the way on the 5% chance Bill will say I did not get DNF'd. But what if the card is only 500 yds back. So I decide I will ride all the way back to Lois and look for the card. If I find it I am good to turn around and finish the ride. If I do not find it she can confirm the 5% chance of DNFing. If DNF is the answer then I can just drop down Hwy 9 back to Santa Cruz and this is actually the fasted way back to the van. I pretty much resign myself to a DNF as it is very windy along the last 11 miles so the card has probably blown into SF Bay near Redwood City. I slowly ride south and look across the road for anything white or in a plastic bag. I get about 4-5 miles back when I see it. It looked like a $100 bill on the side of the road that everyone else missed. May day is saved. I already have my 200k & 300k for the year but this was a March ride for my elusive R-12 award.

So I am headed back north and it is mostly downhill. Head west toward the coast and riding alone in tough headwinds.

Once to the coast you hit control 3 then head south over two 1.5 mile hills to Pescadero then inland a bit, out of the wind and flat for 7ish miles. This allows me to use my aerobars for the fist time and I catch two riders. We hammer out to Hwy one with me leading the charge in my aerobars.

Once we hit Hwy 1 we are greeted by tremendous tailwinds which we were expecting. I now grab the others wheel and we fly toward our final 2 mile climb at Swanton Road. Just before you get to the Swanton turn we are flying down a nice smooth section of Hwy 1 and I duck into my aerobars and pass everyone going 35+. Then it is a slow grind up Swanton but at least it is the final climb and we have 14 or so miles of that glorious tailwind waiting for us. The 3 guys ride ahead and I stay back a bit for Margie (I think) in case she has trouble. Ahead is the final control at the fire station where you have to note the sign set up by Bill and Lois. I see the last of the 3 riders ahead fly by the station so figure you must be able to see the sign as you ride by. I ride by and sure enough I notice the "7X2" and check my watch so I can write it down at the finish. Margie is behind me but I keep riding to Hwy 1 1.5 miles away. When I get there the 3 guys have taken off. So I wait for Margie so I have company for the rest of the ride. I figure I might as well try to meet someone new rather than worry about my time. Especially since I have already hosed any decent time I might have gotten with my chain problem and my lost card.
She and I are now flying. Not sure how fast since my new computer stopped working at about mile 50. I am sure it is a battery. All of a sudden we see the three guys going back the other way. Apparently they missed the marker at eth station and were now going back a few miles. If they had waited for us at Hwy 1 I could have told them what was on the sign so I guess that is what you get for leaving me behind. Everyone remember never to leave Willy behind or suffer the consequences.

We hit the final big roller at Davenport when my chain comes off again. Only this time my chain broke. I have a feeling my earlier problem was not a cable issue but rather a bad link in the chain. Just before Margie leaves me I use her cell to call Bill to see if he can contact Mark in the sag to see if he has a chain tool. Usually my multi tool has a chain breaker but with the new bike I forgot to put it in my bag. I figure I will just start walking the final 12 miles and hope one of the three guys who missed the last clue may have a chain tool. Boy I wander what I did to deserve this?

I only walk about a quarter mile and Mark drives buy, turns around and helps me fix my chain. If I hade been 1 mile further south I am sure he would have gone by me before my chain broke. It could not have been better timing. I am back on my bike even before the three amigos pass me. I am now really flying but not standing up for fear of breaking the chain again.

I pull into Bill & Lois’s place in 9 hrs 15 minutes which is at least 30 minutes slower due to my lost card and about an hour off what I thought I would do. but with almost 10,000 feet of climbing and an extra 8-10 miles of riding I am happy with the ride.
Lots of things went wrong but more things went right since I finished and kept my R-12 hopes alive.

Thanks to Bill and Lois and especially to my savior Mark. Mark I owe you a coffee and a couple of No-Doz : )

Willy in Pacifica
 

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Great Story...

Congrats on finishing and the gutsy display of the spirit of "randonneuring"
 

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I recognize a lot of the places in the photos. The picture of the guy in the red fairing looks like the west side of Old La Honda, and the machine gunner is on Pescadero Road, where often you can watch them train sheep dogs. But where is the road with the crazy sign? I've ridden almost every road in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but I don't think I've ever seen that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good Eye

You are right about the first hill and the Machine gun guy.

The other pisser, and final, hill comes at mile 110 on the way back to Santa Cruz. In order to get the route up to 125 miles we have to take a detour on Swanton Rd. It is right off of Hwy one about 7 or so miles north of Davenport. It loops inland for about 5-6 miles and dumps us back on Hwy 1 about 2 miles north of Davenport.

The first hill pictured is Eureka Canyon which is about 15 south of Santa Cruz and gets us up to the south end of Hwy 35 before riding north on hwy 35.
 

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I did it too...

We really lucked out on the weather, considering how much it rained on Monday. I liked riding up Eureka Canyon with all the little streams everywhere - the tailwind at the end was great too. I might have seen you at the San Gregorio Store, because the bent rider was there and it looks like you were with him on Old La Honda. You doing the 300?
 

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A nostalgic read

wily in pacifica said:
As I mentioned earlier I had a new bike with only about 100 miles on it. It is a Vanilla road bike that is fairly light with compact 50-34 cranks and 12-25 in the rear. Willy in Pacifica
Great story. I used to live in Santa Cruz County so the pics made me realize how great the riding can be. The big ups and downs and up and downs are what I miss -- only hills here in Missouri.

But what you missed was a report on that Vanilla. Sorry to read about chain probs but what about the rest of the ride?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
SC 300k

Rob??

I did not stop at the store nor did I stop at the school, the first control. I did this ride last year and broght enough water to do the whole ride so less time stopping. I was the first one to start the hill and about the 10th one up. But I think I passed about 6 who stopped at the store. Of course that all changed when I had to backtrack to find my card. In the picture above I am riding the bright green Vanilla. You would remember it if you saw it it was so green.

Also, the pictures were taken by Mark in the white Sag Wagon so I was not near the bent.

I finished in 9:15

I already rode the SF 200k and the SF 300k so will not be riding Bills 300k. I did it last year and we all got rained on but not as bad as this years SF 200k. My next ride is a 24 hour TT in Davis in 3 weeks, the Fleche a week later, my 400k in May and my 600k in June. This gets me thru 6 months of the R-12 award.

If you are doing Bills 400k or 600k I have a couple hints for you.

HAUL ASS out to San Ardo and get started back ASAP. If you hang out there the winds turn on you and you will fight tremendous headwinds for 30ish miles. Think of riding north on Hwy 1 when we had those great tailwinds only worse. If you have to eat wait until you get back to King City.

Willy in Pacifica
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Vanilla

The bike performed well for 125 miles. Preaty much how my Merlin would have done which is the bike I rode last eyar and the bike I would have riden if not for the Vanilla.

The Vanilla has an SLR seat so that is only good for about 250 miles so OK for the 200k. The bike rode great but there wer really not any good long hills to ride down without a lot of twists and turns. I wish the route went west on 84 rather than down Old La Honda as I could have gotten in some long fast sections to see how it handled on the sweeping turns.

I had serobars on it for practice for my upcoming 24 hr TT. They worked great but I got an additional 1cm spacers for the arm rests I want to install for comfort. The aerobars are part for aerodynamics and part for comfort on long ass rides.

But after allthe problems I had the bike worked well and at least I worked out a few kinks. But I believe all my problems stemmed from a bad link in the chain. Probablay my fault when installing it.

But it cleaned up well and is waiting for this weekend.

It did get a few ohhhs and ahhhs from the other riders.

Willy in Pacifica
 

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I've heard a lot of horror stories about the SF 200 K.

I'm glad I missed it. Besides all the rain (sometimes horizontal) I heard that a guy got T-boned by a car in Sausalito.

I probably didn't see you after all. I hit 4 or 5 red lights in a row and lost contact with the group. I finished at 5:45 (yeah, I'm slow). Were your pics taken by the Aspro guy? Does he have them online?

Yeah, I'm worried about the headwind coming back from the Pinnacles on the 300 K - they get stronger later in the day. I probably won't do any 400s or 600s this year.

Sounds like you have a full schedule with lots of tough rides. Good luck and ride safely.
 

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wily in pacifica said:
The bike performed well for 125 miles. Preaty much how my Merlin would have done which is the bike I rode last eyar and the bike I would have riden if not for the Vanilla. Willy in Pacifica
Appreciate the comment comparing to Merlin. I have been considering a Ti frame, but not sure the cost diff over steel is justified. I'm 6'1" about 200# so the weight savings is not important and the claimed Ti liveliness is lost on me. That said, a 2 hour ride on a Merlin Extralight (about a year ago) had me gaa-gaa over the ride, but the RealDesign carbon wheels may have been largely responsible.

Thanks again for the pics of Santa Cruz roads. I often miss CA, but mostly the redwoods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Merlin vs Vanilla

I am all of about 145 lbs and 5' 10".

I cannot tell much of a difference between most of my bikes if they are all set up similar as far as fitting. I can say that if you are comfortable on a bike that is 75% of a beautiful ride and another 15% to 20% goes to proper mechanics (good shifting, braking, etc).

I would say the other 5%-10% would go to weight unless you are comparing something like my Merlin at 17 lbs to my all rigged up Co-Motion at 25+ lbs (dynohub, fenders, steel frame and fork).

But I cannot tell much difference in the ride between my Ti Merlin and the steel Vanilla. Maybe over time.

But I think there is a trend away from Ti these days and on to Carbon or back to nice steel. My Vanilla is under 18 lbs w/o pedals so only about a pound more than the Merlin.

Willy in Pacifica
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
SC 300k

Yes the pictures were taken by Mark in the Aspro car.

I did the pinnacles 300k and it is farily flat compared to the 200k last weekend. Last year we started in the rain and it rained on and off all day. But it stoped enough taht you were able to dry off here and there unlike the SF 200k.

But I believe we had the winds working backward of the usual pattern. There is a big open section where you are out int he wind so try to work with someone when out there. I rode with someone last year and we made great time. I think we finished in about 13 hours and we took a lunch stop and the last control.

willy in pacifica
 
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