May 2008


 They say you shouldn’t fool with mother nature but that doesn’t stop her from fooling with you sometimes as 9 riders found out on this ride. The forecast was for a warm day with light winds out of the northeast at 5-10 mph. That would have been great if it were true but it was meant not to be. Even with a pre-dawn start the winds were already brisk out of the north at 20 – 25 mph and temps were in the upper 50’s and low 60’s. Riders fought these headwinds for 90 miles or so to Cedar City before the course changed direction and offered any relief. Even then relief came in the form of a cross wind and it wasn’t until about mile 120 or so that it really turned into a tailwind. That’s when the grimaces finally turned into smiles and the pace picked up quite a bit.
To add just a little bit to the challenge, a couple of riders had several flats and exhausted their supply of inner tubes. Luckily some spares were purchased at the bike shop in Cedar City and as usual once there were plenty of tubes available again there were few flats.
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After a great downhill run into Newcastle the riders fueled up at the checkpoint. The next section was an easy 12 mile spin to the town of Enterprise. The last real climb of the day began shortly after that and it was quite a challenge coming at a point this late into the ride. Once at the top however the riders enjoyed perhaps the best downhill run of the day. This was a 13 mile section of downhill and rollers all the way to the next checkpoint in Veyo. Even after Veyo the fun continued with more downhill and rollers through Gunlock and finally ending on the outskirts of St. George. All that was left was to navigate through town and back to the finish. Most riders made it in just about dark and we had a 100 percent completion rate. Riders loved the scenery along the course and the roads were mostly good. Congratulations to all 9 riders who started and finished this event!
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Many thanks to the Davis Bike Club in California for putting on such a well organized event on a great course. The day started off with something unusual in my experience over many brevets, that is the 26 or so riders stayed together in a double pace-line at a moderate pace for the first 30 miles or more. It was wonderful, people were chatting and maintaining a good pace, it was very enjoyable.  Finally I had to stop and remove some clothes as it was starting to get a little warm.  Several other riders did so as well so it was the beginning of the end for the organization of this group of riders.

There were light winds all day which added a little extra challenge at times and helped a little at other times. Temps probably reached 90 degrees or so at the peak of the day but the light winds and canopies of shade trees over much of the route helped to mitigate the warmth.  Most of the route was on surprisingly rural roads through the wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties. There was some tourist traffic on these sections but overall it was pretty low key.  The real treat was viewing the wineries along the route along with other fields and pastures. Wildflowers were out in abundance and the many streams and lakes were full.  It was a beautiful late spring day in northern California!

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The DBC did a wonderful job in providing support to the riders. Much of this rural route offered little opportunity to graze at stores or minimarts so the club provided food and drink at most of the checkpoints.  The volunteers were exceptionally helpful and I for one really appreciated their efforts. It means a lot when such people take the time to provide for others when they would certainly rather be riding themselves.

As night fell we were passing by a little lake. The sunset was spectacular and the sky was on fire. This scene was reflected in the lake waters which were very calm. We stopped briefly to experience the spectacle. There was no traffic and the air was still, it was very peaceful.  For a moment all was right with the world. These are the times that make all of the day’s effort worthwhile.  To be in these special places at these rare moments is a very unique thing.  You just have to be out there to have the opportunity to see these things. You may not always be in the right place at the right time but you will certainly be someplace at the right time.

Once darkness fell the world closed in around us somewhat. The beam of our headlights became our world, while the orbit of our fellow rider’s lights became our universe. Beyond that was an unknown region of shadow and darkness. The road continued to pass under our wheels but the clock had now become lethargic.  Miles as a unit of measure had also been altered somewhat.  Each one now seemed further than the last.  The more we tried to verify the correct distance the further we had to go. It is a cruel deception that riding at night sometimes brings.  In the end, minutes were still minutes as were the miles and we finally came to the last entry on the route guide.  We pulled into the finish area in Davis at 3:11 am. Our result for the day was riding 400 kilometers (250 miles) in 21 hours 11 minutes elapsed time, 16 hours 55 minutes actual riding time.