Russian River 300k

The view from our control in Bodega Bay

Last Saturday (02/27/10), I rode the Russian River 300k. To date, this has been my longest ride. Converted to miles and with the addition of the ride from my house to and from the start, I calculate it was just over the 190 mile marker.

It seems like each brevet that I’ve ridden with the San Francisco Randonneurs has provided a new challenge on the bike. Prior to the last two 200k brevets, I had not done much riding in the rain aside from short inner city rides and the bike commute to/from work (SF to Mill Valley). This ride pushed me over the 200k mark for the first time and required a pretty decent amount of bicycle headlight on the way home.

The ride started out in a similar fashion to the prior two 200k rides. I monitored the weather closely for the days leading up to the event and awoke to rain…again. We lucked out and only had AM rain.

Another thing on my mind leading up to this ride was nutrition. I did some reading on Ultra Marathon Cycling Association‘s website and asked a couple of people for some nutrition advice. A friend’s girlfriend said I absolutely needed to have a big breakfast. I had learned my lesson during the prior two rides and ate a big breakfast hoping that I would not bonk at mile 80 (again) and have 100 miles staring me down. I ate to the point that my mouth could not produce enough saliva to swallow my food, and I took huge gulps of water imagining I was Kobayashi or Joey Chestnut competing in the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest. I will never skip a big breakfast the day of an event ever again. It works.

And a coworker recommended I try Perpeteum. I’ll just say that you can get a lot of calories in your body without feeling too full. Nice.

The big breakfast and Perpeteum didn’t replace my normal energy bars, gels, electrolytes, and solid foods (sandwiches, bananas, etc.), but instead was supplementary. Energy wise, I felt pretty fresh throughout the ride and I know the extra calories made a huge difference.

I think if there was a theme for this day of riding it was setbacks. We started our ride 15 minutes late, I had a flat tire and two non-functioning pumps, and my friend’s bike had brake and derailleur problems. We made a few roadside adjustments and also had to stop into a bike shop for new pads. Based on the 10 hour time of my previous 200k, I had anticipated finishing this one in about 16 hours. At the nine hour mark, my cyclometer read just over six hours on the saddle, but we ended up finishing around 17.5 hours after we left. So all in all, I was pretty pleased with our overall pace. (Honestly, I was just happy to finish within the 20 hour limit. Actually, I was thrilled to finish…period.)

The ride went from SF to Petaluma to Healdsburg to Bodega Bay to Marshall and back to SF. There was nothing really notable about the ride until around Bodega Bay. We hit Highway 1 south (somewhere near mile 110) around mid-afternoon and it was incredible. The tailwinds were in effect, the waves in the horizon were huge, and it was warm. Shortly after that, the sun set.

Around Valley Ford, evening turned into night. This was the furthest from home I’ve been on bike and in the night. Luckily for us, the conditions were ideal. It was a full moon or near it and the skies were clear and starry. Although we were kind of out in the country, the roads felt familiar thanks to the 2 Rock/Valley Ford 200k just two weeks prior. We rode through a couple of towns that had closed down for the night and stretches of Highway 1 where aside from the occasional car passing, our bike lights were the only artificial lights on the road. I had the comfort of a friend to chat with and surprisingly my legs and body felt relatively energized for the number of miles I had already put in that day.

One final checkpoint at the Marshall Post Office and it was the home stretch. The roads felt more and more familiar as the towns grew bigger and we got closer and closer to SF. Being a Saturday night, I had to dodge a drunk man in Fairfax, but after that it was smooth sailing. Once we hit the final climb out of Sausalito and up to the Golden Gate Bridge, I started to feel a soreness in my knees. I think this was my body telling me that it was happy to be home.

We rolled into the final checkpoint around 11:30PM, chatted a bit about our ride, and grabbed some cookies and soda. We were all smiles.

At the end of the month, the 400k is coming up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sending in my registration soon. And again, I’m both nervous and excited.

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