I awoke before 6:00am to the sound of rain on a metal roof. Romantic, but not what one wants to hear on the morning of a 100 mile ride.
I had returned to Plumas County, CA, my home of 36 years until 9 months ago, to ride in the Indian Valley Century. In 2004, it was the first century I ever rode. It is always my last big ride before starting the AIDS/LifeCycle San Francisco to Los Angeles ride in a week.
I had spent the night at friends' house, right on the ride route. A group of riders was to meet there at 7:00am. Here's the view out my guest-bedroom window.
The phone rang at 6:00. Two riders are bailing out. My hosts decided to bail out. By 7:25 NO ONE had showed up. "I'm going anyway, you wimps!", I shouted to no one in particular, but scared the cat. Soon after getting into my togs, 10 people had arrived, including some of my former colleagues/bike buddies. OK. This would be fun. Off we went. Here's a few of us about a mile into the ride.
We rode from the house into the town of Greenville (11 miles) to register for the ride. I had just installed new brake pads and rode the first 6-7 miles with the front brake rubbing. The sports director from the local paper was there. He knew all of us (I had even worked at the paper a bit in the past) and took our picture. We looked a bit wet and bedraggled already. It rained moderately hard for the first 25 miles, and stayed at about 45 degrees. Here's Pete, in full waterproof regalia, right down to his booties, and Elliott, clad in shorts and rain jacket.
The first 40 miles (because we started from the house) is almost perfectly flat, just two little rollers. Two of the female spouses were riding along, one doing her first ride over 30 miles and celebrating her 50th birthday. The pace was very relaxed, eventually evening out at 14 mph. There was more chatting than hammering. Well, there wasn't any hammering at all. This is on the route.
The turn around for the metric century is at the little (one store/deli, two houses) of Genessee. This is where a hot lunch is served. Ribs, brisket, black beans, rice--plus cold cut sandwich makings, and the usual cookies, fruit salad, etc. Note the use of the picket fence as a bike rack.
After lunch, an 11 mile climb starts. But it's raining again. I spoke to a rider who had just come down from the top. Snow up there. By group consensus, it was decided to just do the metric. Actually, I was the only one in the group who had planned on the 100 mile, and I didn't need the miles.
It's essentially an out-and-back. One more picture.
In fact, most of the group short cutted the ride home, looking for 50 miles. I left them at mile 48 @ 14mph. I rode the last 12 miles at a faster speed and ended at 14.7 mph. I had to ride by the house about 1/2 mile and return to get to 62 miles. By the end, I was dry, except for my socks. Everyone gathered back at the house for margaritas and buffalo burgers. Mmmmm.
After lunch, I jumped in my old truck and headed back to my new home in Lincoln, iPod playing the blues and Rocky Patel cigar smoke wafting out the sun roof as it continued to rain. Another great day on a bicycle.