Okay, first of all, don't get too excited - it's more like Tour of Three Bakeries, With Repeat Visits on the Way Back. Still, a nice concept for a 200k permanent. In case I haven't mentioned this here before (or in a long time), "permanents" are randonneuring routes that can be ridden at any time, with prearrangement with the route owner.
Last spring, I kicked off the pre-Paris-Brest-Paris randonneuring events in April, when I drove out to Nebraska City to ride in the Nebraska Sandhills Randonneurs' 200km brevet. I continued to ride with the Nebraska gang through the spring, completing all of the qualifying rides for Paris-Brest-Paris by mid-May. Once June rolled around, I decided to keep going, so I drove out to Ames, Iowa, and got to meet a number of the Iowa Randonneurs, and also got to see my first ElliptiGo riders. Then, in July, SK helped me put together a gnarly mixed-terrain Overnight 200k that circled around Lincoln. Then there was August and Paris-Brest-Paris itself.
By that point, I'd ridden a brevet every month for five continuous months, and got to thinking about one of the awards offered by Randonneurs USA, the R-12
. To earn the R-12, all you have to do is complete one ride per month of a minimum distance of 200km. Well, the Nebraska Sandhills Randonneurs had two more brevets scheduled for the early fall, first a 400k and then a 600k, so why not? For good measure, I also rode a 200km Arrow with the gang. Those events carried me through October. But what to do for November? Eventually things got down to a "last chance" effort. After scrutinizing the various permanent options listed by the San Francisco Randonneurs, I settled on a route called "East Bay to Davis," and scrottie
joined me for a jaunt out into the California unknown that involved a detour to see Napa Valley and then some crazy climbing through the mountains out to Davis.
December's ride happened in Arizona, another permanent, the End of Pavement 200k, shortly after Christmas. Finally, in January, I was able to join the San Francisco Randonneurs for the Pierce Point 200k, another leg-buster with some impressive hills and lovely scenery. S came out with me for the Two Rock - Valley Ford 200k in February, and then I was looking to finish the twelve months out on the Russian River 300k.
When we had to bail two-thirds of the way through the 300k two weekends ago, I started to think about and look around for a make-up ride. With a better sense of the local geography as compared to last November, I narrowed the options down to either a repeat of the East Bay to Davis 200k, or something out in the direction of Marin again called the Tour of Five Bakeries. I wasn't feeling especially excited about doing either route as a solo ride, so I sent a message to the San Francisco Randonneurs to see if anyone else would be interested. I received a single enthusiastic reply, from a rider who was up for the Tour of Five Bakeries, so that sealed the deal. R and I made arrangements for an 8 am start, which would hopefully give me enough time to catch the first BART train from El Cerrito and then ride 15 miles from Embarcadero out to Mill Valley.
I was nervous about running late, but wound up reaching the starting point with ten minutes to spare, just as R pulled up. Phew! To top it off, a third rider appeared! She'd made her own arrangements to complete the permanent on her own. It's always nice just to know someone else is out there.
The ride started with a nice loop through some rolling hills out to Tiburon, which was most likely included in the route to bump the mileage up to the correct distance. No harm in that! From there, we rejoined roads that have quickly become familiar. But let me show you the elevation map, to give you some sense of things:
You can see the rolling hills in the beginning, up until somewhere around mile 20. The big spike past all that (mile 25-ish), plus the subsequent spike near mile 40 are two hills that bracket a lovely stretch of road that passes through Samuel P. Taylor State Park. I experience somewhat mixed emotions along this section, however, because that's the area where S and I wound up riding 15 bonus miles during the February 200k. So I enjoy the redwoods and smooth pavement, but also feel a slight twinge of panic.
This time, we didn't have to make any turns, and by shortly after 11 am, we found ourselves among the hordes of cyclists at Point Reyes Station. People were out in full force on their Saturday training rides. Time for bakery stop number one, Bovine Bakery. I devoured a slice of quiche and most of a giant raspberry scone wedge.
Then it was time to wind along Highway 1 and on up for the second stop at Tomales Bakery. I wasn't feeling especially hungry, but got a lemon bar and stuck it in my trunk bag as a snack for later. The Tomales Bakery also appeared to be popular with cyclists, to judge by the crowd outside.
I also discovered that the "NOT A BANK" wifi network that my phone had detected during S's and my impromptu visit to the Continental Inn must have come from the bank-shaped building next door to the Continental Inn, which had a large "NOT A BANK" sign up at the top, about where one might expect to see the name of a bank. Another B&B
, apparently.The center building, here
From Tomales, it was time to face that fateful stretch of road again, the section between Valley Ford and Tomales where the state trooper had pulled us over on the 300k because the conditions were too gnarly. In the elevation map, you'll notice five spikes between miles 60 and 80. Those hills. Those are the ones that we struggled up in the dark, in that wild storm, where things got so bad that S had to pause and take a break, panting, halfway up the hill.
They took some work this time, but weren't so bad, really, with sunny skies and only a faint breeze. And at the turnaround point, another bakery!
I was feeling ambivalent about baked goods at this stage, but to my delight, this bakery also sold beautiful loaves of artisanal bread. I picked up a loaf of rosemary-garlic bread because it reminded me of S and his loaf of rosemary bread he won't stop talking about, and of all the other times that he and I have been out on brevets and have picked up amusing food items to haul home.
Then we turned our noses around for the return stretch.
We skipped the Tomales Bakery on the return. It wasn't a control and neither of us wanted more baked goods at that moment. Instead we just carried along until we got all the way back to Point Reyes Station. Somehow, by then found I had a renewed appetite for another baked good, this time a peanut butter bar washed down with a carton of chocolate milk. Refortified, I tackled the first climb on Sir Francis Drake, then the second one, and even that last hilly bit up and over Camino Alto to the end.The End
For me, it was a fast 200k, clocking in at 10 hours and 25 minutes, despite the leisurely bakery stops. Hopefully R enjoyed the pace, too, which gave him plenty of time to look around while I huffed and puffed my way up the hills.
Regardless, it was a relief to finish out the R-12 series. What an adventure it has been!