This past weekend I rode the Sky Londa 300k brevet with Santa Cruz 
Randonneurs.  I rode my 56cm, single top tube, cantilever-brake, orange 
Samuel Hillborne.  Executive summary: the ride went great.  The bike did 
perfectly.  I'm hoping to do my 400k in two weeks.  

Bike details: I ran 700x35 Compass Bon Jon Pass (standard) tires.  HED 
Belgium wheels.  SP dynamo.  1x9 drivetrain 42x(11-32).  Loyal designs 
handlebar bag.  VO fenders.  

The ride started at 6:00AM Saturday morning at the Santa Cruz Lighthouse.  
I set my alarm for 2:45, and started driving at 3:40.  I parked near the 
finish and rode to the start, just on time.  It was raining quite hard, 
which discouraged some starters apparently, as there were only 8 of us at 
the start. Fortunately it was not cold all day. Santa Cruz Randonneurs is a 
small but prestigious chapter of RUSA; prestigious because they are led by 
RUSA #7 Bill Bryant and RUSA #8 Lois Springstein, both of whom having 
served as RUSA president (I'm #6551).  I had done a version of this course 
in 15 hours on the dot a few years ago, and I had the goal to cut a 
significant amount off that time.  Despite the heavy rain I was determined 
to settle into a brisk but sustainable pace.  I figured out pretty quickly 
that the other 7 riders were content to take a more slow-and-steady 
approach, so I went out alone off the front.  The rain and wind were both 
pretty severe.  Big, heavy raindrops just soaked everything, and the 
headwind was as strong as locals know to expect from the coast.  The course 
followed the course North as the skies started to get lighter.  The first 
welcome sidetrack off of coastal Hwy 1 went along Gazos Creek Road.  A tiny 
narrow canyon with a very vigorously flowing creek.  The rain began to let 
up as I entered the canyon, and I was completely alone.  No cars or people 
at all.  It was beautiful, and I stopped for a selfie:

Flickr Link to Gazos Creek Selfie 

I started riding again but was distracted by how beautiful everything much so that I didn't notice the fallen tree in the road.  I saw 
it at the last moment but still crashed into it.  It wasn't a bad crash but 
a branch whacked my chin pretty good, and I was bleeding.  I was mostly 
thankful that nobody saw me, because it was an embarrassing move, like 
hitting a parked car or something.  I took inventory and meekly continued.  
The first control was in the tiny town of Pescadero (mile 34).  I grabbed a 
coffee at the cafe, which has a couple character pieces that remind me of 
Riv whenever I'm there: they sell and play vinyl records, and they have a 
hat-rack stocked with vintage baseball gloves for sale.  It's a cute spot.  

Flickr Link to Pescadero Control 

At a 'control' you have to prove you were there, on time, so you typically 
get a printed receipt.  This cafe didn't print receipts so we hand-wrote 
one on a business card.  While we were figuring that out two other Randos 
rolled up, both on traditional road bikes.  One was a titanium Seven, and 
the other was a steel SOMA.  We said hello, but I was soon on my way.  It 
was still raining but very lightly.  The course returned to Hwy 1 and 
continued North briefly before turning back inland for the first 
siginificant climb into the redwoods.  At the end of Purisma Creek Road 
there was an "info control" (mile 51).  The club posted a plastic sign high 
on a post with "SCR" on the top line and a three digit code on the bottom 
line.  You have to find the sign and write the code on your brevet card to 
prove you were there.  I moved on and finished the climb and had a very fun 
descent back to Hwy 1 and hit the nothernmost point of the route at the 
"Easy Mart" in Half Moon Bay (mile 64).  At this point I was feeling 
great.  This was the farthest North I'd be.  This was the farthest from my 
car I would be.  The wind would blow me to the south for the rest of the 
day.  I knew this was going to be totally do-able.  

Flickr Link to the Easy Mart 

Southbound AT SPEED was really fun. Cruising along easily at ~21mph was 
pretty great.  The Bon Jon Pass tires at ~45psi were just singing.  At mile 
75 I turned back inland on La Honda Road for the biggest climb of the day, 
up to Sky Londa.  In the flatter lower section of the climb, a ladybug 
landed on my GPS and rode along for the entire climb.  Freeloader!  

Link to Instagram movie of ladybug (hopefully) 

My 1x9 drivetrain did fantastic all day.  I had everything I needed, 
nothing I didn't, and the steps between never struck me as too large.  If 
you asked me to throw away one of the 9 gears, I would have ditched the 
11.  The grades only got over 10% for brief periods so my 36" low gear was 
plenty low enough. I never wanted for a lower one. Things would have been 
different if I was carrying more gear, but with a ~35 pound bike, it was 
plenty.  At Mile 90 I was at the top of the long climb in Sky Londa, next 
to Alices Restaurant, a favorite of the South Bay motorcycle community.  I 
just stopped at the market:

Flickr Link to Sky Londa 

The descent through the redwoods yielded some technology amusement.  The 
GPS unit calculates your speed based on GPS position.  Your position blinks 
in and out because of the trees.  When it reaquires, it catches you up.  I 
briefly was given credit for a max speed of 82mph.  Later it corrected to 
only 44mph.  With the descent and the tailwind, it felt like I just had to 
coast to mile 140 back in Santa Cruz.  I visited my van and replaced my 
still-wet socks with dry ones, and ditched all my removed rain gear.  I 
felt like I was wasting time, and jumped back on the bike to find my rear 
tire was totally flat.  I was bummed that I had a flat but grateful that it 
happened while I was at my van.  I swapped the tube out in comfort and 
found the tack that I had run over.  I only carried one spare tube, so I 
stuffed the punctured one in my handlebar bag, just in case I needed to do 
a patch down the road.  I finally got moving again, but I was a little bit 
salty over the delays.  

The final section was an out and back to the farming area of Watsonville.  
This section was not a lot of fun.  First, I had to pass through numerous 
traffic signals through Santa Cruz, Cabrillo and Aptos.  There was also a 
ton of car traffic.  Outside of town, the farm roads were riddled with huge 
potholes and repairs.  I was glad not to be negotiating those roads in the 
dark or in the rain.  In the 'middle of nowhere' there was another 
information control, and I turned back to retrace my route.  I was then 
reminded what a luxury the tail wind had been because now I was grinding 
home into the teeth of it.  It was kind of brutal.  Despite the loud rush 
of wind in my ears I heard a disconcerting knock from my bike.  I stopped 
to check it out and sure enough my fender had rattled loose at the seatstay 
bridge.  I kind of kicked myself.  I had re-installed the fenders 
last-minute, in response to the weather report. I knew I had used a 3mm pan 
head bolt there, and I knew that was the only 3mm allen bolt on the bike.  
When I was checking my repair kit the night before I considered adding a 
3mm key to my kit and decided NOT TO.  Why?  Grams!  Dangit.  I hoped that 
the bolt wouldn't loosen any more because I was really only 15 miles from 
the finish.....I got about a half mile before the bolt fell out entirely 
and now the fender was flopping onto the tire.  Crap.  I stopped and 
removed one water bottle cage and stuffed that empty bottle and cage into 
my jersey pocket.  I used one of those water bottle bolts to replace the 
lost fender bolt on the side of the farm road in the dusk.  It was a hack 
repair, but I got it done.  

I rolled through the remaining traffic signals and finished at ~8:30PM.  13 
hours and 4 minutes rolling time, and 14 hours 36 minutes on the wall clock 
for my 188 mile, 10,058 foot day.  SCR events finish in Bill Bryant's back 
yard.  I was the first finisher, and it looks like they only had 5 people 
finish.  Bill gave me a chocolate milk, validated my card and I was good to 
go.  Just in case, my van had a sleeping bag and mat, but I managed to stay 
awake for the drive back home.

So, Sam did spectacularly well again.  My contact points (tush, hands and 
feet) all did great.  I have no doubts I can do a 400 on Sam.  It weighs 
more than a stripped down road bike, but there's not a more comfortable, 
stable, and reliable all-road machine in my opinion.  It's weight didn't 
prevent me from having a great day out on the roads, and finishing 2-4 
hours sooner than folks on skinny tire carbon and ti bikes.  

Bill Lindsay
El Cerrito, CA 

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