The Del Puerto Canyon 200k is a favorite of many San Francisco Randonneurs and I had the pleasure of riding it last year with some good friends. This year I was the lone boy on the hood available for the ride but I still made plans to attend as it was the last sanctioned ride of the year. The situation brought back dreaded memories of high school social gatherings and college parties where I had so much anxiety about who I would socialize with during the festivities. I tried to shove back the memories of awkward social interactions and hoped for the best.
I ended up volunteering for the start control of the ride which meant catching the 5:58am train from the 24th St Mission BART station. It was nice to meet all the other generous souls who help assist in making brevets go that much smoother. With about 130 riders showing up at the start control, it was important to handle all the sign-in’s and distribute brevet cards effectively. In the midst of the madness, I saw some familiar faces and exchanged greetings but I was trying to get everyone signed up until the final minute of the ride so I totally forgot to put on gloves or a vest, and ended up riding the first 10 miles of the ride looking like a total rebel (truth be told, I was freezing).
The first quarter of the ride is pretty forgettable but it was nice to sit in the pack and chat with familiar faces. Once the pack began to separate from one another, I found myself with Manny “Unraveling Bar Tape” Acosta and Mr. Quarterly Bicycle.
Manny was his good ol’ jovial self, and we talked about life, the universe and everything. Mr. Quarterly Bicycle proved he was a scholar by pointing out the different types of trees (ghost pines, he calls em’) and birds spotted along the route. He also demonstrated that he was a gentleman by making sure to grab my wallet which had unknowingly hopped out of my box bag after the second control. Later on, he simply proved that he is just a rando hooligan.
It isn’t until the halfway mark of the ride that I think the route begins to become extraordinarily beautiful. It’s desolate, yet stunning at the same time. Of course, the hottest time of the day also had to coincide with the section with the only major climbs of the route.
By the time we reached The Junction Cafe everyone was in the mood to just hang out. Which was good, as the tiny cafe was swarmed by the group of hungry randonneurs which lead to a long wait time for food. We sat around, shared stories, and I even got some good advice from “Ol Grumpy” who told me the forgotten rule of rando is to just stop caring. It sounds simple enough, but often times during brevets I develop so much anxiety about the weather, the road conditions, the directions and the next control point, that it’s nice to just remember to mellow out.
I spent the last section of the ride with Carlos D, Stephen H, and Jack Moonbeam and before I knew it we were back at the Starbucks in Pleasanton.
It’s been two full seasons since I first started randonneuring and I realized I still have a lot to learn. One common thing I heard during the ride was that many riders mentioned reading about this pseudo brevet and expressing awe and amazement at the photos and words that accompanied the ride report. That’s all fine and dandy but I think riders need to remember that “impossible is nothing” and that just because they don’t have fancy support wagons and sponsors out the wazoo, it doesn’t make their rides any less worthy of applause. I definitely saw proof as I rode along side 130 or so riders who completed this ride and now have equally interesting stories to pass along.