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There is no joy on Joy Road
San Francisco 400
by Ken Bonner

Once again, I had the pleasure of riding across the Golden Gate Bridge ... in the dark! The benefit of an early start on this brevet is that while riding to the start at the south end of the GG Bridge, I was blessed with a wonderful view of most of a moon setting over the lighted GG Bridge. Awesome, particularly when contrasted to the heavy rain I rode through to the start of the SF 300k

Although a very romantic setting, the south viewpoint of the GG Bridge is a very cold place in the early morning and late evening. I was very impressed with the positive and up-beat volunteers who chatted-up the riders, despite the cold breezes blowing in off the water.

The first 30k was the same route as the 300k, crossing the GG Bridge and swooping down into Sausalito and then a gentle climb down into the world of stop signs and traffic lights. This bit of the route is somewhat like riding around Greater Victoria (lots of route cues, but basically follow a bike route). HINT: Best to link up with local riders who know the route!

Very quickly, we are on scenic, undulating country roads, with minimum navigation skills required. The temperature at the start of this brevet was about 8C. Once we rode into the valleys, it dropped to close to 4C. B-r-r-r! (Reportedly, this was a warm year, last year the temps. dropped to freezing!) By 2 p.m., the temp. hit about 26C and by 6 pm was dropping rapidly once again.

On the SF 300, we had some beautiful coastal ocean views! This time, we were treated to some spectacular alpine-like pasture land. After 'another' 6-8% 2k climb, we were treated to a dazzling scene of steep, green fields dotted with grazing cattle, highlighted by the early rays of the rising sun piercing the remnants of early morning fog! Too bad Ray Parker was not on hand to capture the magic of this wonderful scene!

Of course, what goes up, comes down. There were many fast descents with nary a stop sign in sight!

Which brings me to Joy Road. This was obviously a 'high' point of the ride, as I heard many comments about 'Joy Road' from riders at the start of the brevet. Some compared it to the Cobb Mountain ascent on the Davis 300k (the one where perspiration dripped off my forehead like rain-drops). The debate was whether or not, Joy Road was longer and/or more difficult than Cobb Mountain!

Fortunately, Joy Road is only about 110k into the 400k. A pleasant tree-shaded, undulating, slightly bumpy paved road, reminiscent of Vancouver Island rural roads, Joy Road is a change of pace from the other roads we have travelled so far. Very quickly the pace slows to a crawl, as the grades seem to vary from 12-14% for an interminable period of time. Every once in a while, the pedalling becomes easier, only 10%! There is NO joy on Joy Road!

Joy Road is not the only significant climb, but it is the one that hits one between the eyes! This ride is meant for 'climbers'. I am not one of those folks! My cyclecomputer measured a total elevation gain of 14,000 feet over the 400k. Just to add to the challenge, there was a stretch of about 80k in the hot afternoon of strong headwinds! I am head-wind challenged also, but managed to convince myself to struggle on with the mantra 'the wind is my friend, it will make me stronger'.

Having ridden several brevets out of San Francisco and Davis, I highly recommend that B.C. randonneurs consider riding some brevets in N. California. In February and March, don't count on warm, sunny weather. Although you might be lucky, be prepared for some of our good old B.C. coastal weather. The local riders are friendly and welcoming!

Ride date: March 27, 2010

Go to: Results (San Francisco Randonneurs)
Go to: Out of Province Brevets page.


March 28, 2010