In A Second

I was at the end of a short bike ride near home on Moraga Way, a road I’ve very likely ridden thousands of time, so familiar to me that I know just about every one of its idiosyncrasies. I caught up with another cyclist at a stop light. The light changed and on the gentle downhill I rolled behind him. He wasn’t going very fast and I thought for a moment that I would pass him but I wasn’t in a hurry either. Out of courtesy I stayed well behind his wheel, about 50 to 100 feet, not wanting to intrude on his ‘bubble’.

There was nothing unusual about the day or traffic on the road. Moraga Way has the commuter traffic from Highway 24 in Orinda to and from Moraga. But today the traffic was perhaps just a tad lighter than usual even though it was getting close to the afternoon commute period.

Suddenly a black car jetted out from a side street. The driver was a young boy. He had a stop sign but I saw that he made no effort to stop—he foolishly jumped out into the street without even slowing down at the sign. There was no time for the rider in front of me to do anything more than reflexively turn his handlebars in a futile reaction to avoid the inevitable. The mouth of the boy driver was agape. There was a sickening crunch as the cyclist slammed into the side of the car. He flew over the hood and landed on the other side. Surprisingly he bounced up and stood—I was sure he was going to be seriously injured. He was screaming at the driver who by now was out of the car and profusely apologetic. I had barely two seconds more time to react and I heard myself scream “Oh shit!” as I slammed on the brakes and steered to the right. I barely missed the rear of the car and was shaking. (This is a situation where disc brakes really helped!) If I had passed that cyclist and been in the front it would have been I rather than he who would have been hit.

The cyclist was extremely lucky. He was able to walk and talk and didn’t seem to have any broken bones. His left hand was bleeding. His helmet appeared undamaged.

It turned out the boy didn’t have his drivers license and furthermore didn’t have the insurance papers with him. Strangely his father turned up; I wasn’t sure if he was walking outside or happened to pull up in another car. The bike had an ugly crease in the seat tube. By the looks of the bike—Zipp carbon wheels, Italian carbon, full Dura Ace, carbon everything—this was a $10,000+ bike. It wasn’t totaled but the frame was seriously messed up.

Seeing that he was okay and handling the situation I gave him my phone number and told him I had a front row seat to the whole collision.

I was shaken up partly because a seemingly minor decision to take it easy and stay behind resulted in my escaping serious injury. But this near-accident pierced that false veil of control I don every time I go for a ride. No matter how vigilant and careful I am what happens to me on the bike is not completely under my control. Whether you realize it or not we put our lives in the hands of car drivers, who treat vulnerable road users indifferently, thoughtlessly if not hostilely.

Vote

Well, everyone else seems to be focused on that other election. But we’re focused on the election that really matters: the DSSF 2020 Board! Current Different Spokes SF members are eligible to vote for the 2020 board candidates during the election period, which runs from January 1 to 31. We currently have about 73 members who may vote but only 19 of you have done so to date. (If you’re one of the 23 whose membership expired on January 1 and haven’t renewed yet, you can rejoin and then vote.) Why put it off? Just log into the DSSF website and cast your ballot before it’s too late. You’re determining the future of our club!

Yes, it’s an uncontested election with David Goldsmith nominated for President, David Gaus for Vice President, Jeff Pekrul for Secretary, and Roger Sayre for Treasurer. Yes, it’s the roughly the same ‘rogues gallery’ but you can cast a write-in vote if you really want someone else to run the club. If the election is uncontested, why is it important to vote at all? Because the board needs your support. No, not just the other members’ but yours. The club is not the board’s private fiefdom. The board is here to serve you. The board tries to do what it thinks is in the best interests of the club but ultimately it comes down to you giving input. And the most important feedback is the annual election. Voting is the easiest way to show you’re all in with the club and its current direction. (Of course, a better way to show your support is to offer your services to the club either by joining the board or volunteering in other ways such as leading a ride!)

Seriously, the board needs your vote. If your membership has recently lapsed, please rejoin. Voting is easy. If you missed it, here’s the link to the election:

Ride Recap: January Jersey Ride

Cool but dry Spokers

A “king” tide due to a full moon threatened literally to wash out the January Jersey Ride but Spokers were able to scamper down the Sausalito bike path to Tiburon and back without having to practice either their portaging skills nor their fabulous backstrokes (“Different Spokes become Different Strokes”). A quick, light rain the night before washed out the dust and smog and left everything in a brilliant light for this month’s Jersey Ride. Of course this Alaskan front also brought “chilly” temps that yet again proved we’d hardly survive a day in Minnesota–the weak die young or else move to California! Now Scott, are you showing leg because you’ve lost all feeling down there or are you just too butch to be true?

Ride Recap: New Year’s Day Up Diablo

Top of the morning to you!

Okay slackers and slackettes, you missed a stellar day to go up Mt. Diablo! This ride often is the chilliest club ride of the year. We’ve seen snow and ice and often strong wind in previous years but not today—the high on top was in the low 50s. The wind was mostly calm although around a few corner exposed to the north we got gusts that gave us a taste of just how awful it could be. But upon arriving at the summit there was no wind at all. Speaking of the top, there was a high overcast but the vistas were grand in every direction. The view was remarkable but not like one year when we could see the Sierras with snow. The Bay Area was spread out beneath us from the Antioch Bridge and the wind turbines in the Delta to San Francisco.

Just Stephen joined Roger H and me in tackling the Diablo climb, a small group but perhaps more determined and intrepid? I’m still trying to recover from the after effects of a broken collarbone and Stephen had a stressful 2019. Both of us are resolved for better health in the coming year. We weren’t burning up the pavement but it didn’t matter—we were doing it. At Pleasant Hill BART it definitely seemed cold but it was nowhere near frosty. We meandered through Walnut Creek backstreets before hitting North Gate Road. I’m not sure which route gets more cycling traffic, North Gate or South Gate. But North Gate is longer and cyclists therefore are more spread out. Despite being longer I prefer it because the section below the Junction with its series of switchbacks reminds me of riding in Europe. We were occasionally passed by cyclists but there wasn’t a long parade; it was practically deserted. And having almost no cars made it a safe(r) and pleasant uphill! At the Junction where cyclsts coming up North Gate meet those who’ve taken South Gate, it was a smaller confab than usual—why did it seem like the crowd was reduced? The weather was great and I would have thought it would bring out the throngs. Unlike last year the rangers didn’t give out free coffee and donuts. Darn.

After a short pitstop we continued up to the summit. That’s when the cars showed up, line after line. But we didn’t have to endure them roaring past us with blind abandon. The heavy signage warning cars not to pass on blind curves seems to be working despite the lack of rangers in sight; in the past two years it seemed enforcement was everywhere. Car drivers politely waited until we got to safe passing zones. We were also passed by a few cars with road bikes on their racks. Huh? So their interpretation of riding up Diablo on New Years was quite liberal.

At the top, the last ramp is a thigh-crunching 16% and it caps what is otherwise just a long but reasonable climb. We arrived at the summit parking lot full of cars and even more cyclists. We took the obligatory pics to prove we made it. (But maybe we rode up in one of those cars, you say?) It was shockingly warm, not tropical but not wintery at all. After a snack we piled the layers back on to fight the chill of the descent and headed down for lunch. Fortunately the descent had a lot fewer cars than the ascent and we didn’t get stuck behind any. We dallied at the top for maybe a half-hour. In that time someone had set up a coffee stand at Juniper parking lot. I didn’t see any rangers so I’m guessing it was a private party. Darn, got up too early!

David Goldsmith wasn’t with us to give us a descending lesson but we moved downhill at a brisk pace regardless. It was just before noon and a horde of latecomers were making their way uphill on bike and in car. We were wise to leave early to escape the late morning crush of New Years greeters. I thought we were on the late side but it turned out the two Grizzly Peak Cyclists groups must have been well behind us because we espied their yellow club jerseys as we whizzed by. I didn’t see Stephanie Clarke but I did spot Alison Stone, she of the bright pink front and rear panniers (surely you’ve seen her somewhere in the greater Bay Area). Stephen mentioned that he saw David Sexton and Gordon Dinsdale heading up, apparently having slept in. In a trice we were back at the Junction and took the left to go to Danville. At Rock City the lots were already full and we saw picnic tables full of people. The descent below the entrance gate is quick no matter how timid you are; the sight lines are pretty good in general and you have generous stretches of wide open road. At the bottom we took the cut-through into Diablo and didn’t experience any harassment or nasty looks from the locals.

In Danville we headed to Homegrown, which is in the old La Boulange space. Roger and Stephen both had the hot pastrami and I had a spicy tofu bowl along with a cup of their vegetarian chili. And hot coffee, of course. After that leisurely lunch we rolled back to Walnut Creek where Stephen caught BART and we continued back to the start at Pleasant Hill.

So starteth the New Year with a beautiful ride.

2019—Don't Look Back…

2019—A Very Good Year!

Looking back on 2019 personally it felt like a ‘lost year’. You may recall that after a scary-dry early winter it started to dump buckets in January. Challenging weather notwithstanding I did a jillion miles anyway. But the rapid increase in mileage coupled with an aging body led to hamstring tendinopathy, which took three months of absolute rest to quiet. Then at the end of July I crashed and broke a collarbone taking another three months out of riding. But for Different Spokes it was the opposite: one positive step after another setting us up for, we hope, an even better 2020!

New Kit. Working quietly in the background our apparel maven Brian cranked out two new kits for at the start of 2019, a contemporary black motif and a polar opposite rainbow splash so eye blistering that even idiots texting behind the wheel will notice you. Then to close out the year Brian gets us windbreakers, tights, and bibknickers for this winter. Kudos, Brian!

New Website. Ho-hum, it’s so 2019 you say? Although the 2018 and 2019 boards both ushered in our new face, the heavy lifting was done by Nick Kovaleski and David Goldsmith, who did the design and set-up with able assistance from our previous longtime webmaster Jerome Thomere in the porting over of our resources from his website. Although still a work-in-progress, our website now has integrated communication, email, membership management, and calendaring making it much easier to stay in contact with all of you. Thanks Nick, David, and Jerome!

Saddle Challenge. The 18th Saddle Challenge last March started without a hitch but ended with a big surprise: Project Inform, the beneficiary, closed its doors leaving us with, well, a charity effort without a charity. The future of Saddle Challenge as a charity fundraiser is unclear—what do you think? I’ll follow up on this topic in a future ChainLetter article. We raised a modest sum of $244, which the participants generously agreed to donate to the club to purchase a one-year trial of an all-club RideWithGPS membership. Thanks, Saddle Challengers!

Pride Ride. The Pride Ride has had an up-and-down history. Back in the day we didn’t have a Pride Ride because we were too busy getting ready to march in the parade on Sunday. It was really only after we stopped marching and staffing a booth at Pride that the Ride came into being as a regular offering. Interest has waxed and waned (but mostly waned) perhaps due to the route varying in length and difficulty. But we now seem to have hit upon a ‘Goldilocks’ route—neither too long or difficult nor too short—and coupled with some basic publicity and auspicious weather really brought out the crowd: at least 27. It wasn’t just sheer number either; we had participants from around the Bay Area and three from London. Thanks to Sal Tavormina and David Gaus for leading!

Meet Up. We’d been eyeing Meet Up with some interest for a few years and this year we finally pulled the trigger and set up a DSSF Meet Up site as a six-month experiment in outreach. We had mixed success—we brought in a few members but hardly any MU folks came on club rides. Ginny Watson put a superb effort into setting up the site, communicating with members, and especially in leading Mellow Rides. Nonetheless we pulled the site in November after lackluster interest. Although Meet Up turned out not to be a compatible venue for us, it taught us a valuable lesson in whom we should be reaching out to. Thanks again to Ginny for her leadership and hard work!

Before Work Morning Rides. We have had Social A rides, an occasional mountain bike ride, after work rides, and a few years ago even a weekday series of rides for those who either don’t work or work nontraditional schedules. But we hadn’t had something that is actually a staple of the racing crowd: an early morning pre-work ride. Perhaps it’s because most Spokers can’t don’t get up early enough. Well, Ginny and David Goldsmith, both early risers, led a few this year and although they didn’t get a great turnout, they had great fun romping up the Headlands to blast the soot out of the carburators before getting on with the less important part of the day.

Return of the Getaway Weekend. The club has had a long history of weekend cycling trips starting with a self-supported four-day trip from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and back in 1982 (over Thanksgiving weekend no less!) But the popular trips were two- or three-day trips to Guerneville and Lake Tahoe and later, to Amador County where we don’t have to schlep our make-up kits and boudoir outfits in–eek!–panniers. Roger and I put together an easy weekend in Monterey with a house rental where the group could prepare meals together and hang out. Along with folks who drove down for the day we had a couple of great rides, a delicious group dinner, and interesting conversation. This year David Gaus is putting together another Amador County Weekend in early October.

Annual Picnic. After a big turnout in 2018 when Bill Knudsen moved the Picnic back to Golden Gate Park after more than 20 years elsewhere, we thought, “Well, why fool with success?” Only this year the weather didn’t cooperate—isn’t that the reason it moved out of the Park?—and we had a light turnout. But we did try something different this year, a sandwich bar instead of a grill, and people were very pleased. Maybe in 2020 we’ll look into a warmer location!

RideWithGPS. Santa came early this year for the club. After the Saddle Challenge riders donated their orphaned funds to the club, we splurged and got a one-year subscription for a RideWithGPS club account. That club subscription meant every member of Different Spokes would be able to use RideWithGPS as if they had a paid subscription so you all could create your own routes and post them to the DSSF RWGPS account in our club library. Having a club subscription also makes annotating rides with images, history, and notes easy in addition to providing the usual map, cue sheet, route profile, and points of interest. We all we have to do is teach members how to use this fantastic resource.

More Membership Meetings. The club has four annual events that constitute “member” meetings—the Kick-Off Meeting, the Picnic, the Fall Social, and the Holiday Party, which is the minimum required by our bylaws. The Orinda Pool Party could also be included in the count but it’s not one of the “official” club events. Then David Goldsmith decided to pull off an ad hoc meeting just for fun. Ari at Bespoke Cycles was enthusiastic about having the club come for an evening and thus was born a fifth membership meeting in 2019. Those who attended had a great time. Now we’re thinking about more membership meetings in 2020. Do you have an idea for a meeting, a venue and topic? Let us know! Member meetings are a chance to get together around cycling and socialize sans cycling drag. And thanks to David and Ari for putting on the show!

We Recruit. In a heartening development our membership number went up significantly. We started the year somewhere around 69 (appropriate, n’est-ce pas?) and now we’re at 95. We’re getting close to the number where the membership fees will actually pay off our regular bills. Although the Jock Sunday at the Lookout fundraiser was a success yet again, it would be nice not to have to depend on the kindness of strangers in order to stay solvent. If your membership expired on January 1, we hope you’ll look back on the great year you had with Different Spokes and renew your membership tout de suite!

Ride Recap: Last Call for the Jimtown Store

Jimtown Store pulled pork sandwiches

Yesterday’s ride from Healdsburg to lunch at the Jimtown Store highlighted many of the aspects of Northern California winter cycling I love. Those of you who cring at riding in anything less than 60F are truly missing out.

Out of the blue we got a crisp, clear, sunny day with mostly dry roads. A clear winter sky, of course, means a cold morning as all the residual heat of the previous day has radiated away without impediment. At Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg it was 38 degrees. Roger and I had ridden the day before, a jaunt over the newly opened Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to Marin and back; it had been chilly and we knew today would be even chillier up in Healdsburg. So we were both bundled in multiple layers, fleece tights, lots of wool, thick gloves, you name it. Downtown Bakery is the morning hangout in Healdsburg and the only reason there were a handful of people outside enjoying their morning brew was because the inside, which is moderately copious, was packed with those bristling at the cold weather. A hot, fresh coffee and a pain au chocolat in hand I trotted back outside to await the others while enjoying the sunshine and the chilling, tingling sensation on my face.

Donald Cremers and David Gaus joined Roger and me for the ride along Wine Country Century roads to the Jimtown Store for a farewell lunch. Rana was going to join us but she got stuck in Southern California with the Grapevine being shut down and couldn’t make it back in time for the ride and a pulled pork sandwich. Interestingly all four of us had road bikes with disc brakes. Sigh. It’s the end of an era, folks. All of us also had ‘fat’ road tires and I had the skinniest at 28mm. We live in interesting times. Nevertheless for Sonoma county roads the fatter the better because road maintenance up there is literally sketchy. There are long sections of reasonable asphalt and then you hit something that seems headed for Planet of the Apes status as you bounce your way through cracks, pavement heaves, humungous potholes, and weird county patch jobs.

The early start was chilly but that meant hardly any cars. Certainly no one was going wine tasting yet. The roll south on Eastside was barely warming—we weren’t going fast and the sun only occasionally made it over the trees and hillsides to cast its warming gaze on us. It wouldn’t be until we crossed Wohler Bridge and got onto Westside that we’d be on the sunny side of the street. We stopped at Wohler Bridge to take some shots. No one else was out except for rabid fly fishers in the river below. It was a different experience rolling along the roads that are such a familiar sight as part of the annual Wine Country Century: this morning there was almost no one else about. Westside was eerily quiet—I mentioned to Donald it felt a lot like riding in Europe with nearly deserted rural roads peppered with astonishingly scenic vistas around many a corner. The hillsides and fields so sere just over a month ago were now sprouting green grass. Occasional cyclists roared past us; we were moseying, not racing to get to Jimtown. We stopped for an occasional drink, pee, or to snack; it would be nearly 40 miles before we’d have lunch!

When we got to Jimtown, we were greeted with a packed house. The word had gotten out that it was just days from closing and people were crowding the normally quiet restaurant. Everyone knew that pulled pork was the specialty of the house and though those orders were hot and heavy, the kitchen pumped them out quickly and expertly. Poor David ordered a vegan banh mi sandwich and he didn’t get his until the three of us were well finished sucking down our pulled pork masterpieces. Speaking of the pulled pork, I’m going to miss it. A lot. Jimtown sandwiches aren’t large but they pile the perfect amount of pickles and cole slaw on top. It doesn’t overwhelm the pulled pork and if you’re reasonably careful you can eat it with both hands without drooling sauce and sandwich fragments pell-mell. Oh, and the bun is crispy—you can hear it ‘crack’ with each bite. Awesome. It’s now a part of history. Sigh.

Everybody was enjoying their meal. Hardly any words were exchanged but it had been 40 miles of anticipation (and whetted appetite). As we sat outside eating we had a front row seat at the piles of people and cyclists rolling up and getting ready to munch down. When we arrived the bike rack was empty but now it was completely full. As we chatted and eyed the happy crowd, we could see the hilltops had been burned by fire, which is part of the reason Jimtown was closing. Housing in Sonoma is a scarce commodity after the fires and working people are being priced out. (Sound familiar?)

Eventually it was time to go. I could have eaten TWO sandwiches but if I had I would have sunk into a food coma and never made it back to Healdsburg, just six miles away, without a serious nap first. Also, Noble Pies was awaiting us.

The roll back was an easy, flat six miles. When we got back to Downtown Bakery, no one wanted to get pie (!) Those sandwiches were plenty for lunch! (And six miles isn’t enough to prep for serious pie.)

Unless someone decides to buy Jimtown Store and keep it as is, that will be the last Different Spokes ride there. Of course you’ll still pass the building on the Wine Country Century. But it won’t be the same. Adieu, Jimtown.

2020 Century Rides, Part 1

Crater Lake Century

2020 is nigh and so the beginning of a new year of centuries and gran fondos. They start up quickly, folks, with the Tour de Palm Springs and Velo Love Ride in early February. Here’s the early bird information list. All fees listed are for registration now and most go up as the events get closer.

This list goes through June 2020. Many rides in the second half of the year don’t have information posted yet; Part 2 will follow later in 2020. Below includes a lot of ‘old standards’ that Spokers have enjoyed over the years. I’ve also included some that are farther afield and look interesting, as far north as nearly the Oregon border. The Greater SF Bay Area is blessed with a multitude of century and gran fondo rides of which these are just a subset. Starting in April things really heat up and you’ll be able to find a big ride almost every weekend.

Ridership in local centuries generally seems to be on the wane. For example, the Cinderella Classic has been around since 1976 and until recent years had a limit of 2,000 riders, I believe. This year’s limit is down to 800. Having worked registration for over 15 years I can tell you that the numbers have tumbled. Is it because centuries are no longer a ‘thing’, women-only rides are passé (are we post-feminist too?), Valley Spokesmen is tired of fighting the local authorities around permits for such a large event on public roads, or it just can’t muster enough volunteers to hold such a large event anymore? The latter is clearly taking place at the Sierra Century. The Sacramento Wheelmen do not have enough members, particularly new members, to step up and run the event. Cycling clubs are mostly aging up with thin ranks of younger members. The reason for this is unclear. Although cycling is enjoying a boom (yet again), newer cyclists may not be joining clubs.

Fortunately into the breach have stepped a number of local charity organizations to invent and put on new centuries. Local Lions Clubs and Rotary International sections seem to be common sponsors for smaller rides. One could say they’re riding the charity ride wave and that’s good news for those of us who appreciate riding in different areas on new-to-us roads.  How many of these will last is questionable because it takes a significant effort to put on a fundraising ride, mainly lots of volunteers and yearlong planning. Different Spokes put on the AIDS Bike-A-Thon for ten years before the leadership and the membership just burned out. So if you see a ride that looks interesting you may want to sign up because there is no guarantee it will be there in 2021.

January

1 Wednesday. Resolution Ride/New Year Day Up Diablo.  Technically it’s not a century or a gran fondo but the NYDUD coming during the winter doldrums will feel like one! And what better way to rid a hangover than to get up early and head to the top of Mt. Diablo? If you do nothing else in 2020, you’ll still be able to say you made it up the second highest peak in the Bay Area. If we’re lucky, the park rangers will again have coffee and donuts at the Junction and Roger H and I won’t have to schlep them all up for you.

February

8 Saturday. Tour de Palm Springs. $80. Registration is open. Here’s your chance to check out your retirement options by cycling in the Palm Springs area! It’s a schlep to get to Palm Springs but Spokers who’ve been say it’s worth it. Options for 9, 26, 51, or 102 miles.

8 Saturday. Velo Love Ride. [UPDATE 1/6/20: CANCELLED. It seems Chico Velo needed an event organizer and they couldn’t get one this year, alas. I know they also lost their longtime caterer. This event has been held for ages, so this does not bode well for the future.] A low-key event with a flat ride around the Sutter Buttes outside of Chico. Starts in Gridley just north of Yuba City—a much easier schlep than Palm Springs. The meal at the end is worth it. Has a real “locals” feel rather than the usual mass-event mosh pit vibe. Sponsored by Chico Velo, the same fine folks who put on the Chico Wildflower. 40-, 60- and 100-mile options. I’ve been assured by Chico Velo that the Velo Love ride is going to be held even though the Chico Velo site is mum about it now. They also accept late registrations so if rain is threatening, you can make your decision later.

22 Saturday. Pedaling Paths to Independence. $45-40. Registration is open. 65-, 45- or 20-mile routes. This is a pretty easy metric in the Valley that is a benefit for the Community Center for the Blind. It’s cheap too. Mostly flat and not too demanding unless the wind is blowing. A good early season ride. Starts in Linden, east of Stockton.

March

7 Saturday. Blossom Bike Ride. $50. Registration is open. Put on by the Lions Club, the Blossom Bike Ride is in Reedley southeast of Fresno, about 3.5 hours from SF. Another flattish Central Valley ride and good for starting the riding season and Saddle Challenge. 60-, 45-, and 20-mile options.

14 Saturday. Solvang Century. $99. Registration is open. It’s a long after-work Friday drive down to Solvang but you get to amble back home on Sunday. (But DST does begin that morning.) And be sure to reserve a motel room well in advance. Solvang is a big event with thousands of cyclists. If you like crowds, this is your ride. The rest stop food is perfunctory yet ample but no lunch or after-ride meal is included. 25-, 49-, 66-, and 100-mile options.

28 Saturday. Cinderella Classic & Challenge. Registration opens January 8. $40/$65. Limited to 800 women and girls. 30, 65 or 85 miles. Sponsored by Valley Spokesmen, the very first women/girls only century ride is now in its 44th year. Boys will have to settle for Different Spokes’s very own Evil Stepsisters ride!

April

4-5 Saturday/Sunday. L’Eroica California. $130/$220. Registration is open. 33-, 74-, 81-, and 108-mile routes for classic bikes; 81-mile route for all bikes. The rides are part of the two-day festival of vintage bicycles held in Paso Robles. You have to have a vintage bike to participate in the Sunday classic ride, e.g. no STI-like shifters, no clipless pedals, basically no bikes made before 1987 and the older the better for the classic routes. But you can ride your modern bike on the 82-mile route on Saturday. Retro-poseurs need apply. And wear wool!

18 Saturday. Sea Otter Classic. $90-110. Registration is open. Did you know the Sea Otter Classic is more than a glitter show of new bike products and race watching? Two gran fondos at 49 or 91 miles. Also a gravel grinder of 29 miles and a mountain bike ride of 19 miles.

18 Saturday. Bike Around The Buttes. $55-40. Registration opens Jan. 1. 100-, 65-, 40-, and 20-mile routes. If you can’t make it to Chico Velo’s Velo Love Ride, this ride covers similar roads in the Sutter Buttes area.

CANCELLED. Sierra Century. This long-time spring century by Sacramento Wheelmen is on hiatus because, “Sadly, this event has been cancelled due to an inability to recruit new club members to take over critical leadership positions for the event. Whether this event is ever offered again depends, at least in part, on the future well-being of the club, which now needs to focus on attracting and integrating new members so that a next generation of Wheelmen will be prepared to do so.” Sad yet understandable.

19 Sunday. Primavera Century. $65 Registration is open. 100-, 85-, 63- and 25-mile routes. Starts conveniently in Fremont but too early to get there by BART (except for the 25-mile fun ride).

25 Saturday. Tierra Bella. $55/$70. Registration is open. Limit of 1,500. A club fav and it’s close by in Gilroy. Great roads, which are not suburbanized (yet). Post-ride meal is pretty good too. For unknown karmic reasons this ride gets horrendously rained out periodically. But in dry years it’s a fantastic ride. 33-mile, 100-mile, or three 100K options varying in hilliness.

25 Saturday? Mt. Hamilton Challenge. For the past three years the Mt. Hamilton Challenge has been cancelled due to weather or road closure. But Pedalera promises it will be back for 2020.

25 Saturday. SLO Wildflower Century.  $75. Registration opens Jan. 5. Limit of 1,200. Starts in Creston  southeast of Paso Robles.

26 Sunday. Chico Wildflower. $45/$75. Registration is open. 12-, 30-, 60-, 65-, 100-, and 125-mile routes. This century is a club favorite. Spokers usually arrange to have dinner together the night before in Chico. Booking lodging requires advance planning, as the Wildflower will fill up all the motel rooms in the area. If you can take Monday off from work, so much the better because you will almost certainly be whipped after the ride and the excellent post-ride dinner–driving back right after is just a chore.

May

2 Saturday. Wine Country Century. $70-110. Registration is open. 100-mile, metric, and ‘super’ century. Cap of 2,500. Another club fave. Good lunch, great after-ride meal, awesome tandem friendly rural roads.

2 Saturday. Siskiyou Scenic Bicycle Tour. $65-15. Registration is open. 103-, 68-, 21-, and 8-mile road routes; also a 90-mile mixed surface route! End-of-ride meal. This ride is run by the Yreka Rotary Club and takes you on rural roads north of Mt. Shasta.

3 Sunday. Grizzly Peak Century. $75. Registration opens mid-January. 52-, 76-, 102-mile road routes. Capped at 1,000 riders. Starts in Moraga so very easy to get to except not by BART because BART doesn’t open up early enough. The GPC is most definitely not a flat route–it’s a climber’s ride. This one always sells out, so don’t wait too long after registration opens, which I am guessing will be around the New Year. The end-of-ride meal is most definitely homemade and delicious.

16 Saturday. Davis Double. $120? Registration usually opens in March. Limit of 1,000. No information yet but the DD always takes place. This is one of the easier double centuries as long as it’s not hot.

16 Saturday. Tour de la Vigne  Formerly the Lodi Sunrise Century. $65. 100-, 62-, 38-, and 17-mile routes. Starts in the Valley in Lodi and heads up to Camanche Reservoir and back through Linden. If you’re not up for 200 miles at Davis.

17 Sunday. Strawberry Fields Forever. $45 No information yet. 30-, 61-, and 101-mile routes. A pleasant ride in the Santa Cruz and Watsonville area.

30 Saturday. Devil’s Slide Ride.  $90/$45. Registration is open. 101-, 64-, and 42-mile routes down the San Mateo coast and up the Coast Range and back. A benefit for PARCA.

June

7 Sunday. Sequoia Century. $95-45. Registration opens Jan. 2. 100-, 72-, 59-, and 44-mile routes through the Coast Range to the coast and back. Another longtime, epic ride.

13 Saturday. Gold Country Cycling Challenge.  $70-45. Registration is open.  The Rotary Club of Grass Valley sponsors this one for the seventh time.  100-, 75-, 55, and 33-mile routes from Grass Valley north to the South Yuba River and back. There are actually three paved rides and three “gravel” rides!

20 Saturday. Mile High 100. $85-55. Formerly the Lake Almanor Century. 108-, 56-, and 33-mile routes. Near Lassen Volcanic Park. Mid-ride lunch and after-ride meal included.

20 Saturday. RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley. $725/245. Registration is open. Yes, your read that right: $725 for a friggin’ 71-mile ride from Palo Alto to the San Mateo coast and back along the roads we ride all the time—Kings Mtn., Tunitas Creek, Stage Road, Pescadero Creek, La Honda Road. For the venture capitalist in your family. Well, you don’t have to drive far to do this one. Or you could just do the Sequoia, which is not only way less expensive but supports a great local club, Western Wheelers, instead of profiteering carpetbaggers.