Cinderfellas

Grrls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Boys, this year is finally your chance to ride the Cinderella Classic & Challenge. How’s that, you say? Isn’t the Cinderella the women/girl-only century ride in the East Bay? Yes, for the first 44 years of its existence the Cinderella has been female (gender) only. But this year the live Cinderella has been replaced with a virtual event and anyone can ride it. All you have to do is register, pay the fee, and then go do a ride—it doesn’t even have to be one of the official Cinderella routes—and you’ll be entered into a raffle to win some great prizes. How many miles you ride determines your fee, $25 to $45. Those funds go to replace the funds lost by not having a live Cinderella and are donated by the Valley Spokesmen (sic) to a host of non-profits and women’s organizations.

In previous years Different Spokes boys were so envious of the girls who could do the Cinderella that they created their own counter-event, the Evil Stepsisters. But this year you too can be the Belle of the Ball so there’s no need to seek out evil on Mt. Tam.

The virtual Cinderella can be ridden from Saturday May 15 through Sunday May 23. If you haven’t ridden one of the Cinderella routes, the most recent versions have started at Las Positas College north of Livermore rather than the traditional Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. The Classic is a 65-mile jaunt that weaves counterclockwise on roads through Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore before returning to the college. The longer Challenge adds on Patterson Pass Road to the Altamont Pass before returning. There is also a very pleasant, briefer 31-mile route through Livermore.

Maybe someone in the club would like to volunteer to lead the club on the virtual ride this year? (hint, hint.)

You can read the details and register at the Cinderella site.

Summer 2021 Centuries [updated 5/12/21]

Almost all—but not all—spring century rides have been cancelled or converted into virtual events where you do a ride on your own; some are entertaining postponing their rides to the fall and the result is a very dense selection of events in September and October. Postponing is risky because the future state of the pandemic is not easy to predict. Will stay-at-home orders and social distancing still be in effect in the Bay Area and will local governing bodies refuse to give out permits for large events? Club or organization volunteers also need to feel safe enough to be willing to staff an event involving a lot of social contact.

The prospect of centuries during the summer is more likely than spring but that still doesn’t mean clubs are fully committing to hosting their rides. Despite problems with vaccine distribution approximately 2.5 million Californians, or about 6% of the state, has received at least one shot, which will provide them with at least partial protection. Those folks will receive their second shot within weeks if not already. It’s also good news that the current approved vaccines are providing some protection against the known variants such as the UK, Brazil, and South African. We can expect vaccinations to accelerate with more FDA approvals and the distribution system to improve with time. Even at the roughly current rate of about 6% per month, by end of June only about 40% of the state will be vaccinated; by end of September about 60% of the state will have been vaccinated, which is getting close to herd immunity. So things are looking good for fall. (But we thought the same last year and were blindsided by a surge in early summer.) The tricky one is summer: will the threat have abated enough that rides can proceed? These clubs and organizations have more time to ponder their future, so we may be pleasantly surprised come June with open events.

To view the current status of spring and early summer centuries, go to an earlier post. I’ll try to keep this post updated as I have the earlier one.

?Saturday, June 26: Giro Bello. No word yet. Rescheduled to Saturday, September 25. Registration to open on June 1. Due to the conflict with the Wine Country Century, the events have been combined.
Saturday July 17: Death Ride. $169-149. Registration is open.
Saturday July 17: Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge. 127, 102, 45 mi and 100k routes. Will either be cancelled or a virtual event. The 2020 CZU fire damaged sections of the routes.
Saturday July 17: Fall River Challenge. No word yet. 200k, 100-mile, 100k & 25 mile routes. $45-65. In 2020 this century was postponed from 6/14 to 7/18 and actually took place. Registration is open. Limited to 500 riders. (!)
?Saturday August 7Saturday October 2: Marin Century. The sponsoring club, Marin Cyclists, is not yet hosting rides of any sort and the Marin is not on their club calendar. Unlikely to happen. Now calendared for October 2! Registration is open now. 128-, 96-, 85- 50- and 25-mile routes planned.
?AugustSaturday October 16: Cool Breeze Century. Tentatively scheduled for Saturday October 16, 2021! Rescheduled to Saturday August 7.
?August: Crater Lake Century. 100 or 62 mi. No word yet.
?August: Tour of Napa. No word yet. CANCELLED
Saturday Sept. 11 & 18: Ride The Rim. 33 mi. Registration is open, free but $10+ donation encouraged. Sponsored by Crater Lake National Park, Friends of Crater Lake, and the Klamath Visitors Bureau. About two-thirds of the route is car free.
Saturday September 11: Best Buddies Challenge. 100, 62, 30, 15 mi. Raise $1,550 ($50 reg fee) reg is open. Event is capped at 50% capacity compared to previous iterations.
Saturday September 11: Mammoth Gran Fondo. $99-79. 102-, 70-, and 42-mile routes. Reg is open. Somewhat far away but riding on the eastern Sierra is scenic.
?Saturday September 11: Tour de Fuzz. $79-99. 50-, 100k-, and 100-mile routes. No info yet except you can reserve a spot without paying. Registration is now open. Limit of 1,300 riders.
Saturday September 11: : Gold Country Cycling Challenge. 100, 100k, 42 mi, 10 mi. $45-70; reg open now. Postponed from June.
Sunday September 12: Eroica California. Rescheduled from April. Registration is not open yet. Registration is open now.
Sunday September 12: Grizzly Peak Century. 50-, 75-, and 100-mile routes. $75. Rescheduled from May. Also a virtual ride from August 28-September 11. Registration is not yet open. Limit of 1,000 riders.
Saturday September 25: Lighthouse Century. 100-, 75- and 45-mile routes. $75. Tentatively scheduled; final decision to be made by June 1 whether to cancel. Limit of 1,000. Registration to open on June 6.
Saturday September 25: Wine Country Century. Rescheduled from May. Details to follow. Registration will open June 1.
?October: Tour delle Vigne. Rescheduled from May. But no firm date in October.
Saturday October 2: Best of the Bay. Double century through the East Bay hills and Diablo valley. No information yet except the date. CANCELLED. Next one is October 1, 2022.
Saturday October 2: Konocti Challenge. 100-, 85-, 65-, 40- and 20-mile routes. $90-40. Reg is open. This is the last time the Konocti Challenge will be offered.
October 7-10: Sea Otter Classic. $90-110. Registration opens June 7. Rescheduled from April.
Saturday October 16: Foxy Fall Century. 100-mile, 100- and 50-k routes. Reg not open yet.
October 22-24: Campovelo. Women-only version of Chris Cosentino’s velo and food event.

2021 Centuries: Looking Grim [updated 5/5/21]

Normally at this time of year we’d be looking at a roster replete with centuries and gran fondo rides for the following year. But the pandemic has thrown these events into question. That shouldn’t be surprising because it takes at least six months of planning to pull off a large public event. Clubs and organizations that cancelled 2020 events and looked forward to 2021 have been concerned and privately tentative as COVID-19 worsened in early fall and some have already hit the eject button in order not to waste club effort and precious funds on another cancelled event.

The news of vaccines on the immediate horizon, which we greet with relief, has probably led to even more decisions to cancel because it does not look like enough people can be vaccinated before summer to make these events viable. Not all events have been cancelled, at least to date. Below is the list of events and their current status. Some events are becoming “virtual”. This usually means that you can ride one of the routes on your own during the specified window of time. Some rides are partially supported. Keep in mind that events that are currently listed as taking place may still be cancelled or postponed.

Saturday Feb 13: Velo Love Ride. 60 or 100 mi. No word on this event but very unlikely to happen.
Saturday Feb 20: Tour de Palm Springs. 102, 51, 26, 9 mi; reg open now, $40. This is a virtual event.
Saturday Feb. 20: Pedaling Paths to Independence. 65 or 25 mi; $45-40. No word on this event but very unlikely to happen. $25 donation. Now a virtual event; ride a route between 2/27 through 3/7.
Saturday, March 6: Blossom Bike Ride. 60, 45 or 20 mi; $50. CANCELLED
Saturday March 13: Solvang Century. CANCELLED.
Saturday April 10:May 15-23: Cinderella Classic & Challenge. Limit of 800; $25-45. But registration is not open. CANCELLED but there may be a virtual Cinderella–stay tuned. Now a virtual event.
Sunday April 25: Mt. Hamilton Challenge. This ride hasn’t been held the last three years. CANCELLED.
?April. Eroica California. No word yet and no date announced. Now rescheduled for Sept. 12. Registration is not open yet.
Sunday April 26 Chico Wildflower. $60-40. This ride was calendared but has been removed, which probably means it’s cancelled. It’s now a virtual event from April 26 through May 9. Registration is now open. You can choose one of the traditional century routes or do their (easier) Adventurer ride or their new Scavenger hunt.
Saturday, April 17: Mr. Frog’s Wild Ride. 100 & 50k routes. $55-65. Registration is open. The roads near Murphys are incredible. Now the registration page is gone. (3/17)
Sunday April 18: Bike Around The Buttes. No word yet and no date announced. CANCELLED.
Sunday April 18: Primavera Century. CANCELLED
May 20-23: Sea Otter Classic. reg not open yet; $90-110. Has been postponed to October 7-10, 2021.
Saturday April 24: Tierra Bella. CANCELLED
Saturday April 24: Wildflower Century. CANCELLED
?Saturday April 24: Devil Mountain Double. No word yet and no update on website as to whether it will be offered in 2021.
Saturday May 1: Siskiyou Scenic Bicycle Tour. 103, 90, 68, 38, 21, 8 mi routes. $65-20. Reg is open. [This event took place, the first one in northern California!]
Saturday May 1: Wine Country Century. Has been tentatively postponed to October. Now scheduled for Saturday September 25.
Sunday May 2: Grizzly Peak Century. Will either be virtual in May or possibly postponed to fall. Will be a DIY event early September as well as a fully supported ride Sept. 12.
May 7-9: Campovelo Napa Valley. $2,995-$175. Also offered weekend of June 4-6 and a women-only event October 22-24. Chef Chris Cosentino’s orgy of food and cycling. Registration is open. You need to provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. SOLD OUT!
?May: Delta Century. 100, 62, 25 mi routes. $35-55. No word yet on whether they’ll proceed. CANCELLED
Saturday May 8: I Care Classic. 100, 62, 33, 10 mi routes. No update yet on whether this will actually happen. It’s in Santa Clara County, which has been cautious with reopening, so don’t count on it. CANCELLED
Saturday May 21: Davis Double. No word. A third party site claims the ride will be on “Saturday May 21” but this is obviously incorrect. (The third Saturday in May is May 15, 2021, not May 21, which is a Friday.) Now it looks like the DD is going to be done as a virtual event this May.
Saturday May 15: Tour delle Vigne. Reg is open; $65. Now postponed to October 2021.
Sunday May 16: Strawberry Fields Forever. Reg is open; $75. CANCELLED
Saturday May 22: Devils Slide Ride. 100, 64, 40k; $90-45. Reg not open yet. CANCELLED
May 28-31: Paso Robles Cycling Festival. Reg is open; adult: $73; camping: $18.50/night. Now tentatively postponed to October 15-17.
Sunday May 30: Levi’s Gran Fondo. CANCELLED
?June: Supertour. No word on whether Supertour will take place in 2021.
Saturday June 12: Gold Country Cycling Challenge. 100, 100k, 42 mi, 10 mi. $45-70; reg open now. Now postponed to Saturday September 11.
Sunday June 6: Sequoia Century. 100, 72, 59, 44 mi; $95-45. Reg was supposed to open 1/2/21. WW may cancel this event. Virtual event from June 1 through June 6.
Saturday June 19: Mile High 100. $85-$55. 33-, 56- and 108-mile routes. Reg is open.
Saturday June 19-June 26. Sierra to the Sea. CANCELLED
Saturday June 19: Castle Crags Century. 141, 99, 62, 79, 37 mi. No word on this event and website is currently “suspended”. Website is back up and it’s tentatively scheduled for June 19. CANCELLED. Next version is June 18, 2022.
?Saturday June 26: Climb to Kaiser. No word on this event.

The Missing Pool Party & Ride

If not for the pandemic we would have hosted the annual Orinda Pool Party & Ride by now. The Orinda Pool Party & Ride started in 2009 but longtime club members know that from 1997 to 2001 Sue Melly in Walnut Creek hosted the first East Bay Pool Party. We resurrected the event and we’ve held the event every year except for 2011 when we were too busy riding our bikes in Austria. Well, now it joins the list of missing-in-action club events for 2020.

The ride is usually the Pinehurst loop, a well-known training Berkeley training ride, or a near-variant except in 2017 when the Canyon bridge was out due to the previous winter storms and we rode towards Walnut Creek and Alamo rather than up to Skyline. If we had held the OPP this year we would have been able to ride Pinehurst over the not-quite-completed new Canyon bridge which is currently being repaired from the storm damage of winter 2017.

The ride has always been followed by the pool party and lunch when those who don’t want to bicycle could instead demonstrate their breast stroke and professional CPR skills at the pool. Until last year we had always served the same old, same old—homemade pesto with pasta, a Caesar salad, and Aidell’s sausages. Last year Roger got a hankering to smoke ribs instead, and since we were changing the menu we went ‘whole hog’ and subbed in homemade potato salad and cole slaw just to Make Brunch Great Again. Who knows what we would have done this year although last year several people approached me afterwards and opined that they did indeed miss the pesto. This year we also grew a big batch of Italian sweet basil just for the Pool Party only to have to hoard it for ourselves. Sigh.

Hopefully next year the pandemic will subside and we have vaccines and better treatments so that we can host the OPP yet again.

Welcome back in 2021?

“L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim” (oops, Orinda)

Fall Centuries [updated 9/3]

Having been made impossible by the pandemic some spring centuries were postponed to this fall rather than cancelled outright. Now cancellations of the postponement dates are starting to trickle in. The uncertainty about the pandemic and whether large groups will be allowed has also led to some fall rides being cancelled and others to remain in a holding pattern and hope for the best.

Only a couple of one summer century still remains un-cancelled: the Alta Alpina Challenge set for July 25 and [Alta Alpina Challenge is now cancelled for 2020] the Fall River Century on July 18, which is just two weeks away. After that you’ll have to wait until September for your next chance of a big ride. The former is in Alpine county, home of its mate the Markleeville Death Ride (cancelled), and which has had only three COVID-19 cases to date. However the Alta Alpine Cycling Club has adjusted the event so that rest stops are almost unsupported to minimize contact with staff. However there is still a chance that permits won’t be issued and the event will be cancelled at the last minute. The Fall River Century takes place in Shasta county, which until a few weeks ago had hardly any confirmed COVID-19 cases and then a superspreading event occurred and it now has 92.

[9/3: Other than the Fall River Century in July every other century/gran fondo ride in Northern California through the end of 2020 has been cancelled or ‘postponed’ to 2021 (= euphemism for ‘cancelled’–I doubt they’ll be called, for example, “the 2020 Wild Turkey Century on July 4, 2021!”)]

September

Gold Country Challenge. Was postponed from June 13 to September but now is cancelled.

5 Saturday. Mile High 100. $55-85. 33-, 56-, and 108-mile routes. A beautiful ride around Lake Almanor near Chester, CA. If cancelled your reg fee minus processing will be refunded. Now cancelled. (When you attempt to register, then you are told the event is cancelled.)

12 Saturday. Best Buddies Challenge. $50 fee plus $1,550 minimum fundraising. 30-, 62-, or 100-mile routes but will be different than in past because of closure of Hearst Ranch. The event has gone virtual for 2020; see website for details.

25-27 Friday through Sunday. Eroica California. $200. 40-, 73-, 87-, and 127-mile routes. 1,500 riders max. Mixed surface routes. You must have a vintage bicycle to ride the classic route. [7/22: Now “posponed until 2021” (sic). Note no date in 2021 has been announced. If you registered for 2020, it will be carried over to 2021.]

26 Saturday. Bike Around the Buttes. Postponed from April 18, it is now cancelled.

27 Sunday. Jensie Gran Fondo. $140-195. Registration opens 9/1. 40, 70-, 100-mile routes. Rides through West Marin on a route similar to the Marin Century. [9/3: finally cancelled!]

October

Chico Wildflower. Was postponed from April 26 to an indefinite fall date. It is now cancelled.

1-4 Thursday through Sunday. Sea Otter Classic. Postponed from April 18, it is now cancelled for 2020.

3 Saturday. Siskiyou Scenic Bicycle Tour. Event has been cancelled for 2020. May 1, 2021 is the next one.

3 Saturday. Best of the Bay. Postponed to Oct. 3, but now registration is “delayed” due to COVID-19 uncertainty. Event has NOT gone virtual but format has now changed: do the ride by yourself from 9/12 to 10/10 for $50. No support unless you organize it yourself as part of a team.

3 Saturday. Konocti Challege. $70-90. 40-, 60-, and 100-mile routes. Nice ride around Clear Lake. Note no refunds if cancelled. [7/22: Ha ha, it hasn’t been canceled–just “postponed” to 10/2/21. Good luck getting a refund.]

11 Sunday. Strawberry Fields Forever. $75. 30-, 61-, and 101-mile routes. No refunds. Routes take in several of our Pajaro Dunes weekend roads! [7/22: Nope, not happening! Next edition will be 5/16/21.]

17 Saturday. Foxy Fall Century. Cancelled.

17 Saturday. Devil’s Slide Ride. $110-65. 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. Cancelled. Next event is May 22, 2021.

17-18 Saturday to Sunday. Tour of the Sacramento River Delta (TOSRD). $127. Annual ride from Brannan Island to Sacramento via the Delta on Saturday and return on Sunday. Stay at La Quinta near old town. Includes lunch on Saturday and a post-ride bbq on Sunday. [7/22: Now cancelled for 2020, alas.]

2020 Centuries Update: M-M-M-My Corona! [updated 4/20]

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men go often askew, as the renowned Scottish poet said. With COVID-19 today’s BFF all those cycling events this spring are thrown into doubt. You’ve probably heard the astonishing news today that the Giro D’Italia has been postponed because of the pandemic. Is nothing sacred anymore? If the Giro can be tossed aside you can bet your sweet patootie that little ol’ cycling festivals are not guaranteed either. A couple of the high profile events, the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey and the Eroica California down in Cambria, which were supposed to take place in April, have been cancelled and postponed to fall respectively.

What of local centuries? Perhaps you’re wondering whether to register or you’ve registered and paid the fee already. Events before May are a mix of cancelations and postponements. Events afterwards are generally still scheduled to take place. But that may change depending on what happens with the epidemic. I suspect that people are going to hold off on registering for events and that’s going to force each organizer’s hand to cancel/postpone if not directly because of COVID-19 then because they’ll have so few people sign up that the event will be underfunded. All events prior to May have been cancelled or postponed; early May events are in question. All early May events have been cancelled and even some in early June. Here’s the rundown of upcoming century rides.

March 14 Solvang Century. That’s tomorrow! This is a very big event—never less than several thousand riders. The Santa Barbara County Health Dept cancelled it ‘over the organizer’s objections’. Are you serious? You wanted to run a gigantic event during a pandemic? Even the Giro organizers were wise enough to call off an international race.
March 28. Cinderella Classic. Valley Spokesmen, after some consideration, decided to cancel this year’s event. There isn’t a convenient date to reschedule this year, so you’ll have to wait until 2021. No word on the fate of registration fees but likely those who’ve paid will get their registration moved to next year.
April 4-5. Eroica. Cancelled by organizers possibly to be rescheduled later this year. Rescheduled for September 25-27.
April 18. Sea Otter Classic. Postponed to October 1-4.
April 18. Bike Around the Buttes. Postponed to September 26. No word on refunds.
April 19. Primavera Century. Cancelled. Reg fee can either be used for 2021 or a refund minus $5 processing charge can be requested.
April 25. Tierra Bella. Cancelled. Your registration will be used for 2021 or you can request a refund before 4/23 for a $3 fee.
April 25. Mt. Hamilton Challenge. The organizers never confirmed that the 2020 edition would take place and I would doubt it can happen how.
April 25. SLO Wildflower. Cancelled and registrants will be notified of their “options”.
April 26. Chico Wildflower. Wisely postponed until later this year.
May 2. Wine Country Century. Cancelled. Partial refunds for entry fees will be offered (minus unrecoverable expenses) or you can donate your fee to the club. If you ordered kit, it will be sent to you except for t-shirts since that order was cancelled in time and you’ll get a refund for it.
May 2. Siskiyou Scenic Bicycle Tour. Now postponed to Oct. 3.
May 3. Grizzly Peak Century. Cancelled. Refunds will be made for the entry fee.
May 16. Davis Double. 2020 event cancelled. Refunds will be provided.
May 16. Tour delle Vigne. Cancelled. Contact organizer for refund or to donate your fee.
May 17. Strawberry Fields Forever. Postponed to Sunday Oct. 11.
May 30. Devil’s Slide Ride. Still on, astonishingly. Postponed to October 17.
June 7. Sequoia Century. Cancelled.
June 13. Gold Country Challenge. Postponed to September.
June 20. Mile High 100. Still on. If cancelled your reg fee minus processing will be refunded.
June 20. RBC Silicon Valley Gran Fondo. Still on. Finally it’s cancelled.

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.

Saddle Challenge and Project Inform

If you pledge or collect money for Saddle Challenge, your funds go to Project Inform. Project Inform has been our sole beneficiary because in 2003, the second year of Saddle Challenge’s existence, the club decided to support the Ron Wilmot Ride For Project Inform. Although the RWRFPI was a separate event held later in the year, the board apparently felt strongly enough to raise money for it separately rather than just encourage members to participate in the RWRFPI. I’m guessing that since the RWRFPI involved doing laps in GG Park—not unlike AIDS Walk—it was going to be a lot more fun and interesting to ride elsewhere for a month!

Ron Wilmot was a member of Different Spokes in the early ‘80s and ‘90s and eventually died in 1997 but not before raising an insane amount of money for AIDS services through the AIDS Bike-A-Thon and then starting his own ride in 1995 after BAT vanished. Ron’s ride raised over $750,000 for Project Inform from 1995 to 2007. Although Ron was well-connected, he simply announced his event and convinced a lot of his friends and acquaintances to do it. His event—like Saddle Challenge, Bike-A-Thon, and Double Bay Double—was done with very little overhead. Thus the maximum or near-maximum amount of contributions could go directly to Project Inform. It was truly grassroots fundraising done by an one individual who was able to inspire many others.

Project Inform was one of the first AIDS service agencies that popped up in the San Francisco at the early stages of the epidemic, in 1985. Every year the club selected about a dozen beneficiaries out of the many AIDS services to whom riders could forward pledges. PI was at times one of the organizations that we selected. PI differed from other agencies such as the AIDS Foundation, AIDS Emergency Fund, the Stop AIDS Project, and Pets Are Wonderful Support. Instead of focusing primarily on direct care services and support, PI developed as essentially a research and information clearinghouse. Information about AIDS and HIV, medication and treatment, and clinical trials was difficult to access and ignorance and misconceptions were rife. PI formed not only to organize and disburse information to the community but also to medical professionals. Today PI also focuses on Hepatitis C information and treatment.

Note that PI was and is not simply a “neutral” information center providing education. PI has long had a history of advocacy by fighting for streamlined drug approval, representing the HIV/HepC community to the government, and making sure health care is available to all who need it. PI’s role is thus not only educational but in policy advocacy and improving public health. What made PI interesting is that it was truly community based rather than set up on high by a medical or scientific organization and thus under the control of those whom the epidemic hit the hardest.

For more information, please go to the Project Inform website.

If you’d like to support Project Inform, please participate in Saddle Challenge in March! You can sign up at our website.

Hedging Your Bets [Updated 11/14]

Today I finally received a response to my 10/15/18 email to Carter Choi at San Mateo Dept. of Public Works regarding whether the opening of Crystal Springs Dam Road would be postponed yet again beyond 10/31/18. I’ve put in bold the hedging:

“The County is currently putting in a recreational trail south of the bridge to provide a safe area for pedestrians to walk.  In addition, there is security fencing that needs to be installed in multiple locations within the project site and this security fencing has to be coordinated and approved with the SFPUC.  The current tentative schedule to complete the remaining work for the Parks trail work and the security fencing is the next 2 to 3 weeks pending sub-contractor availability and lead time to procure fencing materials given the current construction climate in the Bay Area.  Once this work is completed the ribbon cutting event for the bridge reopening can be properly scheduled. Thank you for your patience.”

My bet is not before mid-January. Nothing gets done during the holidays and if the  rains will begin, they will delay any real work. And it sounds like there isn’t even a sub lined up for the work let alone the fencing materials being ordered to spec and delivered. Basically he doesn’t have a clue when it will be reopened.

My question is WTF didn’t his office say that on their website in the first place. It’s like they have no idea what is going to happen next and then get surprised by yet another unknown step to getting this road opened. For all we know the security fencing may also need to pass some Homeland Security requirement and California state requirements as well. And it will have to redone because it wasn’t done correctly the first time.

UPDATE: [11/14] Gosh darn, that two to three week postponement turned out not to be true! Now the website lists “December 2018” for the completion. I’ve lost track of the number of times SM DPW has had to backtrack on their finally finalest-of-all-final deadlines. I still think it can’t happen anytime before February 2019.

What Lying Liars Like To Do

Calaveras Road, which has been closed since July 2016, was supposed to reopen on Saturday, November 3. Now the SF Water website says it won’t open before January 1, 2019. The reason? Whatever, it doesn’t matter because they’ve been lining up excuses like bowling pins. They should just say it’s closed indefinitely. But they won’t because people would scream. So they lie and put up a date to placate the public. I would like to say they are unlike other public agencies in their relentless failure to keep to any reasonable timelines. But they’re not: witness Crystal Springs Dam Road (San Mateo County Department of Public Works) and BART.