Caffeine Peter Colijn

May 18, 2015 (link)
Ride Report: Davis Quadruple

After finishing the Devil Mountain Triple I was wondering what's next. As it turned out, my friend Jason Thorpe had a registration for the Davis Double that he couldn't use, so he transferred it to me.

I really didn't know if I could pull off riding to and from the double. Davis is far; really far. Just riding from San Francisco to Davis is a pretty long day on the bike. Riding there and back to ride a double century seemed like it might be too much. But I had to try. Worst case, I could get a ride home somehow or take Amtrak or something.

The Friday before the ride, my loving and devoted wife Christine (who somehow has not yet divorced me for doing these rides) agreed to buy some pastries for me to bring along on the ride. When I got home from work, there were a ton of pastries. I couldn't possibly imagine eating them all, but I duly packed them up in a tupperware container to carry in my pannier.

I had a quick dinner, changed into a fresh kit, and got things ready to go. At about 2040, I kissed Christine good-bye and set out. It was super windy, and I was already feeling tired, like I wanted to go to bed. Not a good sign, considering that I had over 24 hours of riding ahead of me.

Riding through the city on a Friday night, I saw a lot of people out to have a fun evening, including a group dressed like they were going to a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show or something. I felt a bit sad that I wasn't hanging out with friends, but soldiered on. I was gonna see if I could do this thing.

Crossing the bridge and the ride up to San Rafael went smoothly. Amazingly, the wind wasn't too bad on the bridge, and crossing at night after it's closed to pedestrians is definitely the way to do it: no other bike or ped traffic to get in your way.

I stopped in San Rafael briefly to turn on Google Maps directions. My plan was to take CA-37 over to Vallejo and then meander through Vacaville, Dixon and farmland to finally wind up in Davis. There is a route that avoids CA-37 (going further north) and is probably much nicer, but it adds a lot of miles and this was already going to be a 400+ mile ride.

Google got me to the CA-37 on ramp no problem, where I saw some CHP cars stopped. I confidently rode past them and on to CA-37, which I believed was totally bike legal, but I did feel some trepidation here. Sure enough, about 5 minutes later they came and pulled me over.

CHP: "Where are you headed?"
Me: "Davis."
CHP (stunned): "Um, ok. You can't ride your bike here. There's a sign on the on ramp that says no bicycles."
Me: "Oh, sorry, I didn't see that. I thought highway 37 was bike legal."

CHP asked to see my ID, then asked if I had any probation or parole or had been drinking (no to everything), then went back to his car.

While he was gone, a ton of thoughts raced through my mind. Maybe I have to call Christine (who is now probably sound asleep) and get her to come get me with the car and drive me to the start, and try to make up the miles on the way home. Or maybe I get an uber or something to take me past CA-37 into Vallejo. Or...

CHP comes back: "Actually, after talking with my partner, you are allowed to ride your bike here. Just be careful and stay as far to the right as you can."

Phew. Hop back on, but it's not fun. It's totally dark, and even with two bright L&M lights it's tough to keep track of all the shit in the shoulder as fast as it is coming up on me. I don't really want to slow down, either, because (a) this sucks and I want it over with and (b) I have to get to Davis in time for the ride start. There's a lot of stuff to dodge, too: hub cabs, rims, roadkill, discarded tires, etc.

A few minutes after my lovely CHP encounter, I run over something and get a flat. Fuuuuuuck. I am really not in the mood to change a flat on the side of the highway in the fucking dark, but I guess that's what's happening. It's on the rear, and I notice that the tire looks pretty worn (the white strip is showing in a bunch of places) so I decide to just swap the tire; that way, I don't have to try to look for the stupid piece of glass or whatever it was that gave me the puncture (and yes, I always carry a spare tire on rides this long).

Even taking the 'easy' way to fix my flat, it takes me longer than it should, due to not having much light and being tired and just general incompetence, but I get it sorted and keep going. I am pretty disappointed to hear Google tell me to continue on CA-37 for 15 miles, but that's what I do.

Eventually, I make it off CA-37 and into Vallejo. This is a welcome change even though Google is not exactly taking me through the "nicest" areas. It's the middle of the night at this point, so at least traffic is light.

Meandering over to Vacaville and then through farmland to Dixon and eventually Davis goes pretty well, except for a few spots where Google wanted me to get on bike paths that either didn't exist or I couldn't see in the dark. I also made a wrong turn 5 miles from Davis that had me confused for a bit. This whole section, from Vallejo to Davis, I had a pretty sweet tailwind and made very good time. Unfortunately, I knew that coming back it would be miserable. Still, given that I lost time with the CHP and my flat, I was glad to have it.

As I got closer to Davis I started seeing some other cyclists. I soon realized that these were folks who were already starting the ride! I think the first one I saw was at 0350! I made it to the start at about 0430, checked in, put my bib number on, ate a pastry or two, and rolled out. I was really tired at this point, and there wasn't any coffee at the check in. I was desperately counting down the miles until the first rest stop, and entertained day-dreams in my head about how good it would feel to stop and drink a metric fuck tonne of coffee.

This first bit of the Davis double is on flat country roads through farmland. It's the kind of riding that can be quite monotonous, which is terrible if you're tired. I found a friendly woman who was going at about my pace and we traded pulls for a while, which helped make things a bit more interesting.

After what seemed like an eternity we were finally at the first rest stop. She rolled through but I was sure as hell gonna stop. They had coffee! Glorious, glorious coffee. I must have had 6 or 7 cups, along with a bunch of food.

The sun was up at this point, and after the coffee, I was feeling WAY better. The next 20 miles to the second rest stop flew by, with some pretty climbing along the way. The rest of the ride itself went quite well, now that I was 'awake': 20-25 miles, rest stop, repeat. I stopped at all of them except one where it was only 10 miles since the previous one, and did a pretty good job of sticking to a 10 minute time budget at each one.

Somewhere within 200 miles of Davis...

A photo posted by Peter Colijn (@sirjoltalot) on

On the way back in to Davis, the headwinds were FIERCE. This was what had worried me from the night before. There were times it was a real struggle to maintain 23-25kph, and I was NOT looking forward to the many miles of headwind ahead of me on the way home.

The headwind and the heat had me feeling like shit for a while. I hadn't been drinking Coke at all, but decided to throw one back at a rest stop. Holy shit, that stuff is like MAGIC! I felt so much better, and continued to drink Coke at all the rest stops after that.

I rolled in to the finish at around 1830, which I think is a fairly respectable time but I really have no idea. The course remains open until 0100, so I couldn't have been that close to Lanterne Rouge, at least. (Since everybody starts at different times, you can't compare finishing times in any meaningful way.) There was some food and stuff at the finish area, but I didn't want to linger too long. I rested for a bit and stole 3 of their Cokes, then headed to Starbucks to drink a big Frappuccino, eat a few pastries and check email etc.

After filling my water bottles with Coke, I rolled out for the ride home at about 1940. As expected, the headwinds SUCKED. There really wasn't much I could do except slog through it. Once I made it to Vacaville, it was a bit better since things were a bit more sheltered.

In my mind, a huge milestone was getting over to the other side of CA-37. Once I was back in Novato, I knew I could probably make it home. The ride to Vallejo was longer than I remembered from the opposite direction, probably because I was slogging through headwind instead of blissfully cruising a tailwind.

I did finally make it to CA-37, and had no issues with the CHP or flats this time around. I did see the CHP stopped at the same on ramp I had used the night before, but I was on the other side of the highway and I don't think they saw me. Getting off in Novato, I felt a huge sense of relief, but I still had at least another 40 miles to go.

Peaceful return.

A photo posted by Peter Colijn (@sirjoltalot) on

It was again late at night, and traffic and (mercifully) the wind had died down. I made my way (slowly) through the more familiar streets of San Rafael, Larkspur and Corte Madera. It was a real struggle to stay awake at this point. With my Coke supplies dwindling, I was forced to resort to inferior caffeinated shot blocks. When I finally finished Camino Alto and hopped on the Mill Valley bike path, I felt like I was practically home. Rolling through Sausalito was incredibly tranquil without all the tourists and traffic. The climb up to the bridge was fine, except I forgot that I had to use the east side and went to the west side first out of habit.

Back in SF and on the home stretch, I rolled down Arguello to find the entrance to the park blocked off for Bay to Breakers. After a deep sigh, I made my way around on Fulton and continued through the wiggle and on to Valencia and then, finally, more than 24 hours after I had left the night before, home! That container full of so many pastries I couldn't imagine possibly finishing them all? Now almost empty :)

Christine woke up to greet me, I uploaded the stravas (of course), ate almost a whole pint of ice cream, and then promptly fell into a deep and satisfying sleep.

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