foxy’s

Foxy’s Fall Century is Davis’s century ride. The course is pretty familiar to me, since I’ve ridden it a few times, and I spend a decent amount of time biking and motorcycling out on the country roads west of Davis. But for some reason I have yet to finish the 100 mile course. Usually it’s because I have a hard time finding people to ride with on the 100 mile course. I’d rather bike with people on the shorter 65 and 30 mile courses than ride solo on the 100 mile course, so in 2008 I rode the 30 mile course, and in 2009 I rode the 65 mile course. Even though we rode the shorter courses, and even though this was our relatively familiar and relatively easy home course, for some reason or another we always had casualties on this ride.

This year it was just me and Jiro, so we both signed up for the 100 mile course. Jiro’s a pretty strong biker, we’ve finished a lot of metric and mile centuries as a team– I think this would’ve been our fifth ride of 2010 and our third 100 miler of the season. So I was pretty confident that I would finally get to finish the last remaining Foxy’s course.

I got to the start a little after 7. Jiro was already there, punctual as usual. After checking in we started the ride a little before 7:30. We didn’t even make it 200 yards from the start, before getting into a little accident. A car was pulling out of its parking space, the driver wasn’t looking, so I slammed on the brakes. I guess Jiro wasn’t able to stop in time so he ended up hitting my rear wheel and went down. It wasn’t a hard crash. I was still standing. He bumped his elbow, but there was no blood, his jersey wasn’t even torn. We looked for signs of damage on his bike, but it looked okay after re-adjusting the rear brake. I didn’t even think to look at my bike, since I was still standing. So we rode on.

A little while later, I started to hear a clicking sound. I looked down while riding, but didn’t see anything wrong, I thought it might be the front dérailleur, so I coasted for a bit, but the sound persisted. I ended up just ignoring it and continuing on. A couple of minutes later, Jiro, who was riding behind me noticed that my rear wheel was kind of bent. At the next stop sign we stopped and took a look at my bike and found that two of my spokes had popped, and the wheel was starting to wobble. The clicking sound was the broken spokes wobbling around and hitting the other spokes. If I had continued riding the wheel would probably have gotten worse and worse until it finally and suddenly catastrophically failed, throwing me off the bike. Good thing Jiro caught it.

At that point a rolling SAG support guy stopped and took a look at the bike. He took a look at the wheel and suggested I go back to the start and find a bike mechanic to rebuild my wheel. So I biked back to the start, while Jiro continued on. Most century rides have a mechanic station at the beginning, but when I got to the start, I didn’t find one. There were a few SAG wagons that hadn’t left yet, so I asked if any of them had the tools and knowledge to rebuild my wheel. Nope. None of them did. I was pretty bummed out at this point.

I started to consider my options. There were a few people with bikes I could borrow. My housemate Dan has a really nice bike that would fit me pretty well, but it’s set up with a racing double, and I was not looking forward to biking in the wind or up hills on it. Jack has a bike with a triple, which would’ve been perfect, but I remembered it was kind of out of commission. The only bike left that would come close was Clare’s. The rest of the people I could think of all had bikes that were too big for me, and for me it’s more comfortable riding a bike that’s slightly small than slightly big. So I ended up calling her and borrowing her bike. A big thanks to Clare for being a good sport, it’s definitely not cool receiving a random call before 8 on a Saturday morning asking for your bike, but she obliged.

So I rode out to her house to swap bikes. By then my rear wheel was noticeably wobbly, even while riding slowly. By the time I got back to the starting line with Clare’s bike, it was 8:30. The last riders of the 100 mile course had left 30 minutes ago, but I was determined to try to catch up.

It’s funny how fast determination disintegrates when you’re riding alone. On a good day I can follow along with a lot of the pace lines out there. It’s an easy cruise if you can catch a draft at the end of a line. Since no one was out there, I had a hard time maintaining a decent cruising speed. I would soon give up on trying to catch up with the rest of the 100 mile riders.

Clare’s bike is superior to my bike in just about all the ways a bike can be superior. It’s lighter, stiffer and has nice wheels, so it accelerates with little effort. But it has some minor differences which made it a little harder for me. It has a compact frame so it’s more upright. Because of that, I was catching more wind, which was slowing me down a bit. Its aero profile spokes and frame are ordinarily good, and would pwn on flats on calm days, but it was slowing me down in the stiff side wind out on the country roads. The seat was a bit low, but I didn’t want to mess with Clare’s adjustments, so my legs weren’t getting full extension and started to cramp quicker than usual. The funny thing is, I was recently looking at buying a new bike with a similar setup. The Kestrel Talon is a sexy carbon fiber aero road bike that I was considering buying, but decided against it since I couldn’t justify spending $2000 when I’m starting to go mountain biking more than road. After this ride I started to appreciate my classic old Bianchi. Now I understand why there are still so many of them on century rides. I also found a new appreciation for the guys that borrow road bikes to go on century and charity rides with me. Dave and James, much props to you guys. I didn’t realize how hard it was to ride someone else’s bike.

By the first rest stop, I had given up on riding the 100 mile course and decided to just do a leisurely ride on the metric  (65 mile) course. It ended up being a good decision. And actually it wasn’t boring. They changed the course layout since last year, and added some rolling hills. My legs were cramping up on those short little rollers, if I had tried to go up the big hill on the 100 mile course I probably would’ve had a heart attack. The hill is nicknamed ‘cardiac,’ so I would’ve gone into cardiac arrest on cardiac hill. Nice.

At the top of one of the short “hills” my legs started to cramp up pretty bad, so I took a break and watched some llamas eat lunch. The one on the left had a really cool haircut, so I decided to take a picture so I could bring it to my barber shop and have them cut my hair that way.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. All of it was on pretty familiar roads for me, so this part was actually sort of boring. I was bummed out that I couldn’t finish the long course, but the food at the end made me feel better. I don’t remember them having lasagna before. Plus they had a freezer full of ice cream sandwiches up for grabs. So by the end I was happy. And besides, there’s always next year.

Ride stats:

I couldn’t figure out how to reset the cyclocomputer on Clare’s bike, so I don’t really have any meaningful stats. I started (my second time) at 8:30 and got home at about 2:30. I estimate there’s about 70 miles total, including the ride home, and I guesstimate that I spent maybe an hour total at all the rest stops including the post-ride meal. So that’s about 5 hours for 70 miles, which averages to about 14 mph. Not that bad, but not great either.

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