strawberry fields 2012

I’ve been looking forward to the Strawberry Fields Forever century for a long time– pretty much since last year, when I rode the metric century (65 mile) course. I had failed to finish last year, so I was looking forward to redeeming myself by finishing the full 100 mile course this year.

The Santa Cruz area is pretty far from Davis, so we stayed in a motel room for the night. I was just looking for a relatively cheap room, but I couldn’t find anything under $100. The room I booked ended up being right across the street from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which was an unexpected bonus, I guess it was kind of worth it.

Since we were so close, we walked around on the beach for a bit. Apparently on weekends they have free concerts there.

We didn’t ride any of the rides, but in my opinion walking across this railroad was ten times scarier than any rollercoaster. When I first got on the bridge I was worried about a train coming, because the sign up top said it’s a live track. So I tried to go as quick as possible. But by the middle my knees were shaking. You can see right through the railroad tracks to the water that’s 30 feet below. In some sections a railroad tie was missing, so there was a gap large enough for even a fatty like me to fall through.

Our pre-ride dinner was at a crepe place. Originally we wanted to get pasta, but the wait for a table at the pasta place was an hour. The crepe place nearby looked kinda shady, but the hostess led us to the back into the garden patio which was really nice. It ended up being one of the better dinners I’ve had in a while. The crepe was really good, stuffed to the brim with smoked salmon, and it came with fresh baked bread and soup.

The ride started out with a pretty big climb. I psyched myself for an exhausting, grueling climb, but it ended up being a little easier than I thought it would be. The view from the top was pretty awesome.

The first rest stop was at a Cal Fire station near the summit. Ray and I got to the top within seconds of each other. Apparently Jiro and Johann missed a turn and ended up a couple of miles off course, so in the end they rode an extra four miles to get to the rest stop.

The ride out of the first rest stop was incredibly fun. It was a fast descent, but it wasn’t scary like on some of the other rides. The road surface was smooth, and the turns were all banked. I pretty much rode the entire way without braking. The descent takes you out of the hilly forests and into the farmland near the coast. Here you see vast strawberry fields that stretch out as far as the eye can see– hence the name of the ride, “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

By the time we got to the second rest stop, we realized we were running behind. We were worried that we wouldn’t make it to the lunch stop in time. Thankfully, they stayed open. It’s amazing how much a simple meal can lift your spirits.

By the time we got to the last rest stop, we were bumping up against the course close time. The volunteer at the stop said that by the time we got to the dinner, the food would be gone, so he gave us an alternate route back to our car which cut off the final climb. By the time we finished I had ridden just under 100 miles. Our shortcut cut off about five miles and a thousand feet of climbing. So in the end we didn’t ride the full course, but we all felt pretty good since we still finished about 100 miles.

The Strawberry Fields 100 has become sort of a white whale for me. I’ve failed to completely finish the course on the last two outings. Actually, my real white whale is the Davis Double Century, which I was planning to ride next year. But it doesn’t make sense to attempt the Davis Double without finishing this course, so I’ll probably ride this one again next year instead.

The group.

It was Ray and Johann’s first century ride. Jiro’s got at least half a dozen under his belt, probably even ten or more. I think this is number 16 for me, including metrics. Funny how I’m the only one not really smiling though…

Things I’m thankful for:

  • It was a good clean ride– no crashes, no flats. All of us except for Ray had missed a turn at one point, but we were always able to regroup at each stop. That’s always something to be thankful for.

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