Murph ready to rumble
The ride started with 200-something people headed immediately up Coleman Valley road. I lost sight of Murphy in the crowd before we made an 1/8th of a mile. Coleman Valley was a fairly nice climb and despite my cold there were not too many complaints from my body (yet). After two climbs and some rolls it breaks out of any tree cover completely into beautiful coastal California rolling hills with cattle grazing and peeks at the ocean. The last 1.5 of downhill is ripping and beautiful. The sun was out and it was the warmest it would be the whole ride. I was coughing so hard at one point that it was forcing my head down and I couldn't see the road ahead while descending. It was scary.
People ebbing and flowing congealed into a small group by the time we touched down at Rt. 1 and we got a little pace line going and picked up a few people. Curtis and a teammate or two was in there so I'll call it Grouppo Inglis. Also in there was Jay (sp?) of DFL/butter lap. Just before bodega there was a touch of wheels several riders back on an uphill and I believe someone went down. By the time I could look back it was way back and people were stopped to make sure it was OK. I believe everyone caught back up, but I didn't really notice any scrapes so I hope the rider was OK. Had to take a deep breath and remember that this is (for me at least) a training ride and I don't have to perfect my rusty pacelining today, just do what I can and be safe.
Headed towards valley forge we picked up more riders and a strong group was formed. We sat up for a bite at the beginning of Valley Ford School Road. Food was not working well for me - caused more mucus and more coughing. Banana-in-mouth, I noticed the grade start to pick up again and looked up to notice I'd left a little gap. I shoved half eaten banana back into the pocket and spent the next few miles attempting to close that gap, while hacking coughs. The elastic stretched. A team car gave me a bit of a swoop but I never caught on. The elastic snapped. By Tomales grouppo Inglis was gone and my Tifosis were all Jackson Pollock with dried sweat.
I was in serious no-mans land and would ride the next 20 miles almost completely alone. Marshal Petaluma Rd was beautiful, though I would have liked some sun. My knees began hurting which really has never happened to me on the road before and I was a little worried. My feet were cold, my neck sore, by back stiff, and despite eating and drinking, I was beginning to tire. The symphony of pain was tuning their instruments waiting for the conductor's baton to drop.
Turning to the race's eponymous Chileno Valley Rd, the sun broke out but it wasn't warm. Twisted, knurled and burled California oaks dotted the roadside and fields. California IS beautiful. The sun went away. A terrible, unrelenting wind bore down on me. The conductor dropped the baton. This was suffering. There were some whitecaps on the tiny Laguna lake - a horrible wind. Within a few miles I was joined by grouppo Lynz [Freewheel] and was able to hang on and rotate for a while but eventually... well.
Low blood flow was preventing the formulation of negative thoughts. The slightest hunger pang on Fallon-Two Rock prompted me to reach for my Pro Bar rather than a maintenance shot. If you've ever reached an epiphany - transcended space, time, or the limitations of the human brain, then I can begin to explain to you what eating this pro bar was like. I was transported. Chewy crunchy vibrant fruit and nut shook loose synapses in gustatory synesthesia. Grey-green agony gave way to blueberry strawberry cashew pineapple. I wanted to linger in this other world for the rest of the ride. A splashing sound shook the illusion and the rude sight of a roadside cow heeding the call of nature tore me from my special place back in to reality. Brutal, brutal reality.
The final 15 miles was unmemorable, possibly because remaining brain function was limited to motor skill and reptilian survival. I vaguely remember Joy Rd. They saved the steepest climb for last. Something about hurting.