Kings Ridge With Keith & Co
May I get extra credit for dragging myself out of a hot, fragrant bath, and instead of crawling up into bed opting to write a blog?
I caught a car ride with Lewis Peterson, the ever- ready ride who greeted me with: I’m riding with a celebrity!!! For perhaps the first time ever, someone beat me to the punch.
Normally I open with : you’re in the presence of greatness, by the way. A dubious opening move, which, if it were chess, would no doubt end up in the death of the queen. But queens never die, right?). At some point this charade of Greatness is going to wear thin. Unless of course I actually produce something of palpable value that will re-purchase some fresh renown.
I am counting on John Pedersen or SeeKay to let me know when this happens. The “wear thin” part, not the “valuable contribution” part .
What, I passed the point of no return ?
May I ruminate on Fame?
I say yes, because half the riders in the “Unshaven Posse” (sorry CK) were hatched in the San Fernando Valley, a known hotbed of Fame Cultivation.
A lot of ‘contributors’ there, too, esp in the entertainment department. I won’t elaborate because these folks probably HATE being Famous–at their level, it interferes with their lives. Right, Jackson?
We were early for the meet-up with the Retrovians. Lewis rode his 1980 Ritchey road bike, a lugless, fillet-brazed masterpiece in shiny red paint. Everyone else had…oh, conveyances with two wheels of equal size.
Oh, shit, why don’t I notice bikes?
Paula Smith had something newish…and raved about her grippy slightly pudgy road tires.
Our goal: a 70 mile, 7000 foot elevation epic beginning in Monte Rio and looping counterclockwise through what is called the Big Brushy on my Sonoma County road map.
Sonoma is a cyclist’s promised land.
No traffic (yet).
Low pop. density/ insufficient water for development?
Could it be the bone-strengthening potholed roads? The local paper ran a story about how cyclists are at risk of osteoporosis because of not enough pounding. They must not be testing Sonoma County guys like Art Read and Nick Farac.
There was one unsightly, unfinished hacienda up there. Plopped in the weeds, impossible to ignore, it was the kind of corner-cutting heap that only tasteless almost-rich folks who run out of money throw up on a ridge–no other houses for miles– then walk away from. The kind of place, were it awarded to me (this is the cocky racerette who is full of herself speaking here) as a prize for winning the Amgen Tour of California (us cocky racerettes are convinced that such a thing may come to pass in the 22nd century), I would demolish. After allowing scavengers to pick through the salvage but I swear this place was made with the cheapest windows, the cheapest stucco, even the cheapest metal railing for the wrap-around porch. Then I’d go downslope (away from the road) and help CC to dig in a west facing burrow with triple-pane (do those exist?) windows on the one open side.
Ah but I dig-ress again!
We began at eleven, six riders of varying ability and uniform stokedness. Paula the artist, her husba,retrovian racer Keith Howell, their optho-pal Daniel Rich, and Jesse Goodman, who is one of the original Retrovian campers.
Within an hour, we were being passed by slightly fitter guys, all older than me. My competitive juices kicked in (as Talia Lempert puts it, I Let The Bulldog Out)and I chased . I caught. I conquered!
OK, they were all standing around, taking pictures, so maybe the Bulldog was barking up the wrong tree.
Only one pissed off ranch trucker passed by, middle finger aloft. All but Lewis had been standing around in the middle of the road, and he coolly commented: “He’s not flipping ME off”.
The thin layer of cheap asphalt crackled–like pedaling over matzoh.
On the first real descent (1.5 hours into the ride), the newly installed front brake pads howled so bad I was terrified. I had to ride alone, because terrified Jacquie–the hell with the celebrity buffoon–is a squirrelly Jacquie. Halfway down the rhythmic Skagg’s descent out of the Indian reservation, I put my foot down. Tired of the decibels, I crawled into a creek culvert to scoop up mud. Slathered the fine stuff on both sides of the rim and…Banshee be gone! Earlier, at the first cattle grate, my left foot pulled out of the mechanism and I got a good scare (no crash). I was chastened the rest of the ride, and rode like a polite old lady.
Chasing people down a hill is for kids, anyway. And pros with contracts.
It was great to be in and out of the saddle, snapping photos, trading banter. No rush. (I beg your pardon?) (Hint: already established alpha dog status).
Age cannot take those things away.
Every mile was new to me despite having done the loop at least 4 times in the last fifteen years. It’s hard to memorize every turn in the road, and how it’s resolved…So I had that Brand New Ride feeling.
(Proof of Alzheimers? )Lew’s done it 20 times, and gracefully anticipates every bend in the road. In fact, he probably has put a groove in the pavement all the way around…
Plantation was even more beautiful than ever…buildings getting fussed into like-new shape.
The running, stumbling, laying flat, downright tipsy fences that accompanied us in the 72 miler are the iconic symbol of the ride.
AND! If you’d like to know how the ride really went by a non-insane person named Daniel Rich, here’s his very astute summary:
Today’s ride was epic. We rode 70 plus miles with 7500 feet or so of
climbing. The terrain was rural Sonoma County at its best. Redwood forests,high meadows, coastal mountains, the ocean, wildflowers galore…This is truly a rider’s paradise. Today’s flowers included wild yellow and purple iris, golden poppies, lupin, chinese lanterns, red columbine, and rhododendron.
Started the morning in Monte Rio on the Russian river with Keith, Paula,
Louis, Jesse, and Jackie. Sadly, I am the slow poke in this group. All the
riders are strong. Jackie was a professional racer when she was younger.[WAS??? Ahem...still am. I will never quit racing until I am pried off the bike--JP]
This ride in some ways was more strenuous than the 117 miler I took 2 weeks ago. We were blessed with a cool, but not windy day.
From Monte Rio we rode along Moscow rode and then crossed the river and went up Austin Creek road through beautiful rural redwood forest and river canyon to Cazadero. The climbing began as we ascended on King’s Ridge Road.
This is one of the most spectacular places on earth, and is quite remote.
There are no services or water. The climbing was strenuous, but beautiful as we summited at 1600 feet, and then rolled up and down on the ridge. We went through meadows, forest, wildflowers, and had incredible vistas of untouched (ed: not quite untouched) rural coastal mountain lands. We then descended fast on Tin Barn and eventually Skaggs Creek road through coastal redwood forest rich with fernsand running streams to the coast at Stewarts Point. We had a spot of lunch there. Fortunately, what wind there was would be at our back. We then went down Highway 1 south to Kruse Rhododendron State Park.
The wild rhododendrons were in bloom at this time of year, and it was
gorgeous. That gravel road climbed without mercy for miles, culminating in about a 15% grade. It was tricky not to spin the rear wheel. I
was happy to be riding on the Armadillos. Turned on Seaview road,
which also rolled like a sawtooth and summited at about 1600 feet. Then the
screaming downhill down Meyers grade to the ocean. Some pitches were 18%. [Ed: Pssst! You forgot to mention our pilgrimmage to TR ranch!]
Once again on route 1, we went south to Jenner at the mouth of the Russian
River, and turned east on river road and eventually Moscow road to Monte Rio.
I am gassed. But it was riding at its finest.
No photos. I was too busy riding.