Ah, Bautista Canyon. A storied ride among our club friends. It seems every time we head out there, we end up with more adventure than we bargained for. It's a great training ride - about 90 miles with 4000+ feet of climbing. A good bit of it is flat, and even the canyon climb is pretty gentle. The only steep-ish parts are Redlands Boulevard in the beginning and then Lamb Canyon near the end. For this, you are rewarded with a 20 mile mostly downhill run to home. So whenever we are approaching a century or other long ride, we schedule Bautista Canyon as a warm up ride.
About a year or so ago, we were on the way out there when the weather started looking iffy. NO MATTER. We are pressing on. By the time we turned for home, the west was definitely looking gloomy. No way we are escaping the rain, I think. It started to drizzle as we climbed Lamb Canyon. It was definitely raining (and cold!) when we had to stop in Beaumont to fix a flat. All of us huddled under a big oak tree, trying to stay warm while Roger helped Vic with his tire. The ride back down San Tim was an all-out cold shower. Everyone was soaked to the bone and freezing, to boot. Except Vickie. Vickie was sporting a brand-new GoreTex jacket and she alone was not suffering! Oh, well. As Mark Friis is fond of saying, "those are the epic rides that you remember." Yes, we do!
Then, on our next trip out there, Chalmer went down on the way into Hemet. Yikes! Just hit a crack near the curb and that was it. By the time the ambulance came for him, the air was pretty much out of the rest of us. We continued on to the Taco Bell in Hemet to get a bite, but no one wanted to go all the way to the canyon. We limped on home with Chalmer on our minds.
So, we really had not completed a successful trip to Bautista in a couple of years. I suggested it as a good way to ready ourselves for the brevet this coming Saturday. Roger posted the ride and a few of our friends decided to ride along. Chris and Jeff were new to the ride; they had never gone out that way before. We decided, as a concession to the expected cold, to start at 9:00 am.
I woke up at 6, worried that we had left the start too late. Days are not long at this time of year. I figured if it took us 6 hours to do the ride at 15 miles an hour, that's a full six hours in the saddle and that alone would get us to 3:00 pm. A few short breaks, a quick taco stop, maybe a flat . . . it would not take much for us to get into the darkening hours. I decided that we would have our headlamp, and since this is training for brevets that might go all night, I guess that's okay.
But then - we get ready to head to the coffee shop to meet our friends (8:50 am) and the back tire is flat. Slow leak, as it was fine Friday night. So Roger decides we should ride down there and fix it at Stell's, because he does not have time to change it and get us there on time. This feels a bit odd to me, but I do understand. At least we will be able to let them know what's up. As he's changing the gear in preparation to taking off the back tire, it locks up. What's that? First things first: he changes the tire (oh, Stell's no longer has the tire pump out there - I guess someone took it!) Then he realizes that the bolt holding the rack on has gone too far through the brazeon and is hitting the small chain. So we have to ride home to adjust that. Let everyone know we'll be stopping at our house on the way out. Yeesh.
So we get back home, I get out the pump to make sure we have plenty of air in the tire, he fixes the bolt, and I swing my leg over the bike . . . wheeesh! Tire is completely flat again. Oh, come on! I go back in the house to get a couple more tubes and throw them into the back satchel. It just might be that kind of day! Roger changes it once again, pronouncing the second tube defective right out of the box. Finally we are off - at 9:30! I offered headlamps to the others, just in case, but they were confident we would be back before dark. Me - not so much.
As it was, that was pretty much the last problem we had. We actually made great time. We did not stop on the way out to Hemet, coming in just under two hours elapsed time. That's probably a record. We told the others that once we hit the canyon, they should go on to the end and then regroup and turn around without us. We'd make a turn once they came back the road. We were only 3/10s of a mile from the end when they caught us, so we were making reasonable time on the climb, as well. Another quick stop at the Taco Bell for more water and then we were off again, this time heading to Lamb Canyon. The winds were with us this time. We flew - at least until we hit the climb. Again, we'd told our friends that they could head on home if they were concerned about the light, but we made it to the top of the canyon about 2:30 and they were waiting for us. Why not? Everyone loves trailing the tandem down San Tim!
At this point, it looked like we would probably make it home by 3:30. I was pleased. We had one more mechanical - Steve flatted out in the canyon - but even with that we were back to Stell's by 3:45. On the computer, we averaged 15.3 mph. But of course, that's not what counts! I figure we should take a start of 8:50, since that is when Roger and I headed out. So just under 7 hours for 90 miles, or a touring average of 12.8 mph. Just exactly what it needs to be!
The last question: when we got back for some beer and pizza, would I have been ready to rest for a bit and then go another 35 miles? That's what we will learn this Saturday! I know when I woke up this morning I was not thinking that I felt like doing 200 miles. But hey - sometimes you feel better once you get back on the bike and start those legs turning.