October 3, 2010: Harvest Ride
Hopland, CA

I meant to write this shortly after the ride rather than two weeks later, but better late than never. I had the idea to do this century ride about 3 weeks before the event. I’d had the idea before of completing this distance and as fall approaches, I wanted to challenge myself once more before the cold sets in and training is reduced until the following year. The Harvest Ride in Ukiah was the only thing within reasonable driving distance, and so that is how this particular ride was chosen. Prior to the race, I was reviewing maps and trying to find out about the course. For a little while it almost seemed as if this was the first year this ride was taking place. It was a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah and I finally realized I could look and their site and by using the “past events” link I found out this was at least the fifth year of this ride.

The ride took place on Sunday, October 3rd. We drove down to Ukiah the day before and went wine tasting at Navarro Winery in Alexander Valley. On the way there and back we traveled along Hwy 253, which was a section of the ride. I thought this was going to be the large hill for the ride and the rest wouldn’t be that bad. And while the first part of that statement was true, the latter was not… the hills never stopped.

The Start/Finish was at Fetzer Winery. We got there a little after 6:30am. There wasn’t an official start to the ride, you just kind of start when you’re ready to and it was recommended to start as early as possible. It was dark when we arrived, but starting to get lighter by the time I checked in and was ready to go. It was around 7am when I started.

The first ten miles showed a small preview of the hills to come. It took a little over an hour to travel eleven miles to the first rest stop. I met up with a few riders here. We determined there were about 20 of us riding this distance (three of us were girls). There were rolling hills and a few flat sections as we continued along Hwy 128 towards Boonville. This portion of the ride was definitely quicker than the first section. Our second rest stop was at Anderson Brewing Co. Again; I met up with the same riders. This is a pattern that would continue throughout the day. We would meet up at rest stops, ride together for a bit, they would move ahead of me, but we’d meet up again. It was comforting knowing that I wasn’t completely by myself and that I’d see them at each stop.

Next came the big hill. I’m glad that we drove over it the day before so that I knew what to expect. While in the car I was telling Mark, I can handle that, it’ll be a challenge, but I can do it. In reality, I was terrified of the challenge before me. But I took my time and made it up the incline. Online it said that it was going to be around 4% grade, it was actually 8% most of the time! But of course getting up that 8% meant there was going to be some fun going back down. When I checked my odometer after this section of the ride, it showed that my top speed was 39.5 mph. Yikes!

At mile 50 was our third rest stop was at a bike shop in Ukiah. I arrived here around 11:15am. At this time, Mark would have been checking out of the hotel only a couple blocks away. This rest stop had the best food at it and was my favorite out of the six. The next section of the ride was a little tricky because it took you, what seemed like, all around Ukiah. I know the plan was to get you onto some less busy roads, but it made for slow riding. The other challenging thing about this section was that sometimes there were pink arrows on the road telling you what way to go and other times there were signs on posts. You never knew where to look and I didn’t feel like holding my map the whole time, luckily I was with other people and I let them do the navigating.

The fourth rest stop was only 9 miles away at Barro Winery. We decided not to stop at this one and continued riding. We headed north out of Ukiah and again it became a little tricky, looking at the map became a necessity because there were lots of turns. The fifth rest stop, felt like it took forever to get there. This was kind of my breaking point. I was tired of the endless hills, my knee was starting to hurt and I wanted to be done. With the help of one of the other riders, we adjusted my seat slightly and this helped with the knee issues.

This next section of the ride felt like it took forever. My inner cane toad was very upset with me. I made it to the sixth and final rest stop and the other riders were still there! It was around 2pm and I knew that Mark had been waiting for me since 1. I used one of the other rider’s phone and called Mark to let him know I was only 10 miles away. Soon as I hung up, the other riders were getting ready to go, I grabbed some rice crispy treats and left with them. I probably could have used a bit more rest, but I was wanted to be done and didn’t want to be riding alone. The final 10 miles finally offered a flat course! However, the wind had picked up and given that I had already ridden 90 miles it was impossible to keep my speed up. I made it back to Fetzer around 3:30pm.

Total I spent 8 hours and 18 minutes riding. My max speed was 39.5 mph and my average speed was a little over 12 mph. The week before the ride it was over 100 degrees in Ukiah. The weekend of the ride it had cooled off and the weather was in the mid 80s. It remained cloudy until 10am and wasn’t too hot for the rest of the ride. On October 3, 2010, I successfully completed my first century ride. While I do not plan on doing this course again, I do plan on doing more century rides in the future.