My First DART!

Campfires *and camp stoves* being banned from the King Ridge area of the Lost Coast made it a relatively easy decision to cancel my Lost Coast backpacking trip from September 25 – 27 right around the time my friend Ken texted me asking if I wanted to join his DART team on 25 September. Like too many of my decisions, I said “Sure. What’s a ‘DART’?” It was a Randonneuring team event that our friend David was leading and organized by the Davis Randonneurs. I didn’t bother reading the rules until well, after the ride. All I knew was that it was a 200k ride, David had requested a 6 a.m. start time, and Ken was giving me a ride back to my car in Fremont. David planned the route from Fremont to Sacramento and I barely skimmed the emails talking about the route or any of the plans. I just knew where to meet and had the route on my Garmin.

I met up with David, Ken, Kitty, and David’s wife Julia at the Fremont BART station, our starting point at o’dark thirty. Julia was going to drive to Sacramento later to meet us at the finish and give David and Kitty a ride home. We waited for Brian C, our 5th team member, for about 10 minutes and then took off. I realize that I forgot one of the golden Rando requirements of reflective vests/ankle bands! I’m praying that Deb, the Davis RBA, doesn’t kill me when she sees me without these at the finish. It’s a little chilly, but I anticipate that it’ll get light and warm up soon. I’d never met Kitty before and while she talks a lot, it’s all very interesting. We stop after awhile to see if anyone can get a hold of Brian C, who was riding to the start in Fremont from his house in Palo Alto since what’s 16 more miles when you’re doing a 200K? No one has heard from Brian or can get a hold of him. Kitty keeps sending text messages to him of where to meet us further along the route.


Kitty leading a random trivia game / conversation during (second) breakfast.

We stop at Clementine’s in San Ramon for breakfast, which at this point I should have read more details of the ride as I really wasn’t hungry yet. We need to burn time though since we can’t leave our last control in Davis until 5:30 p.m. Taking your sweet time on a ride is going to be the biggest challenge today since even though I’m not any kind of racer, I don’t like stopping too much or for too long on rides. Kitty gets approval from the restaurant to leave our bikes in the waiting area by the front door. I don’t think I’ve ever eating inside anywhere during a ride minus the inside tables at the Fairfield Safeway. We order our food (just dry sourdough toast, fruit, and hot tea for me) and Kitty starts doing random trivia questions. She also is trying to get rid of her sunblock bottle so I happily strip my arm/leg warmers off to use some of hers instead of digging mine out of my saddlebag.

After (second) breakfast we start off again with me saying we’ve done 25 miles and have only 100 miles to go! Ken tells me to stop calling out numbers (Note: He kept calling out steepness grades the time I tried Umunum with him a few years ago!). I have little idea of where we’re going and just following them and my Garmin. We’re in Kitty’s backyard too so she knows this entire part of the route which is a lot on bike trails. I decide that I really like Kitty as she starts yelling at people who don’t have their dogs on leashes that it’s illegal. I’ve had too many times of seeing these situations where the dog won’t move out of the way leading to everything including the owner having to physically pick up their large dog to get them out of the path. Overall it’s a pleasant set of bike trails including wandering along the Conta Costa Canal up to Pleasant Hill.


Ken and me in front of the Contra Costa County Finance Building in Martinez.

We get to Martinez at about 10:45 a.m. which is too early for lunch and none of us are hungry either. We decide to wait until we get to Cordelia to find lunch. We come across a couple with a tandem bike looking for their DART Pop team, which we aren’t it. We stop to talk to them though for a bit and wish them luck on their ride. Lin takes a photo with us before we part ways. We continue on across the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, which I haven’t ridden across since the Winters 200k in October 2019. We relatively speed past all the cars stuck in traffic on 680 as we’re on Lopes Road that runs parallel to the freeway.

Kitty knows Cordelia as she’s tried various routes between her house in the East Bay and her mom’s in Sacramento. I’m not enjoying the list of fast food options in Cordelia that are making Denny’s sound great. Luckily we see a place called Two60 Kitchen & Bar right next to Denny’s and it’s open! Their menu has to be better than the other options no matter what it has on it. I’m actually hungry now and order some fresh veggie rolls and crispy brussel sprouts while the other 3 get fried food. I do help Ken with a few french fries just to be polite. So far it’s been a pretty mellow easy ride and we’re already 65 miles in. I reapply more sunblock from Kitty as I do not plan on making friends with melanoma. We make a wrong turn shortly after lunch that would put us heading back to Cordelia. Luckily David and Ken concur with me that we made a wrong turn, we get Kitty to finally turn around also, and start heading in the correct direction.


Everyone else gets fried food while I stuck to my relatively healthy veggie fresh rolls and crispy brussel sprouts.

We do a quick stop at the Fairfield Safeway so David can take a photo of us there since it’s one of the controls even though we don’t need to buy anything. Randonnesia is funny as I have to jog David’s memory that I’ve been there with him before on the Davis, Dunnigan, and the Delta 300k in 2019. The weather is starting to really warm up though which is starting to make me slightly uncomfortable as we make our way to Winters. My Garmin is reading the reflective temperature from the road to be 105F! I don’t care what the air temperature is, that’s the temperature that I’m experiencing in the saddle. I have a hot spot developing in my right foot and need to take a break to take my shoe off. David’s trying to find somewhere that we can sit down by a creek or something. I eventually bark that I don’t need a place to sit down or anything as the ground will do as long as I get my shoe off. We pull over in a tiny patch of shade from a tree as Pleasant Valley Road is a fairly sun exposed. Kitty needs to pee and doesn’t even try to be discreet about it. She just tells us to turn around as she pulls her shorts down and squats by the side of the road. OMG I love her! We stop at a bigger shade area as Ken’s starting to struggle and dropping behind.


Golden hills of California somewhere south of Winters

I’ve never approached Winters from the South so I’ve never seen the bridge on that side of it. I’ve also never seen Rotary Park with the gazebo and public bathrooms, which has a really awesome sunflower mosaic! We take an extended break since we’ve got plenty of time and can’t leave our last control in Davis until 5:30 p.m.. I take my shoes off and lay down on the grass staring at the sky and tree tops. This feels SO NICE. I’m not even paying much attention to what the guys are talking about as I’m off in my own little world. I hear some rude call to get up so we can continue though which pops me out of my daydream. I drag my carcass up and hop back on my bike. We’re going to stop at the Winters Store to get water and ice to refill our bottles. Excellent idea since the ice extends the amount of liquid water we need for all of our bottles. Kitty shoves extra ice down her sports bra and I follow. I squeal when a few ice cubes go straight down across my stomach. I think the guys are kind of jealous that they can’t do something similar, but make jokes about how there are some guys who need to wear sports bras.


Bridge entrance to Winters

We continue onto our last control in Davis, which I can’t recall what it’s like between Winters and Davis except that it’s probably pretty flat. I’m right about the flat part as we’re just plodding along on a very uninteresting stretch of straight country road. The ice has melted so quickly that it didn’t trickle down me first before evaporating. My sports bra is dry by the time we get to Davis too! We go to Dos Coyotes for the last control and find Brian C waiting for us! He had gone by Clementine’s earlier, but figured he missed us since he didn’t see our bikes outside. He got Kitty’s text to wait at Dos Coyotes though. I finally meet the 5th member of our team! Ken tells me a lot of the oddball stories about Brian C as he’s quite an interesting character. I’ve never heard of anyone carrying an entire rotisserie chicken on their bike’s luggage rack or seen anyone ride in thin little aqua shoes. Knowing the guy will also do a double century mixed terrain ride from Palo Alto to Tam and back on top of everything else makes me realize that I’m in the presence of not your average crazy Randonneur. We sit around chatting and David gets a “something small” to nibble on of an entire plate of nachos. It takes 4 of us to finish it. One of the nice things about hanging out here until 5:30 p.m. is that it’ll be cooler when we do the last stretch from Davis to Sacramento!


David and his “something small” nachos from Dos Coyotes.

5:30 p.m. finally comes around and we take off for the home stretch! We get onto 32A and then bike path that runs right next to 80 with no sound barrier. Ken doesn’t like to ride on concrete so insists on riding behind me on the asphalt, which I tease him that he just wants to draft off of me! It’s just the two of us in the front as the other 3 have fallen behind us. We decide to wait for them at the end of the bike path which is also the very edge of Sacramento. The sun is setting, but we can still clearly see where we are without lights. For some reason it’s always surreal to roll back into a major city on a ride after going through so many smaller ones even if it’s the same day. We cross the Tower Bridge and are definitely getting close now. A few more turns and we finish at Café Dantorels, where a bunch of other Randos are outside having dinner. Deb is excited to see us and enthusiastically hugs all of us. I’ve never been so happy to see her too! Funny how a pandemic makes you super excited to see people you haven’t seen in almost 2 years, even if you’re not that close to them. Lin is there too and offers to buy Ken a beer. Ken doesn’t drink and I say that I’ll take his beer! Lin actually went and bought me one! IPA is one of my least favorite beers, but hey, free beer. We order dinner which of course I have to eliminate some wayward french fries from Ken’s onion rings. Brian C is now the second person I’ve seen eat a hamburger with a fork and knife (my maternal grandmother being the first).


Inside of Ken’s Big Red van and the answer to my randoneurring sleep prayers!

We say goodbye to Julia, David, Kitty, and Deb as we head to Ken’s van. OMG he did bring Big Red!!! He had told me before that he couldn’t bring it and I wasn’t looking forward to having to sit upright all the way to Fremont. I’d been dreaming of getting to crawl into the back of Big Red and at least nap after a ride as it’s so comfortable. I squeal when Ken says the doors are unlocked so I can change clothes (and take my laying down position for the ride home). Ken even has a little pillow that his wife gave him for the van. I don’t even care that my legs are sticky from sweat, dirt, and sunblock as I slip my jeans on. We head off to Fremont after we get the bikes loaded up and all 3 of us inside. I happily fall asleep for the entire ride back!

Another rando adventure I’ve been roped into by Ken! Many thanks to him, David, Kitty, and Brian C for a fun day in the saddle!


Fremont to Sacramento

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