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  Club Trip: Bike around the Buttes - 04/14/07

Bike around the Buttes is an event that the Club Members decided to attend at the beginning of the year when we came up with our ride calendar. It's an event that has been around for some time, this was it's 22nd year.  A number of us had wanted to do it in the past but something always came up. Well this was the year we finally got to go.

At the beginning of the week we began watching the weather, the day of the event was listed as Cloudy.  By mid week that changed to chance of showers.  The night before there were likely to be showers.  Most of us had already paid and were set to go, they hold these events rain or shine.  And so we went.

Saturday morning came early and we headed north to Sutter, the beginning of the ride.  We checked in, geared up, and headed out.  Those doing the Century route would head south into  the fertile farmlands.  Those doing the 40 miles route would head around the Buttes first.

By the time we headed south it was already raining, not much, but it definitely wasn't a shower.  We began with a nice pace, easing into the ride.  Connie let us know that we had already hit the 5 mile mark, "Only 95 more to go!"  Soon we were at the 10 mile mark, "Only 90 to go!"  I let her know that wasn't helping.  We were now pretty wet on the outside from the rain. Soon enough we were wet on the inside from sweating.  I know too much information.

We finally hit the first rest stop and downed a Gatorade or two.  Soon enough it's time to hit the road again.  We would now begin our trek along the Sacramento River on the the levee roads.  This would be the only climbing on this South Loop.  Talk about a flat century, they don't come much flatter.  But back to the rain, it was now a good down pour.  No longer was it a matter of avoiding the puddles on the road, it was just plain wet.  No longer did I worry about the water sloshing around in my shoes, I just kept riding. 

As we went along the levee roads we looked over and saw a number of boaters out there fishing.  We tried to figure out what they would be fishing for, especially on such a rainy day.  I'm sure the fisherman were looking back at us wonder what crazy people go for a bike ride on such a rainy day.

We're now into the small town of Meridian and rest stop number two.  We were able to park the bikes and head inside to the lodge of the Lions Club.  It was an old building but at least it kept the rain out.  There were sandwiches, Gatorade, cookies, and fruit waiting for us all.  The volunteers all had smiles on their faces and gave us a warm welcome.  It was interesting to see all the many cyclists dismount from the bikes.  Some looked like they were having fun, others were just trying to make it through to the end.  But there was still a ways to go.

After a nice rest it was time to get back in the rain.  Out from the Rest Stop we headed north to go through a five mile loop and then we'd head south again.  We heard some talk about not taking the loop to just cut it short.  Not so for us, we want the full experience, man are we crazy or what?!  The rain was starting to let up a little bit, but that didn't last long.

It's now 11:30 am and we're heading back to Sutter with only about 10 mile left to go.  The wind isn't that bad, thank goodness, but you do know when you're going against it.  Right now we're lucky enough to be going with it back to base.  The rain is still coming down pretty good and we're starting to pass cyclist by and by.  We've passed a couple that are just out in regular shorts and heavy jackets.  They've got to be cold.

It's 12:30 pm and we're now back at the starting point.  We stop in to get something quick to eat.  We meet up with the group that did the 40 miles in the morning.  They've been enjoying the live music, food, and each other.  We warm the inside, the outside, and even the feet.  But it's time to finish this thing.  We get our gear ready, that means you ring it out and stick it back on.  Time to ride.

The last loop of the Century Ride is the actual Bike around the Buttes loop.  The hardest part about this loop, the 350 feet of climbing.  For those new to climbing, this isn't much of a climb.  For those of us that have been climbing hills and mountains we should be able to climb it with no problem.  And so we begin. 

Within the first 5 miles we've already done the climbing, it's now a quick downhill run and then it's back to more of the same, flat, farmlands, orchards, and oh yeah rain.  It is starting to lighten up which is a good thing, but it's still wet on the road.  We're still able to keep a fairly good pace of 16 to 17 miles per hour, with or without the wind.  Most of the entire ride Connie, Robert, and Devin have stayed together as a team, helping each other along the way, pulling, pushing, and giving words of encouragement.  Many people thing that cycling is a very physical sport when in reality it's more mental than physical.  On a day like today with as much rain as we had to ride through it was a very mental challenge.

We're at one of the last rest stops of the day.  We fill up on water, have a few snacks and keep on moving.  We're still making good time but were not going to make it back in time for the after event lunch.  It won't be the first time I miss a meal.  But more important is finishing this one. 

Mile 84 and Robert's tire is going flat.  We pull over for a needed rest.  We've been pulling pretty hard.  Robert tells us we can go ahead and he'll catch up.  What's funny is he's right, he could catch up.  But we know better after today, we stick together.  We help out with the change and get going again.  Within a half mile the same tire is going flat.  We stop again, check the tire again, and finally find a small piece of glass lodge in the tire barely sticking through into the tube, glass is removed, tire is put back together and we've got 20 miles left to go.

The rain has finally quit, the roads are now dry, and we're starting to dry out a little.  We've gone around most of the Buttes and the views are very nice, I'm sure they would be even better on a sunny day.  We're going into the home stretch with only a few miles to go. 

We make the final turn onto Butte House Road and we're in the home stretch, 1 more mile.  As we pull into the Youth Center most of the crowds have already left.  The kitchen is closed and it's time to go home.  I look down at the stats, 103 miles, six and a half hours, 16 mph avg.  What those stats don't have is the 4 hours of rain we endured.  What a ride.

Riders for this trip:
Laura Smith - 40 mi
Hawley Smith - 40 mi
Connie Hathaway - 100 mi
Devin Holmes - 100 mi
Robert Smith - 100 mi

Pictures from the ride:

Rest stop #1 19 miles into it. Looking down the road and into the rain Connie adjusting the helmet. Do I look okay? Robert and Devin pose for the photographer.

This is rest stop #2 in Meridian. Robert checking in on the rest of the group.  Taking our own pictures. It's very wet. Did we mention it's wet?

An over the shoulder shot of Devin bringing up the rear. Robert and Devin enjoying the rain. It's very wet. Connie, in the wrong lane. My the roads are sure shinny.

The fields got a nice soaking today. Did I get something on my pants? Did you hear the one about the crazy cyclist that went on a ride in the rain? It was a wash... About this time we enjoyed another down pour.
On our way back from Meridian it seemed as if we here heading straight towards the Buttes. But before that we had to head back to Sutter and the make the final loop. The roads have finally dried. And we're making good time. Riding into the home stretch Connie takes the lead with Robert close behind.  We're almost there.