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  Club Trip: Bike around the Buttes - 04/19/08

We had so much fun getting wet last year at the Bike Around the Buttes that we decided to go again.  The plan was to meet up at the parking lot early enough to leave at 7:30 am.  Most of us were there and ready to go on time, a few well not so much.  

So it was almost 8:00 am by the time we started.  We would be in two groups this morning.  Those doing the 100 mile route would head South; Robert, Connie, Devin, Chris, and Lindsay.  The rest would head North and do the 40 mile route.  To start the South Loop we headed South out of Sutter and then west towards Highway 20.  The weather was a little on the cool side.  A bit of a breeze, but not enough to call it wind.  We managed to stay in a tight pack the entire way, Robert lead for at least half with the rest of us taking turns the rest of the time.  It was nice to be able to tuck in and draft off of one another.  We managed to keep around 19 to 20 mph.  As Devin took the lead Robert would tell him to reel in the unsuspecting cyclist up ahead, once reeled in they would be passed without knowing what hit them, the R5CC train.  That what we were today.

At mile 19 it was the 1st of many rest stops for the day.  They had water, Gatorade, plenty of fruits, snacks, and these awesome cookies with applesauce in them.  After a few it was time to mount up and hit the road.  The next few miles of road isn't the best but we made our way through okay.  You pop up onto the Levee road for a bit and then you head back to Reclamation Road.  The next 19 miles has you wandering along the orchards and fields.  Again you spend some time along the Levee Road.

Soon enough you're at mile 38 and it's rest stop #2.  You grab an orange or two fill up on liquids and then do a quick 5 mile loop to bring you back to the same rest stop for a nice sandwich, cookie, fruit, and some shade.  It was starting to warm up now, and sitting in the sun was good.  Time to shed the leg warmers.  After a bit it was back on the bikes, only 18 miles to go and we'd be back at the start and finished with this loop.

We're making good time and keeping the pack tight.  Our average is up around 18.7 mph and we're moving along.  Again we're passing up other riders and moving along.  We're at highway 20 and time to turn right towards Sutter.  After crossing the freeway we head North again.  This is were things get a little crowded.  The 17.5 mile route converges back here and you come upon a number of cyclists in all age brackets.  We have to make our way through the masses and then power through to the end.  We make the final left turn and find ourselves back at the Youth Center.  It's the center of activity for the day.  We quickly find our 40 mile companions, fuel up, shed a few more layers, and hit the road once again.

Leaving Sutter we slow down quite a bit from the pace we'd set earlier.  That's okay since the climb is coming up ahead.  We get spread out as we climb up to 364 feet and then this is the one chance we get to scream down to the other side.  A race is on between Devin and Chris to see who can out pace the other.  

Shortly after the downhill scream there is a mobile water station.  Some of us didn't refuel at the Youth Center so we stop to do so.  Other that did keep on going.  After a quick minute we hit the road again and continue the down hill.  Right at the bottom there is a small sign and some blue arrows.  All morning long we've been following green arrows, do we follow these or keep going straight?  We make a quick turn since this is the 40 mile route and continue on.  We're moving ahead hoping to catch those that didn't stop at the water stop.  

It's a fast finish to Rest Stop #5 for the day.  Upon arriving we check in on the status of those that went ahead.  No one has seen Laura.  We soon worry that maybe she didn't make the turn.  It was a weird turn and unless you were paying attention you could easily miss it.  We ask the support staff if they had seen another R5 Jersey come through in the last 5 to 10 minutes.  They weren't sure.  They contact the SAG Communications and take our request seriously.  It took about 10 minutes but they soon located Laura about 10 miles up the road almost at the next rest stop.  Apparently she was doing so well she didn't stop for Rest Stop #5 either.  She just powered on through.

Once we heard the news we got back on the bikes and headed out as well.  We still had 20 miles to cover and we may not make it back in time for lunch now.  We're on the North side of the Buttes now and cycling traffic is thinning out.  There are a few of us left but not as many as this morning.  The rest of us keep together and make sure we're in sight in case of problems.  

It's mile 96 and time for the final Rest Stop of the day.  A quick fill on the liquids, a few cookies, and back on the bike, we're almost done.  It's after 3 pm.  Lunch is closed by now.  We round the last bend and we're now heading down Butte House Road, looking over to the right there is the cemetery.  At long last, the finish line.  Wait, lunch isn't closed, there still dishing it up, thank goodness, I'm hungry.

Laura can be found in the middle of them, laughing up a storm.  Somehow she got a second boost from the Gu she had at lunch and was able to keep on going.  She said at one point she was doing 25 mph.  So she just kept going.  

We have a few more laughs and enjoy lunch.  One of the workers comes over to take our picture of the "fun group."  We did have fun, so much so that I'm sure we'll be back again next time.

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE RIDE:  A big thank you to the Bike Around the Buttes Support Staff.  When we told them that one of our group might be lost they didn't hesitate.  They got on the radios and sent out a request to all SAG vehicles to be on the lookout.  Within 10 minutes our "lost" member was found.  I was impressed and we were very appreciative of their attitude.

Usually they close lunch down at 3 pm.  We came back in at 3:30 pm and they served us up.  It was nice to have something to eat, thank you again.
Riders for this trip:
Dave White - 80 mi
Lisa Dye - 80 mi
Laura Smith - 80 mi
Hawley Smith - 80 mi
Chris Gale - 100 mi
Robert Smith - 100 mi
Lindsay Gledhill - 100 mi
Connie Hathaway - 100 mi
Devin Holmes - 100 mi
Stats for the Trip:
Max - 38.1
Avg - 17.8
Dist - 102.9
Time - 5:46:35

Pictures from the ride:

The parking lot is filling up fast. The gang is all year and looking sharp in those jerseys! Heading out on the road to the South. It's pretty flat out here. Rest stop # 1 at 19 miles.
Lots of lines for the restrooms today. Robert is fueled up and ready to go. Connie and Lindsay getting back on the bikes. Looking over to the Sacramento River from the Levee. Looking back at Chris on the Levee.
The group riding the Levee. Robert leading the pack. It's warm enough to shed the jackets and pick up the pace. Devin at Rest Stop #2 in Meridian. Where did all these cyclists come from?
Robert leads us out. Connie tucked in the middle. Looking over towards the Buttes. Down off the Levee road. Lets go get some lunch.
Chris stretching out the back.  The after lunch Yoga session will now begin. We're almost done with the 60 mile loop, heading back to Sutter for more. Heading through the Buttes with Haley, Lisa, Laura, Robert and Connie up ahead. Lindsay and Connie along West Butte.
More flat land to cover... Lindsay, Robert, drafting off of Chris. Lisa drafting through. The Buttes from the backside. Lindsay, Robert, and Chris start it up from our on little rest stop.
Let's get back for lunch. Looking at the Buttes one last time. Heading down Butte House Rd, I hope lunch is still there. Robert finishes lunch while Laura tells about the ride. Chris, "That hit the spot."
     
Devin with a mouth full, Connie's all done. A very happy group now that they've been feed.