I think every OYJer felt some level of disappointment when this year's (and possibly future) Bike Against the Odds was canceled. Whether from an organizing or fundraising perspective, this was the Yellowjacket's one real high profile event that truly gave back to the community.
Over the several years I participated, I actually had become a somewhat successful fundraiser for the event, and in this year's cancellation, thought that I should get involved in some other fundraising event. I decided to sign up for the "Waves to Wine" cycletour, a highly successful event sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
I had actually ridden several MS Waves to Wine events back in the 90s, but this ride was an entirely restructured event and sounded quite intriguing. A point-to-point ride starting in San Francisco and finishing at Lake Sonoma (yes, the same park area (formerly) used by the Yellowjackets for our annual picnic), this ride traversed many of the roads familiar to those who have ridden our Lucas Valley ride or the roads of the Dry Creek Valley.
Day One started at the UCSF Med Center in the Mission Bay area a little south of t&T Park. I had set my alarm for 4:30 am on Saturday morning, but found this was hardly necessary. Frequent lightening and occasional thunder had me awake well before my alarm. Driving down highway 24 towards SF, occasional lightening was now mixed with showers, and I had to wonder whether this thing was gonna go, at least at the scheduled time. But upon arriving at the Mission Bay start, I realized there was nothing to worry about. The surprising weather was only adding to the anticipation of the start, and damp streets weren't going to discourage anyone.
As it turned out, the weather turned out to be only a minor nuisance. For me, the biggest issue with the weather was that the views on Hwy 1 that I had looked forward to were mostly obscured. I had never previously ridden the stretch of 1 from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, so I'll just have to do it again next year!
Another goal for next year will be completion of the full 100 miler on day 1. With the cutoff fairly early in the ride at around 35 miles, and with the damp and cool conditions, I thought opting for the shorter ride would be a smarter move. Regrets, yes, major regrets, not really.
By mid-afternoon, the conditions had improved noticeably, with the sun finally breaking through the overcast. And as we turned inland at Tomales, we were all rewarded with a nice tailwind that pushed us toward our first night's destination in Rohnert Park.
Riders had a choice of setting up their own hotel accomodations or camping at the overnight. I ended up choosing to camp, and as camping goes, it was pretty lightweight. The MS crew takes care of all of your gear and luggage, and showers and dinner (plus beer and wine) are all provided. I am glad I decided to bring a foam mattress, however, as the field provided for camping wasn't all that soft.
Day 2 brought more cool and overcast conditions, but it was hard to complain since mid-September weather can often be in the 90s. For those of you who have done the Marin Century, or ridden the OYJ Petaluma or Sonoma picnic rides, this day will be fairly familiar to you.
The rolling hills of northern Marin County, along with the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys were the main highlights. Although the skies threatened throughout, a few misty drizzles were as wet as it got. The day finished up at a familiar spot...the Lake Sonoma picnic area. And a picnic, or more accurately, a barbeque, awaited all the riders.
It wasn't until I was halfway through my lunch that the rains began in earnest. All things considered, the timing wasn't bad. I quickly scarfed down my remaining lunch, and boarded one of the many busses taking riders back to the San Francisco starting point. (And these weren't just ordinary school bus type busses—these were full scale touring busses!)
I met up with other participating OJYers Roger Sparks, Jasmin Ansar, and Andrew Hecht at occasional spots along the ride, and I think we'd all agree it was a terrific weekend of riding and commraderieship. Can't say enough about the MS Society volunteers and support staff. Maybe to those who have ridden the AIDs ride, the support provided here wouldn't seem very challenging, but I was very impressed.
To provide the many meals, frequent rest stops, luggage and gear support, and finally, transport of riders and bikes back to SF was nothing short of remarkable. Major kudos to the staff who were always helpful and friendly under conditions that at times can be quite stressful, I'm sure. I would highly recommend anyone looking to fill the void left by the BAO cancellation to consider riding Waves-to-Wine.
I know there is a conflict with a certain Pacifica-to-Monterrey ride, but for anyone looking for a change of pace and scenary, and a chance to support an organization that has done a great job providing research funding and support services to those afflicted, I can't imagine a better alternative.