Sunday, May 29, 2016

Race Report : Sonoma County Back Country Challenge (60 mile), May 22, 2016

What's cycling 60 miles of cool morning air plus BBQ and beer?  A good time!

This was my first time cycling the non-competitive Back Country Challenge in PennGrove, CA (near Petaluma) and it was a blast!

My cousin Sam gave me a list of local rides to ease my way back into cycling and he knew that if the finish featured a beer garden that he'd have my attention.  And he did.

There are three distances to choose from : 35 miles ($70), metric 100 (62 miles - $80) and 100 mile ride ($90).  I originally signed up for the 100 but knowing that my wife and kids would probably be waiting for me downgraded to the 60.  Registration fees benefit The Petaluma Sunrise Rotary Club and the many groups they in turn support.  The ride is extremely well organized with very clear turn markers, Aid Stations every 10 miles or so, and the best chicken BBQ and beer I've had in while.  Additional perks include three twins ice cream cones.

The 60 mile course offers nice rollers through dairy country and two good hill workouts:
  • Mile ~28 Marshall Wall
  • Mile ~38 Wilson Hill
Marshall Wall was by far the longest at about 2.5 miles start to finish and I was very glad it was over.  The ride DOWN the Hill was a highlight of the entire race not just because of the speed you can achieve but because of the beautiful surrounding views.  Since there is no 'first place' take a moment at the top for a selphie or two or just soak up the panoramic views.

Wilson Hill was short and again offered another opportunity for very fast downhill speeds.

The biggest challenge in my humble opinion was the relentless head wind for 20 miles in Chileno Valley all the way back to PennGrove.  I nearly cried when we finally made a right turn onto a freeway (Bodega?) and at least had a cross wind.  I didn't see many riders until near the end of the Valley so missed my chance to draft as part of a group.  IF you can coordinate your ride back from the coast and can draft by all means do so!

Enjoy the pictures!

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