R2D2 4th Edition
The 4th annual R2D2 (Ride to Defeat Diabetes) is in the book. This edition was a special one for me because it was the first time I was able to participate as a rider. My main responsibility was making sure the course was ready, confirming the roads being used were open and safe while we lay down hundreds of arrows directing riders to help them navigate the routes.
## ## The other reason this year was special was that I rode with a new generation of riders. I invited Edison and Oliver Cannard to ride with me. Edison and Oliver are identical twin brothers who are 40 years younger than me. They are the 15 year old sons of my childhood best friend Tom Cannard of Sonoma. Tom was a cyclist from the time he was a teenager and did some racing back then. He is the one who got me riding. When I was ready to buy a good quality road bike he took me to a small shop in Novato where I was fitted to an expensive all Campagnolo Record equipped Eddy Merckx steel frame. I rode this bike for more than a dozen years. I still have it and it is road worthy, though it is mostly a display piece.
The bikes the two boys were on are of that same vintage. Only six cogs on the rear wheel instead of ten or even eleven cogs available on modern bikes, with shifting done on down tube friction shifters. Down tube means the shifters are mounted on the frame of the bicycle instead of built into the brake levers. Friction means that you have to find the right position of the shifters by feel and sound rather than them being indexed on modern shifters. With only a total of 12 speeds they did not have very low gearing but the climbing on R2D2 is not too difficult for these young guys.
The evening before R2D2, after all of the setup for the event was done, I drove to Sonoma to pick up the boys. I found Tom doing some last minute adjustments on the Bianchi that Edison was going to ride. After a test ride it was deemed ready. With the bikes loaded on the roof rack it was back home. We shared a Pietro’s Pizza and made it an early night. We would be up by 5:30 for to share a pot of oatmeal.
We were on the bikes before it was light. We all had flashers and headlights as we cycled the quiet streets of Vacaville to the hospital. We were second in line at registration. Then we were ambushed by a member of the Public Relations staff who asked me to speak for a public service announcement to be posted on the NorthBay Facebook page. We all posed in front of the banner while I recited the usual “We are here at VacaValley Hospital for the.” speech for video.
We arrived at the start so early and it was too cold to be standing around for too long so we started out on our own. It would be nice to be there for the big 7:30 start but it was also nice riding alone on the quiet roads. The first rest stop, at the Bianco Ranch, was only 13 miles so it was just about an hour riding time. We had not been caught by any riders. We were early and they were still setting up but welcomed us and we had a banana with peanut butter. Then we headed out onto the rollers of the English hills. I was really enjoying the route a completely flat beginning to warm up, then a few rollers before we did the climb up Cantelow Grade.
The next part of the ride was along the scenic Pleasants Valley Road, which from the point we joined it was mostly a gentle downhill so we made good time to the turnoff onto Putah Creek Road. Cycling along Lake Solano we all observed many ducks and geese feeding. We rolled into Winters and found my friend Sunny and her riding partner were there ahead of us but she had taken a shortcut avoiding. A few other riders arrived right behind us and we were no longer in the front of the pack.
After the lunch (or brunch) stop the route took us through the Orchards South East of Winters and then South into a light headwind. One of the boys was starting to have a little trouble maintaining the pace so we all slowed and worked together. When we turned toward Allendale, the wind was slightly at our backs. Several groups passed us before we arrived back at the Bianco Ranch at mile 42. Each time we arrived and departed here we had an enthusiastic cheering section with cow bells.
With 20 more miles to go we again headed into the English Hills and onto Cantelow Road, but the route did not take us back over the Grade a second time, instead we tackled a smaller climb up Steiger Hill Road. A volunteer helped us safely make the turn onto Gibson Canyon Road and told us not to miss the turn onto Farrell Road on the downhill. Then we were back on Pleasants Valley Road heading toward Lagoon Valley. In my mirror I saw red and blue lights flashing and it was two CHP motorcycles leading a colossal group of motorcycles. For the next two miles we shared the road with a continuous stream of motorcycles and trikes. One of the CHP officers stopped traffic at Cherry Glen and we rolled through the intersection along with the motorcycles. The moto group turned onto Lyon Road while we continued into Lagoon Valley Park.
After passing through the park we were back into the city of Vacaville. The route took riders directly back to the start by way of Marshall Road. I was taking the boys on an alternate route along the creek side bike path. There was one rider following us so explained to him what we were doing and he asked to join us. It turned out to be Aldon who is an RN that works on 1 West at VacaValley. The four of us rolled along the quiet bike path and together we made it across the three busy street crossings staying on the path nearly the entire way until we came out onto Christine Drive where we followed the arrows for the family ride to the finish line. There we were greeted with boisterous cheering and brassy sounds of cow bells. More cow bell!
We checked the board for the raffle prizes and I was the only winner. One pair of nice wool socks from Precision Cycling and one pair of gloves from Pearl Izumi. A delicious meal of pasta and salad was served prepared by Merchant and Main and served by members of our Board of Directors. The boy’s parents arrived and we treated them to a plate of food as well. Tom wanted to see what I had at home as far as wheels and parts for the boys bikes so the boys and I rode back home along the bike path. We did a total of 75 miles and the boys were pretty tired. Besides some bike parts I also handed over one of my bikes. I have a relatively modern custom built (not for me) steel frame by Paul Taylor with a carbon fork and carbon seat stays. It has modern Campy ten speed components with Ergo shifters. It was a bike I was going to try to sell but I feel much better if it is being ridden by one of the boys.
It was a special day for me and I am looking forward to being able to ride many more miles with Edison and Oliver. We want to get them to ride with me on my tandem and if they get much taller they might even be able to ride the tandem together. I asked them what they thought about wearing matching jerseys and they said “no way.”