The PD reported that Saturday’s high and low temperature in Sebastopol was 100 degrees and a low of 44. I don’t know anywhere in the world that has such temperature variances on a calm clear day. For 7,000 Levi’s King Ridge Grand Fondo bike riders, this presented quite a challenge. I will get back to the squirrels.

I was greeted on my way on to the ride when Levi slowed his car from the fast lane on 101, rolled down the window and asked “If I was ready?” After the grand send-off, as the nerves eased, the weather conditions made it interesting. On my two legs of Bohemian Highway during the day, my Garmin registered both ends of the temperature extremes.

During the first hour of the ride, I suspected I was coming down with hypothermia and during the last hour, heat stroke. In between,  Sonoma County showed off her best. The views of the Pacific from Myers Grade and Coleman Valley Road were world class. Many riders unclipped off their bikes and were snapping pictures of their sweaty friends in front of the spectacular aqua marine backdrop.

What really makes this ride separate from all the other mass group rides is the people, especially  the volunteer support. A couple of years ago, I was on a ride with my brother when the so-called “rest stop” was a case of water left next to road sign. He dubbed that ride “The white trash fondo.” Being exhausted, out in the middle of nowhere and being able to pull up to an impromptu tent city full of every necessity imaginable serviced by friendly locals, is extraordinary.

Visiting with several riders, it is easy to realize this is the central event of the year for them and their vacations. Many driveways were filled with folding chairs and cow bell ringers as if they were watching one very long parade. I can’t wait for next year. It was my first 100-mile ride.

There were several reported crashes involving squirrels. Seems hard to believe, but last Monday I was nearly wiped out on Coleman Valley by one of the crazed rodents.  From what I read, on fall mornings squirrels go looking for acorns that may have fallen overnight. Roadways are usually littered with them and for squirrels they are easy to spot. Since squirrels can’t perceive a spinning front bike wheel as an object,  they tend to dart through a space they see as safe. Once the squirrel hits the wheel, it becomes entangled sending the bike rider crashing over the handlebars. The photo is from a crash on Bohemian Highway. Be safe. Avoid squirrels.

– Bruce McConnell


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