Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Chico Wildflower: some notes

Gino riding in the Wildflower
Originally uploaded by jnkochs.
• This was my first Wildflower. I'd intended to ride it last year, but I had a nasty chronic sinus infection and was about half way through a Prednisone and antibiotic treatment. Yay! This winter I've been what I'd call full blown paranoid about touching people and things, and washing my hands. Shake someone's hand? Wash. Touch a door knob? Wash. About to eat? Wash. Apparently it worked - I've not been sick.

• I didn't drink coffee before the ride, whereas most days I have two cups. This was a mistake. I totally blew apart on the third climb of the day (Table Mountain) with a splitting headache, which I'm chalking up to caffeine addiction. Luckily my buddy Tony was still at the top when I arrived; he gave me Advil, which saved the day. The rest stop at the bottom of Table Mountain had shabby coffee, and it was the best two cups of coffee I've ever tasted. Headache gone.

• I'm not willing to give up coffee. I love it!

• I absolutely love my Rivendell Rambouillet, and my Brooks B17 Champion Special. I was never in pain, other than said headache. That wasn't the bike's fault.

• Mudflaps and fenders in the rain rule. The extra weight, in my opinion, is so worth it.

• In contrast with what I've read in various publications, the food at the Wildflower is overrated. All sandwiches were laden with mayonnaise and onions, which for me, couldn't be worse when riding all day. There were also far too many cakes, muffins and junk calories. Maybe I'm just a hippie health nut, but I'd have liked to see more homemade energy bar type things, more fruit, less cookies and cake.

• REI's Novara Stratos cycling jacket is actually a great value. It's not *quite* as lightweight as the Showers Pass jacket, but it performed as well as I could've wanted. The ventilation is excellent, the pockets are sealed and well-placed, and it packs up small enough to stick into my little saddle bag with other bits of clothing when not in use. Oh, and it's totally waterproof, and on sale as I write this.

• The event was really well run. I highly recommend anyone with an interest in Chico do this ride. It's a great way to see Butte county.

• Tony not only saved my ass with ibuprofen, but he also pulled me the last 20 miles of the ride. And to top it off, he bought me a beer at the end of the day! I owe Tony some lovin'.

• I volunteered to work the registration tables the Saturday before the ride. In doing so, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country. Folks from as far as Germany rode the Wildflower this year. Four people that rode this year have done it every single year since its inception in 1981. There were tons of people from Nevada, at least in my line. Welcome to Chico! Please don't stay too long. ;-)

• Ruffy Tuffy kevlar tires, while not the fastest, are possibly the toughest (ahem) tires I've ever ridden. I'm approaching 3,000 miles on this set, and I've never had a flat. I figure I'll get another 500 miles out of them, at least.

• This year on the Wildflower course I saw no less than 50 flats - so many, in fact, that people were pondering the possibility of sabotage.

• Riding with a front mini rack with a small load is quite different than no load. It steadies the front end of my bike in descents, making it even faster. However, after nearly 90 miles and 4300 feet of climbing, I felt like I'd worked harder to steer over the course of the day. Steering response isn't as snappy as without the rack. This isn't a surprise... I'm just sayin'.

• I like riding long distances with wool against my skin. By the end of the day I still felt great. Long rides in plastic always make me feel clammy, sticky, and give me that not-so-fresh feeling. That said, in hot weather I still take plastic jerseys over wool! Luckily the Wildflower was rainy and cool nearly all day. Perhaps I really would enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest.

• True to form, Jeff blasted off after lunch, only to be seen briefly on the last 1/3 of the course.

• I'll be back next year!


Jeff Moser said...

They had lukewarm Folgers at the Holiday Inn, so I was pretty grateful for that marginal coffee at the Table Mountain rest stop too!

I was a little puzzled at the food after reading all the reviews. It seemed like boxes of Costco stuff to me. I'm not complaining, because I ate a lot of it. I was just expecting something gourmet I guess.

I was amazed at all the flats too, and I couldn't imagine what was causing all of them! I really didn't see any road hazards.

The event was really well run. I was never confused on what to do or where to go. We didn't get to see much of Chico itself...just the Sierra Nevada Brewery and the fairgrounds. We left for Nevada early Monday morning. Thank you for sharing your town!

Our story and pictures from the Wildflower are HERE.

Jeff O. said...

I may have blasted off after lunch, but I spent a wonderous morning with my buddy Gino riding the wet roads of Butte County. Some of that time spent arm in arm climbing up Honey Run supporting each other in the beauty of the climb. But alas, my friend forgot to feed his morning addition and suffered greatly upon my nemesis known as Table Mountain. Luckily, he recovered to join us at lunch and at the final rest stop. I applaud him for his fight through the pain and the attainment of yet another cycling accomplishment.

Hats off to you, Mr. Zahnd.

Gino Zahnd said...

Hooray! It was a fun day, pain and all.

Unknown said...

Ahhh... the classic coffee error!

Ever notice those splitting headaches that accompany a cold or flu? Probably has more to do with not getting that succulently sweet yet acidic cup o' Peets Major D that you greet every morning with.

Coffee and cycling go together like, um, coffee and cycling - embrace the caffeine my friend!

Glad to hear that the ride went well - thinking about doing the WF next year. Nice country up that way that I've yet to ride.

Gino Zahnd said...

Hey, the two Jims always have a place to stay pre-Wildflower. Maybe see you next year!

Chico Cyclist said...

Dude, you wouldn't believe how much pastry there was - we filled an entire U-Haul truck with that stuff - and by the end of the Century - it was almost all gone! Not sure who did the coffee.....but after riding the Mt. Shasta Summit Century without coffee, I'll never do it again - need coffee!! Anyway, you can be sure notes have been taken - thank you all for riding the Wildflower this year.

OH - Flat tires - there were well over a hundred. Nobody knows the main cause, but they were all over the course - just everywhere. Probably had something to do with the rain, but who knows. Next year, I'm thinking Street Sweeper!

Gino Zahnd said...

Thanks for listening Chico Cyclist (a.k.a. Rodney, the guy who puts on the Wildflower). It really was a fantastic event, save my disdain for sugary food and onions. :-)

Can't wait to ride again next year.