40th Anniversary Cinderella Classic ride report (April 9, 2016) – A Soggy, Silly, Serendipitous Cinderella Adventure

Had plans to drive out with a Grizzly pal Esta in her car, Grizzly pal Sandy would meet us there. We were all eager to ride the longer, hillier 87-mile “Challenge” route (which basically is Patterson Pass counter-clockwise), so would arrive early enough to get to the turn from Cross Rd to Patterson Pass Rd by its 10:30 cut-off point, having just missed it by a minute or two (or less) in the few previous years it’s been offered.

A few days before, we were monitoring the weather, and it looked like I am still up for it, Esta on the fence, Sandy still a maybe, but all three in agreement that assuming we did go, and early enough to make the time cut-off for the “Challenge”, we would stick to the regular “Classic” route and forego the somewhat tricky wet, blustery, twisty descent which the east side of Patterson Pass in the Challenge option offers.

The short version:

both my gals decided to sit it out, and I decided to go by BART.

Leaving the house, I see and hear the 6:02 a.m. southbound BART train rumble onward. OK, so I’ll catch the next one, 6:22 a.m.

some additional delays and costume complications delayed my departure from home.

Once at BART, running up the stairs, at the almost at top of the stairs and miss that one, too!

Catch the next “next train”.  6:43 a.m….. a full 40+ minutes behind schedule.

It will be tight, but I’m pretty sure i’ll still make it.  I am also noticing, for the first time, that I’m the only Cinderella on BART today. That should have been a clue.

You can’t get there from here… or you can.. .but it’s going to be more complicated and take longer than usual.

Track Maintenance (therefore no BART trains) between San Leandro and Bayfair, and vice-versa.

At San Leandro all passengers disembark, descend the stairs/elevator/escalator to the street level, follow the arrows to the special, free buses waiting for the free ride to Bayfair station, re-board BART to continue the journey.  “Expect delays in total travel time up to at least 1 hour.”

At San Leandro, I’ve waited just about as long as I can for the elevator, and am running over to the stairwell to see that it’s several stories high… the helper on BART sees the elevator finally arrive, and holds it for me… I just make the bus before it’s taking off.  The bus ride (and actually, the whole operation of extra helpers and signage at both San Leandro and BayFair BART stations) is a smoothly running, well-staffed operation.  The bus driver takes a quick route to get to BayFair, and the elevator is pretty near to the bus stop.  Just a few minutes of waiting on the train before it departs Bayfair for Dublin/Pleasanton.

8:35 when I arrive Dublin/Pleasanton. It’s not my first rodeo, and part of the way there is also the last piece of the official route, so my path to registration/check-in is well-marked with the familiar pink “Cinderella” arrows on the pavement guiding me onward. The entire ride south and eastbound has shown nothing but gray, drizzly looking skies for as far as the eye can see. But I’m still going to at least show up and try. I put on my “it will work out fine, out of my control anyway” hat, and hope for the best.

I make it just in time (and am glad to see I’m not the last one… several Cinderellas are just coming from their cars in the parking area over to the registration point (about 1/4 mile or so bike ride further).  But the Valley Spokesmen crew have the little mini Luna bars at check-in, so I munch on one as I get going.  It is raining lightly, and has been. Pretty much, I’m soaked from beginning to end.  And have a blast!

As usual, although I’m not a particularly speedy rider by Grizzly standards, on the Cinderella I find that almost nobody ever passes me (or if they do, we leapfrog, and then I make it in before they do)….generally, there are “pods” of riders that all leapfrog off and on, and we see each other again at Rest Stops, but at the end of the day, I’m still more or less in the first or second wave of riders finishing, regardless of when I start. Yesterday was no exception.  The ride itself?  Well, soggy the entire time, raining full time for the better part of the first 50+ miles. Hills are green and luscious. Wildflowers still up and out in the fields. Just a bit cold between mile 18 or so, just before the 1st rest stop and lunch.  After lunch, I zipped up the front of my jacket, as well as the long “air-vent” zippers in the underside of the sleeves – which open, were letting in a bit of wind AND wet earlier; also, having my costume more “cozy” was also aware of some heat radiating up off the pavement on May School Road to Highland. Overall, the course was less windy in the Livermore/Dublin sections than in some other years. I’m always surprised – even though I know it ahead of time – that we end up way over westward in San Ramon before continuing the somewhat circular course back to Pleasanton.  Overall, it’s a fast, flat ride, much of it in beautiful countryside. I also love to do it every year because it holds a special place in my bicycle-riding heart as the ride that gave me the confidence to try longer routes. And the costumes make it a big smile-fest.

The rain kept many of the usual inexperienced “spread across the whole lane going way too slowly” Cinderellas away, and so the actual riding was more pleasant, much like when I started doing the ride in 1996 (and participation was limited to 1000 or 1500 riders, not the 2500 of these days).

I enjoyed the salads at the end  [new, i think, or my memory is getting worse than i thought].  Delicious…. similar in style to our Grizzly Peak Century recipes.  Quinoa; Asian noodle with julienned fresh veggies; baby roma tomatoes with baby bufala mozzarella balls; the usual hot minestrone soup. Very welcome after a wet soggy ride. Grizzly Steve T was a talent with tongs, serving up lunchtime leftovers (Bagels, PB&J, veggie and/or chicken wraps) for those who preferred sandwich fare to the salads. Grizzly Gary H was also on-hand, and I saw him both at the start and at the end.

I had fun. Got soaked, but was never too cold or miserable, by any standard (although I did ask myself, both while on BART and learning of the “extra-credit” delays and gray, gray skies in all directions, “what the heck am i doing going 2+ hours via public transportation just to go riding around in the rain?). Every year I wonder why, and then i go and the atmosphere is always positive.

During the ride and afterward i saw a few Grizzlies: Roxanna (at Wente, Rest Stop #1); Gail G (at lunch), Lenore R (at lunch), Riva (from Benicia Bicycle Club) on-route (getting a flat changed) and at Post-ride; Grizzlies Kati T (and daughter Britt in Minnie Mouse ears, and husband/Grizzly Eric H at Post ride meal), Grizzly Loida M (and riding pal Christina from Oakland), Grizzly/co-worker Betsy Q at lunch (RestStop#2), briefly at RS#3, and post-ride. Were there others?  A light showing of Bears this year.

Here’s the course:

– for the 67-mile “Classic” route (67.6 mi +2242 ft / -2241 ft), billed as:

“This unique bicycle tour for women of all ages and abilities winds through Amador, Livermore, Diablo, and San Ramon Valleys. This metric century (100k/67 miles) is mostly flat with a few moderate hills. From the start at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, the ride circles south through Pleasanton, out through the vineyards of Livermore, then north and along the base of beautiful Mt. Diablo to Danville, where it turns south and winds back to the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.”

Ride with GPS link:  https://ridewithgps.com/routes/12673766

– for the 87-mile “Challenge” route (87.7 mi +4334 ft / -4334 ft, incl. Patterson Pass loop):

“The Challenge route is for fit experienced riders only. The course has an additional 2,000 feet of elevation gain with significant ascents and descents and increases the total ride distance to 87 miles. Entry to the Challenge route is monitored and closes at 10:30 am.”

Ride with GPS link: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/12812589

Here i am in the photo from one of the photographer’s sites. Copyright MilesJohn/NaturalLightPhotography: http://www.milesjohnphotos.com/#/gallery/cinderella-16-c5-845-to-10-00/mj6-1213/

the URL will probably auto-forward to other pics of other riders, so you can appreciate the general happy vibe of the ride …

Other Cinderella photos can be found at another event photographer’s site, PhotoCrazy.com (here I am at 11:18 a.m.): http://www.photocrazy.com/cgi-bin/inspect_fullsize.plphotoID=P160409111852101d1&path=/2016/0408CIN/Cin1&ev=1196&picno=3321482

There was one more official-looking photo guy right before the intersection at Cross Rd & Patterson Pass Road, I haven’t located his site yet, but that’s the shot I really want. There’s a wee climb just before the road drops down again to the intersection, and I saw him sitting in the back of his truck with the long lens out, so I stood up on the pedals, smiled and pushed hard ahead, and as I approached, he said, “you make it look easy” (yeah, I wish! But truthfully, was happy for the compliment. And I do generally have a broad smile on my face when I ride my bicycle…).

Totaling the 67.7 miles of the Cinderella Classic course, plus the 5 flat “bonus-miles” each way between Dublin/Pleasanton BART and the ride’s Start/Finish at the Alameda Fairgrounds, plus the 1 flat “bonus-mile” each way between home and El Cerrito BART, I had 79.7 miles for the day.  My average pace was 12.9 mph… not terribly fast, but not terribly slow, either, especially considering I was wearing a multi-layered, soggy, billowy party dress and loose rain jacket. Fun Day!  I’ll do it again next year, too. Just a wonderful tradition for me. Maybe even make the time cut-off for the “Challenge” course, for once!

I got home late (after 7:30 p.m.) after a long BART/bus/BART ride on the return trip. It was raining locally, still. Ben offered to buy dinner and suggested if I ordered take-out at Cafe Raj and walked over to pick it up, he’d buy. I didn’t turn that down! Called in the order, took a long, steamy shower and washed my hair, then walked over to “the Avenue” to fetch a quick and sumptous supper. Three dishes, plus 2 chapati and 1 order of rice, a dish of delicious raita “on the house.” Enough food for dinner that night and lunch on Sunday. Yum yum. Life is Good!

Ciao & cheers,


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