Hey That Was Fun!

Hey That Was Fun!

The Ronde et Vous is in the books. I’m not normally at a loss for words, but this is one occasion where I feel like saying much about the event other than just bare facts will come across as braggy or marketing fluff.

Unlike many events that do what they can to attract as many people as humanly possible, the Ronde et Vous was small and intimate. Between the exhibitors and attendees, we had two dozen people (not everyone rode and the picture above doesn’t capture all the riders, unfortunately), which gave me the opportunity to spend some time with everyone.

Friday evening we served burritos (chorizo or chicken) from what I believe is the best Mexican place in Santa Rosa (they make their own chorizo). We washed the burritos down with beers from Russian River Brewing Co. (Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder) as well as a limited run ale from Lagunitas, and some brews from up-and-comers Henhouse Brewing and Fogbelt Brewing Co. We went heavy on the IPAs, but included some other touches like a sour from Fogbelt. There were some stunning wines as well, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Our exhibitors were Pursuit Cycles, Co-Motion Cycles, DiNucci Cycles and a time capsule from legend George Mount. Pursuit is a new company producing carbon fiber bikes here in the U.S., in Bozeman, Montana. I’ll go into more detail in another post to come. We were also joined by Kali Protectives marketing manager Pat McKay and Yuba Cycles sales manager Marc Azevedo.

Co-Motion came equipped with a tandem model dialed for gravel riding.

Among the bikes George Mount showed off was this gravel bike from Albert Eisentraut.

Mount, left, was joined by Nick Farats, who was known to Northern California as the Bike Barb. I found it utterly surreal to have to legends of California racing standing in a feed zone.

The Astro, Santa Rosa’s new boutique motel, served as our base of operations. While the Astro is technically a motel because the doors to the rooms are outside, not inside, the place received such an extensive overhaul when it was renovated (by the new owners, among we can count Andy Hampsten) that the rooms rival the nicest hotel I’ve ever visited. Their lounge was the perfect place to serve up the meals and the courtyard gave us room to show off the bikes.

Saturday’s route took in the Old Caz course made famous by the Grasshopper Adventure Series. Doing it without numbers pinned on gave us a chance to look around and soak in the scenery.

October is as good as Sonoma County gets. The mornings begin cool and often foggy but warm into sunny days that reward short sleeves and sunscreen.

One of the advantages to riding Old Cazadero Road this time of year is that Austin Creek was less than a foot deep, totally ridable, except for the entry and exit.

With Old Caz, you get everything from brightly lit dirt passages to tiny paved roads that pass beneath Redwood canopy.

Saturday evening we served up two lasagnas, a chicken pesto and a locally made wild mushroom pork sausage. The latter may have been the best lasagna of my life. We served up more Pliny the Elder, added the very citrusy Heroine from 101 North, and a locally produced pear cider by Ace Brewing over in Sebastopol as well as Henhouse’s award-winning Incredible Pale Ale. Little known is the fact that George Mount is part of a small group led by Albert Eisentraut that makes its own wine. The former Olympian brought some of that along and people raved.

Once everyone started in on the cookies, I told our audience a bit more about our exhibitors then described the next day’s route. I can’t seem to talk without hand movement.

Sunday morning’s breakfast was provided by WOW Waffles, which produces traditional Liege-style waffles. The waffles were topped with everything from scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon to Nutella, to powdered sugar and Nutella. I only found out about the pure maple syrup after I’d already ordered Nutella and strawberries. Dang.

Because the Astro caters to cyclists, a portion of the lounge is a functional bike shop with a full complement of tools and a repair stand.

While there is plenty of singletrack in Trione-Annadel State Park, we stuck to the fire roads for an out-and-back course that gave riders a chance to see how well the park is recovering from last year’s fires.

To keep everyone fueled we had gels and stroopwafles from GU, mix from Skratch Labs, bananas, leftover cookies, and maybe one or two things that aren’t actually required for excellent athletic performance.

Any time you include significant elevation change in a ride there’s always a chance that you’ll have riders spread over … well, a long time. Riders in attendance had a remarkably matched fitness, which made regrouping at the top of a climb and the bottom of a descent surprisingly easy.

The ride in Annadel gave us a chance to take in a full range of what the park has to offer, save the singletrack.

A ride in Annadel would be utterly incomplete without a visit to Lake Ilsanjo. Had I held the event in August, we might have needed to jump in.

We ended our second day of riding at Trail House, the combination tap room and bike shop owned by the same people behind NorCal Bike Sport, the local Specialized Concept Store.

I decided to promote the Ronde et Vous because I wanted to have a chance to show off a truly special place in this world. And I wanted to serve as a good host, giving people more than just a good ride. Somewhere in there we did something right. I saw more smiles than at any event I’ve attended in recent memory. This would be where I thank those who helped behind (and sometimes in front of) the scenes: George Mount (I’m truly honored to benefit from having him in our corner), Mark DiNucci (while he’s a man of few words, when he does approve—like the chorizo—he’ll let you know), and Andrea Wells (who not only wrangled Mount and the Bike Barb and ran the rest stops like popup buffets, she shot many of these photos as well).

I’m grateful to all of them as well as our attendees and exhibitors. I begin planning our next event tomorrow.

 


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14 comments

  1. Gary

    I think the photo of George and Nick near the beginning of the article is missing.
    I used to love the Bike Barb in Competitive Cycling magazine. I met him in Oregon in 1976. He had a new bike that Eisentraut built with all the tubes painted with barb wire.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Nick and George are in the seventh photo from the top, the vertical image immediately following the shot of George’s Eisentraut.

    2. George Mount

      Nik still has one of the 3 barb wire specials Albert built him hanging in the garage. He’s not riding it as he’s moved to some Italian plasto-carbonio electromoronic thing, but half the time can’t remember where he put the charger for it. This has exposed a new truism – “If you are old enough to need electronic shifting you are usually too old to remember where the charger is or how to plug it in.” (NOTE- I spent part of the weekend helping him get up to speed on his new cell phone but I’m not sure much of it stuck, but for an 85 year old guy who can still put in the miles, he gets a pass.)

  2. Scott

    Looks like a fun weekend. Definitely interested next year, especially if there’s a route that a 700×32 slick can handle.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      In the final days before the event I asked myself, “Why didn’t you talk to Mark Ritz about serving everyone Kinetic Koffee.

      #OpportunityMissed

      We would, of course, love to have you.

  3. Andy G

    I’m glad to hear that this was a success. As an Ohioan who loves to vacation in Sebastopol/Santa Rosa, I really wanted to make this event but just couldn’t make it work (this time). Looking forward to the next one.

    From the Trail House/Annadel, to Coleman Valley Road, to Occidental….that area is one of my favorite places on earth.

  4. AlMac

    I love the simplicity of it all. A few things done exceptionally well allowing time to focus truly on the whole experience.
    Could be a model for life.

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