Steven Paine had posted a “Deer Valley Loop” ride for Saturday, 2/19. The weather forecast was a bit dicey; chance of rain was 50% in the morning and it was certain to rain overnight. Steve sent out an email notice Friday evening that he was canceling the ride. I didn’t see the notice, and Joel Brandt and I had already committed to ride—rain or shine. We’re both trying to get some reasonably-paced hills training under our belts before trying to stay up with the Peloton Group again. Julie Ni also didn’t see the notice, so she showed up ready to roll, too.

It was a bit chilly at the ride start, but bearable. It’s always a bit of a slap-in-the-face-wake-up-call when you start a ride heading up the steady uphill grade on Folsom-Auburn Blvd., Folsom Lake Crossing, and Green Valley. On the other hand, by the time you reach Malcolm Dixon Road, you’re definitely warmed up for the rest of the hills to come.
We all agreed that we’d hold a steady, laid back pace and re-group at the tops of climbs. As usual, Malcolm-Dixon Road was a pleasant ride with very little traffic and a smooth, recently paved surface. We popped out onto Green Valley for a mile or so before turning on to Deer Valley. By then, the sun was peaking out of the clouds. We noticed that a couple of cars were coming down the road with snow on their hoods. Sure enough, we looked around and saw a bit of snow on the ground. As we made our way back to Rescue, we saw more snow. It was pretty cool—figuratively, and literally.
After a brief water stopped, we made our way back. A decent headwind on Green Valley renewed our appreciation for pace lines. Joel and I traded pulls. Julie isn’t yet comfortable in speedy downhill pace lines, so she fell off the back. We stopped and gave her a little coaching, hoping to instill some confidence for future rides.
As we neared Lake Natoma, Joel and I decided to pick up 10 more miles by accompanying Julie to the other end of the Lake where she would head home, and we would make the loop back.
It was a ride that would have been easy to bail on. Fortunately, Joel made me commit to show up “Rain or Shine.” As a result, it was one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve had in a while. Kudos again to Julie. I love her determination as she continues to train for the Davis Double Century, with a long-term goal to capture the California Triple Crown.