Intro: As part of our look at Group Rides in the Bay Area, this week we look at another North Bay Classic, The Divine Ride.
On the Divine Electric team website under Group Rides you will find the following disclaimer:
“While we can’t guarantee that they are “no-drop rides”, we generally allow for hills to potentially shred the group so we recover after those and regroup at least once along the route. But hey – no bitching if you get dropped. Go home, lick your wounds, and keep coming back. You’ll get there.”
I’ve known about this mid-week Marin classic for years, but I’ve never been able to get my desire for mid-week hammering to synch up with having a free Wednesday morning. And so it was this particularly gloomy Christmas Eve morning that I happened to have a free morning to finally check it out.
The riders slowly rolled into the Java Hut coffee stand in Fairfax beginning around 8:30 for the 9 o’clock rollout. It was a small group at first: some lounging at the tables catching up with one another, while others huddled in line for one last cup of coffee to wrap their hands around against the bracing cold weather. Most dressed in the black/red/white of the Divine Electric team kit, but I did spot a Team Mike’s Bikes pb Equator kit and the blue/white and black of NorCal’s latest Elite Team, Coretechs. Just to name a few of the 25 or so riders who’d gathered that morning.
The Divine Ride was started in 2008 by Darin Divine as an alternative midweek group ride for those with what Divine describes as “unique” work schedules. Those who either work from home or have flexible schedules and who are looking for a little extra motivation to ride during the week. And while the ride itself was created as a vehicle for the Divine Electric Team (a Marin-based team predominantly Masters-aged riders), it is by no means an official team ride.
As Divine says, “Everyone with a bike is welcome.”
The route usually follows one or two variations: The first is a Fairfax-Nicasio-Pt. Reyes route with a return via Sir Francis Drake, while the second option is a longer ride out to Marshall and down Hwy 1. Although not strictly a no-drop ride, the riders will go as “As fast as the slowest can go.”
Regardless of which route the ride takes that day, each begins with a neutral roll-out over White Hill (perhaps the most civilized ascents over White’s that I have ever experienced in my six years in NorCal) and a regroup following the sprints. This day, perhaps owing the grim weather, the group decided on a Pt. Reyes loop.
Why You Should Do This Ride:
This is the best place to find a mid-week group ride in Marin. And Darin Divine is one of the true gens of NorCal cycling.
Unlike the Chicken Ride (which we covered earlier), the Divine Ride is really about getting in a solid workout over a relatively long distance. But of course, what would a fast paced group ride with experienced riders be without a few sprints along the route. The Divine Ride has four in total.
1. The first is the ‘Schoolhouse sprint’; a white line on the pavement opposite the school about 800 meters north of Rancho Nicasio. In terms of speed, this is the fastest one of the four because of the flat road leading into it. If you consider yourself a ‘pure sprinter’, and grimmace when the road turns up, then this is your opportunity to shine. Rarely does an attack outside 300-400 meters survive, but instead it’s a rider who hits the front with about 100 meters before the line and can maintain their speed that wins. Strava: http://www.strava.com/segments/2332984.
2. The second line is about 10-15 meters before the ride intersects Highway 1 (from Point Reyes Petaluma Road) just before Point Reyes Station. The lead up is a false flat, then turning right and kicking up to 10% for the last 50 meters. Those feeling strong and risky can try attacking before the road kicks up and see if they can hold off the others. If patience is your game plan then you want to be second or third wheel as the road turns right and kick up, launching just before the steepest part and with the line still not in sight. Due to this terrain change, the winner’s speed isn’t that fast at the line, giving plenty of time to stop before intersecting Highway 1. Strava: http://app.strava.com/segments/664231.
3. The third is most suitable for those who consider themselves ‘climbers’. The ‘line’ is the road sign designating ‘steep downhill ahead’ at the top of the climb on Sir Francis Drake, just south of Olema. If you end up doing this ride quite consistently, you get to know there’s a few leaner guys who wait for this one because it’s their time to show the bulky and powerful sprinters who’s boss. There’s typically an attack from the bottom of the climb, just after you turn left onto Sir Francis Drake. The pace usually continues to increase as the leaders driving the chase try to reel in anybody up the road. There is a small respite in the climb about 3/4 of the way up, giving some benefit to those drafting. If you’ve kept yourself off the front and feeling good, the ideal time to launch your attack is just after the road turns right and the finish sign is in sight. Strava: http://www.strava.com/segments/624948.
4. The final sprint finishes at the road sign designating ‘steep downhill ahead’ at the top of White Hill on Sir Francis Drake, just before plunging down into Fairfax. All riders legs have definitely softened up by this time, and especially because the pace is usually quite strong on the false flat 5km lead up.
Strava – http://www.strava.com/activities/198954168/segments/4687646633). This isn’t a ‘wait to the last minute’ sprint. Rather it’s usually a power/drag-racer sprinter who can put out the most power for 30-45secs at the end of a solid ride.
This ride does bring out some strong riders. That said, you don’t have to be like that to hang. If you are smart, keep out of the wind and time your maximum efforts then you will be able to hang on and contend right to the end.
56km – Pt Reyes Short Loop
96.5km – Marshall Long Loop
Occurs – Every Wednesday (Year round, rain or shine)
Start time/place: 9 am. The Java Hut , Fairfax.
Group Size: Varies
Strava Route Info:
Pt Reyes Short Route: http://www.strava.com/routes/1403989
Marshall Wall Long Route: http://www.strava.com/routes/1404001
KOM: Thomas Newmeyer – 1:25:55*
QOM: Iris Fox – 1:34:37*