Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Whose-Idea-Was-This?!? Ride

As some of you may know, this week is the Tour of California. Last year, we held a ride from the shop to the top of Sierra Road to watch the pro's come over the top. It went well. It was cold, but really not that bad.

So this year we decided to do it again.

Only this year, the Tour of California apparently coincided with monsoon season. But we still did it.

It was a dark and stormy night....

Well, really morning, because I got up at 5:30 am to give myself enough time to lug all my stuff to the shop, hit the grocery store to buy plastic garbage bags, ice and water (HA!!), and other miscellaneous crap, and stop by Peet's to grab some hot caffeinated beverages. All the while I was getting emails from customers bailing on the ride.

Instead of just having people ride with us this year, we had a bunch of bikes from Specialized on loan, so most of the people who came along were borrowing bikes. This added a nice little bonus layer of stress for me, because we were definitely on a schedule for the first part of the ride (make it to the top before Lance does!!) and it was one more disorganized step we had to take. Eventually, we got it handled, and myself, Jen, and 11 unwitting customers donned our many layers and rolled out.

I stayed dry for about three minutes. We took the bike path all the way to Hellyer, which was nice because everyone could socialize and it was empty save for some random dude walking in the rain. Everyone pointed out the big puddles and we went around them like good little riders.

Any one who has ever taken the path all the way up surely knows the spot where the path dips down low and the creek runs over the pavement if there is even a little bit of water in it. Usually not a big deal. Because of the monsoons, the creek was about 15 feet wide and 8 inches deep at this spot. I'm fairly certain the only way my feet were going to stay dry was if I had put them on my handlebars. My shoes filled up with water, and my nice "waterproof" shoe covers made sure all that water stayed put. So nice of them!

We made it off the bike path after one potty break for the boys and a little bit of debating which way to go. We headed up Silver Creek. As I was sitting in the back with one of the slower climbers I saw one of the girls pull over and start staring at her bike. She had a flat. I rode up to her and tried paging Jen on the walkie talkies I had her bring for this exact reason, but got no answer. The walkie talkies didn't work. I had one of the slower riders keep riding and flag down the rest of the group while I changed the flat. Cold, wet hands don't work particularly well for that job. We got rolling again, and someone else got a flat not very long after the first one. I changed that one too.

FINALLY, we made it to the base of the climb, with very little time to spare. The first part of the climb is ridiculous. It's straight up. Not even any turns to break it up visually. I had opted not to take my jacket off at the base, but pulled over pretty quickly to change. Miraculously, the sun came out for a little bit, making the climb a little better. I toodled along for like ten minutes of sunny goodness until WHAM!!!! the headwind from hell smacks me as I'm turning a corner and angry rain starts pouring down. I stopped again to put all the clothes I had just removed back on. We all kept riding, sometimes stopping to take a breather or adjust some piece of wet clothing. I tried standing up since I was out of gears, and the wind caught me and I felt like I was going backwards. Freaking lovely. At one point I dropped my glasses that had been hanging on my jersey and I used it as an opportunity to not feel like I was dying while some random spectator got them for me. I'm very lazy if you haven't picked up on that.

When I finally got to the top I was greeted by a ton of people and our brand-new shop tent, which was open but not pulled up all the way so as to provide a wind-free zone. There were a bunch of legs under the tent so I propped my bike against a fence and ducked under the tent to say hi. Aaaaaaaaand my tent was full of strangers. Ooops. I'm pretty sure I said something retarded. Apparently all of my people were either huddled in the truck running the heater (mostly the people who took the truck to the top who were neither riding bikes nor wet....babies!) or in various states of undress near the truck trying to get warm clothes on.

We were at the top for maybe 15 minutes before the official tour cars started rolling through, in which time I stuffed as much food as possible into my face as I shivered and made friends with a guy from Seattle who is friends with a guy who races for BMC (side note, why do all the people I know from Washington state look the same? Seriously, it kind of freaks me out.) When all the riders came by I took a ton of pictures - somewhere in the 138 neighborhood - and yelled and stuff. And then it was over.

Four of my riders went down the hill early because they were too cold to wait around, and Jen and I were the last two down. My too-large glove got caught in my shifter and I almost crashed into her on the way down. It was probably the coldest descent ever. We found the rest of our group at the bottom, and we headed back towards the Silvercreek Starbucks where the first four told us they would meet us. The girls all decided that we needed to stop before that Starbucks, because we all had to take a potty break, so we stopped at a closer Starbucks. If I had worked there I would have hated us, as we got water EVERYWHERE from walking around. The one kid (17 y-o I think) that was with us had his mom take him home. He might be smarter than me. The rest of us continued along, got a little lost, started cramping, and got another flat (spread out over 8 people, so it wasn't that eventful) until we got to our Starbucks destination. I stuffed my face some more and we got water all over the place again. The mop lady at this one was not nearly as nice as the guy at the first place. We all hopped on the bike path and hauled ass towards the shop.

While on the bike path I got tired of playing sweeper, so I took advantage when Jen drifted back to talk to someone and hopped on a faster wheel. By the time we got to the end of the path Jen was no where to be seen, so I told everyone to go on and I waited. And waited. In the rain. I tried to call her and dropped my phone in the gutter. I went to the ranger station to use their porch to dry my phone out and they invited me in because it was warm. I sat staring out the window looking for Jen and the customer she was with and never saw her. Crap. I lost my boss. I had all the spare tubes. It was raining and getting dark. Crap. I called Bruce and asked him to bring the truck. One of the rangers went looking for Jen. Bruce got there and told me he saw Jen almost at the shop. Somehow I had missed them. I made Bruce give me a ride back to the shop. Screw the last two miles, I wanted a heater!!!

That night I scrubbed my hair twice to get all the road grit out. I found rocks stuck to my head while I was in bed. I woke up in the morning with a head cold.

Pretty much, the ride wasn't that bad while I was doing it, but I am in no hurry to do it again any time soon.


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