Monday, February 16, 2009

Front Row Seat at the Suffer Fest

Woody Allen once said showing up is 80% of success. So I knew when I showed up at Robert's market on Monday morning in the pouring rain, that we were going up to watch the Tour of California. The fact that neither Chris not Pat had called to cancel meant that they were in too, and I was impressed that we were all too macho or stupid to call it off. Pat pulled up in his car, followed shortly after by Chris, who had ridden an extra ten miles from his house and assured us we'd be just fine (the fact that he'd already been riding made any remaining thoughts of bagging this thing moot).

The route we took was Portola Valley Road to King's Mountain and then up and over Skyline. The first 6 or so miles were enough to test our gear - I don't ride in the rain too often and so was undecided on what jacket to wear. I started with a microfiber jacket but quickly realized that, unlike in running, the wet from the rain was going to chill me to the bone, so I threw on a two-layer (think fleece inside, water "resistant" polyester on the outside)jacket. It soaked in a lot of water but was warm enough to insulate me and my four other layers underneath. We saw no other until we got to King's mountain, and then the die-hards started appearing. Plenty of folks were going up on their bikes, others were making the drive. All-in-all I think riding the bike was less stressful, especially afterwards when traffic was at a standstill.

Nice climb and we were nice and warm by the top. Up there it was pretty serious chaos, with CHP all over trying to control things, random volunteers directing traffic, and cyclists, hikers, etc hanging around in the cold. Down the backside of Tunitas we went, descending into progressively colder environs. We wet up camp about two miles down and waited for the parade.

After all the work it took to get up there, the race was by in a flash. Seeing the pros ride these roads is impressive. Seeing the convoy pass by is, well, frightening. If I wasn't wet already, the Rock Racing driver might have done the job. How more spectators don't get run over is a mystery. the Rock team car is a two-door Cadillac, and the driver was driving like he was on Highway 9 rather than a one-lane back road, built mainly for cyclists and pot farmers. and full of cold, wet, screaming fans.

The descent and ride home were, well, cold, but we got into a good rhythm following each other's rooster tails, and got back in one piece. Round trip was about 26 miles, with a one-hour interruption.

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