Tires not my waist This weekend was pretty darn cool in a very uncharacteristic manner for me in that it did include any fat tire action. Saturday a bunch of the LA bike messenger crowd were doing a century+ ride from downtown LA to the Stone Brewery in Escondido. By buddy Jerry from the OC was going to do the ride with themas well and asked if I wanted to get in on the action. Normally I would have balked at the idea of giving up a perfectly good Saturday to skinny tires, but since there was a good friend and what would be my first trip to Stone, what the hell.
Saturday was really pretty and after a few phone calls to time thingsjust right, I left my house on a bit of a wandering route over to Oceanside to join up with the group. It had been months since I was last on the road bike, but it did not take long to get the road reflexes reengaged. It only took one pothole that nearly knocked by fillings out my teeth to drive home that I am was not on my 6″ travel plush-o-rama mountainbike and I had to look where the tires were going. It was about a 19 mile route over to Oceanside and I had plenty of time to kill before the rest of the group got there. Jerry split a little early from the last rest stop and was the first one to roll in. He needed hit the ATM and grab a snack. It was not long, before the lead group was in sight. We hopped on our bikes to join them. This was a bit of a wake up call, as I had to put some effort into staying with this group. I’m glad they already had 80 miles on thier legs at this point as I would have been struggling otherwise.
While it had been quite a few months since I had been on the road bike, it had been years since I had ridden in a group. It was was a little scary at times being so close to other riders. Over the course of the next 22 miles or so I got a lot more used to it. We soon found ourselves at the brewing company and over the next 45 minutes we chilled while the rest of the group made it in. This was a pretty entertaining and talented group of folks. Soon we all piled into the Brewery which is freaking huge. The Bistro/restaurant area we really cool and they had great food and brews to boot. We had a good time there and I eventually gave the wife a call to come pick Jerry and I up.
Of course I could not leave empty handed. A 2-liter growler of the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. Yummy! Jerry and I worked a little on this the rest of the evening.
Sunday we bummed around most of the morning and then heading out towards Palomar Mountain to watch the final stage of Tour De California. The plan was to drive up and what the racers coming up the 5,200+ foot mountain and then let my youngest son (Jake) and Jerry bomb down Nate Harrision Grade while I followed in the truck. Jake has not done this route yet so I was a little concerned, so I had him bring along all of his hockey arm and knee/shin guards. My oldest son, Will had climbed the mountain back in April of last year.
Conerns over Jake handling the ride ended up not being an issue as the road was already closed by the time we got there so we went for Plan B and setup to watch the race from Cole Grade Rd. There were cars lined up all along the route through here and there was a festive mood on the mountainside. Cowbells were bountiful as fans were cheering on the many amateurs who were riding along the route in the hours before the pros would come through. There was a breakaway of four riders and there was a parade of cars, motorcycles with flashing lights and sirens that preceding them. It was amazing to see the pace these guys were climbing at.
About a minute later the first group of chasers where in view and headed up the grade. Lance Armstrong was right up in the front helping to push the pace and ensure that teammate Levi would maintain his 36 second lead in the tour.
I have watched many of the Tour De France stages on TV and always liked that look of determination on Lance’s face when he was “working”. It was really cool to see that look in person, even if it was just for a few second or so. Oh yeah, the chasers were ripping up this hill and they were looking so smooth in the process.
After the chase group, there was a long train of the support cars following with lots of expensive bikes on thier roofs. I probably saw a quarter of a million dollars in bikes go by.
Some minutes back came the rest of the peloton
There was some suffering being done in this group. (They were still ripping!)
After the final folks went by we spent a long time in stop-and-go traffic out of the area. We stopped at a near by taco shop for dinner but the traffic was still pretty screwed after that. We did not mind the traffic too much as it was good to see so many people out supporting cycling. This was the Tour’s visit time in San Diego County and judge from what I saw and the TV highlights, I think we represented well in the fans catergory. We eventually made it back to the coast were I dropped Jerry off at the train station and headed home. This was a pretty cool weekend even if it did not include any fat-tire time.