March 14 (Pi day!!) and 15th (Julius Seizure Day!) marked a long-awaited road trip down to Santa Cruz. Bicycling in Santa Cruz easily rivals our riding here in Marin–both road and offroad–and for 25 hours this past weekend I was part of a group of riders who have known each other and ridden, raced, loved and lived to be that ultimate expression of biker fluency: a superb example of a 60-year old human.
Marshall Livingston, the padre of pedalheads of Point Reyes, took Tom Killion, Jeremy Fisher-Smith and me down south for a pre ride feast of salmon, a swank slumber party, and a ride the following day. We were guests of Billy Menchine and Alicia Stanton, who have hosted three decades of bicycle banquets. “Hut Thanksgiving” was my not-to-be missed first Saturday of December, in the years when I put on a very humble benefit for Women’s Crisis Support in Nisene Marks Forest.
Jeremy and Tom spent their formative years down there, and know the roads well. I was raring to do a group ride with the fast old guys and not have to look at maps. According to Livingston, there are only about four swift saurian riders in his West Marin town, whereas Santa Cruz easily has twenty or more. I think maybe I am one of a few Undroppable dame-o-saurs.
Others joined us Saturday morning: Jeff Traugott, guitar builder, Greg Foy, a pro colleague I hadn’t seen in about 30 years, Bob Landry, a builder (practically all these men are the kind that build their own homes), Peter Vizzusi and Paul Schraub. I took names. If I don’t immediately scribble down their contact info, I can’t have that wild 60th b.d. party up on Tam I’m planning in rainy, stormy (we hope) first week o’ December 2015.
I need my ‘cohort’ (and a few kids, too) to pedal up unassisted to dine together for TWO days and nights….
We’ll see if I can pull that off.
Alicia Stanton, Billy’s life partner and breezy chef de cuisine, rolled out a whole salmon and a small bushel of young yellow potatoes and even younger asparagus, and a merry dozen traded stories (as always with bikers, Road Rage Tales often pepper the usually more high-minded discussions of stuff like how great Procol Harum is.
I turned in early on the 9 foot couch, preferring it to the four huge beds on offer for my traveling companions.
Next morning we rode down the hill and collected our first cases of waving people, fist-shakers and random Hard To Interpret Motorist Behavior. Made many breakfasts: eggs, rice porridge, toast, and as Billy’s in-town house was disheveled by hungry (and in my case, rude) guests, a small peloton formed in the back yard. It was evident that this was going to be more than a ride–it seems there were several folks besides me that hadn’t seen one another in over a decade.
Roll out was maybe 10:30, and destination #1 was Granite Hill Road and the celebrated Zayante descent. I have to call Zayante the ‘repack’ of roadies. Billy might fill me in on the specifics sometime. Suffice to say I stayed down in the drops and clung to the right edge of a bumpyish road with a few hairpins and even one car coming the opposite way. As fourth or fifth in line, there was no danger of damaging someone’s hood, but I still wonder if there’s a connection between the rambunctious descending style of the talented riders in this town and the highly demonstrative few pick-up truck drivers who either gun their engine or bellow “single file” from the driver window.
I ‘d like to include Billy’s words here, and will, when I have permission to…about the early “moto” years of Santa Cruz fat tire history.
As it was, at one of the gathering points a tally was made to see what the average age was in our group, and it was 59.6 yrs, IF you threw out David M. who at 37 threw off the hoped-for high number.
Truly, we’d all pedaled an aggregate million miles, and lived to tell the tale.
Can’t write more–i’m off to Strada Rossa, with Philip Williamson, the graphic designer of note. This event’s put on by David the Cyclotourist whose photos I avidly follow on Flickr. We’d been pen pals for a few years, finally I get to meet him.
And see Jim Harlow, my old racing friend from Team Ross.