Chris DiStefano told me last week that their company (Rapha) was welcoming a new manager at the San Francisco club/coffeehouse. The manager’s name is…Charlie Cunningham. A very familiar, friendly name. Not Charles. Charlie. Charlie Cleverbacon.
When DiStefano told me the date–August 23rd–I chirped: that’s MY Charlie’s birthday! Maybe he can have the 1948 era baby bracelet that Carol Cunningham lovingly saved all those years (i’d have kept it but we have a bit of a clutter issue here at Taj Mahovel).
Naturally i had to come welcome the 2.0 version of Charlie Cunningham and rode blithely into the teeth of the most densely packed Sausalito/Golden Gate Bridge tourist scrum i’d ever experienced. “This is good for me” I told myself, carefully steering around the towers needed to avoid another scrum of backward-walking, camera clicking tourists. I knew nobody in Fairfax that would actually ride 23 miles to a a posh pedalhead party, just for the food. I figured I might catch a ride back if there WERE a Marinite that’s in the Rapha inner circle.
Pulled into the Union street store, with its fantastic sawed-in-half Citroen delivery truck which now operates as a parklet. The first person to greet me in the door was Jen Nordhem, a minx that worked miracles to quash my exuberance during the 2 monthlong 42-below commercial we were both part of….An unhappy child, she orchestrated all of the (very few) miserable days on that memorable tour. Weighing in at about a hundred pounds, she throws about three hundred pounds of unpleasant psychic baggage around. Drunk and disorderly was how she presented herself throughout the tour, especially at the boozy ‘parties’ hosted by the sponsor, Bacardi (they were just pretending to be the ‘cool’ folks that dreamed up 42 Below). Fights, broken phones, scary stuff for this Old Bat, who somehow missed all the dangerous parties in high school and college.
She wondered why I refused to give her a hug at the door of the Rapha shop.
“Did you forget the night you wouldn’t let me into my own bed cause you’d invited your boyfriend over?” I reminded her.
“I prefer to remember the good things”.
I don’t know if this deserves more explanation… ok it does… to save on hotel bills, the 42 below people put two women in each bed, four women per room. In our quartet, Jen was the petulant ruler, dictating to me the terms of our shared quarters–i.e. whether it was acceptable to walk about the room naked (it wasn’t).
So anyway, on a 3o degree night in Austin Nevada, I stood around out of doors for a few hours, not wanting to wake anyone up in the hotel because Jen had pushed me out of the room.
Only a couple weeks earlier, I orchestrated a little favor. I’d advocated for her to take a day off from the ride, got a driver for us, and accompanied her to her very first road race in Champaign Illinois. Coached her, lent her some kit, I forget what, and cheered for her as she rode around getting dropped, but at least she experienced a real criterium. I remember my Very First Race, and how Darryl Skrabak ‘orchestrated’ it for me.
You see, a true bike novice needs some sort of Old Hand to sheperd them thru the registration, the bike check and even the petty stuff like Where To Put Your Non Racing Clothes.
In Belgium, mom and dad do it for the (male) rider. Here, it’s catch as catch can, since many parents don’t understand a kids wish to race a …bicycle?!
Yah, it’s hard to forget an evening of hypothermia , but I do sort of remember working hard to help her race.
If I had my cold night out BEFORE the race weekend, you can be sure I’d have let her figure out how to do the race, get there, etc. on her own.
From Nevada on, I just kept clear of her royal awfulness.
Anyway, the party was a blast, Jen pretended she didn’t hear what I told her, and I rode home (got in 40 miles, easy) in the beautiful summer night, to my beloved Charlie 1.o.
Just discovered that “Lurksmarvelous” (i think it’s Corey’s non-de-plume) has a LOT of that 42 Below adventure uploaded to You tube.
I just spent an hour catching up on other moments of the 2 month ride I’d forgotten about.