For several years, a quiet series, word-of–mouth, monthly informal races emanating from Occidental, CA.
My friend Emily (Thurston, team Missing Link Berkeley) has gotten me out on a hard ride a time or two, and said she wanted to do this ride, an 80-mile gnarl-a-thon, this weekend.
We’d had a blast riding the Marshall Loop (one of best in County) last Saturday, and despite the snowy hillsides and 2 inches a day rain lately, we decided to simply go…and suffer.
As it happened, I’d been mulling my old-woolens re-tooled idear: since it was down to 35 deg. Fahrenheit each night, I figured people might actually want to purchase my crashmere arm warmers, vests, etc. I created a ‘brand’ : “Jacquie’s Hypothermic Needle”, plus the Queen of Clubs.
Concept: people with hypothermia make impulsive shopping decisions, and don’t mind if the handiwork isn’t Swiss precision, rather Marin Approximatarian.
A hundred men and about 5 women were congregated at Occidental. I zipped off to answer nature’s call, and heard the loudspeaker, the gun, and the riot of automobile horns.
Within in a minute I was on my bike, chasing a peloton headed downhill on Bohemian highway.
Thus, I had a 50 mile (very pleasant) time trial along Cazadero Hwy and up Fort Ross, past Tom Ritchey’s rance, and down Meyer’s grade. I ‘caught’ a few riders who’d suffered early flats.
By noon it was time to sit down in the marsh near Willow Creek road and just enjoy my bread-pudd sandwich with bleu cheese, chased by a heavenly Bumblebar. The marsh was still and no cars ruined this 5 mile dirt section of the race, er…time trial.
At the top a man walking a pair of heavyset labs addressed me: “Jacquie? It’s Tibor!”
“Fischl?” I shot back.
“Yep” (how many Tibors do YOU know?)
Well, we yakked a bit (I didn’t remind him how starting me and Margaret and the one other woman in his 120 rider race ten minutes after the men was a major inconvenience and not totally accidental gender role ruling).
At the summit, the mechanic (Jim, long time racer/mechanic, since the earliest fat tire epoch) spied my frayed sidewall and said: let me replace that.
“but it’s a 27 inch tire–very rare. Which is why it’s frayed so badly” (the strings were separate, you could see your fingers thru the fibers, and the inflated tire had a sort of kidney-bean profile. Twup-twup-twup, ad infinitum).
Nah, it’s fine…oh, wait, you’re right.
Who has a 27″ smooth outline 1 and 3/8 fatness smooth tire?
It was a Specialized 27″-er. I rode that sucker since the late 80’s. No wonder t was in ribbons.
Well…I was an hour early for Emily, but the front runners had already made it in, in about 4 hrs. You will have to look it up.
I got four hours in the saddle, zero rain, masimum velosophying whilst alone on the wheel. And when I re-connected with Emily–she’d taken first woman, having very happily nestled in the peloton, and probalby scared a few guys, casually nudging their squirrely selves out of her space when they wobbled.
It was a grand time. Hard to see myself ‘racing’ 70-80 miles ever, especially with a group of 30-somethings, but the Grasshopper was on my bucket list, and both Emily and I are no longer virgins.
I’m driving you down the hill”
I worked at least an hour chopping and sewing, then piled into bed and tried to ignore the rain drumming on the treehouse roof.