Ride Recap – HCC Saturday Ride 01/30/2016 – Dynamite A/B Ride

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Ride Recap by Arnold T.

Photo contributions by Stephen, Ken, Andy and Arnold.

 

Last October, I wrote a story about my Fat Bike experience in the Philippines. Andy

expressed, (after reading the story), that I should feel free to write up a recap on one of

our group rides. I told him, “Will do bro, will do, but I guess I need to ride with you guys

first to put a story together.”

I did ride with the group after that exchange, a few times in fact, but it would be hard for

me to write one up if I’m always in the back of the pack, most of the time at the tail end

of the action. After some “secret training” (as Emman and Andy would phrase it) I was

able to get into the mix of things this time and get an overall feel for the ride. Last

Saturday was definitely a good example. Here’s the recap.

In the absence of our leader Jonah, Glenn and other alphas, Mario was clearly the lone

top dog of the ride as he took command of his steed and led us to Rodeo. I was situated

in the middle of the peloton with Ken, and I told him that if we just pace ourselves and

stay in this sweet spot then we’ll be gliding thru this ride without any hard efforts. The

honey ran out of the pot when we reached Cummings Skyway. The peloton collapsed.

The strong disappeared in front of our eyes and the weak got left behind. Ken and I were

in limbo.

The grind on Cummings was, and always will be to me, boring to the core. The gray

covered sky was not helping any mood to giddy up and finish it off.

Then all of a sudden, as if it was a small meteor that poked through the clouds, a

boisterous rider was fast approaching to our left riding towards us from the opposite

direction, shouting what sounded like a muffled foreign obscenity. Was it Spanish?

Tagalog? I wasn’t sure what language that was but as he turned around to join us I

prepared myself for a close encounter of the third kind.

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Candy was his name; short for Candelaria. He was a riot. He rode circles around us like

Speedy Gonzales. I would see him trailing then passing then trailing then passing. He

was all over the place, mumbling one phrase jokes about current events stuff that I can’t

seem to recall at the moment and all I remember was the way he delivered it…….with

“gusto.”

He had a clown-like demeanor that was entertaining with the honk-honk horn on his bike

to match it. I asked him to do a selfie with me and he said, “as long as you don’t make

me smile”, he would allow it, but he smiled anyway. Maybe I said something funny or

maybe he noticed I was a kindred spirit and felt comfortable with me to show the absence

of his pearly whites.

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Heck, our picture together looked like a two man circus came into town. “Step right in

folks and watch the dynamic fantastic clown duo…The Candy and Termie show, the

greatest show on earth.”

At one of the waypoints, I told Candy that I wanted to be like him when I reach his age

(66 years old), still strong and riding. He looked at me with a smile and enumerated

without a pause (he’s done this before I’m sure) all of his ailments; screws on his spine,

surgeries, the screws on his spine, medications after the surgeries and the screws in his

spine. Frankly, the screws on his spine were the only thing that stuck in my memory

bank.

Ken had an oopsie and dropped his glasses. He told me to go ahead and he’ll catch up.

This happened right after we talked about our cheap budgets on sports glasses. It’s not

economical to buy an expensive branded pair for any moving sports. Those oopsies can

turn into quick ouchies on your wallet if you bought an Oakley. I don’t recall if he broke

it or not but if he did it will be time for him to go to the nearest Ross store to get another.

FYI, if you look hard enough you can find a good pair at your local dollar store.

Candy took off to catch up with the A group.

A few heartbeats later, I was joined by Andy, Emman and Ron. I thanked them for the

pull because I was running out of steam. We took turns on the mini train we created and

by the time we approached the waypoint, the gap between us spread quite a bit. It was

each rider to himself. I was in the back, and as soon as I noticed them winding down I

had the urge to do a sneak attack. I knew Emman was not a 100% in his training and

Andy just recovered from a nasty bug. Ron was in front, off his saddle, and appeared to

be more like Ron 50%, so I took off. It was a sprint to the finish without anybody’s

knowledge and I caught up to Andy then Emman and beat Ron by at least a foot to the

imaginary finish line that I established. I can still remember how my arms were stretched

out pushing the handlebars forward to gain every bit of real estate for the win. A

nanosecond after crossing the line, I shouted, “YEAH BABY!” Then I removed my arms

from the handlebar and pointed them to the sky like any Tour De France stage winner

would do, or maybe I didn’t. I really don’t remember. Everything gets fuzzy when the

crowd is cheering, “TERMIE, TERMIE, TERMIE.”

Anyway, that was a good pretend moment for me.

I quickly went back down to earth when I saw Joey with the rest of the A group hanging

out at the waypoint. The top dog baton changed hands.

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Joey was a knight; a knight with red armor and bold orange shoes that would give any

group the “shine.” I think Joey’s a cycling god that was sent to earth to teach us mortals

that he will show no mercy when challenged. I wanted to approach him and say, “I’m

not worthy, I’m not worthy.” But you know how those things go; you only approach

royalty when summoned.

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I also noticed Jason at the waypoint, but he must have bailed out after Franklin Canyon

due to time constraints or perhaps a different route plan.

The downhill ride on Franklin Canyon was a blur.

After the waypoint on Alhambra Avenue, I buddied up with Stephen for a good stretch on

Alhambra Valley road and had a little chat but when the road got skinny we single filed

for safety. I thought of asking Stephen a question but when I looked back, Stephen was

replaced by Michael the chef. Ratatouille!

Images of a mouse in the kitchen cooking up killer dishes slide showed in my head. Who

would have thought of that concept? Only Hollywood’s most creative can! I love to

cook and my chef aspirations became alive again. It has crossed my mind a few times

over the years but my passion for the camera superseded it. So I bombarded Michael

with questions. He never went to chef school and his first main gig was in Napa under

the tutelage of a famous French chef named…. uh…..uh… Francois Le Foodeau. Well,

okay the name is not even close to the real one but it sounded like that. After 10+ years

as a sous chef Michael is now the chef of a famous Hotel in San Francisco.

As Michael and I chatted along on the gradual ascent to the Pig Farm, we saw Mario and

Joey up ahead in the distance side by side and chatting as well. It would take some effort

to catch them; they didn’t appear to be putting any serious pedaling. Not to mention my

heart rate monitor was a steady 170bpm. I am not exactly sure how I maintained that and

come out of it alive but it happened and that’s my story and I’m going to stick with it.

Michael had another gear on his legs and he left me behind.

Most of us reconnected with very little time gaps at the next waypoint before the Three

Bears.

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Then soon after, Andy, Bob, Emman, and Ron rolled in. It was a good feeling waiting on

people as opposed to being waited on…..for once. Just saying.

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Then we were all in and ready to rock & roll towards the Three Bears.

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We all took off for the Three Bears except for Bob and Mayo (I was told later). I hooked

up with Ken before the first Bear. Joey got a flat and the rest of the A group stood by

him and waited. After a brief check on what’s going on, I told them that Ken and I will

go ahead and that I was sure they will catch up to us anyway. Ken was about to take a

bite from his power bar when I said, “Let’s go Ken.”

Ken and I have a lot of things in common. We both have cats. As we chatted along Bear

territory I got all sparked up by the thought that Ken and I are the A group at this point of

the ride. I mean technically, not deservingly. I told Ken that it would be super-duper if

we got to the next waypoint first at the corner of San Pablo Dam road. He looked at me

with a smile that says, “That’s very scheming of you but let’s go for it. I’m in.” But first,

we need to look for a spigot, I’m low on water”, I told him. “I think there’s one around

here somewhere”, he confirmed.

If my memory serves me right, we stopped before the ascent to Papa Bear to look for a

spigot at a parking/staging area that led to the trails. No luck and we boogied out of

there. Ken offered his water reserve in case I ran out.

I imagined, glorifying in fact, at the image of me and Ken waiting for everybody at the

waypoint. Ken and I, the A group, what a concept. But the suddenness of the thought

was erased by a blur that swooshed by us at the bottom of the descent of Papa Bear.

What was that? Was it a bird? Was it a plane? NO, it‘s SUPER MARIO!

“Earth calling Arnold, Earth calling Arnold, come in Arnold.” Oh well, the dream was

good while it lasted.

Ken and I continued on and I figured a close second to Mario was not bad. I was

following Ken for the most part and felt like a maillot jaune led by one of his lieutenants

up the top of the Pyrenees. I remembered his comment on the HCC Dynamite Ride

announcement and stated, “I’m not dynamite but I’m in! Arnold can push me up the hills

when I get tired.”

My response on the thread, “I think it might be the other way around Ken.” And I was

right, I was following him most of the way until the last bear where he accelerated, or I

would prefer to say where I decelerated. Ken played possum on me; he sure had more

oomph that he led me to believe. I caught up with Ken and Mario at the San Pablo Dam

road waypoint.

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Mario told me that he knew I was scheming and took off immediately to chase us after he

waited on Joey to fix his flat tire. And he added, “That was at least 15 minutes.” I asked

him later, in a private message, if he smoked Joey. He said, “Nobody smokes Joey.”

Joey was taking it easy and just riding alongside with the guys at a social pace.

When we were all bunched up at the waypoint, Tony and Alberto, who were riding the

Three Bears as well, joined us for a short chat and rode with us on San Pablo Dam Road.

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Joey took off and headed back home. Andy refilled his water bottle at a school nearby

and as I was headed towards his direction to fetch him and to get some water, but he was

already on his way up. He was generous enough (I actually forced him) to give me some

of his water so I don’t have to ride down to the school’s spigot.

Andy told me, as per his chat with Joey, that Joey can go 400 watts for a couple of

minutes on the trainer, sometimes going as high as 600 watts. WOW! I thought to

myself, was Joey talking about the latest thing in light bulb technology? Then the

afterthought; 600 watts was enough to light up a small Hollywood studio set. If I had a

chance to ride alongside him on his very easy days I would like to egg him to accelerate

just to see how the road would light up with that kind of power.

Mayo and Bob were missing in action. I heard, (this was later on after the ride), that they

bailed out because Bob’s knee was complaining. So Bob had to cut the ride short to

about 26 miles and headed back to his truck at Starbucks. Mayo skipped the car ride

with Bob and rode back to his home on his bike and did about 40 miles. I told Bob, later

on, those 26 miles is better than no miles at all.

The pain train got started right off the bat and I was able to latch on somebody’s wheel.

Was it Ron’s? The pace that Mario generated was furious and I slowly fizzled out of the

picture after a few miles. Michael passed me, then Andy, then Emman and then the rest

of the gang. I was alone until the last waypoint before the climb to carriage Hills. Alone

again, naturally. I assume Tony and Alberto kept riding on San Pablo Dam Road since

they live near that area.

I hooked up to Stephen’s wheel with Andy and Emman behind me. By the time we got

to Pinole Valley Road we reeled Ron in and kept him company all the way to East Bay

Coffee where Mario, Michael, Ken and Candy (?) were waiting for us.

It dawned on me that we haven’t sang Happy Birthday to the birthday boy Stephen and

Andy suggested that we do it at EB Coffee when we’re all together. We broke the

tradition of singing on the road. I had no problem with that since I would usually be out

of breath by the second phrase of the song if we did sing it while riding. We sang to

Stephen twice, I requested an encore so I can record it on video.

I highly recommend EB Coffee’s pecan pie spiked with bourbon. As we chatted and

laughed away, I told Andy (if he was going to right the recap) to get the story straight and

mention that Ken and I were technically the A group from Mama Bear up to the bottom

of Papa Bear. Then he said, “Well why don’t you write it Termie!” And so I did…and

so I did.

 

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