Ride Recap: HCC Saturday Ride – 05/14/2016 – Danville Out & Back

Ride Recap by Arnold T.

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I was IN on this ride; I need the miles for Marin on August.

The sky was gray for the most part; cool on the skin and the light perfect for selfies. Jonah took a group snap and I took one of him. We were 8 @ Starbucks.

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I buddied up with Steady Andy at the get go, the connection was instant; the age group (50 & over), the pace, the slow prep before the ride almost identical.  The instant self-diagnosis was that we both have the early signs of OMS (Old Man Syndrome).  A quick jolt from a booster cable would help us move along faster but such units of battery energy can only be found in lithiums, ours were of the NiCad variety.

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As we approached the corner of SPDR, we saw our HCC brothers waiting for us at the stoplight, and the jolt that Andy and I were looking for came in the form of Lito, our president by default of OMG (Old Man Group).  HCC count is 9.

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We coasted along SPDR like a merry band of cycling brothers; cajoling and chatting of matters of importance and unimportance and, sometimes silly insignificant retorts just to make each other laugh, and just for the sake of laughing and nothing else.

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The SPDR King was Chris, and he led the group with a considerable gap at the start, enough distance that I lost sight of him up to the “CR” break at Orinda.  CR, an abbrev for Comfort Room also means restroom in this side of the world.  Yeah, I got used to calling it that and if you want to be in a Filipino’s good side (one who grew up in the Philippines) use CR as part of your vocabulary when appropriate, and you’ll get a smile from his/her face.  That smile gets broader if CR is spoken by a white dude.  Ken peeled off and continued on to The Three Bears.  HCC minus one and that makes 8.

We were joined by Stephen, Adrian and Brian at Lafayette.  At this point, the HCC brothers were 11.

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One thing I like about group rides is that you can get a substantial respite if you position yourself in the sweet spot of the paceline; you can literally feel a comfort zone of relaxed velocity that moves you along in a forward motion without much pedaling effort.  But with the likes of Mario and Jonah, not in ALPHAbetical order, one can only experience the sweet spot in a brief moment of ecstasy which can only be achieved with a bunny rabbit-like effort.  Short, sweet, done and spent.  So, quite often I find myself in the back of the pack trying to latch on to the tail of the train, and coach is where I belong….. For now (wishful thinking).

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After some “neighborhood watch” riding, we all got on to Danville road and the paceline got fired up.

Everybody participated, nothing organized like taking turns at the front, and just random jabs here and there until it eventually got split up.  I believe Em, Jonah, Mario and Michael reached the Pete’s at Danville first.

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I got situated with Andy, Brian, Lito and Stephen, then we stopped (thank god cause I needed a break) because Stephen got a message that Chris got a flat.  Stephen rode back to help Chris, Adrian was already there and assisting.  How many guys does it take to change a flat?  The more, the merrier.
Andy, Brian, Lito and I waited, and waited, and waited until Brian called Adrian via mobile to find out what’s going on.

 

It turns out that Chris got two flats, major ones, both the front and rear tires.   Since Chris was in good hands (one guy per wheel) we moved ahead and reached Pete’s in a couple of clicks.  Pete’s Coffee was packed with riders and non-riders. We were graced by the presence of Kenny.  HCC count is 12.

 

Kenny, The Boss, rode from his home in Benicia, climbed Mt Diablo and joined us to climb the wall on the last half of our ride.  I have heard stories of Kenny’s riding prowess, I was curious what he was like on the bike.  I was particularly curious about the polka dot helmet that he wore exclusively.  I didn’t know it at the time, seriously I did not, and I really thought he was making a fashion statement like Chris with his socks.  It would dawn on me, soon enough, the reason behind the polka dot helmet.

A quick note while we were at Pete’s.

A guy bumped Stephen’s bike that was leaning on a foundation post and it hit the ground with a thud followed by a unison of “Ooooohs and Whoas” from the people who witnessed it.  The perp lifted Stephen’s bike back up to its place and casually walked out of the scene without a word.  I suspect the perp was more embarrassed about the situation than anything else.  Why didn’t he apologize?  A cup of coffee and a danish would be a nice gesture.  After close inspection we found a small scratch on the rear derailleur.  The Q that spat out of my head was, “is there such a thing as bicycle comprehensive insurance?”

Em spotted the dough for Chris’ new tires, and after a trip to the bike store we all took off, our cleats clicking on the pedals one after the other like mercenaries cocking their guns to get ready for battle.

At this point, Adrian and Stephen peeled off from the group.  I found myself in the back of the pack again.  It does have its perks, it was time to face The Wall, and being at the back provides a good ringside seat on what’s about to happen on the main event.  Lito skipped the wall and took another route and met us at SPDR.

As soon as it started going vertical, Kenny started his move. For some reason, I don’t know what it was really, nervous energy perhaps, a last dose of adrenalin kicking in, false courage, lack of information on the route, or all of the above; I took pursuit and got on Kenny’s wheel.  Mario shouted, “Don’t be premature Termie, it’s a long way to go, maybe we should start calling you the Prematuriator.”  I managed to let out a big laugh despite my oxygen deprived lungs and said, “Good one Mario!”

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I hung on as long as I can on Kenny’s wheel on Knox drive (the first hump).  After we cleared it, Kenny and I thought that was it, and shouted back to Andy almost in unison, “WAS THAT IT?”  “Turn left” was Andy’s reply.  When I saw what was up ahead after the turn I knew I was definitely premature, I saw the face of an angry Demon Wall (Silverwood Drive).  The wall reminded me of a roller coaster ride at Great America that started a slow crawl that pointed to the sky.  I lost ground very fast to Kenny’s steady pace, and as I was gasping for air trying to get into a rhythm, what made my jaw dropped some more was when Kenny took a call on his mobile and started talking without any perceived signs of shortness of breath.  It was all making sense now, the polka dot helmet, the Boss nickname, this dude is a kick-ass takes no prisoners climbing Billy goat.  The rest of the guys started passing me at this point.  I almost dismounted and did the walk of shame but I recalled how that was like and it was harder to do on a road that was going nowhere but vertical so I applied Rule #5, “Harden The Fuck Up.”  I found a side street on the right and turned there to get my heart rate down a few beats then made u turn and continued the suffering, zigzagging my way up to the top.

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Based on the Strava flyby, the final placement sequence at the top of the Silverwood Wall was Kenny, Andy, Jonah, Mario, Em, Brian, Chris and Michael.  I didn’t have my Strava on and my best guess is I was somewhere in the vicinity of Chris and Michael.
At the top, I noticed most of us were slumped head down, arms on the handlebars, mouths wide open trying to gain some semblance of normal breathing.  The Boss on the other hand was chatty and explained to me why he had to take the call from his daughter.

I told the guys that I probably needed a lighter bike and a 32t on my cassette (had a 30t on) to ease the suffering a bit.  Jonah said, “You need a lot of things Termie.”  I laughed then I thought to myself, I need a new set of lungs and legs while I’m at it but I will keep my heart….thank you very much.

If the wall was the Demon, the downhill that followed was The Edge.  It scared the hell out of me and forgot the Demon wall.   I rode my brakes all the way down.  No way I’m riding this segment reverse.

We all regrouped and then ungrouped at the same CR in Orinda.  Kenny and Brian went one way towards Martinez and Benicia.  Jonah, Mario and Michael went ahead back to Hercules while Andy, Chris, Em and I followed after a few minutes.  We hooked up with Lito somewhere at the junction on SPDR and rode back home merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily……life is but a breeze.

Photo credits to Arnold, Chris, Jonah and Stephen

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