Sunday, October 12, 2008

My ride with a pro cyclist

Yesterday, I set out with Sarah to ride the very first Viva la Revolution at the Riviera! This ride started at a very cool bike shop, West County Revolution, and ended at one of my favorite restaurants for lunch. It was the first of what they hope will become a monthly event so I wanted to make sure it was well supported.

The ride was schedule to start at 9:00 a.m. Well, since I live less then a mile from the restaurant, I decided to ride to the start so I could then just ride home. Sarah was also looking for a ride on Saturday morning so I convinced her to join us (although she had other plans and couldn't stay for lunch). So at 7:45 we head out to the start at a nice easy pace. It was just enough to get in a good warm up without putting any real stress on the legs.

We arrived at the bike shop at 8:45, which was plenty of time to hang out, drink some coffee and get to know the new people we would be riding with. All of the initial indiciations were that this was going to be a great ride. There was also one other good omen. I had felt something fall on my helmet during the ride out. When I took it off I discovered it was a yellow jacket. He rode in there for over 15 minutes with stinging me.

So, people are getting itchy to start so we discuss the ride and get ready to head out. I overhear someone ask Steve, from the bike shop, "where's Scott?". At that point someone says "Here he comes". So up rides Scott on his road bike while also pushing his mountain bike. He is also in a full BMC Racing Team kit and bike. I soon recognized that this is none other then Scott Nydam.

Scott won the King of the Mountain jersey in this year's Tour of California and then went on to have a very good 2008 season. He is done racing for the year so he can join local group rides like ours. So this is it. My first ride with a pro. This is one of the many cool aspects of cycling. I will never play a game with the SF 49'ers (and really, who would want to) but I can ride side-by-side with a cycling pro (as long as he lets me). You gotta love that about this sport.

So finally, we're off. We started out on some bike trails so the pace was fairly easy. There were 2 interesting things that occurred during the warm up phase. First, I got to hear the lead rider shout "pumpkin up!" In cycling, this is your warning of something up ahead. A walker, runner, slower cyclist, but never before has it been a pumpkin. Sure enough, there was a couple with an engine jack moving what they estimated was a 700 pound pumkin. Next, we were almost run over by a young buck deer who came charging down the path in our direction. It was very exciting after he raced by without taking any of us out.

We finish the warm up, leave the bike trail and are ready to tackle the open road. I'll be honest, I really expected the pace to ramp up significantly. But it didn't. We were cruising at good speed with people taking turns on the front and pushing each other on the little hills we were riding. On one of the larger smaller hills (is there such a thing), I went over the top with Pro-Scott just behind me. After the descent I was chatting with him and I mentioned, "it's only fair I let you know that in my blog I am going to say I paced you up that climb". His reponse (with a smile), "all's fair in blogs". I then rode the next few miles either on Scott's wheel, with Scott on my wheel, or side-by-side chatting. He could have easily left us at anytime but instead he just cruised along. Cool dude!

At the 20 mile mark, the group broke into two separate rides. Sarah and I stayed with the more "moderate" group, while the others went out to do something a little more serious. At lunch we heard stories of them hitting up to 28 mph on one of the flats. The rest of our ride was great. There were 5 of us riding a good pace but still managing to enjoy the fall secenery in the vineyards. We all took turns on the front, stayed together on the climbs, and just chatted as we got to know each other. That's what made this a cool group of guys. Sometimes, all you get on these rides is a bunch of hammerheads who do nothing all day but attack and try to wear out the whole group. These guys weren't like that at all. Instead, we all shared the same of goal of a getting in a really good workout while still enjoying all of the social aspects of a group ride.

We rolled up to the resaurant just in time for Giampaolo to serve us wine and espressos before lunch. Of course, I had to have both. There was something a little weird about standing in my favorite restaraunt in a bike kit and no shoes drinking wine. The other group arrrive about 15 minutes later and we settled in for a lunch of salad, pasta, wild salmon and dessert. It was fabulous. We all decided to make this a monthly affair and to talk it up to see if can get a larger group. Sadly, it was finally time we all got back on the bikes and headed for home.

This will likely be one of my more memorable rides. First, I got to ride with a pro. And not just start in the same group with him but actually ride next to him and chat. But more importantly, I was reminded of just how great most of cyclists I meet really are. I mean, I only knew Sarah when the ride started. But in the end, I had a whole new group of friends and invitations to go on more rides then I have time for.

I know I've said it before, but that's why I ride.


1 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

Great ride report, Lee. I might just have to refer people to your blog so I don't have to write about it. :)

I wish I could've joined in for lunch!!!! Next month for sure...

That was tons of fun!