San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club
I remember this one time when a bunch of us got together and rode down to Los Alamos for breakfast. There was Mike Curren, deeply engaged in March Madness and figuring this would give him the daily mileage he needed to hit 2000 for the month, and Russ Robinson showed up, and Fred Griffith, and Ross Pepper on one of his recumbents, and Chuck Wheeler (the Yankee fan) and Frank Mullin (just to keep us honest) and a new guy, Joe Heine, who said he hadn't ridden much but he sure didn't look like a novice out there, but then it turned out that this was the second longest ride of his entire life.
We met at the Gazebo at 7:15 and yakked it up and told each other how out of shape we were and how we hoped we didn't slow the other down too much and other lies like that, and finally got out of there about 7:30. Ross stopped right away and started doing something to his steering mechanism with one of the 10,000 bike tools he carries in his saddle bags. Fred stopped with him because I think he's the only other one of us who can tell one bike tool from another. Of course they caught up to us before we got to the top of the mesa.
I stopped along the way and took photos and wrote notes and everybody got ahead of me, which they always do anyway. I carry the camera and notepad just to give myself an excuse for being off the back. When I got to Guadalupe, I found everybody waiting for me in front of a mini mart so I stopped and we yakked it up a while and then we took off again. I stopped right away to take some photos so as not to embarrass myself by holding everyone up. Then I spotted a porta-potty out in a field surrounded by mud and got a good dose of that in my cleats (which I swore I would never do again about the last three times I've done it)walking out to use the facility (carrying my bike in my arms, of course, to protect it from the dirt and the mud).
Everybody gathered again at the Clark Avenue turnoff into Orcutt waiting for me. I rolled up and started yakking with a couple of people. All of a sudden Frank took off, headed back toward Guadalupe. We were dumbfounded. Russ was the last person he was talking to before he rode off, so we were convinced that Russ said something that made Frank mad and he was headed back to Pismo. Russ swore it wasn't so. I volunteered to ride after Frank and see what was going on, but he was too far away by then so I gave up.
Ross and Fred took off after him and we all knew that they could catch him so we went on our way. We passed through Orcutt and took the frontage road down to where it intersects with Hwy 135. We stopped there and waited for the highway to clear before we went across, then we rode down the freeway shoulder to where it turns back into two-lane highway at the Harris Grade turnoff.
We were down to four people now because Russ was way ahead. Mike and I chatted about the flêche coming up and Chuck and I talked about the Yankees and the poor Athletics selling their birthright but doing a great service for mankind by restoring Yankee slugging power and I quizzed Joe about his life. It turns out that Joe lives in Avila Beach and owns Pioneer Mini-mart, the Shell station in Paso Robles on Spring Street next to the park that our brevet riders use for a contrôle because it's the only store that stays open in Paso Robles after dark.
As we got into Los Alamos, Ross and Frank and Fred caught up with us. It turned out Frank rode back looking for me, and instead of saying that to anyone and finding out that I had been standing behind him, he just took off. So he got in a couple of bonus miles toward his March Madness goal. The Twin Oaks Restaurant in Los Alamos had set up a table for us and we ordered breakfasts since we were about 20 minutes too early to order lunch. Mike got a plate of pancakes as big around as his bike tires and we never thought he could eat them but he hoovered them down and started looking around the table for leftovers.
After we ate for about an hour, there was nothing left on the table so we went out to the bikes. Mike had a flat tire so we all stood and yakked and watched him struggle with it. Fred showed him how to roll the tire off the rim without using any tools (you know Fred would know how to do that). Mike started arguing that he didn't want to take the whole tire off, just loosen one side, and I thought, No No, Mike, this is better than Tom Sawyer. You've got Fred doing all the work for you. They got that squared away and the new tube pumped up and we were on our way. Partway up Cat Canyon Russ and Mike turned up missing so I went back to check and found Russ repairing a flat on his bike and Mike giving him good advice. I watched them a while and took some photos and then we all started off again. Russ took off at his usual pace and pretty soon disappeared up the road. Mike and I yakked it up a while until the hill got really steep then Mike dropped off.
Everybody gathered at the top except for Frank who had gone off the front and we never saw him again the rest of the day. The wind was blowing right in our faces now and it looked as if it would continue the rest of the day since we were going in that direction back to Arroyo Grande.
We went down the back side of Cat Canyon taking it real easy because it was steep and narrow and potholed and winding and all that good stuff that makes a bike ride something to remember. The wind slowed us down a lot going down and even more after the road leveled off. It was a constant, unrelenting, off the ocean, in your face wind, the kind that slows you down and prolongs the ride and brings joy to your heart. It sucked the moisture out of our bodies and whipped the sweat out of our jerseys and chilled us no matter how hard we worked made us gear down every time it gusted and I couldn't stop grinning the whole rest of the day.
Everybody turned right at Dominion except Fred and Ross who got some more bonus miles by continuing up Palmer Road for a ways before deciding that they needed to turn around and rejoin the pack.
Chuck turned around on Dominion and came back to find me because he had more miles listed on his computer than I wrote on the route slip for the next turn on Foxen Canyon so he thought maybe I meant turn on Clark. It was just my mistake, I took the mileage numbers off the auto club map and maybe I missed a few because our 70-mile ride turned out to be about 88 miles and after Los Alamos none of the numbers on the route slip made sense any more.
Chuck and Joe and I followed Foxen Canyon a ways, then turned onto Philbric and East Main and then here came Ross and Fred back from their Palmer Road detour. We regrouped again at Suey Road except for Frank and now Russ who had also gone off and we never saw him again either.
After the six of us were ready, we went up Bull Canyon Road to 166, down to Thompson and back home through Nipomo. Ross and Fred took off and we never saw them again. Joe started fading and I gave him a Clif shot. Chuck hunkered down on his aero bars and said he was doing just fine, thank you. Mike was coming along in the rear and nobody worries about Mike any more because he's a randonneur-like the Energizer bunny who never stops and carries everything he might need on his back. I edged into the lead by default and got into Nipomo ahead of the other three.
Because of my miscalculation of distance, I was out of water and stopped at Jocko's where the barbecue chef fixed me up. As I came out, I saw the other three pulling into a mini-market and I kept going. Thompson was pretty much uphill all the way to 101, then it changed to Los Berros and got real fast all the way into AG. I raised my average speed from 13.9 to 14.0 during that stretch and was feeling frisky and fast.
I called Gail when I got back to the car at 5:00 and when I told her I was just getting back, got one of those voice inflections that convinced me to get into the car real fast and drive home in a hurry. Mike stayed with Joe all the way back because Joe started cramping his hamstrings about 5 miles out. He stuck it out and made it back and, can you believe it, wants to do another club ride sometime. Joe has the makings of a randonneur.
So that's the story of Great Ride Number 12, and eight of us have earned the right to start conversations at the next club meeting by saying, "I remember this one time when a bunch of us got together and rode down to Los Alamos for breakfast...".
You can email Robert Davis at email@example.com