We gathered in Canal, those few brave enough, strong enough, stupid enough to tempt what radar clearly showed moving in from the southwest, the dreaded green blob. Peggy, she of the giant screen cell phone and dressed in civilian clothing, cheerily announced we could avoid it by heading south and east before coming back west and north. With that pronouncement she hopped in her car and drove away. So, Craig Butler, Randy, Pastor Mark, Kevin H. and I headed out onto the very wet, puddled pavement and under very cloudy skies.
Last night was the first official New Albany ride, something I had been anticipating for awhile as there were several fueds simmering over the winter that were to be settled. As I predicted to one friend, "There will be blood on the street". Alas, not both sides of the fueds were there so will have to wait another week for the throwdown. Anyway, we left the parking lot and as usual, the warm-up, which is a group riding side-by-side engaged in inane conversation for a mile or two, quickly became a single file with everyone grabbing a wheel to stay attached. The new Boss of Thursday's peloton, Jamie "group killer" Roberts was happy grinding away at the front. oblivious to the desperate souls trailing behind him. A Cockerspaniel added more drama when it darted from its yard, causing Satan to swing left into me, me into another guy who ended up in a ditch.
Some Background: My journey to an annual cycling vacation in California started with a business trip to Santa Barbara. I'll never forget stepping off the small commuter plane at the SB airport, seeing the mountains to the east and the ocean to the west. After arguing unsuccessfully for golf's ruling body, the USGA, to reverse a decision that had gone against us, I promised myself to return to the area for a vacation. The following year I brought the wife and children out, with bike. While they enjoyed the area, the lack of hot temperatures did not make the vacation ideal for them but for me, it wsa nirvana, I rode up Gibralter, a classic climb that switchbacks back and forth with fabulous views of the Pacific, rode with some locals and saw a movie called "Sideways" about two guys vacationing in an area called Santa Ynez Valley. After returning home, I researched Santa Ynez and its many small towns like Solvang, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Buelton, Santa Maria, etc.. and discovered the area wsa a very popular destination for cyclists, including the Discovery Team (Armstrongs team) and Team CSC. There was also a monster climb the locals called "The Fig", which is up Figueroa Mountain. The following year I shipped my bike out, followed it out a few days later and using the Royal Scandanavian Inn as a home base, rode each day while eating and drinking, a lot. I've had some neat experiences out there and will build on this blog with recollections over time. The below is from my 2009 visit: