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On the Road: Ride Reports No.1
Words & pictures by Ben Lieberson
We woke up at 5.30am and navigated our bus across the Golden Gate Bridge. We glided across, encountering no traffic or the obligatory fun run event that seems to be held twice a day. Once in Mill Valley, CA we parked up outside Studio Velo and watched from the cockpit as all kinds of different riders arrived in the mist.
At 7.15am roll out was right. Cold fog hung in the air as Scott and Chris who run Studio Velo - one of the finest bike shops this side of Salem - led a group of 20 or so keen riders into Fairfax County. We said hello and chatted as we rolled out, picking up riders along the route out to Point Reyes in Marin and onwards to the Limantour loop.
As always, this part of the world feels made for bike riding: Not too far outside of Fairfax you see a climb that leads to some rollers that leads to another nice little climb and on to more rolling. You see a pattern here. Northern California = up's and downs.
After a gallop to Point Reyes and a stop at the notable Bovine Bakery, necessary refreshments were gathered and we hit the gas back to Mill Valley.
From here on in things ramped up until the tempo + the rollers had put a hurt on everyone in the pack. Whittled down, the riders climbed up from Stinson beach on hwy-1 to take in some serious vistas and steep grades. This is the essence of cycling here in Northern California. Amazing scenery, challenging roads and good company - As it always should be.
We roll back to Studio Velo and set up the MCC to show highlights of Amstel Gold. Waffles, Nutella, strawberries, some coffee and a surprise right on the finishing line… Nice.
The Lunch Ride
Here in Estados Unidos there is a phenomena we call the Lunch Ride.
This usually involves a company with cycling DNA and fast riders. The result, after they down tools at midday, is the Lunch Ride. Related to the Tuesday night criterium and the Sunday world championships, these are training races where there is a winner and some healthy competition.
First and possibly highest on our list of Lunch Rides to gatecrash was the "Specialized Lunch ride". Tipped off with some insider info (“it’s fast, prepare to get shelled!”), this was our stop on the way south from our San Francisco event dates to Sea Otter further south.
Morgan Hill is the quiet suburban neighborhood that conceals the Specialized headquarters. Nestled in the hills south of San Jose and east of Santa Cruz, little clues are awarded about the level of bicycle genius being worked on in Mo Hill.
We parked the bus and got kitted up in our Rapha threads. Some special summer embro was applied, libations consumed and we were set. A group of perhaps 30 cyclists met in the car park outside Specialized HQ. There was a pretty heavy "Venge " contingent. Lots of Carbon fibre, some tubular aero wheels and various other tell tale signs that this would be a high-speed lunch break.
We had some good company. Tyler Frasca, Chris Matthews, Chris "the Cricket" Riekert and Garrett Chow - good friend of Rapha and rider of murdered-out track bike in SF a few months past. These chaps were accompanied by plenty of other serious (but friendly) looking riders.
Without too much ado we are off. Rolling out from the car park we pick up a few more riders as we exit Morgan Hill and head into the countryside.
Today, we are told, we are riding the "reverse dam loop", which turned out to be a beautiful 30 mile circuit that would soon encounter some rollers, which in turn led to a climb that saw heart rates rise and the peloton shrink.
The rolling terrain around the Uvas reservoir soon saw the front end group shrink to less than 10 riders who kept the pace high with a constant through and off. A few more twists, turns, ups and downs see us down to five or six riders.
I'm told there are two to go by Chris as we turned back towards Mo Hill and then a few attacks lead to some chasing and then a nice kick from the "Cricket" and it’s over. Whew. That was fun.
What a way to spend your lunch break.
Everyone regroups, heads to a great Taqueria called "La Costa" and recalls their experiences, the pinch, the burn, the gasp and that kick. It’s all very good. Carne asada, carnitas and fish tacos all round along with the essential "Mexican” coca-cola.
We tell the Specialized gents the bar has been set high for the next Lunch Rides, and we mean it. They are not done yet. We head back to HQ and people freshen up and get back to "work". Ryan and I are checked in and given the tour by Chris “the Cricket”.
To tell the truth we felt like two kids that got the golden ticket: The Cipollini room, the crash test area, paint booths, the R&D dept, very special electric bikes that are, to coin a phrase “off the hook”; a pump track - “woah!” - what a day out.
A big thanks to all the crew at Specialized.
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Photo: K. Manning
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