You reach a certain age and your circle of friends starts to narrow. Oh, its not that they're dieing off yet, but life's crosswinds spread out the field and pretty soon you're riding in ones and twos. The pace is comfortable, the scenery familiar and the stories grow better with each retelling. You could ride like this until the wheels fell off but something still pushes you to raise the tempo, close the gap to the group ahead or join the train that's about to pass. It's good for the legs and the spirit to get out the saddle occasionally.
That's been the best thing about writing Velodramatic; I've got to join up with all kinds of cyclists on all kinds of roads in the last 18 months. Saturday, Brendan and I met up with Tim and his son Rupert for a rendezvous in Woodside. We'd arranged to cross paths with Willy (a Velodramatic regular) and his team of randonneurs early in their 24-hour Easter Fleche (minimum 225 miles).
As usual the Woodside intersection was buzzing with cyclists heading out or heading for home. The parade of bikes was impressive, but it was the hydro-formed alloy thighs of a female Sugar CRM rider that had us at a complete loss for words. You wouldn't stand a chance on or off the bike with those legs.
We'd pretty much recovered when Brendan spotted Willy in his orange Stowaway coming in for a landing on the far side of Roberts Market.
Tim rode round to grab him and after a round of hellos and introductions which immediately established an easy rapport we fixed our attention on the bicycle... and what a nice bike it is... though I'd need more time and a better rig to do it justice in pictures, check out the gallery. This is a bicycle that works for a living, day and night. Till now, I don't think I've given touring bikes their due, but every facet of the Sacha White Vanilla was customized per Willy's purpose to ride long distances in safety and style.
Kitted out with the best of Chris King, Gilles Berthoud luggage, generator hub and lights, disc brakes, Record levers, triple crankset, taillights, fenders and leather saddle, Willy's Vanilla is an understated, classy beauty. Even the valve stems have matching tangerine caps that complement the anodized Chris King finery.
Willy needed to eat and get a receipt validating the stop, so we cut short the photography and let him get back to his friends and their bikes. One of his companions rode a lovely white Steve Rex and another a red Bruce Gordon. All three bikes designed to look good while going the distance. I grabbed a few quick shots of the other bikes while they readied themselves for the next leg.
We saddled up and rode with Willy's group towards Sand Hill Road where they'd turn right towards Old La Honda and the shaded climb to Skyline, we'd turn left and head back to Los Altos and home. We'd be showered and having lunch in a couple of hours, and the randonneurs would just be getting warmed up with about 18 hours to go on their journey.
But I'll let Willy give us a ride report in the comments. I don't know whether I could hack that kind of distance but I'm thinking it might be fun to try. Whatever the outcome it will surely make for a good story. Thanks Willy.
Willy has indeed provided a great ride report in the comments, explaining the Fleche and giving us a glimpse of what's involved in riding well over 200 miles in 24 hours. Most remarkably he still made it to his church for Easter service.