Saturday morning Brendan and I parked at Lucky's and set out for our first long ride together in some time. As usual, our plan to take it easy early was disturbed by a tailwind and some fast company on Foothill. Neither of us said anything of course, we just raised our speed to keep the wheels in front. I suppose when we stop doing this we'll be dead.
We rolled along, passing a disturbing memorial to another fallen cyclist on an innocuous uphill stretch of Sandhill. By the time we reached the foot of Old La Honda the overcast was lifting. I pocketed my Stowaway Jacket and Brendan shed his Softshell Gilet for the climb. We rolled over the little stone bridge and into the shaded quiet of the hill. If we thought we'd be suffering alone it didn't last as a large group ride intent on getting home for lunch surrounded us with chatter and shifting gears before spitting us out the back.
With a wave Brendan cut me loose to find my own pace to the top. I picked off a few back markers and glanced at my watch to calculate how much pain was left before Skyline. The last sharp pitch came soon enough and then the mailboxes appeared signaling I'd reached the top. Brendan came along a few minutes later. We fueled up, took a couple of pictures and then put the outer layers back on for the fast descent down 84.
Flying down the smooth surface of 84, we shot past the Pescadero cut off and made straight for the coast fighting a pretty strong headwind. Taking turns on the front we made good time though. Gray mist still clung to the golden hills and drifted above us in the company of a lone buzzard. At Stage Road we pulled into the San Gregorio General Store for provisions (a mint It's It bar for me) and water. We'd caught up with the group ride and between all the bicycles and motorcycles parked out front the place was full up. Per the establishment's rules, we took off our shoes and padded about inside to get what we needed.
Flashback: the night before I'd told Brendan I'd swapped stems between my Cervelo and Enigma. He commented that switching equipment before a long ride was potential trouble and then he showed up that morning with a brand new Brooks leather saddle. Yes, I said a brand new Brooks leather saddle. A Brooks. Leather. Saddle. Have I given it enough emphasis.
By the junction at San Gregorio Brendan's nether regions and the Brooks were in violent disagreement. To make it clear just how uncomfortable the relationship had become, the saddle was creaking like an old hag with every pedal stroke. We rode up the Stage Road spur to Highway 1 then down to Tunitas Creek and the right that would take us back over the hill to the valley.
Tunitas never fails to impress, at least until the climb really starts to bite. In the cool of the Redwoods, the new asphalt put in for the Tour of California was black and velvet smooth. The stickiness of the first few months was gone. Conversation ended shortly after the smooth stuff started and we settled into our respective rhythms. I battled the hill, Brendan battled the hill and the Brooks. Someone had spray painted mile markers on the pristine surface and somewhere around 2.5 miles to the summit the worst was over. My back was tightening up so as soon as the slope eased I got out the saddle and pushed the pace back to Skyline. Brendan appeared in good time, sore but soldiering on.
Another brief pause to throw on the Stowaway and we were off down King's Mountain to Woodside. On the descent I was uncomfortably tailed by a car with a bike rack on the roof; what's up with that. Then in the middle of a tight series of S turns, a dirt bike coming up the hill wheelied past a car into our lane as we approached. WTF.
In Woodside I began a caloric binge that would last well into the evening with an apple juice, half a ham and cheese sandwich, and a piece of coffee cake. That had me stoked for the run back to Lucky's. By the time we got to the car, Brendan was contemplating riding on his seatpost sans saddle and threatening to sawzall the bike.
After driving Brendan home and putting away my bike and gear it dawned on me that I'd left my Rapha Stowaway and Cap in the parking lot at Lucky's. Panic. I jumped back in the car and blasted back to Los Altos remembering on the way that my debit card was in the jacket. Well, true to the store's name I was lucky. Thanks to the Stowaways compact size when folded the jacket and cap were still sitting next to the curb some 90 minutes after I left them.
About time I caught a break at the end of a week that saw Juli accidentally launder my Garmin 305 and a garage door opener. The opener survived the GPS did not.