Four Horsemen, Three Rapha Rain Jackets, and One “Fetality”

The Four Horseman wearing Three Rapha Rainjackets

My New Year's Day pilgrimage to Mt. Hamilton is normally a solitary affair but this year Brendan, Tim and Willy toed the start line for the climb to the observatory. Willy on his mint green Vanilla, Tim on his white Cervelo RS, Brendan astride the steel Soulcraft and yours truly on my Enigma. We rolled out just past seven on a cool but windless morning looking like the Rapha Continental second stringers... Tim and I wearing the cream rain jacket and Willy wearing the gray. We all like that rain jacket. Brendan had on the softshell gilet under that wind breaker.

Willy and I pressed ahead on the first climb from Alum Rock towards a small patch of fiery red sunrise that disappeared almost immediately into gray overcast. We slowly heard Brendan and Tim's voices disappear behind us as we passed groups of deer and one unimpressed bobcat. On the last seven mile stretch to the observatory Willy was holding back and with under a mile to go off he went to be the first to the top in 2010. Somewhere along the way he mentioned he'd put in 5500 miles riding long distance events alone; I'd guess his total mileage must be North of 10,000 for the year and it showed. He was the class of the field.

I was tired on those last couple of pitches and my feet were ice cold despite two pairs of socks and overshoes (which I put down to cinching my shoes too tight and not any thermal deficiency of the Rapha overshoes). Happily the observatory was open and warm inside. I liberated my feet and set about warming them on the heating vent. Tim appeared shortly and plunked himself down to do the same while we waited for Brendan to complete the foursome.

Warming cold feet

When the big guy arrived he was wearing a look that said "thank you very much for that New Year's present" or something to that effect. Ten minutes in that warm vestibule and some snacks improved his mood to where he was talking to us again ;-) We all were anticipating a cold descent with some sketchy sandy corners, so we lingered and chatted as one by one more riders appeared.

Eventually we took a picture, zipped up and headed down. As it turned out the day was warming and we weren't cold at all. Willy and Tim rode point and soon after Grant Ranch they disappeared, leaving Brendan and I to catch up on the holidays and important world events like Tiger's admission that he's been riding a dozen different beater bikes for years while a Colnago (insert your favorite brand) was waiting at home. Idiot. We then had our dessert on the buttery smooth pavement of the final descent, made the left onto Alum Rock and prepared to coast down to our cars on McKee Road. We'd almost made it but...

Brendan curls into the fetal position while Tim fixes his flat

No ride with Tim is complete until he has a mechanical. Outside of organized centuries, he's flatted every time we've ridden together. To preserve his perfect record he'd picked up a rear flat with less than 1/2 a mile to go. While he and Willy fixed the tire, I held his bike and Brendan curled up in a mock fetal position on the curb.

Secretly Brendan and I feared another Tunitas sequence but Tim was back on the road quickly for the two minutes back to the cars. One last picture finished the ride and made a fine start to another year of cycling. Thanks boys.

Back safe and sound

22 Responses to Four Horsemen, Three Rapha Rain Jackets, and One “Fetality”

  1. Jon Moss says:

    What a great ride :)

    Unfortunately we are suffering from the worst winter in many years here in the UK. -5 degrees c this morning, snow and ice. No riding for me at the moment.

    Roll on spring!

  2. stevie says:

    Yeah, I’m a fellow UK cyclist, and while I’m pleased that we get to pick through a HUGELY extensive wardrobe of beautiful winter kit, I’m always a little envious of all you guys in California enjoying year-round clement weather! I’ve slid off twice on icy roads in the last fortnight – and it’s not nice!

  3. Congrats guys, looks like indeed a great way to start the new year.

  4. Ben says:

    We did the Mt.Wilson ride here in So Cal. Short sleeves 70 deg. Terrible conditions.
    Happy new year !

  5. BR says:

    Lies…all of it. Let me address the major one’s.

    1 – “We slowly heard Brendan and Tim’s voices disappear behind us as we passed groups of deer and one unimpressed bobcat.”

    should read….

    “Willy and I thought it would be funny to kill Brendan so we big -ringed it up the first climb and scared the crap out of a bunch of critters as we motored along at 14mph.” ‘We heard Brendan crying like a baby and it was a bit depressing so we never looked back”

    2 – Tim appeared shortly and plunked himself down to do the same while we waited for Brendan to complete the foursome.

    should read….

    “Tim appeared shortly and reported that a one legged vulture was hopping alongside Brendan as he climbed the hill.”

    3 – When the big guy arrived he was wearing a look that said “thank you very much for that New Year’s present” or something to that effect. Ten minutes in that warm vestibule and some snacks improved his mood to where he was talking to us again ;-)

    should read….

    When the big guy arrived in his body bag he was wearing a look that said “you bastards” or something to that effect. Ten minutes in that warm vestibule were spent looking for a weapon and some LSD improved his mood to where he was talking in English to us again. He had apparently spewed dozens of expletives in the final 7 miles of the climb ;-(

    4 – Tim and I wearing the cream rain jacket and Willy wearing the gray. We all like that rain jacket. Brendan had on the softshell gilet under that wind breaker.

    should read…..

    Tim and I wearing the cream rain jacket and Willy wearing the gray. We all like that rain jacket. Brendan was wrapped in a 1993 REI garbage bag over his softshell gilet and he ruined the picture AGAIN. Hypothermia, hallucinations, and a vulture pecked leg were the main reason he was out of uniform so we let it slide and he can stay on the team…maybe.

    • kurt says:

      BR,
      Love the definitive re-definitions.

      Precious stuff, thanks for the laugh.

      Excellent group shot though, Velo’s New Year tradition will never be the same.

      Happy New Year

      Ride on

  6. Paul says:

    Very nice, perfect way to start off a year of riding. The new website is great looking by the way, nice job!

  7. willy in pacifica says:

    It was a great time to ride up MT Hamilton for the first time for me. Actually I have been up the other side and was pleasently surprised how mellow this side is. It got steeper at the top and my legs felt great so I took off the last mile or so. But I managed to miss the top and ride over it a bit before turning around and finding Velo inside the warming room. It sprinkled a bit on the way up so was worried about desending in the rain but it held off for us. Rain and carbon rims, sandy corners and an unfamiliar road does not make for a fun ride down. The three others got away from me on the technical top half but since it was dry the bottom half was fun and I was able to catch back on. We were flying at the bottom until………..well, until Tim happened. We were only about a mile or so from the cars. He was just far enough to have to fix the tire. Any closer and you would have just walked it in.
    So I guess Tim timed it perfectly……….wrong: )

  8. BR says:

    Willy, the 13 seconds that you and I shared on the road were great and in fact the flat tire session was the longest I had spent with the group all day! Too bad I needed that quick power nap before I was able to finish the last mile. Let’s all get together again REAL soon and ride in the same general area on the same day again …..”it was dry the bottom half was fun and I was able to catch back on.” OY! :-)

    • willy in pacifica says:

      I rode again the next day on the 2nd.
      I was just sitting around the house so at 5pm took off for my first 200k of the year. Hit Hwy 1 southbound for Denny’s in Santa Cruz, had a late breakfast then headed back home the same way. It was clear and beautiful out there and the moon was so bright I had to keep checking to see if there was a car back. Got home about 3am, took a quick shower than hit the hey just in time for the kids to wake me for the final day of vacation.

  9. Tim Cox says:

    Yep – there’s nothing quite like getting in a quick 200K before breakfast — after 5000′ of vertical the day before! Willy, you are an animal. Next time you’re sitting around the house at 5pm, wondering what to do, might I suggest you consider a visit to a nearby bar? Call me!

    Great post, Michael – made all the more entertaining by Brendan’s comments. I did wonder why he brought that body bag but then I remembered we were expecting a spot of precip. Seemed to make sense at the time…

    Regarding my penchant for adding mechanical distractions to our rides – I’m beginning to fear my name will soon become a verb. As in “we timmed several times during the course of the day”.

    Thanks, as always, for the camaraderie and help, illustrious bike buddies. I miss having you guys to hold my frame, wheel and champagne glass — while providing useful tips — whenever I flat solo. Which, I might add, rarely happens.

    So I’m starting to wonder why I almost exclusively have these mechanical problems in the presence of Michael… hmmm…

  10. willy in pacifica says:

    Do my ears really stick out that far?

  11. BR says:

    Miguel…in that picture where yourself and Tim are thawing your feet out I see two power cords plugged into the wall. Are those powering the new Rapha chamois bun heaters for each of you or the do they power the new Rapha combo Margarita blender & helmet buffer? I recall that you were all in very good spirits when I eventually arrived. Next time can you all just pretend that you suffered a bit? Just say stuff like….”dude we JUST got here” or “we were watching you in the last 3K and your graceful style is inspiring.”

    Willy – 200K the day after? Let me know next time so I can be ready on 1 & Tunitas Creek with a water balloon launcher. Did you have a Grand Slam? :-)

    Tim…I will keep an eye on Michael the next time he gets near your bike.

  12. willy in pacifica says:

    I went by Tunitus about 7 pm but will let you know when I ride it again. Probably next month for my 50th consecutive month of a 200k or longer ride.

    I do have the Grand Slam at Denny’s as it is the best value on the menu. I hang out for about an hour to kill time and warm up so have to drink a lot of coffee to fill the time so they do not throw me out to early. Then my stomach acts up for the next 25 miles. I am going to have to switch to Decaf on these rides.

  13. lovely stuff! making me want to get out there on my bike, curse this uk snow!

    Gem

    • Gem,

      Sorry you’re really getting socked by the snow. I’m off to Toronto for a few days where it’s really cold at the moment. C’mon Spring.

      ::M

  14. BR says:

    Here is a website for Mt Hamilton. http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/

  15. Tim Cox says:

    …and a month of great photos, shot from the top of Mount Hamilton:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/miguelvieira/sets/72157610171045333/

  16. Daniel says:

    Hi Michael, nice yearly pilgrimage, love the group photos. Can you pls tell me what camera was used? Looking for a camera to take with me on rides, was wondering if you have any recommendations. Many thanks in advance.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Sorry was out the country there for a few days. The camera was a Canon G9. It’s a little heavier and bulkier than some might take on a ride, but the picture quality (including RAW) is terrific.

      Only knock is the manual control dials (which I love) can shift if you operate the camera with gloves on.

      There have been two successors to the G9, and based on reviews and the fact that Canon concentrated on ISO Improvements rather than megapixels, the current G11 would be worth considering.

      ::M