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.
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...
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.