Monday, April 12, 2010

Gerald is getting married. His "friend" Evil Jon sent out a message "hey, we should take Gerald out to celebrate." Great idea. "We're going to take him to Santa Barbara and spend the night up there." Sounds awesome. "We're going to ride our bikes ninety miles to get there." Say what now? "And it's going to be a surprise to Gerald." OK, now you've completely lost me.

Santa Clarita is in the foothills. Santa Barbara is at sea level. So the start/finish ride profile looks like this:

Seems perfect, right? Well, the actual ride profile is more like this:

I am doing a half-Ironman in 2 months, but I was more nervous about this bike ride than I am about the triathlon. I can do the tri at my own pace; I'll finish when I finish. But Gerald's bachelor ride was with a lot of the Big Boys from the tri team, and it didn't help that Evil Jon was sending out conflicting email messages in the weeks leading up to the ride: "this will be a nice, pleasant ride." "YOU BETTER GET YOUR LONG RIDES IN NOW SO YOU'RE READY FOR SB!" "It will be a casual, enjoyable ride for everyone." "DO NOT BE THE PERSON WHO CANT MAKE IT ALL THE WAY. WE HAVE A TIGHT SCHEDULE AND WILL NOT WAIT FOR YOU." No pressure

It was a strange plan, but that's what happened. Gerald met up with Jon in Santa Clarita for what he thought would be a nice Saturday morning ride. Unbeknownst to him, a bunch of us hopped on a train to meet up with them. We gave our luggage to Rich (my IronBrother) who drove them up to SB for us. Gerald's fiance Heather, Little Miss Enabler, secretly packed an overnight bag for him as well. There were about a dozen of us on our bikes, Rich had our luggage, and Brian and Stuart provided awesome sag support.

We kept a pretty strong pace during the entire ride, which was tough at times but we had a strict schedule to keep. It was pretty scenic, but I didn't dare stop or slow down to take pictures.

Truth be told, the first big hill wasn't too bad. We had lunch on the far side of the hill at a fancy spa in Ojai. (Side note: I always wanted to go to Ojai, ever since i was a kid. That's where Jamie Sommers, The Bionic Woman, lived.) Lunch was on a big outdoor patio, so It wasn't TOO strange to have a bunch of sweaty guys in spandex eating a classy meal.

Keep in mind that Gerald still didn't know where we were going. He nervously asked me "please tell me at least that this isn't an out-and-back course." I reassured him it was not.

Unfortunately, after lunch we still had 40 milles to go. And these were a tough 40 miles. I was hanging with the group pretty well for most of the ride, but I was fading fast around mile 80. The hills were short but pretty steep. And the wind... Oh God the wind. The straight flats were worse than the hills because of the wind. Thank goodness for Evil Jon, who hung back with me and let me draft behind him to help me keep up with the group.

We arrived in Santa Barbara a little before 6. Gerald was probably under the impression that we would be taking an evening train back to the L.A. area, but when he saw people checking into the hotel I think he figured it out. I was hoping for a nap or some decompression time, but we went straight out. First to a bar. Then to dinner. Then another bar. And another bar. And other places. Let's just say, what happens in Santa Barbara stays in Santa Barbara.

Our original plan was to take a 2pm train back Sunday afternoon, but we managed to catch a 9:20 one instead. That is, those of us who weren't crazy enough to ride our bikes BACK to L.A. I think 4 or 5 from the group did that. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with these people? The train ride is just plain cool. Very mellow, a nice snack car, an all-around great way to travel. Of course, the way the schedules work we had to ride our bikes about 5 miles from where we got off the train to get to another station where our cars were parked. That was a long 5 miles.

As for "Evil" Jon, he is a logistical mastermind. Hotels. Restaurants. Train schedules. Maps. Support vehicles. We all had an amazing weekend and Jon made it all possible.


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