How do you put a truly magical ride into words? The 2016 Eroica California ride will take three parts, maybe four. Below is part one:
We rolled out of the Paso Robles park at 6:30am, in semi-darkness. Among a bigger group, I was riding shoulder to shoulder with my longtime cycling buddy and SLC Bicycle Company owner, Brent Hulme. It wasn’t raining, but the air was so moist that my cotton French blue Velox handlebar tape got wet and turned navy blue. Brent was riding a Lindsey, made in Boise sometime in the early 1980s, and I was on 1969 LeJeune from Paris. Although we hadn’t ridden with each other in nearly 20 years, somehow riding side by side seemed perfectly comfortable, normal, as if no time had elapsed. Out of the saddle, still cold, we grunted up the first green oak-studded hill with wide grins on our faces, 85 miles and three big climbs ahead of us. We were on the Coastal Route, new to Eroica for 2016.
When we were in our early 20s, Brent and I spent many early mornings riding together on familiar routes all over Utah County. We had both married young, were students, and worked together in the same shop, Highlander Bicycle. When we weren’t motivated, we would just ride to Provo Bakery and eat orange rolls.
Soon the route turned to dirt and we were on our way up Kiler (which some riders intentionally mispronounce as “Killer”) Canyon. In the inaugural 2015 edition of Eroica California, I had blown up my legs on this hill, and had no choice but to walk on several steep sections. This year, I had earnestly prepared and although I was pushing higher gears than I did in 2015, I was riding much stronger. My French bike with clearance for mud covered tires and Mafac Racer brakes which also left room for mud were working perfectly. I passed a few riders on bikes with tighter clearances who were pulled over cleaning mud out of their brakes with sticks.
Before I knew it Kiler Canyon was behind us and we segued back on to pavement. I soft-pedaled a bit while Brent caught up, and when he did, he said, “did you see Tom Ritchey back there?” As I turned my head to see the tall mustachioed Ritchey wing by, I saw Andy Hampsten’s pink jersey flash past as well. I jumped on my pedals to try and catch him.
They say you shouldn’t meet your heros, but what about cycling with them? Back in the late 1980s Brent and I would rise early, and head over to our friend Stuart’s basement (he was the only one of us with cable) to watch live coverage of the spring classics, and the Tour and the Giro. We cheered for Andy Hampsten and watched him conquer mountains in awe.
Now I found myself abreast with Andy Hampsten, riding in close quarters at a brisk pace and chatting about olives. Andy has his own olive oil label sourced from Il Fontoia de Foiano, adjacent to his farm in Italy; professionally, I’m a horticulturist, garden designer, and olive lover who has dabbled with curing my own olives. We had both read Mort Rosenblum’s book Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit. I nearly pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t having a dream about riding with Andy Hampsten and talking about olives. I glanced behind us, and two other former pro racers—George Mount and Mark Pringle were there with Tom Ritchey. Completely outclassed, I rode with these guys to the stop at Halter Ranch where Brent and I got this photo with Andy Hampsten.
Read the second part of this ride report here.
RussApril 13, 2016 at 8:12 am
I love you guys. Great nostalgic tinged writing.
The Beautiful BicycleApril 13, 2016 at 8:25 am
Thanks Russ. After the ride, we sat around the kitchen and talked about old times. Brent showed me some photos of your latest work which was as entertaining and provocative as I’ve come to expect from you. Come ride with us next year.
BrentApril 13, 2016 at 9:41 pm
We need to make this a tradition. I will always enjoy a good bike ride with people I like.
Jon SpanglerApril 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm
Scott, thanks for the great description of the longer route that I hope to ride next year. (I could never do it in the gears you, Brent, and Greg used, but it would be a victory for me just to attempt it.)
The Beautiful BicycleApril 15, 2016 at 8:42 pm
Thanks for reading Jon. I’m shooting for the long long course next year, so I think I’m going have a lower bailout gear just in case my inner Bahamontes fails me and the ol’ legs give out toward the end. I look forward to seeing you out there next year.
john crumpNovember 17, 2016 at 1:47 pm
Oh to be young again! My mind say go for it, my body says think about it John. I will get the coastal route a try in 2017 on MY Frenck Follis ‘sacrebleu’ machine. who knows at 84 then, maybe I will be a “well done Crumpy” from someone
The Beautiful BicycleNovember 17, 2016 at 1:54 pm
I’ll look for you out there John! I still think about the coastal route just about every week. One of my all-time beautiful rides.