Before addressing the post topic, I have some numbers for you:
Three surgical procedures in the past ten months that have taken me out of the saddle. That is two more than in my previous 61 years.
Six weeks out of the saddle due to the most recent surgery, with many Norco and Advil tablets consumed.
Five miles long was my first return ride five days ago, a solo jaunt just to see if I could tolerate the saddle without liberal use of painkillers.
Twenty miles long was my second return ride this past Sunday, a group ride starting and ending at Dark Nectar coffee in Templeton. Objective – to see if the legs could handle more distance and climbing. Thankfully most folks in the group had smart phones to summon Uber in case I had a full physical/mental collapse.
Thirty miles long was my third return ride yesterday, out into the far reaches of west Paso Robles vineyards with The Bailey Group. I must be feeling better since I was able to, while pedaling, have an extended discussion with another rider about the virtues (few) and vices (many) of the major party presidential nominees.
Forty miles long was my ride today, also the fastest pace so far. Gregg Bone designed the route, I joined him along with Ron Chalker and Earl Norcross, mostly trying to suck wheel and hang on to the tail end of the group. Major wimpiness on any climbs bigger than a bump in the pavement.
Here we are ten miles into our ride:
Speaking of pavement, Gregg designed the route for today with the idea of finding and riding some of the nice new asphalt laid down recently here in north SLO County. Ergo, my post title “Black Beauty.” The new pavement, smooth black asphalt, without even a paint stripe upon it yet, is a thing of beauty when you’re rolling on it. Especially so considering that it covers some very nasty jaw-jarring sections of road that I had taken to avoiding as much as possible.
Here we are finding and riding Black Beauty (click any image for a slide show):
A small tangent is in order here. My friend Patrick Brady, one of the founders of, and a principal writer for the Red Kite Prayer blog, once upon a time published an actual paper-hold-in-your-hands magazine called “Asphalt.” The title might have caused some confusion in the construction trades, but it was all about road bike riding.
Unfortunately, that well-written magazine folded after only five issues. I believe a significant problem was the rough emotional road between the two publishers, who were at the time significant-others living together. When their relationship crashed, the magazine was a casualty. If they had been able to find the relationship equivalent of the Black Beauty I was riding today, maybe Asphalt Magazine would still be with us, although
most likely in online form. Quite possibly exactly what Red Kite Prayer is today.