Eroica California day 3
Three hours of sleep, ouch! Why is that alarm going off? OK, willpower… one leg over the edge of the bed, then the next and I’m up. This is just plain wrong being awake so early, but there is stuff to do so get on with it.
By 5am some long route riders started to gather, anxious to have at the course. We got the depart area set up just in time for Wes H to send off the first wave of riders with their lighting systems illuminating the pavement. There was a little photo-drone flying above the riding group as they departed, sounding like a swarm of angry bees and carrying green/red running lights just like any normal sailing or flying vessel.
A young lady who had flown here from Italy arrived with a bike damaged in transit. The left rear dropout was bent and binding the wheel, the rear wheel had been knocked out of true, and the handlebars had been squeezed from the sides and bent inward. All in all, totally unrideable. We took her over to the tent for Wally’s bike shop, where Wally himself was on duty. He sized it up for a few minutes then went at it. Got the dropout straightened, the wheel trued, and used an interesting technique to bring the handlebars back to their correct shape. Looking for an Archimedean lever, Wally pulled a metal leg off of a table and used it to pry them back into shape. I don’t think he learned that method at Barnett’s Bicycle School.
As the dawn approached more groups gathered and were sent off at intervals. Wes asked me to drive three photographers around the medium course using my personal vehicle, a little Ford Focus wagon. When I pulled up with it, they were quite skeptical since Wes had first indicated we’d be able to use a minivan. Typical bait-and-switch. But we made it work, stuffing in their gear and heading out to the first rest stop at Cass Winery.
We stopped along Linne Road to get some shots of riders coming past, and then prepped for moving shots, using a technique of questionable safety that these guys seemed pretty used to. We opened the back hatch of the wagon and attached a strap from it to the roof rack in order to make sure it stayed fully open while driving. Then the video guy sat in the rear storage area with his frame-mounted camera to shoot video of riders behind us while I drove down the bumpy and curvy road. At the same time the other two were hanging out the side windows shooting stills.
We pulled into Cass Winery where the first rest stop was in full swing and Steve Cass was greeting riders as they turned in. I introduced myself, explained that I was escorting the photographers around the course, and he graciously granted us permission to drive through his property along with the riders in order to get more shots. In the meantime, the Cass staff were handing out tasty chicken wraps and “Cass” labeled water bottles, some with white wine in them! From the Cass front lot the dusty dirt lane began and headed through several plots of vines and then up a steep slot in the hills. Very few riders that we saw could keep pedaling all the way up. As they got closer to the top some tried to mount up and get rolling, I was offering saddle pushes to provide a bit of momentum until they gained traction.
We headed to the next dirt section at Akron Road, followed shortly after by a rest stop at Olea Farm. Freshly deep-fried frites (by a genuine French fellow) with tomato sauces for dipping, sliced baguettes with bowls of herbed olive oil for dipping. Mmmmm…. riders were lingering. Off to the next dirt sections on Moss Lane and Arbor Road, then a stop at Nadeau vintners where the route heads through some private property between Peachy Canyon Road and Adelaida Road.
I was looking forward to making the drive through this private land, since we never get to see it. My expectation was some gently rolling dirt lane suitable for a mule-drawn cart, flanked by rows of leafy grape vines and old oak trees. But when we pulled around to the backside of the Nadeau compound and I took a look at the thin and dusty two-track heading into the hills, with dismounted riders trudging up the slope, unh-uh was my thought, we’re turning around here. Robert Nadeau generously offered his off-road quad to photographers so they could get some backcountry shots.
In the meantime riders kept pulling into the Nadeau lot after having completed the stiff climb up Kiler Canyon Road, most of them feeling very parched. Robert told me later that they went through almost 30 gallons of water even though they were not a rest stop. Running out of time, we headed back to the park in Paso Robles so that photographers could get shots of finishers. The post-ride pasta dinner was on with lots of bikes parked out in front of the main tent.
I found the bike with the #1 placard attached to the frame. It was a 95-year-old bike with wooden rims and wooden grip sections on the handlebar ends, brought over by one of the Italians, perhaps Giancarlo Brocci, who started Eroica back in 1997. The frame, fork, stem and handlebars looked like they were fabricated from a recycled World War 1 artillery piece, but one of the Italians showed me that everything was fully functional. The crank spun freely, the wheels were true and spun with little friction. Sweet.
Lots of work leading to lots of fun, see you next year.