The official press release stated, “Once on top of Alpe Bluez, it can get cold so bring appropriate clothing,” but for some strange reason Rick forgot to bring a jersey, much less a vest or arm warmers. Apparently he has joined the ever-growing list of people who have set up their email accounts to reject all messages from Freemanrace@aol.com.
Rick of all people should know how cold one can get on top of Blue Mountain because he’s been to the near-freezing summit at night almost as many times as I. Anything other than a jersey, vest or arm warmers and Rick would have probably had it in his gear bag. Had I needed a solder gun or a hydraulic jack for some reason, I bet he would have dug it out in no time.
Trevor’s excuse for leaving his jersey at home probably had something to do with getting preoccupied with the amount of air pressure in his tires. A reasonable excuse since he’s the unofficial King of flatting mountain bike tires. Fortunately for Rick and Trevor, I happen to have a surplus of old bicycle and motorcycle gear and was more than willing to set them up so we could get the ride underway. Rick wore a red Pro Grip motorcycle jersey and a red Acerbis vest – making him look like a cross between Stephane Peterhansel and Giovanni Sala. Trevor opted for a red short-sleeved Manitou jersey. Aaron, on the other hand came totally prepared even though he tried to convince us that he had forgotten his cleats. He’s tried to pull that stunt on me every single time we’ve ridden Blue Mountain so this time I didn’t buy it. All kidding aside, the three of them showed up with fire in their eyes and Alpe Bluez hate in their hearts, ready and willing to conquer the mountain.
The ride started off with a detour because whoever owns Blue Mountain fenced off the Palm St. entrance to the base of the mountain. Sad, since Grand Terrace advertises itself as “The Blue Mountain City.” Our detour took us up to Honey Hill and then down Westwood into Reche Canyon, where the climb began. It’s now obvious why the fence is up because the road heading up the mountain is very loose and sandy, which probably means they’ve been driving trucks and tractors to the antenna towers that top Alpe Bluez. Other than trying extra hard to find good traction the ascent was pretty normal – long, steep and relentless. I suffered as much at the top from being cold as I did from actually climbing.
Apparently Aaron had a more amusing ride up than Rick and I did because he rode near Trevor and listened in on the one-way conversation that Trevor had with his rear tire. Every few minutes Aaron heard a tire spin out in the sand followed by, “(Insert explicative here) tires!” The King of Mtb Flats was riding his back-up bike with a narrow rear tire filled with enough air to supply an entire ecosystem. His full-suspension Marin, which is currently under construction, is Trevor’s bike of choice – not his sweet Specialized hardtail.
The real fun began at the descent into Reche Canyon, which was mired with me nearly careening out of control over a cliff and Trevor taking a soil sample. No doubt – a result of his 200 pounds of air pressure. Rick and Aaron managed to escape the downhill unscathed and if you ask either one of them why, they’re likely to give you the same answer, “Because we ride steel bikes.” Although they’ve only met twice, they share the same motto. I’d be sipping fruity drinks in some clear blue ocean if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard one of them say, “Aluminum is for recycling. Steel is for building things.”
I can’t dispute their motto because the steel frame has gotten the best of me many times and it did that night as we pace-lined down a rough Reche Canyon Rd. I was pulling and tucked in, thinking I was traveling at a pretty good clip when all of a sudden Aaron sling-shots from the draft and goes by me like a bat out of hell. “What the hell!?” was all I could say as he sprinted away like Mario Cippolini. Really, it had more to do with the rider than it did his steel bike, but whenever my legs fail me, I always blame it on my aluminum ride.
Before the ride was over I amused some and annoyed others while heading home back down Westwood. I came into a corner, threw the bike sideways, dragging my left cleat across the tarmac, performing my best Mert Lawill impersonation. Sparks flew from beneath my cleat and lit the sky like a giant bolt of lightening, as if to signal that we had conquered the great mountain.
A Pro Grip motorcycle jersey (just like the one that Stephane Peterhansel used to wear) to the first person that can answer the following questions:
1. What movie is the below dialogue from?
2. How does Pigman conclude his Caine-Hackman Theory thesis?
Tom: What’s he doing?
Droz: He's finishing his senior thesis. Pigman is trying to prove the Caine-Hackman Theory: No matter what time it is, 24 hours a day, you can find a Michael Caine or Gene Hackman movie playing on TV.
Tom: That's his thesis?
Droz: Yes! That’s the beauty of college these days, Tommy! You can major in Gameboy if you know how to bullshit.
Submit answers to: Freemanrace@aol.com
Subject line: Contest
WARNING: Rick wore the prized Pro Grip jersey while riding up Alpe Bluez, but it has since been washed (twice) in hot water.