Christmas is cool again thanks to Ryder. Coincidentally, one of his many talents includes playing with & tearing paper, so the holiday season is right up his alley. There was no lack of wrapping paper for him to wade in, despite the untraditional apathetic nature of "wrapping" gifts in gift bags. That was another perk of having a baby around. Less gift bags & more actual wrapped gifts. It was like the good old days of Christmas. I haven't enjoyed Christmas since I was in high school & college & I worked at Sears. Ironically, I thought I hated Christmas back then because it meant working late, working early & dealing with the commercial mass. But, as soon as I left the cash register side of the shopping wars, I became less exposed to the holidays. Thus, the Christmas season, for me, went from last more than 2 months to lasting about 2 weeks. I can't even remember what my point was. Anyway, Ryder likes wrapping paper. On Christmas morning, my parents & Denise's parents came over for a breakfast feast. Ryder wore his new Discovery Cycling TdF leader's jersey, courtesy of Johnson. It fits perfect & he didn't even throw up on it. The breakfast menu included eggs, bacon, quiche & (my favorite) home-made coffee cake. I ate so much of it, I felt like crap the rest of the day.
On Christmas Eve, out of the goodness of my heart, I decided to walk Sala from our house to Suzie's. It's about a 15 minute walk. Once there, I got in Denise's car, which was already there, & drove the bad dog back home. Later that night, as we were wrapping up our Christmas Eve celebration, Suzie walks out into the garage & Sala walks up. The freak had gotten out (again) & sniffed her way to Jasmine St. Everyone there thought it was a Christmas Miracle, but I thought it was a Christmas Buzz Kill. Visions of Sala-proofing the fence (again) danced in my head that night. Another wrestless, stressful night.
CHRISTMAS EVE RIDE
The Raincross Ride had a descent size turnout considering the holiday. I suffered more on Christmas Eve than I would have liked to. Just before making the right up McAlister, I punched it & took Riverside Josh with me. At the top, I sat up & tagged on to the back of Andy, Turner, Padgett, a dude named Scott & some dude named Aaron from San Diego. Counting Josh, the 7 of us got away clean & even made the light on LaSierra, so that was the break. Cool. Finally, a break on Saturday that had some fire power to it.
Of course, there was a catch. Some dudes skipped the hill going up McAlister & jumped into the break after the light on LaSierra, which is total bull shit. If you want to skip the hill - fine; that's your own damn weakness. However, don't skip the hill & then jump into a break that you never would have made in the first place. Anyway, these guys jumped in with the 7 of us & didn't even have the decency to sit on the back. Instead, they sat second wheel & not one of them attempted to take one single pull. All they did was cause gaps & all the original 7 of us did was fill those gaps. Lighting match after match, filling their holes finally took its toll on little old me & it finally got to the point where I wasn't strong enough to take my turn at the front. Like a gentleman bike racer (and also, because it wasn't an acutal race), I made the following decision. If I can't take a pull, then I'm bowing out of the break. It's that simple. Have some pride in yourself man.
Meanwhile, as I'm reasoning with myself, Andy is yelling at said lame-asses, "Get out of the break." Maybe I'm getting older & more grizzled or maybe I've been riding with Turner for too long now, but I was glad someone finally spoke up. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. Still, I'm proud of myself for bowing out when I did. The original 7 of us are perfectly aware that no training ride is a race, however, these wheel suckers must remember that it's called a "training ride" because we (at least some of us) are actually training for races. No where on my calendar does it say, "Go out & ride in a group with slow riders & fill their wholes." I'm echoing Andy's words, "Get out of the break," unless you've earned your way in. End of story.
Oak Glen Ouch
We met at Stell's for the 9 a.m. jaunt. The draw was climbing up to Oak Glen or maybe the draw was Gardner (formerly known as Marine Tom) was back from Japan. Either way, I was looking forward to the day-after-Xmas ride. I let excitement get the best of me not long after crossing Bryant. Gardner & I decided to go up the road together & kick the shit out of one another as Andy & Turner watched it all unfold. I cracked Gardner just before reaching the Potatoe Canyon turn-off, but by that time I had already put in a massive effort. By the time I had reached the top of Potatoe Canyon, Andy had reeled me in. I was able to ride with him for a couple minutes before he shifted up a gear and left me for dead. My heart rate was in the 185 to 195 range throughout the whole climb. It hasn't been that high since Semptember in Mammoth. It felt good though & I remember what it was like to suffer again after months of riding around at a low heart rate. Padgett, who made his first trip up to Oak Glen in quite some time, & Eric Riser were also along for the ride.
Instead of freezing our arses off & going home through Beaumont, we turned around & went down the same way we came. At Bryant & Hwy 38 everyone else headed home while Andy, Gardner, Riser & I headed toward Forrest Falls for some extra climbing miles. At the turn-off for the falls we called it quits & headed home. Riding with Gardner is always fun. He's down to do anything & is never at a loss for words. Now that his career in the Marines is over, he's selling his house in the desert & will spend the spring in Belgium (lucky bastard) watching & riding some Spring Classics. Did I mention he's a lucky bastard? Then he's moving to Missiouri (unlucky bastard). I'm sure I'm not the only one who will miss riding with him. Hopefully I can make it out to his area so he can show me around Joshua Tree before he leaves.
Wednesday Night Ride
It may have been a small turn-out, but it was a big ride. Templeman, Johnson, Tito & I left from Hulda Crooks at 6:30 & rode over & up Blue Mt. For me it was just like old times & living in Grand Terrace. For Johnson, it was just like older times because he said he's been riding up Alpe Bluez since 1984. Damn. It was damn fine ride & took about 2 hours, which means there's no reason why we can't do it again. Templeman & Tito didn't even bitch, which is rare for your virgin voyage up Blue Mt. Good job guys.
Next week I ain't riding. There's a football game on. Granted, it's not NFL & they're just amateus, but I've spent plenty of days watching amateur motorcycle & bicycle racing, so I may as well watch some amateur football.
Happy New Year.