I'm not really sure how I fell into this. I suppose it's all because of a broken spoke in 2009. Since I replaced that broken spoke on Tom Hardy's Sachs seven years ago, I've gotten invites to the Dino rides - some I've been able to attend, some not. When I have been able to make it, the quality of the ride and the riders is top shelf. Tom encouraged me to attend last year, but timing wasn't quite right.
This year, however, it was a different story. I had a window of opportunity to close the shop for the weekend and head down to Paso Robles for Eroica California. What may have played a bigger role in my decision to ride was the recent acquisition and build of an '85 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra. A few rides on this prior to the event had me fall in love with the ride of this bike and really want to take this on the 87 mile Eroica route - 87 miles, 25 of them dirt, and 7300' of climbing. And with the exception of the puncture at about mile 80 (which I still have no idea what caused it), the bike performed incredible. Well, the puncture and, according to the photo of my bike at the mile 40 rest stop, my saddle went from level to nose up, but I never noticed it until I looked at my bike leaning against a wall after the ride was over.
The weekend also had some great surprises. Masi Bikes, my old employer, was a sponsor of the event and I got a chance to catch up with old friends and co-workers. The Dinos were to meet up at the start area for a 7:00 a.m. start. As I rolled up, I saw another friend I hadn't seen in 10 years. Chris Watson, one of the owners of Arundel was there! I've known Chris for almost 20 years. He was a rep for Haro/Masi before starting Arundel while I was at Haro/Masi in product development. Over the years, we connect via a phone call or email about once a year or so. I was really glad to get a chance to ride with Chris. There were also a few other guys on the line to ride with the Dinos who, well, how exactly does one describe their influence on the American racing scene of the '70s/'80s? How 'bout this: past winners of the Nevada City Classic, US National Championship, Red Zinger Classic, Pan American Games, Olympians, races too numerous to fully list, and the only American to win the Giro d'Italia. Yeah, I was going on an 87 mile ride with Andy Hampsten, George Mount, Mark Pringle, Tom Ritchey...and about a dozen more high-quality, riders who laid the foundations for modern bike racing in the US. And they're all super nice guys and still are great riders. One of those rides that leave you buzzed for days afterwards. The roads, scenery, and general cohesiveness of the group on the road were also top-notch and contributed greatly to a fantastic weekend.
There was one point on the ride as I was rolling along next to and talking with Rick Pepper from Eleven Gear that the surreal aspect of the ride really became evident. We had been out front rolling through a beautiful country road for a while. Wondering who was behind us, I put my right hand on top of the bars, straightened up and turned to look back. On our wheels were Andy Hampsten and George Mount. Yeah, it was an okay day on the bike. Thanks, for the ride, Dinos.
The actual Masi Dennis Christopher rode in "Breaking Away"
The early part of the climb up Kiler Canyon Rd. (photo by Tom Ritchey)
Yours truly at the top of Kiler Canyon Rd. (photo by Tom Ritchey)
Rolling along a dirt road with (L-R) Larry Shields, Mark Pringle, Chris Watson with red stripe cap, Tom Hardy in the Brooklyn jersey, Rick Pepper in red, Andy Hampsten in pink (naturally).
One of the many dirt roads.
My Merckx after 40 miles. Seat went a bit nose up, but I never noticed.
Lunch stop - burritos and margaritas
Double paceline rolling down CA 1 to Cayucos. In Cayucos, we pulled up to the food stop at the pier and friends Jim and Cathy Haagen-Smit were standing there with other friends of theirs - small world.
Just some of the super cool bikes on the ride: Guerciotti, Masi, Colnago...
Tom Hardy's Gios
Andy Hampsten's team 7-11 bike
Yet another dirt road
Mark Pringle on his Colnago
Chris Watson - thanks for the day of riding, Watson!
Yes, another dirt road!
Tom Ritchey taking a photo - of Chris Watson
The dirt road climbs were severe enough plenty of folks were walking, hampered by the gearing of their vintage race bikes. The 28 I fit in combination to my 42t ring gave me enough of a low gear to stay on the bike up the climbs.
(What's playing: Gurf Morlix Feel Free)