OK, typing while sitting down this time. My adventure actually began the evening before while I was in the middle of preparing for the ride the following day. At 6pm I get a phone call from a fellow bandmember wanting to know if I was up for playing a gig that evening. After finally deciding that I was up for it (never miss an opportunity to get paid for having fun) I dropped everything and was on stage at 9pm. Finish up and home by 2:30am. Alarm goes off at 5:30am so I can finish a few things and meet up with JB at 6:45. I guess it rang for 15 min. before I heard it because when I opened my eyes it was 5:45. I sorted out a few odds and ends to throw into the "goodie" pile and arrived at JB's right on time. I see JB on a regular basis but most of the time it is at work where distractions are the rule of the day. The 2 hour drive was a welcome chance to spend some quality time with my buddy JB. I figured why waste it, so I tortured his ears with recordings of my old surf band for most of the drive up. I knew the rest of his body would be tested as soon as we hit the road; so I felt obligated to give his ears some exercise to complete the full body workout.
We arrived plenty early to get a good parking spot only to be pleasently surprised to see several others already getting ready for the ride. Our prayers for a bright sun for our ride past all of the beach areas (bikini patrol) grew more intense as time for departure drew near. I gave my word to JB and a few others that we would be blessed. Didn't happen! In strict accordence with Murphys' Law, the intense baking sun didn't come out until we arrived back at Matts' house.
As Matt mentioned, this was the largest group I've seen on any vintage ride so far here on the Left Side. We're becomming a family here in the South (with our adopted Northern pair of Peter and Jan Johnson) and I look forward to seeing everyone each time as if it were a family reunion. Peter and Jan are a magic pair; Peter plays the retro grouch straight man while Jan delivers the lines and dukes it out with the boys. It's seriously funny to watch Jan play both sides of the fence; sometimes taking the role of defender of women (and such) everywhere and at other times being one of the boys and saying the things that we only dare to think. You just can't top that for fun entertainment. Don't get me wrong, Peter has more than his share of funny stuff; he just delivers it like George Burns while Jan does Gracey. Must also be quite a sight when Jan has to stand on her knees to give the little dwarf (that would be me) a hug.
As per usual, we're all standing around before we hit the road having (compliments of our most gracious host) coffee, donuts, bagels, and fruit as people are arriving one by one. This is my favorite time because of the anticipation of who will show up and what they will be riding. I was not aware that Peter and Jan were comming but I was prepared just in case by bringing a new pair of brake hoods for some Universal Mod.61 brake levers that Peter mentioned he needed. My preparedness was rewarded when they showed up. While I was digging in my bag for the hoods a new person shows up riding a really nice example of a Raphael Geminanni(sp?). I'm checking her out when I noticed that the Mafac brake levers are missing the rubber hoods. I ask him if he needs some hoods for those and he replies "yeah, I haven't been able to find them anywhere". I dive into my bag and drag out a NOS pair in white ones and hand them to him. Ever see the face on a child as you surprise them with an all day sucker or something? That was the look. So I went back to the bag and produced a pair of red velox end plugs and sure enough Scott Smith really needed a pair for his Fiji I think. What are the odds of that? Since there were no more coincidences forthcomming, I ended the trips to the bag.
We saddled up and made our way south at a confortable pace, even for me. I started off on the single speed freewheel side of my double hub (63 inch gear) until one of the other stiffies (Phil Brown) shamed me into a fixed gear, which turned out to be a good thing in that I then had a 68 inch gear. There would have been no way in hell for me to keep up on the way back in a 63. Spent the rest of the ride in fixed gear, occassionally feeling like my legs would break off at the hips and end up flailing from my crankarms. Could have been ugly. JFC has an interesting unit in that he rides a 3 speed fixed hub. He tells me it offers a 68, 78, 88 gear combination. That is radically cool, but I don't quite consider it the full experience of fixed gear because the real pain comes from spinning a gear for long periods that is way lower than the rest of the riders have. His ride is unique. Phil Brown riding 70 inches and Tom Hanson riding 75 inches are the other two fixed gears of the traditional type. Didn't mean to leave Jan out of the manly men catagory because she is female, she rode well on Jims' bike, being nothing short of a genuine trackie from way back. But it's not quite the same as being grossly under geared; that's where the fun(?) is, as long as one is willing to forgo the simple pleasures of walking and sitting for a short time afterwards.
The ride was excellent in every way; only one flat during the whole ride and almost no incidents with traffic, save one. As the main group was rolling through Sunset Beach in a nice shorefront residential area talking and having a good time while still rolling along at about 20mph or so; some bonehead lady ran a stopsign without even looking in our direction as your favorite dwarf on the fixed gear was ruthlessly spearheading this angry swarm northward. I slammed on the brakes as my rear wheel skidded and bucked (as a fixed gear is prone to do in panic stops) as I narrowly missed becomming part of the drivers side door. Jan graciously supplied the verbal responce as I checked my shorts for any unwanted deposits. JB was right behind me. He tells me it was kinda close and offered up some tissue if neccessary. Good thing for that lady we didn't connect; I would have been cursing her from about where her lap was as my head penitrated her door panel. Enough excitement for one day!
Upon returnig to Matts' place, amongst the whiney groans of a suffering midget, we began the recovery process by consuming mass quanities of pizza from "Valentinos" and drinks of assorted varities courtesy of Matt our saviour. What followed was a surprise highlight courtesy of "The Man of the Year" Joe Bell. JB has what we call a decal fetish. I've known this dark secret for a long time. As a result, JB has hundreds of odd stray decals of all sorts (bicycle related) that he knows will outlive him, so he decided to assemble a "grab bag" of decals each put into an envelope containing 10 decals. All the envelopes were put into a bag and each person got to pick out an envelope. I was around when JB was sorting through the stuff prior to the event and saw several things that even impressed me; in particular a small decal that would be found on a Mondia from the late 70's or so. I thought to myself, wow, I'd like to have that one. Also floating around in one of the envelopes was an original genuine Confente varnish fix head tube decal; certainly a grand prize to mount on someones tool box. As the envelopes were picked out one by one I waited until near the end. As everyone was opening their prizes it looked and sounded like a childs' birthday party right after the party favors were distributed. Holy smokes! When I open mine, inside was the Mondia decal I had seen at JB's a few days earlier; completly by the luck of the draw! I gave a Rigi decal to Matt and traded a Columbus decal to Scott Smith for a foil Urago head tube decal. Folks, it just doesn't get any better than this....or does it? YES, it does! Next, Matt comes out with a stack of "oversized baseball card" like things with classic photos of famous riders and teams of the past. I've never seen these cards before, but they are cooler than cool. I got Raymond Poulidor. These cards were printed in Italy circa 1978 according to the copywrite date on my card. In true Matt Gorski style, this really capped off this extra fine afternoon. The party broke up later than most were anticipation (as usual) and a good time was had by all.
Next stop, Velo Rendezvous! Anyone who is able to make this event and doesn't should have their head examined; maybe there's an old Gran Sport deraillier floating around in there mucking up the works! It will more of the same on a bigger scale. I'm foaming at the mouth just thinking about it. I've just about got my '62 Masi Special dolled up for the event as my rider. Be there, or be square!
Happy Birthday Tillio, we'll have the groundhogs deliver the card for you!
Your favorite cycle pygmy from La Mesa, CA