There are dozens of group rides in SoCal ever day and so this past Sunday I decided to pick one and join in.
Almost next door to where I live is a very cool development called Liberty Station. It's actually a Naval Training Center that was built in the 1920's. Then later fell into decay before it was recently renovated and repurposed into a great area that has residential townhouses, retail, restaurants, shopping and even a megachurch called Rock Church.
One of the shops in Liberty Station is a bike shop called Moment Bikes. It's a high end shop that caters to racers and triathletes. When I stopped in there on Saturday all of the staff seemed a little on the "stuffy" side. 99% of the shops that I go to across the country are all super friendly. I mean, your working at a bike shop, what's not to be happy about? But that was just my 1st impression, and 1st impressions can be wrong. Plus, everyone seems to be friendlier once we have an opportunity to ride together.
Anyhow, I visited Moments website and learned that a group ride leaves every Sunday's at 8:00am with a changing route each week. This weeks' route is called the 7-11 Ride because it passes a bunch of 7-11 stores along the route. It goes east, inland through areas called Mission Gorge and El Capitan Reservoir - 65 miles round trip.
I showed up a few minutes early with a Grande Starbucks in hand. There were a handful of young guys all sitting around the patio furniture - all with their noses stuck to their smart phones - nobody chatting - nobody saying hello - same vibe as the day before in the store.
[Last week, Kyria and I were having dinner at a Mexican restaurant. There were a pack of 8-10 teenage girls sitting at a table by us. We noted that not one word was spoken for several minutes. Every girl had their head down with the glow of the smart phone screen lighting their faces. We have an entire generation who no-longer understand how to communicate. How will they survive? Who will save them? These are the people who will be voting for Bernie - no doubt.]
A few more people rolled up, a couple of them wearing tennis shoes and t-shirts. This is when I started to plan my exit strategy. After a couple of instructions, we were off. There were 2 ride leaders; Both wearing Moment Kits. One guy was leading the short route, the other leading the long route.
Most of these ride start out 2-abreast. Whenever I attend a new ride I make it a point to strike up a conversation with the person next to me. It seemed like we rode about 90 minutes getting out of town. This gave me lots of time to chat with several people. This ride had become a social/recovery ride, which was perfectly fine with me. I had a great Saturday ride and a wide-open schedule this week to prepare for Tucson Bicycle Classic Stage Race next weekend.
Once we entered the Mission Gorge area the road opened up and the terrain became more challenging. Most of these group rides are "no-drop" which usually means that if the group splits, we re-group regularly. But today, it was survival of the fittest. I didn't see any t-shirts or tennis shoes after the first 30 minutes, and by the time we did stop, there were 3 of us who waited for 10 minutes for the balance of the group. This turned out to be where the short ride turned around and the long ride continued to El Capitan.
There were 5-6 of us who did the long route and we continued riding 2-abreast most of the way. I had a chance to chat with each guy for quite a while. Our ride leader was JT - the owner of Moment Bikes. JT turned out to be a super nice guy. Really passionate about the sport and his shop. He's a former engineer and used to fabricate carbon tubing. His big push is bike fits and service. I wanted to find a good way to offer my suggestion that his staff could be more engaging but it never came up.
Austin was a young guy who is also an engineer and was in San Diego doing a project for the Navy. Once he found out that I was a retired business guy he was full of questions about business and finance. It won't be long until Austin has his own firm and will be employing several Americans. Austin was NOT one of the guys with his face pasted to his smart phone before the ride.
Anyhow, heading into El Capitan Reservoir we had a chance to hit the jets up a 2-mile long climb to past the damn. We stopped for picture, a nature break and to fill water bottles before heading back to civilization.
I made 5 new friends today - JT, August, Austin Jose' and another guy from Canada (name escapes me). Sometimes that is more important then recording a KOM on Strava.
After high-5's at the shop, I arrived back at the boat with just under 90 miles and over 6 hours of saddle time. Not the most challenging day on the bike, but a really fun one, and one that I would recommend. At the end of the day, 90 miles is still 90 miles.
|My Garmin route to El Capitan and back.|
|El Capitan Reservoir|
|A very different picture from the ocean|
These two little dudes show up like clockwork every
afternoon around 5:00pm begging for Cornflakes.
I can only throw 4-5 handfuls to them before the
seagulls show up and turn the place into a shit show.