Karen and I carpooled to Salinas the night before the ride. We were the first of the riders to arrive at the start.
Karen and I were putting our bikes together and going through our other preparations. Karen was keeping her eye open for her biking coach who was going to meet us. I was keeping my eye open for my friend Charles. He’s a great guy and a super rider who works out of one of our Salinas offices. He works each year on the Tour of California with the pro-team and I was sure he had been involved coordinating this ride.
Sure enough, it didn’t take long before I saw his car pull in the parking lot. He came right up along Karen and me and rolled down his window.
“Hey Charles.” I could see he had Robert Gesink and Grischa Niermann in his car.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Charles said jerking a thumb toward the two pros, “I picked up a couple guys. They want to ride with us.”
“That’s cool. But can they ride?”
Thankfully they have a sense of humor and chuckled at the jab.
“We’ll see you at the start.” Charles said and went to park the car.
Karen and I took our bikes up to the staging area. I asked one of the coordinators if the route was marked.
“No, the city wouldn’t let us mark the street.”
I know they didn’t have route maps. There were 4 separate stages totaling 46 miles in all. No problem. I could ride 46 miles even though I hadn’t started my biking season yet and had only 2 weeks to prepare for this ride. I knew I could clear 46 miles. The problem was I couldn’t cover them fast.
“I noticed in the invitation that there are start times for each stage.”
“I looked at the times for each stage and they are very fast.”
“Well, Charles did the routes and he worked out the timing. They shouldn’t be too bad.”
He knows I’m slow. He must have routed stages for the advanced riders. But surely they had a plan in place for the slow riders??
“What happens if we can’t cover the stage in the time allotted?”
“Well, you can drop out at the end of any stage. There will be a car to take you back.”
“You don’t understand. I can ride for days. I can ride for 46 miles no problem. I just can’t ride as fast as you have the stages.”
She just looked at me. I looked at Karen. I saw the same fear on her face as I felt. What are we going to do with the slow casual riders? We are going to lose the group and without a marked route or a route map, how are we going to get them from stage to stage?
We wouldn’t need to. There would be no casual riders.