And in Closing...
Let's begin with a giving of thanks. Thanks for the safe rides. Thanks for the sun that shone, the breeze that blew at our backs and the immature California Coastal Mtns. that ripped our legs off. Thanks to Kim, Steve P, Mary B.,Ted C.,Katrina and Nick at the starts. Thanks to Kim for her long days atop Coleman Vly Rd and the amazing maps. (Even if I'm too ignorant in regards to movie lore to understand the deeper meanings.) Thanks for the bodies, minds and spirits that converge to allow us to rip through life astride two-wheeled kinetic sculptures. Thanks to Pachamama.
Have you had time to collect your thoughts? Was a memorable day on the Ridge, as I knew it would be. I managed to will myself through another epic Hopper, riding along folks who have put in countless miles and hours, spinning in their garages watching videos of Paris-Roubaix as the rain hammered down late December,or better yet, saddled up for a 4 hr. slog in the rain, anticipating the first Hopper in the end of Feb. An impressive hardened group showed up on Sat to challenge the series finale, only a few of whom had never ridden a K.R. Hopper. A good sign to me; meaning that people knew what they were in for. I figured 4 1/2 hrs. would be a fast day for me. The start went smoothly again, thanks to Kim, Steve P. and Mary. Thanks T for coming out. Thanks to all for the Happy Bday to Josie. I was on the podium before the ride began. The descent to Monte Rio, was smooth, relaxed and safe. Enjoyed the chat down Moscow and Austin Creek Rd. and then was awakened to find I was being dropped after turning rt. on Caz Hwy. Thought it was a brief acceleration but turned out to be the real deal. Cal Strawberry led by John Hunt drove to the first climb and from what I understand dealt a fair share of whoop ass all the way to the finish line. Field yo-yoed throughout the day. People were caught and dropped. Alliances were drawn and abandoned as roads pointed upwards. Checkbook balance reassessed and huge withdrawals taken. Many dipped into retirement savings, unkindly rewarded by the double whammy quad and hammy crampy; forcing rider to dismount and suckle the last drops of warm water. Oh but Meyers Grade to Jenner! Ripping, ripping, ripping! Did you enjoy the moment or did you disregard the hand at your back and the views of the mighty Pacific and napping harbor seals as your mind left the present, wrapping its twisted fingers around the future? The future ascent of Willow Creek and the Twin Sisters? The only control we have in our lives is of our own thoughts, we are often together in a Hopper but ultimately alone. On Willow Creek there are always people ahead of you. There are always those behind. Sat I rode thinking of those ahead, knowing Matthias was lurking around a corner behind me. Managed to stay ahead of my Gianni bros who kindly served me in Chileno Vly. Tough love in the West County. Checked my time from '01, the last time we rode this exact loop. And the only stage I've managed to win. I was only eight minutes slower this year (4:39 ) than I was 8 years ago! So it's true, I'm not really getting (that much) slower, everyone else is just getting faster! :) John H. finished with a smoking time of 4:05 * Special thanks to Hillary for the water and to Veronika for sharing down to her last drop. Don't forget to check out her amazing photos.
I hear Roger and Timmel threw down Mano a Mano on Willow Creek with Timmel the victor. Hats off to the MudPuppy and to White Lightning who informed me this year that he is just getting stronger since this is technically his second year really riding his road bike a lot. Congrats to Kathleen for being the fastest lady and to all the others who made it out. Got a story to tell? Shout it out.