Almost Keeping Up
A Saturday morning ride through the park with the Velo Club. Or not.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
I had a great time on the weekly Saturday morning ride with members of the Velo Club of Monterey and other area cyclists. Unfortunately, my ride with the group only lasted about three minutes.
One recent Saturday morning, I met a group of cyclists in the parking lot behind Pacific Grove’s Lighthouse Cinemas just before 8am. After a quick glance around, I quickly discovered I was severely undergunned. Dressed in surf trunks and a hooded sweatshirt, I held my girlfriend’s knobby-tired mountain bike at my side, while serious-looking riders decked out in lycra and helmets pulled into the parking lot on sleek street bikes.
After talking with rider Chris Axe in the parking lot, I should have realized that my infrequent six-mile bike rides did not adequately prepare me for this 34-mile ride. Though Axe gave me plenty of encouragement, he informed me that he usually tries to cycle for a couple hours every day.
While asking for the time, I met Jim Clark, a Seaside resident who has been participating in the Saturday morning rides since 1980. The 73-year-old said that he comes every week because it is a great ride with great camaraderie.
While I made sure that my Vans were laced up tight, a few members of the group looked over at my rig and told me that it might be a hard ride. One added that he would see me after the ride at Goodie’s, the PG sandwich shop where the group meets for post-ride snacks and coffee.
At 10 minutes past eight, the group of 23 riders headed out of the
parking lot toward Lovers Point. I started near the rear and chatted
with a few of my fellow cyclists. A block off of Lighthouse, a fireman
standing in the street stopped traffic so our group could
With Lovers Point in view, we passed a yard sale on our right. One of the riders asked if the people could spare a Mimosa. Hey, I realized, this group knows how to have some fun. They are my kind of people, I thought.
By the time we had made it to Lovers Point, I realized I was slowly drifting to the back of the pack. That’s all right, I thought, watching a surfer trying to catch a wave.
About a minute later, I passed by Point Piños Lighthouse and noticed that I was unable to see any of the group’s bright yellow jerseys in front of me. I kept riding to the Pacific Grove Gate into Pebble Beach. I stopped at the entrance booth and asked the attendant if he had seen my fellow bikers. “I think they passed by here about five minutes ago,” he said, and then promptly returned to his daydreaming.
With that, I turned my rig around and headed back to Pacific Grove to pursue some writerly endeavors, like reading the paper and sipping coffee, until the rest of the group arrived at Goodie’s.
Sitting at a table outside the deli, I watched as Chris Axe rode into the parking lot at 10:30am. A few minutes later, about a dozen riders were sitting in the sun and trading stories about the ride.
Tony Crivello, a rider who has been a Velo Club of Monterey member for the past five years, said that the day’s most exciting moment occurred when a dog jumped right in front of cyclist Terry Ryan’s speeding bike. Luckily, the pet’s owner grabbed the dog’s fur and hoisted him up in the air right as Ryan sped by.
For Crivello, a CPA, the bike rides help him to keep his sanity during the busy tax season. Bu, the lifelong Monterey resident admitted that his first few times with the group were no picnic in the park.
“For the first few weeks, I couldn’t keep up,” he says. “I would be wasted all weekend.”
Barbara Gicquel admitted that she thought she was going to die on her first ride with the group. But she came back because the group was so supportive. Recently, Gicquel won four gold medals for cycling at the Arizona Senior Olympics, and now she is preparing for the National Senior Olympics. “Between the Carmichael Training System and this group, it has done wonders,” she said.
Before leaving, I talked with Ryan, who rode in from Salinas, which added an extra 24 miles to his day. I just stood there looking at him in amazement.
Later, Peter Symons, a board member of the Velo Club of Monterey, gave me a little advice. “Always pace yourself getting back into fitness,” he suggested. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
I wish I had talked to him before the ride.
For information about group bike rides in the Monterey area, e-mail Peter Symons at email@example.com.