October 11, 2015

South County Cookin'

Fall days are often among the hottest in the Bay Area—like today, when local thermometers were approaching the 90F degree mark. Not an ideal day to spend the afternoon baking in the rural southern reaches of Santa Clara County.

Aermotor along Day Road, Gilroy, California
But there we were, making the rounds on our club's annual progressive dinner ride—a roving pot-luck feast. The challenge, I've learned, is not to over-eat.

After dropping off our contributions, three of us headed for the first stop: appetizers. I'm not sure why my couscous salad ended up there. Fresh veggies, asparagus wrapped in puff pastry, mini tacos, and a tasty garlic/shrimp dip.

Did I mention that bit about not over-eating? [Why yes, I think I did.]

Second stop: salads. Pasta salad, broccoli salad, kale salad, fresh strawberries. Healthy, healthy, healthy. [Okay, not the pasta; but we do need some carbs, we're exercising.]

Third stop: main course. Ham, turkey, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn. Small portions; just a taste, really. [I was ready for my nap, here. My fellow cyclists were caffeine-loading, but I'm not a soda fan, diet or otherwise.]

Final stop: dessert. Here's where things fell apart. In past years, we could count on a veritable smorgasbord of luscious treats. This year, the organizers discouraged us from bringing desserts. For more than 30 people, there were only four desserts. No tangy lemon bars. No chewy brownies. No decadent chocolate mousse cake. The fruit salad had been set out with the appetizers.

Riders to the rescue! Pies were procured—berry, pecan, and more. [Whew. Close call.]

A flat 30 miles, with a mere 500 feet of climbing. Not a calorie-neutral day, but that's not the point ... is it?

October 4, 2015

Sunday Spin

Horse and young billygoat, Shannon Road, Los Gatos, California
Not every ride has to be epic. There is a certain charm to a short local ride ... a charm that includes sleeping in and biking to the start in mere minutes.

Whenever I toss out an invitation, I wonder if anyone will show up. Sunday morning, short ride, competing with other choices. Maybe two or three people will join me. If not, I'll just ride alone.

Eleven?! Eleven people turned up, sharing a similar frame of mind: Sleep in, do a quick local ride, spend the rest of the day in other ways.

A fine group on a fine morning, happily chatting away, looking out for one another, content to wait for the last rider every time we regrouped. At the top of the first hill we were entertained by a horse and a billygoat. Apparently not intimidated by the horse looming over him, the goat bounded over to check us out only after a commanding neigh.

On our way to the second hill, I heard that a rider had flatted. She was capable, and assisted by two other riders, but I circled back so she knew that we were aware. They caught up to us just as we were about to head for our third, and final, climb.

The end of the pavement on Reynolds was our turn-around point. It's a somewhat tricky descent, with sharp turns and enough grade to pick up more speed than you need. Near the bottom of the hill, approaching the final bend, a set of curving skid marks terminated ominously at a patch of melted pavement.

The group splintered after Reynolds; some to add another climb, others to head directly home. Three were game to visit the farmers' market with me. We took a back route through town on a tip that the high school's marching band might be practicing, but we were out of luck.

Not too late for a treat, though. For me, a crêpe slathered with Nutella, filled with fresh strawberries, and dusted lightly with powdered sugar. [Mmm.] A fair trade for the morning's effort, climbing 1,880 feet over 19 miles.