Yesterday in Southern California, Pasadena in specific, was a very perfect day for a nice vintage bike ride. The allure of knowing Peter and Jan Johnson were going to be there was enough for me to decide to collect up Pergolizzi from La Jolla and venture up there. The drive for me is about 145 mi. each way ( a small fraction of the distance Peter and Jan travel to join us) so I have a captive audience in my car for two hours each way. I'm sure Pergolizzi would rather be at the dentist having work done without novocain than have to talk to me for two hours. That's why I bought the dozen Krispy Kremes. A little sweet bribe and John was plied suffeciently to tolerate my presence at the wheel. We spoke amazingly little about bicycles except where they crossed the stories about each others' lives. Obviously, bicycles have been central in both of our pasts so much that still without actually speaking of bikes, they enter the conversation frequently. John and I talked a certain amount about his stay here in CA which is somewhere about 3 weeks old. I think Sally and him are beginning to adjust. For John the most radical adjustment he has had to make is how people drive and relate to cyclists in this area. Never let your guard down, even drivers in CA are prone to doing stupid things around bikes; but they are usually quite curteous while doing so. John has lost his "Incredible Mr. Limppet" voice and now uses his whole hand when waveing at people. Don't let the one finger wave atrophy John, you may need it for your own safety when you go back home.
The drive was pleasant and traffic free except for an interaction between a vehicle transporter and an SUV shortly after we got onto I-5 heading north. Once we cleared the problem we sailed up to Pasadena directly. We arrived in plenty of time and were among the first to arrive. This is probably my favorite time of any ride. My nature is to arrive early and be ready to go before the appointed departing time. I always get to watch the crowd grow, making the rounds several times as each group of readyiers grows as people gravitate from car to car checking out stuff, sussing the bikes, and taking in the warm sunshine and freindly atmosphere.
Chuck has all of the names on a list of who was in attendance; I'll let him give the complete list and a photo when he gets that ready. I'm the one in the photo wearing the Classic Rendezvous jersey standing about kneecap level to everyone else. The first humorous occurance came when Jan Johnson had taken charge of making sure that everyone there had written down their name and what bike they were riding. As stragglers arrived and the group seemed to have topped out she was making a final headcount and comparing the number of names. Upon first count she came up with X names and X+1 heads.?? OK, simple enough, just start asking who hasn't signed up. Around several times and still an imbalance. Jan is becomming "anxious" to find the missing person. OK, start checking off names, damnit. She's ticking down the list and suddenly she comes to the startling realization. PETER! It's her husband Peter! Everyone cracks up as Peter and Jan try to work out who is supposed to write Peters' name on the list. Peter insists it's womans work; "You pay the bills, don't you?". They are a great team. They remind me of Burns and Allen; although I've never seen Peter with a cigar.
Just before we were ready to leave and getting set up for some "photo
ops" for Jan and Patrick Brady from Asphalt Magazine; this guy rides
into the parking lot on a nifty red Rene Herse. The unidentified rider
catches everyones attention as he gracefully circles the group and then
settles to a stop in a small group of people. I happen to know who it is
but the rest of the "normal?" crowd does not recognize the new arrival.
No one recognizes the bike either since this particular steed is new to
the owner and has not been in public yet. He joins the group as if he
knows everyone and belongs here but no one knows who this smart alec is
(except for me). He greets the small group which includes Jan Johnson at
this point but is still wearing his helmet and glasses. He's talking but
still the group is puzzled; who is this joker? Suddenly the "greeter"
realizes that no one recognizes him, and he knows why. He removes his
helmet, "it's me" he says. Still blank stares from the onlookers. Jan is
tooking straight into his face. Still nothing. Maybe it's the glasses he
figures, and removes them convinced that everyone will finally know him.
NOPE! I think at that point everyone was even MORE confused. Again,
"it's me, Matt Gorski". Jan, looking this "person" (imposter obviously)
straight in the face proclaims "NO Way!" Matty responds, "No, really".
>From Jan another astonished No way! Matt was probably reaching for his drivers liscense to prove it to Jan when I interjected. I alerted Jan to the fact that Matt had shaved off his Groucho sized moustash recently. I've seen it before a few days ago and still I have a hard time making the connection. Imagine what Groucho would look like without the moustash! Probably a LOT like Matty! Until I saw a photo of him just before the cookie duster removal, I had forgotten how much of his face his facial hair took up. Amazing how different he looks. I'm still not sure Jan believes that was Matty.
The ride was casual and uneventful in a good way. No flats or other distractions. John and I rejected the tandem idea with some counseling from Chuck. We'll save the tandem for terrorizing the San Diego County coastline where it's fairly flat and there are plenty of suckers on the road to play with. I had an opportunity to meet Lorraine Daly, partner in Asphalt Magazine with Patrick Brady. I talked with Patrick a bit on the ride. I'm still trying to figure out why I'm often looked upon as a "black sheep" amongst American framebuilders. The magazines over the years tend to ignore what I do largely because what I do represents NO market to them. I don't function or "advertise" like most business and framebuilders. I would like someone someday to do a little research into why I'm like this and what I actually believe in and stand for in framebuilding. You never know, there might be some interesting information in that. The finishes of these rides are "race conditions" for the racer types who just haven't grown out of it yet. Pergolizzi is at a distinct disadvantage on account of his 49T big ring limitation. Just before making a few final turns in the parking area where the sprint finish takes place is a short but significant downhill. I know I can't outsprint Jan, Matty, and Pergolizzi in my current fittness (or lack thereof) so I resort to the sucker punch. I drop the bike into the 53 X 13 and attempt to attack the downhill at full speed. Pergolizzi laughs to himself and makes a phone call home to Sally to announce that, as expected, I tried to out gear him and catch him off guard as he's sucking my wheel and having a cup of tea. He apologizes for not sending a telegram instead and then hangs up. Right about that time we reach the bottom of the hill and I'm obviously toast. The gap I'd hoped to create never materialized and I turn around to see what clearance I have and all I see are multiple sets of eyes and grins. They know I'm now out of the picture. There is a flat stretch before the left turn that leads into the sprint finish. I wave them by as I gasp for air. The small spearhead of contenders pass by me as the jostle for position. My charge down the hill had shed most of the riders actually, but the tenatious ones are now just ahead and beginning to move. There are three. It's Matty(or someone who looks just like him but without the giant catapillar on his lip), Jan, and Pergolizzi. The chase of the dwarf down the hill has taken it's toll on John as the other two decide who is going to lead out who. John desperately wants to join them but is under geared and spent. Like the Three Stooges all trying to go through a doorway all at once, an exchange of "after you", "no, after you" takes place. Eventually Matty, superstud in preparation for PBP or something, demonstrates his prowness. He rides 40 mi. to the ride, plays with us like we were toys, and then handily "wins the ride ;-)" before riding another 10 mi. to his final destination.
Again, another fantastic outing with our vintage friends. A great time was had by all. Too bad Matt Gorski didn't show up. But some guy that looks like Billy Joel riding Mattys' Rene Herse stopped by for some grins. There was some talk of an upcomming trip to Europe to check out some of Le Tour and ride in the ALPS!!?? It seems that several people will be banging around France this July. Maybe there will be a rendezvous in Paris or something. I can only dream.
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA Quote of the day #1:"I wonder where Matt Gorski is" as the questioner stands nearby watching a small group of people talking to the "new guy" who just rode up on a Rene Herse.
Quote #2: Brian: "Man, I'm gagging like a maggot; I feel like I coughed up a lung!"
Jan: "Oh, is that what I saw in the road back there? It was flopping around like a fish. Should we go back and get it?"
Brian: "Naw, it's no good anymore anyway!"