I volunteered to give an account of the recent Silicon Valley ride that took place last Sunday. The turnout was very good; 14 riders total. The weather was shaping up to be gloriously warm and summer-like. Whenever we drive across the Dumbarton Bridge from the Peninsula over to the East Bay for these rides, we invariably pass Brad Stockwell ("Dr. Zeus"), pedaling furiously over the high bridge, and this time was no exception. We pulled into the parking lot and parked Peter's new-to-him (used) Honda Accord wagon, the ultimate 'Bikie Car' (you can get two bikes in the back without taking off the rear wheels, and it has A/C). By 9:45am, most everyone had arrived, but did we make motions to hop on the bikes and depart? NO!
There's a sort of unwritten code of conduct at these rides: you stand around, show off bikes, squat down and inspect certain parts close-up, chat about recent 'finds', and discuss possible trades or sales. This went on for 30 minutes, while we waited for a wayward red VW GTI to arrive, containing Bob Freitas and Bruce Schrader. Before mounting our steel steeds, there's one last item on the agenda and that's the "Round the circle, introduce yourself and present your bike for inspection, say a little bit about it, and please... try to keep it to under two minutes."
Here, in no particular order, are the attendees:
Dave Martinez, our fearless leader, had his 1960s black Bianchi Specialissima and was wearing his Alfa Romeo team wool jersey.
Felix Chiu was with his beautiful mid-1970s Italian Masi. Felix's bikes are perfect to the smallest detail. Each one a treasure.
Stephan Thomas brought his 1962 Bianchi Competizione. A classic beauty. And Stephan wore the grey and white Cinelli Clement wool jersey.
Greg Davis had his 1968 Cinelli Super Corsa.
New Guy, Jerry Tarkowski joined the ranks with his 1982 Olmo Nuovo Super Sport. Jerry was out on a ride one day and Felix, noticing his bike, invited him to the ride. Jerry is a nice addition to our group.
San Jose track icon Terry Shaw appeared, riding his 1975 Holdsworth Sprint fixed gear (with a 62.8 inch gear).
Another relatively New Guy, Dave Clementson, made it to his second ride and brought his 1973 Gitane Professional Tour de France. An audio recording engineer...interesting to talk with. And he's thrilled that his wife has 'discovered' how fun bike riding can be. Maybe he'll bring her along on our next ride!
Marc St. Martin showed up with his 1964 Paramount and rode it like a real Pro.
Bruce Schrader made the trip down from Marin County and rode his 1960 Fiorelli fixed gear bike, complete with a melodious two-tone bike bell that he brought back from Beijing. Coolest bell you've ever heard.
Brad Stockwell brought his 1984 Zeus Victoria and left the larger backpack at home this trip, opting for the smaller hip pack instead. No turret lathe and pneumatic socket wrench on this trip.
I, Captain of the West Coast branch of the SQUADRA COPPI team, wearing my SQUADRA COPPI team wool jersey, rode my 2002 Peter Johnson fixed gear bike. I enlisted the services of two of my top lieutenants:
Bob Freitas, riding his 1960s Hurlow, wearing his SQUADRA COPPI wool jersey and looking better than ever.
Guy Apple with his 1986 Colnago, also wearing the SQUADRA COPPI team wool jersey. The three of us managed to score three of only seven jerseys that became available after Alex fulfilled the custom order for the real Squadra Coppi racing team back in Maryland.
So, with introductions out of the way, it was time to tighten down those straps, hike up the chamois shorts, and head out. We rode north, toward the Coyote Hills Regional Park and followed a small recreation trail to the end, dumping us out on a kind of finger of land that is surrounded by the Bay and the salt ponds. It is adjacent to where Alameda Creek dumps into the Bay. Really beautiful, but you have to breathe through your nose or through clenched teeth, as the brine flies are thick. We survived that scenic excursion and rode east, along the Alameda Creek waterway on a paved trail for several miles. It was an easy ride, and it afforded everyone the chance to chat with one another. At one dismount, where a fence had been erected across the trail, we all had to scramble across big rocks to get around the fence. Just like cyclocross!
We soon arrived at the charming little district of Fremont known as Niles. Old fashioned, like a step back in time, complete with a functioning steam railroad and a quaint main street. We piled into The Nile cafe' and promptly ordered up sandwiches and cold beverages. The proprietors welcomed us and invited everyone to park their bikes "in the back", where they'd be safe. To our surprise, there was a shady patio with plenty of cozy seating...perfect for a lunch break on a warm day. Anyone who has been to Northern Italy in the summer and has stopped at any one of thousands of the little roadside Mama and Papa bars for a cold drink or gelato would have immediately noticed the resemblance at this place. It was so similar to what Peter remembers in Italy on his tours, it prompted him to start speaking Italiano and asking for a "gelato, cono normale...con fragole e crema".
No sooner did we find comfortable seats and begin the banter when a little boy appeared, looking inquisitively at all the bikes, and all the funny-dressed people at his parents' establishment. It turns out, this little boy, aged 6, was a state chess champion and proceeded to tell everyone how much he loves to play chess. Very friendly and extremely intelligent, so he provided the 'entertainment' for our lunch. Bob Freitas deposited Tootsie Rolls on all the tables for dessert. Pure energy! Just the thing to get us back on our bikes and head back to our cars.
After a winding route through Fremont and Newark, me missing the City Limits sprints for both signs(!), we ended the ride on the Paseo Padre Parkway, which took us back to the Wildlife Preserve and our starting point. 31 miles total.
Thanks, Felix...for arranging another memorable ride. Our next ride might be up in Marin County, with a possible side trip to see Brett Horton's amazing collection of items from some of cycling's greatest legends. That should be fun.