Riding with a World Champion Part II

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Continuing from last week, as the road narrowed and the road began to rise, one thing I noticed immediately about the roads of Northern California, at least in that area, are bad. I do not mean that there is a pot hole or two. Think more like someone paved the ocean in the middle of a hurricane. Holy smokes! Although the organizers did suggest 28c tires because of the road conditions. Constant freezing and thawing are the culprits, at least that is what I was told by a local in the bunch.

At this point, that pack is motoring along, and I take my time easing through the pack. I made it to Peter’s wheel around mile 10. Yes, I am being pulled by Peter Sagan, not a bad wheel to sit on. I was not there long. I slid up beside him, and we exchanged nods.

“How is Marlon?” I asked.

Peter’s face lit up. “Good! Just had his one year birthday.”

“That’s great, man. Congratulations.”

That was it. The conversation. Should I have asked more? Maybe I should have asked everything I wanted to know, until he hammered off and dropped me. I mean it was not like we were going to be best friends. I kind of regret not asking more, and I did not even get to talk to Bodnar. Oh well, I am not complaining. It was still cool and something I will always remember.

I drifted around but stayed in the pack, until a hard left hand turn, where I was on the outside and almost had to come to a complete stop for traffic and other bikes. No biggie. I was already enamored by how beautiful the morning sun’s light was sliding over the rolling vineyards in the area and the cool air washed over me, heading toward Cobb Mountain. The main climb was good. The maximum gradient was somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-14%. I talked with other riders, enjoyed the views, and soaked it up.

I did not take my first bottle stop until after Cobb. The folks at the tables were so helpful and pleasant. They informed us that Peter had just stopped and was only a few minutes ahead. I was not considering trying to catch up, but a question popped into my head. What did he grab at the stop? Orange slices. Refilled a bottle and was gone. So, from there I would ask the other stops what Peter took on to eat. Same thing every time. Orange slices. Goo? Nope. Cookies? Nope. Hmmm . . . I knew that he does have stomach issues from time to time, but a Cat 1 rider and I were discussing this as we road on. It makes sense. Eating the fruit and drinking the juice of it are great ways of natural nutrition and hydration. So there is the secret: Eat oranges and you will be a world champion.

I cannot end the story of my adventure until, well, the end. The riders had to place a timing chip that identified the rider and corresponded with our bibb number. As I rounded the corner and into the final stretch to the finish line. There was a big crowd all cheering for the riders coming in, and I heard my name as I approached the line.

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“Here he comes! Scotty Brooks to the line!” The announcer screamed into a P.A. system. It took a lot not for me to throw my hands. Nice touch. I guess our chip identified who we were on a computer. And of course, as I cross the finish, I see my baby waiting on me with my son and daughter in law who came down from Washington. What a day it was! IMG_20181103_121713 Bon Vélo!

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