When you put a bunch of bike racers shoulder to shoulder, you shouldn’t be surprised if there’s some bumping and shouting, or if someone winds up on the deck. No one hit the floor in this instance, but several went home on unsteady legs. I got up the next morning with only a slight hangover, trying to remember the ride plan. Since the Monument was only a day away, I needed a very short, very flat, very easy recovery ride to spin the beer out of my legs. “Maybe Ozzie texted me,” I thought. I checked, and he had. “Erik’s at 7:15. MB Pier at 8:00.”
I dressed and pedaled down the hill to Erik’s. He opened the door and looked surprised. “Hey, man.”
“Hey. We’re meeting here at 7:15, right?”
“We are? I hadn’t heard, but come on in.” I showed him Ozzie’s text. “First I’ve heard of it.”
“He must have been drunk,” I said, recalling that I hadn’t been exactly sober.
We got to the Pier and Ozzie was waiting for us. “Hey, man,” I said. “How come you weren’t at Erik’s? And how come you didn’t tell him we were meeting there at 7:15?”
Ozzie stared at me stonily. “The reason I didn’t go is because I’m staying about a mile from the Pier, and Erik’s house is seven miles away.”
“And the reason I didn’t tell him is because it was already past midnight when we left the bar, with you screaming and yelling to everyone in the damned bar to ‘Meet at Erik’s!'”
“I did?” My memory had some pretty gaps after about ten p.m.
“Yes, you did. And I told you we were meeting at the Pier at eight but you weren’t having any of it. You were going to Erik’s come hell or high water and trying to bring about forty other people with you, including that blind girl in the wheelchair.”
Ozzie was getting pissed as he recalled what sounded like a very obnoxious point in time. “Yes, you were. And I kept telling you that I wasn’t going to Erik’s and you weren’t listening. ‘Eric’s!’ you kept raving like a madman. So when you staggered out of the bar with that empty Mason jar of cherry moonshine in your fist you screamed ‘Text me so I don’t forget!’ Then I think you passed out and Manslaughter carried you back to his car. So I texted you. And I wasn’t about to text Erik at midnight. Hope you didn’t wake up their baby this morning.”
Recovery is key
This was going to be an easy coffee cruise the day before the big race. We’d pedal to Santa Monica, grab coffee, and go home. Years of experience had taught me that the day before the Monument you needed to avoid any exertion. Murray, New Guy, Sailor, and Worldchamp left with us. New Guy was on his second group ride ever and was pretty excited. Once we got to Santa Monica the ride plan changed, as Erik didn’t want to stop for coffee. I’d missed the turn to the bike bath and suggested we just “go easy up Mandeville.”
Mandeville is a six-mile climb.
We did the climb, slowly, then returned for Santa Monica. As we passed by the Santa Monica Pier, New Guy turned to me. “Where do we turn?” He’d already jumped out ahead of the group a couple of times and overshot turns, so he wanted to make sure he knew where he was going.
As the experienced leader of the group, I patted him on the shoulder. This was my turf, my route, an area I could navigate with my eyes closed. “Follow me, grasshopper.”
A few streets later, with the entire gang on my wheel, I pointed. “Right turn!” I shouted in a commanding voice. Like lemmings, everyone followed as I swooped onto the right-hander hairpin that was the on-ramp for Interstate 10.
“Oh, fuck!” I yelled. “Wrong turn!”
Brakes screeched, oaths flew, a pair of cars narrowly avoided killing us all, and we got back on the surface street, pale. “Sorry, guys,” I mumbled.
New Guy was amazed. At that moment we came to the correct intersection. “Here! Right turn!” I shouted with authority as the lemmings turned with me once again.
“Easy to see how you could have confused those two turns,” New Guy said. “One is a narrow hairpin with a huge concrete embankment on both sides that says ‘Interstate 10’ and the other is a wide boulevard with palm trees and an ocean vista.”
We safely made it to Peet’s. “Coffee’s on me,” I said sheepishly.
Worldchamp turned to me. “I thought you said this was a pre-ride easy day before the hardest race of the year.”
“How many miles does this give you?”
Nobody said anything.
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