Man Plans, God Laughs Tour 2017, Fairfield California.
Riding the Adventure Cycle Association’s Western Express bike route.
I had imagined sun, a bevy of well wishers, supportive statements from local officials, maybe even some Tour de France podium models as we set off. Instead, what we got was setting up the bikes in the rain, a dash to the Vallejo ferry, hurried ticket purchases, and a too quick goodbye. The men on the ferry suggested we tie up the bikes on the back of the boat since a bad wave could throw them overboard, Great. Then, next thing I knew, the catamaran hulls were sending up plumes of water and we were off. I sat down for a bit and watched the city slip away and considered the commitment we were making.
We stopped for cocoa at the Vallejo ferry cafe. It was there that I discovered that I had forgotten to bring along the specially purchased bolts and washers to attach the front fenders were still home in Florida. Great. A bit of searching showed that there was a bike shop right on our path out of town and so it was to there we headed. The bike was heavy–really heavy–overloaded as it was with desert food. Perhaps too much caution, perhaps not. After a few blocks though we made it to Vallejo’s Leonardo Cycles at 419 Georgia Ave and Leonardocycles.com. This is a small but quite busy LBS. They specialize in electric motor bikes because so many of their customers do commutes in the local hills. Later in the day we were passed by one of these bikes and I could understand why locals liked them. Leonardo Cycles’ owner Simon was more than helpful, bringing out his collection of bolts and lending me tools to set things up. We all chatted a bit while Rami searched out what antiques or army navy goods were hidden behind Vallejo windows. Once the work was done, we set off onto what was our first hill. It was not that bad although it did look a bit like a staircase before us. It is never good when you look straight out and are face to face with pavement. Worse when you have to tilt your head up to see the top. Halfway up the hill my chain seized from my having tried to run on my 32 before dropping on my chainring. My derailleur just said “no” and the peddling stopped. Great. Turn around, and head back to Simon and Leonardo Cycles. We got out the angle grinder and broke the chain. Soon all was back in order though and we were once again thanking Simon, and heading back up the hill–although now the rain from the morning had decided to make a come back. Great.
Hills. ‘Nuff said. No wait, I take that back. Hills are damned hard when A: you ride mostly in Florida. Two: your bike weighs a US Grade A Ton. And III: it is the late afternoon of the first day out. Is keeping at 3.9 mph going up a 14 percent grade a good rate of speed? I have no idea–ask me again in a month when I know more about this. Mostly things went well for the shakedown day. Rapid shifting led to one thrown chain. Great. But it was easy to fix. By the end of the day we were riding though the Napa Valley vineyards without too much rain on us. This is a beautiful landscape an it was pleasure to ride through it. Card were ok. Most gave us a wide berth and we noted that most were Mercedeses. Finally we ended up in a hotel in Fairfield. Not exactly a bell ringer of a mileage day, but it really was only a part of day given the late start and all the fun set backs. Hopefully they are all over and tomorrow can be bigger miles.