“Go Team Stanford C-Ya.” Stanford C-Ya is the name of our entourage of mostly Stanford alumni, which includes Aaron Kushner, Adam Feder, Adam Tow, Adrian Mikolajczak, David Hung, Debby Shepard, Deedee Roberts, Jennie McCormick, Mark Rubin, Roger Chen, and yours truly.
The morning begins crisp and clean, with sunny skies and a classic, Californian coolness. Most of us arrive at the Port of Redwood City at the designated time of 7:00-7:15 and hang out by the registration tables, where we get acquainted and pick up our Team C-Ya T-shirts. Surprisingly, we have only a few sleepy-heads, one of whom we would not meet until during the middle of the ride (hi Adrian.)
We leave a few minutes after Debby arrives with mysterious chain marks on her legs. We tease her about that throughout the ride, but she takes it all in great humor and a smile. “I had to take my rear wheel off to get it in my car,” she explains, “and the chain got all over me.”
We’re off. The elevation chart reveals there is not too much substained climbing except for some hills in the second leg of the ride. The ride, in total, would cover 70 miles and 3500 feet of climbing.
The course first meanders through the streets of Redwood City to la Alameda de las Pulgas. For this 70-mile ride, the map looks pretty complicated, and Deedee clips on the map to one of her brake cables right in front of her handlebars. What a great idea. Were it not for the arrows posted on the road and the other cyclists to follow, she may have been the only one knowing where we were going.
It’s been about a year since I’ve last ridden these roads, so there is some nostalgia about them. Mainly, though, I simply enjoy the company of my fellow teammates. Adam Tow starts off by telling me about an article he read of the 1989 Tour de France, the race that capped Greg Lemond’s epic comeback. Adam is a great storyteller, and soon our rallying cry throughout the ride would be the words that Laurent Fignon heeded in the stage that almost cost LeMond the tour: “You’ve got to go NOW!”
The rest of the first leg takes us to Junipero Serra, past the Dish at Stanford, and to a park along Foothill Road. This is where the first rest stop is. So far, so good.
The day is already heating up, as evidenced by fellow cyclists stripping off their cycling attire. The hilliest part of the ride is soon to come, just past Steven’s Creek Park, where I did a lot of my training when I lived in Sunnyvale in 1996-7. At least the roads are shaded here for the most part, and it’s very pretty. This is my favorite part of the tour.
I ride alongside Debby over here. I love my Cannondale, but she has a beautiful Italian steed that I can’t help but admire. Pinarello frame, Campy components, Conti tires… her bike is the epitome of elegance, class, and heritage. It’s totally what I would have gone for back in the days when I got my Cannondale, if I wasn’t so obsessed with lightness and stiffness.
Unfortunately, though, her Selle Italia Turbo saddle becomes loose on the seatpost, which is not exactly too helpful while trying to power up the hills. A quick turn of my allen key fixes this, however, which somehow leads to an interesting discussion of the service at the Palo Alto Wheelsmith. Eventually, we conclude that the service is pretty darn good over there.
At about mile 25, the terrain starts going downhill, so everyone gets a little breather. At least for a little while. Up ahead, David and Jennie make an errant turn, towards Cupertino. (Yes David, you are right that this would have enabled you to finish say, four hours earlier, but that would have qualified as the ultimate drop.) So for a few minutes I’m pursuing them in time trial mode. So much for taking it easy today.
The ride get even more interesting as we head back to regroup with the others. Well well, who’s that on the side of the road with a flat tire? It’s Adrian, former president of the Stanford C-Ya organization. So he made it after all. It’s funny, cuz apparently he was riding with Mark for about 5 minutes, but they didn’t even realize they were teammates until they had to stop.
Soon afterwards we arrive at the next rest stop in Saratoga. Here I get into my habit of taking off my shoes and walking in my socks, having injured my ankle and or broke cleats too many times while walking in my cycling shoes. The day is getting pretty warm by now.
Off again, we are now going through Saratoga and Cupertino. And back to the same rest stop on Foothill Road. Some of the homes in these neighborhoods are really nice.
Mile 46 is where Team C-Ya splits into two groups. Back at the rest stop, I attempt to get Mark’s wheel somewhat back to true, as it is really wobbly. Meanwhile, Debby, Deedee, and Roger take off, as admittedly we are taking way too long. “I’m sure you’ll catch up to us, anyhow,” says Debby. That’s what I thought at the moment, too. Well it was nice riding with ya, Deedee, Debby, and Roger… you did great.
This part of the ride would take us past Foothill College and over some roads I have never ridden on before. There’s some climbing and the roads lead to Portola Valley, past the Alpine Inn, and over to lunch.
Here I ride with Aaron, one of our entrepreneurs on our team along with Adam Tow and Adam Feder. Aaron gets special mention because he was the only one riding a mountain bike (a nice front-suspended Specialized M2), which I imagine must added to the challenge of cresting those hills. He did admirably, however.
And so lunch arrives, although it’s hardly worthy of that name as there is no food different from that served at the other rest stops. This is one aspect of the Tour du Jour that could use some improvement, as essentially the only things being served at the rest stops are some rather bland bread and fruit. The pasta is excellent, but not enough was prepared so they are totally rationing it.
This leg of the ride includes the last of any significant climbing. First there was an ascent preceding a straightaway 40-mph descent. Then there is Whiskey Hill, leading to Woodside. Then, Canada road, where Adam F. gets a flat. And finally, Jefferson.
Both Adam Tow and I have gone up Jefferson a few times, but from the easterly direction, not the westerly one. We wonder how long it would go uphill… maybe one mile? But since it is the last significant climb of the ride, we decide to “Pantani” it.
So up we go. “You got to go NOW,” we say, again alluding to the LeMond-Fignon episode. We’re soon going at a pretty good clip uphill, at velocities over 20+mph. We totally overestimated the hill, though, as in no time we’re at the top. It was totally short. But at least we’re rewarded by a nice downhill.
Miles 63-The End
Back in Redwood City, the end of the ride is in sight. The only occurrence is that Mark makes a different turn than the rest of us, so I try to chase him down. It turns out that he was going the right way and the rest of us were not. Anyhow, by the time I catch up to the two random guys he was riding with, he has realized he was adrift, and rejoined the rest of the group already. So thinking I’m now way behind the rest of the group, I’m in time trial mode once again. In fact, I get to the Port of Redwood City before the main group because the way I went apparently turned out to be a shortcut.
Anyway, it was a fun ride. Come back to this site in the future for the sequel, tentatively planned for late September 1998. It shall be more ambitious, hillier and longer.
- 70 mi.
- 8:00 start, 16:00 finish –> 8 hours
- Average Speed: 12.5 mph moving, 8.75 mph overall
- Max Speed: 40, down Jefferson
- Total Climbing: 3500 ft.
(1=ho hum; 5=best)
- Support/Organization: 2. Where were the sag wagons?
- Food: 2-. The only good food was the pasta, which they were rationing…
- Weather: 4. Beautiful.
- Relative Difficulty: 2-
- Overall Rating: 4. With the company of Team Stanford C-Ya and good weather, the ride was a lot of fun.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider receiving my weekly newsletter. I typically write about endurance cycling, travel, self improvement, Colorado living, marathon running and epic adventures.