The Western Wheeler Geyserville weekend ride started out close to Chad's weekend retreat, so he invited Lisa and I to join him and Drea at their country house not more than 5 miles away from the ride start. I had been years since I saw Chad, but he didn't look a day older than the last time I saw him --- the years had been good to him.
Chad had been a fearsome rider in his day, so I expected the pace to be fast, but it was also Drea's first ride of the year. Nevertheless, their S&S coupled Supremo with DuraAce parts and a carbon fork looked intimidatingly fast. Phil and his friend Elliot also joined us from the South Bay. With memories from the past of how this ride kept kicking my ass, we opted for the easier C ride.
The ride was gorgeous, with the first blooms of spring showing up along the road. The Geysers road is a lonely lovely county road with a very few gravel sections, and the initial rolling hills would lull you into a sense of complacency with how beautiful the whole thing was. That is, until you get to the stop sign and turn right. The 3-part climb starts out with a consistent 14% grade for 1.5 miles. On a tandem, this just means getting into your lowest gear and suffering. Add to it hot afternoon sun and no breeze, and we were in a world of hurt. Fortunately, even at 2 miles per hour we eventually made it to the initial, false summit. We drank pretty much all our water, ate a bit of food, and waited for the folks who had to walk to catch up before starting the rest of the climb.
The rest of the ride was uneventful, with glorious, sweeping panoramas of the valley as we swept back down to lunch, after which Chad, Drea, Lisa and I opted for the short cut home, since we were running late, and even with the short cut would still get 58 miles and quite a bit of climbing. Unfortunately, Lisa's camera conked out at this point so we had no more pictures the rest of the weekend. I'm hoping Phil posts his.
Day 2's ride started at Healdsburg, and we rode along the vineyards before tackling Sweetwater Springs road, a gorgeous 3 stage climb that mixed sun, hills, lovely redwoods and a beautiful stream all in good measure --- and a painful 16% grade at the end that nevertheless felt easier than the Geysers because it was shorter and shaded. Chad had a trip elsewhere planned, so he and his family had to drive to San Francisco early in the morning.
Bob & Betty pulled us for the remainder of the ride, at speeds well in excess of 20mph most of the way, which made the ride quite a bit of a workout, but we had slept well the night before and so felt quite good despite desperately just hanging on to their rear wheel. What a fun weekend!