Day 4 was the final day of our Trek Travel experience. We had been blessed with warm, dry weather for the first three days (notwithstanding the mist and wind atop Mount Figueroa), so I couldn’t really complain when the skies let loose on Thursday.
In Illinois, I’ve been riding all winter, in all conditions. The only time I’ve been riding the trainer is when there’s ice. I don’t ride ice. I have ridden rain, what snow we have, wind, cold, etc. Imagine my shock to find that when it rains in Solvang in January, the rain is warm. The rain was at least as warm as the air–so even when it rained, it was still good riding.
Chad and I suited up appropriately in our Gore jackets, and headed off into the rain.
We didn’t have a destination in mind, but rather were focused solely on the journey to get there. Along the way, we had the first flat of the trip…
Improbably caused by an insignificant fleck of metal. Perhaps we shouldn’t have taken that gravel path past the industrial park.
(That’s it on the second finger from the left).
We found a nice, covered drive-in to do a flat fix, and then Chad sold a bike to a passerby. (Seriously.)
The rain was intermittent–a bit here, a bit there. When it rained, it rained. We tooled up to Solvang at an easy pace, spun around town, stopped for a double espresso. The pavement was soaked, and it seemed as the whole town was saddened that we were leaving–everything was muted a bit–dampened by the weather, and the realization that we were leaving soon.
This is the last photo I took on the trip.
I didn’t take a photo of the fog hanging over the coast as we headed back to the airport…or of the piles of Trek bikes back at the hotel…or of the people we hung out with, and said goodbye to as we were leaving. My last pic was of Chad, riding in the rain, sitting at a stoplight, smiling.
Rain on the last day was what we needed. It was a cleansing that cleared our minds and prepared us for the return flights. The sopping pavement kept us from thinking about charging forward too hard, and the damp air made stopping for a coffee, and taking a few minutes to breathe, seem like the right thing to do.
It was a recovery ride, recovering from the trip of a lifetime, readying us to return to reality. As we descended the hill from Solvang, headed back to the hotel, we crested 35mph without trying. On the flat, tree-lined avenue back, I ker-chunked down to the bottom of the cassette, stood on the pedals, and did one last full-effort sprint on the Madone. The chain whirred across the ‘rings as the bike leapt forward, and I poured one final, brief effort into the earth, channeled through the carbon fiber and aluminum. I set my sights on a big evergreen overhanging the road, and winced to a sprint finish, just beating out Fabian, Bradley, Lance, and the doubts that I had about my own riding. I reclined back into the saddle, and relaxed. I pedaled at an obscenely low cadence, straining against the big gear, going nowhere and in no particular hurry to get there. Chad and I rolled back to town, not really talking for the last mile, soaking in the trip.
Day 4 was simple. Just go ride your bicycle.
(If you’re interested in finding out more about Trek Travel, get in touch with Tobie at North Central Cyclery).