Friday, May 8, 2009

Sunshine, Vineyards and Hippies

Well, I'm down in Carmel, for a business planning session. My employer is good at picking interesting locations for these events (past venues have include Vegas, Pender Island, Cabo San Lucas), but the schedule always seems to get jammed full of actual work, so it takes diligence to fit in a boondoggle.
Chris, Frank and I figured we could sneak out for a quick ride through Carmel Valley before our first group dinner of the trip. Frank had arranged for rental bikes to be delivered right to the hotel. All we had to do was put on our preferred pedals and step on it. The spa director at our hotel recommended a little loop that would take us over a big hill to a midpoint of a 'quirky store' that would serve as a nice refueling point. She drew us a hand drawn map to show us the way. In some ways this is even more handy than a regular map because it shows how the road 'feels'; which is sometimes more important than precision in scale or direction.
Chris set the pace (brisk) while we all adjusted to our rental bikes. For rentals, these were pretty good, but nothing beats the feel of one's own bike. I don't know much about bike parts, but even I could tell pretty quickly that Shimano Sora is somewhere lower on the ladder from what I normally ride. Maybe I'll have something to contribute the next time I'm in the car with some Deadgoats going on about bike parts!
Our attention quickly turned to the stunning scenery (it's wine country), warm air and abundant sunshine. There are so many things to like about California. Even the big hill was blissful. The only complaint I could hear was that the guys were swallowing flies because they were smiling so hard.
We stopped at the Cachagua General store for a drink and some shade. We didn't need to ask each other whether this was the 'quirky store'; it was pretty obvious (and about to become more so). We b-lined to the popsicle freezer and a chatty customer sparked up a conversation. Somehow we got on the topic of cooling off, and she suggested taking a dip in the nearby river. 'Once you get past your crotch, it's all good', she said. It's funny...because it's true. And, also, because she used the word crotch.
As we were getting ready to ride again, an elderly man on a bike rolled past wearing a fully coordinated pink summer track suit. We asked if he would take our picture, but he seemed put off by the sight of our camera. Ew, technology. So, we asked one of the guys that was loitering around the front of the store. We lined up and the guy says 'Say Establishmentarianism'. I haven't seen the picture yet to know whether he captured that initial reaction of confusion or the secondary reaction of laughter. In either case, that counts as one more thing to love about California; hippies.
The ride home was fast on account of the false flat that we had unknowingly climbed on the approach to the big hill. I guess we were too busy enjoying the scenery to notice that we were gaining a substantial amount of elevation. Arriving at the hotel just in time for our office dinner, we were all wishing the sun were just a few inches higher off the horizon so that we might steal a few more minutes to enjoy Carmel's sunshine, vineyards and hippies.


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