With thirteen riders scattered in several hotels (two camping out), MDRCC and associates came together in Paso Robles for the 50th Great Western Bike Rally on Memorial Day weekend. By sheer numbers, the black-blue-white half-kit appeared to predominate on the road, especially on the Saturday ride to Cambria on the coast.
Early arrivers on Friday, Scott, Heather, and Henry, kicked off a warm weekend of riding and fun with 24 miles of rollers past vineyards to Templeton for ice cream and back.
A gathering of provisions for the weekend included stocking for an open bar tended by non-UCI-certified dispensers, Lisa and Heather. Dinner Friday at Firestone was the first of several enjoyable group feeds.
Saturday started with an early rollout and a large display of MDRCC colors on the 60-mile round trip to Cambria on the rolling coastal hills of Highway 46, featuring a 9-mile free fall to PCH that exhibited varying approaches to bending resistance and friction while embracing gravity. The unexpected coastal overcast was accompanied with an onshore headwind limiting speeds to just under 40 mph.
A pleasant surprise on this road was our adoption by a Spanish couple on vacation from Northern California, who were otherwise oblivious of the ongoing Bike Rally. This may be the start of a fruitful comingling of cultures and food and love of the bike; she’s a professional chef and they’ve been invited to visit us. The MDRCC Travel Bureau also helped them out of a lodging jam by finding them a room at one of our motels.
Midway lunch at the Redwood Cafe was followed traditionally by Scott finding a slow leak that was repaired in a flash by our resident pro, Manuel, as we watched admiringly and in awe. Then back to Highway 46, but this time under a full sun for 9 miles of what came down must go up. Once topping off at the 1700-feet elevation sign, the descent to town exceeded 40 mph.
Although we scored a private dining room for dinner at Second Press in town, reviews were very mixed, but such are the trials and triumphs of travel.
Sunday started with early rollouts for David on the century and April on the metric with a forecast approaching 100 in the afternoon – incentive to ride fast and finish early.
The rest of us went on a 40-mile round trip into the hills covered with more than 100 wineries. Sylvia and Manuel rode their tandem, making two strong riders even stronger. Thanks to Mikki’s initiative and diligence, we were assured a repeat of last year’s memorable stop at Opolo for wines and fresh pizza, with Judy driving and joining us there (and graciously transporting our bottles of wine to town).
Perhaps enologically induced, the bunch inexplicably split at a fork in the road and returned via Adelaida or Peachy Canyon, both involving climbs in the midday sun.
As others shopped for the evening BBQ, Mikki, Tannaz, and Lisa visited Croad Winery, where they became known as Three Sisters and made quite an impression on the owner, as some of us learned upon visiting Monday before leaving Paso – and cautiously admitted to knowing the Sisters.
It was a great BBQ Sunday night with the Rally providing a huge community coal pit. So much fun, good food, drink, and company were to be had that we stuck around until dark, long after other people had adjourned inside for ice cream, closing ceremonies, and the cycling movie.
Our new cycling friends, the Spanish couple, had joined the Rally and signed up for the challenging century, which we learned as they rolled in just in time to partake in our feast for a perfect recovery meal that also included donations by other cyclists at the BBQ in true Rally spirit.
Memorial Day Monday started with a quick under-2-hour, 25-mile Director’s Ride to officially close the 50th edition of the GWBR with a last reminder of the pleasures of cycling on the open road.
We, however, were not through yet. After packing, we found that our anticipated lunch at Joe’s was a no-go due to their extraordinary closing at noon for additional lunch customers because of too many diners. This led to the discovery of an excellent option at nearby Touch of Paso.
Before leaving Paso Robles, some of us went to Croad for wine tasting, where we heard about the Three Sisters.
The bunch for 2014 included Scott, Heather, Henry, the Three Sisters (a.k.a Mikki, Tannaz, Lisa), April, Daniel, Judy W., Sylvia, Manuel, Anna, Marvin, and Moss. Y’all come back, hear!