Friday, Another 70 Miler to Santa Barbara

| July 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

For each day’s ride, two bikers volunteer to be “sweeps,” which means they always stay behind the last rider to make sure he or she has help if they have a problem. For me, I’ve always been a bit annoyed by the sweeps, whoever the are. I’m often that last rider and I always feel pressure when I see the sweeps in my rear view mirror. It reminds me how slow I am and discourages me from stopping to take a picture. The best sweeps try to stay out of sight, but, when you’re the last rider, you always know they are there, even if I you can’t see them.

On the other hand, and in reality, the sweeps are the most self-less riders on any given day. They have offered to give up a part of their enjoyment of the ride in support of the team. They help riders with flats and other mechanical problems. Since they are prohibited from getting in front of any rider, they will wait (mostly patiently) until a riders problem is resolved and they are on their way before they proceed. And, even then, they wait a while longer so as not to pressure the rider. Finally, and maybe most significantly, they are, by definition, the last riders into the church, so their sleeping spot is whatever is leftover after ALL the riders have chosen theirs. In a big church, that may not be a problem, but in the smaller church, they could end up sleeping the middle of the floor with no access to electricity (my nightmare scenario).

That is why, when the ride leaders calls for volunteers to be sweeps when we gather in the morning, there is ALWAYS a long silent pause. Eventually, someone will say dejectedly “Aw well, I’ll sweep.”

I have managed to avoid being the sweep for the five Fuller rides I’ve been on, generally because I always feel like a relative rookie and because I like to at least have the option to jump off the ride and ride the van, if I choose. Something you can’t do as a sweep. But my streak ended today and I was recruited to be a sweep. It was considered a modest ride, 70 miles, 3,000 feet of climb. Same mileage and only a little more climbing than yesterday, so no physical excuse to decline. Fortunately, the other sweeper, who actually volunteered, is the best conversationalist on the ride. A true wit. So, I knew I would be entertained.

The ride itself had its challenges. Chief among them was mechanical. My gear shifting mechanism was misbehaving. At the end of yesterday’s ride, I was unable to get into the lowest gear. That’s a problem because low gear is my favorite gear. I have enough trouble getting up these damned hills. Having to do so in a higher than necessary gear is not fun, to say the least. The ride’s unofficial mechanic tried to help and he did improve the situation. The gear would shift eventually. But I still had to struggle to get into low gear. It was hit or miss. Most of the time it would eventually work with a lot of fiddling and diddling with the gear shift levers. At one point while I was fiddling, I drifted over the rumble strip on a highway. Not ideal, but there was little traffic. When you’re in a car, driving over a rumble strip creates a slight jostle and a buzzing sound. When you drive over a rumble strip on a bike, it rattles your teeth and it’s all you can do to remain upright. What it also does is jangle the chain and sprocket so it can help you get to low gear. It worked once. As the ride progressed, when all else failed, I tried deliberately driving over the rumble strip to switch gears. It never worked again.

Top of the Hill is the Best Place

One of the ways we stay on our route is that the front drivers and the support vehicles will stop and use chalk to write directions on the pavement in advance of turns. They will write an arrow to indicate which way you should go. After a very long 30 mile climb this morning, we reach the top of a hill and began our rapid descent. After a mile or so speeding down a winding road on the side of the mountain, I came around a curve with about a thousand foot drop on the right. I noticed a chalk mark with the Fuller Center initials pointing to the right….over the cliff. There’s a lot of joking around on this ride and occasionally funny messages chalked on the road. But I thought this was unfunny and possibly the most dangerous joke I’d ever seen. It wasn’t until I came around the bend that I saw the rest stop in a little clearing on the right side of the road. OK, so it was pointing to a rest stop, but still…

We’re staying at St. Michael’s Church in Santa Barbara, right next to the UC Santa Barbara campus. Clearly a totally “woke” church. Big rainbow flag and Black Lives Matter banner outside. Coolest pastor ever. More later.

Almost a Caricature of Itself, But I Love It

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