28 years ago… good heavens!… gag… gasp… but, yes, 28 years ago when I lived in Pacific Beach I would do the Swami’s Wednesday ride. I did it once 5 years ago, when I started to get into the bike business. And, I did it today.
It still rocks!
Back then, the stars of upstart triathlon and duathlon would come out. The fastest roadies would be out. And dreamers like me would pull through and hang on… the dangling kind of hanging on.
One day, these two cats showed up on a tandem with a flippin’ fairing… a FAIRING! Might have been John Howard – follow that link if ya want to learn some real history. We go through the south entrance to the base and they start hard down to the lagoon. I see the hill and think Good we’ll get rid of these kooks. No way. Hill doesn’t even phase ’em.
Up on the flats they really turn the screws. A huge wake of bloodied riders is roiling. In no time, we exit the north side. The tandem. Kenny Souza – read about him. A hand full of other pros. And me.
Never before or after have I covered the distance from the run way to the campground gate that fast. I wasn’t pulling through, all I could do was cover gaps. Rocketing into the campground I waved the guys through. No one was there. Just the tandem and Souza ahead of me. I died a little that day scratching back onto the 4 man-3 bike train. I was never better and never worse. Heaven and hell all at once.
I knew I’d never be pro, and didn’t give a darn. This was good enough.
That was the summer of ’86, I’d just graduated college.
5 years ago, in December, the wind was howling. Huge Santa Ana’s. Lot’s of tt machines. It was going to be a mess. Would things have changed?
We clear the south gate and it’s on. The 50 or so riders are battling hard for wheels, trying to stay in the bike lane at the same time. Nobody is letting this old fossil, with awesome wavy hair, into the line. What the heck?! I make room for him. Mistake. There’s no room for me in the echelon. Damn, this hurts. No rest from the gusting side winds. Who is that old guy, looks like God himself?… of course, It’s John Howard at 74!
Nearing the north gate, God and some pro roll the stop sign and disappear up the hill. We never saw them again until the turn around.
Today we rolled from my adopted home town, San Clemente. Adopted in ’78, when we’d take Mike’s mom’s old Mustang to Trestles and camp on the beach. I’ve been promising to hit the northbound Swami’s train since we moved here in ’15. Time to do it.
We rolled at 7:10 to be sure and get to the south gate of the base in time. I wanted to hit that hill. Kevin and Matt wound up leading the entire group up out of the lagoon. Mark was right there too. They were pulling hard… I warned ’em to wander up front cautiously. At least there was no wind to speak of.
We crest the top and the big dogs start charging. Kevin is gone.
This terrain suits me. I felt really good today. Did my fair share of work. Had enough in the tank to say hi to my San Diego buddies – Dougie and Victor… and hi to the other OC’rs who wandered south this morning: Frank and Hoffy.
Per Starva (sic), it was a fast day for me. Lots of PR’s.
Accents from around the world, some chatty some gaspy. Fast girls, like 147mph fast. Sleeves splashed with all sorts of championship colors. They call it Wednesday Worlds for a reason. Official details here.
Gotta work this ride in some more. Quality. Speed. Beauty… and some nostalgia.