We turned south onto the PCH and immediately began to climb. There was non of the chatter of the previous morning and the quiet was broken only by the occasional shift of gears or grunt of effort. A marine layer had rolled in over night and added to the stillness. It settled amongst the redwood trees, and looked down on us as we worked our way uphill.
There was no sign yet of the sea or the famous Big Sur views we’d been promised. Some riders had started to disappear into the distant mist and predictably I was already beginning to slip towards the back.
When you ride up a mountain it chooses your companions for you. Young, skinny riders fall into each others company by the same process of natural selection as the old heavy ones. The climbers share an easy camaraderie, laughing and joking with each other as they wait at the top of the hill. The rest of us grind our way up the mountain exchanging guilty looks, like overweight people at an all you can eat buffet.
On this particular morning Al Green or The Reverend as we call him, was the experienced rider who had been elected to sweep up at the back of the group. Its a system designed to ensure that a fast rider hangs back to provide support to the slowest. As I slipped further back through the group I knew that if I saw The Reverend I was in trouble. I looked over my shoulder and down the hill and sure enough... there he was.
Eventually, I turned a corner and got my first view of the mighty Pacific. In the grey morning light it was hard to tell the land and the sea apart, they both appeared sulky and massively unforgiving. Riders stopped to take photos and pose with each other but I kept my head down and carried on pedaling. I was prepared to sacrifice snapshots of the miraculous scenery for a chance to claw my way back to the middle .
In short, I was riding like a dick.
FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER by Tracy & Andre featuring Josh