The FireFlies ride is as close as I am going to get to living the life of a Pro. My job for the day was to get up and ride, finish in one piece and prepare myself for the next day. Our rider support was excellent, although all massage was self applied using “Pain” sticks. The camaraderie is the sort you only find when you pass through moments of suffering together, followed by moments of euphoria brought on by the consumption of Chocolate Milk or the “Double Andrea” (A dinner in which Andrea orders two main courses for everybody as starters). The group brings its own set of road rules, someone is always with the slowest rider, and weaker riders make experienced riders realize there is more to this all than just mashing on the front. We trash talk constantly, and anyone who appears to be riding well, showing moments of “Power”, attacking, or apparently having a birthday swiftly get punished the following day by having a shopping basket attached to their stealth black carbon masterpiece. Then there are the groups within the group. The “Lady Train” where men were ushered of wheels, or off the back. “The Sprinters” and I use that description liberally, this group was less about going fast at the end and more about climbing at one speed, not slow but not fast. Their rallying cry “We will descend like gods!” For the route, we may not have 10,000 ft Tour days but pulling the equivalent of 14 intervals that are each between a 2 and 3 mile climb each in sequence gets you close to the feeling of riding an ARDENNES day. We were still putting in 5000+ ft days, we seemed to do that a lot. The route is spectacular with most of it having the Pacific on your right shoulder and vineyards over your left. The wind is pretty much always in your back and the sun was out. A few times we looked across the road in wonder as to why Tourers were riding the other way in to the wind with bike five times heavier than us. As always the FireFlies never disappoints, and always exceeds expectations. The other expectation exceeded this year was raising $312K for the City Of Hope in LA. That is money that can make a difference, so thank you so much to everyone that contributed. There is already talk of whats next and potential recon rides on the east coast – but damn this one is hard to beat.
Large images and a full photo gallery here.