Saturday, 12 May 2018

Redondo Beach and Back with Brunch and The First Tour Meeting (21 Miles) (LGD -1 Day)

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Here we are on the eve of the big event. All being well, this time tomorrow I should be somewhere east of Los Angeles having finished the first stage of the tour. I am quite excited. Well, no – I am VERY, VERY excited. And I am a tad apprehensive. This tour has been a long time in the planning so it is a bit of a relief to be about to set off. I originally booked my place in March 2017. Regular readers will know that I have been counting down the days to Le Grand Depart (LGD) ever since. I started at LGD –423 days and a now it’s LGD –1 day.

Over the last few days the tour members have been assembling. Everyone seems pretty friendly and we have been introducing ourselves to each other. Having met so many new people in such a short time I am finding it quite difficult to link names and faces. I’m hoping that as we progress that will get easier. Rather amusingly each of our bikes has a name badge affixed to it – to signify that the bike has passed muster from the tour organisers – my CV was inspected yesterday.

With one more day to go before we leave I was in no doubt about what to do – go for a last LA ride with Pete Wilson. After a quick coffee at the hotel we headed to the coast cycle route and turned south. Our plan was to ride to the end of the route and enjoy a spot of brunch somewhere along the way. As we headed out, the sky turned grey and sure enough light rain started to fall. Fortunately the rain stopped within 5 minutes. This was California making me feel right at home; I would have much preferred some of California’s legendary sunshine though.

Riding along parallel to the beach was completely enthralling. Saturday morning was a 5-star opportunity for a bit of people watching. As we rolled along the ‘Beautiful People’ were out in force partaking of every activity and form of exercise imaginable. Apart from hundreds of riders, runners and walkers I saw people playing beach volleyball, surfers, divers, footballers (American and soccer) and softball. There were people practising martial arts, yoga, tai-chi and countless other types of exercise. And the greatest thing was that people of all ages, from parents with babies in buggies to seniors, were enjoying themselves. And if the sights on the seaward side weren’t enough Pete commented that any of the properties on the land side could have featured in an episode of Grand Designs. Was that Kevin McCloud I saw lurking in the shadows? Without wishing to sound overly evangelical I couldn’t help feeling that life doesn’t get much better than this!

Reaching the end of the cycle route we turned around and headed back to Hermosa for brunch at The Rockerfeller. I opted for scrambled eggs, bacon, country potatoes with peppers and onions and brioche toast. I did hesitate over the Pork Belly Benedict but decided that would be a step too far. We sat at a table on the sidewalk and watched street life pass us by. Suitably refuelled we headed back to El Segundo for a shower before going to the pre-tour briefing.

I spent part of this afternoon at the first meeting of the tour. It’s was great to finally meet everyone – riders and tour support crew. They seem to be a great bunch of folk and I am really looking forward to getting to know them better as the tour evolves. We each had to introduce ourselves which has heightened my appetite to get chatting. Most of the riders come from all over the US – and they seem to share similar aspirations for the tour. Quite a few people, more than I expected, have ridden the tour before – some several times which bodes well. A few are leaving the tour part way along and others will be joining us as we progress. There was lots of laughter and happiness in the room so the dynamics feel very comfortable.

Paula Farmer, the tour leader gave us great safety briefing and shared several important messages based on her experience. One detail that I am going to have to work at are the various hand signals, some of which have different meanings in the US of A to back home in the UK. Good communication between riders moving in a group is essential for everyone’s safety. I must remember to point my arm downwards when I intend to stop – back home I am used to sticking my arm straight up in their air! Having covered all the essential bases we had our first Route Rap. This is when Paula discusses key features of the following day’s ride covering the route, potential hazards, feeding points (SAG Stops), timings and so on. And while on the subject of timings we have an early start tomorrow – breakfast at 5:30am; wheels up by 6:30. On that note and as Zebedee of Magic Roundabout fame used to say – “Time for Bed”. Goodnight readers.

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