I woke at dawn on Saturday with the truck already packed and ready to roll. Was a pleasure arriving early at NorCal to see Greg, Frank and Jenae setting up for the day. Riders took advantage of the hometown start to show a bit late and there was a large gathering of women riders being led by NorCal and Odessa Gunn. By 9:30 the shop was humming. Pre-staging took place efficiently as riders dropped their bottles and secret potions in Jim’s truck and we loaded water, GU2O and snack for the days rest stop. Jonathan led a group to the starting area and I headed out with Brian Staby, Greg and a few others and had a casual stroll to San Miguel School where we waited for 10 minutes before a quick riders meeting prior to roll out. Was a pleasant surprise to see Levi show for his back yard Hopper and test out his legs after his recent accident. Seems his form is coming along, glad to see it! The group of 80 had a casual roll out from Faught to 128 and made good time to Ida Clayton. Thinking back on the days events I still marvel at how body and machine make one. I really don’t have a concept of being separate from my bike nor hardly separate from the group as a whole. Ah the elegance of road riding, until the lonely time. That came later. I kept myself in a good position at the front as we hit the climb, more out of instinct rather than need. My legs felt descent as we hit the first riser and I tried to stay with the top guys and soon realized the folly. I watched as Levi, Taylor, Phil, Jonathan, Roger….you get the point, all rode away from me. As we hit the “top” of Ida Clayton I dug deep to catch Gabe, Brian and Carl and hung over the rollers and then took the lead on the descent. My saddle bag came loose and I decided to stop to fix it and not take the chance of riding without tubes. Was worth it because then I got to pass everyone again! Ripping down Western Mine on my Roubaix with 28c tires was like riding a cross bike. Love it! As we hit the pavement me, Gabe and Carl caught Giampalo, MJ and Mark Moons and passed Levi fixing a flat. Great, I thought a pull through the flats. Well, yes and no. Levi caught back on shortly after we left Middletown along with Brian Anderson, Swifty Griffin Wigert, Jim Barkow, Sean Watkins and a few others. Levi began shouting for me to bring some order to the group but I was just getting my wits about me. Anxious to bridge up to the lead group he came to the front, muttered something, made some counter clock wise hand gestures and pulled though. We dug deep following one after the other and averaging over 30 until the climb before the feed zone. I bid Levi farewell as he jumped to the lead group we had just caught, and set up mental shop for a long solo ride to the finish. Luckily I latched back on at the feedzone and managed to hang until Ida Clayton. At this point I needed my ipod because it was me, myself and I to the finish. I knew we had put some serious time on the group behind us but I knew George was behind me and I can always count on him picking me up, and then dropping me, if I come unraveled. The climb wasn’t too bad but my back and feet were hurting so bad that I took White Cottage and Howell Mtn pretty slow and saw George, Drew and Ryan? catch me as we rolled west of St Helena. Shortly after Jady passed me turning a big gear like only he and Giampalo can do. Oh how I wanted a Coke and a nap. Not a good feeling at the bottom of Spring Mtn. Memories of King Ridge 8 years ago when kids were really little and my only rides were the Hoppers. That was it. One ride a month. I faked my way though the series only to take a little nap at the bottom of Willow Creek and eat a bag of cookies before I came to and finished the ride. I mustered the courage and pedaled on, meditating on turning my pedals smoothly and coaxing the cramps away. I had passed Ryan and was just about to catch Drew at the last right corner when pow, all seized up and had to pull over and drink all the rest of my liquid. Got back on and made it over the top. Ahead of me Gabe had leaped ahead of everyone in our group to finish 8th behind Ryan and Roger. Taking the title of He-Man Super Climber of the Universe was Levi. And he gave us all a whoopin with a broken leg…after fixing two flats. Hmmm, the sweet taste of humble pie. Thanks for coming and see ya’ll at SKAGGS!!!!