It was time to go back to Cali. The Sea Otter Classic, Fattoria Muia and Cachagua were calling and we could no longer hold back. Mark, Gina, John and Cady had flown down earlier to bask in the California sun, get some miles in and enjoy the fruits of Carl, Charlotte and Tina’s labors. I had to work, but was able to bail and catch a 6 am flight on Thursday morning. 4:15 came early that day, but Heidi was super gracious to take me to the airport. The flight was incredibly smooth and the views were amazing. Possibly one of my best flights ever.
I arrived at Carmel Valley at 10:15, which may be an all time record. Everything went perfectly, except for the news I received as I was arriving. John had been caught up in a crash in his first Cat 1/2 crit at Sea Otter and sustained some injuries. Luckily nothing was broken (except maybe some ribs), but the loss of skin was substantial and his ribs were most likely broken. We all felt horrible.
That afternoon Mark and I did a quick ride up Robinson Canyon
It was a short ride, but excellent. The weather was hot, the climb was steep and there were almost no cars after we left the Carmel Valley Highway.
Once back to the Muia house, we all decided to make the best of John’s injuries and settle in to some wine tasting in the Village. We enjoyed both Talbott’s and Chesebro’s wines. I preferred Chesebro due to the variety and really informative vintner.
That night we were treated to Carl’s pork ribs. He had brined them in a way that made the skin and outer fat layer unbelievable. I had no idea pork could taste so amazing. He also made a cranberry risotto which was enough to keep me coming back so many times that I knew tomorrow’s ride would not be lacking in carb uptake. We had a few drinks, including grappa, and went to bed.
The next morning we woke up and assessed the situation. John would be off the bike for the rest of the trip due to the rib injury. We ate some breakfast and I picked a tree full of super ripe oranges for Charlotte. It was a tiny tree, but I was able to get two enormous bins of oranges. I ate one and it leaked all over the deck. They were amazingly juicy.
Mark and I took off before the sun became too hot and headed up to Cachagua and Arroyo Seco Pass. The weather was perfect and we rode tempo, not too fast or too mellow. We also took a lot of photos and were surprised by the number of PRs we set.
Once back to Fattoria Muia, we showered up, had some excellent sandwiches and headed over to Laguna Seca to watch Cady in her cat 1/2 road race. We were able to catch her twice heading up the feed zone climb. She did great! It was really fun watching the race and the volunteers even gave us some free water bottles. Score!
After that, Mark and I drove down to Carmel and hit the beach. Gina, Tina, John and Cady met us after awhile and we soaked in the sun. The fog was trying to overtake us, and occasionally the Pebble Beach golf course would be obscured, but we were always in the heat of the sun. It was actually cool at the beach, but the radiant heat of the sun kept us really warm!
We drove back to the Muia’s, had a few drinks and were off to the village to eat at The Running Iron. It was excellent and I was forced to get my semiannual steak. This one was a particularly large prime rib and was perfectly medium. I, again, ate too much. But after a couple days of riding I could use the protein. We drove back to the house for a couple more drinks and an early bed.
Eggs benedict was the name of the morning at the Muia’s and it was an excellent precursor to our longest ride of the weekend.
Mark and I took off early and headed over the Laurles grade, down past Leguna Seca and through Seaside. We met Cady and John at Lover’s Point past Cannery Row and John became the support car which followed us through 17 mile drive and Carmel-by-the-sea. We lifted the pace a bit coming up the highway through Carmel Valley. I passed Fattoria Muia to grab some Cokes in the Village and was caught for eating some Hostess Cupcakes when I left some remnants on a Coke can.
Carl fired up the wood burning pizza oven, Mark and I had a martini and the day was becoming even more perfect than it had been. Mark made and Carl baked over a dozen different pizzas. They ranged from meat lovers (even some steak slices from last night) to meyer lemon, brussel sprouts, etc. I really can’t even get close to describing how great they were. I only had one small piece of each pizza (okay, maybe two from some), but I more than made up the calories I had burned on the earlier 50 mile ride. What a incredible evening and the end to a great day. The only thing that could have made it better was if Heidi had been there.
We again went to bed early, but for a reason. Mark got up before light and headed off to the Sea Otter Classic to do his first road race. It was a 40 mile race with something like 2000 vertical feet of climbing. He did great by finishing 5th! Everyone was super proud of him since he was somewhat nervous about doing it, but he forged forward and did great. I have a bad feeling he’s now addicted! After getting back to the house, we cleaned up, had lunch and had the pleasure of having Joe and Erin stop by. Joe had raced in the cat 1/2 mountain bike race at Sea Otter and had done great. It was really great to see them and hear about Erin’s new job. It was great talking to them about their jobs and their recent move to California.
Unfortunately for me it was time to head back to San Jose and Seattle. The drive back to San Jose was made tolerable by over indulging at In-N-Out Burgers in Morgan Hill. Wow. Huge thanks to the Muias for hosting us, to Mark and Gina for inviting me and waiting on me hand and foot (it sure seemed like it). I felt incredibly spoiled. It was great spending more time with John and Cady and the incredible weather was just the icing on the cake.