SSWC08 prologue (Stoner faces Death)
The first of a dramatic trilogy that began at 11:59pm, December 31, 2007. Here,we begin with a facinating field study of Homo-erectus Stonerus and his battle with Death on the barren steppes of the Imola passage.
Wednesday: we rolled into Skyline Park, Napa CA, put up the tent in a haste and did a course pre-ride with the gang led by Rene and Brita. Stoner stays behind anxiously waiting by his cell phone for the call signifying the arrival of his new Jones frame-- a theme that will be repeated several times over the next two days. My first experience with the course confirms what I had been thinking over the previous week or so-- Steve Spearman is a weenie. I like Steve, but he's a weenie. A weenie for trash talking the SSWC course thereby forcing us to live up to the smack. This course is not easy. There are long climbs, tight switchbacks, and techy downhills that rival those at our East Coast stomping grounds. All of the techy stuff is ridable, but a brief loss of concentration can lead to disaster, as Stevo hisself demonstrates on race day. Plus, it's hot and the Poison oak is growing aplenty. Overall, it's an extremely fun course. Curtis and crew (the organizers) have done a great job laying it out.
Back at the campsite, still no news of Stoner's frame. Calls to Jeff Jones (JJ) wind up in voicemail. I tell him flat out, "Jason, something's happened. Jeff is not coming." Stoner remains optimistic. "Well, it's a long drive from Oregon and maybe he stopped along the way and doesn't have cell phone reception, and..." (Denial).
Thursday morning, Gina, Kathy, Jo, and I head out to St. Helena to check out the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and sample some wineries along the way. Ricky stays behind to do some more riding. Still no call from JJ. Stoner stays behind to find new ways to stalk and sulk. I tell him he can borrow my bike to get his riding fix, because that's the only riding he's gonna get to do since his frame isn't coming. He shoots back dead silence (Anger). The road to St. Helena is lined with wineries big and small. Most display their pedigree on their sleeves, i.e., driveway signs such as "Winery of the year 2007", "Best winery according to such-and-such...". These places usually have gift shops,picnic areas, gardens, and the largest crowds. Nice places to take pictures. Other places are more unassuming-- a simple wood sign, a small tasting room, not much else. Not a wine expert myself, but the quality of the wine seems to be inversely proportional to the amount of fluff. My favorite place, AO (and Kathy's recommendation), fell squarely into the latter category. Wound up with 8 bottles and a wine club memberhip at the end of it all. Good stuff.
Back at camp, there's word that JJ is doubting the travelability of his van and has not left Oregon yet. "See, I told you he's not coming," I remind a glum-looking Stoner (skipping the Bargaining stage altogether, fully into Depression and preparing for Acceptance). Gina, Kathy, and I go for another quick spin on the course before heading out later that night with Ricky and Jo to the big culinary adventure that is Julia's Kitchen. Now, I've been known to "play" chef once in a while, but the schiz at Julia's is the real thing. Scallops, oysters, and summer squash for appetizers, lamb, ribeye, trout, and duck for main courses, triple sorbet, an almond pyramid, and macaroons for dessert, and a few freebies thrown in-- we left 3 hours later, satisfied, but without the feeling of gluttony, even though I think we did eat a hell of a lot of food.
Rolling into camp, Stoner has his frame and is building it up in the dark (Salvation). JJ came through in spades. The swoopy tubes are beautiful and the welds are perfect. With similar bikes on the way to Ricky and JoeW, I try to supress the thought that somehow, my beautiful DeSalvo will soon be relegated to fourth, maybe only fifth hottest bike on the local trails (Denial). I look around for bike parts to hide-- to somehow delay the inevitable build (Anger). But Stoner is onto my tricks and is watching his stuff like a badger. "Well, maybe I'll still be faster," I think to myself (Bargaining). Faster?!? Who the hell cares when you have a frame built by Jesus hisself (Depression).
When the bike is finally built, the campsite looks like a Nativity scene. Wise and not-so-wise men have come from near and far to admire the new creation. We spend the rest of the night taking turns riding Stoner's new bike around the camp (Acceptance).
more to come...