In Close Encounters, Richard Dreyfuss had his mashed potato mountain. I have Sunflowers.

IMG_0543_DxO1200This means something. That’s what Richard Dreyfuss said each time he created a sculpture of a mountain, out of mud, out of mashed potatoes, or saw something that became a vision of Wyoming’s iconic Devil’s Tower. For me, it’s Sunflowers. I can’t see Sunflowers and not think of France, specifically the Tour de France. It’s an obsession, no question. How else can you explain traveling to France each July, 13 of the past 14 years?

For several years I’d see Sunflowers growing out of a yard near the top of Jefferson, as I rode towards the start of the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride. It was sad, a couple years ago, when a remodel displaced them. But a couple months ago Sunflowers have appeared again, not at the top of Jefferson, but in a small garden near the corner of Jefferson & Farm Hill. I pass them every day on my way to work.

As Richard Dreyfuss said, “This means something!” Indeed it does. The ‘Tour is coming.

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Started out very slow, picked up speed later

Corgis make every ride better!
Corgis make every ride better!
This was not the typical Sunday ride, the version where Kevin flies off ahead of me on Old LaHonda and I finish the climb several minutes later. Nope. This was the version where Kevin was having breathing issues for a while, an almost-bronchitis sort of thing but short-term, so his usual sub-20 was a far-more-leisurely 25-something. Nor did he ride up Haskins any faster, but there’s something about a coke, half of a chicken club sandwich and an oversize cookie (all from the Pescadero bakery) that makes the world a better place.

It’s not like we flew up the climbs on Stage; Kevin clearly was having issues on the steeper stuff. Y’know, it almost seems like fair play, Kevin experiencing, for a day, what I have to live with. But instead I modified the ride a bit, heading us back home via the much-less-steep Highway 84 instead of Tunitas, and, with a tail wind, what is often a long grind (84) to Skyline was actually fun. Kevin even went to the front for a long & strong pull for the last few miles, even giving a free ride to someone we came across who’d fallen off the pace of the woman he’d been riding with.

Oh, right, we also got to help save a snake! In fact, I’d say that was the turning point of the ride. Descending the final part of Stage Road into San Gregorio, I noticed a car stopped in the other lane, and a quite-large snake (not a rattlesnake) in the roadway. I stopped, got off the bike and “encouraged” the snake to get out of the roadway. To the applause of the people in the car, no less!

61 miles, no Strava accomplishments, low “suffer” score, but a pretty nice ride in the end.

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