Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rocket science

5:18am. Dark and cold in the house, dark outside. Bella just in from carousing all night.

Hard to say how these things start. At Harbin last fall Jim mentions that Mercey Hot Springs is actually his favorite. It's in a remote location, low on services (like food). Unlikely I'll get there on my own. Excellent cycling along the way.

There's a meeting to plan tours for the year. A tour to MHS is planned. Emails start arriving and Wednesday night after a happy trip to Half Moon Bay I can't let them go by anymore. I sign up.

How the decision was made to wake up at oh-dark-thirty and ride to the meeting spot I really can't say. That's a randonneur thing. Looking at the packing list, it seems pretty short. Kinda light. You start to think Hollister, only 68 miles... It's our nature; we are a migratory species.

The miles are not the issue. The issue is waking up before dawn and getting on the road.


Running late (naturally). Even the wind won't cooperate. It's a rare quartering headwind along the reservoirs, 40 miles south of home.

Head down even though spring has made the hills incredibly vividly green. Doing furious mileage calculations and trying not to look at the time. Or the blossoming cherry orchards.

With all the logistics and variables it's like trying to aim a rocket at the Mars Hill Coffee Shop in Hollister and hit it around 10:30 Saturday morning. While sleepy.

The crack of 11, well it has to be good enough. A phone call to Andrea; the group has just left. They're taking some improvised route out of town to avoid traffic. Jim is behind this, he's famous for it. No one but Jim knows where they are. His phone goes to voicemail.

Time to stand on the wrong corner for 45 minutes while they bypass me on the other side of a golf course. After a who's-on-first routine with cell phones and text messages we finally meet up at the store and tacqueria in Paicines!


At mile 80 the store is right at the crossroads with Panoche Road, where we head out to the hot springs. Thirty-six miles to go, probably the most scenic of the trip. It's a gradual climb to Panoche Pass (elev. 2250); Mic and I get a chance to chat and catch up. 


Something about knowing there's a soak in glorious nature waiting. The effort seems like a detail, the fine print, the means of reaching the reward. All around are wildflowers, dormant except for a couple of weeks every spring. In May the air temperature will be scorching but today it is perfect. 
Maybe we've hit the window. 


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