The Ladies Tour the Pig Farm Looking for Ham

When idly talking with David Goldsmith last year, I half-jokingly remarked that we needed a ride series where we just went somewhere good to eat. Cycling would be the side dish to the main course of, well, the main course. You’d have to take the Way Back machine to remember that we did have Dash ‘N Dine (aka “Dish ‘n Dine”) rides in another era. (Sometimes they turned into Hurry ‘N Hurl rides.) But I was thinking of something more civilized and refined, you know, with an actual lingering lunch stop where we—gasp!—gave our digestion a running start before setting foot on bike again. Hence, this year’s Ladies Who Lunch rides…

After a leg crushing Tierra Bella century the day before, Roger and I were ready for a seriously easy ride. We thought a 30-mile ride from Orinda over Pig Farm and then to Chow in Lafayette would be the perfect post-century recovery ride when we posted it. Joining us were Adrienne and Wendy: Adrienne was still babying a bum knee caused by a crash on the 2011 (!) AIDS LifeCycle ride; Wendy was getting ready for a multi-day self-contained tour down the California coast but had done a hard ride the day before. Laura Petracek, who was also dealing with a knee injury that threatens to derail her 2013 ALC plans, planned to join us at Chow for the return to Orinda. It was looking like it was going to be sweet—we’d all take it easy and have a laidback time. Unfortunately it was either a case of one too many memory neurons biting the dust or of how distant memories seem even rosier as time goes by. But the ride out Castro Ranch Road and up Pig Farm was, um, hard no matter how slowly we went. First there was the nasty, short bump that brings you to the last El Sobrante subdivision before you’re really away from development, and then it was up Pig Farm. Wendy and I were musing as to which was the harder of the two, she arguing that Pig Farm was steeper and I that the nasty bump, albeit shorter in length, was actually steeper. At the top of Pig Farm I would say Wendy won that argument. Further down the road there is another “short”, nasty hill on Reliez Valley Road. I definitely don’t remember it being that bad. But it was. And what day of riding would be complete without at least one flat, of course at the bottom of a steep climb? That misfortune fell on Adrienne. I was ahead with Wendy but Roger had wisely hung back and was able to help Adrienne repump her tire, as it seemed to be just a slow leak. By the time we got to the top we had to ‘top off’ her tire once more before we descended to Lafayette and lunch.

At Chow Lafayette the perfect weather had the usual suburban hordes spilling out to the al fresco dining. But we were able to bag a table anyway through serendipitous timing. I’ll cut to the chase: Wendy had their perfect Cobb salad, Laura the organic spinach salad, and Roger a bowl of their delicious minestrone. Only Adrienne and I—both of us adore Chow—had no restraint, she having the Thai style noodles while I ventured their organic veggie burger, which I had never tried before. It was one of the best veggie burgers—and lord knows how dull veggie burgers can be—I had ever had. It came on a crisp, toasted Acme bun with sliced avocado, tomato, and lettuce. The crowning glory was the tzatziki sauce, a truly inspired idea. Oh yeah, also it comes with their fabulously crisp, thin French fries. (recommended by none other than our David Sexton)—I could eat an entire gigantic bowl of them if they would offer it (they don’t, thank god).

Into this melismatic food moment came the survivors of David Goldsmith’s Morgan Territory ride. David had thought the Ladies were going to lunch at Chow Danville and had wanted to get the two groups to dine together until I corrected him that we were dining in Lafayette. I guess he decided to join us anyway! Alas, they arrived just as we were polishing off the last bits on our plates, and so they were left to dine disconsolately all by themselves without the joyful mealtime banter of the Ladies to entertain them.

Once suitably refreshed by our food and dishy conversation we oh-so-slowly made our way back to Orinda BART. If you’d like to join the Ladies, be sure to watch the Different Spokes ride calendar. Rumor has it that the next luncheon adventure will be a visit to merry ol’ Afghanistan…