The Dinner

Let the chomping begin…

There is a misconception perpetrated by the club’s velominati that getaway weekends are all about the rides. Tasty rides at infrequently visited yet gorgeous locations are the bait that hooks Spokers into signing up for a weekend away from home. The prospect of different roads and beautiful scenery away from the dull drudgery of laundry, slogging the grocery cart through Whole Foods or Gus’s, and another same-same takeout dinner always has good PR appeal. We all like to ride, right? So let’s go away together to cycle on some new, righteous paths! And yes, it’s true that riding of any sort but especially riding on new roads is generally heartwarming and refreshing.

Perhaps it was because I’m still nursing a fractured, not-yet-healed collarbone that the Marvelous Monterey Weekend rides didn’t make much of an impression on me, at least not this time. Roger and I went down for the Marvelous Monterey Weekend even though neither of us were planning to ride our bikes, in my case because it would have been insanely foolish and in Roger’s case because he, insanely, prefers to spend time with me than to ride some picturesque roads with friends. Yeah, go figure.

The MMW was almost a train wreck before it began. Four weeks ago we both crashed in a mountain bike ride and got injured, so much so that I ended up with a bum arm and no biking for eight weeks. Our ranks began depleting when separately two other Spokers had to cancel because of sudden work commitments. Then another participant had a family emergency and had to back out at the last minute. What else could happen? Maybe a tsunami while we’re in Monterey…?

Since we were the organizers we went down, and it was going to be a good escape from the manse where we mostly had been sequestering ourselves post-crash. Five of us made it down early enough on Friday to go out to dinner together in Seaside—David Go., Ginny, Roger S., Roger H. and I. We went to an inexpensive Vietnamese joint that had prices that would be impossible to match in SF. How about $6.99 for a huge dinner plate?! $1 more if you wanted a “large” platter when the regular size was huge! Thusly we were reminded of the true cost of living in the Bay Area. The place was fairly quiet despite having a steady stream of customers and we were able to have a pleasant dinner conversation without shouting or straining to understand due to the lack of cacophony.

Saturday Jenn and Steph along with Peter Phares joined us along with Jeff and Benson you couldn’t leave the Bay Area until after work. They all went out and did a good 53-mile ride while Roger and I went out to do a hike at Pt. Lobos. Which was so crowded that we switched to plan B and went to Andrew Molera. Folks came back to the rental house around 3:30, cleaned up and relaxed a bit, and then we prepared dinner together.

Ginny put together a scrumptious vegetarian enchilada casserole pretty much on her own, carefully chopping and sautéing the ingredients before composing the layers. We’d brought some homegrown tomatoes and basil for a simple bruschetta; normally it would have taken just a short time to make it but I am still having difficulty cutting or chopping. And forget lifting anything with the right arm! Roger cut up Bartletts, Gravensteins, and peaches from our garden along with other fruit we got from the market for a dessert. Jeff and Roger S. went to work starting the grill and barbecuing the chicken and portobello mushrooms. David put together a green salad with homemade croutons made by Peter. Roger and I had planned to bring down our own basil pesto but we only remembered it when we got to Castroville. Sigh. it doesn’t help to make a checklist if you don’t check it. So Costco pesto was the last-minute substitute.

Without much coordination dinner “organically” came together by itself. Yes, it took an hour longer than we thought therefore keeping a Different Spokes tradition alive: always be fashionably late! Working in an unfamiliar kitchen may have slowed us down but the earnestness of the labor and the everyone’s attentiveness made it all the more delicious.

Like the production of the meal the conversations around the table came about organically. They started even before we were preparing dinner, probably helped by the group-friendly dining table that made hanging out, noshing, and relaxing very easy. There was of course chat about—what else?—cycling, especially Different Spokes cycling with a lot of navel gazing and ruminations on the state of the club. I don’t recall how it got in the mix but I will never forget Jenn’s story about her nephew skinnydipping in the bat ray petting pool at the Monterey Bay Aquarium: lost five-year old flasher sets off frantic search! The aquarium is always crowded and the bat ray petting exhibit especially. How everyone could have “overlooked” a naked kid swimming with bat rays is incompre- oh wait, doesn’t that sort of shit happen on BART and no one blinks and eye? Other topics ranged from people’s phobias, having your bike stolen and blaming yourself (!) despite using a hefty U-lock, parking in SF, the resurrection of the restaurant scene in the Castro, adventures with pacemakers and Kaiser, taking care of aging parents, spin classes versus regular indoor trainers and riding in the rain, adventures of a new census worker, David and Roger’s seven flats at Napa… Well, you get the idea. It was another rambling set of discourses bouncing along disparate topics, and in that respect not a whole lot different from some club rides that start at a known location but sometimes end up somewhere quite unexpected. The dessert of fruit salad and ice cream with cookies was doled out and the gabbing continued. People were still chattering away at 10:30.

That is one of the pleasures of a getaway weekend: getting to know fellow Spokers better, going beyond “shop talk” (ie. bike nerd stuff), and learning that there is definitely more behind the Oakleys and Lycra.

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