2022: Parting Glances, part 1

Fond Farewell To An Effulgent 2022!

Before we launch into 2023, let’s take a final look at what the past year was like for our club. In no particular order and without further ado:

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. We had 100 rides. That’s roughly two rides every week on average. We hadn’t had this many since 2014. Our ride calendar had been dropping off a cliff since 2012 and hit a lowly 52 in 2017. We have slowly rebuilt the membership and consequently the number of ride leaders and rides since then. When David Goldsmith became president in 2019, he said he was hoping for two rides every week. Mission accomplished! David had a big role in us hitting the number too: he was the most prolific ride leader of 2022 with 44 rides! I was in second place with a comparatively teeny 19 rides; our treasurer Mark Cook was third with 12 as was David Millard, who led the dirt contingent. And membership? In 2021 our membership climbed slowly and we wondered if we’d make it back to 100 by the end of the year. We did but just barely! In 2022 we topped that by growing 20% up to 121. If we can make it up to 130 or so in 2023, we’ll be back to where we were twenty years ago!

Short-sighted. Talk about schizophrenic behavior: although the previous board had all but resolved not to chase after so-called casual cyclists, that all changed when Laura joined and wanted to make a go of it. She convinced David and they started the Short & Sassy rides. In 2022 S&S rides were mostly short versions of the Jersey Ride but they still managed to attract some attendance. One disappointment this year was the complete lack of interest in the Rosie the Riveter ride, which is part of the annual Fall Social. This ride is an easy, flat ride that should have brought out the S&S folks. (Perhaps next year we’ll replace it with a dirt ride instead, which used to be a popular option in the late ‘90s.) Perhaps we’ll see a surge of interest in shorter rides in 2023!

“Mixed” Feelings. After sputtering attempts to restart interest in riding off-asphalt, the club finally hit its stride in 2022 thanks to David Millard. He led a spate of mixed surface and dirt rides including a beautiful jaunt to Purisima Creek east of Half Moon Bay and a whole lot of rides in the Headlands. Getting even dirtier he led a pretty serious ride on Eldridge on Mt. Tam that even had some bloodshed! “Gravel” rides in 2023, anyone?

Swept Away. David Goldsmith and David Gaus led a wonderful “training” series in January through May ostensibly to get ready for the SLO Wildflower—more on that below—and other century rides. The very first ride, which was to cross the Bay Bridge, ended up being cancelled by a tsunami due to the eruption of the underwater volcano near Tonga. Other than that the drought meant we had few rides cancelled by rain this year.

Merrily We Roll Along. We had no less than three ride series in 2022. To celebrate our 40th year, Roger and I put together a ride each month scattered around the Bay Area just as we did for our 30th in 2012. For the latter we resurrected a bunch of popular and unusual rides from the early days of the club; this time we did some Golden Oldies but also threw in a bunch of newer rides that Spokers love such as Pleasants Valley and Franz Valley. The Davids’ spring series was also very popular and ran the gamut from the Three Bears to SF-to-SJ. The Foxy Fall Century’s pandemic hiatus ended and so David Goldsmith led a short series in the late summer to get ready for it as well culminating in a big group of Spokers heading to the Valley to enjoy a surprisingly mild fall day.

“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely…” The 2020 Kick Off Meeting just squeaked by on February 26, 2020 and then the statewide Shelter-In-Place order went out. For 2021 we had to make do with an online Zoom Kick Off instead. But it was back to real life for 2022 thanks to Nancy for hosting us at her spacious outdoor back patio in the heart of the City. There was a thirst for getting together IRL—27 people attended, a huge jump from the usual number—to hear club plans for the year including the upcoming getaway weekend to the SLO Wildflower and the 40th anniversary celebration events. Will we be back to Sports Basement in 2023? Let’s hope so.

Flower Power. The San Luis Obispo Wildflower century unexpectedly yet organically turned into 2022’s getaway weekend. The Monterey/Pajaro Dunes Weekend was unfortunately cancelled in 2020 and again in 2021 by the pandemic. Our getaway weekends usually involve renting a house or camping area where the entire group can stay together and cook dinner together. The SLO Wildflower was just going to be your usual century ride but just a little bit further out of the Bay Area than we usually go. There turned out to be a lot of interest in going to SLO maybe because it was an unfamiliar-to-DSSF ride in an area that was a reputation for stellar riding, Paso Robles. We also happen to have a former member who now lives down there, Adrienne, who enthusiastically opened her house to us for a hosted barbecue dinner. Something like 25 Spokers and fellow travelers showed up for a beautiful weekend in Central California. The Friday evening dinner was potluck but Adrienne and her husband really did the lion’s share of the labor by fronting slabs of barbecued ribs and all the sides. And vegetarian and vegan choices too! Thanks Adrienne!! Saturday’s ride had most of the Spokers doing the full century with a difficult final twenty miles on some of the worst paved roads in California; the smart set did the shorter 80-mile ride that skipped the plethora of potholes and got us back to the finish to sup without feeling beaten to death. The even smarter set did the 50-mile route, which the initial scenic loop through some of the nicest roads we’ve seen in years. Will we go back in 2023? If so there will be one more Spoker to join the crowd: Adrienne’s new baby!

Born This Way. The 2022 Pride followed the successful playbook of 2021: two short rides—an ascent up Twin Peaks to the Pink Triangle for the animals and then a subsequent loop down to Lake Merced for those wanting an easier celebration. And of course, punctuated by coffee and deliciously decorated Pride donuts! It was our most popular ride of 2022. Can we top this in 2023? Pride bagels perhaps? Pink mimosas?

And Now For Something Completely Different Spokes. I didn’t attend this event qua ride but it certainly was something très different: the KAV factory tour. Coming from the fertile mind of David Goldsmith, he was so impressed with his new 3D printed custom helmet that he got KAV, which is based in Redwood City, to offer a tour of their facility and custom fit anyone who attended as well as provide a free lunch! It doesn’t get better than that. Oh yeah, and since it’s local why not turn it into a fun ride as well from SF down the Bay Trail? Done.

Forty is the new Thirty. Forty revolutions around the Sun called nothing less than a celebratory dinner and a memorable program along with a ride that was on point. The soiree and ride were held in September, the month with the predictably best weather for San Francisco. So of course we had the freak rainstorm wash out plans for an outdoor “night under the stars” at Il Casaro on Church Street. Hurriedly we reset up inside and ended up having a cozy party. Thanks to David Goldsmith for suggesting the restaurant, which did a stellar job in welcoming us and producing a delicious dinner with so much food that they even made doggie boxes for everyone to take home! Bob Krumm, our long-gone first president, made it a really special evening by coming all the way out from New Jersey to join us and recount the origins of the club along with the other surviving founder, Dave Freling. Bob Krumm and I had managed to hunt down and roust a bunch of old (in both senses of the word) Spokers from the very early days of the club to come out and see how their foundling child has been doing. Pretty good I’d say! The ride the day before was not rained out but instead was a pleasant, sunny day that brought out a huge crowd only dwarfed by the Pride Rides. Now if we can make it to 50… (Will any of the old farts still be around by then?)