Katy and Me

I met Katy on a bike tour in Spain back in 2016. She is a much stronger climber than I am. But on the Rocacorba outside of Girona I made a big effort and stayed with her all the way up. I even got to the top about 10 seconds in front of her.

That was the first, last and only time that happened. I rode so hard to do it that my resting heart rate the next morning was 65 bpm, instead of my usual number in the 49 to 53 range. A higher than normal resting heart rate is a classic sign of over training. Chasing Katy up climbs will do that.

The Queen and her Subject: First Ride Together in the U.S.

Katy is not the typical bike touring company customer. She is young, less than half my age. At the risk of offending anyone in the ‘me too’ era, she is drop dead gorgeous. Stoker and I were on a tour once with her, and we both agree that Katy has a sweet disposition and a good heart. When she isn’t ripping your legs off as you try to keep up with her.

Katy lives in Vancouver, does something in the dot com world and seems to have plenty of time off to travel. I’ve been on tours with her in Spain, France and Italy. She isn’t afraid of anything on a bike. But off the bike some things really bug her. Specifically bugs: she found a spider in her room once and frantically called the tour guides to help her deal with it.

I received a Facebook message from Katy saying she was going to be in the Menlo Park area visiting her sister for a couple of weeks. Could we get together and maybe do lunch or a ride? We sure could. Since Katy loves to climb, I decided to have her take BART to Dublin and meet me for a romp up Mount Diablo. I borrowed a nice bike in her size from Dr. Carl, made sure the pedals were the correct model, and found her a suitable helmet. My friend Steve joined us.

We were blessed with a nearly perfect day; warm, sunny and not too windy. Since it was a weekday the traffic in the park was minimal, unlike the traffic on the highway getting to and from Dublin. Katy rode with us as far as the South Gate. I told her to go ahead and stop at the ranger station 5 miles ahead. She disappeared up the road and out of sight. Steve and I were climbing at a nice solid pace, but we were no match for the mountain goat.

At the ranger station we regrouped and Katy asked innocently “Why are we stopping?” I had to laugh. I told her it was because the two old geezers she was with were tired. “I’m tired too” she replied. Sure Katy. You once did three summits of Mont Ventoux in under 9 hours of riding. Diablo isn’t going to bother you.

The theme continued from the ranger station to the summit: Katy disappears up the road and the old guys get there eventually. The view from the summit on this perfect day was magnificent. We descended the Walnut Creek side to the North Gate, regrouped, then climbed back to the junction. We call this a 1 1/2 summit ride: 50 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing. I did it in just over 4 hours, and Katy was 30 minutes quicker. And made it look easy.

After the ride we dropped her at the BART Station and started our drive back to Stockton. About 10 minutes after we left her, we got a frantic call. She somehow had her credit card locked out of the fare machine and her ATM card wouldn’t work and she had no money and no way to get home. I know millennials are addicted to plastic, but walking around with no cash at all seems extreme. We drove back and handed her some greenbacks and resumed our drive home.

Our easiest ride ever, even with the ballast. Quality jersey pockets!

The next week Katy and I did a completely different ride. Her boyfriend Nico had joined her and they were staying in Napa. So we did a guided ride through the vineyards. Nico is strong and fit but he is not a cyclist, at least not yet. He rode an electric bike while Katy and I noodled along on the easiest ride we have ever done together: 35 miles, about 1,000 feet of little rollers, nothing over 6%. One vodka tasting (I abstained), one wine tasting (I used the spittoon and didn’t swallow: I had to drive home) and a really delicious lunch.

So Katy and I have now ridden together in four countries. When we said goodbye I gave her a hug and left wondering if our paths would ever cross again. But if not I will always remember the sight of her disappearing up the road on another long climb. The Queen of the Mountains conquers all before her.

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