Hard Miles at the Heart of Cycling
Good, hard miles. The Amgen Tour of California dished out plenty of those this week to some of the world’s best riders. Yet cycling is hardly just a spectator sport. Part of bike racing’s lure is that we all can experience a bit of what the pros do, on the same roads, on the same day, under the same conditions.
Looking for a new way to get the word out about our new Force 22 groupset, we at SRAM decided to go biking basics – gather a bunch of friends and customers, ride bikes on the most challenging sections of Stages 6 and 7 of the Amgen Tour of California parcours. Over the two days, we hosted 20 guest riders from the Southern California region on rides that totaled more than 8,500 feet of elevation gain over roughly 6o miles – not huge distances, but with temperatures nearing or above 100, they were indeed hard miles. We rode and then picked a spot on the course, cheered on the pros and enjoyed great food, beer and conversation.
Like all the best bike rides are, the miles were as memorable as they were challenging. Former pro and Olympian Gord Fraser, now the Quarq Power Coach, played the domestique’s role fetching bottles and pacing riders. Guy East, a Zipp-sponsored pro track cyclist, at times pushed the pace and at others told of his philanthropic work. Our guests included Andy Leeka, a hospital administrator in LA who also is an advocate for bicycle commuting. Zach Thorp is a pastor from Redlands, Calif. When you ride with people, you learn about them. Andy is riding his bike across the country. He takes a week here and there over multiple years, picking up right at the exact spot he left off. Andy coaches the Redlands Interscholastic Cycling Organization.
It was, for us, that sometimes the hard miles can also be the most enjoyable.