I was wandering around on my bike and stopped by Dorothy Wong and Jeff Herring’s (www.socalcross.org) place to see how they fared in the apocalyptic wind storm. Jeff was in Chinatown building the course for the weekend’s UCI cyclocross races, and surprisingly Dorothy was at home, frantic and on fire as usual. Naturally, I was asked a favor.
The favor entailed a car ride with Dorothy to El Monte, a city south of Los Angeles, and driving back to Chinatown with an RV. I pictured myself driving Dorothy’s Subaru to the race venue and then home. I knew going into this favor I wouldn’t be home in a couple of hours, and being thus prepared, we rolled out of Altadena and down to the RV dealer in the miry muck of traffic. 3 or 4 freeways and 45 minutes later– a typical drive in LA– we arrived in El Monte. As paperwork was being signed and the RV was getting checked out, I found myself in the driver’s seat. Although I used the drive the women’s demo truck for Cannondale, it was never as big as this RV, and I wasn’t sure, but I knew I would just have to roll with it. Dorothy darted off in the Subaru while I sat in the RV parking lot trying to figure out how to drive away without running over people or pets, with the added challenge of not knowing where I was going.
The winds were strong that day. The gusts were 20 miles per hour if they were 5. The RV wouldn’t run over 50 miles per hour without shaking and shimmying. I felt like I was on an old steel bike with down tube shifters trying to navigate a descent on l’alpe d’Huez. Slow down slow down slow down I kept telling myself as I drifted from side to side over the white lines I was supposed to be in between.
The Pros were checking out the course when I arrived and the production crew was under pressure building bridges and stages. I was exhausted from my effort, and ready to go home, and eat lunch or so. I connected with Dorothy and came to find out I would be held to another task. As we finished chatting with Sue Butler and the other Pro women, Dorothy explained I would drive the 24 foot Diesel Enterprise Rental Truck back to the rental facility. Really?
This could get interesting.
I fired her up and left right away without any warmup. Not a good idea, but I wanted to get home, and now. I followed Dorothy and her Subaru through Chinatown, driving over curbs and taking up two lanes until we hit the freeway. The tricky part hadn’t even begun. The next trick would be getting from the far right lane to the far left lane and merging from the 110 freeway onto the 5. Barely able to reach the pedals, and learning how long it takes to slow down even 1 mile per hour, I, with full white knuckles, made it. Lane changing comprised turning on the blinker looking and then just pulling over. If people were in the way or in a blind spot, they would have to move because really, this truck handled like a Magna with its fork on backwards with enough inertia to catapult the Moon into orbit from Earth (why doesn’t our Moon get a name, like the moons of Jupiter?). Every time some driver pulled in front of me I just said a prayer to the Diesel gods, “please, give me room, give me time and let me live through this, please!”
I was behind Dorothy for a time, again not knowing where I was to go, and I filed on to the 2 and headed up to the 134. I put myself on the 134 East- wrong way, and I couldn’t see Dorothy anywhere. I would have to flip around and head West to Brand. If you know the San Rafael/Colorado Bridge exit on the 134, picture me getting off, trying to turn left and not run over the cars in the oncoming lanes, get in the left lane only to find the on ramp to 134 West closed. Was I going to have to drive UP San Rafael? Holy sh*t! And luckily at that moment of sheer unadulterated panic and mania, I noticed the Cal Trans workers picking up the cones. I yelled out of the window, “are you opening the ramp?” “In two minutes,” the worker says. Thank &*()^&%$##% God! I was really losing it at this point. Driving this giant truck onto the freeway is a futile endeavor, really. To get up to speed and merge, an impossible prospect. I would simply have to do what I did before. Turn signal, look around and just go.
I made it to the Brand exit and headed South, calling Dorothy. I missed the original exit, and went on the wrong freeways altogether when I lost sight of Dorothy on the 5, and now very late, so Dorothy was arranging for me to pick up the Nissan sprinter van and she left. I drove the truck down Brand, in rush hour. Brand is a very busy commercial street with malls, restaurants and the like. I had to drive all the way to Los Feliz. I made it. Stressed and overwhelmed, yet I had that adrenaline high you get from clearing a technical rock section in Sedona where one wrong move puts you over a cliff.
With that feeling I jumped into the Nissan and literally squealed the tires pulling out into traffic. I made it back to Dorothy and Jeff’s house where Alex picked me up and I was never so happy to be out of a vehicle and at home in my life. Now I could rest.
Aside from the Dorothy “Wong Wong Way” Wong adventures, the month of December has happened without my realization that 2011 is al but over.
A week after the truck driving adventure, I was hosting Huck for the day. Huck is a sweet female Labrador rescue from the Pasadena Humane Society. She is the calmest Lab I have ever met, which means I like her. She spent the day with Amélie and I, and spent time wrenching on the patio with Alex in the afternoon. She was on her best behavior, and played with Amélie all day.
Amélie found Huck’s tail entertaining, and seemed to enjoy the company on what would be a routinely boring day around the house.
Other than this, it has been routine around mtbchick headquarters. Teaching spin, TRX and training on and off-road, eating and trying to enjoy winter. The good news is the solstice is next week and we can celebrate the onset of longer days.
There are so many products to review and show off, rides to talk about and recipes to share, but I must get back to it for now, enjoy the photos, and your day!