OJAI? OH, HI...
Over the last ten years or so, when TaterTOT newbies asked questions about things like where, when or how fast they were expected to ride, they were usually very quickly and summarily informed that the five-syllable word 'organization' was not only inappropriate, it was deemed impolite and unacceptable. Anyone who was involved in any effort to make group get-togethers at that event go a tad more smoothly was always quick to point out that at worst he could only be accused of minimal 'coordination'.
I was oddly reminded of that distinction last weekend when (the purportedly unlucky number) 13 folks showed up for our Third Saturday VCRR Group Ride this month. I had properly published that the meet venue was Brock Linear Park, just off Ventura Avenue about two miles north of Main Street at the corner of Shoshone Street. I was a little surprised to see that only two other people – Brent and Gerry – drove there to meet Kay and me. At least, Michael was also waiting for us, after riding his velomobile down from the Rincon.
As we were arriving, about to turn from Ventura onto Shoshone, we saw Ann and Alan riding north on the avenue on their motorized ICEs, glibly cruising right on past Shoshone. We drove on, caught and redirected them. Brock Linear Park extends along two suburban streets, shaped like a backwards capital Greek letter Gamma. The only sensible entrance from the avenue is right where we parked, but Barb's phone app managed to direct her somewhere else. She and Bob had parked at the mission and they rode their Lightning recumbikes to meet us, after we gave her corrected directions.
Stephen called to tell us that he had a flat tire, with no way to replace the defective tube. I have a stock of Presta tubes at home but not with us that morning. Barb told us Phil and Lora were waiting with their motorized Catrikes to meet us at Foster Park, about five miles up the Ventura River Trail. They had driven down from Santa Barbara, arriving about an hour and a half before we'd get there. Rich also rode his Trek E-bike from home to meet us at Foster Park; I don't know how long he waited.
Michael rode back to the beach, and Brent walked his dog as the rest of us rode away up the trail, with Pokey Patrollers Kay and me bringing up the rear. I had to do a last minute footwear change when I discovered that tennis shoes don't click into Egg Beater pedals. Everyone had a good ride to the park, and we were especially pleased to note that someone had cleaned out all the previously prolific goatheads on that section. After a bit of socializing at the pit stop, everyone resumed the ride. Ann, Alan and Gerry rode off first, and someone said they were riding up Santa Ana Road to Lake Casitas. Kay and I left next, expecting the other riders to pass us on the climb, on their way to lunch in Ojai.
Just before the San Antonio Creek bridge Kay decided it was too warm for both her jerseys and we stopped in the last shade for her to remove the black shirt under her hi-viz orange top. The five other VCRRians passed us as she was doing her strip show. Since she had only a bit of bare skin exposed around her sports bra, she didn't stop much traffic. We didn't see that group of our ride partners again that day.
Stephen called as we were stopped to tell us he'd solved his tire trouble and was starting to ride up from Foster Park, about two miles behind us. Kay and I had planned to ride past the bridge, roughly to the bottom of the next grunt climb, and we expected Stephen to meet us as we returned. However, Alan also called just as we crossed the bridge to tell us that they were concerned about battery life and were doing an early turnaround. We decided to wait for Stephen, then flip and meet the remaining trio back where Santa Ana Road rejoined the trail at Foster Park. Stephen continued the solo ride on his motorized ICE up to Ojai to make the most of that fast downhill return, as Kay and I zoomed back downhill.
Back at our classical pit stop we were surprised to see the other early returnees arrive from the wrong direction. They had actually ridden up the trail rather than the more direct road route, so that it would have been better for us to ride on up to meet them. The five of us rode together to our turnoff at Mile Marker Two, but Alan had to stop to swap one of his two batteries to make up for Ann's dead soldiers.
After we parted, Kay, Gerry and I reloaded our trikes and drove away, planning to meet Ann and Alan for lunch at Main Street Restaurant. As a backup, I tried to match their route as closely as we could, except for the section of downtown Ventura that's closed to autos on the weekend. In spite of that, Alan called to let us know they'd not only changed their route, but that Ann's trike had completely died. We met them on Thompson near Sanjon, and decided to transport Ann's trike in Gerry's pickup. But since he wasn't answering his phone, we left Alan with the trikes and drove to fetch Gerry from the restaurant.
We loaded Ann's trike in his truck, and Ann rode with Kay in our van, as I unloaded my LoGo to ride with Alan, serving to enhance his limited vision, on to lunch at Main Street. Stephen had asked us to call him with info on our lunch meet, but he was already back at home when I phoned. Lunch was great as usual, almost the high point of this odd ride day.
Alan rode behind me again as we resumed the mile-and-a-half trip to their home. I was complying with Alan's preference for the slightly longer, hillier route, rather than the flatter, more direct path on sidewalks and through the local mall. However, he did a flying change of mind, settling on a nice compromise, with his errant lack of confidence in my navigational skills as the only complication. He deviated to solo on a slightly longer route just before home, and his trike also reverted to pure pedal power.
We all made it home okay, finally, although in retrospect, I realized that no more than two attendees had actually ridden together for the whole day. I grinned and chalked it up as yet another example of 'Even a confusing day riding trikes is better than a well-organized day at work'.