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Witnessing Heroics At the Tierra Bella

Each year my bike club, Almaden Cycle Touring Club, puts on the Tierra Bella Bicycle Tour, yesterday being the 45th annual version. The weather around here has been superb lately, springlike and sunny. Until yesterday, when Mother Nature decided to have cold rain all day. I was volunteering at the Gilroy Hot Springs rest stop, which CalFire lets us put on at their fire station way up on Gilroy Hot Springs Road. This remote stop is reached only by riders who do either the 74 mile (120 km) or 100 mile (161 km) routes. As we were setting up in the rain in the early morning, I thought to myself this was an exercise in futility as we would probably have no customers! I couldn’t have been more wrong, as at least 50 intrepid souls fought their way out our way in the pouring rain. Fortunately we had propane heaters and hot drinks, and they could warm themselves for a while before having to go back out into it. We gave out a lot of plastic gloves because their bicycling rain gloves were no match for this weather. I was inspired by the display of toughness by all these men and women, and delighted to be able to help out a little.

Riders on the Tierra Bella ride last year, enjoying much more typical weather
This is our rest stop. The picture does not do justice to how hard the rain was. The open fire truck bay offered a warm refuge to sit down and eat. The screened in tent to the right was for food prep.

This shows the setting. Near the corner where the porta-potties are is where I had my crash last October.

Our first customers arriving. The propane heater in the foreground was the first one they would see, and was very popular

This was probably at our peak. We also had a bike repair set up in the back. Mostly it was changing punctured tubes, although our volunteer mechanic Tony also tuned someones gears for a couple of riders- your don’t want to be pedalling in the rain in these steep hills with your gears not working properly.More riders outside arriving, looking at bit miserable

These guys had on shorts and no rain jackets. My friend Linda saw them shivering and made them these makeshift ponchos.
We had radio communication set up at various places along the route (there was no cell coverage at our stop and some other remote points). The two radio guys at our stop are talking to a motorcyclist volunteer who patrolled the course looking for people who needed help. We also had cars circulating as “sag wagons” for people who needed them. One of the sag volunteers came by our stop a few times, and we’d shout out asking if anyone wanted to be driven out. Surprisingly I only remember one person taking him up on the offer all day.

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