It would have been nice to finish Redlands, although I certainly wasn’t distraught when I didn’t. I knew my form going in and did what I could on the third stage by helping my buddy, Baili, through the caravan after he flatted. I tried to catch back on myself after getting dropped and crashing a few kilometres later. However, I simply wasn’t fit enough to hold on and I was OK with that. Luckily, the next day was Saturday and I knew of a local group ride.

Baili Guidi after he flatted twice and crashed on Stage 3 of Redlands. He sat on the pavement without moving for the best part of an hour. At one point he flexed his bicep and then yelped in pain as it somehow caused his hamstring to cramp.

Some guys had low spirits on the team as their own aspirations were also curtailed by mishaps in the first few stages, so by Stage 4, six of us from the team would not be starting. This was the perfect opportunity for me to rally the boys and take them on an uplifting 7:30 a.m. group ride the day after they rode themselves into the ground on the hardest stage of one of North America’s hardest stage races. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

At 6:50 a.m. Saturday morning I blasted rap through the van’s speakers as we drove to the meeting place, Stell’s Coffee, in Redlands for 95 km of Weekend Warrioring. I met with the locals I’d ridden with a week prior and introduced my team.

The ride rolls gently to Riverside for about an hour where others join in, and from there, once we’re out of town, we hammer for an hour out and back into town. We then soft pedal back to Redlands.

The team tore each others legs off and I honestly think it was the perfect way of getting our heads back into riding. Baili was pretty disappointed following his DNF at Redlands but thanked me for taking him on the group ride. It was ‘just what he needed.’ I think it was really effective for the guys to have some fun after a hard few days and the locals loved it too! Here’s the route.

After Redlands, I drove to Los Altos. My host there was a local racer who knew all the group rides, made fresh sourdough every morning, and has a commercial La Marzocco espresso machine in his place. With bottomless espresso and fresh bread, and local group ride knowledge, we could discuss the day’s route over oat milk Cortados (or Gibraltars as those in Silicon Valley say) and who the fast guys would be on the ride.

The two group rides I did in Los Altos met at noon on Tuesday and Thursday. Lots of fast people would show including Eric Wohlberg, Tibco and Hagens Berman Supermint staff and riders, and the local Squadrasf p/b Terun team. We raced along the winding roads, through towering Coastal Redwoods and up walls of climbs for around an hour and a half.

There’s a bit of extra on my Tuesday ride file, and I won’t share the Thursday ride as I also added some miles before meeting the group, but to give you a taste here is the Tuesday ride.

These group rides have been the highlights of my trip so far. They’ve made me feel at home, shown me the best roads to ride, introduced me to local riders and even allowed me to scope the local horsepower before local races. I also think the one in Redlands provided my team with an excellent morale boost by keeping things fun and light-hearted.

If you’re in Cali and like bikes, look for the local group rides. They’re way too fun!

Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.

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