Tuesday morning I drove up to the East Bay to take part in an event promoting Fred “Fast Freddie” Rodriguez’ upcoming gran fondo. The event was held at his community space, which is equal parts cycling shrine and bike fit studio. It holds an amazing collection of bike racing memorabilia from Freddie and his friend Alex Osborne, with stuff spanning back to at least the early ’80s.
The community space, which is located in a cool part of Oakland, is kind of a cycling clubhouse. When Freddie is in town, he leads rides there for his foundation, the Fast Freddie Foundation. The charity’s mission is to introduce inner-city kids to cycling. Freddie likes to point out that as he grew up in Los Angeles, riding the road kept him off the streets. It was his way to avoid the gang life and drugs to which many adolescents fall victim. The foundation works to provide kids with bikes, clothing and equipment and then help them learn the ropes of the sport.
The fit studio portion of the community space is operated by Berkeley-based Innersport Chiropractic. The owner of Innersport, Jessica Greaux, has been a friend since I served as a guide on a tour of Tuscany she was a part of. We hit it off and have remained in touch since. So when Jess asked me if I wanted to come up and be a part of the evening to celebrate the upcoming gran fondo and hang for a bit with her and her Pit Bull/Greyhound mix, Finn, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
My role there was to do a short reading of work from “Why We Ride” and then (hopefully) sell some T-shirts and books. As “Why We Ride” is still in the final stages of editing, I didn’t have copies of that to bring along, so I brought some copies of my previous book, “The No-Drop Zone.”
Freddie spent some time talking up the upcoming fondo, which looks to be pretty fun. The long route is 89 miles and begins at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Calif. It opens with a stiff climb and then heads south toward Castro Valley before turning northeast to San Ramon. From there the ride climbs Mount Diablo, a mainstay of Bay-Area suffering. The top of Diablo comes almost exactly half-way into the ride, but the climbing is far from over. Once down from Diablo, the ride heads northwest to Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill before winding between Briones Regional Park and Briones Reservoir and back into Berkeley. That climb that opens the ride becomes the descent on the way back to the finish.
While I can’t offer any insight into the organization or support the ride will provide, I can say that I’d love to ride the course. I’m not sure I can make the date—Saturday, August 17—line up for me, but if not this year, then next.
Even though I’m busier than a beer vendor at a football game, I carved enough time out of my schedule to include a session with Innersport’s Mitchell Reiss, who took me through some of the fit services Innersport offers, including saddle and foot pressure testing. There will be a separate post on that coming soon.
So while there was wifi aplenty, driving to the Bay Area and back on successive days has left me with less time to do my job than I’d like. So I’m feeling a bit guilty about winking out of existence for two days this week. What I’m doing here is backing into an apology. Let me know how I’m doing.