Sunday, April 29, 2012

What the Amgen has to do with my pizza

Yesterday, to celebrate getting down to… a certain weight… I stopped on the way back up the mountain from my writers group meeting to order a pizza at Giuseppe’s. Giuseppe's is at the top of Euclid, just north of the Y split on the west side of the street. The restaurant serves Mediterranean and Italian food, so you can order a killer veggie kabob or a humus plate or lasagna or Persian ice cream, all of it scrumptious. You can also get pizza to go, so I thought I was being smart by calling ahead and ordering a pizza for pick up. My plan was to get up the mountain as fast as possible, then hang out on the back deck eating pizza and basking in the sunshine.

But yesterday the Amgen Tour of California (ToC) amateur stage was held in Mt. Baldy. It has a fancy name—L’Etape du California—whatever. Locals just call it the “Amateur Amgen.” For a substantial fee (some of which goes to cancer research), bike riders can attempt the route that the pros will ride in this year’s 7th stage of the ToC. Starting in Ontario, the route winds slowly up through the foothills, then partway up the mountain, then heads west for a good long time along the scenic but challenging Glendora Ridge Road, then comes back to Baldy Road and takes a vicious turn north, heading up the grueling switchbacks to finish at around 6500ft. elevation in the ski lift parking lot. Who’d wanna ride that? Crazy people, I’m tellin’ ya.

So I get my pizza and I start driving and my first thought is, “Oh my Buddha, that smells heavenly,” and I’m really, really hungry so I open the box at the last stop sign at Shinn Rd., thinking I might snag a piece to eat while I drive. But it’s too hot and too drippy, what with all that great sauce and melted cheese, so I close the box and think, “I’ll just hurry on home—I’m 20 minutes away!” What a goofhead….

Because there are all these cyclists on the road going up the mountain. And being a cyclist myself, I know what it’s like to try to ride on a narrow road with little or no room to move over when cars come roaring indignantly up from behind. So I put on my emergency flashers to warn the cars behind me and those that threaten to hit me head on, and I start passing small groups of cyclists huffing and puffing their way up the mountain. When I say “passing,” I mean pulling over into the southbound lane to give the riders a wide enough berth so they’re not having to think, “Is that truck going to plow into me?” while they’re nearly totally oxygen deprived.

So instead of 20 minutes, it takes me 40 to get home. And by then my pizza with the bubbly cheese and golden crispy crust is nearly cold. But I happen to have an oven…. So while I’m re-heating my amazing lunch/dinner, I get my backyard chair ready, my iced tea on the table, and I contemplate how exciting it’s going to be when my heroes get here on May 19th to ride our version of the Alpe d’Huez right here in Mt. Baldy. I. Can’t. Wait.

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