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3/27/99 -- The Cinderella Century - Last big training ride



Here's a great shot of Mom and me (Christina Melnarik) during our fifth annual Cinderella Century on March 27.

This ride was sponsored by the Valley Spokesmen Bicycle Touring Club based in Dublin California. The Cinderella is a metric century (62.4 miles) held exclusively for women and girls. It has grown so much in the past 23 years and has done a lot to involve women in the sport (although I wonder if the ValleyspokesMEN started it as a way to get dates :) !!!) Mom (Kathleen) leads weekly rides for the club and I know they are all rooting for her success in the big cross country ride.

Our Cinderella ride was perfect this year. Some years we get rain and howling headwinds in the last 20 miles, but this year was beautiful. The hills out here in Northern California are at their spring best - a soft velvety green. We saw lots of wildflowers along the way and reminisced about how the valley has changed over the years. We enjoyed a surprisingly short climb up Lemon Drop Hill (named for the "prince" who awards a lemondrop to all cyclists who reach the summit) to the Highland Valley which is still protected from the over development pressing in on all sides. The segments where we usually get headwinds were remarkably still, though we encountered gusts in other unexpected spots. The terrain was mostly flat with a few moderate hills. The course circles south from the start in Dublin to Pleasanton, winds through the vineyards to Livermore and runs along the base of Mt. Diablo.

It's always a pleasure to see the ride grow year after year and to see the costumes people dress up in for the ride. Mom and I usually wear a crown and streamers on our helmets and strap a magic wand to our bike bags (you can see mom's crown in the picture). We've also seen dragon constumes, bride and groom tandems, and plenty of fluff and frills just for fun! Mom is a natural pied piper with a wonderful ability to inspire and enthuse others. THis year she convinced her next-door neighbor to ride. The neighbor showed up with a BIG crown on her helmet, a tie-dye shirt covered by a silver sparkly Wonder-Woman top, a black tutu over her cycling shorts and FISH NET STOCKINGS! What a terrific outfit. She looked great. Next year, Mom and I will have to try something more than just our little crowns.

Dad (Paul Smith) provided shuttle support this year, ensuring that all rest stops had enough food and that tired cyclists (and bicycles) had a ride back to the start.

Needless to say, I trailed mom much of the way. While I can still pass her on the hills, her speed on the flats is amazing. She kept telling me to go ahead and get some exercise, but I was getting as much as I could take just keeping up with her on the flats.
You can see from the photo that the new bike is a beaut. My brother-in-law, Jaime, and his buddy Shawn picked all the components and built it for her at their coop-owned Missing Link Cyclery shop in Berkeley. It's an incredibly comfortable bike with a natual upright position and springy seat post. Thank goodness I didn't take a test ride until we were through with the century. My little old Guercotti is over 15 years old and while it has been with me through all my cycling, it's a bit tough on the tush.

It's hard to believe that Mom's big ride is here already, just a few days away. She's very well prepared physically and just raring to go mentally. All the familly (especially the grandkids) will miss her over the next two months, but we are thrilled that she is finally giving herself such a wonderful experience after giving so much to all of us throughout our lives.

We love you, Mom!


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