I’ll keep this brief. Your instinct upon reading that sentence may be to say: “It’s a trap!” because everyone knows I suck at keeping things brief. I mean, look. I just used 33 words to say what was covered in the first four. And thinking about that, I could have just said: “I’ll be brief.” Or even, “Briefly.” One word instead of the…63 I’ve now used. Man, I really DO suck at this. Let’s start over.
Briefly. Let’s step up to the ingredients bar and build this ride report.
Tortillas are critically important when it comes to burrito and taco making. They hold the whole enchilada together. Enchiladas! Critical to enchiladas, too. And taquitos. Dry ‘em out and they’re like little shovels for your guacamoles and salsas. They don’t help at all with tortas, but I digress. I promised to keep this brief. Sorry. Basically, I’m saying that the tortilla is the backbone of the meal, and this is just a really sloppy way of using the tortilla as a metaphorical device to set up the brief history of the Brevet Asada ride which forms the backbone of this ride report. Man. I am REALLY BAD AT THIS BREVITY THING.
Way back yonks ago, the idea for the ride began in Robert Egger’s mind. A lot of things begin and end and Egger’s mind, but this was one of those ideas doomed to succeed because it had one important feature—it was built around a passion. Robert Egger loves Super Taqueria. Loves it. It’s his favorite lunch spot, like ever. Alternative facts state that over the years he’s eaten an S-Works Tarmac’s worth of burritos there. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounded good when I was writing the invite for the ride.
The first Tour de Taco, as it was then known, was held in May of 2010. Simple premise: ride to, and eat at, every Super Tacqueria IN THE WORLD. Luckily, all the Super Taqs in the world happen to be in California. In 2010 there were only nine of them and they could all be reached in a handy, 170-mile ride beginning and ending at Specialized HQ, Morgan Hill.
That first ride? Legend has it that it was fast, furious, and kinda brutal. The following year, the Tour de Taco took a little break (to allow for digestion), but it came back with the vengeance of a post-habanero bathroom break, in 2012.
Then another, longer digestion break. Many years passed, and the Tour de Taco became something people whispered about in hallways. “I heard Chuck T ate a burrito at every stop. I heard Super D did the whole thing on the whiff of a soggy carnitas napkin. Did you hear Robert Egger had a 1-minute stop per Super Taq rule?” It was one of those rides you always heard about but were never in the right place at the right time to take part. Just like Ride to Vegas.
But just like overindulgence in refried beans, the Tour de Taco was always destined to repeat itself, so when Egger looked around for an eager soul who might be ready to take on the mantle of Organizer, his gaze fell upon Jon Takao aka Juan Taco. Like dominos falling, Jon looked to me. “Robert’s asked me to revive it,” he said. “Will you help?”
Um, duh! Just you try and stop me. But actually, it turns out he didn’t really need to try and stop me as we both got drowned in work and nothing was organized. And that, my friends, is how you end up one week out from Cinco de Mayo fiddling around with event posters, and map routing, and sudden rider meetings. Miraculously, it came together quite nicely. The invite write-up in the weekly internal newsletter read:
“Realizing that Tour De Taco lends itself really well to a traditional brevet format, the ride has been re-launched as “Brevet Asada”, an experience that is sure to soak up your day just as efficiently as a tortilla soaks up carnitas juice. Since 2012, three new Super Taqueria locations have been added, bringing the total to 11 stops from Sunnyvale to Salinas covering 195 miles, give or take.”
Due to the late notice, we weren’t expecting a huge turnout for the rider meeting—probably just the regular crazies—but were pleasantly surprised to see two new faces in the room. Fresh meat! With the route projected upon the wall, it all began to take rough shape. The route would start at HQ and form a figure ocho, which we had hoped would encourage people who maybe didn’t want to do the full distance to tackle either a morning or afternoon session. For the 2017 update, we’d also relaxed some of the rules to encourage more people to actually eat at every Super Taq—namely you could split something with another rider, and drinks could be included as part of the quota. You simply just had to purchase and consume something at each stop. We also set out with the aim of keeping the group together as much as possible—no flyers off the front!—and declared it a “no drop ride”.
Okay. Time to fill the tortilla.
“Beans and rice”
We rolled away from Specialized HQ in Morgan Hill at 6 AM with…I dunno, something approaching bravado? Or should that be brevado? (sorry). I’m hardly keeping it brief making dumb jokes like that. Dammit. Anyway, with the first Super Taq opening at 9 AM, we had about 40 miles to cover. This included some peak-hour ‘shitty shoulder’ roads, where people drive like assholes because their lives are so important and they take back roads so they can speed.
We were a group of six. Taco, myself, the Steezl Diesel, Marieke, Dirt Diesel, and Backus, Steezl’s ‘retired’ housemate. This solid group ate through the ‘beans and rice’ portion of this ride like “it ain’t no thing.” We rolled into that first Super Taq, bright and chipper, and probably freaked out the people behind the counter. Lycra in the emptiness of an early morning Super Taq is something to behold. But they took it all in stride. The food was so fresh and so hot at this early hour. I kicked it off with a chicken taco, which I all but inhaled. Then I remembered I hadn’t actually eaten anything since breakfast, I’d only drank half a bottle so far. I’m really bad at this.
The next stop was 15 miles away, which took a little time to get to, but then it was like BOOM BOOM BOOM and we had three Super Taqs in something like 6 miles. That was fine. I chose simple things. Rice at one, a drink at another, three of us split some flautas at a very fancy Super Taq with an outside garden, and I split some rice with Marieke at the polar opposite of a fancy Super Taq in some back street in San Jose.
Then there was some expressway riding that sucked for a while, but we had a tailwind, so time flew. Before long, we were back at HQ and swapping out a couple of riders for those who’d committed to the afternoon. The full enchilada crew reminded vigilant—Jon, myself, Steelz, Dirt Diesel, and Backus. Joining was Chaz Michael Michaels and JTuck. We waved our goodbyes to Marieke, who I had dubbed our “Guest Rider” for the day.
Ok, we’re in the meat of the ride now. 6 Super Taqs down, 5 to go. This was going to be the hard part, and we all knew it. There was a long long stretch of head/crosswind as we headed down to Hollister. Awful. And the traffic was—to use an Australian colloquialism—shithouse. I found myself in a deep and dark place, which I would be unable to dig myself out of for quite some time. I just couldn’t keep up on the long and cross-windy straight, and if it weren’t for some heroic ‘sit there’ direction from Dirt Diesel as he shielded me from the wind, I’d probably still be out there. Growling at the ground.
At this point, I should tell you this is not a scenic route. In fact, the Brevet Asada route is quite ugly for a majority of the ride, particularly in the Southern assault. You’re not riding on those lovely backroads of California—you’re on those choked-up highways, like Hwy 35 and…some other number. Once through Hollister and… some other town, we climbed up San Juan Grade and felt the day slipping from our fingers at an alarming rate. Tempers weren’t flaring, but my brow was filled with the hate of myself. I had thoughts of just how unprepared I was for that race in Kansas that was just one month away. So much self-hate came my way, but then that special kind of light hit on a corner at the top of that grade and things got clearer. Non-scenic turned scenic. “This is all right up here,” I thought. “This is lovely.”
At the Super Taq in Salinas—one that I’d promised myself a beer at—we discovered they didn’t serve beer. Too close to a school or something. Momentarily deflated, I ate a serving of beans and rice and was instantly revived. It was getting chilly, and I’d not brought gloves with me, so the heat from that one meal was everything. Warmed up and ready, we pushed off towards the final destination in Watsonville.
The sunset slipped away. And then it was dark.
“Cilantro, lime, and salsa verde”
There’s a certain flavor of drudgery when riding in the dark and you’re bone-tired. Things just never seem to end. But the other thing about darkness is that things feel like they’re going faster. It also cools things down, so there’s no more sunburn and no more sapping of energy. We just plugged on, squeezing the lemon of the day straight in our eyes.
Chaz decided to buy us all the last meal of the ride and had $20 to throw around. It took a while to use it all up—turns you can buy a lot of food at Super Taq for $20. Jon and I split the largest meal of the day here: a carnitas Torta. It was supremely magnificent and the best meal I’d had all day. Just like Salinas, no beer allowed here either. Whatever. We were all running on fumes at this point anyway, and beer would have just encouraged us to sit there longer.
We have now reached the biggest issue with the Brevet Asada route: when all Super Taqs have been hit, the ride is technically done sure, but you’re still something like 20 miles from home. The only way out is on, so in the darkness of a Cinco de Mayo night, with dubious drivers on back roads evading DWIs, we suck it up, buttercup. Back on the bikes and back at it.
I did not eat Mexican food the next day. I could have. Don’t test me. Look how brief I’m being now. Aren’t you proud!?