** 2012 Rapha Festive Honourable Mention: http://www.rapha.cc/festive-500---the-winners **

It does rain in Southern California, and despite the naked boosterism the rest of this note may contain, San Diego does on occasion get rainy, windy, and snowy (at the right elevations). Downright sucky you might even say.

But, damn, this is an amazing place to ride. The Rapha Festive 500 (http://www.rapha.cc/the-festive-500--2012) underscored why this has to be the best county in the U.S. for pedaling a bicycle.

Now, no offense to those who cut a familiar furrow during this week of Festive, but I knew that couldn't suffice. This week deserved variety. So over six days I took to a Chinese menu of San Diego's charms: coasts and backcountry, mountains and deserts.

In a few instances I felt uncomfortably far from the maddening crowd.

Rain, wind, snow-covered roads, 22° F high desert mornings, an errant lightning bolt, sun, waves and friends: the week has become a bit of a blur, and looking back now it's hard to pin my favorite moment. Fortunately, you asked for us to share and so I have, perhaps in true TL;DR form.

Think what you may about Bicycling magazine, but every so often it contains a zone of resonance. "I remember realizing one day, circling at the top, that I was showing off for myself. Nobody much cared but me. But I cared a lot. I gave the mountain everything I had, every time I could." Bill Strickland wrote this in the latest issue and there it lodged in my head this past week.

No, nobody will or should care much about my week of cycling. Icy patches, frozen ears, runny noses, flat tires on lonely roads: these are the best sort of first-world problems. And that's it: I understand how blessed I am, how lucky. I gave this past week all I could and was rewarded. So thanks. The Festive 500 inspired me, and for that you have my deep gratitude.

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Rapha Festive 500

sean o'brien

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