As I write this, GEAR '98 is just a memory. Well, not exactly, Ken has yet to produce the book, the screen play and the mini-series.
We elected to commute to and from the event, despite the fact that we were on call for most of it in one way or the other. The problem with commuting is that you really don't get the full GEAR experience. Of course, even at the GEARs we attended in the past, we didn't exactly boogie until the break of day. In fact, staying awake until 9pm was an achievement.
We were ride escorts for two rides. Our rides were scheduled at somewhat ungodly (for us) hours. Since we were commuting, we got into the routine of staggering out of bed around six, driving down to Denny's, wolfing down breakfast, and driving to Wellesley to start the ride.
Saturday we were escorts for the tandem ride, which went out to the Nashoba Valley winery. It wasn't exactly clear what a ride escort was supposed to do. We were told we should stay in the middle, not at the front, not at the end. So we ended up chasing the two lead tandems. We got to the winery long before the restaurant opened, and the only food available was fruit you pick yourself. Now being a city boy, I had always blissfully assumed that fruit grew in those little cardboard containers, so the prospect of romping around in the dirt in my cleats was not one I embraced easily. After a few raspberries I decided this was not for me, so I left Susan to get the rest. She came back all cut up from the thorns, but with a full carton. By the time we consumed these, the restaurant had opened, so since we had to eat lunch somewhere, this seemed like a fine choice. By the time we got through with that, the rest of the tandems were long since gone. I figure being in the front on the way out and far in the rear on the way back averages out to being in the middle, so we get good ride leader points. The next day we were originally scheduled to escort the tandem ride with Jim and Lyn, but the tandem event got changed, so we got demoted to regular ride escorts. After getting mixed in with a bunch of other rides going in the same direction, it was not at all clear who we were leading. So we just flaunted our "Ride Escort" armbands and smiled seraphically.
I was slated to give two workshops on mapping bicycle routes by computer. Being a computer geek, I thought this was a scintillating topic. Of course, the world at large probably thinks it's about as interesting as watching paint dry. That plus the fact that both talks were scheduled at 6:00pm, which is prime feeding time, I didn't exactly pack the place. Unfortunately, between presenting and worrying about the hardware to plug my laptop into, and worrying about guarding the laptop, I didn't get to go to many of the workshops myself. I did, however, discover the stash of volunteer beer, which I managed to fill in the gaps drinking. The 6PM time slot did rather interfere with dining. Saturday, I didn't think I could sprint over to the cafeteria at five, wait in line, eat, and sprint back in time for my six o'clock session, so I elected just to drink beer. I rolled over to the cafeteria after my talk slightly after seven, and was accosted by a stern looking woman who said the place was closed. So I told her I was looking for my wife, and she let me in "for five minutes." I found Susan and also a tray of pizza, and fifteen minutes later when it was time to leave, I knew I was in trouble. At the top of the stairs, there she was. Fortunately, she just asked for my meal ticket, which I was able to produce, and didn't have me worked over by the security guards.