Oceano To Los Olivos. 61.6 Miles. 3095 Feet of Climbing Elevation
This past September, I completed a charity bike event with the California Coast Classic Bike Tour for the Arthritis Foundation. I rode my bicycle for 8 days from San Francisco, to Los Angeles California; 525 Miles, and climbed 26,278 Feet of Elevation. It was extremely challenging, rewarding, and amazing. I’ll be blogging multiple segments here about my journey.
Let’s start off our Day 6 adventure with a quick video of a downhill ride out in “Wine Country;” Los Olivos, California.
Last night, I met up with some of my old and dear friends, as well as recent donors to my Arthritis Fundraiser; let’s call them Rob and Laura Petrie. Both of them had made a previous appearance in another one of my very popular, and fun blogs.
I recalled my “pre-bike days,” when people would tell me cycling stories and I was lost just trying to gauge what such serious riding would entail.
Laura was one of the first people I knew who would ride long distances on her bike. She was also a marathon runner in great shape. When we first met, I had not even bought my Schwinn Hybrid bike and the “real” biking world was lost to me. Rob and I were initially introduced to Laura one night in the midst of a boat ride adventure “up the river” to Downtown Providence on my birthday. Rob and I attempted to convince Laura that we had run the Boston Marathon on several occasions in record time…..Barefoot. I tried to warn Rob about the dangers of “Girl Germs,” and he assured me he would keep his fingers crossed at all times, but it was love at first sight, and he was a “goner!”
Somewhere along their path of courtship and marriage, Laura convinced Rob to ride the 2-day charity MS-150 event. 75 miles each day. Laura was practically begging Rob to train for the ride. Rob was a great athlete but probably hadn’t ridden a bike in 15 years. He would walk over to the bike in the living room, pick it up 3 times, and 3 inches off the floor, and say “Well, that’s enough training! Let’s have burgers!”
Rob never did train for the ride but not only did he “somehow” slog through and finish the two days, but he and Laura showed up at 6 O’clock on Sunday night for a double-header softball game in a league we all played in. We were all a little younger than.
One of my all-time favorite bike quotes is from Rob, as told to me by Laura as they both got ready to ride the second day of the event; “Laura, wouldn’t it be SO AWESOME if we get outside, and find out our bikes were stolen in the middle of the night!!!!???” Hahahahahah! I wasn’t wishing it on my tour, but the thought did occur to me a few times when the alarm would ring each day at 5 AM.
It was still in the morning when I rolled up past a gas station convenience store at one of our left-hand turns. I initially passed it and decided to turn back and stop in. Once again, I didn’t really need anything, but going inside gave me a connection to the people of the area that just riding through beautiful landscapes does not. Later in the day at a rest stop, a woman overheard me telling someone that I had stopped in to say hello. “Oh my God,” she said. “Did you REALLY stop at that store to buy a Kit-Kat bar?” As usual, I burst out laughing. “Of course I did. You know, this whole tour is not a Forced March????!!!” Not only did Mary N. hear about our conversation, but was happy that such bike touring dereliction was alive and well. On top of this, the word was officially getting around that I was indeed a true chocolate and cookie tramp! The next day, Geri H. even tracked me down at a rest area and gave me some Ghirardelli chocolate that she had obtained in San Francisco, and brought out on the road just for me. Another day; another amazingly kind person on the tour.
As I have mentioned before, I like to think I have learned all my lessons, but the truth is, I’m not sure anyone could engage in this much riding and not have some lapses in mental judgment. Here is the one I had for today; I ran out of water. “WHAT????!!!!” Every rider knows that when you pull into the rest stops, to top off their water bottles. I do it all the time. About 52 miles in, we came to our last rest stop at the winery. It was the most relaxing stop I made………sitting on an outside bench, under a tree, chatting with the Wonder Twins. I was drinking a large bottle of sports water, as I did most rest stops. Finishing Day 6 and the end of the tour were “insight,” and I almost felt like Jean Genie kicking back at the rest area. Well, I forgot to top off my water. Of course, I didn’t realize this until I took the final swig of my second bottle of water as I climbed one of the final hills of the day; a “small” mile and a half climb at 8%. I had always had plenty of water at the end of all my other days, but I did drink far more water today because since turning “inland,” it had gotten a lot hotter (for me at least). There was a small bit of panic, but I had hydrated all day and I did just get a sports drink at the last stop. Once I made the crest of the hill, I was distracted by the beautiful view and the peace knowing I only had 9 miles to ride. No problem. As a side note, I am more a fan of straight water than sports drinks. If I do have them, I usually cut them in half with water as I find out they seem to make me “more” thirsty.
I finished another beautiful day out riding in Nature and took the base-camp shuttle back to my hotel. As I got out of the courtesy van, the young driver up on the roof of the van asked if I would help him lower one of the rider’s bikes down from the roof rack. Of course I would. I spread my legs, cracked my back, stretched my neck, flexed my arms, took a deep breath, reached up, and firmly grabbed the bicycle. “Oh my God………..I am not prepared for this,” my mind and body screamed out. Was it heavy??? Ah…..NO! In the two seconds it took to lower the bike, a thousand things went through my mind including ” I have to have one of these!” I set the bike down on “terra firma,” and instantly turned to the owner; “my helmet weighs more than your bike” I said. “ZULU……do NOT covet thy neighbor’s bicycle!” I spent another day thinking about buying a bike like that, but the next day as I sped down the hill on the highway between the rumble strip separating me between the fast-moving traffic and the edge of the road, I was so happy to have a bike that was a little heavier, had some hydraulic disk brakes, and some wider tires for more stability. Ah, middle-aged men with their fantasies about a younger and newer model! “No fool, like an old fool (are we talking about bikes here?)!
Normally after each ride, I’d spend some time at the hotel I had booked; a little rest, the pool or the hot tub, and a long shower, and then catch the shuttle back to base camp for dinner. It was always great to meet new people, chat with familiar new friends, and tell my lies…..er, ah stories, of the day’s adventures. That day, I decided I would just hang out at the hotel. After a long hot “Hollywood shower,” (extended length not worrying about cost or “saving” hot water for someone else), I decided to order pizza.
Immediately after I did, I had buyer’s remorse. We seemed to be in quite a remote location, and I feared what would arrive at the hotel would be some previously frozen box of cardboard. What arrived was spectacular. I ordered the meatball and onion. It came looking just like my favorite Greek pizza from the local shop at home. In addition, it must have had some hot pepper flakes baked in. I am not accustomed to such spicy food with a “kick,” but I was excited that it was so delicious, and because it was so different from my usual preference, it also reinforced the concept that I was in a “new and exciting land.” That’s the fun and adventure of travel.
I fell asleep in a soft bed with a full stomach, and a head full of dreams from the day’s ride and the excitement that tomorrow would come, and I was lucky enough to be able to go out and ride my bike again.
Sweet dreams Day Six.