Day Eight-Part Two- South
Ventura to Santa Monica. 54.8 Miles. 1630 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 pick up where we left off; in the “flats.”
The first order of business before we continue down the coast (besides trying to tell a story without going completely off the imaginary rails like I did in my blog for Day 8-Part One) popped up at about 23 miles; the “GREATEST REST STOP EVER!!”
As I pulled into the rest stop, I ran into the Wonder Twins, and a few others. They all came over to me and told me “everybody’s waiting for you!” “Yikes, I thought.” Hoping it wasn’t a trip down to the Principal’s office for another “I talk-you listen chat,” I approached the volunteers at the table. “We have something for you!” TA-DAH!!! Out came a Lime Green bottle of Mountain Dew and a piece of chocolate!!! “AHHHHHHHHHHH!! You guys are the BEST” I yelled!!! By day 8, random acts of kindness were never unexpected, but that doesn’t mean they were not surprising and still so heartfelt! Thanks again, guys!
After a little socializing, I stood gazing out over the Pacific Ocean and drank my soda, and ate my chocolate. Normally, I’d be watching the board surfers in action, but today, I was watching the “roof surfers;” the SENTIO crew on top of the support van loading bikes.
With a final swig of my “crack juice”, I mean Mountain Dew, I was preparing to leave this beautiful spot (that never gets old). A man came over to me and introduced himself. His name was Jamaica, and he has been the “on-duty mechanic” for the CCC for many years. “Always friendly, always helpful,” is how other people I met always described him. He told me he had seen me out on the roads every day but had not met me or my bike in person; an oddity he said. “Your bike must be in good shape,” he said. This made me feel great.
It’s not that he knew everyone on the CCC because their bikes were in terrible shape; that wasn’t the case. There were so many well-maintained and beautiful bikes out there. Bikes, like tools and machinery, need constant attention. Riding them on a big event like this stresses them out even more so. BTW, when I say machinery, we’re not talking about “the Farm Machinery;” which is the nickname for long-time reader Saint Dominick’s secondary and original hybrid bike with the milk crate on the back, that he rides with his yoga mat and “civilian shoes” on the days he doesn’t want to “clip in and move out.”
Years ago, on my very first 30-mile organized bike ride in “The Hub On Wheels” in Boston, on my very first bike, my “super high tech” shock-absorbing saddle cracked at the collar of my Schwinn 21-speed hybrid bike. With the aid of a very kind bike mechanic at a rest stop, we had to duct-tape the saddle post or give up the ride. I chose the duct tape and finished the day riding. Like my career in maintenance at the power plant, this reinforced my belief in “predictive and preventive maintenance.” Yep, if I became the center of attention for going “down in flames” on this ride, it was going to be because I was going down the mountain road at 7.68 Ka-Zillion miles per hour when the earthquake hit and I was launched to my death into the Pacific Ocean; not because I had to duct-tape my bike together because I hadn’t maintained it properly. As most of us know, at this time in “history,” bike parts were very hard to come by in an acceptable time window due to the COVID global pandemic. Duct Tape, however……….STOP……DON’T SAY IT!
Reluctantly, I rolled out of the final rest stop of the week with a warm send-off from my volunteer friends and a caffeine boost to move me along. Greatest Rest Stop EVER!!!
Almost right away, I entered a spectacular “road canyon.” I instantly began to wonder about the natural rock formation. “Was this section of the road “cut into” the stone, or was the road laid through the natural contour? Is this type of stone prone to “rock slides” or easy to cut and shape? As if I didn’t suddenly have several thousand geological questions on my mind, I began to imagine my friends back at the rest area; “Hahahahahahahah…..as if he wasn’t hyper enough; we then gave him Mountain Dew and chocolate and sent him on his way!!! Hahahahahahahahah. He’s either in Santiago, Chile by now or in a mental facility; in Santiago, Chile right now!! Hahahahahah”
It doesn’t matter……..I love those guys and the rock canyon was really, really cool!
As mentioned, I began to wonder about the past, present, and future elevation changes of riding on Day 8. Sitting now at my computer, I can pull up all types of maps and data about the route I traveled, but when I was on the road, I was more unaware of what was to come. There is some logic to that. When riding, I did have access to Google Maps, as well as the cycling software “Ride With GPS,” and “Garmin Connect.” All 3 programs/apps are excellent. If I was determined to know exactly what was to come and when, I certainly had the “electronic opportunity” to find out, but I didn’t. Here’s why;
- For all practical purposes, there was only one way to the finish line; follow the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and the Pacific Ocean on your Starboard Side (right) until you see some friendly people in the middle of the street and the parking lot banging cowbells and screaming that you finished. Easy. It was conceivable that “somewhere” you could “exit stage left”, but in reality, any deviation from the PCH would only lead to extra mileage in the wrong direction and unnecessary climbing. BAD!!!!!!
- Sometimes, my Garmin Connect handlebar device would display elevation and a map that although correct would look “unnecessarily skewed.” By this I mean the display sometimes would look like the next incline I would be climbing up Mt. Everest, when in reality, the next hill might be significantly larger than the previous, but not such a massive incline that “you” had to start knocking back the Mountain Dew for support (too late). Those hills were left behind in Big Sur. The unit was new to me so I didn’t have time to work out all the quirks and navigate the screens and parameters that would have resolved the issues, and being in the middle of my daily ride, or exhausted at night, I also didn’t have the patience or the desire to get things fine-tuned.
Of course, I just didn’t care. I was going to Los Angeles along this one route. If I came to an incline, I went up, and if I came to a descent I went down. These were always the choices I had since day one. They seemed comforting now.
If we took all our maps, gadgets, and preparation, and then tossed in our luke-warm affection for climbing elevations, or indifference to what lay ahead (with the exception of the ice cream shop), threw it all in the pot of boiling bike touring through Malibu, what would we get? Hint; look at the page above, at the red elevation chart with the yellow arrow marking the approximate start of mile 24 on Day 8. The answer? A very, very, very hilly finish to the CCC.
Once again, by no means, were the ascents and descents as steep at the first 4 days of the ride, but it certainly was not the “ice rink” of the first 24 miles of Day 8 either.
Riding through Malibu and this section of the PCH was amazing; the beach, the warm air, the smell of the salt water, the surfers, the campers, and the public access.
Making a ride like this only enforces my love for public access to “The World.” In a place as large as California with so much coastline, the idea of limited or non-existent access to the ocean may seem unfathomable (no pun intended), but for many people, especially in the United States, an invitation to the “count room” at a casino may offer easier access than to the beach-front at the ocean or lake near their home. Sappy as it may be, yes, on more than one occasion during the week, the music and lyrics of Woody Guthrie popped into my head;
“From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me……..”
As usual, by now, riding the bike, there was just so much to see, which again could prove hazardous at times, because this was a very busy place, and sometimes with a shared and shifting traffic pattern that required constant attention to your surroundings for safety reasons. As much as I love safety, In case you haven’t noticed, I struggle with executing constant attention, mainly just because I think constant attention is “overrated.”
Editor’s Note; “My God Zulu; you must be writing on fumes. Could you possibly get any “loopier?”
Zulu Delta; “Challenge Accepted!”
Staring at the elevation map of our final 30 miles of Day 8, I am reminded of one paramount “feeling” that I experienced as I rode through Malibu; dizziness. When I say dizzy, it wasn’t physically, it was more a “state of mind.”
Editor again; “Holy Mother Zulu….you really did accept the challenge?!!!!”
I am literally trying not to sound absurd here. I’m just not sure how to describe the feeling. It just seemed that we rode up and down, so many times on back-to-back rolling hills for hours, that “dizzying” just seems like the apt description.
Let me see if I can add a quick video clip again from the Santa Monica Pier after I finished the tour to try to put Malibu in a better perspective. I still find it cool how day and night, East and West are displayed at the top of the ride.
Malibu is renowned the world over for having amazing waterfront real estate. Truthfully, I was never really that impressed with the million-dollar homes that sit on the ocean beaches. Are they nice? Yes, but the closely-built beach houses near me lack the same appeal. I’m neither bitter nor envious. Good luck to everyone.
This was the first time that I saw the area up-close including the PCH leading up to Malibu, so I was suddenly surprised that it was I who wanted to be overlooking the beach in my own real estate, sitting in a deckchair. Oh, I’m not talking about those iconic-high priced homes jammed so close together that I was tempted to ride by and scream “please pass the salt,” just to watch someone’s arm reach out through 5 windows and over two living rooms, to the dining area two “shacks” over and put down the salt. No, I was suddenly wishing I had visitation rights to one of the beautiful RVs or cool vans that I saw parked along the road with such awesome access to the beach. Now that’s impressive! I don’t want to actually have to drive the RVs around mind you, I just need them “waiting for me” when I get there (OK, Princess!). I could see myself sitting out in the “cool” September afternoon, watching the beautiful Ocean and intrepid surfers when the sun wasn’t trying to fry me or make me dream about snow-covered mountains; looking forward to falling asleep to the sound of the sea and dreaming about more bike riding.
Of course, there may have been some subliminal psych warfare going on. I don’t recall having any problem when I saw the sign on the RV that said “If you lived here, you’d be home right now,” but when I got a whiff of the cheeseburgers and onions cooking on the grills, my hippocampus (apparently the section of the brain responsible for food cravings) began to pound. As I rode by, I considered throwing myself over the handlebars onto the “offending picnic tables” and then seek “culinary asylum!” I’d hope some kind and gentle soul would just look down at my bruised and banged-up body and say “Welcome, We Understand.”
Not many miles before the end, I was riding alone when I came upon Geri and Pete H. The Husband and Wife biking power couple. They were not only great riders (there were no bad riders on this tour), but as mentioned, they gave me chocolate one day and passed the time away too quickly at a few rest stops. I can still see the look on their faces the time they told me that “some people” were taking bets about how they “just knew” I was a salesman in “real life,” and I had to tell them I was actually a technician in a power plant. They were a little shocked. Wait till they read this and I tell them I’m actually an introvert!
I had ridden a few miles here and there with Geri and Pete and liked their pace. I looked forward to my last “few” miles rolling casually to the finish line; except they were having “NONE of it!” Geri and Pete were flying! I followed them up and down a few more hills; increasingly more surprised and every bit as impressed at their stamina and pace. It wasn’t because I didn’t think they had it in them; after all, they had just ridden 8 days down the coast. l just thought they might be out for a “casual spin”…..WRONG!
When we finally met at the bottom of a hill at a red light, I rolled up to them laughing joyously. “What’s so funny?” they asked. I said, “You guys are crushing this! You’re not letting up; even slamming the entire down hills at 30MPH….. IN traffic!” “Oh no,” Geri said; “We weren’t doing 30 coming down those hills!” Suddenly Pete with a “booming” smile said sheepishly, “Oh yeah we were!!!”
For a moment, let’s go straight to the very end…..for just a moment.
I rolled around the corner and “BANG,” I was finished. There were people yelling and ringing cowbells and hanging medals and ribbons. There were riders and families coming and going in all directions, and people packing up bikes and gear. The final finish was celebrated by one last amazing lunch party at the Gladstones Restaurant.
Apologizing to all my previous blog readers who may have read this on several occasions, but I have to throw out one of my all-time favorite quotes from the canceled TV show Joan Of Arcadia on how it felt to suddenly be “done”;
Joan; “Wow, that is mad anti-climatic.”
God who appears to her as an Electrician; “It’s Anticlimactic. Anti-climatic means you’re against the weather.
Well, this is the wrap of the wrap-up.
First and foremost, I would like to thank all my readers who endured my procrastination, absurdity, spelling and grammar mistakes, convoluted paragraphs, and literary confusion on this amazing and crazy cycling adventure as detailed in this Blog Site. Please consider subscribing on my Homepage for new bike adventures, and check out past bike adventures in the archives. https://coldbikefusion.net/enter-your-email-address-to-subscribe-and-follow-my-blog/
I would especially like to thank everyone who donated to the Arthritis Foundation. The Foundation does an incredible job to fund research, continues advocating for health and well-being programs, and ultimately works to find a cure for Arthritis.
It’s been almost a year since I completed this feat. A lot longer when the thought drifted into my head to enroll and begin training. For so many days now, as time drifts further away, the idea of completing this event is far beyond even surreal because the word surreal is still not magnificent enough.
Definition of surreal
There are days now when I’m out riding my bike and it’s hot, or I’m tired or distracted from the task at hand and I’m having immense difficulty climbing up a short incline. It may be that the scenery is boring, or uninspiring, or I just don’t want to ride anymore. Even with my fantastic imagination, some days I can barely imagine what it was like to complete 10 minutes or 1 mile out on the California Coast Classic Bike Tour. A “twitch in time”, or a trick of the mind; was that really me out there? Well, I have some pictures and videos, and this blog to remind me, so that will have to be enough.
As if surrealism wasn’t “cosmic” enough, my final words in this blog would “come to me” from the final mile out riding the Pacific Coast Highway.
As I was rolling my final distance, with the sun on my face and Randy Newman singing “I Love L.A” in my head, I noticed 4 cyclists riding North on the other side of the Highway. They were unique in the fact that unique here meant they all looked alike. They all had the same body frames and builds. Their bikes were all “high-end” similar, and they all had matching clothes and kits (British word for Rosemary); right down to their matching socks. Impressively and unsurprisingly, all four of them seemed to be locked into a smooth hill climbing cadence as if they were riding a “Bicycle Built For Four.”
I had seen “crews” like this out riding before. Sometimes I would hear or read about their exploits firsthand or in a cycling magazine, or even in older stories or videos from the CCC. Each time I would see or hear about these riders, I always felt “dis-associated” with them as a cyclist. They just seemed like the apex riders, someone other than me, who not long ago was riding a Schwinn Hybrid and the closest thing to doping was the traces of Mountain Dew and Chocolate in my bloodstream (they were probably not doping, but it still sounds funny against Mt. Dew). Yes, these were the guys (Men and Women) who got out and rode 50 miles hard, up hills, and at some fairly high speeds; not thinking about raspberry ice tea, and where we were going to stop after the ride for pizza and recap our “ordinary” adventure.
These are not “bad” people, and I have no disdain or mockery for them, but at this stage of my life (and probably younger), I have or had neither the conditioning nor desire to go pound out 50 miles with my head down, not sightseeing, thinking about how I can shave 2 ounces in weight from my bike (well, maybe a little fun-loving mockery about ounce-shaving). Yes, these guys I saw were in a whole elite club that probably earned the right to be associated with the strongest, fastest, most able, and impressive; non-professional cyclists riding up and down the coast of California. I just never imagined having the unique distinction of being one of their peers; as cool as that was.
I took a final look at them as they drifted out of my left side peripheral vision. I looked down and thought about my own bike. It was dirty, dusty, and filled with beach sand and salt air molecules. Its rider was physically tired, mentally fatigued, and more than ready to finish. There was a “larger than most,” black bag on the back, carrying excessively-hoarded Fig Newtons, a deluxe tire-changing tool, a first-aid kit, and “who knows” what else at this point. All this was covered by my trusty yellow bike jacket; always at the ready. I’m probably not going to be flashing the cover of some big corporate bike magazine any time soon.
Then it hit me.
“Hey, I’m out riding with ‘my crew’ as well. Some of us even have matching socks, except instead of a 40 miles ‘stroll,’ we just rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles; for 8 days, 525 Miles, and climbed 26,278 Feet of Elevation, including the ‘easy’ 55-mile ‘jet-out’ for today’s ride.”
As it turns out; I’m the guy riding the bike who’s in the elite cycling club, riding out on the California Coast.
Nice,…………….. maybe I’ll write a blog about it.
Let’s have a few pictures to “Finish Us Out.”