San francisco to los angeles - 7 days - serialized
I recently (May 31-June 6) completed my 5th AIDS/LifeCycle ride from SF to LA to raise money for AIDS services, education and awareness. I have enjoyed others' ride reports "from the road" and thought I would try one. Because I couldn't actually do it "from the road", I will do it two days at a time over the next four days. Hope you all find it interesting.
First, the stats. 2150 riders were prepared to ride 560 miles in 7 days. We each had to get at least $3000 in donations. Get this: $10.5 Million were raised.
My wife, a friend and I left for the Cow Palace from Lincoln CA (above Sacramento) on Saturday May 30th for "Day 0", orientation, tent assignments, etc. We arrived at the pre-arranged noon and met four other riders. All of us are retired California Chief Probation Officers. Here we are, that's me in the middle:
After getting all our business done, we repaired to the local Marriott and eventually met in the lobby for carbo loading: pizza, beer and wine. Hmmmm good. We got a bit rowdy, but no one seemed to mind.
Up in time for all of us to get to the Cow Palace by 5:30. After a brief opening ceremony, we all went to our bikes to get started. At the ceremony, I ran into Pete/Taxi777, who, if reading this, is welcome to comment and correct.
Because I ride quite a bit, I wasn't concerned about being able to ride every mile of this event, but my leg had been bothering me and I didn't feel in as good shape as last year. This is a ride, not a race, and one can ride at one's own pace, which makes it all very casual.
The doors of the Exhibit Hall open at 6:30am and 2150 riders start out on what for many, is and will be an epic adventure. The seven of us (one of the Chiefs has a female tentmate, and my female friend is with us, too) try to stay together as we walk our bikes for a few feet. I swing my leg over the saddle, click in and my chain falls off. Of course, my daughter, grandson and in-laws are right there to see it and get pictures. As last year, I have lost my posse before leaving the parking lot.
I caught up with the two ladies after a mile or so and the others before the first rest stop. It was a very foggy morning, and the roads were wet. There were many flat tires. We estimated 20 (that we saw) before lunch.
Because we all started at essentially the same time, it is a bit crowded and the pace is slow. Some riders try to pass long lines of cyclists by going out into the vehicle lane, a practice frowned upon and one that would later earn us all a reprimand.
The only real hill of the day comes at about mile 23. Highway 92 to Half Moon Bay. I'm actually feeling pretty good, but it doesn't make any difference because there is so much traffic and so many bicycles and minimal shoulder, there is little chance to pass. I just settle in and grind up the hill.
The 5 of us regroup at the top of the hill and start a long, smooth descent, followed by some rollers on the coast. Lunch is at San Gregario State Beach, with a nice over-look of the water. After lunch there is a bit of a hill, but after that, it's pretty much small bumps and tailwinds all the way to Santa Cruz. Bike traffic has thinned and riding is a kick.
Because of the slow-going before lunch, my average speed was only 13.7 at the end of the day, but this next 30 miles is an easy 18-20 mph, without drafting (which we not supposed to do). Not far out of Santa Cruz, we see the Pie Lady. She is there every year with pie for every rider. Amazingly, all 5 of us pull up for pie within 2 minutes of each other. I always have the apple. Hmmm good.
We pull into Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz, all together. It is the first year, for two of our group. Congrats are given all around. We park our bikes, grab our duffel bags and tents from the gear trucks, put up the tents, take a hot shower and soon make our way to dinner, twice. 82 miles down. I felt fresh and my legs were fine, so far.
We later (on Day 4) learn that there was a very serious accident at mile 13 today. As of this writing, the rider has not yet regained conciousness. Bike riding can be dangerous. But a more uplifting story. The duffel bag of my female friend split open in transit. Some friends of another rider (she didn't know the rider or friends) went to a nearby Costco to get her another one. None could be found. They went to another store, bought a duffel and would not let my friend pay them for it! She cried.
More to come . . . .