Being a child in the sixties and seventies I was part of the bike boom and was unaware of it. My bike was simply my transportation. And while I certainly rode a bike it was simply a tool not a passion nor a hobby or sport. A good friend Pete moved from San Diego to the Mojave desert straight out of High School. His brother Bob had moved there the year before and had rode his bike from the dessert near Ridgecrest CA to San Diego. Pete talked me into the same ride the following May 1982. The ride would take us from Highway 14 near the 395 to San Diego. Three days and I think 250 miles or there abouts to this day not really sure nobody had a odometer
The only bike I had at the time was a beach cruiser. The rim was a little worse for wear so I bought one two days before the trip. We were camping and I did not own a sleeping bag. I hung a bedroll( a crappy blanket that I did not mind getting dirty) on the handlebars and strapped a small back pack with it. I had levis for when it was cold a sweatshirt a ball cap a couple of t shirts and a pair of shorts.
When we left Robbers Roost the wind was howling and did not relent for the entire day. Pete's brother in law was an experienced cyclist and looked at me and said you will be the slowest so you go first and we will follow at your pace. Nice guy. I set out pedaling into the headwind. It was a little more than an hour when I looked behind and saw that the two us were well ahead of the rest of the group. I waited for my friend's and got in the line. I learned how to draft how to trade in a paceline. I also learned that the experienced cyclist was being a dick and that was not unusual.
As we made our way past Palmdale we began to climb. I discovered I really wanted gears. As I was plodding along I noticed that any time I stopped pedaling that I would slow down. Now anyone one that knows anything about cycling would say this is no revelation as you reduce power output speed suffers. It took a while and several tests and I discovered that my new wheel should have been tested because less than one day into the ride it was failing. I literally could not stop pedaling as doing so was like putting the coaster brake on, on downhill's I learned slow spinning and that moving my legs with no effort was actually good even if I had no choice in the matter.
That night we got to our destination Vasquez Rocks and we found out that the water was locked and unoperational. We were out of all water, That was okay as my friends sister was coming to the location with supplies. Dinner was on the way. She showed up with one bucket of KFC no sides two cases of beer and a bottle of crappy tequila. I learned the need for proper hydration the folly of relying on others and the need for good planning.
As we made our way to LA the bike was getting worse. As I got to the top of Sepulveda the bike would not pedal any more it simply spun. I ran with my bike down Wilshire Boulevard and literally not figuratively ran some red lights tiring to catch up with the group. We found a bike shop and the mechanic declared the rim DOA. I learned that new equipment should be tested before major rides.
At Santa Monica pier my ride was over or so I thought. One guy in out group had been hitchhiking the entire way with a borrowed bike of my friend Bob. We took his stuff off Bobs bike and put it on mine. I continued the ride on a five speed Schwinn with nicer tires. I was immediately faster. The seat was much smaller and much harder than mine and I thought it would be uncomfortable, I was very wrong. I learned that equipment counts and that a good friend on the road can save your day.
It was dark we were tired and had no lights we asked a guy near Seal Beach that was fishing in a jetty where we could sleep. He gave us directions to a place just off the road that nobody would bother us he promised. Tired and spent we made our way and fell asleep on uncomfortable lumpy ground. We woke in the morning to discover that this place that nobody would bother us was an industrial dump. I learned that folks could be cruel and that directions from a stranger are not always good.
As we made our way into Oceanside I was out of money. My Uncle had a restaurant on Hill St that we stopped at. I reaffirmed my belief in family as we were all treated to a good free meal and the honesty that only Family can dispense. Dang you guys smell bad my cousin exclaimed eat your food and get the out you guys stink your going to scare away customers.
As we got to Torrey Pines we celebrated with a bunch of beer and I discovered the satisfaction of completing an event. The following days after the pain left my body I learned I really did like it and the triumphs were greater than the defeats and I wanted to do it again.
I have used the lessons from that ride many times since and have also learned quite a few more over the years.