Here I sit, three days after the most amazing ride of my life, struggling to find a way to put it all into words.
How do you take 8 days and all the surrounding experiences, sights, people I’ve met and friendships I’ve forged and translate that into a bunch of words that adequately convey the feelings and the emotions of the event?
Normally with this blog I try my best to be witty and irreverent but I’ve decided that instead of trying that for this series of posts, I’d just try to relate it as clearly as possible in the hopes that the experience of the event will come through.
(note - I'd like to thank everyone who has sent or I have borrowed photos from as I lost my camera on day 3 and need to rely on photos provided to me by others)
Day 1 started at 5:15 when Tracy, Tammy and Ben, Tammy’s dad, picked me up for the ride to the start at Pier 39. Deb was supposed to go along but evidently the flu had other plans for her. (I’ll spare you the details of her day since I’m sure it’s not that entertaining and probably not fit to discuss in public)
We made it to the City, parked and unloaded the bikes where we had breakfast at the Hard Rock Café.
Immediately I was struck by the enthusiasm and the energy of the event. Having never been on a multi-day ride, I was obviously a little nervous. Could I do it? Would I have issues with my bike? What if I couldn’t hack the pace, the distance or the climbing? Did I remember to pack everything? On and on these thoughts went as I worked my way through the small amount of breakfast I had taken. Did I eat enough? Did I eat too much? What if I cramp???? When is lunch?
Pretty soon as the riders finished breakfast you could actually feel the excitement and the anticipation growing as riders got their bikes ready, filled their water bottles, stuffed clif bars in their jersey pockets and generally started to mill around in anticipation of the start. Then, someone up on the balcony started talking and pretty soon we were being herded together for the requisite group photo.
After that, the ride officially began and people started moving out with the goal of Santa Cruz as the day’s destination. It seemed so far away and with 85 miles to go, my excitement was tempered by my anxiety.
As we rode through the Presidio and on through San Francisco, we were repeatedly treated to views of both the city and the coastline that you just don’t get when you’re in a car.
We had made it as far as Pacifica before I flatted. Not sure what I hit, but it flatted quickly and completely.
As I pulled over I noticed a motorcycle pull over just ahead. Thinking it was Motorcycle Larry, our support guy, I was completely surprised to find it was my buddy Jack who had gone to the Pier to see us off and finding us gone, had traced the route until he caught up with us. (Just in time to witness me make an amazingly fast and Tour de France worthy tire change)
From there we faced Devil’s Slide which is a notoriously narrow and long climb. It’s bad enough in a car, but on a bike, with no shoulder and cars whizzing by, it’s downright not fun. After that we rolled into Half Moon Bay where Tammy greeted us with a totally unexpected treat. Sausage McMuffins and Strawberry parfaits…..that beats the heck out of a clif bar any day!
After the break in Half Moon Bay we started pedaling again. Even with a nice tail wind, I found that getting started after a break was usually met with legs that felt like lead and left me wondering how I was ever going to make it through the rest of the day.
The remainder of the day along the coast was gorgeous. The sun was out and we had an amazing tailwind.
We rolled into Santa Cruz feeling good, found camp, set up our stuff and began the hunt for the most important supply of the trip...beer! It just so happens that our neighbor Jay, who we would ride with the remainder of the week, was also in search of this important staple.
Luckily for us there was a Costco right up the road and in an effort to hone our entrepreneurial skills, we purchased 3 cases, brought it back to camp and proceeded to sell it to our fellow riders at a small profit.
In addition to making us extremely popular with our fellow riders and introducing us to John who would also become one of the regulars in our group, this would actually fund our future beer needs for the trip.
- Day 1 Totals - 84.0 miles 4400ft of climbing