Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 8 - Ventura to Santa Monica 59.8 miles 1713ft of climbing

I woke today with very mixed’s the last day of this amazing adventure and while my butt is sore and I’m really excited about seeing Deb and the girls again, I don’t want this to end. For the past 7 days, my only concern has been to ride my bike. I’ve completely checked out of the world and really have no desire to re-establish my bond with reality...

So, like a kid getting ready for school when he doesn’t really want to go, I shuffled to the coffee pot, I took longer to eat my breakfast, I dilly-dallied getting ready and packing up my gear and I finally mounted the bike excited about the ride, but bummed that this was to be the last day.

The day started off with a nice flat run along Hwy 1 through Ventura, Pt Hueneme, Pt Mugu and out to the Pacific Coast Hwy. We had a couple of issues right off the bat. Tracy flatted and required the assistance of a nurse….Not sure how Jay ended up needing a shot, although he mumbled something about the crowd he had begun running with since the week started…..should we be insulted?

The other issue was mainly mine, although I later heard Matt would have helped me lead a rebellion had I started one, but when we stopped to fix the flat, someone mentioned we’d be hitting a Starbucks for real coffee...unfortunately, every opportunity I called out was met with absolutely no response from the group. And, since we were riding as a group in a pretty good line, I didn’t want to mess everyone else up just to fuel my addiction. (again, had I known Matt was on my side, I may have attempted a coup d’etat )

Eventually though, we came to the first rest area which was at Point Mugu. We were met by a fireman standing at the top of the ladder truck ringing a bell and pulled in to grab some snacks and check out the really cool selection of missiles and rockets on display. Unfortunately they didn’t have any that were portable enough to mount on a bicycle so we would be forced to deal with the LA traffic unarmed. (evidently you can’t just show up and buy a rocket either….go figure)

Once on the Pacific Coast Hwy, we picked up a few more riders and the pace increased accordingly. (note to self, do not slow down to look at the dolphins or you’ll NEVER catch up again) Eventually we came to the next rest area where we regrouped and then immediately stopped at the next Starbucks (FINALLY)

From here the road roller coasted up and down and since this was John’s training ground, he set a good pace that kept me hanging on. (and falling off occasionally) Just when I was pretty sure it was going to kill me John would pick it up again. Towards the end, we were riding down the highway, alongside parked cars and through residential areas at a pace that I thought was craziness. I sat on the wheel in front of me, pedaling like crazy, watching for opening doors, people walking, traffic merging, etc, etc and realized I was having the time of my life...(there are no pictures of this section since everyone was totally focused on the pace and staying alive)

Too soon we had to stop and dismount to walk down some stairs, through a tunnel and up the other side across the highway. And, in keeping with the nice little surprise endings we’d experienced on previous days, faced yet another hill top finish.

The organizers had us gathering at a park overlooking Santa Monica Beach so that we could ride through town en masse – and what an experience it was. 200+ riders taking both lanes riding through quiet residential areas and headed for the final meeting place.

Motorcycle Larry was amazing riding ahead, stopping traffic at intersections and keeping us all safe and grouped up like some sort of motorized cattle dog.
As we rolled down the street to the ending point, I immediately saw my grandson sitting on my son in laws shoulders (he’s 6’6” so add in a 3 year old he’s literally head and shoulders above the crowd) right after that I saw my wife and my daughters waving and yelling and holding up signs of encouragement.

After chatting with everyone, introducing my new riding friends to my entourage and finally saying my goodbyes, the family and I headed for the hotel, a LONG hot shower and some dinner.
The next day we wandered around the downtown shopping area in Santa Monica before making our way home and finalizing my re-entry into society……WHAT A RIDE!!!!

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