Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hasta la Pasta

Registration, alphabetically. I felt bad for the folks whose names were in the list on the far right.

I rolled under the arch at 8:34 a.m. Skies were overcast, wind light.

Different people see different things here. A cyclist looks at the flags and thinks, "Light crosswind." All day long the wind stayed lighter than it might have, which was welcome.

Typical stretch of Highway 101, going north. I don't think we took the highway north last time I did this ride, though I distinctly remember the fun it was to ride it southbound on the way back, right next to the water.

People have this notion that all bikers have to do to stay safe is wear a helmet. They don't realize there are all kinds of hidden roadside hazards.

This was an organized ride, and very well supported, which is to say they had several well-stocked rest stops along the way, and "sag wagons" that patrolled the length of the course watching for cyclists who needed help. This is a typical rest stop, with volunteers (the ride was a benefit for the Kiwanis) serving cookies, lemonade, water, bananas, trail mix, peanut butter and crackers, and other quick energy food.

As you ride, along with following the instructions on the paper "route slip" you're carrying, you keep an eye on the pavement for arrows like this that tell you when to turn. The different colors are for different routes. I was on the yellow route, the 100-mile century route. Green was the metric century, 100 kilometers (about 65 miles). They turned around after this rest stop, which was a little over 30 miles from where we'd started. Orange was for the lunatics, the folks on the double metric century, 130+ miles, over hill and dale. They also had some much steeper climbs than anything I wished on myself.

MrJumbo, standing roughly on the roof of the route. I didn't carry a route profile to know when we hit our highest point, but it was somewhere around here. I met a couple of other guys who had stopped to rest and bask in their accomplishment, and they cheerfully offered to take my picture. Note the yellow "route slip" clipped to the front of my bike, which includes directions for which turns to take.

Nice valley shot. The key thing to observe here is how far down the valley floor is. Remember that just a little while ago I was riding at sea level.

This also will give you a sense of our elevation. The palms in the distance are on the coastline. (We had climbed about 800 feet by here--not too high compared to some rides, but it felt like work.)

Uh, sure--we climbed this hill next. Actually, we didn't even go up this road; we turned right before going into the ranch. This is just up the road from our lunch stop.

Every uphill has a downhill; this was on the way back to the coast. Many shots on the road are taken about 15 seconds after the image I wanted; here you can see the hang glider just ducking behind the hill on the left. But do note the yellow and orange spray paint on the shoulder, which was fresh and put there by the ride organizers. It warns riders to touch their brakes; the turn ahead is sharper than they can see from here. For the most part the route follows good bike roads; here and there the organizers had to mark a minor hazard.

My absolute favorite part of the ride is coming down this hill to join Highway 101 on one of the most beautiful stretches of coast California has to offer. The ride is 85% over, and it's hard to imagine a more exciting place to ride.

There are plenty of pictures not posted here, including several I didn't stop to take. These are just a few highlights. Along with lots of beauty along the way--from passing trains to nurseries stocked with colorful flowers to rich mountain pastures--I also particularly noticed the smells that touched my nose along the way. Wild fennel grew along the first several miles; I smelled bacon as we went past RVs parked roadside; wood smoke rose from beachfront houses. We rolled down lanes lined with sharp-smelling eucalyptus and aromatic redwood, and we passed backyard barbecues. Naturally there was the full salty smell of the sea breeze, and as we rode home past more RVs parked along the highway, I smelled shampoo from someone taking an afternoon shower inside. All that's hard to catch on a digital camera.

I came back under the arch at 5:15. Subtracting for breaks, I averaged 13.68 miles an hour--better than I had maybe hoped for, but no Olympic speed. Just fast enough to have fun, and faster on the hills.

The organizers of an event like this always emphasize that it's a ride, not a race. I passed some people on the road; some people passed me. Often we'd see each other at rest stops and play touch-and-go on the road.

I had a great time.

1 comment:

Papa Bradstein said...

A great chronicle of what looks like a beautiful ride. Congratulations from all of us. Little 3B checked out all the pics from his seat in the baby carrier on my chest.