Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RTW addendum - Day 25 - Oceanside to Encinitas, CA

46.2 miles, 1083 feet of climb (final totals 1502.77 miles, 78508 feet of climb)

On Monday night, after the official ride had ended, many of the cyclists stayed in Newport Beach, since they were not departing until Tuesday.  It was a final chance to say goodbye to Russ, Howard and Shirley, Don, Leo, the ABB staff of Mike, Barb, Karen and Jim, and several others. Gary, Mark Koltz, Jeff, Susan and Mark Weisbarth, and I had one final dinner together before the night ended. I'll miss all of them. They were great fun to hang out with.

Final dinner at Mimi's Cafe with Susan and Mark Weisbarth, Mark Koltz, Gary and Jeff

On Tuesday morning, I went to the airport to pick up a rental car, then went back to the hotel to pick up my bicycle and luggage, with a final goodbye to Jeff and Mark Koltz. Hopefully, we will soon see each other again for another cycling adventure. They were great roommates on this tour. Then, it was a 50 mile drive south to my friend Scott and Stephanie's house in Oceanside. Scott was a great running and cycling friend of mine for many years, until he moved to California in 2008. (Hard to believe they left Roswell, GA four years ago.)

Oceanside Beach

Tuesday afternoon we had lunch at In and Out Burger, drove to Oceanside Beach, and then I played "fetch" with Chase and Rex in Scott's backyard.

Good dog Chase on the left. Bad dog Rex on the right.

Today, Scott and I cycled down the bike path to the beach, and then went south along the coast to Encinitas where we had lunch before returning home.  There was also an ice cream stop along the way back. (The final ice cream count is only ten, in 25 days. Not too excessive and I seem to have an extra inch of waist room in my jeans today.) It was great to ride with Scott again.

With Scott on the San Luis Rey River Trail to Oceanside Beach

Joe and Scott

Along the Coast Highway near Carlsbad

Lunch at Swami's

The bike shop here would not box up any carbon fiber bikes. But they did give me a bike box for free. That meant I had to figure out how to box up my bike on my own. Scary. So I immediately went to Home Depot and bought about $25 worth of bubble wrap and foam packages, in an effort to mitigate my complete lack of any ability to box up the bike. Then, since we did not have a pedal wrench, Scott came up with the brilliant idea of bringing the bike to another bike shop, first asking them to take the pedals off, attempt to box the bike ourselves outside the store, and then ask the mechanic to review my complete incompetence and ask for help.  It worked!  The mechanic came outside and helped me make some final improvements, and we taped the box up for FedEx to pick up tomorrow at Scott's house.  I am hoping the bike arrives unbroken, since a new bike is not going to be in the cards for me. We'll see what happens when it arrives at home.

I'll attempt one more entry to sum up Ride the West in a few days, after I've had a chance to get home and unwind. Until then, FedEx please be gentle.

Today's ride:

Monday, September 24, 2012

RTW - Day 23 - Marina del Rey to Newport Beach, CA

52 miles, 1300 feet of climb (cumulative 1456.6 miles, 77425 feet of climb)


Last night, we had our farewell banquet and everyone got to thank the ABB staff and say goodbye to the staff and other riders. Tracey received the progress map and treated us to "America The Beautiful" on guitar. Then, it was to bed before our last day of riding.

Leaving Marina del Rey

Today was somewhat anticlimactic. Though we did go through a nice area in Palos Verdes, we also had to contend with many stop signs and traffic lights and also went through an industrial area.  Better to have ended the ride in Marina del Rey because the day was nothing special. I have a lingering cough and had no energy whatsoever. So I was happy to see the hotel at the end.

The bike path along the ocean

The ride is over and everyone is packing their bikes to ship home. I'll be renting a car and spending a few days with my friends Scott and Stephanie in the Oceanside area, before flying home on Thursday. Haven't figured out how I am going to get my bike home yet.

After a few days to decompress, I'll try to summarize the ride in one final post.

Today's ride:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

RTW - Day 22 - Oxnard to Marina del Rey, CA

54 miles, 1500 feet of climb (cumulative 1405 miles, 76100 feet of climb)

A warm day requiring only normal summer riding clothes. Today I went to mass and started a half hour behind everyone. So I rode alone for virtually the entire day. Our route was on rural roads out of Oxnard and then the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Marina del Rey.

Along the Pacific Coast Highway
Views along the PCH were fantastic, as the pictures show. At mile 20, we cycled through Malibu and then hit the bike path along the beach through Santa Monica, past the pier, through Venice Beach, and into Marina del Rey.


PCH in Malibu
I finally caught up to Jeff, Mark, and Gary where they were stopped for lunch in Santa Monica. From there, it was about 5 miles to the hotel, located about a mile away from the beach. Tonight, we have our farewell banquet and then tomorrow we have one final ride to Costs Mesa/Newport Beach to cap off the tour.

Lunch along the bike path in Santa Monica

Char and the Santa Monica pier

Gary at Venice Beach

Our hotel

Today's ride:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

RTW - Day 21 - Solvang to Oxnard, CA

82 miles, 3800 feet of climb (cumulative 1351 miles, 74500 feet of climb)

Another great day on Ride The West and it was finally a warm morning. After the first few miles out of Solvang, I rode with just my regular cycling jersey and shorts. This was the last of the longer mileage days of the tour. Tomorrow and Monday, our final two days, the mileage is only in the 50's.

Our route out of Solvang was on Highway 154, a rather busy road. I rode with Jeff today and after missing any tarantula sightings yesterday, we saw one today as it crossed the busy highway.


Early morning, on busy highway 154

At mile 17, we turned onto an old stagecoach road used in the late 1800's to get through a mountain range at San Marco Pass. It meandered up the mountain from the valley, through the pass, and part way down the other side of the mountain. There was an old tavern on the route where stagecoaches would stop for lunch. We had our first SAG stop in that area.

On the old stagecoach road

The bridge for the main highway. The stagecoach road meandered up from the valley.

Tavern on the old stagecoach road

Next was a quick descent down the other side of the mountain. Eventually, we reached the Pacific Ocean, which we followed to Ventura and then on to Oxnard. We did stop at the Santa Barbara polo club and watched a polo match for a little while. Jeff and I also had In and Out Double Doubles at Ventura before the final ten miles into Oxnard. The ice cream count is now up to seven for the tour.

Polo at the Santa Barbara Polo Club

Bike path along the Pacific, near Ventura

Today's ride:

Friday, September 21, 2012

RTW - Day 20 - Santa Maria to Solvang, CA

43 miles, 2200 feet of climb (cumulative 1270 miles, 70700 feet of climb)

A short mileage day featuring one long gradual climb and many wineries along the way. The weather was again warm and any extra clothing was quickly shed as we left Santa Maria.


Our ride began on rural agricultural roads out of Santa Maria and we went by some strawberry and pepper fields, among the many different crops we saw. At mile 4 we turned on Foxen Canyon Road for a gradual 20 mile climb that took us from 350 to 1600 feet. Mile 21 had the day's only SAG stop at Tres Hermanos winery.

During the day's climb

SAG stop at Tres Hermanos Winery

From mile 25, the roads were mostly downhill to Solvang, passing many wineries. Jeff, Mark Koltz, and I stopped at Fess Parker, Curtis, and Firestone wineries. Since we were cycling, we had to limit our tasting to one wine per winery and Fess Parker and Curtis were happy to accommodate us at no charge.  Firestone refused to serve us unless we paid the full $10 tasting fee for seven wines. Given the circumstances, we declined and I will not be ordering more of their wine.

Fess Parker

Curtis Winery

Nancy, at Curtis Winery

Harvest was in progress at Firestone Winery

We concluded the day on Ballard Canyon Road and Chalk Hill Road into Solvang, both roads being used for the time trial during the Tour of California bicycle race. It was an easy day before another long one tomorrow into Oxnard. Only three days of riding remain on RTW.

Today's ride:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

RTW - Day 19 - Paso Robles to Santa Maria, CA

85 miles, 3400 feet of climb (cumulative 1227 miles, 68600 feet of climb)

Today was the warmest day we have had so far. No windbreaker this morning. Only a vest and arm warmers at the start, which were quickly shed after the first climb of the day. We took small rural roads out of Paso Robles and eventually got on Highway 41W for 13 miles into Morro Bay. The road featured an 800 foot climb that topped out at 1500 feet, followed by a seven mile descent into town and the day's first SAG.

Thank you Mark and Susan for this delicious strawberry croissant

The bay at the town of Morro Bay features a huge rock, nicknamed "The Gibraltar of the Pacific", reaching 576 feet in elevation. This apparently is one of nine extinct volcano peaks running for a stretch of 12 miles between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Our SAG stop was right at the base of the rock.

Morro Bay Rock

After the first SAG stop at mile 31, we headed inland again. There was a magnificent stretch we cycled on Turri Road that went through a couple of treeless golden valleys with fantastic views. After the second SAG stop at mile 58, the land became agricultural again. More strawberry fields, broccoli, and other crops I could not identify as we cycled towards Santa Maria.

On Turri Road

Leticia and Susan on Turri Road

Susan and Leticia on Turri Road

I rode by myself to the first SAG stop, and then rode with Mark and Susan Weisbarth, and Leticia Alejandrez for the rest of the day. I think I saw a coyote.  You decide (below).  The 85 miles flew by and just as we were looking to get to the hotel, we had a nice final 7 mile flat stretch with a tailwind. Susan had a major blowout a mile and a half before the hotel. As the flat was just being fixed, Jeff finally caught up to us and he was able to draft behind us to the finish. Another great day on Ride The West.

I saw this guy running across the road near Pismo Beach

The alternate route with a 15% climb at mile 63

Today's ride:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

RTW - Day 18 - King City to Paso Robles, CA

62 miles, 4400 feet of climb (cumulative 1142 miles, 65200 feet of climb)

We again had a cold, foggy start with temperatures in the high 40's. Similar to yesterday, this changed to clear and sunny skies with warm temperatures as soon as we topped the first climb at about mile 12.

Mark: The Masked Man of Death

Today, Mark Koltz didn't feel well from a cold, and he rode in the van. Mark claims I gave him the cold, just because I've been rooming with him and had a similar, milder cold last week. If I did, sorry about that, Mark. Hope you feel better tomorrow.

Susan's bag was just a little bit over the 35 pound limit this morning.

Our route today was primarily on County Route G14 and we were out in the country all day. There were a couple of significant climbs at mile 10 and 41 that reached 10% grade, as well as a bunch of other smaller climbs that were in the 8% to 10% range. The second big climb, just past the Bee Rock Store, went on for a couple of miles and we had great views from the top. I had decent legs today and enjoyed the climbs.

Mark Weisbarth, up the road, after the first SAG stop

 I rode with Jeff and Mark Weisbarth to the first SAG stop at mile 23 and then I rode with Mark the rest of the day. Howard Uehle also joined us for awhile.

Howard and Mark on a climb, around mile 30

The Bee Rock Store, our second SAG stop

All of the smaller ups and downs from mile 47 to mile 60 were real leg killers. Eventually, the road tilted down and we got to the hotel earlier than usual. Tonight is the ABB T shirt swap and then we have another full day tomorrow into Santa Maria.

Karen and Mark on the climb after the Bee Rock Store

Mark took this photo
Today's ride:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

RTW - Day 17 - Carmel Valley, to King City, CA

57 miles, 3500 feet of climb (cumulative 1080 miles, 60800 feet of climb)

Today was another cold start at 48 degrees, overcast, and windy. Our route was mostly on Monterey County Route G16 to Greenfield, followed by side roads to King City.

Start of the day

The initial 20 miles of the ride had over 2000 feet of climb. The climb started gradually and then kicked up to 10% around mile 12. Eventually, the sun came out just before the day's only SAG stop at mile 19.

Mike was following us in the van up the first climb

Eventually, we topped out at about 2500 feet and started a winding descent of about ten miles through another valley.

On the initial ascent

On the descent towards Greenfield

Jeff and Mark

Approaching the town of Greenfield, the land became agricultural. We saw vineyards and fields of red onion and broccoli. I rode with Mark Weisbarth, Jeff Douglas, and Gary Weinstein most of the day.  Mark had a flat tire, his second, about a mile and a half from the hotel.

Mountains on one side, farmland on the other

Though we were not near the coast today, the scenery was very nice and it was a pleasant day for cycling.