Monday, April 17, 2006

Bicycle Diaries - Super Fun Weekend

According to the weather forecast, Saturday should be a nice day, well, at least the sky should clear out. However, we ran into some shower, making us well, like someone said “we were riding in our wet diaper.”

On Saturday morning, I left home about 5.15am, driving down to Irvine, to join the OC Team for a ride from Irvine to Solana Beach and took a train back to Irvine. There were no leaders for the ride, everyone get there at different times, just sign up and get a route map and took off. There were five versions of the ride, ranging from 62 miles to 100 miles. I wasn’t planning to do the century ride because I was told the last 20 miles was all about steep climbing.

Although I’ve been in LA for almost 6 years, I seldom go down to OC or San Diego, so this ride was totally new to me. Our group left the Irvine train station about ten after seven. Along the route, we went through several cities and towns with some rolling hills.

The most challenging part was cycling along the 5 freeway! Can you believe it? Although it was only a few miles and the road shoulder is about 7-8 feet wide, still it’s kind of scary as the cars and trucks traveled on an average of 80mph. At one point (7 miles from Oceanside) we had to stop to help a fellow cyclist to fix her flat tire. We tried and tried, it didn’t work. The first tube we put in was not the right size, and the second one just blow out when we were too excited that we could finally put it back on the bike. We end up calling the sweep team to have her and her bike transported to Solana Beach.

Four of us riding at the same pace first shooting for the 83 miles ride, but had to settle with 73 miles because of the rain delay and stop for helping fix the flat tire. We got to Solana Beach train station 15 minute before three, just the perfect time to enjoy pizza and relax a little bite before catching the 3.33pm train back to Irvine.

This was my first ride on Amtrak. All of us (about 50) boarded with smelling cycling jersey, wet shoes (and socks) and wet shorts, I am sure Amtrak loved us (ha ha). It was such an experience walking around with our cycling shoes, just like walking around in high heels. Funny but not comfortable.

It was such a long day. After fixing myself a good dinner, and finished up some work in front of the computer, I went to bed early, at 11pm (well, it was early for me, the night owl). I was really tired.

After a ten-hour sleep, the longest in recent history, I felt much better and ready for more training rides. I woke up ten minutes before the alarm went off on Sunday morning. It was 8.50am, cloudy outside.

I went back to the Culver City-Palos Verdes ride not only because the training ride leaders (TRLs) are great, but also they start at noon. We had lost of fun this time, more than the last time I rode with them. First of all, it was Easter day and Chris’ (one of our TRLs for the day).

When I got to the meeting point (Synergy Café) at 11.30am, no one was there except me. I thought they canceled the ride because of Easter. Then other rides started to show up few minutes before noon (our scheduled ride out time). However our TRLs were not there, it was unusual situation.

Finally, the first TRL Alan showed up, however he forgot to bring his front wheel (yea, how often does that happen?). He had to go home to get the wheel and meet us some point along the ride. Then the birthday girl Chris came without her helmet. She decided to get a new one at nearby bike shops, but all three of them were closed for Easter. A staff at the Synergy Café told us there’s a Target just few blocks away, so we all rode to Target hoping Chris will get her new helmet. Sorry, there were closed too. (What a day huh?)

Five of us end up riding the first few miles without a TRL, but that’s ok. The weather turned out to be great and we just enjoyed every moment of it. Chris is such a sweetheart, it was her birthday and she brought along a cake that she baked. She also shared some Easter-egg candies with us. Of course, a birthday was not completed without happy birthday song. We had this special birthday celebration at the Starbucks near 25th and Western.

By the time we finished, it was five. We had to take off and make sure we get back to Culver City before the sunset. When we were ready to roll, Alan figured out his back tire was flat. So we stop and lending him our hands. Although there were so many incidents in between, we still make it back safely before sunset.

Anyway, my “special-unusual-day” was not totally completed. On my way driving back home, after exiting the freeway, there was a car on Soto St. near the freeway entrance caught into fire. We all had to detour. It was really ‘dramatic’ having all these things happened in one day.

This coming Saturday is our “Day on the Ride” event, sort of a “preview” of what is going to be look like during the actual event. We will be riding from Santa Monica to the Palos Verdes area, so if you live around the west side, please come to cheer for us, and of course, please be careful when you are driving, we’re expecting hundreds of riders for this event.

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