Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bicycle Diaries - Biking to Santa Barbara

A: Hey, do you want to go to Santa Barbara?
B: Sure, but gas price is so high.
A: I know. That’s why we’re not taking the car; we are going to Santa Barbara on our bikes!

Yes, that’s right. I did my back-to-back double centuries this weekend, from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara. About 120 riders participated in this annual ride organized by Shifting Gears, a cycling group with really nice and cool folks.

We left Helen’s in Santa Monica around 8am Saturday morning. Thank to the overcast weather, we didn’t get a lot of sunburn. However, the headwind against us was killing. We cycled along PCH, part of the 101 and some local streets, passing small towns, farms and plantations. Everyone was excited about the 2-day event.

We arrived in Santa Barbara around 5pm, checking in at the El Prado Inn. 4 of us shared a 2-bed room, including me, John, James and William. After a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant, we went to bed before 10. On Sunday morning, we ride out shortly before 8am; State Street was so quiet and peaceful. Guess what, in front of a café, I saw LA ex-mayor Jim Hahn! After a full 6 hours of riding (excluding stops for water, toilet and lunch) we arrived in Santa Monica around 4.30pm. We did it! I did it!

This event was very successful. All staffs worked so hard to make sure everyone has a great experience. I like the massage service the most! The massage team was at every pit stop and worked all day long to keep us “feel good.” They were our heroes! To my surprised, they were still there at the end of the ride; make me think about those musicians in the movie Titanic, who played till the very last minute. I don’t mean about the sad ending, instead, the dedication and passion they have in common.

Oh yea, this is the funny part. On the nigh that we spent in Santa Barbara, I had a dream – we finished the ride, everyone was so happy and friends came to cheer for us. While in the joy of celebration, I woke up and found myself in bed, still in Santa Barbara! (Damn, still have 95miles to go). I never had a dream like that.

I’m glad to finish this longest ride without any major incident. Of course riding with and knowing some nice people are another gains. I know I’m ready for the ALC 5 challenge! I also had the chance to test ride 2 Cannondale bikes, the six 13 and Synapse. I liked the six 13 better, but will be riding my R 700, which I named “Dragon” because he’s amazing and he’s flying!

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