With the three days of The Coast Ride now in the rearview, let’s summarize it in a really abstract, backwards-to-forwards with a little arbitrarily jumping around, Quentin Tarantino type of way. To begin, here are the 13 hearty souls who survived our front group to the finish line on the final day.
“Finish line” is a vague term in this regard, because the Coast Ride is certainly not a race. Therefore the line could be the threshold of your motel room, jumping in the shower to clean off a day’s worth of road grime, or curled up into bed like a cocoon getting ready for the next day.
I don’t know how to describe this ride, other than to say it’s 300-some-odd people (and growing) setting out on a bike ride from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. Any and all abilities are welcome, but over the three days one must be wary that we’re riding rolling hills and considerable climbing accomplished over the 120 miles in each day’s to-do list.
Weather dependent, fast groups finish in about six hours while some people soldier through for upwards of 12 hours. And hats off to every one of them.
Did I mention weather? Yes, I did. And we had it. Look at this happy crew, for example, who is not just drenched and chilly, but coated with a noteworthy amount of sand gritting in every orifice of one’s body, bearing of one’s bike, and square inch of one’s chamois imaginable.
Most of this crew seen above is from inGamba Tours with my dear friend and creator of inGamba, Joao Correia to my right, lifting his thumb skyward in joyous celebration. He’s saying, Stop taking selfies Ted, we made it.
Day two started much like day three, which looks something like the picture below. The aforementioned ambiguous finish line is the next day’s ambiguous start line. There is no fanfare, there is no pre-race sign in, there is no institutionalized buffet breakfast provided by the folks at Cisco. Instead, it’s toying with the hot water from your motel’s bathroom coffee maker and an Aeropress, plus a yogurt and granola purchased the evening before. It’s freestyling and shooting from the hip and piecing it together on the fly.
With the very large asterisk to this adventure in the form of a tall German fellow named Ralf. Ralf lives in the Bay Area and I’m lucky enough to have had him wrench on my bike from time to time. He’s the former Jelly Belly mechanic and often does the wrenching for inGamba Tours on their domestic adventures.
And precisely when the clock strikes 7:00am … or 7:15, or 7:12, or 8:02, or 6:59, or really whenever you want to roll out, the start occurs. Pockets filled, fingers crossed that it stops raining, lights flashing since it’s literally pre-dawn, the start looks a bit like this.
The size of one’s group — which I still refer to as a peloton — ebbs and flows depending on who wants to join the paceline, who’s getting dropped, who’s getting swallowed up, so that it ranges anywhere from about 50 to 1. Here, for example, we’ve just engulfed a large group, whereupon we met young Daniel. This 17 year old ripper asked for a selfie, which I’m sure he thought he was going to take, but quick-draw-mcgraw that I am, I beat him to the punch. My goofy grin and scrubby hair can only be on account of being as wet at a jellyfish for the previous 36 hours, coming on the immediate tail end of driving coast to coast. HI DANIEL!
Pretty much everything was beautiful. Like, stunningly beautiful. Gorgeous vistas, enormous cliffs dropping down from Highway 1 to the craggy Pacific Ocean, blankets of fog, buckets rain, rolling lush green hills, it was all beautiful. Geeze, even when we had ridden through the breadbasket of America and we’re soaked in road poo with driving rain and a heinous headwind and our angst is starting to ping up into the red, a flippin’ rainbow would come out and we couldn’t help but put on some semblance of a smile.
The riding was fantastic, but it’s the camaraderie that makes this trip a blast. Of the 300-some-odd starters, I knew probably a dozen. And by the end, I’d exchanged hellos, high fives, hugs, handshakes (weird how they all start with an h-) with dozens.
All that’s left to say is thanks to everyone involved. Thanks to Jim and Ralf and Raul and Eros and the entire inGamba crew. Thanks to my homies and friends and acquaintances all along the road. Thanks to Daniel for stoking my ego and Andrew for being a great roommate, and everyone for making this ride awesome. See you on the Coast Ride in 2017!