When the going gets tough the tough get going.
When The Coast Ride miraculously wiggles its way into the only three days that northern California doesn’t see devastating rain, and therefore the traditional stage two is a literal washout caused by a few hundred tons of boulders plus an entire hillside scattered across Highway One spanning from Monterey to Morro Bay, team inGamba gets going!
You know those stages of the Giro or Milan San Remo where the biggest news plastered across ___news.com is the weather, rather than the actual race itself? That’s precisely the name of the game on today’s stage two.
Roommate Nate and I woke to a room where we could literally see our breath. Sure sure, I could have easily turned the heat on sometime in the night with the thermostat just an arm’s length away, but for whatever reason it seemed cozier to double-up, curl-up deep under the covers and save a few cents in the hotel’s heating bill. You’re welcome Day’s Inn. Fast forward past my alarm clock, beyond coffee making time, and it was still painfully frigid when I checked the weather forecast one last time as I was stepping out the door, although excited to see a high of 60 and wall-to-wall sunshine forecasted for the day. Ahh, summer! We had already taken the valiant win on stage one, so we’re already happy campers basking in the rest of the race.
It’s important to remember that Team inGamba is taking part in an even larger event, TheCoastRide.org, comprised of about 400 riders eagerly riding three days, 375 miles, from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. It was therefore with a little bit (read: a lot) of anxiety that riders received news from the event commissaire in the official race communique that stage two would undergo a slight touch of a detour. Rather than the traditional 125 miles with approximately two turns — the rest of the time pedaling Highway One, hugging the Pacific, and taking in Big Sur in all her majestic glory — instead we would pedal inland, parallel the 101, and extend the ride to an impressively nearly MSR-like 160 miles.
Shivers ran up the spines of many. Shivers ran up my spine, because I was still freezing cold when we rolled out at 8am.
There’s no telling what happened to the other 385 riders when they received news of the detour. Surely some simply went back home, mirroring what they’d done the day prior by bike. Others likely called an audible and then called their local car rental service to head home. While others intrepidly set out as early at 6am to cover the 160 arduous miles.
Team inGamba was not dissuaded with this news, and we set out per usual. The first sign of trouble was when the temperature dropped below 30°. We rode up a long, fast flat uphill valley, past Laguna Seca, and on roads cloaked in shade and deep in an arctic freeze. The sun then fell behind pea soup fog, which was akin to riding through a carwash set on refreshing polar mist — try as we might, trouble was following us. It wasn’t until nearly four hours in when the sun bravely fought through the evil fog and won the day.
We rode through the rolling hills that constitute America’s breadbasket, flat although austerely stunning. That segued to the Paso Robles wine country, with hills that looked to be draped in an emerald velvet, and an ever increasing pace. We brutishly cut our way through the wind, passing wayward cyclists who’d left earlier in the day, and leading our captains towards downtown Paso and the smell of victory. With just two hundred meters to go, we crossed the downtown bridge, stopped for consecutive red lights, waved to friendly traffic, gave directions to others cyclists, and still delivered a monumental sprint for the win.
See? Told you it was a day where the only race news was the weather.