San Francisco to LA. A total distance of 792 kilometers with 8,685 meters of climbing, over five days, in January. Sounds like fun, right? The Coast Ride is a familiar fixture on the cycling calendar if you’re from California, but we like to do things a little differently. For starters, we have a full European crew of mechanics, soigneurs and guides with some tricked-out support cars and a team bus. Of course, we also bring a fleet of wicked-fast Pinarellos. Then we add a sprinkling of ex-pro riders for support, and finish it off by inviting a Michelin-starred chef along for the ride. We can’t promise good weather, but plenty of smiles and breathtaking views are guaranteed. And for 2020, we can also assure you that a couple of very special guests will be joining us: Laurens ten Dam, veteran of the World Tour and top-10 finisher at both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España will be riding alongside our old friend Ted King, former pro turned gravel guru. You can read more about the 2020 trip here, but trust us, it’s going to be a blast. Don’t take our word for it though. Here are some first-hand opinions from riders, right after the finish-line.
“This was a dream ride. It was super hard, and I can’t believe I made it. I rode almost 800 kilometers in five days, with a lot of help from the guides. The support was just amazing. One of the highlights was motor pacing when we were chasing the front group with Manuel! That was a new experience. The inGamba staff is just a dream team. The more I suffer, the more I like it, that’s just my kind of perfect vacation. But my friends at home think I’m crazy! I’ll definitely be back, and I’ll bring some people with me.”
“The whole ride went really well. There were ups and downs, but my fitness bluff was never called completely. I cracked a little on the second-last day, but I recovered and made it to the end in one piece. My soft bits are a little tender though, so my advice is: “Use that chamois cream, kids!” It’s important stuff on a ride like this. This was my first time on the Coast Ride and my expectations were blown away. I knew the area a bit, but there’s nothing like riding roads like these with a big group of fast riders. I got to do almost 800 kilometers with some old friends, and that’s special. My highlight was day two, riding in the pouring rain with Eamon and Ted King.”
“I’m from Yorkshire in England, and this was my first time in California. It was also my first time on an inGamba trip. It was awesome. The riding was hard, the scenery was spectacular, and the people were fantastic. The pace of the group was phenomenal, and it was a lot of fun sucking those wheels. I couldn’t pick a single favorite moment from the trip, but I could tell you my least favorite – there was a climb on the second-last day that hit about 17.5 percent gradient, after 100 miles of riding. That was hard work. California has been great, it lived up to all of my expectations. For years, I’ve had this image of what it would be like to ride along the coast here, with all those great ocean views, and it was just like I’d pictured it. It was incredible. And everyone from inGamba took really good care of me. The whole thing was great, what I’d call “Type two fun,” the kind you enjoy more after the event!”
“I’ve ridden in California before, in San Diego and LA, but this was my first time with inGamba. The Coast Ride was great, it’s a good time of the year to do it, great winter training, getting some base miles in. I’m from Canada, so I haven’t been riding outside for a few months and this was a nice break from the turbo trainer and Zwift. Getting out of the rain was probably my favorite part! In general, I think it’s good to get these kind of long rides in, eight hours on the bike, it’s good for the soul. I can’t think of any negatives, the whole thing was good, the food and wine were excellent, and the bike has been great. I loved the food. We had a picnic one night and the food was so good, that was a highlight. I’d recommend it to all of my friends. I’ve actually already sent out a few emails suggesting a trip in Portugal or the Dolomites.”
“The riding was amazing. There was one wet day when it got a little slippy, but other than that it was great. I hate being cold, terrified of it, but I put on about seven layers and it was OK. Being able to ride in a fast group with a lot of fit and experienced people was the highlight of the trip for me. A lot of the time, group rides don’t have this caliber of rider, and it was great to be out riding with people who can make you feel safe but challenged at the same time. That balance is not easy to come by and I think it’s one of the real attractions of riding with inGamba. I live in California and I know these roads, but it never gets old, it’s an endless up and down, twisting and turning course. It’s never boring.”
“The whole trip went so well. It was the hardest ride I’ve ever done, but it was also the most fun. The conditions were tough at times, and it was a challenge to keep up with some of these guys, but it was a lot of fun. This was different to most inGamba trips because you’re getting challenged all the time, but I like to push myself. At the end of every day I thought, “Maybe I’ll get in the van tomorrow,” but when it came time to ride the next morning I’d get on the bike and feel better and better throughout the day, and by the end I was always glad that I’d done it. The food was amazing. Having a chef with us the whole trip was great. You don’t go hungry, that’s for sure. On the third day, coming through Big Sur in the rain, I just kept thinking, “just get to lunch.” Riding those roads in the rain, descending, that was tough but everyone did it and no one crashed, and I think that’s a testament to how good everyone is and to the skills of the inGamba guides. I always like to ride on Manuel’s wheel; he’s so strong and steady, you don’t ever have to worry about him, once you’re behind him it’s all good.”
Images by Stephen Lam, a photographer based in San Francisco.
The 2020 Coast Ride with Laurens ten Dam and Ted King will be held Jan 17 – 21. For more details, check out the trip page or contact email@example.com.