02 September 2012

My Summer of Cycling

First of all, I would like to apologize to my butt.

My backside has faithfully served without complaint for years, and of late, I have not been kind to it. Friday I did a seven hour ride on a new bike saddle and my ass still hurts. By mile 65, my cheeks hurt so much I was ready to confess something... unfortunately I was the one doing the torture.

Why bike for seven hours?

This coming Saturday (September 8th) will be my first century ride, 100 miles. The ride starts at the Irvine Amtrak station and ends at the San Diego Amtrak station, thus its name: The Amtrak Century. If I'm lucky, I'll finish in seven to eight hours. I can't take longer than nine hours or I'll miss the train back to Irvine.

It all started when I read about a Chamorro (Guam food) restaurant in San Diego. The field guy I work (Michael) with said "we should ride our bikes to San Diego."

I said, "sure... from Carlsbad."

He said, "No! From here!" (South Orange County).

We still haven't eaten at that restaurant, but Michael is on his second triathlon and I've ridden my bike to San Diego about half a dozen times.* Back in April I wrote about my preliminary venture into long distance cycling with an (expletive-laden) blow-by-blow of my first solo ride to SD.

* From San Juan Capistrano - which is "only" 71 miles.

While reminiscing with a friend in Portland I recalled my first 10-speed - a Huffy Capri. Jenna Newcome was the first girl at my school to have one and oh how I wanted one just like it. That bike must have weighed twice what my current bike does but it never slowed me down. With that bike I was goin' places!

During my training (a few months back) I hit a wall. Cycling had stopped being fun. I was out there every weekend riding because of an obligation, not for the love of it. I am not a goal-oriented person. As my friend Kim was kind enough to put it "you're a journey-er."

All this event-oriented training wasn't bad in and of itself, it was just hard to justify when (quite frankly) the event only served as a deadline. On that day, Saturday September 8th, I would ride 100 miles. Furthermore, I didn't want to set myself up for failure. What if I fell down? What if I got a cold? Couldn't I just do 100 miles whenever I got around to it?

I've never excelled in sports, perhaps because of my "meh" attitude toward athletic achivement. The only medals I ever received were from our middle school Science Olympics. Lena Jones, if you're reading this, you know we were the Kerri / Misty of our day.

A short visit to Portland in August gave me the inspiration I needed. I rented a road bike from Waterfront Bikes because I needed to get 100 miles in that weekend (for training). Yes, here it was my vacation and I have to log time in the saddle.

I cruised from Vancouver over the bridge into St. John's, down to the farms on Sauvie's Island, back over the St John's Bridge, past University of Portland and home again. It was a perfect summer day and the views of the river and Mt. Hood were stellar. Later I had a nice cold beer in the park and gorged on some wood fired pizza. Ah ha, I thought... AH-fucking-HA!

Long distance cycling can be a journey after all.

Since then, Tom and I have explored Ventura-Santa Barbara, San Francisco-Sausilito-Tibueron and Napa-Calistoga. The views from a bike are wonderful. You can soak in the scenery much better than in a car and when you're done - CHOW DOWN and DRINK BEER! Pairing cycling with travel and eating... now we're on to something. In Napa (St. Helena) we stopped by Velo Vino which is a winery founded by the Clif Bar family. We met a guy who'd done a ride through Europe on his bike and he had some great stories.

Stay tuned for my future adventures on two wheels. Oh, and, if you've ever done a century please feel free to leave any comments / tips below!

Good news, Butt! I'm going back to my old saddle. Please forgive me.