C2C — Observations

Flat Emily in a prickly situation

It has been two weeks since we first dipped our wheels in the Pacific Ocean. that thought is amazing to me. At this point, we have had 13 riding days and 2 rest days with today being our second rest day. To date, we have ridden 759.60 miles of road through varying terrain and weather. We have climbed 5 mountains including the western continental divide. We have zoomed through valleys and canyons. We have suffered through flats and mechanicals. We have made it through 2 weeks with 5 more to go.

Bubba’s tent city.

Did you notice I kept saying we in that last paragraph? There is a reason for that. This group of separate and dynamic personalities from across the nation and even one from Germany and one from Canada, has melded into a family. Also throw in the staff to the mix because they are just a part of this adventure as the riders. We are one now. We all know on another. We don’t always hang out together or ride together, but there is a mutual respect for one another. And we all look out for one another. You can feel the bond. Family.

FOOD!

On a tour like this, it’s all about the food. It almost becomes an obsession. During the ride you are burning a huge amount of calories daily. It is very hard to replace the calories no matter how much you eat. And you eat a lot. We have our own chef with us on the tour and she feeds us very well. But the hunger is always there. I am usually hungry again after just a couple of hours of eating. And I order what ever I want when we are out. I’m not worried about calories.

The ride has been beautiful. It doesn’ matter the location, always something new to awe about. Blooming flowers in the desert. Mountain ranges that stretches forever. They also seem so close that you think you can reach out from the bike and touch them. However, they are ten’s of miles away. The vastness of the desert can take your breath away. Miles and miles of sand, scrub brush and cactus. And each desert can be different with differing plants and cacti. Never that I would ever see this in my life.

Hugs and kisses.

Bottom line so far. We are in great hands. Bubba and the staff go out of their way to take care of us. Above and beyond. The comraderie of the riders is a joy to be a part of. The joking, the kindred spirit, the feeling that you belong to a special group.

The actual riding and the feeling of accomplishment. I am not sure what day I truly realized that I really am going across the country on a bike, but I really feel it now. And it only goes to motivate me more. Each day is just another step towards that goal. And I look forward to each new step.

C2C — The Saga Continues

Yes, that is snow…

Okay, I never said this was going to be easy. When we first started training for this, I could not imagine how hard this could be. This week has proven to us all, that the training payed off and you can overcome extreme challenges.

Monday’s ride after the day off was just supposed to be a warmup. It turned into 35 miles of very nice paved trail, but hell of a headwind. We knew Tuesday would be hard. But none of us envisioned that. It rained. It was 40 degrees. We had to climb mountains. We had a tremendous headwind. You had it all. Extremes. As you were climbing for miles at 6 to 9 % grade, you were sweating. Turn a corner, hit the wind full force, you were freezing. This went on for 35 miles.

Fortunately, we were rewarded for our hardships as the last 35 miles were downwind and some downhill.

Wednesday would find us in the same scenario. Headwinds, cold and climbing another mountain. This mountain would take us over the continental divide. The climb took us 6400 ft above sea level. It was also a 8 mile climb maxing out at 12% grade at the top. And it was snowing just to add a little excitement.

With Flat Emily at the continental divide

The next 35 miles were awesome as we went down the mountain and had the wind at our back. I am grateful for that. I’m not sure I would have made it otherwise.

Today was a recovery ride. Just 55 miles, little climbing and a tailwind. Thank God!!! I am beginning to realize that it is going to take a few miles for my legs to get going.

All and all, it’s been great. We are indeed pampered riders and all I have to do is pack my stuff and then ride my bike with Flat Emily in my pocket. Good times.

C2C Week One In Review.

Wheels Deep

It all started with a little dip. In the rain and cold of San Diego, we dipped our rear tire ito the Pacific Ocean and our adventure began. After months of training, we were off and for the next eight days, we would be on our bikes rolling through varied terrain. It would be an exciting week.

Day 1

We would leave San Diego and then start to climb. It rained most of the day and climbed most of the day as well including a 5 mile climb into Alpine, California. We would be shuttled to our hotel in Jacumba, California to spend the night.

61 degrees for the high. 37.58 miles. 3684 ft of climbing.

Planking on the second mountain

Day 2

This day started with a huge climb, followed by another big climb. Fortunately there were downhills that followed. And they were cold. It varied from 40 degrees to 60 degrees. Not that I am a pro cyclist, but I have a much better appreciation of how they sweat their ass off climbing and then freeze on the way down. Ended on a nice down hill into Jacumba where we would spend the night again.

50 degrees, 44.88 miles, 4423 ft climbing, rain.

Day 3.

Starting in Jacumba, we had a slight uphill. Then went downhill. This was covered in a previous post. Go find it. I’ll wait.

Welcome back!

Okay, the rest of the day was uneventful and we entered the dessert. They plot off sections of the dessert and set up irrigation and, boom, farms growing everything you can think of. Beautiful.

Also stayed in Calexico, California in a school right on the border. Fascinating.

68 degrees, sunny, 922 ft climbing, 14.5mph ave

Flat Emily and I checking out produce.

Day 4

We left Calexico and headed for the dessert again. Our lunch stop was at a place called “The Center of the Earth”. This had a hodgepodge collection of granite memorials, pyramids, a church on top of whole lot of steps and a concrete maze. One stop amazement if you ask me. We ended the day outside of Yuma, Arizona at a national guard armory.

60 degrees, 64.77miles, 981 ft climbing

Day 5

We started the day in Yuma. We almost immediately found ourselves in Dome Valley, also known as the salad bowl of America. Over the last century they have teriformed the dessert to a vast farm area. They grow, everything here. Broccoli, peppers, romaine, iceberg, garlic, parsley and on and on. After leaving the salad bowl, we were back into pure dessert. Mainly flat traveling. It was also our first night camping as we ended the day in Dateline, Arizona.

68 degrees, 70.47 miles, 837 ft climbing q

They will let anyone in this town.


Day 6

A pretty flat day as we were on the interstate most of the day from Dateline to Gila Bend. Riding on the interstate is legal if you don’t have any other options. It also has a wide shoulder, so I felt safe all day. Pretty easy day. Another camp night.

68 degrees, 53.97 miles, 627 ft climbed.

Day 7

This would be our longest day so far but also one of the easiest. It was cold, but we were blessed with a strong tailwind. As a result, we were flying down the road. We clicked off the miles pretty fast. We like these kind of days.

55 degrees, 87.27 miles, 1306 ft climbing.

Day 8

We began the day in Casa Grande and we would be a beautiful ride into north Tucson. Some climbing but the natural beauty of the surrounding kept me awestruck most of the day. We would end the ride in Catalina State Park under the impressive Copper Mountain, so named because as the sun set, the top of the mountain shined in a copper hue. It would also be our coldest camping night as it dropped below 40. Brrrr.

52 degrees, 56.9 miles, 1526 ft climbing.

Day 9

Rest day at Catalina. What do you do on a rest day? Walk 2 miles to Walmart.

So that is week one. We get back on the bikes again on Monday to start week 2!

C2C — Days 4&5

Sunset in Dateline, Arizona

So for those following along at home, we finished Day 5 of the C2C in Dateline, Arizona. It was a nice ride that took us from yesterday’s stop, Yuma, Arizona. We started Day 4 in Calexico, California.

While we were in Calexico, we stayed at a mission school that has 80% of the students cross the border of Mexico, which is just across the street from the school, in order to go to school. As part of a fundraiser for the 7th grade class, the students fix and serve us dinner and breakfast, all of which was wonderful and pretty cool.

Yummy breakfast

After breakfast, we departed for Yuma. So we are now in the second state of our journey. At this point, I would like to report that I haven’t had any life threatening experiences on the bike for the last two days. I am good with that. No, really, I am!

We have entered a whole new world in the last two days. We are in the dessert. A big difference from the mountains. The dessert has beauty also. And great vastness. Around the Yuma area, it becomes America’s salad bowl.

Broccoli and more broccoli

Everything is grown in this area. Romaine, kale, parsley, iceberg, peppers, onions, garlic and BLT’s. Okay just kidding about the last one. Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. Spectacular to ride through.

Riding

After that, just dessert. We have been told to not expect to see any green for the next two weeks. That is hard to grasp, but I am looking forward to seeing it.

The Players

I want to switch gears for moment and introduce the main players in this on going saga so when I say we, you know whom I am referring. Of course, there are 43 riders total and 13 staff, so there are many “we”, but the two guys in the picture above are the main guys. Besides my handsome self in the middle, I am flanked by Ken Hess on the right and Gregg Gerber on the left. It is the three of us who agreed to do this ride together last August and all of us have been training since then to make this happen.

The three of us met 10 years ago during our inaugural Pan Ohio Ride in 2009. We became good friends and along with three other people, formed the now famous six pack riding team. One of the first things we ever talked about was our collective dream of a coast to coast ride. And now we are here.

I am not saying that there won’t be other players in this story, as a matter of fact, there already are, but those are stories. But I wanted to share the genesis.

On our way to Gila Bend, Arizona tomorrow.

C2C Day 3

“After 2 brutal climbing days in the cold and rain, we finally had what was a “recovery” ride. We had just climbed over 8000 feet over 3 mountains in Southern California, and now we were going from Jacumba Hot Springs, California to Calexico, California, a distance of 51 miles and it is mostly downhill and flat.

The day started with a small climb out of Jacmba followed by the first downhill of the day. It just happened to be a 4000 foot decent that lasted 8 miles at 6% grade. You could easily gotten the bike up to 50 mph if you wanted to. I didn’t. And that decision may have saved my life. Oh, add in the 20 mph crosswinds that threaten to push you over the edge of the mountain extra fun bonus.

You see, about 2/3 of the way down this mountain of terror, I decide to have a flat just to add to the terror factor. Fortunately it was a rear flat. Had it been the front, I don’t think I would be writing this post right now. None the less, a flat while traveling at 30 mph is not a good thing.

I was able to keep the bike upright despite fishtailing all over and brought the bike to a stop after about a hundred yards and got the bike to the side of the road. A major bike handling feat if you ask me.

After I was able to calm myself down, because I was truly terrified, I began taking off the tire to change the flat. As I began to get the tire off, my hand slipped and I somehow sliced my index finger giving me a very bloody mess. Talk about adding insult to injury. Or maybe the other way around.

Hurt a little bit

As I was bandaging my finger so I didn’t bleed over the entire mountain, a couple of my fellow cyclists stopped and helped me change the tire. I then rolled into the rest stop and got proper first aid. After getting cleaned up, we continue on the ride.

We now rolled into the Yuha Desert. Talk about a whole new world! But has with the first two days of the ride, the scenery is breathtaking.

As we got close to Calexico, I managed to crash the bike. The bike is okay. Me, well I have some road rash to keep my finger company. So much for the recovery ride! Tomorrow we head for Yuma, Arizona.

Now a bonus for those two people who actually read this post to this point. (Thanks by the way) My garmin watch helped me get up a mountain yesterday. As I was struggling up a 5 mile climb, my watch decided to tell me to move. As if. But it did make me laugh and helped me keep going up that mountain.

Here We Go!

We have arrived safely in San Diego. This is the starting point for the coast to coast ride that will officially start on Saturday morning.

We arrived on Wednesday after 8 hours of airports and airplanes. But we did get here.

After a morning of chores, we decided to go for a ride and chose to ride to Coronado Island which is the San Diego Bay. We finally made it to the ferry that would take us there after numerous wrong turns and misdirections. That didn’t bother us much because, well, we were on the bike and we were not on a schedule.

We made it to Coronado to have lunch and then it was back to the hotel. On they way back we played in traffic for awhile. I do have to say, San Diego is a very pretty city and very bike friendly.

Star flowers in bloom

Oh, by the way. Add California to the list of states I have ridden in!