“WTF?”. Those weren’t the exact words from my wife but close enough. I’ve a small army of specialists helping me through the various ongoing side-effects from chemo and radiation so the idea of a 500 mile bicycle ride on my own seemed to cause some concern.
It seemed pretty straightforward, start at the Golden Gate Bridge and follow the maps created by the lovely folks at the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA). Then disaster struck. The Pfieffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur was damaged (and ultimately demolished) during one of the many storms and a number of mudslides occurred, just to make it more challenging. Pretty quickly the good folks at the ACA came up with a detour so after much humming and hawing the plan was back on.
My parents were coming over for my birthday so I thought why not invite them along so that I can keep my lovely wife happy and not be “alone”. There is no way on earth my mother would sit on a bicycle, let alone ride one, so the cunning plan is to have them go sightseeing along the same route that I’m taking and we meet up every night. Not only does this put me close to help if I need it but I don’t have to schlep all that gear that most of the PCH travelers carry with them. I take my hat off to those who make this ride carrying 50-100lbs of camping gear! Wow.
So, a plan was coming together and it was time to start training.
I attend a great boot camp every morning with the lovely people at Transform TFX in Concord, CA so I decided I’d start by cycling from there to the BART train station and then home again in the evening, a grand total of 5 miles each way. Ten miles a day seemed like a good start for training but mostly ended up being THE training. I did manage one almost 30 mile ride with an old friend through the beautiful scenery of Los Altos Hills and squeezed in a weekend of mountain biking in jaw-dropping Sedona, AZ. I was recently asked whether I was in the “tapering stage of my training”. Errr… yes, you could say that, was my reply. I think most of my “training” at this point, beyond boot camp, could be categorized as “tapering” or perhaps “wavering” might also work.
Armed with the new ACA map data and Ride With GPS I carefully planned my route to try and be in civilization each night and balance distance with the number of vertical feet of climbing. The end result was this:
Day 1 – Golden Gate Bridge to Santa Cruz, 80 miles and 4,300ft of climbing
Day 2 – Santa Cruz to Monterey, 47 miles, 1700ft of climbing
Day 3 – Monterey to King City, 66 miles, 2500ft of climbing
Day 4 – King City to Paso Robles, 58 miles, 2600ft of climbing
Day 5 – Paso Robles to Pismo Beach, 56 miles, 3000ft of climbing
Day 6 – Pismo Beach to Gaviota, 66 miles, 3300ft of climbing
Day 7 – Gaviota to Ventura, 64 miles, 2500ft of climbing
Day 8 – Ventura to Santa Monica, 58 miles, 1500ft of climbing