Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Coast Ride 2013

When I was in high school, I remember wondering what my life would be like when I was grown up.  Would I be married?  Have kids?  Still be running?  Would I live in a big city?  Small city?  Would I like my job?  I can’t say that I would have ever imagined I would be in the place I am right now but it occurred to me more than once this weekend that I am so incredibly blessed and happy to have thus far lived the life I live.  After an experience like the Coast Ride, it’s pretty apparent that I do indeed live (according to my standards), the Good Life.

I flew into San Francisco on Thursday afternoon and was picked up by Jess, hostess extraordinaire.  To say that Jess made this trip possible for me is quite the understatement.  Not only did she pick me up and drop me off at the airport but she also let me crash at her place.  And she took me to Stanford Masters practice on Friday.  And showed me the way to the Stanford track for my Friday run workout.  Oh, and she also planned the entire trip making all the hotel reservations, planning meals and figuring out how we’d get back to San Francisco on Monday after the ride.  What can I say, I pick my friends well.  ;)

Stanford has 2 outdoor LCM pools with plenty of really nice and fast people to swim with.  Can you say heaven?
On Friday Jess and I headed into the city (via train!) with Hailey to meet up with Mark (Hailey’s husband) and Christine (our room and riding mate for the weekend).  The trip into the city and dinner that night would have been awesome enough but we still had the entire Coast Ride, 3 days and 375 miles of riding to go!

Coast Ride Day #1: What the @$RFV@#$ did I get myself into?

Never having been on this ride before and pretty much never doing group rides (especially with true cyclists), I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Hailey, Jess, Christine, Sonja and I had a rough plan of sticking together but within 15 or so miles that plan was shot as Hailey flatted, we lost the group when we stopped to fix that and then we lost Sonja somewhere along the way too (she was having mechanical issues of her own).  I’m not going to lie, the first day was rough.  I had some things to learn about riding in a big group (like there is a serious accordion effect if you ride in the back) .  I rode over my fitness level and had to dig deep just to finish the day out.  And I was mad at myself for not enjoying the day enough because I was too focused on keeping up with people that were too fast for me!  Jess and Christine were in a bit of the same boat and so when we pulled into the hotel in Seaside, CA for the night, there was radio silence and a bit of grumpiness permeating the room!  Nothing a hot shower and a little food couldn't fix though and by the end of the night we were all laughing and telling stories of our day.  Nevertheless, we most definitely came up with a better strategy for day #2.

Amazing views already and the ride hadn't even started!
Coast Ride Day #2: Perma-smile.

Day #2 of the ride was simply stunning.  I mean drop dead gorgeous scenery that simply makes you thankful to be alive.  It.  Was.  Amazing.  God sure did create some beautiful sights for our eyes to behold.  Day #2 took us from Seaside to Morro Bay and we could see the coast for almost the entire day.  And we took it all in. 

Day #2 also had the most climbing – about 8500 feet per my Garmin – and we quickly put our strategy into action.  Sonja, Christine, Jess and I rode together and along the way picked up friends Kendra Lee and her husband Grant and another friend Steve (who rode the entire ride on a tri bike!).  It was a blast!  We took our time.  We stopped for pictures.  We saw whales and big beautiful white birds and seals.  Oh the seals!  I had so much fun.  We rode steady but nothing too killer and I thoroughly enjoyed myself for all 7 hours and 30 minutes of ride time! 

Without a doubt, Big Sur was my favorite!
HUNDREDS of seals (that look like lumps of sand).  Two big male seals even put on a show for us and started to fight!
Um yeah, this was our view all day long.
Morro Bay was our home for the night.  There is a big rock.  Post card material for sure.
8500 feet of climbing and 7.5 hours of riding calls for ice cream, apple turnovers and cupcakes apparently!  :)
Coast Ride Day #3: “I feel like I could ride forever.”

At some point I stopped worrying if I was going to made it to the end.  I most definitely feared my fitness level going into this weekend but with each day my legs felt better, my body got stronger and I was even convinced that if I had to get on my bike for a 4th straight day of 125 miles, I could do it.  Amazing what our bodies are capable of. 

Day #3 saw us employ the same strategy of Jess, Sonja and I sticking together (we took to calling ourselves the Three Musketeers among other code names) but we also choose to ride with the group some.  After a little coaching from Sonja (I seriously don’t know what I would do without her), I felt ready to attempt some group riding again and so when the train passed us around 50 miles into the ride, we hopped right on!  Funny enough, it’s much easier to ride in the group.  As a threesome working together we were averaging about 18 mph and my HR was in the 140s.  In the group (with strong men pulling up front), we were averaging more like 24 mph and my HR was in the 120s.  It was tough to stay on the train up the hills but otherwise sitting in is the way to go!  That is until a fantastic crash happened right before our eyes going down a screaming descent.  It happened just next and a little back from me but because I was on the outside all I had to do was pull out into the road.  My stomach was in my throat though because I knew it happened right where Jess was riding and I seriously couldn't bring myself to look back because I was so fearful she was one of the people that went down.  Luckily, as we all pulled up, Jess rode up right behind me and I was so incredibly thankful that she was in one piece!  Unfortunately, a few guys were not still in one piece (few broken collarbones) and one man had to be flown to Santa Barbara.  I pray in the end, all will be okay. 
Needless to say, that shook me up a bit.  Sonja, Jess and I regrouped and rode easy into the lunch stop after that.  It’s cycling and it’s what happens but it doesn't make it any less scary!

After lunch we were all in better spirits (especially because we heard the guys in the crash will be fine) and started the last leg of the trip into Santa Barbara together, picking up Hailey along the way to make for an absolutely awesome end to an amazing trip.  As bad as my butt hurt, I didn't want it to end.  Ever.

Wouldn't have made it to Santa Barbara without these girls!
One of the few times we were clean and NOT in cycling shorts!
Coast Ride 2013 was such an adventure!  I gained fitness for sure.  I learned a ton about myself, about my body and about how to ride a bike.  Like really ride a bike.  I saw jaw-dropping beauty, some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life.  But most of all I cherish the amazing friends I met and the friendships I deepened along the way.  I know it is super cheesy to say, but the best part of triathlon and the journey it has taken me on, is the fantastic and interesting people I can now call friends because of it.  Although Jess, Christine and I were seriously scheming how would could DNF after the first day of riding, by the end we were all so sad it was coming to a close.  Which can only mean one thing – Coast Ride 2014 is already on the calendar!  


  1. wow that looks like an awesome ride! How was traffic ? I know the area well but am SO jealous you were there riding and I wasn't! :-)
    Cheryl Palen

  2. I have to say, the whole group riding thing and everyone going nuts is what has kept me away. Because other than that, it sounds awesome. Glad you regrouped after Day 1!

  3. So glad the awesome California weather made an appearance for ya Beth, come back any time!

  4. Wow! Wow! Wow x1000! I've done some cycling (and touring by car) around the Bay Area and the natural beauty is breathtaking.

    I SO want to do this!! Is it an official organized event ever year?