Leaving San Francisco, First Ride Day, Brutal

| July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
A Quick Stop at Pebble Beach. No Time for Golf

If this was my first ride with the Fuller Center, it would also have been my last. It was the most raggedy start to a ride I’ve had in the five rides I’ve done. The thing about the Fuller Ride is that when it’s good (which is the vast majority of the time), it’s the best thing you’ve ever done. But when it’s bad, it’s really bad. And today was really, really bad. But having ridden before, I know tomorrow will be better and there will be many magical moments in the week ahead.

So, either settle in or bail out now. This is a long story.

Everything started OK. I’m on the breakfast team who’s job it is to make sure food is out for the riders by 6 am. ‘Lights on” is at 5;30 am and by 6 am all the riders are expected to have packed up their mattresses, sleeping bags and luggage and deposit them at the trailer by 6 am. First day is always a scramble for me. Fortunately, with my wife Rita’s help, my luggage is pretty organized, at least at the beginning of the ride. So, I was able to pack and fulfill my breakfast duties. We circled up at 7 am, discussed the days ride, a short “devotional,” and off we went. That’s when things began to go south. It would be a seventy mile ride from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. We were told there would be some hills at the beginning but would flatten out after we left San Francisco. Which was sorta true.

Within 100 feet of the church, I realized that I had forgotten to adjust my seat. Not a big deal to fix, but in the five minutes it took, I’d dropped to the back of the pack. That usually takes a few miles riding, because I try to leave early and hang with the cool kids for a little while before they get tired of my pokey pace and ride on. Less then one minute from the church and they had all ridden on.

Then things got worse.

The church we were at was on a hill. So, I imagined that the first part of the ride would be going down hill. NOT! First there was one big steep hill, followed by a turn to another big steep hill. Then there was a slight leveling followed by another big hill. There was a brief, glorious down hill stretch, followed by another big steep hill.

And then it got worse.

i was riding down another brief, glorious down hill stretch when I felt something brush past my legs. Something had clearly dropped off the bike, but a quick scan suggested it was nothing important. In fact, it was. It was the Velcro strap I was using to keep the case holding my supplemental battery pack closed. I bought the best battery pack I could find because I’m a gadget freak and the batteries in my gadget don’t last the day, Even my IPhone can’t last a long ride playing music and using GPS the whole way. This battery would be a game changer. I’d be able to suck all the power I wanted on all my gadgets.

Shortly after I felt the brush against my leg, I heard a clunk below me on the road. I looked down and saw the case had opened and the battery had fallen out. I pulled the bike over and ran back to get the battery. Cars were coming down the road at about 40 miles an hour, heading towards the battery. All I could think was, “Am I going to be luck today?” I wasn’t. Two cars rode right over the batteries, tires mashing them into the road. I still had hope. A battery is a solid block. Maybe it will survive. It didn’t. Now I have to go back into strict power management on my gadgets.

From there, the ride was a brutal slog through thick fog. I could barely see thirty yards in front of me and nothing side to side. A few more hills making my way out of San Francisco. I was exhausted and the ride was only about 2 hours into a likely 7 hour day.

Then it got better, a brief magical moment when I made a turn heading down a hill. The fog had begun to lift and there was the Pacific Ocean in all its glory. I literally yelped out loud and started pumping my fist. What followed was the best part of the ride, flat roads along the beach and the sun began peaking through the clouds.

That went on for a while and a new villain appeared on the scene. Wind. For a good part of the next few hours, I was riding into strong head winds. Sometimes it was so strong that I had to pedal in lower gears on the downhills just to keep moving. So, that sucked. Couldn’t even enjoy the downhills.

This was not the way to start a cross country ride for which your training was three or four 20 milers the previous two weeks. That’ll teach me.

Tomorrow’s ride is only 55 miles with fewer hills, destination Carmel-by-the-sea. Wednesday is 100 miles with 8,000 feet of climbing.

A Lighthouse for Boats Unaware of the California Coast
A Beach on a Foggy Day


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