|79 miles, 6 hours 30 min, 12 mph, 4360 Calories|
A short walk to The Habit provided a Santa Barbara burger, Cesar salad, pastrami sandwich, and sweet potato fries. We could see the meeting place from there, so we went to bed knowing we were very near the start of the next day's ride. In the morning, we ate continental breakfast in the hotel: oatmeal, yogurt, eggs, potatoes, and sausage. Also, the coffee was strong. We headed over to the Crowne Plaza hotel and found a congregation of riders and support vehicles waiting. Just before we left, we used the restroom and snagged a banana.
We rolled out to the sound of bagpipes and rode 2 by 2 alongside the Naval CBC Port Hueneme. Folks came out and cheered us along. We entered CA-1 (East Pacific Coast Highway) at Hueneme Rd. Until this point, I did not realize how amazing the support was for the ride. We didn't stop after this. There were escort vehicles including motorcycles, police cars, fire engines, ambulances, and boats along the water. They would sound their sirens and flash their lights and even blow a stream of water out to salute as we passed. It was incredibly moving. And we were literally moving!
Riding to our first rest stop, we chatted freely. People started to wonder where we were stopping when a bathroom break was needed, but we all made it to Sycamore Canyon (Pt. Mugu) without much difficulty. There were water bottles, Gatorade, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and port-a-potties for us to use. Everyone was stretching and talking, making sure that all riders were doing OK. There was a person making rounds with "second skin" spray for those who had spills on previous rides and had open sores that would have been painful if sweat dripped across them. Torn shorts and jerseys were further evidence of difficulty on previous days' rides.
We rolled through Malibu (the "boo") and it was gorgeous. The most striking thing about the ride was that we didn't have to fight traffic at all. I would say the organizers did a fantastic job of streamlining our trip. There were a few climbs, but nothing too grueling. It was particularly exciting passing Neptune's Net and Moonshadows, two restaurants that I had always accessed by car. We had a regroup stage at a parking lot in Topanga, just past Pepperdine University. We were handed Gatorade chews and water bottles, much needed for the final climb to LA.
After joining all groups together we stepped up the pace to 16-19 mph.We arrived at the West LA VA Hospital just after 2pm. A food truck from In-N-Out Burger provided us cheeseburgers and Lay's potato chips and we drank Gatorade and Coke Zero. There were speeches and live music. We stayed about an hour, then used the port-a-potties and headed out to Wilshire. The ride home was uneventful (in a good way). We took a "Copenhagen" left onto La Cienega to get up to Fountain Ave. We rested at the top of the hill and then hurried across Fountain to the McDonalds before turning to Hyperion. I had many moments along Fountain where I thought I couldn't make it all the way home, but we did it!
Our trip was epic. We brought with us 6 Gu packets, one packet of Clif Blocks, one package of electrolyte Jelly Beans, a camera, two phones, our ID and health insurance cards, our train passes, one change of clothes, flip flops, 2 bike pumps, 2 spare tires, tools (Allen wrenches, patch kit, tire irons), sunscreen, chap stick, helmets, gloves, and bikes. Traveling so light was liberating and we learned to trust our instincts and the power of riding with a large group. We are looking forward to riding with R2R in the future, both for training rides and challenges. It was humbling to be among so many motivated and inspiring leaders in cycling rehabilitation.