Tuesday, January 1, 2013

PCH New Years Day Ride

I’m sure many folks slept in late today after a late night of ringing in the New Year. When my alarm went off at 6:30 am I didn’t want to wake up either, I never do, but I always am glad I did later. I’ve been putting in a lot of long miles this Christmas break, so I made sure to eat a good helping of oatmeal to start off my ride.

It was cold, but not unbearable and the sky was nice. The ride officially starts in Long Beach, but I always ride down the Santa Ana River trail and meet up in Huntington Beach. Who wants to drive to a ride they can ride to anyway? I think it’s ironic. As I got off the SART and on PCH a group from our shop sponsor, Bike Religion was passing north to meet up with the BIG group in Huntington Beach. I got in with them and we continued riding along until about just after Beach Blvd. We saw the group and made our U turn to then be swallowed up into the peloton. The beauty of this ride is that it is big, and fast. This may be the closest feeling any Fred or even most amateur racer has to riding in the Pro Peloton.

Today there were probably over 600 riders. Its nearly impossible to count. The peloton swells to two lanes wide and hundreds of feet back. There were many Pro and elite racers present today. Rahsaan Bahati was out there with what seemed like his entire team; Monster Media Racing, including Chris DeMarchi; a handful of Surf City racers, including Charon Smith; 2 racers from Pro Team United Healthcare, and of course, over a dozen of our own Cycles Veloce/Simple Green racers along with Ryan Schneider.  

The key to this ride, as well as any race is to stay at the front. Many recreation riders get in the group and hold on for a while, but then get dropped on the hills or cause crashes due to their lack of bike handling skills. I stayed up front where all the team jerseys were. We were probably topping 30 mph on the flat parts of PCH and even more on the long downhills. The leaders hammered pretty hard all the way to Dana Point. We stopped by the beach for restrooms and then went inland along a tiny bike trail into San Juan Capistrano. We got off that for a short time and then onto another trail even smaller. Its not a great way to move hundreds of cyclists, but it gave everyone an opportunity to slow down and recover a bit. The second half of the ride is slower, but hard because it’s a lot of climbing. We worked our way back up to Irvine Blvd and shortly after stopped at a 7-11 for food and water. The next stretch along Irvine Blvd was as fast or faster than PCH. The group went down Jamboree and I stayed on for several miles, until I exited at Barranca Parkway and headed home. The ride was fast and yet safe. I didn’t see any crashes this year. I started my year off right with a 100 mile ride. Happy New Years!

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