Day 1 - Costa Mesa to Palm Springs
Hey folks! I'm sitting with my legs vertical against the wall with my laptop resting on my stomach as I let the lactic acid drain out of my legs from our tough first day. It all started innocently enough, Ralph and I rose at 5 A.M., still on West Coast time and too excited to lie in bed.
By 7:30 we had ridden through the quiet streets of Costa Mesa and had made our way out onto the beach, shoes off as we dipped our rear wheels into the Pacific Ocean to symbolically begin our first day of the journey. There was a light mist hanging over the scene, making everything seem surreal and mystical. A part of me still couldn't quite comprehend what I was getting myself into.
Once we got back on the road, that's when the real fun began. After 30 miles of quiet riding along bicycle paths and side roads, we began to leave the West Coast behind as we made our way East. Gradually the thick California vegetation began to grow smaller and smaller, from trees to shrubs until finally all that was left were tumble weeds blowing across our path. The air grew so dry that I was constantly sipping from my camel back just to keep some moisture in my mouth.
It was like we were leaving behind civilization and entering the Wild West. Signs for rodeos and other cowboy style activities began to pop up along the road, while ranches filled with grazing horses began to replace the parks and soccer fields that had dotted the outskirts of Costa Mesa. And all the while, the rising hills of California loomed around us, making me feel small and just a little bit awestruck by the sheer enormity of the world I found myself in.
All the while I was constantly drinking fluids, trying my best to combat the dehydration in the dry heat. It didn't take long for us to leave those misty beaches behind and as the day grew longer, the heat began to crank up. At one point during the day it reached 96 degrees, and it wasn't long before our jersey's were soaked with sweat. I was fortunate enough to ride with two other veteran cyclists, Joe and Barry, who were never without a kind word or a piece of advice on how to keep perform at optimum levels in the face of the unrelenting heat.
Still, despite their words of wisdom, around mile 80 as we plunged deeper in the deserts of California I found myself struggling to keep the pace I had been going at. Eventually even riding in a straight line became difficult, and I realized I might be in trouble. So I stopped, took in some fluids as well as some much needed calories in the form of Clff Bars and Cif Bar Shots, and before I knew it I was back to my old self. Definitely something to keep in mind for the future, especially tomorrow since the temperature is supposed to be reaching a nice furnace-like 98 degrees.
One of the hardest parts of riding on the bike is the fact that sometimes you can only perform as well as your bike allows. You can be an unbelievably rider, with thighs like Hercules and calves like Arnold Schwarzenegger but if you have a flat tire, you're not going anywhere until you get that problem fixed. Such was the case for one of our teammates, Phillipe, who experienced not one, or even two, but four flat tires on his first day.
It cost us at least 2 1/2 hours on the ride, so instead of reaching our destination by 3 or 4, we rode in around 6 o'clock, sun scored and beat beyond measure. All in all our total ride was 122 miles from start to finish, with plenty of breaks for fluid and calorie replenishment.
I hope you have all enjoyed following my first day. Tomorrow will hopefully go a little smoother on the ride, giving me more time to really get in detail on my experience and thoughts on how my dad and I are progressing during our ride.
Until next time.
P.S. For some reason my iphone is being stubborn and not allowing me to put my photos of the trip on my site, so tomorrow I will be using my digital camera, hopefully that will resolve the issue. Thanks for your understanding!