Another New Year celebration and that means another Coast Ride to head out on! This year was quite the leap for me. As a way to step out of my comfort zone and to practice being a leader I invited lots of ladies who had been wanting to go on the Coast Ride! After the ride Muddy and I were hosting a #girlscamp in San Jose and the perfect start to camp (for those who are ready and willing) is 375 miles of riding in 3 days. Everything at camp seems easy after that! I like to get women out of their comfort zone.
So, quite a few ladies signed on and it was such an interesting lesson for me on how women process challenge. It's scary. I experienced ladies wanting to stick with what they knew they could do, second guessing their fierceness, and defaulting to what was safe. I had phone calls with each of them at one point to provide more information, answer questions, talk them off the ledge, or in one case just flat out yell "GET ON THE AIRPLANE!" In retrospect, what an amazing honor it was for me to share space with them in their fear. They trusted me, and that really meant a lot. I really can't say enough about how impressed I was with those who dared to show up and take the LEAP! Everyone of them was so happy they did! (Whew)
Then there is Dan. He was the opposite. He texted 36 hours before the Coast Ride and was like "I don't know what I'm doing but I'm going for it" and he did. Made the hotel reservations and really ended up being a major asset for us ladies to have along...even though he was a dude! He is just one great guy and I loved watching him experience the ride for the first time. His gratitude was infectious for me, and a constant reminder to stop worrying about all the baby hens, and look around!
Then there was a slight issue with my fitness level. Yea, sooooo, it's been a hard winter for my fitness. I am a little appalled at how little riding I did before the ride and I can say that I learned my lesson. I made it through, but oh lordy I was much more tired and much slower than in years past. Although by day 3, I was starting to feel some fitness...a little...for a few brief moments!
We were lucky on Day 1 to have Muddy and his truck take 7 of our bikes up, and Mary T helped immensely with getting people up to San Fran to start the ride. It was a logistical headache, but everyone was on time and it turned out to go just fine. We pulled in the parking lot first...ummm awkward, last year I think I was last. Everyone was ready to go and we took off. Four minutes in AlliG dropped her chain, got it stuck and was already dropped and off the back without me even knowing. Welcome to the Coast Ride! My ability to heard cats was already being put to the test. Luckily Muddy was still around and got her back on the road. We met back up at the lunch stop.
The rest of day 1 was me not quite knowing how to separate people by ability and figuring that out on the fly, while hoping and praying nobody got lost or had a major mechanical. We eventually were mostly in one group until the end of the day when Brynje got her 2nd flat, I sent the other girls ahead, and they promptly got lost. Brynje and I pulled into Monterey just as the sun set, it had been a long long day on two wheels. I was pretty tired but still alive!
See how glowing we are? Yea, that's because the sun is about to go down, it does make for good light though, and as you can tell Brynje and I are still all smiles!
Dinner that evening was fantastic! Fish and Chips and great company. There may have been a impromptu cocktail, who am I?
Day 2 is the best day. Monterey to Big Sur! It's jaw dropping and the weather was amazing and we had our group pretty figured out. Ellen and Dan who were ahead the day before stayed with my group, and Mikki and AlliG stuck together off the back. We rolled as a small group that morning and everyone spent some time at the front taking short pulls and getting familiar with the concept, which meant many barked orders from Sonja!
I really enjoyed the stretch of road just before Big Sur. This is one of my favorite photo spots, there is this huge downhill and you are coasting and feeling amazing and just so alive. We were rolling with Jen and Christine and it was chill and just a special moment for me. And, I don't remember being in much pain. Hahaha!
There are no route finding issues on the day and despite Mikki shredding a cheep tire, the day was mostly full of Ooohs and Ahhhs and subtle shaking of the head due to absolute beauty. Dan did go off the front and I had to put the smack down, but we laughed about it a lot later and he did his penance by pulling Amy and Christine all the way to Morro Bay.
Dan and I seemed to spend most of today consuming calorie dense foods. Some people stop at the Big Sur bakery in Bir Sur, but my routine is to stop for a Big Sur bar. I have fond memories of riding with Jess and Beth and thinking the Big Sur Bar was the most amazing food item on the planet. So I get one to remind me of them mostly, and the calories, I needed the calories.
After Big Sur you are treated to the most amazing views, where you HAVE to get off your bike and stop and take pictures. We did lots of that. It's about the experience and cherishing the moment. It's not hard to stay in the moment out here, the whole day is like one big meditation. BIG SUR SELFIE!
Ragged Point is the official lunch stop and also the location where all the cyclists buy out all the coke at the little store. They have benches and tables...oh benches how I love thee. I think I ate a Klondike bar and a full sized bag of chips at this stop. It was divine. Salt and ice cream are my friend.
Dinner that evening was at the Haufbrau house, my favorite restaurant in Morro Bay. It was Christine and I's 2 year anniversary of meeting, so we had to celebrate. She has been a light in my life for several years now and I'm always so happy to see her and spend time together!
That evening we got everyone tucked into bed and then my "bad wolf" really started barking. Oh the brain and irrational fears of possible future problems. The car situation for the next day required that we rely on Hailey for a spot in her van. A minivan fits 5 bikes and 5 people and we had 6 bikes and 6 people by the end. My bad wolf really started saying "they will have to wait too long, you are too slow, you should have trained harder, they are beating you in by 90+ minutes, blah blah blah" I walked around Morro Bay that night, blind as a bat with my contacts out crying big tears on the phone to Troy. "Being a leader is hard, I'm not cut out for this, I'm too out of shape, blah, blah blah." In retrospect I was just really tired and second guessing myself.
Day 3 turned out to be fantastic...for 80 miles. Our group departed with Hailey, Mark, KK, and Pia dead set on sticking with them for the day. That meant "letting" (begging) them to do a lot of the pulling and there was lots of time to practice some great pace line work as we combined with some other groups along the way. All my baby ducks stayed in that pack except for Mikki and Alli who were attached at the hip and good at not getting lost and were a bit behind us. I may have barked at Ellen and given her a talking to for breaking cyclist code at one point, but everyone was trying their best to ride hard, learn lessons, and grow as athletes, myself included. I did learn that if my heart rate is high, nice nurturing Sonja pretty much goes out the window and you get SARG....my inner drill sergeant. Good to know, good to know!
The last part of day 3 I really struggled. I distinctly remember being somewhere outside of Santa Barbara on the freeway and Hailey getting a flat and thinking...I'm pretty sure I willed that flat into existence. "please someone flat please someone flat please someone flat....wha lah...flat!" She gave me some Barnana and almonds which perked me up for about 8 minutes. Those last 40 miles I was a sad bonking, tired, undertrained pony! Just keep peddling, just keep peddling, hold your line, take short pulls, and don't lose that wheel.
I've never been so happy to pull off at the rental car place at the Santa Barbara airport and GET OFF MY BIKE, Thank you Mark for leading us there! We were a two minivan caravan on the way home, but not before Mikki and Alli got the Sonja wrath for attempting to shower....yes, everyone eventually got barked at by SARG on this trip (hangs head in shame). One van had 7 bikes and 4 people and the other had 2 bikes, 5 people, and a ton of bags. It's amazing it all worked out! And I have to extend a huge thank you to Dan for driving the van back while I got catch up time with Hailey, and got to know Jen, who rocks!
This Coast Ride really did me in. I'm so glad I went, and so very glad I was able to share the journey with SIX newbies. It required me to really step out of my safe place but knowing that the six of them now have the success of this wonderful new adventure in their pocket, makes me incredibly happy. Hopefully they will pay that forward and show up next year with a newbie of their own!