High Desert to the Sea

For years I have noticed that the High Desert Cyclist have this annual ride to the beach…. to the beach…. from Palmdale.  It has always amazed me… I drive this route to go camping every so often and is just seemed like a LONG, LONG way to ride a bike.

But that was before Sierra to the Sea. My cycling recap for the year thus far is 20 something mile ride, Tour of Long Beach Metric Century, Ojai Valley Century, and Sierra to the Sea….. 7 days with 430 miles… An 80 something mile ride to the beach no longer seemed unfathomable…. So, this morning I did it.

We met at Vons in West Palmdale and started our ride at 6:30. The only people I knew who were riding were Rob Perez, Dr. Tony Smith and Mr. Wiggs… not sure of his first name… everyone just calls him Wiggs.. awesome local rider.

Rob invited me to ride with him and some friends but cautioned that I may not want to go that slow…. He rode up and announced that they were getting a head start. It took me a couple minutes to get my GPS in place and started, so his group was already about a half mile ahead of me.  I knew I had a long way to go, so I did not want to start crazy fast. I ran comfortable on my own. We headed over to Elizebeth Lake road and worked our way west. Sometime after Goode I caught them. I joined in behind Rob and we rode along.

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There happened to be a couple other guys who fell into pace with us and I felt we were moving pretty good…… then the fast guys – Wiggs, Tony Smith et al – they flew by.

Heading up San Francisquito we spread out a bit and a few other riders caught up. Going down Rob and I and a couple others fell into a pace line…. First stop Walmart in Santa Clarita. During our 10 or 15 minute break about 10 guys accumulated. I heard a lady looking us over and saying this is the last of them…. I guess that fast group was the only group that started on time….

Next we headed down 126 toward Ventura. Rob, I and another fell into a group. We eventually worked our way to the front of the group of 10 becoming the first to get to the Arco station past Piru – stop number 2. From this stop we left the highway we headed to the south east side of the valley on a little country road…. It was nice.  Our group of 10 all started together, but soon 2 guys and I pulled out ahead. We stayed ahead pulling farther away over time. Eventually one guy dropped back until it was just one guy – Damon and I.  We stayed on the south east side of the valley all the way into Santa Paula. When we got into Santa Paula we had our 3rd stop. Once again during the stop the whole group was reunited.

I was going to hold back and ride with Rob, buy Damon asked if I wanted to get going. Rob said go ahead so off we went. Damon and I took turns leading as we continued over to the north west side of the valley where we rode Foothill all the way into Ventura. Ever since leaving Santa Clarita, down 126, down the valley… we were riding INTO a headwind… typical for the California coast…. the warmer it is the faster the wind blows in from the ocean…  Anyway, we kept pushing, taking turns, at first 2 or 3 miles per turn, at the last 1 mile turns.  We cruised into Ventura, into the beach parking lot so fast that we missed the finish group….

I was thinking it was the next parking lot and I continued an extra mile or two all the way to the pier…. I realized that Damon had not followed and I doubled back and found the group.  There was almost no one there. The fast riders had decided to go back out and finish a century and the fragments of the 10 had not arrived yet…. But withing another 10 or 15 minutes pretty much every one was there….

I am really happy with my day. My average pace was 16.6 mph… the fastest average ever if I exclude the Tour of Long Beach where I drafted Clay 90 percent of the way…..  This would be the fastest average pace, where I pulled my fair share of the ride….My total distance with my extra credit ride to the pier was 86.9 – my 3rd longest road  bike ride ever.  The was definitely the best I have felt after 70 miles…..

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