Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Crashy Christmas Century

What better day than Christmas to ride 100 miles on Pacific Coast Highway? Everyone would be at home, leaving the often creepy road all to me and coachubby and our friend Aaron. I somehow talked them into riding with me.

Little did we know that this Christmas, the battle wouldn't be against cars, but against each other.

Coachubby and I rolled out from our tiny apartment (whose 1920s wiring got so upset the day before when coachubby put oatmeal in the microwave while I blow-dried my hair that it cut the power altogether) at 6:20am to meet up with Aaron at 6:30 by the Hermosa Beach pier.
The only other people awake were the under-10 crowd, who couldn't wait to rip open wrapping paper, and cops. Lots of cops.

To avoid going straight down Pier Avenue as usual, where the cops are most likely to be hiding, I suggested we take 8th street. We didn't want to ride with lights since the sun would be up in 20 minutes anyway, and twilight had already begun.

Coachubby and I turned left onto 8th street. Then, at the next stop sign, with no warning, coachubby turned straight into me and went down. We had been riding for all of 30 seconds.

The next 5 hours of the ride were a battle royale between me and my brain. I didn't sleep the night before because I was congested, but there was no way I was missing my own Christmas Century. I hadn't ridden 100 miles since RAO (Race Across Oregon--in early July) and I would never see such beautiful riding conditions for months to come--50s and perfectly sunny. Add that to the likeliness that very few people would be driving down PCH and I had to make it to Big Rock. (A big rock on PCH just past Point Mugu, exactly 50 miles from Hermosa Beach. See below.)

But my body was pissed. A return to Beefcake spinning on the 24th at Hermosa's 24 Hour Fitness left my legs feeling like jelly, and my sinuses infected. Gyms are gross like that.

It was all I could do to hold on to Aaron's or coachubby's wheel. Yes, I was that guy--I couldn't take a pull if I wanted to, unless the dudes felt like riding 12 mph. But Aaron had a family to get to in Orange County, and my parents were driving to Hermosa from Phoenix and would be at my place in the afternoon. Slow was not an option.

I was elated when we made it back to the strand in Santa Monica. This is where you know you've made it. You're off PCH, you haven't been squished, and most of the ride home is on a designated bike path where the only obstacles are rollerbladers and oblivious powerwalkers--not to be discounted, but still not as scary as 4,000 lbs of rolling metal.

Then it happened.

Coachubby and Aaron stopped at a stop sign in Venice Beach while I was daydreaming in my stuffy head.

I ran smack into coachubby.

It was my first crash ever. (If you don't count when I fell over going uphill.) And a lame one at that. And of course, I had an audience--a young couple on the corner stared in confusion. And yes, I was wearing a Stanford jersey. Way to represent.

I popped my right foot out of the pedal and stepped it down before rolling onto my right side. The Silver Bullet and I were unscathed. The F-Bomb (Coachubby's tri bike) was not. I bent his rear wheel, and his fancy-schmancy aero-positioned brakes wouldn't open up enough so he could ride home without major rubbage. But he still pulled me back to Hermosa. What a perfect husband!

We made it back in 5 hours and 45 minutes. Not too shabby. Aaron made it back without getting run into by coachubby or me. And I made it back just in time to eat all of the appetizers I had set out for my parents' arrival. D'oh!

But there were consequences to be paid for riding sick--even it it was Christmas. Even if it was the most beautiful day ever. Even if I had a fabulous little squad to ride with.

Come time for Christmas dinner, I felt like my brain was trying to pop my eyes out of my head. And so, I write this now from the slopes of Heavenly, while the rest of my family--and coachubby's--tears it up.

Of course, I'll be out there tomorrow. No matter what.

Coming up: The Origins of the Phrase "Pain in the Butt"


  1. I was riding the exact same route! Only 90 miles, though. How come I did not see you, guys?

  2. I did see you! Just north of the end of the strand in SM. You were heading north as we were coming back...or else I yelled at a complete stranger :)

  3. Oh.. I'm glad that I wasn't the only nut case on XMas. I did not see much of bikes w/ aero bars on PCH :) Merry Christmas!