Aaaah San Diego. What a place. Sunshine, tons of beach, and lots of places to cycle. We, Miz Bobbie and I, decided to join the cycling fun down here by participating in the San Diego Century. I had already heard about this ride, but didn’t know too many details before plunking down the entry fees. The website did a pretty good job of letting me know what to expect, but I must say, I was a little surprised at the level of difficulty we experienced.
First off, great organization! We waddled our way through the registration process without a hitch, collected our packets and were on our way within a few minutes. The only snag was the endless waiver paperwork required. It appears that California lawyers are certainly secure in their employment because not only did we have to fill out waiver paperwork for the event organizers, we were required to fill out waiver paperwork for the county of San Diego and surrounding areas. Geez, does anybody do anything without lawyers anymore? I know, that was a dumb question.
We had a great “warm up” ride on Friday before the event cruising through Oceanside and Carlsbad beach venues and neighborhoods. Exploring by bicycle has to be the greatest way to see things. You can stop when you want, go where want, and take as long as you want. And…you can go places that most cars can’t go…what a treat! The weather here was just awesome as well. Partly cloudy skies, light winds, and temps in the upper 60’s to low 70’s. So, we were hoping for the same on event day.
I’m the early riser in the family while Miz Bobbie prefers to take the long route when waking up in the morning. I figured if we get up by 0530, we could hop in the car and be ready to roll by 0700, our planned departure time. As expected the weather was cloudy and cool with a slight sea breeze; standard for this area and time of the year. We actually get ready and roll out uneventfully by 0710. I say uneventfully because this event like most others I’ve attended let’s people roll out during a time window. Frankly, I kind of miss the mass starts because of all the excitement that seems to be generated from the synergy of everyone massing together at once. I guess it’s the lawyers again, who knows.
The first part of the ride covers a lot of east San Diego back country giving way to tree covered rolling roads that are lightly travelled, well at least at this time of morning. Some smartass and two of his buddies roll up beside us and say, “hey, when is the rain supposed to start?” Shit-eatin’ grin accompanies the rhetorical question. Well, Miz Bobbie, being who she is says, “Rain? What rain?” Smartass and his two buddies just roll ahead with shit-eaten’ grins on their faces. Me, my thought was: “assholes.” I assuage Miz Bobbie’s rain fears by assuring her that there is no rain in the forecast. She says, “well if it rains, I’m done…get me cab!”
I won’t bore you with a detailed description of every food product served at the rest stops but they did have: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Gatorade, trail-mix, an assortment of energy bars, pretzels, bananas, and water! Let’s not forget about the water. Oh and one interesting common theme at each rest stop: they were all in church parking lots — Church of God, Church of the Nativity, Crosspointe Baptist Church, and Church of the Nativity again. For awhile, I was expecting the Pope, or at least some Bishop clad in a red robe to come over and flip holy water on us from a stick or something. I didn’t know if the volunteers were all church members, so I made sure I didn’t ask someone to: “hey, cut me a piece of that fuckin’ banana will ya?”
If you divide this ride into quarters, I’d have to say that the first quarter and last quarter are more suburban to rural riding; whereas, the middle two quarters are mostly suburban with a little urban thrown in. What that translates into is a whole lot of stoplights, and I mean a whole lot. I must have unclipped a thousand times on this ride. I didn’t keep track of how long we waited for each light to change, but I can say this, it was a butt load. I found all this rather annoying, but overall the scenery, and just being California in general, made up for it.
I’m not big on route markings because some route organizers mark the pavement with spray paint and over the years, this stuff just doesn’t seem to go away. In fact, I’ve found myself on several occasions following route markings from previous year’s rides, or some other ride using a similar route. So, normally I only use the route slip for navigation to avoid this kind of problem. On this ride, the ride organizers were a bit clever in their marking. They used these triangle stanchions with large yellow arrows pointing to the correct turn direction. So, I thought, “hey, I’ll just put this route slip in my pocket ‘cause I don’t really need it with all these cool direction arrows.” Mistake number one: You see, there was no arrow pointing to the 67 mile turn off, so we ended up on the 100 mile route for about 15 miles before realizing it. As we climbed hill after hill heading east, I finally realized something was up. So, I sprinted ahead to the guy in front of us and asked, “hey man are you on the 100 mile route, or 67 mile route?” He said, “I’m on the 100 miler and the turnaround is just up ahead.” Me: “shit!” Him: “well, you might as well commit to the 100 miler ‘cause you are just about at the turnaround.” Mistake number two: telling Miz Bobbie we were on the wrong route. Ooops. She was not happy as her lower back was giving her fits all morning. Fortunately for us, however, it was all downhill back to the 67 mile turn off.
Rolling out the last 20 miles or so, Miz Bobbie is pretty well spent and in a lot of lower back pain, so her fun meter was pegged, and she was not having a particularly good time. To make things worse, the wind started picking up and was in our face. She kept dropping off my wheel so I slowed down to let her catch up. As she did so, I turned around and shouted, “Can you stay on my wheel?” Well, she interprets my loud voice as yelling and only hears: “…stay on my wheel.” Mistake number three. All mayhem ensues and she starts a female tirade that would rival any major onslaught throughout history. “Stop yelling at me! Just get out of here! Leave me alone…I’ll ride my own pace…and find my own way back!!” Me, I’m totally confused. I try to calm her down and convince her that I wasn’t yelling and all I was doing was asking her a question. Silence… All you can hear now is the wind.
We finally hit the beach and the venue is just awesome. I guess Miz Bobbie is enjoying things now because she’s talking to me again. We make the turn into Cardiff by the Sea and see a huge hill in front of us. Oh shit. Miz Bobbie says to me, “what fucking moron put a hill like that at the end of a ride like this?” Well, we see one of those huge turn arrows up ahead and luckily it is only halfway up the hill, so life wasn’t quite as bad we thought. It is a mile to go, we have a tailwind and flat it’s as a board, so I put Miz Bobbie on point and follow her wheel all the way in. She’s happy and I finally do something right today.