Home is a “mere” 61 miles away, but today is our most dangerous route; Ventura to Westwood along PCH. Parked cars, no shoulder, angry LA motorists and slow tourists await us.
Roo looked ready to go; no squeaking and smooth gear transitions; the Cannondale guys had greased her up and even cleaned my chain! Secretly, I was sad – I wanted to roll into town dirty. Oh well.
At about Mile 5, my rear wheel locked up again. I wasn’t mad; the Cannondale mechanics couldn’t possibly know how gimmicky my rear dropouts are.
I gave the passing cyclists the thumbs up and set about to fix my own wheel.
As soon as I realized it was a 2 person job; along comes Natalie to save the day. She steadied the bike while I forced the wheel in. It wasn’t going to come out… ever.
We proceeded through Ventura’s miles of strawberry and avocado fields. Good smells and nice weather. I realized that this was the third time in 3 months that I had been through this very same stretch; once with the Ragnar crew as a runner and the second time in the opposite direction as a cyclist working on his first “century.” Ha! Centuries don’t seem so unattainable anymore.
I caught up to Scott at Rest Stop 1 and then told him I had no intention of stopping at RS2 or even Lunch. I was on a mission (more on this later).
The remaining climbs were easy but PCH leaves no room for mistakes. Just ahead of me, I witnessed a 7 or 8 bike collison rounding a curve at the top of a mild climb. A small group of speedsters thought they could pass some less experienced cyclists on the left. Not smart. Everyone was fine, just a bruised ego on the part of the speedy leader.
I hit 40 mph (!) on a short drop and then things got scary around Mile 45. Nothing but surfboards being pulled out of jeeps and ZERO space between parked cars and the two-lane southbound traffic.
I tried to take it easy, but upon glancing back, I realized I was the head of a small peloton.
I did not want to lead, but there was nowhere to pull over and no way for better cyclists to pass me. I sucked it up and led the group for several miles at a 20+ pace. We’re talking about a two to three foot clearance between parked car and traffic. Terrifying.
I yelled at people about to step out of cars, surfers with boards and even yelled, “thanks jackass!” at a Malibu Po-Po who cut me off from a right side street.
Respite came just south of Will Rogers Beach; where we were directed to a beach bike path. My heart and stomach fell back into place. Even the faces were friendlier. Joggers and walkers on the path clapped for us as we whisked by.
The last few miles took us along San Vicente Blvd through upper Santa Monica and Brentwood. I rolled into the Westwood VA Hospital campus (next to 405, under Wilshire Blvd) at about 12:30p; 61 miles in 5 hours? I’ll take that.
I was definitely frazzled and not thinking straight – I wanted my luggage, and a burger, any burger. I needed to cut out and get to Anaheim. I was in such a dazed rush, I forgot to take pictures. I’m a sad panda; no obligatory finish line photo!
Now, off to Angels Stadium!