Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Santa Barbara or Bust

This weekend we did a long ride which counted towards my pre-pre-Ironman training. Me and Todd and Stuart 1 and Stuart 2 and Jose and Chris and Deb and Annie and Ben met at Oh-Dark-Thirty Saturday morning for an 83-mile ride up to Santa Barbara. We started at the Chatsworth Train Station in the San Fernando Valley, and the plan was to catch the 2:00 train in Santa Barbara. The expected rain never showed up, which made everything MUCH nicer.

Here's the route we took (Mac users will have to use Firefox; it won't load in Safari)

Chatsworth to Santa Barbara

Don't let the elevation map fool you: the big hill at the beginning isn't bad, but all the downhill stuff isn't all good. There were a few little climbers along the way. The great thing about the route is how diverse it was: We started out in The Valley, then climbed a desert mountain. We went through pristine southern California suburbs. We went through farm land with miles of strawberries and orange trees with sweet citrus scents filling the air, occasionally masked by the burning tar of the construction sites. We went through a Marina area, and marshlands, and rode a bike path with the ocean not 30 feet from us. Every hour we were in a completely different environment; it was like taking a stroll through Epcot's World Showcase.

As someone mentioned along the ride, it was a bad day to be named Stuart. Stuart 2 had a flat within the first 5 miles of the ride. Then he got another flat at mile 30. Then Stuart 1 got a flat around mile 40. Breaking away from the trend, Deb got the final flat at mile 60. There were 18 tires on the trip; 4 went flat, 3 were owned by someone named Stuart.

Stuart 2 flatting

Stuart 1 resting (long after his flat)

Much of the course follows the railroad line, and this has a couple of advantages. First of all, it means there are stopping points points a long the route. Annie "just wasn't feeling it" that day so when we got to Camarillo, she just hopped on the train and head back. Nothing could be simpler. The second cool thing about follow the tracks is that where there train tracks, there tend to be trains. Trains are cool. However, I was telling people all morning that I was disappointed that we hadn't seen any trains all day. I finally got my wish about 10 miles outside Santa Barbara when we saw a train whiz by. I was excited until Stuart 1 pointed out "that's OUR train." The 2:00. The one we were trying to catch. Oops.

Turns out, missing the train was the best thing that could have happened. Had we raced a bit, maybe we could have made it to Santa Barbara and rushed on to the train and eaten some stale sandwhich from the dinette car. Instead, we went out for pizza and beer. I am not a "beer person". I don't care for it. When I found out they ordered a couple of pitchers for the table, I was disappointed and went back to the counter to get myself a soda. By the time I got back to the table, they had already poured a glass of beer for me. Fine. I'll take a sip so we can have a celebratory toast. OHMYGOD it was The Yummy. Forget any of that Endurolyte recovery drink crap; the best possible thing you can have after a long workout is pizza and ice cold beer.

Todd takes a break

We caught the 4:30 train home, and that was a little complicated. The math gets tricky, so pay attention:

A southbound electric train has 6 cars. You have 8 bicycles. Each car has rack space for 3 bikes. 2 bikes are already on the train. 2 other people also want to bring their bikes on board. 2 of the cars on the train are closed. 2 wheelchairs are going on the train, which will take up space equal to 3 bicycles. Which direction will the smoke blow from the train?

It was pretty confusing finding space for our bikes, but finally they opened up another car and let our group put all our bikes together in the aisle on the lower level while we sat on top. This must have been a business class car or something, because we had about twice as much legroom as the people in the other cars. Maybe the conductors just wanted to hide all of the sweaty people in spandex from the other passengers, but it sure worked out for us.

The train ride home was fantastic. We had beer and wine and Mountain Dew and M&Ms. The ride was something like 2-2.5 hours and was just the perfect way to decompress and just plain relax. Well, most of us were pretty animated so maybe "relax" isn't the right word.

694 man-miles, 4 flats, 4 "crashes" (not being able to clip out at a stop light), 2 leg cramps. All in all a fantastic day and it looks like it will become a bi-monthly event.

Todd posted a bunch of shots of the day here:

Santa Barbara Ride


Blogger Brent Buckner said...

Great to have a regular ride with your peeps!

7:57 AM  
Blogger momo said...

that sounds like a great day! when i was in san diego a few summers ago, a group from there was taking the train north and riding back... if they do it again this summer, i just might tag along.

8:21 AM  

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