I went for a ride in Malibu today, up the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway. This was my first time doing the route, but we had several veterans with us. The plan was to do 3.5 hours; I had no idea if that meant 45 miles, or 60, or whatever. I didn't pay much attention when the ride leaders were discussing the turn-around point; I figured that I would just follow the group, and the PCH is pretty much the only road leaving Malibu. I overheard them say something about heading towards Camarillo, the 101 (freeway), and a Texaco. Sounded like we just stayed on the road until we hit a Texaco where we could grab a snack, pee, and head back. Perfect. Our fearless Tri-Team captain even said "don't worry, you can't get lost." Well that sure sounded like a challenge.
After about 10 miles I was falling behind the group. The PCH is pretty hilly and windy, so I didn't know if I was 1/4 mile behind or 2 miles behind. But I kept on riding. Something you need to know about the PCH: there is nothing there. Rocks on the right, ocean on the left. No stores, no houses, no gas stations. After about 15 miles of not seeing any friendly faces, there was sort of an exit ramp with a sign that said "Bike Path". I wasn't sure if I should take it or not, but I figured "when in doubt, stick to the main road." So I just forged ahead.
The road quickly became smoother, straighter, wider. It just didn't feel right but I just assumed that 1 mile or 10 miles down the road I would find a Texaco where I could snack, pee, and turn around. I kept on riding for a few miles. You may ask, "Wedgie, at what point did you realize that you were on the wrong road?" That was probably when the policeman pulled me over.
Yes, one of Oxnard's finest stopped me. He told me I wasn't allowed to ride a bike on a freeway. Freeway? That would explain why the cars were whizzing by me so quickly. He was very nice about it. I told him I was following a group of bikers, but missed a turn and and had no idea where I was. He asked me where I was heading: good question, because I really didn't know. I told him the 2 words I remembered: "I'm supposed to meet at a Texaco at the 101".
"Texaco? 101? You mean in Camarillo?" Camarillo. That name sounded familiar. I said "sure, that's it." He told me I had to take the next exit, cut over for a couple of miles and then take a left on "Las Posas Road." That would take me to Camarillo, with a Texaco where I could snack, pee, and turn around. Thank you officer, sir yes sir.
When I got to the intersection of Las Posas, I ran into Ann who was riding with us. The first thing she said was "I got lost... I was on the freeway." "Me too!" We rode for a while together, and then about 1 mile outside of Camarillo we ran into the rest of the group coming back the other way. So we turned around and followed them, which meant we didn't get to the Texaco. No break, no snacks, no peeing.
I completely bonked the ride back, for many reasons: I hadn't been on a ride in 3 weeks. I wasn't taking in enough calories. I increased my run distances over the week and was still a little sore. And it was a fast group I couldn't keep up with.
I made it back to Malibu and civilization but still had about 15 miles to get back to my car. I was getting self-conscious at the idea that everyone else would be sitting around waiting for me in the parking lot. Well let me tell you, it's very liberating to get to the point where you can just say "screw my friends." I hadn't peed in 50 miles. There was a gas station across the street. It had a urinal (or at least a concrete wall), and Mountain Dew, and snacks. My friends would just have to wait a little bit longer. It was probably a 10-minute break, but worth it. I had my Dew and Chocolate Chip Cookies and Reese Pieces. Yummy.
Eventually I made it back to the car. I was sore and tired and cranky and frustrated, but at least I got a long ride in. How many miles did I ride? 66. Satan's number. Makes sense.