It's 11:30pm Sunday, June 19th and we have just arrived in Ventura CA. We said our goodbyes to our homie Fern, got our hotel key and started to prep our gear and bikes. After just a couple of hours of sleep our wake call sounds. We each jump into action, early morning energy bar, one of Jaime's organic snacks or maybe even some of last night’s cold coffee. After weeks of planning we are finally in Ventura and ready for this year’s Ride4Water Summer Solstice ride or as we called it “the Suffer Solstice ride”. All the guys are up and ready to roll. All we need now is Ryan, our Ride4Water coordinator, to say some words of encouragement, provide us a quick plan and finish it off with the group pic. All the bikes are now lined up driver side out and then a crash sounds behind us. WTF! Chris’s blue Mataro Low has fallen over and now has one of the rider’s cleats through the spokes of his rear wheel. Five minutes before the ride is about to start and we have a broken spoke and valve stem. WTF really! Now what do we do? Far from home, with no access to a real pump or an extra spoke, fuck it, we ride. A broken spoke and a half inflated tire weren’t going to stop us, so we pray for Chris that this wheel makes it to Ocean Beach.
First 90 miles from Ventura are amazing, along the coast, stopping only for bathroom breaks, coffee and a few flats. Mashing through traffic in Malibu, hitting the bike path in Santa Monica/Venus Beach and enjoying the view. We pushed on, skipping all the bike shops on our path. At this point Chris was pulling the entire pack with ease like usual. Then we hit Long Beach, 100+ degrees, on the f*ckin hottest day of the year. It was brutal, away from any ocean breeze and straight into rush hour traffic. It was madness! All of a sudden we went from a chill beach ride, to a hot miserable commute with the shipyard trucks hauling loads and not giving a f*ck for anyone in their way. Jaime and Roq were at the back of the pack pushing the team through the misery, rolling up to Chris arguing with one of the truckers that pulled into a parking lot. It seems the driver needed to make a right turn and almost took Chris out! Chris said he grabbed onto the side of the truck and took the turn right into the parking lot with him, praying that he wouldn't be pulled under and crushed. Almost 100 miles completed and this guy is still sharp as f*ck, Chris not only survived with a few scratches and bruises but was able to tell the trucker he's a f*ckin idiot. We finally hit 105 miles at Seal Beach. Once again the Ride4Water team did an awesome job of providing fuel for all the riders and making sure we were taken care of. We refueled, hit the bathroom, refilled our bottles and stripped anything not needed off our bikes. We have finally made it back to the coast and the cool breeze is back in our faces. Pushing past the pain and any thoughts of stopping we pass Huntington Beach, New Port, Corona Del Mar, Laguna Beach (at 4pm is Sketchy AF) and then we hit our next stop at Bear Coast Coffee. Three cold brews and some much needed pain killers is all we need to continue.
Almost to San Diego we refueled and were off again hoping to make it to Ocean Beach before sunset. While Chris and Jaime were still mashing at the front of the pack, Roq was at the back pushing through severe knee pain and a sore achilles. We weren’t too worried only because nothing was going to stop “The Mountain Goat” from finishing. Through Camp Pendleton we pushed on and met a few travelers along the way. The bike paths were now ending and the only option for a cyclist was the I-5 freeway. Yes, the f*ckin I-5 freeway, the same I-5 freeway we drive on to get to Disney Land or through Los Angeles. CRAZY! We ride onto the right shoulder, entering the freeway as if we were a very slow car with no hazard lights. All we hear now are the large trucks flying by us honking and cars zooming by at 80+ MPH. We really don’t belong on this strip of road but we have no other options. We continued on, pushing up hill, at times with only one leg and suffering once again in the heat. We put our heads down and pushed forward through the wind as the traffic flies by us, gripping our bars tightly so we don’t get blown over. It was as if this was a rite of passage and a necessary obstacle that must be completed to reach the next step on our journey, Oceanside.
We finally made it to San Diego, alive and in one piece. At least most of us in one piece, Roq might have lost a leg in the process. Now we cruise through the streets of Oceanside, away from crazy traffic knowing we only have 36 miles left. We continue on and slowly the group starts to separate, Chris at the front leading the pack and wanting to desperately finish, Roq at the back riding with one leg and Jaime is somewhere in the middle stopping to assist riders as they get flat tires. All this knowing that we still had the hardest climb of the day, Torrey Pines. We spent the entire day talking about Torrey Pines and how hard it could actually be, especially after 180 + miles of riding. We discussed whether it would be harder than climbing Route 39 to Crystal Lake or Los Feliz to the Hela Pad at Griffith or maybe just the same climb that Chris rides to get home every day. Regardless we would all soon be climbing it to the finish line. So we arrive at Torrey Pines State Beach, the sun has now set and we are in the blind, climbing with no lights. The idea of finishing before sunset and stripping our bikes of all gear probably wasn’t the smartest move. But f*ck IT! We climb because this Pine Tree lined hill is the last step to us stopping the pain.
From the top of Torrey Pines we hit UCSD and that's where we give a huge shout out to our new homie Preston from Team Cretins for guiding us through San Diego in a blur of darkness, on back roads and lighting the way to the finish, Pizza Port Ocean Beach. Wow! It all happened so fast, as if time stopped at the top of TORREY F*CKIN PINES and started again at Pizza Port. Rolling into the finish with people yelling and cheering us on, it was truly amazing. Being reunited with the all the guys that had finished ahead and suffered 200 miles with you was awesome and an experience we will all remember for the rest of our lives. Thank you Ride4Water for allowing us to be part of a great cause and hopefully our suffering will help others in need. We are Brakeless Riding Klub Los Angeles and we are now DEAD!