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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Shake Down Tour

By Pico Triano

My big goal was to ride from the Los Angeles area where I was attending college back home to the Niagara Falls area. I'd spent most of the previous six months heavy in preparations. During that time, I had trained by riding almost daily, taken short tours to make sure I could handle the mileage and sort out any deficiencies in my equipment and scrounged cash to pay my expenses on the way. I was just about ready to go, but I had time for one weekend run to check to make sure I'd put it all together.

The objective was to cover more than the first day of my future tour with a full load and then head back. The goal was to ride from Pasadena, California to Carpenteria on the Pacific coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara. I would camp out two nights there and then come racing back again.

This ride would accomplish several things for me. It would finalize my route through that area. There were a few spots I wasn't sure about around Ventura. I would test my conditioning. The route would be a fully loaded century ride with a low mountain pass. If I could handle that with flying colours, I felt I was ready for just about anything. Finally it was an excuse to go out and ride.

My bike was fully loaded the evening before, so bright and early Friday morning, all I had to do was eat some breakfast and hit the road. The training, equipment improvements and planning clearly paid off. The year before I struggled up the grade through La Crescenta. I made horrible navigational errors. My vinyl paddingless saddle gave me unspeakable pain. This time my gel seat pad kept me comfortable and physically I didn't even feel tested till I came to the Santa Susanna Pass.

I actually looked forward to climbing the pass. The year before I walked my bike up most of it. On big tours this kind of climb is one I would partially walk just to conserve my strength. This time though I wanted to see what I had and I churned all the way up it fully loaded without so much as taking a break. That success was exhilarating because it spoke volumes about my preparations.

In Ventura I made a small navigational error, I found myself on a residential loop. Oops. That was the only mistake I made. It came back to haunt me in a funny way.

Shortly after passing Ventura my one day personal one day mileage record fell. I stopped at a convenience store bought an ice cold can of cheap beer and sucked it down alongside the road in celebration.

I continued on to Carpenteria and located the address where there would be a church service the next day with the group I was affiliated with at the time. The day as expected went almost without a hitch. I was pleased with myself. I'd finalized my route and even decided on a campsite for the future trek. I camped in the bushes near Carpenteria tired but not exhausted.

View Larger Map

This map is an approximation of the route I took Taking into consideration that the roads and all have changed considerably in the mean time.

The following day at services one of the local members recognized me as the cyclist they saw the day before (riding on his residential loop). That particular church group had an annual church convention and for parking and other purposes everyone was issued a small bright green rectangular bumper sticker. I'd managed to get one of those and stuck it to the baby cooler that I strapped onto my rear rack. He'd seen that while he was repairing his roof. That was the reason I put it there. Anyone from that church group in Canada or the United States would have recognized that little sticker.

The hall custodian gave me permission to camp in back of the hall for the second night. He lived in a trailer back there himself. This allowed me to attend a church social that evening. Church people especially have this way of making sure cyclists are properly fed.

The following day I raced back to college. Mission accomplished.


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