Day 2 - Santa Cruz to King City, 105 Miles
(Complete Photo Set On Flickr)
(Complete Photo Set On Flickr)
I forget how early we woke up for day 2, but I remember most people apparently woke up much earlier then we did since many tents outside our team block were broken down already. Jared stood around outside his tent in pajamas staring off into space for quite some time before actually moving to action.
The first long stretches of road on day two were fields and more fields of strawberries. The pictures don't really do justice to what it was like, especially the intensely sweet smell in the air.
In addition to the strawberry fields the rest of the landscape was quite beaitful as we went through wetlands and then into dry brush. You really see the diversity of landscapes California has along the AIDS LifeCycle route. Day 2 also featured a rolling stretch of bike only path and it was really pleasant to not have to think about cars on the road for a while.
Strong winds slowed progress toward lunch. Meghan who had suffered a knee injury after being merged into by a car a couple months earlier, started to feel pain again in her knee even though it had not bothered in her in our last training rides. We were quite eager for food when we finally got to the lunch stop, and did some stretching as pirates directed riders to bike parking. Yes, pirates.
As we left lunch and started making our journey onward we started rolling through wine vineyards, with vines grown upright into perfectly groomed rows. It was a beautiful sight, that mix that only comes with human influence over nature's growth.
Rest stop 3 seemed to take longer to get to then anticipated, and Meghan had started dreaming of pain killers. The terrain was not especially challenging, but when winds start coming into play, elevation graphs are no longer an accurate measure of difficulty. Personally I'd rather face a hill climb then a strong head wind, because at least with a hill I can see what I'm up against and pace my self accordingly. Wind is an invisible force that can change it's whim unexpectedly and when it's against you, it can be relentless.
Rest stop 3 was appropriately at a vineyard, making it one of the nicer rest stop locals of the trip. After some sunscreen reapplication, snacks, and drinks it was time to hit the road again.
Again the wind was the most challenging part of riding on day 2, mostly crosswind, that would occasionally be direct headwind as the road would bend. After the turn toward Rest Stop 4 we encountered extremely strong cross winds forcing riders to angle sideways to counter balance. When large trucks would pass this could become tricky because they would temporarily block the wind, forcing you to resume riding upright, but as it finished passing you would need to angle again as the force of the wind returned. This was proving to be a long day of riding, and not just because it was 105 miles.
At long last I spotted the cones for the infamous Rest Stop 4, and as I approached closer I saw our welcoming committee. The stories I had heard about Rest Stop 4's elaborate efforts to entertain riders while they snack and hydrate had built up a reputation that did not disappoint. I'll let the pictures do the talking, and you can see some of that crosswind in Miss Period's hair.
After leaving the rest stop it was back into the fury of the cross winds blowing hard from our left. When there are cross winds from the left there is nothing more exciting then making a right turn, and sure enough it was a right turn to the road that would be our last leg to camp.
Of course the flip side to fighting winds is having the wind on your side, and what an ally it became. With winds that intense at our backs up hills felt flat and flats felt like downhills. Most seemed interested in taking this opportunity to ease the pedaling and keep the same pace, but now with less effort. I get too excited by the chance for speed and just like I love to bomb epic downhills, with rocket powered tail winds I wanted to blast off. I didn't have a bike computer with me, but for those 10 miles or so I felt like I was averaging at least 25 with moments of 30+ and even 40+ on the slight declines. Fwoooosh!!
With mother nature giving us a boost home it wasn't long before we were setting up camp for the night, waiting in lines at the shower (except for the women as mentioned in Day One), and putting food in our face. I don't really remember much about the food, it's all a blur, I just remember shoveling it like there was no tomorrow. One of the things I was grateful for through out the trip was my vegetarian wristband. Since there was a separate line for us veggies, we got dinner immediately while everyone else waited in epic lines. Yay for instant gratification!
2 days down 5 to go. Primarily so far I had kept pace with my girlfriend Meghan, but due to Meghan's knee injury coming back to haunt her, she especially wanted to take it easy on day 3 to recovery. So we agreed we would go our separate ways the next morning, and I would get my fix for speed in the day ahead.