Most cyclists would jump at the chance to spend 3 days riding down the coast of California… so I did! A little over a week ago, my training partner Amy and I joined a group of cyclists for The Coast Ride 2015. We started in San Francisco on Saturday morning and ended in Santa Barbara on Monday afternoon. That’s 375 miles over 3 days, for those of you who are counting (I sure was).

Amy and I before leaving the Golden Gate Bridge 375 miles behind us

On Day 1, we met at Sports Basement in the Presidio. We took care of all the last minute prep (filling water bottles, pumping up tires, signing waivers, etc.) before rolling out. While there were over 200 cyclists doing the ride, we started in smaller groups so it would be safer and more manageable. We quickly left the Golden Gate bridge behind, and made our way through San Francisco to the coast. Some highlights of the day included riding with some really fun cyclists from the Bay Area (including fellow Team Freeplay athlete Caroline), a long lunch stop in Davenport (where I devoured a club sandwich and fries), and watching the surfers at the famous Santa Cruz breaks. Because we stopped a little longer for lunch (and got lost once or twice), we didn’t finish riding until dusk. When we pulled into the parking lot of the host hotel after 8+ hours in the saddle, we were handed slices of pizza before we could even get off our bikes. Don’t tell my husband, but I think I may have told the guy with the pizza that I loved him.

The second day’s route was undoubtedly the most scenic of the trip. Highway 1 in Big Sur is beautiful by car, but even more breathtaking from a bicycle. You will have to either trust me on that one, or go see for yourself (I highly recommend the latter).

The second day was filled with views better than this (this photo doesn’t do it justice).

Highlights from Day 2 included stopping at the Big Sur Bakery for coffee, having pretzels and mini donuts for lunch, joining a paceline from Ragged Point to Cambria, and most of all enjoying the incredible scenery. At the beginning of the day, Amy and I had decided that we would continue past that day’s official stopping point (Morro Bay) and ride the whole way into San Luis Obispo (where we would stay the night at her house). Since our bags would still be in Morro Bay, we were planning to drive back out to get them… but during the ride, we met a guy who offered to bring our bags with him when he took a taxi to SLO to get his rental car. What a nice guy… he definitely made our day.

Perfect way to start Day 3

While the third day greeted us with sore legs, we were looking forward to the reward of arriving in Santa Barbara and finishing our journey. After enjoying coffee in downtown SLO, we headed south on familiar SLO County roads. It wasn’t long before we were in Guadalupe and then Lompoc. After a quick lunch stop at Subway (did you know that you can order a mini sandwich for $2?), we were back on the road. I don’t think I ever realized before how pretty the hills are south of Lompoc. After a long climb and quick descent, we jumped on the 101 and were quickly enveloped in fog. The section of highway was somewhat unenjoyable (especially since we didn’t get any ocean views), but it was made a little better by the small group of guys we were able to join. They were moving along at a pretty good clip. At some points I was at my limit, but somehow managed to convince my tired legs to pedal just hard enough to keep from getting dropped. After what seemed like forever, we exited the freeway and finished the final ten miles on local roads. We rolled into Santa Barbara a little after 3pm, and were greeted by the most beautiful stack of pizza boxes I have ever seen (I think there may have been some people there too).

The Coast Ride was all about sharing a beautiful bike ride with friends – new and old.

All in all, The Coast Ride was a blast. It was awesome having nothing to do but ride my bicycle for 3 days straight. We met some really fun people, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the California Coast from the seat of a bicycle. It is truly amazing how different the experience is (compared to driving in a car). If you get a chance to do a multi-day cycling trip sometime, I encourage you to take advantage of it. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to:
Scott Witthoff for organizing an amazing ride,
Amy Olin for being an incredible training partner and companion on the ride,
My husband for encouraging me to spend an entire 3-day weekend on my bicycle,
Fluid Sports Nutrition for keeping us fueled for 375 miles,
and Art’s Cyclery for keeping my bike rolling.