Monday, November 15, 2021

Bike the Coast 50 Mile Ride Recap

A couple weeks ago I participated in the Bike the Coast event (I decided to tackle the 50 mile ride, although they also do offer 7, 15, 25 and 100 mile options as well). I won the entry on their social media back in 2019 for the 2020 event, but due to COVID that ride was postponed so I was finally able to redeem my registration at the beginning of November.

When in doubt, throw on ALL THE COLORS and ride it out!

I have participated in this event twice before. In 2014 I did the 50-miler and in 2017 the hubby and I did the 25-miler

Left: 2014 // Right: 2017

#RealTalk - I figured that 25 miles is probably more of a casual distance (maybe two hours or so), so why not add a little challenge if I'm going to do it?! (That was also the thinking I used when I selected the 50-miler as my first ultra distance... I figured that if I could do 26.2, then I could probably definitely do 31, so why not make it a little tougher and go for 50?! ;))


If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a bit, you may remember that the hubby, pup and I are in the middle of moving. We sold our condo and bought a house (everything became official at the end of September) and are in the middle of renovations (it was built in the 70s and we're only the third owners, so to say there are A LOT of necessary updates would be quite an understatement). Well, unfortunately we did not get enough done at the new place before we had to move out of our condo so we actually bunked with friends for a couple weeks while getting the new place "liveable". This bike ride took place in the middle of this transition, so it was a bit more hectic and chaotic than usual. 

With all but about four or five outfits that we had at our friends, everything else was boxed up in the new garage. The night before the ride we went over to get boxes out of the rafters so I could put together some sort of race day attire. I decided, seeing as this ride was all for fun (in fact, they don't even consider it a race), I'd go as bright and colorful as possible. 

Note: The bib on my shirt is not actually a bib, but my BIKE NUMBER ;) And there's a few "new" items not normally in my
flat runner [because it's a FLAT RIDER] pictures - like a helmet (borrowed from my boss) and homemade handlebar streamers ;)

The 50 mile ride was set to begin at 7:45am (with all riders needing to be started by 8:30am), so, as per usual, I set multiple alarms. One of the "nice" things about waking up at 3:33am during the week so I can run before work is when my alarm is set for 5:35am it feels like sleeping in... well, had I not been up until 11:30pm the night before... #Oops

The hubby offered to drop me and my borrowed bike (oh yeah, did I not mention that I don't own a bike?! HA! I actually was going back and forth on whether I should participate in the ride seeing all the hassle it was going to take, but finally decided to go for it when a friend offered up her cruiser {with gears} to use) at the start. There was a fun whale on the wall near where he was dropping me off so he snapped a quick pic before he took off (off to do more housework, of course).

Be honest, did you see the tiny surfer on the painting the hubby somehow got to line up perfectly like they were on my helmet?!

The weather was cool, gray, humid and overcast, so I wore thin gloves for the first few miles till my hands warmed up.

Can you say SOGGY?! And, YES, I am WELL AWARE that I'm a weather wimp now after living in SoCal for 15 years.

I ended up being in the 11th wave, which started right at 8am. I had no idea what to expect (sure, I might ride a stationary bike during the week while watching Netflix, but it doesn't have a speedometer or odometer so I have no idea how far or fast I'm riding {I normally just do it to get in a little sweat time while keeping my routine and not pounding the pavement every day}). I thought maybe I could ride a little less than twice as fast as I could run, so say I run 8-9 minute miles, maybe I could bike two miles every 10 minutes, but had no idea if that was a gross over- or underestimate... 


Before we get too far into the recap I want to address something. As you can see from the bike I was using and the outfit I was wearing, I am not what you would consider a "serious" biker. I'm not comfortable on a road bike and would prefer to avoid the head-to-toe lycra if at all possible ;) I am 100% positive that one look and everyone knew I was not "in it to win it". I was planning to enjoy the views of the coast while getting in a good workout and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. Well, apparently the other participants (at least the vocal ones) did not appreciate that attitude... The nasty comments (both to me and said loud enough near me so I could hear) started as soon as I rolled up to the ride. They ranged from "Have you ever even gone 50 miles before?!" to " I would never ride a bike like THAT for more than 10 miles at a time" or "Did you think she even trained for this?!" and those were all before I crossed the starting line! While on the course I was told that the bike was "too heavy", "too slow", "didn't have enough gears" and at one point, while I was waiting at a traffic light, an older gentleman rode up next to me, looked me up and down and told me that his only goal for the day was to beat me. I mean, really... How am I supposed to respond to comments like that?! I don't remember if I just tried to laugh it off or if I said anything in response, but I would assume my jaw was dragging on the ground for the next mile or so. I got a few "positive" comments, but most of them were about my outfit - not about how KICKASS I was doing. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't breaking any records, but I was on a bike probably twice as heavy and half as fast as most of the ones out there (and probably a tenth of the cost ;)) and was still going the same exact distance as they were. 


I'll be honest, at first I wasn't sure if folks were laughing at me or with me, I was just glad they were smiling... but after a while the comments stung. I know, I know, "sticks and stones", but it was a bit much. I did my best to keep a smile on my face, cheer on folks who passed me (because, let's be real, I'd pass a couple people as I stood up and pumped like heck to make it up the hills, but other than that I think the only people I passed were changing flat tires ;)) and enjoy the ride.


I'm not saying this for a "poor me" or to get sympathy, I'm saying it because if someone is doing something that seems to be making them happy and it's not hurting/ impacting you, YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY FOR THEM! And, at the very least, you shouldn't try to tear them down or rain on their parade. Let's spread kindness and keep the rudeness to ourselves, k?!


Okay, enough giving the haters the headspace (and blog space), onto the rest of the ride. Like I mentioned, I've done it twice before so I remember it being a ride and not a "race". I'm assuming they can keep the cost lower by not having to close the course/ get permits/ etc. Seeing as I was never going to win, I didn't care whether it was a ride or a race (I mean, we still got a medal at the finish, so I was okay ;)), but the one negative about the course not being closed (meaning we are just riding in the bike lane along a specific route) is you have to follow all of the laws of the road. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT a rule breaker, so that's not what I'm saying, but what I AM saying is having to stop at every single stop sign, traffic light, etc gets old QUICK! In years past I remember there were police officers at certain intersections and would write a ticket if a biker did not come to a complete stop and put at least one foot on the ground. Now, hear me out, I do this anyway (although I'd say unless we were in a busy part of one of the cities we rode through, I was the ONLY person doing this... participants weren't even doing 'rolling stops', they were just blowing through intersections with no regard for signs or signals), but having to start and stop constantly makes getting into a rhythm pretty difficult (especially when they was significant elevation along the route, so having to stop or start on steep uphills or downhills can be a pain in the batoot!). 


Remember how I mentioned I was borrowing the bike from a friend. Well, when the hubby went to pick it up (the day before the ride) he tried to do a few tune-ups on it (loosen the brakes so the front wheel could actually spin, lube the chain, etc) but it definitely wasn't in tip-top shape. In fact, although it had 7 gears, only gears 3, 4, 5 and 7 worked (the chain wouldn't catch on 1, 2 or 6). At some points it seemed like it was either way too easy or way too hard to pedal, but again, I was just thankful to be out there, enjoying the ocean breezes, so I didn't mind. I definitely had to "work" for this finish line. With that said, I didn't really have many opportunities to take photos. I snapped a quick selfie at one of the aid stations (and a picture of the bike), but other than that I had the pedal to the metal and was just chugging on. 

In fact, I have to say I am extremely proud of myself because I didn't stop a single time. I thought there were definitely going to be times where I'd have to walk the bike up hills, but I was able to power through and reach the top each and every time! 1,900 feet of climbing might not seem like a lot, but I promise you, on THAT bike, it was a booty kicker!

You'd think a "coastal" ride would be flat, HA! Funny joke!

When I had stopped at the final aid station, which was about 15 miles from the finish, I sent the hubby a text to let him know so he could leave to head down in about an hour to cheer me in. Seeing as I was in the back of the pack, the majority of the food was already gone, but I was able to snag a banana to help me make it to the finish (all of my normal running fuel was packed in boxes at our new place, so I was relying on the aid stations to keep me powered for the ride). Before I knew it the sun was popping out (the overcast weather kept the temps cool for most of the morning, which was much appreciated, at least by me ;)) and I was heading towards the Oceanside pier with the hubby waving at me!

The end was in sight!!

In total it took me about five and a half hours to finish the 50+ miles (there was a detour due to construction on the 101 in Encinitas, which added some distance and elevation, hence the almost 52 miles). Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

The green band was to show the volunteers at the aid stations that you were officially part of the ride.

I think I'll opt out of bike events for the future. I know not all bikers are rude-er-tons, but when I posted about my ride on social media, many people said they have had similar experiences in the cycling world, so I think it's best for me to pass. 


PS I don't blame Bike the Coast for my less than stellar adventure (well, the lack of aid for the back of the pack and the constant start/ stop because of the open route may be their "fault", but they can't control the attitudes or comments of their participants). I appreciate the opportunity to win the entry and love supporting local events whenever possible. If you are a "real" biker (or maybe have thicker skin than me), you might love this event! #ToEachTheirOwn #AndThats100%OKAY

When was the last time you were on a bike?

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