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Monday, February 5, 2007

Practice Run

Last Friday and Saturday (February 2 and 3), we went on a "practice run" from Los Angeles to San Diego. Our purpose was to give us an idea of what we're getting ourselves into and to see what things we won't really need to bring on our trip, as well as what we will need that we didn't plan to bring. It was a 130 mile trip, and we planned to camp overnight at San Onofre State Beach Park. Alex, Dana's brother, joined us, as well as Heather, his girlfriend, as SAG support (we'll call her Heather S. to avoid any confusion with the author, who has the same name). Before we started, I made a silent promise to myself that I would not complain, whine, quit, give up, or say/do anything to pull us down. The first few miles were a bit tough as we took some time to get used to all the extra weight. After we got used to it, the next 50 miles were pretty smooth. I was pleased to find that most of the route was either a bike path next to the beach, or a nice, roomy bike lane on the road. At one point, we missed a turn because the roads don't really connect to the beach bike paths. We had to backtrack a bit, but a few extra miles and we found our way again.

Lesson learned #1: If there is a turn ahead, get off the bike path and onto the road so we won't miss the turn.

After the first 60 miles, the path started to get more and more hilly. I guess they call it Laguna "hills" for a reason. It became nothing more than zooming down the hill, then slowly pedaling at 3 or 4 mph up the hill. After a while, we were so exhausted from steering with the extra weight that we were swerving all over the road. We had already biked 80 miles at that point, and the sun had set several hours ago. At one point, Dana asked me if I wanted to stop and walk up the hill. I lost control of my bike, hit a curb and fell over. My body was so exhausted it couldn't go on.

Lesson learned #2: Don't plan to bike a specific number of miles in a day. Rather, we should plan to bike 6 to 8 hours per day, and set up camp before sundown, and before we get exhausted.

Fortunately, we called Heather S., our SAG support, to come and pick us up. We loaded the bikes and our equipment, and headed to our predetermined campsite. Lo and behold, when we got there, it was closed. The next campground was back quite a few miles. I'm taking this as a blessing in disguise--if we had continued to bike to this area, only to find it closed, I would have been pissed!

Lesson learned #3: Call ahead to make sure campgrounds will be open.

We set up camp at San Mateo campground, Heather set up the sleeping bags and tarp, while Dana cooked the food. We were starving, cold, and exhausted. Heather actually ate her dinner out of her sleeping bag, then rolled over and immediately fell asleep. The next day, we awoke to a beautiful morning, and biked up some more hills. Torrey Pines was especially excruciating! It was a 400 feet climb over 2 very steep miles.

Lesson learned #4: Heather needs to train on hills.

One thing that I noticed was that I was always eating. Every time we stepped off our bikes for a break or a restroom break, I would grab our snacks and chomp away. We stopped at a Subway to eat, and I surprised myself by ordering a sandwich with the works. I always get a ham, cheese, and pickle sandwich, that's it. I guess my tiny frame (5'4" and 100 pounds) needed the calories!

Lesson learned #5: Bring lots and lots of snacking food!

All in all, I think it was a great trip. Even though we overestimated our abilities, if we had a perfect ride, we wouldn't have learned anything. We made several mistakes, and now we know what to expect for our big trip. We might make one more trip to San Diego before our big trip, just as an extra practice.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Oh man. I had forgotten you told me the campground was closed when you got there! I would have been pissed, too!