The Tests - Tearing Down the Coast - CycleBlaze

The Tests

Climbing Mt Everest and losing our breakfast

I trained by riding around the hilly peninsula I grew up on, approximately 40 to 50 kilometers depending on the route.  Always trying to beat my best time.  Occasionally riding north to Santa Monica for a seventy plus km ride.  One of my favorite rides took me to a 1,300 foot summit and then back to sea level down a narrow winding canyon with an equally narrow two lane road.  A stranger in a pickup truck told me, when he caught up with me, he clocked me at 65 mph.  On those cotton tires with that pitiful excuse for a helmet it was an insane stunt.  I did it over and over again.  But whatever my perchance for steep grades and racing cars around hairpin curves they paled when compared to Ed's riding antics.  

Ed taught me a lot about riding techniques both orthodox and heterodox.  Things like proper gear sequencing going into a steep hill, and how to draft anything moving more quickly than you no matter how big or small, or how fast.

Our parents insisted we make a successful overnight ride to shake down our bikes and gear, and ourselves before we could take off on our quest.  Ed suggested we ride from his home in San Diego to the Mt. Palomar Observatory.    That is from sea level to up and up and still up to 5,618 feet above sea level, with a cumulative elevation gain that felt equal to summiting Everest, but in the blasting desert heat of July with a lot of it standing up out of the saddle for ninety miles.  We took a wrong turn and headed to the town of Alpine also, as the name implies, up. We corrected our direction, but we called it quits in Ramona.  We had had a light breakfast and brought no lunch and found we only had about three dollars between us.  Ed said vegetable were cheaper than meat and pooled our money into fresh tomatoes and Julian cherries.  We rode home downhill often at terminal velocity and were met with a hot pot roast prepared by Ed's mom.   Tired and hungry - we failed the test.

I suggested we ride from my house north towards Santa Barbara.  We made it a respectable one hundred and fifty km to a wide-open desolate stretch of beach near Carpinteria and called it home for the night.  Dinty Moore beef stew cook over drift wood for dinner, and cold cereal, milk, a pound of bacon and a dozen eggs for breakfast (about the right number of calories to start off a day's ride.).  The stew had the taste of success with every bite as we ate to setting sun and breaking waves .  We decided to bury the bacon, eggs and milk in wet sand to keep them cool overnight and marked the spot with a stick.  In the morning the sea gulls had gotten into the cereal and the high tide had carried away our marker stick.  We dug for quite a while but never found our breakfast fixings.  We found a cafe about ten miles south for pancakes and bacon.  Assignment completed.  We were ready to ride the big ride on the big road!

Smith’s Bike shop offered to tune both of our bikes up at no charge. As a bonus they tweak our derailleurs to accept "wide range gearing" for the mountain grades we would encounter.  Five cog 13-24 tooth freewheels and 52/48 chainrings would give us the low mountain gearing we would need to pull our touring loads up the steepest grades.  Some cycling purest moaned disapproval when Floyd Landis used compact gears in the Alps to save his knees during the Tour de France.  We were still riding in the days of "steel bikes and iron knees."  We never walked up a grade, no matter how steep. See to calculate your gear inches if you don't know them and compare them to 1963.

We also glued on extra wide, 24mm, Wolber tubular tires to carry our loaded bikes the distance.

We paused for a photo before heading north for our second shakedown ride.  That's Ed's Alegro with the black saddle bag we both carried. That's all there was save for the sleeping bag strapped to the rack. We were early minimalists.

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