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My First Double Century Ride
The double century is a ride that I have been anticipating for a few months. I have done many century rides in my cycling adventure but I have never actually done a double century ride until recently. In case you are wondering what a century ride is, it is a 100 mile bicycle ride. As you probably guessed, if a century ride is a 100 mile ride, then a double century is a 200 mile ride. I have to say that it takes a lot of energy, commitment, and determination in order to consistently ride a bicycle for 100 miles. It takes even more to ride 200 miles.
Last week I had some friends from Los Angeles stay at my place who were going to the AIDS LifeCycle Ride. The Aids Lifecycle Ride to End AIDS is a 7 day bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds and awareness to fight against AIDS and HIV. I mentioned all of that to say due to the fact that they were going to be riding in this 545 mile ride I was inspired to finally do the double century ride that I have been anticipating for the past few months.
If I had the money or know how to contribute to fundraisers financially with good causes I would be happy to join but until then I just ride for health and enjoy every moment of it. I enjoy the adventure and the fact that I am improving my own strength, endurance and health by riding my bicycle too . In this article I am going to share the experience that I encountered in my first double century.
It was on Sunday at 5pm that I headed out on a phenomenal bicycle ride that I will never forget. I got on my PureFix Track Bike and headed down Hesperian in Hayward, CA. I was heading towards San Jose and figured that I will go to Santa Cruz and back for the fun of it. I have heard that there are some serious mountains that I will have to climb to get there but I was not deterred by that. I was motivated to accomplish the goal that I had set. Much of that motivation was due to the fact that my friends were riding to Los Angeles from San Francisco.
I knew that it would be easier if I had a road bike but don’t so I have to work with what I have which is a Fixie. I like my fixie, it actually make my legs stronger because I have to put more effort when riding up and down hills. The reason that I have to put effort going up hills is because I don’t have the option to shift to a higher gear when heading up an incline. I am riding with one gear and one gear only. I have to use more effort during declines as well because as the rear wheel moves the pedals move as well so there is no coasting down the hill without my legs constantly moving.
As I was riding down Hesperian Blvd in Hayward I was going about 18 to 21 miles per hour at a steady rate. Of course I had to stop at the lights so I didn’t get run over or hit by a car but for the most part the lights were green so I just kept rolling. When I got to Union City, CA Hesperian Blvd turned into Union City Blvd. Then before I got to Newark, CA, Union City Blvd turned into Ardenwood Blvd then when I got to Newark, CA Ardenwood turned into Newark Blvd. I rode down Newark Blvd all the way until it turned into Central Ave and I came to Cherry St and took a left. I can go on and on about the streets I went down but I am just going to get to the part when I got to San Jose.
When I got to San Jose I had ridden about 36 miles already and decided that it would be a good time to get to a coffee shop and charge my Cell Phone and get a cup of coffee. I didn’t mind a bit of caffeine for the long distance ride that I was embarking upon. Caffeine helps with cognition and as a minor stimulant it gives an energy boost for the ride. I suppose I could have just got a bunch of peanuts for energy but I enjoy coffee.
As I was charging my cell phone I was talking to a guy that was sitting outside of the Starbucks. We started talking about the ride that I was going to be taking to Santa Cruz. The guy told me that it will take about 4 hours for me to get to Santa Cruz which was about 36 miles away from the coffee shop. He told me that because I am on a fixed gear bicycle that there is no way that I am going to be able to get up the first steep hill without getting off my bicycle. I was not sure about that but it would not be long before I found out what hill he was talking about.
I left the coffee shop at about 7pm and headed to Santa Cruz. I went to Los Gatos blvd and then had to get off roan and go to Los Gatos Creek Trail. Los Gatos Creek Trail is a gravel trail and because of the fact that I was riding a fixie I had to ride slow so that I didn’t pop one of my tires. As I was on the trail I ran into that hill the guy back in San Jose at the Starbucks told me about. Yeah I had to walk up that hill but it was only about 100 feet so it was not that bad. I was then at the Alma Dam and able to ride from there on. Riding around the Alma Dam was a fun part of the ride because there were a lot of steep declines along the way. Once I got to Old Santa Cruz Highway it seemed as if I was on a constant incline. I kept going up until I got to Summit Rd.
Summit Rd is a real dangerous road to cycle on because the road is narrow and there are vehicles that are traveling fast. After I went down summit the fun really began. All that climbing up inclines had finally paid off. I reached Old San Jose Rd and it was pretty much a downhill journey from that point on with a few small inclines. I reached speeds of over 35MPH going down that hill into Soquel. Once I got to Soquel I took a water break.
I continued up Soquel Ave until I got to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. At the boardwalk I decided I should charge my cell phone. I saw an outlet on a light post and plugged my charger in just to find out that the power outlet had no power. I decided to call one of my friends that lives in Santa Cruz to stop for a visit. As I was calling some police officers approached me and asked me what I was doing at the light post and I told them I was trying to charge my phone. Then they asked me for my ID and then I left. I went to Mission road and came to a Safeway where I was able to buy a snack and charge my phone. As I was charging my phone my friend walked in the Safeway and we hung out for a bit. He asked me if I wanted to stay at his house but I told him I was on a mission to complete a double century. He told me that I am crazy for that. I guess you have to be a little crazy to ride that far.
After my phone was charged up I took off down Mission and headed towards San Francisco. It must have been about 1:00AM. I thought to myself there is no turning back now. I have no choice but to keep going. Once I got to Davenport I hit was at about 100 miles. I kept going and there were no cars in sight at that time in the morning. I had the whole road to myself except every now and then a car would drive by. The ride was amazing because along the coast the hills go up and down and you feel like you are on a rollercoaster ride.
I got to a hill on Cabrillo HYW and at the top of the climb was pure downhill I felt like I was going about 40MPH at the top speed. I was flying no doubt. When I hit flat grounds I began to get really thirsty and there was not a store that was opened in sight. I knew that once I get to Half Moon Bay there would be a store so I kept going as fast as I could. I reached Half Moon Bay and came to a 7-11 and got some coffee and a doughnut to keep full of energy until I get to Linda Mar so I could get to Safeway.
When I got back on Highway 1 the fog in Half Moon bay was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I was getting drenched with all this salty fog and it was making me so wet it was as if I was riding in the rain with my clothes on. I would have to say that was one of the most uncomfortable part of the ride because I the tiredness was just starting to really kick in and it was not helping to be cold and wet on top of that. It all changed once I got out of Montera though because the sun started to come out and dry my wet clothes.
I was riding on Devil’s Slide and I had to proceed with extreme caution because the shoulder of the road was about 1 inch in some parts and in others it was less. Some of the cars that drive around the bends go at high speeds too. From the point of the Old Bunker to the entrance of Linda Mar was the most dangerous parts of the ride. I suppose if there were no cars it would have been safer but there were cars and a lot of them.
Once I got to Linda Mar I went to Safeway and had plain Greek yogurt, banana and a doughnut for breakfast. After a 10 minute breakfast I got back to riding. I went to Pacific Manor and had to take some side streets because I was not able to ride on highway 1 anymore. I went up Palmetto Ave to Skyline Dr and took a right on Gateway Dr. and bombed Hickey Blvd and went to El Camino. From El Camino it was a straight shot all the way to the Embarcadero Bart Station. I hopped on Bart and got off at the next stop which was West Oakland. From there I went to Lake Merritt and road around it a few times to come up on some miles so that I could reach the 200 mile mark that I wanted to. After I circled the lake I headed north on International and went all the way to Union City. From Union City I went back to Hayward and that finished my double century goal.
I was able to see the stats of my ride from the strava application on my iphone. This ride was 202.6 miles long plus about 3 miles that I did not record in SF. I climbled 9,668 feet elevation and burned 8,683 Calories. That is over 2 lbs of Fat! I did all this in about 15:26:48. I was not nearly as tired as I thought that I would be which surprised the heck out of me. I have done century rides and been more exhausted than I was this time. After this ride I am really considering doing a triple century but I think that I would like to have a road bike before I do it.