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What's It Like to Ride the California Coast for a Good Cause? Can Anyone Do It?

There are lots of wonderful bike charity rides throughout the USA, from coast to coast. Here’s a quick snapshot of one of the most scenic rides of them all—the 8-day, 525-mile California Coast Classic supporting the Arthritis Foundation.

Some 150 riders began their CCC tour in San Francisco, with an additional 150 cyclists joining them for the final 2-day stretch from Buellton to Los Angeles.

These last 2 sections were supported in part by a pair of REI’s certified bike technicians, Mitch Myers (shown below) of the REI Santa Barbara store and Shane Quentin of the REI Santa Monica store. The addition of Mitch and Shane was essential since the ride doubled in size for the final push.

Mitch Myers, bike tech from REI Santa Barbara store

Most of their time was dedicated to wrenching, since all those cyclists covering all those miles virtually guarantees that breakdowns will happen. But when the guys weren’t working, they found time to get to know some of the riders on the tour.

Who takes part in such a big ride? Here are a few examples:

Kathleen Sedino, a chemical engineer from San Diego:

Q: Why are you here?

A: I’m riding to help cure arthritis

Q: How was your ride this morning?

A: It was a little tough, there was a headwind. But there was a lot of support, lots of good people to support you. And I know I can do it.

Q: Is this your first long ride?

A: Yes, it’s been a little tough but there is so much support and all the people are really great. It’s really nice meeting new people and the support people are so awesome. REI bike doctors are the bomb. Thanks, REI!

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia (right), a business owner from Thousand Oaks, Calif.:

Q: Why are you riding?

A: I’m riding for my wife who has a form of arthritis. I’m here with a team from Thousand Oaks, a couple of folks from Amgen and a rheumatologist. This is something that I plan to do again, and maybe even sponsor a team next year.

Q: How do you like the food so far?

A: Food has been good. Breakfast has been good. Dinner has been good. Mechanics have been good, too.

Q: What was your favorite part of today?

A: Best part of today was coming down the coast with the ocean breeze, bit of a tailwind for a few minutes and cruising down into Santa Barbara.

Jamaica Lambie, a bike mechanic from Davis, Calif. (formerly of the REI San Francisco store):

Q: What are you doing here?

A: This is my 7th year with the Arthritis Foundation ride. We are going to repair the damage from today and make sure everyone is smooth so they don’t have a mechanical issue that keeps them from the finish. 

Q: What’s been the most challenging part of working on the California Coast Classic?

A: Seven straight days are more than most bike components can handle. The bikes are worn down. We are limping some of them to the finish lines. It’s more than most bodies can handle, but we’ve got support for that, too.

Q: What kind of challenges are you encountering?

A: The bike’s cables and housings are shot by the end of the week. The tires are pretty cooked; we’ve replaced dozens already. Hundreds of flats, some bar tape, miscellaneous broken bits that people didn’t foresee like computers. Lot of computer mounts and GoPro mounts on the heads. And an occasional overhaul with a headlamp.

Stopping at the end of the day
Cyclist Johnny Burke

Above: Riders stopping at the end of the day's ride in Southern California.

Johnny Burke, from New Jersey but currently a UCLA graduate student:

Q: How long have you been riding?

A: Today is day 7, so today is the day everything starts to hurt. It’s been a blast so far, I can’t lie.

Q: What was the hardest day?

A: I would say the hardest day was also the easiest day, which was day 4. That’s when you go out of Big Sur over the Twin Sisters. It’s a bit challenging if you don’t pace yourself in the morning, which I didn’t do. But it was also probably the most beautiful section of riding I’ve ever done.

Q: What’s kept you motivated over the course of the ride?

A: I mean, just the coastline. People travel all over the world to see beautiful places and we have California; it’s ours, you know. And Route 1, seeing the topography change going in and out of little coastal towns. There’s just nothing better. I just pedal to see what’s around the next turn. It’s pretty awesome.

Even more awesome: The cyclists on the California Coast Classic raised over $1 million dollars for the Arthritis Foundation. 

Way to go, everyone.

Below are a few photos from the longer tour. For more photos, see the CCC Facebook page.

Bike maintenance on the CCC

Above: Riders camped each night along the route.

california-coast-cycling

Above: Fog is not uncommon along the Central California coast.

california-coast-rest-stop

Above: Sharing a laugh along the rugged coast near Carmel.

bike-tech

REI bike techs helped to keep the riders rolling.

Posted on at 8:15 AM

Tagged: Arthritis Foundation, California Coast Classic, Cycling and bike touring

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