The California Bicycle Coalition‘s inaugural Surf ‘n Turf Tour continued its way down the coast. After Halloween rain showers we enjoyed spectacular clear skies and warming temperatures – ideal conditions for touring.
This ride is fully supported, all we have to do is pedal. Our backpacks are gathered each morning after breakfast, a truck and 2 support vans take care of us at every step. We have 5 support staff which do an excellent job of keeping it all carefree. They’ve studied the route and lead us along some of the most lovely scenery in the world.
Each afternoon we roll into our accommodations – on Day 2 that’s a hostel in Santa Monica. Picture 10 men packed into 10 bunk-beds and one bath. Like school kids on a sleep-over, we stayed up telling stories, bonding.
Riding into Long Beach our destination for the night is the Queen Mary; several of us have never visited. There will be a swank dinner with lots of local bicycle advocates, many familiar faces.
Tour sponsor Pedego Electric Bikes offers the highlight of the evening — founder Don DiCostanzo surprises the audience: he will draw from the raffle tickets until a woman wins the step-through beach cruiser he’s donated and until he draws a woman’s ticket, those men will win an eBike for their significant-other. The audience thrills as it takes two reaches into the fishbowl to find a woman’s winning ticket. Last stop of the evening – eBike rides on the Promenade deck!
Day 4’s route is right in my back yard. I’ve designed this route and today I’m asked to lead. It’s an honor and one I couldn’t manage without the eBike. With a little electric boost I’m able to stay in front of this athletic group.
It’s another gorgeous morning and we’re especially lucky to be riding almost exclusively off Coast Hwy, so everyone can relax and concentrate on the views. A little tailwind doesn’t hurt.
I’ve marked all the best spots for short breaks and each stop deserves a short story. There are the green Sharrows on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore to tee up. The Huntington Beach pier looks quiet this time of year, so I describe the 4th of July crush and the live music venues – how bicycle advocacy leads to an interest in Placemaking, which is done so well right here. At the Newport Beach pier, if you pause for a few minutes you can see the maze etched into the centerpiece courtyard and you can smell the leftovers from the fishing fleet’s early-morning catch. Our SAG stop happens to be right opposite a particularly crowded section of beach bonfire rings, so how can I resist telling the story of the AQMD’s efforts to reduce air pollution from the toxic pits? Most don’t know of the adverse effects from breathing woodsmoke.
I’m on a roll now, in more ways than one, so at lunch everyone gathers as I hint at my next story. I’ve rehearsed this surprise goodbye: it’s election day and I’m off to party with my favorite local candidates — I’m dropping out of the ride. It’s hard to leave my new best friends, but bicycle advocacy requires double doses of political support and tonight may offer new opportunities to ask for help.
As the group moves out, turning left for San Clemente, I pedal right on my ride home, alone.