Overall the Ride Across California 2013 was a lot of fun. It was a test for the parents as well as the kids on how to keep their kids hydrated, motivated, and allow them to have fun. It also was put together in a way that would challenge but not destroy kids and it was an adventure, not a destination objective. The trip included things that the kids would enjoy doing and wasn’t focused on just getting to the ocean.
I loved day 1, as it started off with an unexpected twist, getting a chase vehicle out of the sand. This to me was cool! It signaled right away that this trip would not be anything like I had expected, but would be an adventure.
Day 2 was the biggest millage day and continued to drive confidence into the kids. They were zapped at the end but recovered in about an hour.
Day 3 was the crucible for these kids (reference to the final test a marine goes through). I loved the fact that Mari Lu participated in one of the hardest days on the road. There was no quitting, only doing. Day 3 was the hardest day of cycling I’ve ever had so it had to be very very tough for the kids, all of whom made it to the end. The kids were tired when they got to the last 14 miles when the winds kicked up to a 20 - 25 mph headwind after riding 35 miles, playing in the heat, and swimming. Gary, our leader, was afraid that they wouldn’t make because he needed to pull riders off the road when it get’s dark. The fact that they all made it through given their various issues (most tired, other needed a food hit, some may have approached dehydration) was fantastic.
Day 4 was a demonstration that something really significant happened on day 3 because it started out with an uphill into the wind and there was not one kid complaining. They’d seen the worst and proved they could achieve so much more in more difficult conditions.
Day 5 taught us to always plan for the worst (food poisoning) and pack appropriately. It also taught many of the kids that you don’t just quit when you are sideswiped by health issues. If you can go, you go. Although several kids got a pass if they were too sick to ride, many gutted it out (along with the parents that were sick). I’m bummed that Mari Lu didn’t complete two of the three big climbs but she proved after the first one that she could do it. She beat her mom and I to the top and it was a tough one.
Day 6 was the positive punctuation point to the trip as we had beautiful landscapes combined with lots of descents through the mountains on dirt and pavement. The timing was perfect as to drive home to the kids that this really is fun and the fact that they had really achieved something great was starting hit home. One rider had a close call with a truck pulling a trailer but wasn’t hurt.
Day 7 was the victory lap so to speak. We could have made it to the beach if that was the only objective but the tour worked in one more destination that the kids would enjoy, the strawberry patch. The arrival at the beach to cheers of a crowed was really great for the kids. Having the kids be interviewed by news crews was icing on the cade. The kids reveled in their success. Mari Lu, myself and some of the other kids were on the news but it was nice to know we were going to sleep in our own beds and get a hot shower tonight. Many of the kids, including Mari Lu, said they wanted to do the trip again. Given the challenges that they endured you can’t hope for an outcome any better than this. Mari Lu mentioned something to the effect that she “experienced it” rather than watching from afar.
What I hoped ML Learned
- You can do things that you didn’t think you can do. With training, support, and the will to do something, you can overcome the desire to quit and push to the end. There’s always a little gas in the tank. Day 3 hopefully drove this home. There is no try, only do (as Yoda says).
- When someone is broken down on the side of the road in cycling or life, you offer assistance.
- We help each other through tough times, cheer others, and have fun.
- There are some things that you can’t train for (the wind), and you have to just gut it out.
- Touring on bikes gives you a whole new perspective of the land and puts you more in touch with the country.
- Mom and Dad aren’t too old to ride hard :)
What I learned
- More patience and keeping it positive
- What it really means to be a domestique for my leader.
- Made new friends and saw another slice of humanity from all over the world.
- 5th graders can do a lot more than you think.
- I enjoy helping kids reach a goal.
- It now takes 5 days on the bike before my butt stops hurting.
- I can semi-live blog from my iPhone.
Some Stats from the Trip
From: Robert Jacques
I have pulled the data off of the GPS from the trip. Here are the totals by day and cumulative:
- Day 1: 17.7 miles, 545 feet of ascent.
- Day 2: 53.9 miles, 1,236 feet of ascent.
- Day 3: 48.4 miles, 1,160 feet of ascent.
- Day 4: 28.5 miles, 2,020 feet of ascent.
- Day 5: 34.8 miles, 3,810 feet of ascent.
- Day 6: 43.5 miles, 2,570 feet of ascent.
- Day 7: 34.2 miles, 1,544 feet of ascent.
- Total: 261.0 miles, 12,885 feet of ascent.
We rode more than 2 miles straight up!!!
- Some days we used over 70 gallons of water for the riders. That’s a lot of thirst. There were days when I really had to force myself to drink my plastic tasting water though.
Go To Day 1 of RAC