Day four..."hump day"...get over the hump on Hwy 46 and you're halfway there...photo op! But first, a formal introduction is in order. That's me (the one with the helmet), and that's my baby (well actually my beautiful daughter Rebecca is my baby, but she's not on the ride with me.) She's a sizzling hot Redline R760; not the flashiest set of wheels in the bike parking lot, but she goes like the wind. The traditional photo at the Hwy 46 summit overlooking the ocean (which you can see when it's not socked in with fog like today) is holding the bike upside down over your head. Okay...fine...do that. But I have a little too much respect for my bike; thought she deserved the dignity of having her wheels on the ground in the photo. But let's back up and look at how we got here...
Routine start to the day, tent and bag packed, great breakfast (man the food is good; could be because I'm always starving 24/7), and on the road out of the Mid State Fairgrounds in Paso Robles before 7:00. It was cool and a little damp; heard a little complaining about that, but I love to ride in cool air. Out Highhway 46 west-bound, and we're on our way. It's a beautiful ride out through a lot of wine country, rollling hills, and a nice wide shoulder for cyclists. And with the cool air, it was ideal riding. Rest stop one seemed a little early, but I've committed to ALWAYS stopping to eat, hydrate, and stretch, and the rest stops are overflowing with energy and anticipation.
From there, it was on toward the dreaded "Evil Twins". Misnomer if you ask me. Maybe "sassy twins", but not evil. They are a pair of fairly strenuous climbs, but nothing next to the previous day's "Quadbuster". Of course they do come the day AFTER the Quadbuster, so legs aren't quite as fresh. But I felt great, and went charging out to meet them. The first one rolled by quickly, then a bit of a descent before the second one. If I hadn't taken training seriously the past several months, it might have been a challenge, but as I climbed I realized that it was just going to be a nice workout.
Well...it WAS going to just be a nice workout...but then I started thinking (uh-oh). I read recently a remark about a tough climb that said basically that cycling can be a real challenge, but not as much of a challenge as battling cancer. Obviously, the same could be said about battling HIV/AIDS. The difference between cycling and battling a disease is that we can decide to get off the bike and walk the hill if we want to. The guy with the positive test or the full blown disease can't ever take a break from the fight. I've been thinking about that a lot lately while I'm riding, and finding it to be an inspiring thought. So I was riding up the second of the Evil Twins this morning, getting close to the top, and I thought, "This is too easy. I've trained too well, and there's no fight in this fish!" So I dug down deep, and kicked my sizzling Redline R760 into a full-fledged sprint for the last quarter mile. I'm sure that the cyclists I was passing thought I was an idiot. I'm not one of those hot-shots who can do that sort of thing; I was near that "panic breathing" thing, and must have sounded like I was going to have a heart attack. I was pushing with everything I had, knowing that I was going to pay for it later but it just seemed like the way to ascend the summit and earn the photo with the bike at the Halfway to L.A. sign.
Halfway to L.A. Something like 270 miles of this glorious experience in the bag, incredible experiences racked up along the way, and more of the same (or something different!) to come. There's no desire to be done with this, no longing for the end of the road, just an excitement to see what the rest of the journey has to offer. We're in Santa Maria. It was a tough afternoon ride featuring a REALLY nasty little hill on Halcyon Road about 65 miles into the ride. I'm tired, a little sore, and hungry (again). And loving every minute of this.