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Commuting and California Dreaming

The ding of my inbox grabbed my attention, as the subject line “Joel and Michaels Most Excellent Adventure” slid across the screen. 2020 kicked off with training in the LA area for the racing season to come.

The days are filled with long sunny miles, a lot of podcasts, and eating ALL of the food. I have always had this plan to ride from LA to Vista, CA to visit the Eliel HQ and decided this was the year to make it happen. The 110-miles along the SoCal coastline sounded like the perfect commute. After a few emails back and forth with Michael and Ryan, a route was planned and my idea was set into motion on an idyllic, sunny February day.

The journey started in Redondo Beach and strolled lazily along the vibrant green rolling hills of Palos Verdes (which means green sticks) overlooking the mighty Pacific where I was able to find some trails near along the cliffs and quickly took a dirty detour to check the waves out before starting the climb up the iconic Switchbacks… an iconic climb with breathtaking views and pitches alike.

And while its rugged riding captures our imagination, what goes on below the surface offers a fun, fascinating and teeming palette for design exploration.

I have climbed the PV Switchbacks countless times on the big Saturday group ride called The Donut; breathing heavily trying to hang on. Other times while just trying to get home, barely moving my legs. I felt great this morning and cruised up to Marymount California University where the Strava segment ends.

From the top of the Switchbacks, I cruised through the bustling streets of Long Beach, dodging trucks and the morning traffic before heading south to the Huntington Beach pier. I stopped for a quick view of the ocean and was bummed the diner wasn't open. Who doesn’t love a mid-ride burger?

After more coastal cruising on beautiful rolling roads, I continued to power south to the quaint town of Laguna Beach, for a quick check out of the mini boardwalk and visit with the locals, Who, at 11 am on a Friday, were mostly retired folks. Including the local "police.”

My favorite part of this ride by far was from San Clemente south, where Camp Pendleton opens up some of the most pristine coastal miles to riders of all stripes. It’s along the Old Pacific Highway (HWY 1), which is what people used to drive on before I5 was built in the ‘60s. This road is gated off so there are hardly any cars, so you’re most likely to run into a crew of surfers. There were a few opportunities to hop off the Old Highway and onto some dirt for some fun through this part of the ride.

After the Old Highway, Coast Hwy takes you through Oceanside and Carlsbad before turning inland to start the rolling hills up to Vista and the Eliel offices. This part of the ride, the last 10 miles, included some pitches that after 100 milers were burning my legs like I could not imagine. The racer in me always likes to do efforts at the end of rides and as a coach once told me, “You attack when you're tired because everyone is tired.” This was a whole new "tired" for me and my power numbers would show that. Despite my lethargic legs, I took that coach’s advice and threw in a few “efforts” at the end before devouring a Taco Bell burrito and heading up to the Eliel HQ to hang with the crew—all while soaking in this long memorable day on the bike.

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