For fellow senior Joe Laughlin and I, finishing our final winter break trip was incredibly rewarding to know we put in our final efforts in Panama City Beach, but bittersweet to know it will be our last time going down as a rider for the team. One redeeming factor was that Eric Anderson, ’13 alumni and coach, booked us a flight out to San Diego the following week during syllabus week from Wednesday Jan. 11th to the following Sunday Jan. 15th. As an opportunity to spend some time with him and get some additional training in, we were both ecstatic about the trip. Chris Craig, ’15 alumni and former teammate, got word of our trip out and made the 6-hour drive down to be with us for 4 out of our 5 days in San Diego.
Initially upon flying in we stopped and grabbed some healthy food at Simple Greens, and both pleasantly surprised with how great the food was. We headed over to a bike shop Anderson works and trains with where they hooked us up with a great deal on some rental bikes. Once we had bikes in hand we headed to Anderson’s home to head out for a short spin to adjust our bodies to the new bikes and check out some of the scenery. After getting home, we were quickly headed back out to check out “Flote”, a spa type facility with sensory deprivation tanks to relax in. There could be much more said about our experience there, but for the sake of time will just say it was a meditative and thought provoking experience. We finished off our first night at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood where we had the best fish tacos and shrimp ceviche and left us feeling like we were certainly not in Bloomington any longer.
The following morning began with a very early start. We were up and on bikes by 6 a.m. headed to meet a group ride by the ocean. There weren’t many people that day in the group but the ride consisted of hill repeats up a 350 ft. climb by the ocean that created a unique experience for the boys. After several times up and down, we headed back towards Anderson’s home to quickly refuel and head back out for some more riding. We got back out on our bikes and headed north this time to follow the coastline along ocean highway. The views and type of riding we were met with made us both consider what other riding we may get to do during our time. Riding through U.C. San Diego’s campus and along Ocean Highway brought some incredible views accompanied with surprising climbs. We finished with our riding around noon logging nearly 80 miles and 5 hours on the bike. Chris Craig arrived that evening just in time to make it out to a concert at Bang Bang Nightclub for a couple hours.
The following morning was a slower one and resulted in a day focused on enjoying our ride that day. We headed north along the route we took the day prior along the coast and up Ocean Highway. We went considerably longer down the coast before stopping at a grocery store to grab some sandwiches and fuel to make it home. On our way home we stopped at a neat point along the ocean where hang gliders were taking off and landing due to the ocean breeze coming up the cliff they were flying over. It brought some great moments for pictures and reminding ourselves of the many reasons we ride bikes.
Our final full day was Saturday and the focus was on getting in a massive ride and seeing some of the mountains just outside the city. We didn’t get in as much riding as we hoped to the day prior so everyone was excited about our ride that day. After much debate, we decided on riding out to the area we wanted to ride, doing “The Great West Loop”, then meeting a trolley to bring us back through the city. The hour and a half trek out through suburbs, college campuses, and cityscapes made for an interesting warm-up and left us eagerly awaiting a caffeine boost before starting the loop. We made a stop for coffee and then headed off towards the mountains.
This was my very first time riding in mountains and something I had been looking forward to for an extended period of time. Joe hadn’t gotten any riding of this type in either so we were enthralled with the sights and views provided to us along the ride. We were feeling a fair amount of built up fatigue at this point from our riding the days prior and the PCB trip, but with the help of Chris and Eric we were able to keep a strong pace the whole time. We had big climbs on the day with our major climb being around 2,000 vertical feet. The loop was awe-inspiring and made us both consider what type of riding we may want to do after graduation. When the ride was completed we finished with over 80 miles and 5,000 ft. of climbing, completing the ride in 5.5 hours.
The week as whole brought a lot of new experiences in a city we hadn’t done much adventuring in. We managed to fit in about 14 hours of riding and 200 miles during our short stay which left our legs ready for a rest period. The trip was a unique one and couldn’t have been possible without the hospitality and travel provided by Eric Anderson.
The support provided by the Betabikes family and alumni as a whole continues to drive me each and every day, and I couldn’t thank you enough for the continued motivation. The team just finished up with some racing in Louisville and are down in Bloomington this week training on the track before some more racing next weekend in St. Louis. We will be sure to get another update on the blog soon about our week and look forward to the next steps we take as a team towards bringing glory home on April 22.