It's Sunday evening as I write about our finish to this years adventure yesterday. While our first year down the coast riding and camping out was one to remember for, "What were you thinking!", to 2014 with the largest number of riders (42), 4 father son combos, 7 cancer survivors and some of the best cooperative riding seen in years. On Friday nite, Ventura County Fire Department hosted our group for dinner at FS50 which is located at the Camarillo Airport. Station 50 holds a Airport Crash rig, Engine Company, Paramedic Squad and a Hazardous Materials Squad. Our cyclists, support team and a few family friends were treated to a great dinner catered by Octavio's Italian restaurant. Special thanks to VCFD rider Steve Winter for coordinating our "final supper". No one left hungry and it confirmed to me that I'm not having another pasta dinner for at least a month! We were close enough to home to "touch it", but we had 44 miles to go. Everyone was in a celebratory mood and what was a "Who are these folks I'm riding with", one week ago in Sausalito was now solid new friendships born of more similarities than differences when it came to work, family and the impact of cancer in all our lives.
Saturday morning we gathered for our ride to the finish at the Santa Monica Pier. Club President Jim Berklite gave us our last rider's safety briefing reminding us that we had come too far to mar the event by a last minute accident so close to home. Rider's spoke of a family member or friends cancer status and Wade Little delivered our last morning prayer with a big AMEN from all of us. As is often the case, we had an escort from VCFD down Las Posas to PCH and into the "County Line"
Just past Neptune's Net, we re-grouped at VCFD station for water and bathroom break. We were ahead of schedule and everyone was eager to bring it home. As we passed LACoFD Station 71, I saw construction was underway for a new station. The irony of that was as a new firefighter in 1979, assigned to battalion 5, the department said they would be building a new 71's. I guess 35 years later they made good on their word! Our next to final stop was at LACoFD Station 88's for one final "watering". Patrol 70 with FF Andy Gosser arrived to provide a rear escort for us. At this point on PCH with 42 riders, it is impossible to use the shoulder for our travel so we took up the #2 lane which is now legal under California law. It was quite a sight as we received a lot of horn honking and well wisher waves from cars traveling in both directions. Off in the distance we could see the Santa Monica skyline of Ocean Blvd. and within a few minutes we arrived at parking lot #8. There to meet us was Santa Monica FD BC Jeff Furrows and a SMFD Engine with Medical Cart. SMFD has provided our final escort up the "California Incline" every year since we began. A good bunch of folks and we'd like to have some of their cyclists join us next year. It's 11:55 a.m. and our time to make that final climb up the hill, down Ocean Blvd. and turn onto to the world famous Santa Monica Pier where friends, family and people just visiting the pier greeted us with cowbells, whistles, hugs and kisses. We were safely home!
Pat Sullivan, Mike Connerty, Wade Little
Some interesting figures from this years ride. This is one sampling from a rider's Garmin device and can vary depending on a rider's physical input of age, weight and height as it relates to calories.
472.2 total miles - 32 hours 48 minutes ride time - 19,072 feet of climbing - 28,844 calories expended. On behalf of the riders, I want to thank the following folks who made this ride a success. Our support team - Ben, Roberto, Dinah, Mallori, Cindy & Chris for getting us down the coast with food, water, clean clothes and spare parts. Carol Fidani for setting up our food at the finish. Apologies if I left out anyone. Special thank you to our fire departments who hosted us - Sausalito, Half Moon Bay, Watsonville, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara City, Ventura County, Santa Monica.
Thanks to Acting Deputy Luke Claus for stopping by 88's to greet the riders and BC Bob Haskell for arranging the patrol escort. Mickey Gallagher passed the torch to Capt. Erik Albertson of LACoFD Lifeguard Division who made it work as it has every year. Congrats to newly promoted Section Chief Chris Linkletter. Using the pier would be an impossible task if not for the help of Officer Christopher Camp, Santa Monica Harbor Patrol. When I set up my fundraising program, my goal was to raise $3,000., as of today I can report $3,725. was generously donated by my many friends, family and co-workers. Thanks so much!! Finally, all of the riders want to thank their families for their support as they put in the many hours of riding in preparation for this difficult ride. Just as it was during our Academy days, we could not have made it through without that same level of support and commitment from our families.
Be safe, Be healthy, keep riding, I'll see you down the road!