Costa Mesa to Costa Mesa…and then to Carlsbad

Much like we did last year, my brother and I rode for breast cancer awareness. The ride was organized by Two Wheels One Planet, a bike shop in Costa Mesa, California, although there were scores of other rides organized throughout the country that day.

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As cynical as I am about these kinds of charity rides, riding again this year gave me time to reflect on how another year has passed, and our mother, who has had cancer twice is still with us. Maybe we didn’t find a cure along our twenty-plus mile ride, but I did find that I am grateful that my mother (and everyone else close to us) is cancer-free for another year. I also got a chance to ride a bike in a different state.

Charity Ride in Costa Mesa

Trip 3623646 map full

Like most charity rides of this distance, this ride wasn’t what I would call a challenge. It was great, however, for families and beginners to ride on a beautiful day along a lovely course for a cause. Almost the entire ride followed a bike path that surrounds a bay and then we proceed to another bike path running parallel to I-405. There’s a climb or two but nothing requiring any great effort.

Like last year, I rented a bike instead of shipping my own. But instead of renting from a bike shop, I used Spinlister, which I have never used before even if I have listed my own bike there for rent. Last year’s bike was a beautiful red steel Serrota with Dura Ace components. It was overkill for this ride. This year, I got something a little less upscale: a late-1990s Cannondale alumninum frame with Ultrega components, which cost about $50 for the whole weekend.

Coast Ride to Carlsbad

Knowing that a ride like this would be a bit ordinary for me, I lobbied to have my brother do a ride elsewhere, such as one in Ventura that included a 75-mile route. Such a ride would be more up to par for my weekend riding habits and he could still ride about 25 miles. My brother made the point, however, that riding in Costa Mesa would allow him to take his wife and son to Legoland, a mere 55 miles to the south in Carlsbad, after the ride. Each member of his family has a season pass so they go quite often. But having moved out of California a couple of years after the park opened in 1999, I had never been, and this seemed like a good opportunity to finally visit. My parents joined in the fun, too.

Since I had such a nice bike, I planned a route to meet everyone in Carlsbad. My mom thought I was crazy to ride that far, and my brother and dad both insisted that I load up the bike and take a ride with them. But I wasn’t having any of it and responded with my usual wise crack, “if you know a better way to get to Legoland, I’d like to hear it.”

Trip 3623640 map full

After riding twenty-two miles with my brother for breast cancer awareness, I hit the road at about 12:45 PM towards Carlsbad. The ride was about 60 miles, from Costa Mesa, to our hotel in Vista, a few miles east of Legoland. My route followed PCH most of the way, and the route was beautiful. There was a highway to the left, a beach to the right, and miles of open road ahead of me.

Another thing that was a treat on this particular ride was the condition of the roads. Aside for a few rough patches here and there, they were in great condition. I finally had the confidence to glide down those hills with my hands off the brake levers and take some photos on the bike.1

Part of the ride went through Camp Pendelton. Marco, who rented me the bike, informed me in advance that I needed ID to ride through the military base, which I thankfully packed. When I presented the guard with my New York State ID, he noted that he was from New York. Sayville to be exact. I told him that I knew where that was. Of course, I only know that town because I’ve ridden through a few times, most recently over Labor Day weekend.

As I expected, it was not a flat ride. There were plenty of rolling hills along the way but no serious climbs. For most of the route, I was riding at about 18-20 MPH, which I almost never do, and I didn’t stop for lunch. My only stop was to gnaw on two energy bars and refill my water bottles at mile 30. Part of my hurried effort was because I was trying to arrive not much later than the rest of my family, who were all traveling by automobile piloted by lead-footed drivers.

Initially, I had planned to meet my brother, nephew, and sister-in-law at Legoland’s Brick or Treat night, which meant I should arrive not much later than 5:00 PM. However, the event sold out so I just headed to the hotel and had my parents take me for a much needed beer and burger.

After eighty miles of riding through unfamiliar roads, it was nice to revert to an old treasured cycling habit.


  1. By the way, it’s a lot harder to snap photos while piloting a bike with the larger form factor of the iPhone 6. I’m just saying. 

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