Something is different this year than the previous two. My brother and I won’t be riding in a Breast Cancer Awareness Ride this year.
Apparently frustrated with their inability to cure breast cancer despite creating all that awareness, Trek is not sponsoring a tenth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Ride for 2015. In the past, Trek bicycle retailers around the country would organize a 10-mile or 25-mile ride to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The entire thirty-dollar registration fee would go to this organization.
In 2013 and 2014, my brother and I rode this ride at Two Wheels One Planet, in Costa Mesa, California. Because my brother now has to take his son to soccer each Saturday morning, he said would not been able to go to Costa Mesa to participate this year. I suggested that he look for another location to at least ride ten miles before his son’s game, but that’s when we learned that Trek is not sponsoring a ride this year.
However, that did not stop a number of bicycle retailers from going rogue and organizing their own ride throughout the month of October. Two Wheels One Planet is one such shop. They will be hosting their ride today, on Saturday, October 17, and donating the proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
Kuods to TWOP and other shops that have continued to organize their own rides, even it’s without the support of a major bicycle manufacturer.
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
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.”
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.
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. ↩
Last year, my brother and I rode in the fourth annual Trek Breast Cancer Awareness ride in honor of my mother, who has twice beaten breast cancer. Although the ride is national, individual bike shops organize rides in their cities. Last year, we rode from Two Wheels, One Planet in Costa Mesa, California, as that was en route from my brother’s place to Legoland in Carlsbad.
I wondered if the ride would happen again this year, as I longed for some pleasant memories, so I checked their website.
I not only saw that this year’s ride will be on October 11, again over Columbus Day Weekend, but also that my brother and I are in the photo that the shop features on their website.
We’re at the front of the pack. I’m wearing a grey t-shirt and riding a red Serrotta that I rented upon arriving in Southern California, and he’s right behind me decked out in a pink t-shirt and socks.
I talked with my brother, and we will very likely ride again, provided I can find an affordable flight over that weekend. Since it looks like that I won’t be riding in the Hilly Hundred this year, which falls on the same weekend, and I really want to ride with some family. There’s another ride in Ventura which not only includes a 10-mile and 25-mile route, but also a 75-mile loop to Santa Paula. My brother prefers to ride in Costa Mesa so he can go to Legoland again after the ride. If it’s miles that I’m after, I guess I could bike the additional sixty miles to Carlsbad and meet him there.
The bicycle bug has bitten my brother. Years after his wife bought him a bicycle for a birthday present, he started to ride the bike in earnest over this past summer, including regularly pedaling ten miles, each way, to work.
As skeptical as I am of these charity rides, I rode for family. Not only did my brother and I ride together, our mother has had breast cancer twice, most recently in 2011, and she benefitted both times in no small part due to early detection. Last year, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation withheld funding from Planned Parenthood, as a way of punishing the organization for its family planning efforts, I was furious. A significant number of poor and uninsured women get breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, and shortening the lives of adult women to protect the unborn seems counter to what I regard as “Christian values.” I swore I wouldn’t give a penny to that organization, and it soured me on similar breast cancer events. But I got over that since my brother was really excited about the ride, decking himself out in pink, and both my mom and dad, sister-in-law, and nephew came to meet us at the finish line. Also, this ride benefitted a different organization anyway.
The ride itself was very pleasant. We started from the Two Wheels, One Planet bike shop in Costa Mesa, and rode on two very nice multiuse trails, one around the Newport Bay and the other along the San Diego Creek.
Pedaling in Pink
Shipping one of my bikes seemed impractical so I rented one from Bicycle John’s, just a few miles from the Burbank airport. It was a neat little road bike: a steel Serotta frame with a mix of lightweight Ultegra and DuraAce components. Beautiful!
Why ship when you can rent?
Because my suitcase was getting full, I left my pedals and bike shoes at home and opted to ride with a set of track pedals and Converse high-tops. It kept me from breaking away since I couldn’t get good sprint going, but that meant I could escort my brother throughout the entire route. And he could keep up.
We finished about 100 minutes after we started. As I mentioned, the ride was a bit slow, averaging just under 13 miles per hour, but we made good time because we were on bicycle paths without stop signs and traffic signals. Flat rides, as this one was, can be both easy and difficult. Sure, it’s nice not to climb hills all day, but for every uphill, there’s usually a downhill, and that’s always nice. Also, climbing helps raise my heart rate, helping to sprint on flat terrain. If I maintain an even effort throughout a ride, my body won’t bother expend more than that effort.
My brother and my nephew at the finish line outside of Two Wheels, One Planet.
At the finish, our family was there waiting for us. Not having my same “experience level” with organized rides, my brother didn’t attack the pizza, beer, and snack table as I did. We both did spend an hour browsing the wares inside the bike shop and watching people win prizes as our raffle-ticket numbers were never called. But what can you do? It’s family.