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Dec 08

I’m not going to make it!

I just can't make it work!

It was difficult to get out of bed yesterday morning.  Despite having picked my camp spot to capture the first early morning rays of golden warmth, it wasn’t until about 8 A.M. that I was coaxed out of my tent.  It was still frigid.

I got the stove going for coffee and then examined my ankle.  Three days earlier, during my frantic race against the sun to get into Refugio before dark, my achilles tendon had started to complain.  Yesterday’s ride had made it decidedly worse off, and so this morning it was staging protest by being decidedly swollen.  This I decided, was decidedly bad.

I was not done for, not like that, but it did mean I’d have to take it easy.  That unfortunately, was not really an option as I was supposed to ride 121 km that day.  During my rest day at Refugio I had sat down with all the maps and came up with the only itinerary I could that would get me to San Francisco, let me stay there for at least a few days, and then get me back down to San Diego in time for Christmas and spiked eggnog.  The resulting itinerary was a tough one, and did not leave much margin for any significant injuries amongst the team (Tony and I), so I had been worried, knew really, that something like this would happen.  I wasn’t going to make it.

Fortunately there was a backup plan.  You see, a couple hundred years ago, American’s had started using a unique mode of transportation.  It involved a very large metal object, filled with large heavy things, rolling along two parallel strips of metal.  It was called the train.  Since those early pioneering days of relatively unreliable and intermittent rail services, the American train network has not progressed significantly, in fact, it’s more or less the same, but now it is called Amtrak.  Yesterday, when I was coasting into Lompoc I noticed an Amtrak Station sign which, seeing as my ankle hurt like hell, struck me with the idea that perhaps there was an easier way to get to San Francisco.

So this morning I had to make a decision.  I had two options:

  1. Continue my progression northward, spend less time in San Francisco, and try to make San Diego for New Years.
  2. Get the train to San Francisco, spend more time there, and then ride back to San Diego for Christmas.

My stubborn streak is actually a little man inside me who likes to pull a tantrum whenever things aren’t going his way.  At this moment he was throwing one hell of a tantrum: kicking my stomach, yanking at my heart, biting my left lung, and screaming that the only option was in fact option numero uno.  When I was young and foolish I probably would have listened to the little man (he does make some good points), but fortunately now I am old and wise, and I have learned the hard way (repeatedly), that the little man is not always right.  I decided to reexamine why I was riding the wrong way.

When I started Operation: WRONG WAY!  I had some clear objectives:

  1. Test out the bike, and the system, before hitting Mexico.
  2. Visit best friend/brother Neil in San Francisco
  3. Be back in San Diego for Christmas
  4. Enjoy myself
  5. Ride from San Francisco down to San Diego
  6. Get into shape

The primary objective, the main reason for this ride was to test out the bike. With over 500km on the odometer now, I think it is fair to say that Tony has been tested.  Mission Accomplished.  Looking at the follow up objectives, Option 1 does not make any sense as it gives me no time to visit Neil, it makes me miss Christmas with my sister in San Diego, and most likely it leaves me injured and not “in shape”.  Option 2 on the other hand.  Option 2 works…

Christen came over for coffee – having coffee makes you very popular in the cycling camp – and we talked through my situation, and she agreed that the train was probably the best option.  She even inadvertently pointed out that on my way back down, if I was still short on time, I only really had to ride to Lompoc and that there would be no point for me to re-ride the miles down to San Diego.  Smart girl.  Lompoc was after all, essentially the half way point of the route.

So, my mind was made up.  I was going to get the train to San Francisco that day, and that called for another pot of coffee!

Train to San Francisco: Not so simple.

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