Sunday, September 07, 2008

All Aboard America

Our troubles with the tandem and Amtrak are well documented...or if they are not, they should be; so it was with some trepidation that we signed up for the Amtrak Century (it's a 100 mile bike ride from Irvine to San Diego, if you don't feel like clicking that link). [Actually, it seemed like a pretty safe bet since the ride is put on by the Orange County Wheelmen--they have their very own tandem division.]

After running into a tandem team we had met previously on a Santana tour of Europe (and a few of their friends on a tandem and a single), we opted for a 6AM start. The ride began with a 10 mile loop around Irvine, followed by a trip through San Juan Capistrano, before heading to the Coast. Most of the route followed our typical path to San Diego (as featured in Bicycling the Pacific Coast). The OC Wheelmen did not get permission for 1,100 bicycles to ride through Camp Pendleton, so the route sheet called for 8 miles of I-5...we did not follow directions, and went through the Marine Base (without a problem).

Team Lasko was in perfect 80 mile shape, which got us to the bottom of Torey Pines. At the rest stop at the top of the hill, we rested with extra cold Popsicles and made a few repairs...and didn't see our riding companions again until the end. A horrible headwind after La Jolla slowed us down to a crawl. We drafted behind a blue Trek tandem for a few miles (thank you blue Trek tandem), but they proved to be too fast for the wiped out Laskos. Only the Navy was enjoying the wind. [I believe this is the only picture Nico took during the ride; the boats appear to be Santana relation to the tandem bicycle company).

We arrived at the train station, loaded our bike onto the "tandems only" 48' truck, changed, and walked over to happy hour before the train ride home.

The ride home turned out to be on a rented MetroLink train. We had not packed well for the train (no cooler full of beer), and were in a relatively tame care (filled mostly with moderately loud drunks and people trying to feed us). Above us, someone had brought 12V blenders and enough margarita mix to feed a train. We heard stories of pole dancing in the other cars. I'm not quite sure what one had to do to get beads from this guy:

We saw 20+ tandems during the ride (and a few others who were not doing the century, including some friends from the San Juans). A few interesting bikes: One beautiful blue Erickson, one sparkly green Meridian, and a red Calfee. Tandems, tandems, everywhere.

Total mileage: 103.5 miles
Total pedaling time: 6:43
Total time: a little over 8 hours

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