Follow or subscribe to our blog to get notifications of updates to this site
as well as more frequent insightful, pithy commentary


bike logo



Day 1
San Diego, California to El Centro, California
131 miles, 7000 feet climbing

Our crew duties had us alternating riding days with Susan and getting to ride on the first day. Susan actually seemed quite willing to not ride on day 1. The first 70 miles of uphill and the scorching temperatures in the desert may have had something to do with her willingness to work on Day 1. Despite all this, we were thrilled to be riding.

Riders are supposed to leave in a staggered start over a half hour period with the slowest riders leaving first and the faster riders heading out last. When done right, most riders will reach lunch within an hour of each other. This makes life easier on the lunch crew and means everyone gets fresh food. Unfortunately on the first day, adrenaline was pumping and most riders wanted to get on the road early.

The 70 miles of uphill had me a bit nervous as well. While we climb fairly well, I didn't think we'd do very well staying with the hammers for this much climbing. I wanted to leave about halfway through the half hour window. But 15 minutes into it, we looked around and saw a deserted parking lot. We headed off to the ocean for the obligatory shot of the west coast water and then turned east. We did meet up with Kurt and Tim while taking pictures and stayed with them for most of the day.

After climbing well past lunch we were rewarded with a 55 mph descent into hell. Well not really hell, but the temperatures rose steadily as our altitude dropped. I had my Vertech watch mounted on the handlebars in the shade of John's saddle, and shortly before we reached the final snack stop, it read 116F. While leaning against a signpost in the sun, it reached 126F.

In the final 30 miles, the wind turned vicious on us as we tackled an incredible headwind. I sucked down a full Camelbak and three bottles of very hot water. I'd definitely have to look into insulation for these bottles if it was to stay this hot for long.

We reached the hotel and began our crew duties for the afternoon. I offered to take Rebecca swimming, a popular crew duty on last year's northern trip, but thanks to school and other conflict's Lon and Susan's daughter didn't make the trip this fall. But I still lucked out with a cushy job that afternoon. For the first time in PAC history, Lon and his brother Ken, had planned some stage racing. There were to be a couple of time trials and some road races held throughout the trip, usually starting after the first 20-30 miles and finishing up before lunch. Having checked off computer skills on my crew questionnaire, I got assigned the task of typing in the schedule in the air-conditioned room !

While I was doing this, John, Lon and Eric decided to destroy our tandem. We had been having some trouble adjusting the eccentric, and had dropped our sync chain a couple of times. John asked Lon for a little help fixing this problem. While trying to make the adjustment, they discovered that the eccentric was actually broken into several pieces. They pressed it back together, and reinstalled and assure me it would hold up for thousands of miles. In the meantime I called the builder and asked to have a new one shipped out.