Happy Mother’s Day!
I received a call from Andres, Sunday at 10pm. They had just arrived at Veterans Memorial Park campsite and he sounded really tired. These once a day conversations I have with whomever calls me are usually quick. All we have time for is a quick run down of important bullet points from the day. They’re usually enroute to the next location or there’s a lack of reception. Often times, I read between the lines because reception has a tendency to cut in and out, but because we are all friends I can usually fill in the blanks and understand what they are going through. I hope I’m doing the team justice on here.
It was a very long day for the whole team. Overall they achieved sixty miles today. With hurt egos, it wasn’t quite what they hoped for and they didn’t cover as much ground as they expected. Rather than feeling down about it, they know what they have to do and the team has agreed to make up the miles tomorrow. Their day started at 6am this morning. After they talked to me they packed up and started heading out around 9:00am.
Not before they all made calls to their mothers wishing them a Happy Mother’s Day. A few rolling hills to ease them into the day with one big hard climb to follow is how their Sunday began.
Last night, John gave them some valuable advice that the team put into practice today. John is the guy that brought the team BBQ to the beach last night. He has quite a bit experience in touring with cyclists. One of his pieces of advice is a cycling technique called, ‘Drafting’. Drafting is a trick where cyclists will go in single file to block the wind for the other people behind them, and take turns being the one in front. Most of the guys had heard about this technique but have never employed it. In drafting, aerodynamics is the key. The whole team has to agree to do it and they need to plan who will go first, and how long each interval will be. The positioning should be accurate and the riders straight behind the leader should be about 1-2 feet back. This way, if the leader makes any sudden turns or stops, the people behind will have time to react. Another way to make this technique even more efficient, is to offset your front wheel from the leader’s rear wheel by a few inches, but trail within a foot.
The puller (the person in the front) will then indicate to the team that they plan to fall off as they veer sharply to the left or right as they slow down to the back of the pace line. The new puller now has the responsibility at keeping pace and leading the line of riders. Drafting will save the riders about 30% more energy and will get the team further. They tried it and did better as a whole today. Instead of having larger gaps between them, they tried to keep pace with each other and worked more like a team rather than individuals.
The range of experiences in the B4K team varies. It’s not just about the cycling, but adapting to each other and forming uniform style that can fit the whole team. If they don’t adjust and work together, the ride would be far more difficult.
After Andres said, ‘drafting’ it peaked my interest and I started researching other cycling techniques, such as the push-pedal technique. You can pedal a bike well enough to get by, or you can pedal a bike efficiently and get the most out of the incredible mechanical advantage that’s available. Since cycling isn’t a natural motion that we’ve repeated every day since childhood, like walking or running, being mindful in one’s pedaling style can create optimal energy transfer. More efficient, equals less energy. Certain techniques relieve the pressure from your butt, back, legs and arms. Anyways, I digress. I became pretty interested in the styles, techniques and developing the neurological pathways and muscle memory of the improved movements. It was interesting because it seemed in parallel to the way we do alot of things. It’s also especially interesting to me, because the more my body has decreased movement through the years, the more I’ve become interested in movement and why and how it applies. Team dynamics is always interesting whether it’s happening inside your body or among groups of people.
The team arrived in Santa Cruz around noon. Stopping at a beach near Santa Cruz they then ate a big breakfast and hit a local bike shop stocking up on whatever supplies they were running low on. They shared what they were doing with the bike employees and asked them to spread the word.
Overall, the team has more presence on the road than they did last year. With 14 guys trailing each other it’s easy to notice them. Alot of locals approach them and ask them who they are and what they are doing. Bike for Kam is happening at the same time as Amgen Tour and they are often asked if they are a part of them. The other thing that people wonder is what “KAM” stands for. “Nothing, she’s human.” is Andres’ reply.
I told him we have to think of some cool acronyms…Ketchup and Mustard, Kitchen Assasin Mom, Kimchi and Me, Kick Ass Monster…We’ll keep brainstorming.
Berr even received a ten spot from some random guy on the street. The Bike for Kam team is certainly spreading the word. During their ride towards Monterey they had a strong head wind that made two hours of the ride very difficult. Again, they employed drafting and it seemed to help the team as a whole. They pushed 43 miles to Monterey not even stopping for lunch. Instead they stopped at vegetable and fruit stands trying to eat healthier. Berr flew his mini kite that he brought with him and the team had no mechanical issues today.
When they did stop for dinner, it was at a Mexican restaurant that the Bike for Kam team ate at last year. They knew the food was good and even better, they served beer. As the team piled in they ate while plotting out potential camping spots.
With hurt bodies, butts and legs, the team boarded their bikes and headed towards the campsite. The route to the campsite was on top of a hill and turned out to be the hardest climb of the day. At the top they were greeted by a massive herd of deer that casually lingered around.
Everyone was hurting, but everyone is finding their stride and working together more efficiently than the last. Tonight they were most excited being able to have a hot shower since the campground had showers on site.
Tomorrow will be a new day and up to this point the six days from last year’s ride have been familiar with the path thus far. Tomorrow it will be new terrain for all 14 guys as they head towards Big Sur.
For me, I’m really proud of them. Prior to them leaving the guys told me not to write things like they are out of shape or not ripped. This may have been in response to last year’s posts or the recent LA Weekly article that condensed my 3 hour interview into 4 quoted lines–one of them being, “We were joking because this group of guys doesn’t look like professional cyclists…They’re not ripped, they’re not trained…”.
This certainly was not a negative comment, if anything a huge compliment from me about them. It’s easy to stick with things that we are an expert in. That way we feel comfortable and the master of our arena leaving little room for lack of control. It’s harder for us to say ‘yes’ to things that are foreign or may seem difficult and out of range. Many times, we don’t want to take on things that leave any potential for failure. But, to say ‘yes’ to biking 500 miles, and more than that 500 fully loaded miles-carrying all your clothes, food and camping gear- something that even pro cyclists would say was difficult, I think that is a massive accomplishment. Just the fact that you said, “yes, I’ll try it” is the accomplishment.
‘Bike for Kam’ feels like a mutually beneficial project. It’s a project about fundraising and raising awareness, but it’s also based on a subject matter that the guys care about; biking and adventure. They don’t want to just cycle and be experts, they want to experience something new and the “not knowing”. It’s a moment for the riders to have a moment with themselves, to become self-actualized, if you will. Experiencing challenge is completely different than perceiving it and being open to challenge and the unknown is a good attitude for life. If I know my friends well enough, they are in it for the challenge and prefer to not have it come easy. Bike for Kam isn’t about representing the elite riders with pro gear and attire, it’s about experiencing challenge, challenge that I and other patients experience every second of every day.
I’m so proud of them and I know so many people are cheering and rooting for them.
Currently we are at $22, 121 raised of 40K goal. Thanks to all our donators. You are a part of our team. Without you we couldn’t do Bike for Kam. Keep sharing and keep following us. I know it really encourages the guys on the road.
For DAY TWO pictures visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/bikeforkam