Day Three: Monday, Saturday, May 30, 2016
It's Monday. Woke up at Veteran's Memorial Park to another chilly morning. Last night Jason and I tried sleeping in the van to see if it was any better. It was definitely warmer, not more comfortable but I will take warmth over comfort.
It seems as we go along the team departs for the day's ride later and later. People are more tired as the days roll by. Today we expected to do 64 miles but after much talk and surveying how everyone felt after the windy 100 miles we decided to swap out rest day with Wednesday and make today the short day instead.
Today is the Carmel to Big Sur climb.
The morning was as it was the two mornings prior. Despite exhaustion and soreness my friends do their best to drag themselves out of bed just to do it (bike) all over again. There was quite a few climbs to get out of Monterey and into Cambria where we planned to stop for breakfast.
It's day 3 and I think everything was beginning to get to me. I was glad we finished two days but those two days on the road felt like forever and I'm most definitely sure it did for my friends too.
Today soon became an emotional day. I hadn't showered in 3 days, I was tired from physically adapting to new environments, all the Bike for Kam social media, project managing and pr work from the road, shooting media, the cold and three terrible nights of sleep. I was exhausted and in pain like everyone else but not because I biked 140 miles, the trip was affecting me in different ways and as my friends packed up it began to all come to a head.
I tried to hide it from my friends but looking at anything brought tears to me eyes and I just couldn't stop it. I loved watching my friends bike around and seeing them conquer these grueling days but I just couldn't help but think how I wish I could be biking around with my friends like a "normal" person. Even as they were packing up the campsite I just wished I could physically help them. I felt like I wasn't helpful, I just want to ride a bike like them but I can't because I'm too busy having difficulty trying to lift my coffee cup and lift a pizza slice to my mouth like the night before. My daily worries are about stupid small things which is beyond frustrating. Usually I'm ok and I know we shouldn't think about the past or the future but that is easier to say and do unless you're going through it. I think I am fairly positive, I have humor and enjoy life but I'm only human and of course I will miss who I was. Not even who I was because I like who I am today better, I just miss my former physical self. Despite all this positivity of course moments of despair and frustration rears it's ugly head from time to time. It's natural. I always say I can accept this current level of "disability" but it's when I'm witnessing new weaknesses and more things I can no longer do that makes it the most difficult.
These moments present a more clearer picture of what's coming and I hate it.
Before these three days I already arrived tired to Golden Gate due to all the planning and preparing for the ride but these last 3 days showed me so many new physical changes I didn't realize I had. I am reminded how disabled how I am and that everything I loved is slowly disappearing from me...but I had to remind myself this week was abnormal and not to gauge my current physical self as my new physical self.
I tried to hide it but at breakfast my friends eventually saw me cry...I just couldn't hide it any longer. Some new why but not sure the others did but they were all amazingly sensitive and supportive. No matter how positive I spin it, it still all sucks and it can be scary. Losing your independence is about the worst thing that can happen, especially if you're a person who wants try everything that life has to offer. Most of the time it feels like I'm fighting against an unmovable wall and it's tiring. The emotional endurance to fight a wall that keeps getting taller and taller sometimes disappears from me. I guess it would for anyone.
After we all conquered this moment together we decided to throw me in the rig and see how it did being towed up and through Carmel mountain.
I asked Sara and Markham for their perspectives in what I now call my "Warm Van Interviews". Sara and Markham are husband and wife and they very much share a passion for biking, outdoor activities and nature. I see them on Facebook and they pretty much go on a bike ride every day. They also don't own a tv, they're too busy building something, enjoying the outside world and I love that about them. Even they though they're avid bikers they have never done a tour of long distance cycling. Like most of my friends this Bike for Kam ride is their first tour experience.
(I typed these out as they talked and then go back and edit it).
Sara: "Carmel looked very intimidating but as I ascended it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The perception was bigger than the reality of living in that moment. I soon realized it was about powering through the hills and the heavy (Memorial Day) traffic. Going through the downhills and not knowing what was around the next turn kept me on my toes and I would use that to power up for the next hill.
At camp it's getting harder to wake up but I am getting better sleep every night because I'm so tired. Some of the best sleep I have ever had.
Each stop we make is about capitalizing on that moment, refueling, stretching and keeping loose.
I'm not an avid cyclist so I have a huge sense of accomplishment especially after long mileage and steep hills. Since I'm not an avid cyclist and more of a recreational one this trip, especially today, is definitely forcing me to learn new techniques like shifting gears earlier and more often. My normal riding style is to power through it but the ride has taught me combining my endurance with techniques so I can reserve energy to get me through all 500 miles. It's about thinking long term and being mindful of efficiency.
Team dynamics has been amazing, there is comradery and everyone is looking out for each other. I love the morning and night camping. The jokes and laughs take my mind off my aches and pain and I know everyone is in it together."
Markham is an Industrial designer and built our rig. Both Markham and I went to the same design college.
Markham: "Seeing the rig work is probably one of my most gratifying moments ever. We really didn't have ample time to vet it because we were building it up until the last minute. You design it but you don't know how it will work until you test it so this ride is essentially our testing phase. We are testing it on steep and windy hills and we are pushing the capacity of the rig in Carmel mountain in terms of downhill speed, breaking, turning, handling bumps and uneven pavement and it is doing great. The rig is great but the other component is figuring out which physical force work best, We sorta knew from day one that rope tow and pushing really helps so that has been our strategy. (One rider pulls the rig and two riders push from behind on both sides. On really steep climbs they add hook up a tow rope during mid cycle so two people are pulling me up the climbs).
Being the puller is a lot of fun. Despite the worry there is an adrenaline rush which is why people like me like these kinds of activities, it's the adrenaline rush, something challenging and something new that keeps me going. Being in control and being able to do something entirely different is very rewarding. I'm not only controlling my bike but I'm controlling the rig. Even though it was hard the adrenaline and fun fuels me. I love it.
Overall it's been so fun. Every day is a new day and a constant challenge. Biking this route also gives me a completely different perspective of Big Sur compared to driving it in the past. It is great to be with everyone and hanging out, and having Kam along is really gratifying. Seeing the rig working and doing what it was designed to do -which was having Kam along - was worth all the hours and time building it."
For me going through Carmel was amazing, I'll never forget it. Due to Memorial Day the traffic was particularly busy in Carmel and on an already windy roads with narrow shoulders this could be daunting but my friends were up for the challenge. This was an area they really wanted me to experience up close. I was slightly nervous but not too much. It was too fun and by now I'm used to the rig and learned that trusting the pullers is the best way to go about it. They had also developed a great routine and by now are more confident. For this particular stretch Markham was the puller and Viet, Ben and Andy helped by pushing from behind. On the really steep climbs Andy would ride ahead and hand off the tow rope and hook it up mid cycle. This takes a lot fo coordination and communication. One person is the back and holds off traffic and warns the front of the tow what's happening. It's hard to write it out but watching the whole experience and transition was impressive and again I just really adore watching all the teamwork and comradery in order to achieve a single task.
i have to give a shout out to the two women on this ride who are just killing it and accomplishing every turn. They prove women can do anything men can.
Exercise releases endorphins and adrenaline and it's true you're happier when you receive regular endorphin and adrenaline release. The views, the jokes and being able to hang out with my friends on the side of the road was wonderful. The adrenaline release was timely and I felt much better than earlier. I seek experiences and freedom and this felt freeing.
After we finished the climb we rolled into quaint Big Sur town. It was 4pm so early enough where we could just sit and enjoy some food and time together and then we biked into the beautiful Pfeiffer State Park and set up camp. Everyone was feeling happy highs and happy that today was an early day. They were all in deep need for some rest and time to enjoy the surrounding areas. With these tours in only 7-8 days it's sometimes hard to stop and appreciate the areas you're in. I also had my first hot shower and it was glorious. The disabled shower stahl was a beautiful sight, complete with bench and all. Nothing looked more prettier :).
Tomorrow is the Big Big Sur climb, today we enjoy the present,