Day 1: July 17, 2010
And so it began...It was a cool (55 degrees) and foggy morning in San Francisco as myself (Bruce Lamb), Tony Wyss-Coray, Phillipp Jaeger and Kurt Lucin (all researchers at Stanford University) as well as Eric Goodwin (Manager of the Breakthrough Ride) gathered at 5:45 AM for our pre-ride breakfast. We were all nervous, excited and ready to get this ride going!
Upon arrival at the Marina Green Park Triangle, we saw the striking purple RV (nicknamed "The Pony") that will serve as our support vehicle for the entire ride across the country. Behind The Pony was the faint outline of the Golden Gate bridge that was shrouded in thick fog. We next met the Breakthrough Ride road crew, including manger, Joey, and staff Celeste, Evan and Melanie, the group that will support the ride all the way from Coast to Capital. In addition, we were joined by Harry Johns, the CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, who would be riding with us on this first day of the Breakthrough Ride. Upon receiving our daily briefing, we were ready to finally get underway!
After a brief ceremony, the countdown was on: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...GO! We jumped on our bikes and cautiously proceeded across the soft grassy knoll towards the road, as none of us wanted to fall in the first 50 yards of this trans-continental ride with cameras trained on our every move. It felt good to finally be riding and working towards our goal! I had attached the map of our route to my bike and was attempting to help direct us through the streets of San Francisco to get to Route 1, The Pacific Coast Highway. Despite my efforts we still had to back track from one wrong turn, but we were finally closing in on Route 1.
We reached the first major climb of the day. As we climbed, the fog became thicker and thicker, until finally visibility was reduced to less than a couple hundred feet. Our breathing became more labored and our hearts were now pounding. I called out to the other four team members, "Break!", and they answered "Through!", "Break!...Through!" "Break!...Through!" as we finally reached the top. It was a fun ride to the bottom, as Harry led the way, "pulling" the team along to the intersection with Route 1.
Soon after turning onto Route 1 (mile 15), we spotted The Pony sitting in a parking lot marking the first rest stop of the day. As we pulled in to the cheers of the road crew and support staff, we were all grateful to get some Gatorade, a snack, and a trip to the restroom. However, we were concerned about stopping too long, as the cool, damp weather was rapidly chilling our body temperatures. At this point, Harry Johns had to leave us for another engagement, but we continued on with the remaining four team members down Route 1 towards Half Moon Bay.
As we approached Half Moon Bay, the route took us to an all purpose trail that followed the shore. There were several creaky wooden bridges and beautiful blue and yellow wild flowers. While the fog by this point had partially lifted, we could still only imagine what the famous Northern California coastline looked like along the route. After a quick stop in Half Moon Bay and the departure of Phillip Jaeger, who was attending a wedding, Kurt, Tony and I continued on to our lunch stop at mile 45, which was at a beautiful beach along the shore. After a wonderful lunch of sandwiches, carrots, fruit and all the Gatorade you could drink we decided to continue on to the final push to Santa Cruz.
The last 35 miles of the day seemed a lot longer than the first 45, as our legs began to tire and our rear ends became increasingly sore. However, several events over this last stretch served as an inspiration and kept us working towards our goal. First, the fog finally cleared and we could now fully appreciate the breathtaking views as we passed along the jagged California coastline, although one had to be careful to keep your eyes on the road ahead! Second, a bicyclist approached us as we neared the top of a ridge and slowed to talk with us. "Hey," he said, "you are the guys riding for Alzheimer's disease, you're awesome. I read about you on Facebook!" Third, as we neared the final scheduled rest stop, we could see the purple Pony in the distance, but noticed a great commotion around the RV. As we got closer, we realized that the commotion was in fact the entire road crew dancing around the Pony in synchrony to their own silent soundtrack. We couldn't help but start to "hear" the same soundtrack and bounced along on our bikes for the last few miles of the day. Finally, we reflected on all of the incredible messages of support on the Breakthrough website, from individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers, which gave us great inspiration to complete the day's ride. We finally arrived in Santa Cruz at 3:15 PM and gave each other high fives as we celebrated the completion of the first day of the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride!
What an amazing day and beginning to the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride! I can't wait to follow this Blog as riders move across this great country!
-Bruce Lamb, Ph.D.
See the Photo Slide Show: