Trek Women
November 19, 2008

Shhhh. . . I Ride For Me

I have been struggling with writing to all of you about my Trek Travel Women Who Ride Santa Barbara Trip  because I feel like I'm struggling to come up with descriptions adequate enough to do justice to the amazing experience I had.  Trek Travel truly had every minute detail covered.

Who Knows Where We're Going?
On Day 1, twenty-two women shared two vans for the hour long trip to the Solvang area and the Curtis Winery.  We relaxed and chatted as we toured and tasted at the winery.  Following our tour, we enjoyed a beautiful picnic lunch on the lawn of the winery, set up for us by our guides, Andrea and Diane.  I was constantly amazed at their ability to be chef, tour guide, mechanic, cyclist, chauffeur and concierge all without ever seeming to break a sweat.  After lunch we changed into our cycling gear and got fit on our bikes.  There were a number of writers and editors who were part of the trip and we all got to utilize the Trek Project One to custom design our rides for the trip.  The thrill of designing a beautiful, Jen Polo original Madone 6.5 WSD online was quickly eclipsed by the actual beauty of seeing it come to life right before my eyes.  How often can you look at racks of 20 Madone's and know EXACTLY which one is yours to ride?

Day 1 was set to be an easy 15 mile ride to get us warmed up and have a get to know you with our bikes.  We had a briefing on the route, got our cue sheets and headed down the sloping winery driveway.  That is when some turned right and others turned left.  A group of us paused at the bottom, watching, not knowing any women well enough to know who had the poor sense of direction (I won't point any fingers - um, Selene. . .).  We were righted in our path and enjoyed what turned out to be 18 miles ending at our hotel for the night in the little town of Solvang.

SolvangOn Day 2 we did thirty miles, with options for more or less, around Solvang.  The scenery was beautiful and the company was even better as we were able to ride, share stories and feel the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair with no time-line other than how much time we wanted for a quick shower before checking out of the hotel and heading to Santa Barbara for the evening.  We climbed some hills, gathered at the Maverick Saloon where the signs proclaimed "Ladies Welcome" and later enjoyed a fabulous Italian dinner topped off by a limo ride back to the hotel.

"I'm Gonna Frame That Graph"
On Day 3, in Santa Barbara, we had a number of options for riding, including a total of ride of 59 miles for the day.  While I had felt a lot of nerves going into the trip - my own insecurities about being a strong enough rider, being able to handle anything that looked hilly, being able to handle four straight days of riding after mostly running for the past month or so - by the second evening I had made a deal with myself.  I was going to attempt the 59 miles.  I had never ridden that long before, constraints on my training time and my love of family time, mostly have me topping out at 30 mile rides.  I knew I didn't want to be sitting on a plane home regretting not trying - especially after I realized that this was the perfect time to challenge myself - when else do you get the fully supported (SAG van, guides and awesome women to ride the miles with) opportunity to try something you're not fully sure you can do?

We all started out together, riding a beautiful area along the Pacific.  Ann, Becky and Susan and I stopped for a quick coffee shop bathroom break before heading into the foothills. We then headed into the hills and climbed, and climbed, and climbed.  We took a few stops for pictures and to consult the elevation graph that seemed to often not be giving us a clear picture of what was in store.  I had never climbed this much ever and it was sapping my energy leaving me ravenous.  We stopped for a break where I was willing to admit that I needed some M&M's badly and like a mirage in the desert, there it was - the Trek Travel van pulling along side us and asking us if we needed a snack.  We reevaluated during our snack, where Alison (on her first day on a road bike ever) caught up with us.  Becky, Alison and I decided that we were in it until we rode right up to the picnic lunch waiting for us at the Santa Barbara mission.  Diane led us in a few more miles of climbing where we were treated to spectacular ocean views and then we began our descent toward lunch. 

After lunch, Andrea and Diane swapped places and Andrea took Becky, Susan, Lori and I on the second half of our day, leading us through University of California, Santa Barbara.  We left Susan and Lori on campus as they headed to the school bookstore for shopping. 

Becky and I stuck together and at the end of the day, 61 miles later, we were toasting ourselves and our girl-power accomplishment from the jacuzzi of the hotel.  The next day Becky told me she wanted to get a copy of cue sheet from our ride saying,  "I'm gonna frame that graph."  Becky and I will forever be connected by all those up and down spikes on that graph and the fact that we rode every one of them (and then some).

I Can't Believe It's Over
Our last day dawned about 10 degrees cooler and much, much windier than our previous days for riding.  The first six or so miles my legs and my brain fought with the headwind.  Somehow our group ended up with Selene riding off the front.  My only worry was that Selene wasn't the best person to follow for directions (see Day 1) and I wasn't sure if my legs had a detour in them today.  Selene kept us on course and sixteen miles later we were handing over our bikes and heading to pack and then hit the airport.

As I sat on the plane home later I reflected on so many things.  The trip gave me relaxation, new friends, fabulous food, new challenges, and a sense of strength that I can accomplish so much more than I ever give myself credit for.  But, more than that, what stuck with me was the exercise we had done the first night during cocktails.  We were asked to all introduce ourselves and share the reason that we ride.  Here are just a few of our thoughts, "for sanity, for weight loss, for transportation, for health, to feel like I'm flying, to feel alive. . . "  

While we started our trip on Day 1 with a small ride, perhaps nervous in not knowing each other, nervous in our own abilities, by Day 4 we were all in it together, no longer willing to hide that all our reasons for riding are all a part of each one of us.  The truth is we ride for ourselves and because of that we are all better wives, mothers, girlfriends and women.  I didn't think that group psychology, friendship, rejuvenation, strength and self-confidence could all be packaged in one bike but yes, it was one amazing bike on one amazing trip.  I was so proud to be just one rider on a journey with twenty-one other Women Who Ride. . . .



Blah, blah, blah . . . we get it - Trek Travel is awesome. But are my pants ironed yet?

Welcome home!

Posted by: Jeff | Nov 19, 2008 3:37:21 PM

I know you are just jealous that there is no such thing as "Men Who Ride (and eat and drink wine)Weekend Getaway."

And yes, pretty soon we were all going to be wearing pajamas out and about if I didn't shovel us out of all the laundry and ironing. I did wash my cycling clothes right away, though. . . . :) But, as of today we are washed and ironed again.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 19, 2008 3:58:36 PM

What a great recap! I still need to contact the Trek Travel girls and get that graph back! I made a mistake by not taking with me at the end of the day! It's so sad to see now the destruction that the fires are causing. We were lucky to be there when we were. It was an unforgettable journey! I noticed you forgot to mention how we road almost 2 miles out of our way because we missed a turn! But what's 2 miles when looking at the big picture!
Hope to do it again some day!

Posted by: Becky | Nov 20, 2008 8:18:35 AM

Check the "Notes" under the pictures. If you click that you will some further thoughts on almost all the pictures. I made note of our extra 2 miles there. . . .

I know that we are so fortunate to have been there when we were. It's hard to even fathom the amount of destruction those fires cause.

I'll e-mail you some of the pictures of all of us!

Posted by: Jen | Nov 20, 2008 1:28:20 PM

Beautiful pics. My husband, Jeff, thinks he's just as funny as yours with statements like above. Must be something to do with the name. On a serious note, I'm a mt biker and tomorrow I will be doing my first bike rally on the road. It's a 23 miler. I must admit I'm a chicken when it comes to riding on roads. Trees don't aim at you like cars can. Any tips you can give? Thanks! Kristina

Posted by: everhark | Nov 21, 2008 8:06:50 AM

Hi Kristina,
Are you the one in Texas? It's funny about the cross-over (or perhaps fears of) between mountain and road riding. True mountain biking still scares me because of the trees and obstacles. On the road, during races, there aren't any cars and generally someone has made sure the road is *free* of obstacles. Generally, it's my own fear of breaking my arm that makes me more of a road rider than a mountain biker.

My only tips are these:
Find a mantra you can use that will help you when you need one to get through and,
Run (or in this case, Ride) your own race. . . .

Good luck, take pictures and report back. I can't wait to hear!


Posted by: Jen | Nov 21, 2008 3:12:42 PM

Hey I never pretended to actually know where I'm going! But happy I didn't get everyone off course on that last windy day...

Posted by: Selene | Nov 29, 2008 10:39:07 AM

I'm so happy that you led us well on that last windy day - I'm not sure that my legs had extra hills with headwind in them if we got lost!

Not only did you keep us on course but you made my day by catching that group on the hill and chatting them up while they struggled up the hill - that'll teach 'em that it won't kill you to respond to a 'Good morning' or 'Hello' from fellow cyclists. . . :)


Posted by: Jen | Dec 1, 2008 12:16:41 PM

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