by Eric (Auk) Akiyoshi, member of The Path Bike Shop Ambassador Race Team
Sometimes epic bike rides have more to do with the company you keep, people you meet, and stories shared with local companions.
I was fortunate to score a spot in the 2015 Amtrak Century Bike Ride. A long running tradition hosted by the Orange County Wheelmen Bicycle Club, the annual Amtrak Century typically sells out in less than 45 minutes (or so I’ve been told). The ride starts from the Irvine train station and ends at the downtown San Diego Train Station. The ride has 3,200 feet of climbing and is well supported; with 60 miles still to go, a buddy riding the SAG vehicle donated his rear derailleur and was Johnny-on-the-spot with a chain tool so I could convert my bike to a retro-cool single speed.
I started the ride from Tustin at 5AM and met my ride buddies James, Dave, and KC at the Irvine Train Station around 6AM. We checked in and were riding the Century event by 6:30AM.
It’s amazing, the people one meets along the way. Within 30 minutes I met Brian Bolt (The Path Bike Shop Race Team member) looking ripped and ready for the ride. Cruising through Rancho Santa Margarita, who else but Hannah (local fast rider and The Path Bike Shop employee) says “hello!” at a traffic signal. Soon thereafter, I ran into David Fong (another member from The Path Bike Shop Race Team, pictured far left) at the first rest stop.
I won’t bore you with the next 50, long, miles through humid-muggy-slightly overcast weather. Suffice it to say, my impromptu-single-speeding-beast-of-a-friend, absolutely ripped my legs off climbing up the Torrey Pines hills. At the top, after enjoying a nice ice-cream bar, Dave Holtman (The Path Bike Shop Race Team member, pictured second from the right) riding a titanium hardtail, rolls up cheery as always. He’d been riding since midnight with two youngsters and their dad; these boys must’ve been early teens, maybe even younger! Mad props to them (and Dave) for embarking on this epic adventure.
After too long in the saddle and 100+ miles, the four of us rolled up to the finish line to some refreshments, our gear, and a cool little medal to wrap up the ride. The next two hours were spent hanging at the local Stone tap room enjoying some refreshing suds waiting for the train home. Sometimes epic rides have less to do with the riding and more to do with the community.
Postscript: My bike, a Moots Vamoots, (as built by Gerrin at the Path Bike Shop) with Giant P-SLR1 wheels and 1x10 gearing rode well, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Thanks to my friend Steph for the complimentary entry to the ride (she’s recovering from injuries and gave her entry to me)!