- Distance: 301 miles
- Elevation: 18,605 feet
- Moving time: 20 hours 27 minutes
- Total time: 23 hours 28 minutes
- Strava link
But…why would you ride 300 miles in a day?
I will preface with this. The longest distance I’ve ever ridden is about 205 miles, when I decided to ride my bike up the coast from home to Morgan Hill. It was a 14 hour solo death march, with some of the gnarliest headwind and crosswind I’ve ever experienced on a bike. A few months after that, I did DK200: 200 miles of chunky Kansas gravel. That was also pretty rough, with temperatures reaching—and staying at—the mid 90s throughout the day. After DK, I couldn’t eat for two days and was acting like a pregnant woman—I experienced the weirdest cravings (corndogs, to be specific), only to then be so nauseated five minutes after a craving hit that I couldn’t even eat. So naturally, you’d think I’d be perhaps a little scarred from long distance riding events. Apparently not.
I love some good ol’ unplanned Type 2 fun. So, ten days before doing this ride, I made up my mind to ride 300 miles (301, to be exact) in support of the NAACP Legal, Defense, and Education Fund. I did this because our country has faced systemic racism and oppression since its creation. The effects of that are seen everywhere, particularly when it comes to justice. LDF is a non-profit dedicated to the fight for racial justice. Their mission as stated on their site is as follows, “Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.” LDF have superb transparency ratings and thorough write-ups of cases they have been involved with. If you want to support the campaign, you can do so here:
Ok, so back to the ride. I decided to start the ride on Juneteenth, a historically significant day in American history. June 19th 1865 was the day when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free—2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s an enormously powerful and emotional day, and very appropriate to the reason for doing this crazy ride.
As a big chunk of my ride was in North County, which is notorious for being exceptionally hot in June. To avoid the likely scenario of heat stroke if ridden during the day, I instead decided to ride overnight and into the following day. Three minutes before my 10pm go-time, I attempted to start my navigation on my Lezyne. And….got an error. I tried again. Error. And again….error. Damn! I figured the file must be corrupted, so I quickly grabbed my laptop and re-made my route. Tried to upload to the computer one more time…and success! My housemate John, who was riding the first 60 or so miles with me, set off with me into the night for the first leg of the ride.
As we were riding, I looked down a few times to make sure the Lezyne was working. Seemed fine. A few minutes later, I checked again and realized that according to my computer, we were still going 24mph and were still 1.85 miles into the ride. I asked John what mile he was at, and he said a number that was at least double of what my computer showed. I tried to press buttons on the computer and got no response. It was totally frozen. Damn.
Now, you should probably know at this point that I am one of the more directionally challenged people out there. Sometimes my fiance will ask me to look left, and I fully commit to looking right. It’s bad. So naturally, I am pretty reliant on my navigation, particularly when planning to ride 300 miles on mostly new roads.
To put it lightly, GPS was necessary. I had to find a solution—fast. I called Christie, my awesome friend who was also SAG for this crazy ride. Like me, she has a Lezyne Mega XL (48 hr battery life, essential for this ride!) and luckily had hers on hand. I was planning to meet up with my SAG crew in about 30 minutes, so she and I devised a plan to get the route over to her to get it loaded up on her computer by the time I got to the van.
I got to Kaori, Christie, Sarah, and Ben (BEST SAG EVER!!!!!) and thanks to Christie’s quick thinking, we were able to get her computer up and running. She was able to set up everything but navigation. They sent us on our way, and we agreed to meet up at the next turn (to make sure I didn’t miss it because, well, I’m me) and during that time, Christie would try to solve the GPS problem.
Got to SAG and Christie explained what was going on: the file was just too big. Apparently, cycling computers say “nope” when you ask them to navigate you for 300 miles. Honestly, can’t really blame them. Kaori and Christie spliced the route into multiple smaller routes, and we got the first one loaded to get back on the road.
John rode with me to Shandon, flipping it at 2:30am. What a freaking legend. 2:30am is a weird time to be on your bike, and both of us were feeling it. That was the start of the double espressos. After pounding some caffeine, John made his way home, and I ventured onwards.
An unknown amount of time and a double espresso later (what is time, anyways?), Ben joined me as we made our way to Parkfield. Let me just point out that Ben is a very smart man. Much, much smarter than I am. He kept me going by telling me all about the classes he teaches at Cal Poly, and his PhD. I remember it being really cool, but I’m sorry Ben, I was too tired to understand it all (or most of it…if we’re being honest).
Ben rode with me until mile 112, when we regrouped with the team in Paso. Let me just say that riding your bike through the night is an unexpectedly satisfying feeling. At about 5am, I remember savoring what was left of the beautiful night, how incredible the stars were, knowing that the sun would begin to rise soon. And when the sun did rise, I was just like “holy shit, I rode my bike all night. That is freaking epic.” So fun, and definitely helped me shake off some of my fatigue to wake up a bit.
After the Paso pitstop, I said bye to Sarah and Ben who were headed to Bakersfield to pick up their daughter. At this point, my first spliced navigation route had completed, and Kaori and Christie were almost done with the second. Kaori gave me very specific instructions about the next three turns to make sure I went the right way. Off I went, totally missing the first turn within the first mile. I rode a couple more miles before realizing I must have missed the turn and flipped it. Bonus miles?
Once I was on the right road, I wove my way around Paso to get onto the 46. As I made my way for Adeleida, it started to get warmer and I started to get more and more tired. At one point, I pulled off on the side of the road to enjoy a cherry pie (thanks Blake!) and put on some music to wake me up (thanks, Macklemore!). By the time I got to Kaori and Christie at about mile 130, I was grateful for their encouragement, some espresso, potato chips, and a change of kit.
I knew that I was supposed to meet up with Brian at some point soon, but thanks to the GPS fail at the beginning, we were running behind schedule. Being in rural areas with no service, however, we couldn’t let him know about the changes in time. So, I continued riding and kept an eye out for my old teammate. It wasn’t long before he found me and we made our way around Lake Nacimiento. Brian was great company and kept me in great spirits. It wasn’t long before the temperature really started to increase, and Brian did a great job of reminding me to eat and drink. Eventually, we made it to Lockwood and got ready for the biggest climb of the day: the backside of Nacimiento Fergusson.
After cooling off my feet in the van (my toes get hella hot when I ride in warm temps), eating plenty of food, and replenishing my bottles (and honestly, probably another espresso), we made our way.
Riding up Nacimiento Fergusson was without a doubt the hardest part of the entire ride. Brian kept encouraging me with “1 more mile!” I caught on pretty quickly, but it’s ok because he’s the kind of person with infectious levels of positivity. His encouragement was essential as the temperatures soared, reaching a max of 114 degrees according to my Lezyne. Computers always read high, but I’d say it was easily 105 degrees at its peak.
At about mile 200, Brian and I reached the summit and regrouped with Christie and Kaori. Christie was suited up and ready for the big, 7-mile descent down to the 1. Brian was very patient with me as I very safely made my way down the big descent (as a bit of backstory: I used to really like descending and then I crashed in January and shattered my elbow, leaving me with residual PTSD triggered by twisty descents). The temperature variance was insane. Where it was probably 95-100 at the top of the climb, the temperature dropped 40 degrees just a few minutes down. Seven miles later, we reached Hwy 1, and like the beast he is, Brian made his way back up Nacimiento Fergusson to return to his car.
Christie and I ventured onwards, heading south down the coast. A few miles in, I was surprised to see another friendly face as my buddy Rex called out and caught up to us. He rode 70 miles to meet up with us, and it was such a delightful surprise! Rex pulled us to Ragged Point, where we regrouped with Kaori at mile 230. I did another kit swap to get some fresh clothes on, and put on a long sleeve because it was starting to get chilly!
About 15 miles later, Liz joined us around San Simeon. She came in tow with Oreos, and an amazing adorable dinosaur that she found on the shoulder of the highway. A few miles after, we heard a honk and lo and behold, Sheri and Glenn were with us! Glenn pulled off to the side of the road, and Sheri jumped out the van kitted up and ready to go. Off we went, all us doing our best to keep a socially appropriate distance.
Honestly, at this point I was in great spirits. It was hard not to be with such fantastic company. I knew that I had 50 miles or less to go and I was so humbled and grateful to be surrounded by my amazing friends. 20 miles later, we heard another honk and I saw my parents roll up next to us! They pulled off to the side of the road and mom handed me some delicious chocolate chip cookies to fuel me for the last 30 miles of the ride.
As we crossed into SLO, I heard some cheers and looked up to see Taryn and Ethan with signs and smiles. Such great motivation to keep the legs moving!
As the sun started to set, my body was like “nope” and I started to get really sleepy. I drank a final espresso to give me the energy for the final leg home. Soon enough, we were weaving our way through downtown SLO, heading towards Arroyo Grande. As we made our way onto the final stretch, I was overjoyed to see Blake come from the other direction to join us.
With less than five miles to go, the thrill of knowing the finish line was within reach was nothing but exhilarating. At mile 298, I picked up speed to close the gap to that magical 300 mile mark. And then, 23 and a half hours after leaving the previous day, I was pulling into my driveway to the cheers of Christie and the rest of the crew.
Out of seemingly nowhere, Kaori pulled out a magical pie (which magically disappeared very quickly), and Blake whipped up a delicious dinner. With a full tummy, after many, many hours, it was finally time to sleep.
My equipment for the day(s)
First off, a big shout out to my fiance Blake for setting up my gravel bike for a 300-mile road ride. I had zero mechanical issues for almost 24 hours of being out there, including no flats, and for that I am very grateful.
Bike: Juliana Quincy
Wheels: Token Disc Ventous
Tires: 28mm Formula Pro Light tubeless (Front). 25 mm road light tubeless (Rear)
- 3 sets of Voler black label bibs (changed at mile 130 and 230)
- 2 short sleeve black label Voler jerseys
- 1 long sleeve black label Voler jersey
- 1 thermal Voler long sleeve
Chamois cream: Zealios
Handlebar bag: Ornot
Computer: Lezyne Mega XL
What I ate (I think)
The plan ^ I mapped out carbohydrate and salt intake by the hour based on lactate threshold testing at Endurance PTC earlier this year.
- Approximately 8 mini bagels with cream cheese
- 2-4 mini croissants (lost count)
- 3 or 4 packs of Margarita shot blocks (3x the salt!)
- 5 mini brownies
- 1 cherry pie
- A lot of fruit rollups
- A lot of fruit gummies
- 7 double shot espressos
- 1 mini coca cola
- A lot of rice crispy treats
- Most of a bag of goldfish
- 2 scoops of H24 CR7 every other bottle
What amazed me was that I was able to eat solid food the entire time without any issues. I was eating bagels and rice crispy treats like 19 hours in. I think my ability to keep eating played a big role in how good I felt the entire ride.
This ride would not have been what it was without the incredible people helping me along the way. A HUGE thank you to Kaori and Christie, the angels who kept me company for an entire day. Without you, I would still be lost in North County. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Sarah and Ben, who did so much to make this ride a success. Your van was super clutch, thank you for teaching me about the world that is kula cloths, and thank you for being a constant source of positivity and joy. You are wonderful and I am so grateful for your friendship and incredible support. Another big thank you to Kaori for all the wonderful photos, without which I would not have remembered all the details from this crazy adventure!
THANK YOU to Blake for making sure my equipment was up to snuff. My bike felt great the entire ride, and I attribute that to you.
THANK YOU to John, Ben, Brian, Rex, Liz, Christie, Kaori, and Sheri for riding with me throughout the day(s)! Your company kept me motivated and smiling.
THANK YOU to Glenn for bringing out the van to cheer me on for the final stretch.
To my cheer squad—thank you to Taryn, Ethan, mom, dad, and Adam for your motivation and encouragement. And the cookies!!
And, of course, a big thank you to my coach Tim, who has the misfortune of having to put up with me and my extemporaneous crazy ideas. Tim, who owns Endurance PTC in Mill Valley, CA is an expert in the science behind riding bikes. Using test numbers from assessments done earlier this year, Tim scrutinized over spreadsheets with me to make sure my hydration and fueling plan was just right. He always encourages me to just go for it, even when I do things like let him know I want to ride a triple century in less than ten days. He is a big part of my support system and thanks to his coaching these past few months, three hundred miles felt a heck of a lot easier than I ever would have expected.
Would I do it again?
100% yes. This was, by far, the most fun I have ever had on a bike.