Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Neurology at Stanford University and a Research Career Scientist at the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System.
The second day of the Breakthrough Ride was going to lead us from Santa Cruz to King City in the heart of Salinas Valley.
It was 5:25 am when the alarm went off and I had to pull my sore body out of bed. A hot shower helped a bit and I definitely felt better after a good breakfast at a Diner in Santa Cruz. My stack of pancakes was topped with a mountain of fresh strawberries and whipped cream and everybody seemed surprised that I managed to eat it all. But to be fair, we were just briefed that our ride today would be 99 miles!
The streets were still empty when we rolled out on this young Sunday morning and we were surprised to see the warm and sunny skies from yesterday afternoon replaced by coastal fog once again. Phil Jaeger came back from the wedding he attended last night for the ride ahead but Kurt and Bruce had left. Luckily, we were joined by our project manager Eric Goodwin, who, as we found out, coaches a cycling team in Chicago.
Off we went for day two, along the coast through Aptos, past Pajaro Dunes, and Watsonville. The scent of freshly turned soil merged into that of fresh cut cabbage and ripened strawberries – a tour de smell. At an intersection somewhere past Watsonville, we merged with a group of cyclers from the Monterey Velo Club and Eric was quick to advertise our ride. They were kind enough to let us ride in their draft to save some energy for the next five miles or so.
It had gotten warmer but there was still a layer of fog as we entered Salinas Valley, the birthplace of John Steinbeck. Around 10:30 the sun finally came out warming our muscles and producing an ever stronger tail wind up valley. There was no shade in this flat farming valley so we took refuge in the “Pony Cafe” for lunch. Ride staffers Melanie and Evan treated us with sandwiches and fruit and we even had iced coffees.
The wind was picking up and we were cruising behind Eric at an average speed of almost 20 mph over the next 40 miles on long agricultural roads. As we rode our steel horses (or carbon fiber…) into King City, tired from the strong wind and dusty roads, a huge tumble weed blew across the street just in front of us – what an amazing country. After a shower followed by a big steak, we were ready for bed.
Thank you to the whole Breakthrough Ride team for organizing such a breathtaking (pun intended) journey through the countryside. We are so privileged to be able to participate and I know this Ride will continue to inspire and sustain our dedication to research on Alzheimer’s disease.
-Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D.