For the first day of our ride it would be myself (Sally Frautschy), associate professor Karen Gylys, and postdoctoral fellow Eric Hayden, all of us from UCLA. At 6:00 a.m., we were debriefed on our mystery route, as if we were in the CIA. When we started out at 7:00 a.m., it was drizzling and cold and the Alzheimer Breakthrough RV “Pony” support vehicle extraordinaire was out of commission. We found out later in the day that the repair shop staff stayed up all night to fix the RV for us so we could have it for the 2nd day of our journey. Originally the riding was fast and flat and without wind, making us feel extremely guilty since our breakfast with the Stanford group completing the previous leg (Tony Wyss-Coray and Phillip Jaegger) revealed that they rode 70-90 miles a day fit and fast with temperature fluctuations from 55 degrees to 110 degrees.
Thus we were slightly relieved to see a steep hill, but then we each had a bicycle incident. First two semi-trucks going opposite directions on a fairly narrow road with no shoulder were passing at the same time when my water bottle cage lost a screw and fell into my leg causing me to fall toward the middle of the road. The trucker yelled at me because he had to stop, but miraculously no one got hurt. Then Karen’s chain fell off, which was easy enough to fix, and shortly thereafter Eric Hayden, worrying about Karen and I, looked ahead toward us and away from the road and his tire slipped over the narrow paved road onto the abruptly lower dirt shoulder at 20 MPH, and he scraped up his knee. Luckily, it wasn’t serious and he recovered without a problem.
In addition to the huge fields of crops that we were cycling through, we got to see lots of wildlife. I almost ran over a diamond back rattlesnake sunning itself on the pavement. We saw an egret pass the road, a red-tailed hawk, and a mouse running across the road in the midst of broccoli stems that had fallen off the produce trucks.
Passing through Vandenburg Air Force base, a nice elderly lady stopped her car and asked, “Am I lost?” She was looking for the entrance to the base. She was very concerned, and we didn’t know the area all that well since we were just passing through. We helped her find the directions to the base by asking the nearby workers in the field. She introduced us to her sweet Yorkshire terrier named “baby” whom she was clutching tightly to keep her calm. She reminds us why we are on this ride.
It felt good for all of us to wear the Breakthrough Ride jersey, it really seemed like we were a team working towards something bigger than any of us. We are excited to be joined tomorrow by Greg Cole and Ed Teng, whom we work with at UCLA. Especially because we hear that from Lompoc to Ventura it will be a 90 mile ride!
-Sally Frautschy and the UCLA Mindsavers