Long Beach Velo Allegro New Year's Day Ride has been a tradition for about the last ten years. Riders gather from all around Southern Cal for an informal 8am January 1st ride down PCH to Dana Point, up the San Juan Creek Trail, a loop through inland OC, and back to PCH via the Newport Back Bay - 96 miles!
This year over 400 riders were at the start at the Alamitos Bay parking lot on 2nd and Marina Dr. The mass start began sharply at 8, halting what little traffic there was on PCH, as the unorganized peloton went tearing down PCH at 26+ MPH occupying all the lanes. Riders were picked up along every intersection as the whirling mass of bobbing helmets grew to nearly 600 by Newport Beach.
Being wheel-to-wheel and shoulder-to-shoulder, pedaling for my life was a scary experience especially when someone yelled "slowing!!!" - brakes squealed, followed by the smell of burning rubber. All was well though as the humming of the tires resumed as riders hovered above their saddles trying to close the gaps in front of them, reshaping the monster peloton.
I wasn't sure if my 180 bpm heart rate was due to effort or terror, but I knew for sure the 250 watts of power I had been putting out for the last ten miles was real as my legs were on fire. I was stuck somewhere in the middle of the group, with no view of the front riders who were setting a torrid pace for the giant slinky to follow.
Luckily part of us caught a light somewhere past Huntington Beach and I could settle my heart rate and reach for my water bottle. I kept up with the "slower" group going 20 MPH with a Newport Beach police "escort" through Corona Del Mar warning us to ride single file and pulling over red light runners.
Since I was planning on doing a 3.5 hour ride I left the group at Newport Coast, enjoyed the 1,000 ft. climb and the view at the top, returned to PCH via Back Bay, and maybe even had a little tail wind back to Long Beach, maybe not. No matter, it was relaxing going at my own pace with no one in front of me! Happy New Year!