How to Self-Support a 55-Mile Ride (With Your Teenager)

How to Self-Support a 55-Mile Ride (With Your Teenager)

If you have teenagers, or actually kids of any age, chances are high that they spent WAY TOO MUCH time on screens in the last year. This is certainly true of my kids.

My son has learned a lot more about the worlds in Minecraft than our own world this year, and pandemic or not, by this spring I had had enough. 

"You need an outdoor project," my husband and I informed him, and we decided that the project would be a bike ride to Grandma's, in Sacramento, California. We would leave the car at an Amtrak station about 60 miles away, ride to Grandma's and stay overnight, and take the Amtrak back down to the car next day.

I figured that if anything could motivate Kyle to ride that distance, it would be the prospect of Grandma on the other end. Besides, we would be riding through the Central Valley of California, which is almost entirely flat. 

Every weekend through most of April and May, we did "training rides" - usually less than 20 miles, but hilly. By the third weekend in May, Kyle felt ready. 

May 21st was pack day. After my earlier blog posts on bikepacking, I got  bikepacking bags that attach to my top tube, seat post and handlebars. I was so excited to use them for the first time and easily fit everything I needed for one night.

Then Kyle, who doesn't have bags, brought me all of HIS things. So then it became repack, stuff, cram, repack. 

The next morning we drove to Suisun City in the Central Valley, about 90 minutes away and parked at the Amtrak station there. It took forever to find an open restroom, and by the time we pushed off it was close to 11 am.

Rookie mistake... What was I thinking for not making a 15-year old boy eat a snack before starting the ride?? 

I had printed out a route cue sheet from the free program of  Ride With GPS, but we didn't have any kind of route MAP.  We got on our bikes and looked at the cue sheet.

"Turn right."

Umm, from where? The Amtrak station or the parking lot across the street?

The next direction was

"Go 0.2 miles."
"Turn left."  (from where?) Oh no.

We found an actual road name a few cues down, Google mapped to that and happily were in the clear. Hooray! 

Until, fifteen minutes later, we confused Paradise Valley Road with Paradise Valley Street, missed a turn and rode three miles out of our way.

By the time we got turned around, it was noon, Kyle was hungry, and we had taken one hour to go five miles of the 55- mile route.

There were 20 miles between us and our lunch stop, and of course it was the only hilly part of our route. And what had I decided to jettison in all the last minute repacking? Most of the snacks. (Because I had thought OF COURSE we would easily get to the lunch stop quickly...) 

Two and a half hours later, we pulled into Steady Eddy's in Winters, CA for lunch  -  a dehydrated 15-year old and a very, VERY worried and relieved mom. I think Kyle spent most of that 2 1/2  figuring out how he could arrange to never, EVER ride with his mom again.

The rest of the story is better. We stayed at lunch for an hour, got back on the bikes at 3:30, and this time we DID have flat terrain for the entire rest of the ride. 

Around 6:30 pm, as we were heading across the Yolo Causeway towards Sacramento, I pointed at the office towers in Sacramento a few miles away and said "Ky, you're gonna make it."  

Total time, including all stops: Eight hours.  Quite a few mistakes and a whole bunch of stories.