Maybe it's best to have your first Coast Ride be the El Nino version. Important lessons came quickly: My bike is fairly waterproof, and so am I. I say "fairly waterproof" because of destroyed brake pads and some saddle sores.

On MLK weekend our crew of Dana, Emily, Shelagh, Julie and I - with Jared as our chief wind-blocker/flat fixer/steady wheel - rolled from San Francisco in a light rain, headed for Monterey with 200+ others. The Coast Ride begins.

There's a peaceful silence a group of riders will fall into when they're perfectly content, enjoying the miles as they pass effortlessly beneath their wheels. Our silence was more the kind that happens when you're miserable but trying your damnedest not to complain. Thankfully everyone was on the same page about this, mile after mile.

As we passed through towns and the lunch stop, it became hard to know whether the water hitting my face was rain or just spray from the wheel ahead. A turn on the front answered the question; yep, still raining. Through the back roads of Monterey the wheel spray turned brown and it was pretty obvious that wasn't just dirt flying into my mouth and dripping from my helmet.

Monterey, what a glorious sight after 125 miles! I got into the shower in full kit, with my bike. (Apologies to the Days Inn about those towels.) Now relatively clean and with just one more day of rain-riding ahead, my misery changed to optimism. That's right, we were bailing in Morro Bay, which I insist is a sign of maturity, not weakness. 

Elise joined us for Day 2, which goes along a really gorgeous stretch of road...when you can see it. The rains of the day before were replaced by mist, fog, and then wind. We only needed fire to have experienced all the elements on this adventure.

Heading out of Ragged Point for that final stretch, with our brakes nearly worn down to the metal, it was everyone for themselves. I glued onto the wheels of some guys laying down a fast pace and shamelessly drafted my way to Morro Bay. Everyone made it in - Shelagh cried tears of joy (I think) while Emily rolled up in an RV already 3 beers deep and bragging of delicious sausages consumed in warmth and comfort. So jealous, but so incredibly excited to grab a beverage of my own!

And just like that, our Coast Ride was over. Watching everyone roll out the next morning into the rain, I thought maybe, just maybe I should have been riding. But then we went for cappuccinos and a huge breakfast and knew we made the right decision. Till next year Coast Ride, we'll bring our A-Game if you do!