Senior bikes to LA over course of seven days

March 12, 2020 — by Esther Luan

Senior Alvin Ren and friend take advantage of spring break to make bike trip along Highway 1 to Los Angeles.

It was mid-afternoon during February break, and senior Alvin Ren was pedaling furiously to catch up to his friend, Leland High senior Allen Shen, who was biking along several yards ahead of Ren. They were on the famed coastal Highway 1, with cars rushing past them, sometimes scarily fast.

Ren and Shen’s seven-day bike ride from Saratoga to Los Angeles proved to be an eye-opening and memorable experience.

They came up with the idea over the summer after they started biking together during weekends. Wanting to bike even longer distances, the pair decided that LA was an achievable goal.

Around a month in advance, they began planning their great expedition. They used Google Maps for navigation and stayed in AirBnBs and hotels along the way. Once they arrived, they stayed at a friend’s dorm room at UCLA for a night before taking the train back to the Bay Area.

“We literally had to make a PowerPoint explaining what we were doing to both of our parents because they were really scared that we would die,” Ren said. “We biked a lot on Highway 1, which is relatively dangerous, so I guess I get it.”

Equipped with a few bags of extra snacks and supplies, the pair set off on Feb. 15. They traveled light, bringing few possessions.

“I think the hardest thing for me was not falling too far behind [Shen],” Ren said. “I think it was relatively easy for him, because he bikes pretty often and has done it for a while.”

The trip took seven days, even with the two taking the fastest possible route to the places they would stay for the night. They avoided making detours to viewpoints or other stops in order to keep a steady pace. Still, they did have to stop relatively often for meals because they were eating more than usual, Ren said.

Despite staying focused on their exact planned route, the ride provided  stunning scenery, according to Ren. 

One of the most memorable and eye-opening aspects of the trip for Ren was interacting with the AirBnB owners. 

“For most of our [AirBnBs] we lived with them, so we’d talk to them because we had to go around the house,” Ren said. “We heard a lot about their life stories. It was more than just a biking experience, we also got to talk to people.”

Ren said one of the greatest things he got out of the experience was learning about the lives of some of the people in the small towns along the way. 

“It’s really different from here, their lives are a lot less hectic and they mostly just stay within their own towns and circles,” Ren said. “It was really cool to see things from their perspective.”

Ren doesn’t have plans for another trip, at least not in the near future. Nevertheless, he said, it was an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. 

“Not only did I get better at biking, I also got a fulfilling experience out of it, which is super cool,” Ren said.

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