By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
For two Palisades High seniors, “Saturday in the Park” took on a whole new meaning Sept. 7, the day they participated in the annual Pacific Coast 100 Mile Tour, a 60-mile bike ride followed by a 40-mile cycle up a steep mountain incline. Although it tested the boys’ persistence and endurance, neither of them wishes they stayed in bed.
Owen Burkhardt did the Century Ride with his brother Jordan, his father Jerry and his friend Shiva Ramaswami, whom he met in ninth grade, although they didn’t become friends until 10th grade.
“I mostly took up swimming as a child but my dad introduced me to cycling about three years ago and it’s been my favorite sport ever since,” said Burkhardt, who ran cross country and track as a freshman and sophomore but stopped after a series of knee and hip injuries. “Shiva and I recently created a club at Pali to introduce others to our passion. We’ve gone on a few group rides with students at a variety of skill levels.”
Burkhardt lives by UCLA in Westwood and attended Kenter Elementary and Paul Revere Middle School. This was his second time participating in the event and in the summer he and Ramaswami ttried to bike at least 100 miles a week to prepare with several large training rides of about 60 miles.
“Because I was more experienced this year, it was easier than I expected but still very difficult,” he said. “The hardest part was not actually the riding itself, but all of the aches and pains that come from sitting on a bike for over six hours. The ride started in Irvine, and went as far south as Torrey Pines, where it looped back and finished in Carlsbad. Shiva and I rode the entire event together and finished with about six and a half hours of ride time. Our total time, including rest stops and bathroom breaks was just over eight hours.”
Ramaswami borrowed a bike from Burkhardt until he got his own over the summer. He lives in the Alphabet Streets and played club basketball for five years, but gave it up before high school. Since starting the cycling club at Pali High he likes to ride by the beach and the Santa Monica hills.
“Owen did the Century Ride last year with his dad and told me great things about it, so I was excited for the challenge,” said Ramaswami, who moved from Manhattan Beach to the Palisades in third grade and attended Pali Elementary and Paul Revere. “I was worried I wasn’t going to make it because of the high pace of most of the riders but once we got into a flow about 30 miles into it I felt confident we’d finish, even if we didn’t go super fast. Around 80 miles in we reached the climb called Torrey Pines and our previous training helped with the hill.”
Both boys want to study Engineering in college and keep riding.