Coastal Tour: Days 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30
"If not now, when? If not here, where?"
At some point along the way we've adopted this philosophy. Mostly we say it in reference to foods and coffee and beer and wine. But honestly, I've had to let go a little. (I'm a kind of tight with money in real life). However, my typical mentality does not easily transfer to this kind of trip. I'm also way more routine than I thought I was (which is basically an impossibility when every day everything changes). It's been a challenge to do something like this--some days are way better than others--some rides fly by while others drag on. I'd say it is awesome 85% of the time (Tyler says 70%).
Total Miles: 67
Total Time: 8:00:50
Average Speed: 8.32 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 5,707 ft
Total Calories: 3,312
Start Time: 6:50 am
We were kind of bummed to leave San Bruno. (Thank you so much Emily and Jimmy for letting us stay during such a busy time for you guys. It was so nice to be in the comfort of a house, with a couch to sit on and appliances to wash our clothes, and to have a homecooked meal made for us. We really hope you can find some time for Phoenix so we can return the hospitality.)
Perhaps because we didn't want to go because of the homey feeling or maybe it was because we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Either way fate was holding us back. We had every intention of an early departure but then we locked ourselves out of Emily's while packing up our bikes. Luckily Emily was just in the shower and not left for work. Then Tyler dropped (and broke his water bottle). Emily offered up a number of replacements but we ended making a Walgreens stop first thing. Then I realized I left the water purifier hanging on the back porch to dry. We were three miles out at this point and Emily was already on the train. Tyler was pretty adamant about not adding miles (and time) to an already long day so he caught a cab to go back for one of our most important supplies. Basically it took us a while to leave.
Once on the road, the first forty miles were almost flat, almost easy. We passed by Stanford and then we hit the Los Gatos trail (loco bike trail). The trail was decent at first and then I was trying to push my bike up a wall built of loose, large gravel. It was a lot of fun. After we made it through the trail we headed right into a major, 1,600 ft climb. At least most of it was shady, but it was HOT. Like five minutes from the top of the climb we rode past a farm stand advertising fresh apple cider. The smallest container they had was a 1/2 gallon, which we bought and proceeded to drink. It was so cold and delicious and it actually gave me a brain freeze. It wasn't until we were into it halfway that I even thought it might not be a good idea. Nevertheless we finished it. I'm sure you can imagine what happened next. Well you don't have to because I'm just going to say it. Instant colonic. I hear people spend a lot of money on that "procedure". We spent 6 dollars. I'm absolutely positive that if you had looked at my stomach over the next hour that you would have seen my intestines wrestling each other for dominance, pushing and shoving and elbowing each other ignoring the supposed confines home to internal organs. While this was my life I could hear Tyler simply utter the words, "I don't feel real good" kind of quiet.
Long day. Latest arrival to camp yet. The sad part of this was that this was really the first beach we could have just hung out at. We were beat as it were.
Day 27: New Brighton Beach to Veteran's Park, Monterey
Total Miles: 42.37
Total Time: 4:52:42
Average Speed: 8.69 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 2,857 ft
Total Calories: 1,855
Start Time: 6:15 am
I was exhausted for this entire, very short ride. I just couldn't get going. It was foggy and so was I. My legs were tired and sore. The ride was decent though. We passed through a lot of farm land, land belonging to Dole's and Driscoll's, and then Castroville which is actually the artichoke capital of the world (so it has that going for it). There were quite a few bike paths that we were able to hook onto which is always well received.
Our campground was only two miles away from Monterey and Cannery Row. However, the last half mile was straight uphill and so by the time we reached camp we weren't in the best of spirits. We had planned to just peddle around the city. We immediately changed our mind. [Disclaimer: I know I mention elevation regularly. I know I discuss each hill as if it's some major antagonist...but the reality is, they can be. What can easily be done in a car requires effort. The big hills that climb over mountains up to beautiful lookouts can take an hour to summit. Sure it feels like a huge accomplishment, but sometimes it is simply exhausting and you just want some flat land to push through.]
And so we walked to Monterey. The clouds and fog rolled away and we enjoyed an unusually beautiful day for the area (according to the locals at wine tasting). We ate lunch on the wharf right next to a dock occupied by seals. The lunch itself was overpriced (naturally) but since I could watch the seals so closely, I considered it a win. Actually, as we continued walking around there were seals all over along the water's edge sunbathing on big rocks and for me it was a perfect day. I love their pudgy, little bodies. I want to hang out with them.
We also spent some time at the Carmel River Winery tasting. The tasting helped us go back to camp and not care about the campground which wasn't the best. It was busy and seemed more like a day-use park with playgrounds. Our hiker/biker site was packed with tents but no one was around. It was a little creepy. Plus, raccoon. Plus, weirdo guy with his space saving blanket in a fucking hammock. Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle. Stupid.
We're getting a little tired of camping and being dirty and not getting good sleep.
Day 28: Veteran's Beach to Plaskett Creek Campground
Total Miles: 64.71
Total Time: 7:06:43
Average Speed: 9.17 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 15, 306 ft
Total Calories: 3,494
Start Time: 6:40 am
This was a big ride for us. We passed over Big Sur (and many other hills) as we climbed up and down the coast's edge. This was our largest elevation gain of the trip. But it was also absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful. Unreal. So much beauty that is so hard to put into words. It was exactly what I had pictured when thinking about this trip. Plus, a little terror mixed in when the drop beside us was crazy high and the winds were blowing.
We stopped in Big Sur and Tyler got a breakfast burrito that was the best I've ever had (and we eat that shit all the time)...rice and egg and sausage and grilled veggies that still had flavor and juice to them. Awesome. Good break-spot. Climbing Big Sur was rough without shade. That messes me up and makes me happy our previous big hills were in cooler temps. Big difference.
Before we passed over Sur we met a hat vendor who was super interested in what we were doing. He was complimentary and in general just happy for us to be going after such a goal. He passed us a couple times on his route and would cheer or beep. One time how said we were a tough couple. Before he left he gave us (and two other tourers we were chatting with) granola bars just because. The granola bars were nothing, but the gesture I will definitely remember.
About twenty miles later we stopped at a vista and met a family from Ventura (originally WA) who had spotted Tyler's Griffey shirt and struck up conversation. They gave us their number and insisted we either stay at their place when we pass through or at least use their showers. (We weren't able to ultimately, but again the offer to stay was so nice.)
I was starting to wonder if Tyler was holding up a sign saying, "help me" when I wasn't looking. There was a definite attitude shift from people. Obviously, other people doing the same thing were kind and curious just as we were with them. But this was normal people driving by us or at our campgrounds. They started to be genuinely interested and excited for us and worried about us. Maybe because our goal was tangible at this point. Maybe it didn't seem so crazy to people because we were so deep into it. I'm not sure but the generosity and kindness some showed really uplifted our spirits when we may have otherwise been missing home.
This was our first really hot day and we all but ran out of water. There was nothing but millions upon millions of gallons of salt water. We reached camp only to learn that it was a dry camp. Just like dry weddings, this was absolutely terrifying. We really didn't know what to do. Plus, the campground (kirkcreek) gave off a weird vibe. It might have just been us, but we decided to push another five miles to the next campground in hopes for some water availability. I had already told myself that if we reached this campground and it too was dry that I wouldn't hesitate to ask some car campers.
About four miles after leaving and worrying Tyler spotted a National Forest Service Station. Two young guys were washing a fire truck and chopping up a stump (busy work for the new guys?). They let us fill our bottles and a huge amount of stress left us. We rolled on one more mile to the Plaskett Campground, an immensely busy camp that was well maintained and had access to a great beach. Our neighbors, Jorge and Sarah were awesome. They sent their kids over with ice cold Coors for us (probably the best beer I've ever had), and then again, and then later bowls of popcorn. It was the best.
Additionally, I woke up after dark to go to the bathroom. A group of guys were playing bocce ball with GLOW IN THE DARK balls. It was awesome and I told them so. They asked if I wanted to join them, but I declined given that I was half-asleep and they were more than half-drunk.
Day 29: Plaskett Creek to Morro Bay
Total Miles: 60.85
Total Time: 5:59:11
Average Speed: 10:17 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 7,505 ft
Total Calories: 2,924
Start Time: 7 am
Another beautifully scenic ride. It was flat for like thirty miles and we got rid of two big hills in the beginning. We can move so much faster (like 2 mph faster) when we're not constantly on hills. We met some cyclists at Ragged Point who told us to look out for zebras along the way. We thought they were messing with us, but turns out this newspaper mogul (billionaire) Hearst built a castle and stocked the surrounding thousands of acres with zebras. Crazy. We saw some but they were a bit far away to ogle appropriately.
The elephant seals however, were lined all along a ten mile stretch. It was so awesome. They make these crazy guttural sounds and aggressively bite each other's backs and otherwise lay their huge asses on the beach. There were a couple spots dedicated to viewing them, railings and benches. I told Tyler that if I lived in the vicinity I'd bike over with my breakfast or lunch and spend hours. I'd get to know them and I'd name them and I'd call them out when they exhibit bad behavior. I'd be their friend and they would love me as much as I love them.
Morro Bay was a pretty campground away a bit from the ocean, but still nice. We met a kind family at camp who fed us breakfast the next morning and another family who invited us to share their camp fire that night. Kind people.
Day 30: Morro Bay to Santa Maria, CA
Total Miles: 50.7
Total Time: 5:08:23
Average Speed: 9.87 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 2,728 ft
Total Calories: 2,200
Start Time: 7:15 am
We had one of our few hotel stops set for Santa Maria. Tyler was especially excited because he wanted to do laundry. We passed by five wineries that offered tastings but Tyler said we couldn't stop, that this was a working ride. He was going to do laundry and I couldn't take that away from him. I was excited because this hotel was supposed to be some "green" hotel. I thought it was in the middle of farmland and I thought this more and more given our ride through all the vineyards and strawberry and cilantro fields.
One problem was my bike had four flats in five days. I was constantly riding on a fraction of the air suggested for maximum performance. It sucked. We decided to stop at a bike shop and just buy better tires for the back wheels that were holding more weight. This meant we not only had to change the tires but we had to wait for the place to open. This was about a two hour delay.
Santa Maria was really cute when we first hit the city. That attractiveness lessened considerably as we left the farms and entered a shitty part of the city. The Solaire Inn is a glorified motel which technically would have been fine if that's what we were expecting. It did not have laundry facilities. It was not in the middle of farms. We were disappointed. We "upgraded" to have a jacuzzi tub. If this in anyway sounds fancy, I assure you, it was not. It was clean though and the bed was big and comfy, and I may or may not have spent three hours soaking in the tub, eating 1/2 of a 1/2 gallon of chocolate covered pretzel ice cream, drinking a six pack, and watching 8 Mile.