What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Hills. Up and down, up and down. Short and steep, long and still steep. Been following Highway 1 for a while, through places like Big Sur. Brutal on the legs and spectacular on the eyes.
Day 136: Santa Maria to Morro Bay (46 miles)
Nice ride on backroads adjacent to the highway, and through a bunch of vineyards. Not much to report on the actual ride, but going through San Luis Obispo (or SLO as the ‘regs call it) was pretty ace. It’s a college town, and was like a small version of Austin, TX. Super laid-back and colourful. Left SLO after a few hours and did a bit of sunset riding to get to Morro Bay. Let the mini-epic commence.
Did a bit of searching for a spot to camp, and wasn’t too successful, but ended up at Tidelands Park. It’s, well, a park. It was practically deserted, and getting late, so I settled for the tried and tested age-old concept of; put up tent late, leave early. It wasn’t a particularly discreet spot but was better than some of the really obvious ones.
So up goes the tent, on this really green, well-kept grass (the reason it’s so nice becomes quite obvious shortly). The park was next to the harbour, and there were benches at the waterside which were accompanied by BBQ stations, a perfect place for a stove. Pasta. That’s what was on the menu. With a tin of tuna in it – Nigella look out. There’s a seal playing in the harbour. It’s pretty idyllic at this point.
PSSSSST. That’s the sound of the sprinkler spraying me in the face, soaking everything in sight and drenching the food with cold water. No wonder the grass is so green. I’d rocked up into this nice park and there were sprinklers on a timer. They were set all over the park, dug into the ground in the most camouflaged way. So yeah, cold water pasta. And of course getting back to the tent there was a sprinkler blasting that too.
Day 137: Morro Bay to near Ragged Point (42 miles)
This section of coastline is amazing. It’s very easy to stop, sit down and look out at the ocean, and then find that an hour’s passed. The majority of the ride went well, hills and all. There was an Elephant Seal viewing area which was really incredible. Hundreds of them.
Rocked up late, and camped in a remote field just south of Ragged Point. Those seals are a right time-consumer.
Day 138: Nr Ragged Point to Big Sur (50 miles)
Pitching up in total darkness sometimes works out for the best, and it did today thankfully, although it would be hard not to on this section of coastline.
The problem with there not being anything else in the surrounding area is customer-service often goes out of the window and the local monopoly means things like food are priced at Hunger Games prices. Ragged Point is this beautiful spot, just 2 miles or so north of the makeshift camp, but unfortunately was marred by rude staff. Shame.
Thankfully my memory of Ragged Point won’t dwell on that, and instead on inspiration. Bob and Joe. A pizza shop owner and a campsite owner, and pals from Maine who were cycling from Oregon to San Diego. Bob had prostate cancer a couple of years ago which put him out of action for a while, and only a few months ago came off radiation therapy, and now he’s cycling 60+ miles per day. Props! And Joe recently had a double hip replacement and is shredding the tour (regrettably there’s no photo).
The riding was hard. Perhaps the most challenging of the trip so far (but it all kind of blurs so is hard to tell). So steep. But the rewards are so fun. 10 minutes of slow-going leads to about 45 seconds of pure adrenalin-filled joy. Made it to Big Sur Lodge at 9pm, legs a bit sore, and looked for a place to camp which was a tough hassle. Woke up to this though – suddenly the hassle was worth it.
Day 139: Big Sur to Monterey (31 miles)
Spent the morning looking at frickin’ massive trees. Nothing more to it than that.
More crazy hills and awesome locations. Snapped a spoke unfortunately so spent a good while tuning a one-less-spoke wheel. Also the front derailleur has decided to stop working, so it was a day of cycling in the smallest front ring (i.e. slow), and trying to ignore the worry about whether the wheel would fold.
Since then it’s been a couple of days in Monterey catching up on some work.
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San Francisco and the Bay Area’s coming up, which is super exciting and should be really fun, and then it starts to get really adventurous. But before that, anyone got any advice on not destroying wheels? And does anyone know / recommend a bike shop in Santa Cruz / San Francisco / The Bay Area? The bike’s not in the best of shape right now. If you do, holla’ in the comments below. Thanks for any help, enjoy your chocolate, and don’t be too sad about YouTube!