The ride to and from Monterey was great: there were lots of critters, birds especially, the scenery was magnificent, and I met some cool people. On the way north, my weather luck ran out, though. I hit some strong headwinds and a bit of rain – no big deal, but the headwinds in particular made for long slow days in the saddle.


I did a bunch of thinking about subjectivity as I rode. First, because I’m really prone to misjudging grades – road sections that look like gradual declines but aren’t, climbs that are way harder or slightly easier than they seem, etc. A lot of it has to do with the surrounding landscape – if everything is going up up up, a road that only goes up a little seems downhill in contrast. And part of it is just that I’m bad at eyeball estimates. Second, I was noticing how much subtle changes in my health and level of rest influence my ride. Coming south, I ate something that disagreed with me and was feeling flat when I pulled in to Plaskett Creek in Big Sur. I’d already decided to take a rest day there and spend a (forecast) rainy day lounging in the tent. I ended up napping for a couple hours around noon, spent the (actual) partly cloudy afternoon wandering around the beach with Lotte, and slept an additional 11 hours that night. The ride TO Plaskett was OK, but a bit of a slog; the ride FROM Plasket was an absolute joy. I had a tailwind, my legs felt great and I was in Morro Bay before i knew it. There are objective realities underpinning my experiences, but I’m struck by how being out in the world and using your body for motive power internalizes those factors in a way that other modes of travel don’t.

And that is what counts as deeeeep thought as I pedal along. *embarrassed face* Travelogue below the fold!

Tuesday, May 14th, I rolled out of The Brewery and headed across town to the Santa Monica pier. From there it was a nice spin up the PCH to Sycamore Canyon Campground. Aptly named – the hike/bike camping area was in a grove of absolutely enormous sycamores. I’d had a small equipment failure back on Route 66 – I’d managed to break a tent pole at a joint. I’d thought it was still functional. Nope. Zip ties and duct tape to the rescue.

Tent pole repair.

The next morning, once I got some cell signal, I googled for outdoor stores along my route. Hallelujah – there’s an REI in Santa Barbara. Off we rode; overcast and breezy out of the northwest so we didn’t fly along, but we eventually pulled in to the REI parking lot and I bought a tent pole splint: a sleeve with an inside diameter just larger than the outer diameter of the pole. It serves to reinforce the questionable joint – works like a charm.

Thursday, we rode for Lompoc. A hunk of the ride was on US 101, which had nice wide shoulders, except… A mile or so after the road shifts from east-west to north-south at Gaviota, there is a northbound-only tunnel. With no shoulder. And a sensor that ‘sees’ bikes, so that as you pass, lights flash on a BICYCLIST IN TUNNEL sign. To say that we sprinted uphill through the gantlet would be an understatement The sprint was rewarded with more up: a long steep climb up and over into the Lompoc valley. We got rained on and the wind was again out of the northwest, so by the time we hit Lompoc i was ready for some refreshment. Google to the rescue and once we made camp, we were off to Solvang Brewery for a barley-based sports replenishment drink and something to eat. Lotte was a big hit – showered with pats and treats!

Off to Pismo beach the next day into a strong headwind. The climb out of the Lompoc valley was early enough in the day that the breeze was still light, thank goodness, but as we descended the other side the wind picked up – a taste of things to come – the first of two days with 20+ mph wind out of the north and northwest.

Lompov valley from Harris Grade Rd.

On Sunday, the 19th, we cycled past a heap (literally) of elephant seals and into Big Sur. A dramatic transition to say the least – rolling grasslands and huge pinnipeds to sea cliffs, sea stacks, pelicans and cormorants.

elephant seals

Big Sur from the south

Car commercial bridge

Plaskett Creek was a nice campsite, but the next night at Pfeiffer Big Sur Park? Wow. The hike/bike section was in a grove of redwoods, there were showers and I had other cyclists to talk to *waves to S*.

Pfeiffer Big Sur

A  damp start and wet tent the next morning, but no matter – we were off to a motel room in Monterey!