Lotte and I fly back east tomorrow, so I should probably finish the Big Bike Ride Phase 1 narrative! Overall, a fantastic experience. My health, physical and mental, has improved, I’ve seen beautiful landforms and critters, met interesting people – A+ stuff. Lotte has been the best traveling companion pup one could ask for: icebreaker at grocery stops, sleeping bag temperature rating extender and all around pal. Now, it’s back to New England to help with grandkiddo care. After that, I’m up in the air – there are a few people I need to discuss plans with – watch this space!
Photo credit: Vern Evans
One of the benefits of pitching up at an artist’s complex is that your end-of-trip photo might get snapped by a actual, v accomplished photographer!
Travel narrative follows.
Friday morning, after my two days at the Aquarium, Lotte and I pointed Molly Fin south and east. The day started cool and misty but the clouds burned off by afternoon. It was Memorial Day weekend, so I was really concerned about campsite space; as a result, it was a short day. I stopped at Pfeiffer Big Sur and set up at the hike/bike area. As the afternoon advanced, other bicyclists rolled in: H, an Australian environmental researcher on her way to New Orleans, J, a yoga and swin instructor from OC riding to San Diego, S, an Army Ranger linguist doing a weekend ride from/to Monterey and a couple from Germany bound for Salinas and points north. We had a great evening around a campfire before it was time for bed.
I was first out of camp the next morning, for another short ride: 33 miles to Plaskett Creek where I knew there was another hike/bike area. I got us checked in and the tent set before H rolled in. At that point the camp host asked us if we’d be willing to share campsites if more bicyclists rolled in – obviously, yes, of course. Roll in, they did – J, first, then a couple San Diego-bound retired firefighters from the UK, then a foursome doing a Monterey to San Luis Obispo long weekend ride. Another nice campfire evening followed. I’d planned to take a rest day at Plaskett Creek, both because it was supposed to rain Sunday and because of my campsite availability concerns. So Sunday morning I lolled around while everyone else packed up a rode out. Even though the all day rain never materialized, the rest day decision proved to be a good one. As I mentioned in the previous post I slept a lot: a couple hour nap and 12 hours overnight.
I felt like a million bucks Monday morning and set off undecided about whether to make for San Simeon or Morro Bay. Mid morning found us communing with the elephant seals at San Simeon and the answer was clear – use the tailwind, enjoy the nice weather, and head farther southeast!
The 60 miles to Morro Bay went quickly, and, hurrah, the state park had a hike/bike section. It was already occupied by a cyclist who was off getting something to eat. The camp host sent me to the same spot (“it’s where locals go for seafood”) – Docksider’s Too – a classic fish pier seafood joint, dog friendly too boot. The high point of dinner was a half dozen barbequed oysters: enormous bivalves slathered in garlic butter and put of a grill just long enough to firm them up. Yum.
There was a little taste of home too. The Morro Bay Maritime Museum has a Coast Guard Rescue Boat that calls to mind the older CG36500, and the DSRV-2 Avalon rescue sub, built in response to the Thresher disaster (the Thresher sailed out of Portsmouth).
When I got back to camp I met S, another Australian who was, like H, great company and a trove of good tales. J was in camp, too – he’d stayed at San Simeon the night before.
The next day’s ride was a long one, 71 miles to Lompoc, capped with the big climb and descent into the valley. Lotte and I returned to the Solvaang Brewery for food, drink and pats. We were the only cyclists at the park – it felt a little odd after all the camaraderie.
Wednesday was a medium-length pull to Carpenteria and Thursday brought us back through Oxnard. We stopped outside the Naval Air Station (where my dad worked as a radar technician when I was a wee lad) at the Point Mugu Missile Park to watch anF-21 Kfir land and a couple Hawker Hunters taking off in the distance.
JB-2 Loon – an American knock-off of the German V-1 ‘buzzbomb’
We ended up at Sycamore Canyon State Park for our last night on the road. It was a quiet and pensive evening for me – a lot to think about as we prepared to finish the ride. The next day’s pedal was anything but pensive. It was trash day in Malibu and the bike lane was full of trash cans. We got through the slalom course safely, rode into Los Angeles and called it a day.
It was a heck of a ride. I haven’t done final totals, but order of magnitude estimates are 3,000 miles/4800k, 3 months and ???? feet of climbing.