Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunshine tour

Family previously visited + Climbing partner with time off + Shoulder season + looking for warm weather = Bike tour in California! After some casual scheming, we decided to spend Thanksgiving cycling down the central California coast, basking in the November sunshine.

Just in time, too - a big storm cycle hit the Northwest, and we drove through snow all the way to mid-Oregon! My car got a flat sometime around when we hit completely stopped traffic, so not only did we not lose time, but we also provided some entertainment for other stuck drivers. Of course, the spare was all the way at the bottom of our neatly packed trunk, so off came the bikes and out came the gear. And since it is occasionally a perfect world, traffic got unstuck just as we were packing back up. Sweet!

Our plan was to drive to Monterey, bike down to Santa Barbara, and take the train back. And for a completely un-researched plan, it worked amazingly well. Sometimes it just happens like that. There was free long-term parking at the Amtrak station. We actually cycled the miles we needed to reach Santa Barbara. They had bike boxes requiring little disassembly for purchase there. AND, my car was actually still there when we got back!

The trip itself was great. The Big Sur coast south of Monterey has one 2-lane road and almost no towns, doesn't connect anything to anything. So there was very little traffic and lots of beautiful bluffs and bridges and sandy beaches and hillsides. It was actually pretty quiet most of the time, which was exactly what we were looking for. Pedal, look around, pedal, stop for a snack overlooking the ocean, pedal, wonder if the last bit of land you can see is where we stop for the night, pedal...

After the first few hours of cold wind and rain showers, it was sunny all week. It was, however, also quite cold. Snow in Seattle means quite a cold weather system, which translated to highs in the 50s in Cali, and lows near freezing! Being the seasoned outdoor veterans that we are, we used out bivi sacks and Jetboil and savvy outdoor survival skills to camp in the state parks... once. It was cold! Frost was forming on the top of the picnic table as made dinner. Brr!

So the rest of the time these two savvy outdoor women got hotels, took showers, and actually washed their socks at night. Safeway makes a mean meatloaf and salad for dinner. And we got a much earlier start when we could leave our room at sunrise rather than wait for the warmth of the sun before peeking out of our sleeping bags. Yes, we are wise savvy outdoor women.

South of Big Sur we got to wind through fields and rolling hills and the occasional little town (does San Luis Obispo count as little?) and generally just keep enjoying being outside. Our last stop was just a few miles short of Santa Barbara since we didn't want to get lost and miss our train back. Just over 300 miles in just over 4 days, but a little lopsided, with a couple 45-mile days and a couple 95-mile days. Funny - they didn't seem any longer or shorter, just more or less time spent stopped vs pedaling.

I love the zen of pedaling long miles. (Especially when the hills are mellow.) We drove back without incident, knowing that the perfectly executed trips make up for all those other times...

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