Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Big miles in Big Sur

What does it like like when I go on vacation? A little bit like this:

A city park. And a bikepacker's bike.

So what is riding through Big Sur like? Kind of like this picture suggests:

Looks like we are on the scenic route!

And, even though this is significantly south of anything you could call Big Sur, it was like this, too. In that there were fog and clouds, and it was basically riding on a highway...

After 4 days of riding, we hadn't had enough, so we continued south to Santa Barbara. Which is much less wild, but scenic nonetheless. The very first picture of this post is in a park in Santa Barbara, too, but I feel like this picture captures the feel of the town a little better:

So-Cal style beach.

Of course, it takes some calories to get from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. So we spent some time in this joint before heading out:

Organic coffee and everything!

And even though it was only two days out of five, the hundred mile stretch from San Simeon to Carmel was what my vacation was about. I say two days because we rode it south to north one day, then north to south the next.


I'm not a big fan of Lompoc, but apparently Lompoc is a big fan of me. Look at the sign they erected for my arrival:

The trip was not all wilderness and camping. There was a train, a train station, and downtown Los Angeles involved...

Some of the ride felt like this:

Long miles

And some of it felt like this:

There was camping and campgrounds and stretches of night:

And Thai food and cows and a guy with a skateboard who thought my load was too light:

San Luis Obispo and Moro Bay

Mannuel's phone ate all his pictures, so these Instagram collages are all that he has left:

This is the bike Mannuel brought:

And even though it was my ride, I can still say, "Wish I was there!"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bike Be All Crazy

My ride yesterday took me up the SGRT, which is nothing new. What I saw, however, was new. At least new to my eyeballs.

As I approached this contraption, it appeared to be one large vehicle. But as I passed, I saw that the rear half was just pushing the front half along. Notice the special bumper:

Of course, when I stopped to take pictures, they separated and were all, "I wasn't doing that!"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pacific Coast Bicentennial Bike Route

My bike wants to get on a train.

So I had a long weekend, the weather was hot, and it may have just been in my head, but I could swear I smelled smoke from the fire in Idyllwild. Not wanting to stay in town for any of that noise, I headed to Union Station to catch a train into Ventura with my bike for a ride up the coast.

She's got a ticket to ride...

...and a destination.

Back in 1975, a bicycle route was established that basically follows Highway 1 down the California coast with some detours for reasons of safety, legality, or scenery. I say "down" because south is the preferred direction of travel. Even without the tailwind, the views are better from the "cliffside of the trail." Though CalTrans stopped publishing maps for the route in 1982, the Adventure Cycling Association distributes a variant of the route, and perhaps others do too. Thus, summertime brings lots of bike tourists to the route I was following. Many of the "pannier crowd" are international tourists spending as many hours sightseeing and dining as riding. Domestic bikepackers seem to be a thriftier crowd. Many of them are on thousand mile (or more) journeys, doing the entire route, or doing their own route on a door-to-door loop. But no matter who you are, the $5 hiker/biker campsites at world class destinations like Morro Bay State Park are attractive. The warm shower alone is worth the price of admission.

You can't see Morro Rock because the fog won't lift for a while. Wait for a photo op? Ain't nobody got time for that!
One of the nice things about staying at a campground is that you get to talk to some of your peers. Talk naturally turns to routes, destinations, and gear. I was given directions to the grocery store and a recommendation of the best place for fish and chips. As I was starting to get cold, I opted for hot food. The best place was closed, so I went to the one next door. When I ordered fish and chips, they asked me if I wanted chips or fries!

You know that palm tree island with the long bridge, don't you?

But I'm making it sound like I went to Morro Bay. Nothing could be further from the truth. I went for a RIDE. I didn't know if I would make it that far. And going further was an option, too, if I wanted to get on a train in San Luis Obispo on the way back. One of the nice things about riding the coast is that the cell phone always seems to have reception. I was able to give updates of my progress (and my evolving plans) every place I stopped. Some other riders don't bring phones, relying instead on the internet at public libraries for email communication. I couldn't do that. I gots to have my Words With Friends while I'm waiting for that cheeseburger...

Nothing's showing.

And the Pacific Coast route doesn't just hug the coast, either. There is quite a lot of variety. Ranch land, farm land smelling of ripe strawberries, small towns, mossy trees, lone oaks dotting the grassy hillsides. My favorite views were the ones that simply couldn't be captured in a photograph.

Share the road.

I had never been to UCSB before, but I got the opportunity, as the route crosses the campus. Talk about a bike-friendly school! There were many, many bicycle parking lots scattered about. Some of them were huge! And bike paths criss-cross the campus. I don't think my picture does it justice, but here you go.

I've got to go back and see this school in the daylight...

Everybody loves a sunset.

On my last day, I called ahead to the SAG vehicle. Not to cut my ride short (I've done that before), but to extend it. "Hey, Babe. I don't want to get on the train in Ventura. If I ride down to Malibu, can you come pick me up?"

I am in the habit of waving to other cyclists going the opposite direction. On the 605 bike path, lots of people wave back. If you have ever ridden Ballona Creek, you know how some cyclists are too serious to be friendly. I was expecting the "west-side cold shoulder" in Malibu, but even the guys with aero-bars gave me a nod. That was a nice surprise.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I Took A Picture!

     It seems like my infrequent posts consist mostly of apologies for the lack of pictures on my posts. It's becoming increasingly clear that there are two schools of thought in this uber-digital age:
  • Pictures, or it didn't happen.
  • This is such a wonderful experience that I don't want to stop experiencing it in order to "document" it.
Today's case in point is yesterday's bike ride. I left at 9:30am and did not arrive at my destination until 8:00pm. Most of those hours had ample lighting for photography and/or experience. From 10:30am until 6:30pm, I was out of my cell service area. So no checking my Facebook, no texting my friends, nothing much to keep me from taking pictures. And yet, here it is. My one photo stop:

North side of the road
South side of the road
     I don't have much to show for my ride. Some tan cheeks, knees and neck... A picture that only counts as two because the panarama mode only holds so much. But I have one story. 
     My photo stop (which was really a stop to adjust something on my bike, or adjust my clothing, I forget...) was about 6 or 7 miles beyond the turnoff to Crystal Lake. Earlier, as I was standing on the pedals, climbing and panting, some dude descending shouted out that I was "...Almost there!" Kinda strange when you consider I was about a third of the way into my ride. If he had known my destination, would he have shouted "Only 60 more miles to go..."?
     Oh, the silly little things that make me laugh!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Coast

All rides must start somewhere. To get to the start of this ride, I took the BART train to Daly City.

On the train platform, you can see my weapon of choice. Compared to the 1.75" tire, disk brake, and pannier-sporting machines I was to run into 110 miles later, this bike was a poor choice. However, this bike is named "the Red Menace." And that makes all the difference in the world.

Speaking of "the world," here is a picture of a small portion of the world that was visible from my ride:

If you think gas is expensive, the small snack pictured below cost $7.75. And it is nowhere close to being a gallon! Even with the refill on the coffee, I bet it would all fit into my one liter bottle with room to spare. But I did manage to crank out quite a few miles from that fill-up.

I had never see a ghost bike before in real life. Now I have. 

Perhaps it is good to be reminded of the fragility of life at the outset of a long trip.

This is a map of the campground I stayed at in Monterey. I must have been tired because I couldn't find the hiker/biker spots. So I took a picture of the map to consult as I wandered, lost. Eventually, I found my spot. And a lot of bikes better suited to my ride than "the Red Menace."

This is where the joke about Kabuki brand sunscreen goes. Except, I don't have a joke. Just a punchline.

The next two pictures showed me a flaw in Facebook's picture preview feature. Both of these panoramas were previewed with a cropped-to-standard-dimensions image that looked completely stupid. As with widescreen videos, letterbox is the way to go! 

Here, I'm thinking I must have died. Because I was in heaven.

And here.

And again here.

This next picture is one of my favorites. It is Hwy 1 leaving San Simeon Village. I was riding into the rising sun, which made for a less than ideal riding experience. But the photo conveys the sense of quiet, easy, coastal miles that I had felt the night before. Full moon, sound of waves coming from "just over there," flat well-paved road, minimal traffic, cool enough to turn the cranks with ease, gentle breezes. I wish those few hours could have continued.

The moss covered trees just south of Cambria were a treat.

San Luis Obispo was the end of the line for me. Instead of getting on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner, perhaps I should have walked into this house and made myself at home. Zoom in on the word arching above the door.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

White Boy Be Lazy

No posts in a while.

Perhaps, I haven't had any good subject matter. Well, that will change soon. This Saturday I will start a ride down the Pacific Coast Highway from Daly City. I hope to ride all the way to Oxnard. White Boy best not be lazy with the camera!