Another highlight so far was the riding around Big Sur. This area provided spectacular views, hair-raising descents, some of the strongest winds so far (hard to believe, I know), and some great sunny days. The terrain on this stretch is up and down, more guardrails than Oregon but the same precipitous drops, and many many more RV’s than I’ve encountered so far.
On one particularly blustery day I found myself at the top of a short hill in a deep roadcut a few hundred feet above the ocean. As I crested the hill I looked down to see I was going 4mph and took a second to coast slowly on a flat spot before the decent. I recieved a wobbly push from behind and then another; the wind funneled through this gap in the landscape. I looked down to see I was now going 11mph. These gust kept coming all day, mostly head-on, many dangerously from the side, and sometimes a gift of a tailwind. On one descent I found that the turns seemed to be coming up quicker and quicker but I didn’t seem to be screaming along. I realized I was being pushed down the hill by a massive tailwind causing silence rather than the usual roaring in my ears. I glanced at my cycling computer to see I was going 40mph: meaning the wind was at or stronger than that speed. I resisted the very strong urge to pass the motorist in front of me and held on for dear life as a negotiated the turns. Several times that day I was forced to lock my arms as I was buffeted by slipstream gusts from RV’s on one side and onshore winds on the other. I would suggest caution for anyone riding this section this time of year.
At one point the coastline goes from sheer cliffs to rolling hills and farmlands marking the beginning of Southern California. The greenery immediately becomes brownery, the skies are filled with Turkey Vulchers and Falcons, Sea Lions fill the beaches, and someone decided this area was a great place to have a herd of Zebra’s in their pasture.
One night I shared a campsite with a very kind homeless gentleman heading south with 125lbs of gear on a trailer behind his bike. He mentioned he had a bit of an issue throwing things away. We discussed cycling, mileage, notable landmarks, and laundry. The topic of our laundry schedules came up and he was shocked at the infrequency of my schedule. He apparently does laundry three times as often as me. I tend to dry clothing out very often but wash infrequently. After talking with him I decided that I should probably hit the laundromat the next time one made itself apparent.
I continued south through San Luis Obispo, a very nice town, towards Santa Barbara. Along the way I ran into a group of cyclists on tour with a sag wagon. They lost their dedicated driver and now use a leap-frog method of advancing the vehicle from San Francisco to San Diego. One cyclist will drive and park the vehicle at the next landmark while the group rides toward it with little to no baggage. The driver then rides back towards the group, eventually meeting them and heading back to the vehicle. The driver position is rotated throughout the group. I was lucky enough to meet them briefly in a valley and then again at the top of a large climb. As I crested the hill one of them beckoned me closer and handed me a cold beer. Hell yeah. I managed to cross paths with this group again the next day. It’s always nice to meet other cyclists.
I am currently in Santa Barbara, CA resting for the day. I will head on down towards Long Beach starting tomorrow. At this point I’m only five days or so from the Mexican border. I am planning on meeting my Sister and her family in San Diego in a week and a half so I’ll find a way so stretch five days into ten; shouldn’t be hard. This extra time will hopefully allow me to finish and jettison Kitchen Confidential, a very funny read for those not offended by foul language, and maybe even get my equipment list uploaded. :)
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