Newport Beach to Oceanside – Riding can be fun; in fact, it should be.

August 18 – 60 miles, 1,280 feet

Data is approximate because I now have 2 malfunctioning Garmins. The recent one wouldn’t charge and only registered “Acquiring satellites” and I couldn’t even turn it off. I hope that when the battery finally fully dies that I will be able to reset it. I do miss the data.

On the other hand, not having any data means the I don’t know how far I have gone while I am riding so that I can’t calculate how many miles remain to finish the ride. Since that is usually one of my most frequent pass times, I now have to find other ways to occupy myself. Maybe that just leaves me more time to check in on how various body parts are feeling, whether I should change my position and, if so, how, what the road is like, what debris I need to avoid and whether the traffic is bothering me. Unfortunately, I can’t honestly say that I engage in any deep philosophical contemplations during all of the hours I spend on the bike. Too bad, because with all of the time I have, I should come up with numerous profound thoughts and ideas. Instead you get this.  

More beautiful weather, both for riding and for the numerous beach goers I have seen who have taken advantage of it. Since I have been told how dumb we were to have ridden through the desert of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas during the summer in 2016 because of the certainty of debilitating heat and humidity, maybe I should get some credit for the consistently good weather I have experienced on this ride. Just as I am due blame for the near crippling weather on the route I chose for Laura’s Ride 2016, shouldn’t I get credit for the great weather on the route I chose for Laura’s Ride West Coast? It only seems fair.

(Oceanside)

I also have to mention how the riding conditions have been overwhelmingly good since Santa Monica. Not coincidentally, the pain in my back is continuing to improve. There have been numerous well surfaced bike trails that have avoided major traffic and the roads I have ridden on have usually had ok shoulders, bike lanes or the opportunity to claim a lane for myself. Today’s ride certainly fit that pattern. Included was a stretch of about 10 miles of a very bike friendly route along the coast within Fort Pendleton, a marine base. That ride was made more fun because after having passed numerous people on bikes, another cyclist raced by me while I was doing some stretching on the bike. That got some juices flowing and I had to catch up, which I finally did shortly before I was directed to the on ramp for US Highway 5. That felt good.

I can’t even complain about the 5+ miles I spent on US 5 and the hundreds, if not thousands, of vehicles going by at 65+ mph because there was a very wide shoulder that was more smoothly surfaced than the highway itself. The conditions were such that those miles went by faster than I had expected (remember, I didn’t have an odometer to keep track of the miles).

Not too far before I entered Fort Pendleton, I was riding through what I believe was downtown San Clemente. I noticed a bike that was obviously loaded for a long ride leaning up against a building to my right with someone standing nearby. I naturally had to look closer and I was surprised to see Marcus McKee. I stopped and we talked for a bit, comparing some notes about the conditions we had encountered, including the annoying volume of traffic. Marcus is the rider I first met at a C-store just before the biggest 2 climbs on the ride to Cambria. He is also going Vancouver to the border but he won’t cross since he didn’t have a current passport. But he is doing the ride the hard way, being totally self supported. It was great to see him again and I wish him the best on these last few miles. I call them “few” because that makes me feel better since we obviously have about the same distance to go.

(Marcus)

Oh, yes, today was also good because I didn’t have any flats. After having had a pretty good start to this ride, over a couple of days the number reached 6. I realized that they became so frequent that I stopped mentioning them. I guess my ride across the country without getting even 1 flat on Laura’s Ride North wasn’t due to my superior skill. Unless, of course, that skill has diminished significantly over the last 2 years. Unfortunately, given other deteriorations I have experienced over the past few years, that may not be so far fetched.

Today wasn’t so good to the extent that the coffin again flew open (after having done so at the start of the 2016 Ride), resulting in the loss of rain clothes and an extra helmet that were up there. My spare tubes, cartridges and some parts managed to survive. It was my fault because I had mistakenly thought that I had pulled the top down all the way the last time I had to get a tube and cartridge. It took a lot of miles before I was proven wrong.

Since this also serves as a bit of a diary and I want to remember such details, I will mention that Google had me confused when it sent me down a street marked “No Outlet” that led to a train station and then told me to turn where there was no apparent place to turn. I turned around to leave that street and then got repeated messages of “turn left in 600 feet,” “turn right in 400 feet” and other contradictory and inconsistent directions.  When I rode a ways but still couldn’t find any other way to get to the next street Google was trying to get me to, I turned around to repeat the route that had me turning where there was no apparent place to turn. This time I noticed a down staircase. That took me under the train tracks that had blocked my access to the road I wanted to reach. Problem solved, after probably 30 or so minutes, a distance I had no way to measure but was well more than a mile and, more annoying, a fair amount of frustration.

Tomorrow I ride to San Diego to stay with my best friends from law school, Ken Klayman and his wife Marianne. I am greatly looking forward to seeing them for the first time in way too many years.

With a $100 pledge today, we are getting closer to the $10,000 goal. Only $220 to go. I am sure we should be able to make that with your help.

Best,
Rick

Santa Monica to Newport Beach

August 17 – 53 miles, 666 feet, 2,503 calories

When I last drove south of Santa Monica, I wondered how a bicyclist would survive on the road going south along the coast because of the heavy traffic and lack of any place for a bicycle.  Fortunately, that turned out not to be a problem. The beach bike path lasted quite a while south of Santa Monica and avoided most of what I had seen on that drive. In fact, although there was definitely urban riding today, including through some very industrialized areas, probably more than half the ride was on bike paths. Some were literally on the beach with one along the Los Angeles River. It doesn’t exactly challenge any of the many rivers I have seen on this ride aesthetically, but it does have a lot of water. And it had a paved bike path that avoided a lot of traffic and that alone makes it worthwhile.

Along the way out of Santa Monica I had been riding behind a cyclist who was obviously familiar with the route I was then on. His familiarity with the area definitely improved my ride today. We started talking and I told him I was riding to Newport Beach and he said he was riding to Palos Verdes. He made some suggestions while we were riding that contradicted what Google Maps was telling me. He became credible because those suggestions worked out well.

At a stop we introduced ourselves and we got someone to take our photo. Because he, Karlo, wondered why Google was telling me to turn on a street that he disagreed with, I handed him my phone so he could see Google’s route. He said that it had me riding on a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway north of Long Beach that is very unfriendly to cyclists. He suggested an alternative that turned out to be great. It avoided that portion of the PCH by working me over to bike paths that kept me away from cars and were good riding. Included was the one along the LA River and then one that took me along the waterfront in Long Beach that went by launch points for Catalina Island. It was safe and picturesque, a combination I thoroughly enjoyed.

(Karlo)

Karlo was also right in that when I got on the PCH south of Long Beach, it was designed to accommodate bikes with wide shoulders and bike lanes. The result was that I went the entire day without really feeling threatened by traffic and that in itself made for a good ride.

When Karlo and I rode through Manhattan Beach on a bike path, we had to walk one stretch because it had been closed to riders as the result of the pedestrian traffic caused by a massive beach volleyball tournament. We didn’t see any of it, but I think it would have been fun to visit. The beach trail in Long Beach also went through areas that I would like to visit when I have the time to just walk around.

The ride finished on yet another beach bicycle trail, this one going along the beach in Huntington Beach. There were so many people that the riding was slow but still fun. Only in part due to some of the women who wore bathing suits that may as well have been backless. And I am referring to the bottom part of the suits.

Today was a gorgeous day to be at the beach and I rode by thousands who were. It was also a glorious day to be on a bike and I was one of a much smaller number who were fortunate enough to be doing just that. Life is good.

Three days to go to Complete this amazing Journey. And $320 to go to reach $10,000. I intend to do the 3 days. I hope those of you who have thought about donating but haven’t done so yet will help us get at least that last $320 by going ahead and donating.  If we happen to exceed the $10,000, so much the better. Remember, the money goes directly and entirely to help late stage cancer patients.

Good night,
Rick

Ventura to Santa Monica

August 16 – 56 miles, 850 feet

This ride, yesterday’s, was basically on Hwy. 1 once I reached Hueneme. Getting to and through Hueneme was on a variety of roads, some through residential areas, some through agricultural areas.

Posted is a photo of a jet that is in a small display park right at the entrance to Hwy. 1. However, getting onto Hwy. 1 was troublesome because the on ramp Google directed me to had a sign banning, among others things, bicycles. I found a frontage road that went a mile or so to the next on ramp and because it was right after the freeway ended, bicycles were not prohibited. That started a lengthy ride on Hwy. 1, all of which had lots of traffic but most of which had ok shoulders. That was mostly ok but with a 2-3 mile stretch I preferred to avoid because of crosswinds, a narrow shoulder and very fast traffic.  

I thought it was interesting to see all of the RVs, of all sizes and types, that were set up and camping along various stretches of the highway where there was good beach access. The weather was nice so there were a lot of people on the beach.  Unfortunately, I had to concentrate on where I was riding because of the traffic so I wasn’t able to enjoy the scenery, some of which consisted of people, as much as I might otherwise have been able to. 

I hadn’t previously realized that the town of Malibu stretches on for more than 20 miles. That is a lot of coastline for one small city. It also meant that it took me longer to get through Malibu to Santa Monica than I had thought it would.

I remember seeing Pepperdine University overlooking the coast and wondering how serious a school could be with a setting like that. Maybe it focuses on will power because it would certainly take a lot to resist the call of the ocean and beach, especially on a pretty day. Yesterday was more than that, it was a beautiful day; blue skies and warm but not hot weather. From what I could see, a lot of people did succumb to the beach’s call.

The last few miles to the Santa Monica pier were especially fun. When a couple of riders whizzed past me, I thought that I was close enough to the finish to be able to push hard without risking blowing up with lots of miles to go. The result was that I took after the 2 cyclists. I caught 1 fairly quickly but it took a while to catch the other one. The pushing hard was fun, especially since I knew that the end was near.

Riding to the Santa Monica Pier felt somewhat triumphant. In part because LA was my home for so long, from birth through 4 years at UCLA. It also felt that way in part because that pier was the end of Dave Bagley’s Moraga to Los Angeles ride. And finally, it felt that way in part because the pier is very close to where we started the first Laura’s Ride in 2016 when Nick and I rode from Santa Monica to St. Augustine, FL. So this ride has now gone through 2 places where I started other Laura’s rides, the other being Sunset Beach in Oregon a few miles west of Astoria where we started Laura’s Ride North to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 2017.

(Santa Monica Pier)

(Recognize the location? It’s where I started the Santa Monica, CA to Augustine, FL, ride in 2016.)

Ale met me at the pier and we drove to my condo in Korea town where we spent the night.  I had dinner with my daughter Kristina while Ale visited with an aunt and cousin she had never meet.

Rick

Santa Barbara to Ventura – It feels like an off day.

August 15 – 33 miles, 1,022 feet and 1,629 calories

It would be difficult for the ride to have been any better. More ideal weather. A route that could have been designed and constructed by a cyclist. Good shoulders, bicycle lanes and bicycle paths. Pretty ocean and beach views. No troublesome crosswinds. No terrorizing traffic, in large part because of those wide shoulders, bicycle lanes, bike paths and no troublesome crosswinds. And those same factors, together with only 33 miles of riding, meant no stabbing back pain. As I said, it would be difficult for the ride to have been any better.

Speaking of those back pains. Yesterday I read a Comment to one of my posts that mentioned the breast cancer victims that this ride is for. It embarrassed me a bit to have repeatedly mentioned my aches and pains on this ride while not thinking at all about the much more serious and severe problems of those who I hope that your generosity helps, at least a little. That others have more serious problems doesn’t diminish the discomfort I felt, but it certainly puts it into context. Actually, the very fact that I have the choice to eliminate the discomforts about which I have complained puts them in an entirely different category. All I have to do is stop riding. That I don’t is my choice. But what choice does someone with cancer have that will make everything all right again? We can only hope that the contributions that Laura’s Rides have raised will help lessen, or, much better yet, even eliminate, the pain and discomfort of at least one cancer patient. If that is accomplished, that will far overshadow the minor inconveniences I have experienced the past very few weeks.

By the way, I see that we are now at $9,680 because of some more of your greatly appreciated generosity. A mere $320 to go to reach the goal of $10,000. (Exceeding that would be acceptable too.)

I mentioned that we would be staying with a friend from my time at UCLA while here in Ventura. We are, and the great hospitality is appreciated. The friend is Ruth Schwartz and she was not a classmate. When I told my father that I no longer wanted his financial help in college, I needed a place to live. I ended up meeting one of the greatest families ever, Ruth and her husband Jerry and their sons Mike and Jeff. In exchange for doing dinner dishes and occasionally “baby sitting” Mike and Jeff, I got room and board. But, more importantly, I made lifelong friends. I was treated as a member of the family, and what an incredible family it is. I lived with them for 2 years and not once was there ever an argument or even a serious disagreement. I don’t mean just between Jerry and Ruth, but even involving the boys, who were in the 5th and 6th and then 6th and 7th grades. No, I never saw even the brothers argue. None of this was because they were a Stepford family, but instead because they just got along incredibly well and were all genuinely nice people. Actually, the only disagreements I recall were between Ruth and me when we would discuss politics or economics and those were friendly, not heated. (She was farther to the “left” than I thought the gap has probably narrowed some over the years, due to my movement, not hers.)

(Ruth)

We are staying with Ruth because Jerry has passed away. Tragically, so did Jeff when he was only about 21, a victim of leukemia. However, Mike and his wife Laurie will be joining us for dinner tonight. Kristina drove up from Los Angeles to have lunch with us. Since I will be seeing her tomorrow when we reach Santa Monica, she came mostly to see Ruth who she has known and liked since she was a baby.

Well, 1 of the 6 preceding paragraphs was about the ride. But the other 5 were important to me and I get to choose what I write.

Tomorrow’s ride will be somewhat longer, 59 miles. I intend to meet Alejandra at the Santa Monica pier. We will drive to my condo near downtown (Korea Town) for the night and she will drive me back to the pier to start the next day’s ride.

Only 5 ride days left. To Santa Monica, Newport Beach, Oceanside, San Diego and then the border. Then I hope to see many of you on September 14 at the Completion Of The Journey potluck dinner at Paul and Annie Barendregt’s home in Lafayette.

‘Til next time,
Rick

Lompoc to Santa Barbara – A couple of glitches but mostly a great day of riding.

August 14 – 55 miles (turned into 64), 2,160 feet, 3,050 calories

I said we had liked dinners at Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana our first night in Pismo Beach. We proved that by going back the 2nd night. I even had the same dish, Ravioli stuffed with squash and covered with a cream sauce. Alejandra had a green salad and pasta with meatballs. And we both had, and loved, their Italian bread with that scrumptious cheese/garlic/olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip. No dessert this time, though.  Not because the strawberry shortcake wasn’t good, because it was, but because we had cinnamon rolls for lunch. Enough is enough, after all.


Last night in Lompoc we had sushi. Good, but not great.

On to today. The first glitch came a very few miles into the ride. I saw 2 bicyclists and a 3rd man stopped on the road so I asked if everything was ok, something we always do at home.  (More on that later.) They were fine, but Highway 1, the route from Lompoc to Santa Barbara, was closed. Because bicycles can often get through even on closed roads, and because there was a turnoff where the road was closed, we decided to ride ahead to see what we could do. It turns out that what we could do, at least within the realm of reason, was to go back the mile we had just ridden and take a route through Buellton which added 10 miles to the trip (they were also headed for Santa Barbara, a ride they had made from Cambria numerous times over the years).



There were 2 reasons we had to turn around. The first was that we were emphatically told that Hwy. 1 was closed to EVERYONE, including cyclists and even emergency vehicles.  Work was being done on a bridge and there was no way around, even by walking. At least that is what we were told. The second reason we turned back was that the same person who told us we couldn’t take Hwy. 1 also told us that the road we had planned on turning onto was so bad that he would only suggest it to his ex. He convinced us that it was in such bad condition, and so dangerous, that we shouldn’t even try. We decided to take his advice.

I had planned on riding to Santa Barbara with them but they were so slow that I just couldn’t do it. I had wanted to get their names and a photo but they were so far behind that that didn’t work out.

The ride to Buellton and onto Hwy. 101 was fun. Good roads and no interfering wind and shoulders wide enough that traffic really wasn’t a problem.

That changed for about 10+ miles when riding through some mountains.  The shoulders were still adequate but there was enough crosswind that I didn’t enjoy that at all. I pulled into a rest area for a break, to stretch, to use the facilities and to take stock of my attitude. While there I talked with a woman from Germany who was riding a Harley from New York to San Diego after having gone across the northern part of the country. I enjoyed the conversation and I think she liked practicing her English, which was really pretty good.  Although I appreciated the break, and any excuse not to get back out into the wind, I knew I had to get started again.

Then after 2-300 yards, the second glitch. My 4th flat tire. No big deal, but it led to another problem later.

The good news was that after I started riding again, everything was better. No more crosswind so I stopped riding my brakes to a ridiculous extent on the descents and I started picking up speed. In fact, from that point on, the rest of the ride was fun. The conditions were friendly, meaning wide, smooth shoulders on the highway and bike lanes when in towns.

When Ale caught me I got another tube and cartridge out of the coffin (the name Nick bestowed on our roof top carrier on Laura’s Ride 2016) to replace what I had used on the flat. I took the saddle bag off my bike to rearrange it to get the new spare tube and cartridge to fit. And then I did something that led to the next glitch. But I didn’t know it yet.

I got back on and started riding again. With about 14 miles to go, I got another flat, this time the front tire which is pretty unusual because with more weight on the rear that is much more likely to flat. No big deal, right, because I had 2 more spare tubes and 2 more air cartridges. But it turned out that I had left the device that is used with the cartridge to inflate the tire in the SAG. And the bicyclists that rode by were no help. None asked if I needed help and when I flagged a couple down, they quickly said they couldn’t help. This is in stark contrast to what we would do at home.

Thankfully I had Ale to call but she had to spend about 20 minutes getting back to me. It turned out that I needed most of that time to remove the small piece of wire that had penetrated the tire and punctured the tube. I could feel it but couldn’t grab it. Oh for some tweezers. I finally pushed it through enough with the valve stem of the flat tire to be able to pull it out. Then Ale rescued me by showing up with the pump and the device I had managed to leave in the truck.

The final 14 miles were a pleasure. Good roads, good conditions and my legs were good. Even the pain in my back was much improved since I had gotten past that one stretch on 101.

I also have to say that, as always on this trip, the weather was great. It varied from being misty and cool enough to put on a light windbreaker to warm enough to have to take it off. But there was nothing extreme and it was all good. Including Santa Barbara where the sky was blue and the temperature comfortably warm.

We walked from our motel, from which the ocean is visible just out our door, to a pier that had a few restaurants. 



We chose one at the end. Ale had mussels and I ordered the local abalone but should having realized from the low price that it wasn’t what I had in mind. It was ok, but nothing like what I was hoping for.

Ventura tomorrow where we will stay with a very good friend from UCLA, but more about her after that ride. Kristina will also join us there for lunch. So I am definitely looking forward to it.

Best,
Rick

Pismo Beach to Lompoc – $570 Needed to Make Our Goal of $10,000

August 13 – 51 miles, 1,887 feet, 2,564 calories

We are at $9,430 for Laura’s Ride West Coast, a mere $570 short of the $10,000 goal. Why $10,000? For a couple of reasons. First, it is a nice round number that seemed within the realm of possibility. More importantly, when I finish this ride, I will have ridden more than 10,000 miles on the 4 Laura’s Rides. It would be great to reach $10,000 in commendation of both that and of Laura.

I have been posting my miles, climbing and calories without saying that they are Google numbers because when I was home I found one of my old Garmins and have been using that. It works, but it isn’t as good as the one I started with. Oh, wait. “It works.” That makes it better than the one I started with because that one isn’t working.

It would be difficult to find a 50 mile ride with roads that are better for a bicyclist than were today’s roads. They all had good shoulders or riding lanes and most were pretty smooth and the climbs were less than what the riders back home did today, though for some reason the feet on this trip have almost always felt like more than the same number of feet at home. Ale suggested that it might be because I am riding by myself here, which is a possibility.

(Some pictures from earlier in the week.)

As good as the roads were, I still told Ale at the end of my ride that it is probably a good thing that this is my last cross country ride. There was a stretch of Highway 1 through the mountains with a headwind/crosswind and lots of traffic that reaffirmed that I am not as good at this as I was. Or at least not as comfortable as I once was. The shoulder was plenty wide but I still felt somewhat uncomfortable, all the time telling myself that that was pretty silly because the conditions really were pretty good. However, despite telling myself that, and even knowing that it was true, I was still uncomfortable enough that I went downhill much slower than even I knew was necessary.

I have included a picture of Frank of Santa Maria who I met today. Google had directed me to turn on a dirt path for a mile that didn’t look necessary to me. I saw someone coming the opposite direction on the path on a mountain bike and waited for him to reach me.  When he did, he confirmed that the path remained unpaved to the road that Google had me turning on. I asked Frank, the rider of that mountain bike, if there was a better way to get to that road than by the path. He gave me directions that were indeed better. In fact, he not only gave me directions, but he rode with me to where I needed to make the first turn. I learned that Frank used to race mountain bikes until he had a couple of heart attacks that made him slow down. Thank you for the help, Frank, and keep on riding.

(Frank)

The photo of my bike shows the versatility of my bicycle rack because it also serves as a bike stand for working on the bike. Well, I don’t know how to actually work on it, but I do use the rack to oil the chain and to clean up the bike.

Why are my legs tired after this ride? I don’t know, but at least that stabbing pain in my back was not as constant or extreme today as it has been and that made for a much more enjoyable ride. I did notice, however, that it got worse on that stretch of Hwy. 1 that I mentioned above, no doubt because I was tense then but hadn’t been before. As with so many things, life is easier if you can just relax. The problem is being able to relax.

Santa Barbara tomorrow then just 6 more ride days. This ride is only about half as long as was the ride 2 years ago and, as Ale said, it has also been easier even if my body hasn’t always acted like it.

Good night for now.
Rick

Cambria to Pismo Beach – A late start and a fantastic ride plagued by the pain in my neck.

August 11 – 47 miles, about 1,550 feet

I didn’t start riding until 2:30 p.m. today. No, I didn’t oversleep, though that has often been very tempting. Instead, I joined Ale on a visit to Hearst Castle even though I have already been there a couple of times. It was worth it.

For those who haven’t been, let me tell you that the view and site are spectacular. It is located on a high mountain top – I believe it is a 5 mile bus ride UP to the Castle – overlooking the ocean and with beautiful vistas in all directions. The architecture by Julia Morgan, and the fete of building a compound of such size in such an inaccessible location, are also worth experiencing. The wealth required to design, build, furnish and implement Hearst’s vision is difficult to fathom. There are 4 primary structures, 3 “cottages” and the main “house” which by itself is 65,000 square feet. The grounds and views may be even more impressive. Suffice it to say that it is very much worth seeing even if you are put off by the opulence and indulgence.



Before visiting Hearst Castle, we returned to the elephant seal vista point. I say “returned” because we had first visited last night which in my daze while writing my last post I had forgotten to mention. The sight of these massive creatures is amazing. When you first look you are likely to think that huge rocks are strewn over the beach. Then you see that some are moving and as you get closer you realize that these are what you came to see. Some are lying individually, others are snuggled together in enormous mounds. A display says that some females are 1,500 pounds while males can reach 5,000 pounds. I wonder if any other species has males that are more than 3 times larger than the females? And I wonder how many of the females get crushed.

We then had lunch in Cambria. We both got a watermelon and tomato salad that was good but definitely overpriced at $12.50 each. The location was pretty, though. 

I have ridden from Cambria through Pismo Beach before, with Sal and Kat to San Luis Obispo and with Greg Cantrell through Pismo Beach on the way to Solvang. I remembered a fast ride but forgot there is a bit of a climb out of Cambria. Not much of one, maybe 250 feet or so, but definitely not flat. Especially when you are expecting flat.

After that, the ride was what one might dream of. The ride to SLO was all on Highway 1 but the shoulders were wide and smooth and most of it was blessed by a very helpful tailwind. As a bicyclist, Google had me go on surface streets through town but then got me onto Broad Street for a number of miles and then onto Pierce Canyon into Pismo Beach. Both were also great riding, with dedicated bicycle lanes that were generous and usually smooth. The riding was great and different from riding on 101 as Greg and I had done. 

The only hitch had to do with my body. Although the stabbing pain in my upper back sometimes subsided, it would also inevitably reappear and I would have to stop. I would stretch, which in itself sometimes felt like I was being stabbed, to tide me over to the next time. With all the riding I have done, not on this trip, but before, I wouldn’t expect to have that type of constant discomfort. However, it seems that once it started way back early on this ride, it just won’t go away for any significant period of time. Maybe a few days off the bike when I get home will do it. I certainly hope so because riding isn’t nearly as much fun this way.

Oh, I had my 3rd flat. This one I knew immediately because I could both hear and feel it immediately after riding down from a small curb. Out of extreme caution, I usually stop and walk my bike down. Maybe that caution isn’t totally misplaced. 

We had a great Italian dinner last night at Giuseppe’s. Ale had lasagna and mine was ravioli stuffed with squash, which doesn’t sound like my type of food, covered with a delicious cream sauce, which apparently is. There went any hope that I might actually lose some weight this trip. Ale even photographed my empty plate because it contrasted with most of my other meals which I didn’t finish. We topped this off by sharing a strawberry shortcake, further dooming my hope of losing weight. But as good as all that was, maybe even better was the crisp flat bread that was served with a dip made at our table that consisted of grated cheese, crushed garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Lots and lots of calories in that meal, but given how they tasted, all very much worth it.

Today is a much appreciated R&R day. Given that we are at the beach, a bit more sun would be nice. But I don’t want too much tomorrow. Fussy, huh?

An R&R day and I woke up at 6:40 and didn’t go back to sleep. On my riding days I fight getting up before 7. Pretty perverse. Only 8 more riding days left. My back will be thankful.  My backside, too, because raw spots keep occurring. Thank goodness for Bag Balm to keep them at bay.

Rick

Carmel to Cambria – With Cambria Behind Me, It Feels Like It Is All Downhill From Here

August 10 – 73.5 miles, 5,846 feet, 3,913 calories

The Coast along here is absolutely gorgeous. The ocean is always special but the rugged coastline is nothing short of spectacular. Ale went on a short hike but said it was some of the most beautiful scenery that she has seen.

What can I say about this ride? There is a lot of climbing, there is a lot of twisting road, there is a definite lack of a shoulder for many miles and there were enough cars to detract from the ride’s fun. There were also stretches that make riding as fun as it can be. I got sore shoulders and, ultimately, tired legs. I wasn’t as fast as I have been on previous rides along here. I don’t know if that is because this year the ride immediately followed a number of days of riding, because the traffic slows things down or because I am 5 years older than the last time I did this ride. The last is my least favorite explanation.

At the last commercial stop before the start of the final climbs, I met Marcus McKee of Texas. Marcus is also riding from Canada to the Mexico border. But he is doing it by riding a bike that, when loaded, which it typically is, weighs around 100 pounds. And he goes downhill on that thing as though it was safe. Safe travels, Marcus.

It is almost 11, which is at least an hour past my bedtime on this trip. So I am going to end this because I have to get to sleep.

Literally, good night.

Rick

Santa Cruz to Just Past Carmel

August 9 – 79.5 miles, 4,467 feet, 3,919 calories

I had been dreading the Carmel to Cambria ride even though I have done it 3 or 4 times in the past as part of the Pacific Coast Century. It is just under 100 miles with more than 7,000 feet of climb. I wasn’t at all sure how I would handle it now.

I started dealing with that issue today by turning the planned 55 mile ride to Carmel into a 79.5 mile ride that ate up about 24 miles of the Carmel to Cambria ride and a couple thousand feet. I was pleased about that the next day.

Leaving Santa Cruz involved a number of back roads, including one that reached 16%. Thankfully that was for only a short distance both so I could make it to the top and so that it wouldn’t fry my legs for the rest of the day’s ride.

On the way, I met John in Monterey who was riding from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He was self supported. That isn’t my choice but I respect those who can do it.

(John)

The traffic on Highway 1 to the turnoff to Carmel Valley was atrocious and there was little or no shoulder.  Though it improved significantly, traffic on Hwy. 1 was a reason I wonder if I’ll do the ride to Cambria again. 

As I say, I knocked some miles off of the next day’s ride by getting within 3 miles of Big Sur. Along the way, I met Gabriel, who was on the coast route for the first time. There was enough traffic that I hoped it would thin out as we got farther south, a wish that was denied. We ate on Cannery Row in Monterey (Ale booked an overpriced room in Monterey because the rooms in Carmel were way more expensive) and dinner was delicious.  We both had sword fish and loved it. We shared a piece of carrot cake which was good but not nearly as good as what we will have at the Completion Of The Journey get together on September 14.

(Gabriel)

Rick

To Santa Cruz

August 8 – 66 miles, 2,860 feet

Lots of urban riding followed by some very rural routes. Flat to 15%. Smooth pavement to a gravel path. But no Highway 17 despite going through Los Gatos and that was a huge plus.

(Out Of Los Gatos)

The ride went through Watsonville and past a number of strawberry fields. I have included a photo of some of the foreigners who are taking jobs from Americans by picking strawberries.  Of course, I am not sure how many Americans would be willing to do that work. But their jobs are being stolen nonetheless. Right?

I have of course driven Highway 17 and knew that I didn’t want to ride a bicycle on that twisty, highly trafficked road that has no shoulders and an abundance of reckless drivers. In driving on that road I hadn’t realized that there is a path and another road that parallels much of 17. Some of the path is gravel and one of the paved sections involves a painful climb that tops out at 15%.

(This hit 15%)

The bike route also involved roads that were no where near Hwy. 17. For some reason, I enjoyed those climbs of up to 8%. Perhaps it was because the surfaces were good and definitely it was because I wasn’t having to deal with traffic. It also helped that I was feeling strong which in turn was due in part to the just mentioned 2 factors.

I realized how much I had climbed when it came time to go back down. The descent was interesting because there were some sections that had signs posted saying that bikes could use the entire lane. That made for some fast descents because I was much less inclined to ride my brakes – yea for disc brakes! – when I wasn’t worried about a car or truck trying to pass me where there was barely room to do so. I didn’t feel too badly about taking the entire lane when going downhill because I wasn’t holding up traffic too much and I would pull over when I could to let the vehicles that had accumulated behind me pass. However, I was less confident when going up hill because I knew I was going so slowly that impatient drivers would go ahead and pass me even though they weren’t supposed to. That happened more than once.

We had a room right near Santa Cruz’s famous Boardwalk. The people watching, and walk on the beach, were fun. We each had a chicken salad sandwich and ice cream for dinner.

Rick