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

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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.


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