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

Napa to Orinda – Home at Last, But Not Yet Finished

August 6 – 42 miles, 2,000 feet

We started the day with breakfast at the Marriott which was walking distance from our far less classy motel. That was reflected in the prices, such as $5.25 for a cup of coffee. The food was good, but we have had comparable for much more reasonable prices.  That wasn’t helped by the slow service, not by the waitress but in the preparation of the meals.



The Raiders’ training camp is in Napa and people associated with the team were obviously staying there. Based on the number of Raider caps and other paraphernalia, so were a lot of fans. All with larger budgets than mine.

Most of the ride out of Napa was on Highway 29. The shoulders were adequate but with all of the traffic, I was looking forward to getting off of that road.

The ride crossed over the Carquinez Bridge. Although I have ridden over it a number of times with our riding group, I don’t think I had gone north to south before by bicycle. 

After the bridge and a stint on San Pablo Ave., I was directed to the San Francisco Bay Trail that skirts the Bay for a while on a surface that is paved for all but maybe 100 yards. Then on to Pinole Valley Blvd. and finally to San Pablo Dam Road which we have ridden dozens of times. It was definitely feeling like home and that was good. Except that I was planning on riding all the way to my house, which meant going up El Toyonal. I have done that a few times before, but it is never easy. However, it was the fact that I have done it before, including not long before the start of this trip, that made me determined to do it this time. Although having Alejandra meet me at the bottom of the hill was very tempting. 

San Pablo Dam Road got to El Toyonal and I turned right, which meant uphill. Again it wasn’t easy, but I did make it. It was the first time I have ridden home at the end of a long ride and it felt good. Though it wasn’t really the end of a long ride. Instead it was someplace in the middle of a long ride. In fact, that is the most difficult thing about coming here, knowing that I have to get back on the bike for another couple of weeks to complete this ride. To Complete The Journey. 

(Home!)

However, seeing Sandi, Sky, family and friends has been reinvigorating. I know more than half the riding days are already done and that once I get to Cambria, the most difficult ride will also be behind me. That should be done in a very few days. I will keep reminding myself that I have done that ride 5 times before and that I should therefore be able to do it this time. Even though there are an increasing number of things that I used to be able to do that I can no longer do. I will just try to avoid thinking about that. 

Tomorrow Santa Cruz. Then Carmel. Then Cambria..

Good night,
Rick

Cloverdale to Napa – Almost Home

August 5 – 63 miles, 1,300 feet

Still no Garmin, so the numbers are from Google Maps. I miss the ride data but am living without it. Reluctantly.

Today’s ride was fun. Especially when I got to the Silverado Trail, which I have driven many times (my late in-laws had a home in Calistoga which we visited frequently when the kids were young) and parts of which I have ridden on before. The shoulders are good, both wide and smooth, and the climbs, such as they are, are gradual enough to enjoy both ascending and descending. Without the computer I can’t say how fast I was going, but I think it was a decent rate.

Before the Silverado Trail was Hwy. 128 and the climb through the hills north of Calistoga. Lots of vineyards, not a lot of traffic and mostly decent roads. As with most of this trip, the scenery was pretty, but much different than when we were on the Coast.

I expected to see more bike riders but only saw one group, though somewhat scattered, while on the Silverado Trail. From their jerseys I knew they were from the San Ramon Valley and many were retired. Apparently they had ridden from Yountville to Calistoga and back.

My ride went through Calistoga, which was fun because it has been a long time since I had been in the town itself. I know that it is quite the destination and it could be worth coming back to spend some time there. Though I don’t intend to get there by bike.

There was a bike path that shot me through Calistoga to the start of the Silverado Trail and there was a bike path that lasted a number of miles heading into Napa, the Napa Vine Trail. It was smoothly paved, well maintained and free of traffic. There were few enough walkers so that they didn’t get in the way. At the suggestion of Jeff Miller, my former law partner and still friend, we ate at the Celedon Restaurant in downtown Napa.  I have already told Jeff that it was a great recommendation. Both Ale and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals.



Rick

Willits to Cloverdale – A Bit of Redemption

August 4 – 57 miles, 1,000 feet, ??? calories

Today started with some electronic glitches. First Google Maps for a bicycle wouldn’t work on my phone. It continuously said “Rerouting” and Ale’s did the same. I started in the direction I knew I was supposed to go and stopped at about a mile to try again. This time it worked. Who knows why.

Then I noticed that my Garmin had gone bonkers. All of its readings were wrong. I had supposedly gone only 100 feet or so, I had hit 28% climb and my maximum speed was 14.5 mph, which was way too slow for that stretch even from me. After stopping and restarting it a few times, it stopped reporting any riding data at all. Oh, well. Although I like the data (how else can I count the miles I still have to go?), it isn’t a necessity. So on I went.

On I went onto a dead end road, as it turned out. Because that is the way Google told me to go. I think that was 2 or 3 miles. Also not a disaster, but I am certainly not adding miles on purpose.

Then on to the highway again, only now with pretty consistently adequately wide shoulders. Though it would be nice if more of the gravel would get swept off.

The ride into Ukiah along 101 included a stretch I was specifically warned against a couple of days ago by Robert. The south direction went from 2 lanes to 1 because of road work and the 1 lane was especially narrow because there were temporary cement barriers on each side of the lane so that rather than having painted lane markers, there were concrete “walls” that defined the lane’s width. A width that wasn’t made to accommodate both cars, let alone trucks, and bicycles. And the stretch was long enough, that I can’t imagine drivers patiently letting a bike go ahead without attempting to pass it, something that would be terrifying to the cyclist. At least if I was the cyclist.

However, this treacherous stretch turned out to be one of the best I have had on the highway. I was able to get on the closed lane that apparently is being worked on during the week – remember, today is Sunday – by riding through some cones. That led to great riding for me because I had an entire lane, and a generous shoulder, all to myself and I was separated from the traffic by the concrete barrier that would have been so terrifying if I had had to ride on it’s other side. Plus, my personal lane was smooth. Not having a working bike computer, I can’t say how long that lasted, but I enjoyed every minute of it. There was only 1 place where I had to slow because the pavement ended, but that was for less than 50 yards.

The ride also included miles of country roads, many going through vast vineyards. I had an 11.5 mile stretch that was the most fun of this trip. It was smooth, there were few cars, the climbs were gentle and I rode the descents without using my brakes. I missed my computer then because it would have been fun to have seen my speed, though there was a headwind. It was still great fun.

There was another 8.5 mile stretch of 101 but the shoulders were wide enough that even I felt pretty safe. Those up and down miles went by faster than I expected.

Then more country roads leading into Cloverdale. Fun as much of the ride was, it was still great to get to the day’s destination.

The down’s of today’s ride? Well, I got a flat. The first on the road. (You may recall that I had another 1 that didn’t show up until I was in our room.) Given that it is only the second of this trip, I am not complaining. The other “down”? It did get to 95 degrees and that was while I was doing some climbing, though nothing significant. Even that was mitigated by Ale meeting me with about 10 miles to go with ice and water and the air conditioned truck. Some of the perks of being on a supported ride. Especially one that has Alejandra as the support became she is great. She frequently anticipates what I need before I do and her attitude is up lifting.

Ale also helped my spirits today by telling me that rather than thinking me crazy, that I am an inspiration for her, that when she is faced with something difficult at home she sometimes thinks of these rides and uses that as motivation. She also said that she enjoys telling contemporaries at home who brag about 50 mile bike rides that she has a friend who goes on thousands of mile rides, which they don’t believe. In telling me this, Ale was gracious enough that she didn’t say that she tells them how old her friend is.

Tomorrow is Napa and Tuesday is home in Orinda, which will be great. I can’t wait to see Sandi and Sky. The biggest problem will be getting back on the bike Thursday to resume this trip. The temptation to call it done will no doubt be there. But somehow that wouldn’t feel right.

The only photo I took today was of a giant bee 🐝 that I was very glad was not what stung me.



Ale took some photos on her hike today. I have neglected to say that most days she finds some place to go hiking, today for 8 miles. Not all of her energy is spent on making the ride easier, even though she does a great job of that.



Until the next day’s ride.
Rick

Garberville to Willets – Nerves Won Today

August 3 – 18 miles, 1,300 feet, 1,100 calories

I started the day uncomfortable. I had heard that the ride out of Willits was not bike friendly and that was all too consistent with a number of the miles I have already ridden and that had worn on me. My apprehension was exacerbated when I started a startlingly wobble while going down a steep hill on 101 with a fair amount of traffic. It reminded me of having seen David Waal start wobbling while going down Taylor Blvd. and that was scary, though thankfully he pulled out of it. For me, the worst part wasn’t just the wobble, but that I felt as though I caused it, or at least contributed to it, because my body was feeling shaky. That did nothing to help my self confidence. And a lack of confidence is what doomed today’s ride.



I actually enjoyed much of the ride. Fairly soon out of Garberville I was directed off of 101 onto Benbow Blvd. which turned out to be 8 miles of back roads with virtually no cars or trucks. I enjoyed that even though the road had a number of rough, even bouncy, portions. The lack of traffic was worth it.

I then rejoined 101. The first part was better than I expected, with usually wide shoulders, albeit with lots of fast moving traffic. That was tolerable, even the way I was feeling today.

That lasted a while with a number of climbs and descents. In fact, the 1,300 feet I climbed wasn’t due to any big hills so much as a lot of ups and downs though I didn’t enjoy the descents as I would have liked since I was riding my brakes due to the fast moving traffic. It is as though I think I am less likely to get hit if I am going slow than if I am going faster. Or maybe I just feel more in control at the slower speed, especially with the wind of passing vehicles on one side and the prospect of natural gusts on the other. Plus, I am slower than most when descending, but this was more than just that.

101 went from being a 4, or even 6, lane highway to 2 lanes, albeit with about the same volume of traffic. That was tolerable when the shoulders were decent but not so much so when they disappeared, especially with curves in the road and trees along the side so that drivers’ views ahead of them were limited.

I have ridden numerous comparable miles in the past but my mind wasn’t cooperating today. When approaching one curve that was preceded by warning signs and a narrow shoulder, I pulled over onto a wide spot and stopped to contemplate going ahead. I hadn’t quite made up my mind when Ale pulled up behind me. That made the decision for me and I decided to call it a day.

Part of me feels like I wimped out because I know numerous cyclists ride that route and keep on going. Well, maybe not just part of me. But after seeing the rest of the route from the truck, there were enough sketchy stretches that I wasn’t sorry I had opted out, at least the way I was feeling today. It is like stopping a workout early because your body just doesn’t feel right. Well, today it was both my body and mind that didn’t feel right. I am feeling better now and am optimistic about tomorrow. Plus, as I told Alejandra, my 2 raw spots seem better and I am sure the short ride helped.

So, here is to more miles and, hopefully, fewer nerves.

I expect to be in Orinda Tuesday. It will be great to see Sandi and the menagerie before continuing on. Possibly some one will join me for a bit.

Rick

Past Eureka to Garberville

August 2 – 55 miles, 2,120 feet, 2,932 calories

Today was similar to much of yesterday. Aside from 94 degree heat at the end of the ride, good weather, great scenery, but of redwood forests rather than ocean views, and problematic traffic and shoulders, both the road’s and mine. And another riding partner.

I had just stopped on 101 when Robert pulled up next to me. I hadn’t known he was in back of me, but apparently he had been gaining on me for a while. He asked if he could ride with me and of course I was more than pleased to have his company. I saw from his jersey that he also qualifies for the triple double meaning he has ridden 200 miles in a single day at least 3 times in a year. So, Kat, now you aren’t the only crazy one I have met.

(Robert)

He led the way, saying we would get off at Avenue of the Giants in a few miles. It turns out that it is about 28 miles of 2 lane road going through redwood forests. Most of the surface was good ‐ I have to mention that before commenting on the beautiful surroundings ‐ and mostly there was limited traffic. However, Ale later told me that she was concerned about not being able to see a bicyclist on the portions of the road that were in the redwoods’ shadows. Thankfully that didn’t cause me a problem, at least that I was aware of.

(Avenue of the Giants)


I was again reminded of what a difference the road’s surface makes. None of it was bad, but when it got especially smooth I could shift to a higher gear, pedal more easily and go faster. In other words, I could have more fun.

Tomorrow to Willits. I am a bit apprehensive because Robert said that much of the road/traffic conditions are pretty sketchy. However, we couldn’t find lodging in Mendocino or anywhere near it. I have decided that if the riding conditions get too threatening, I will use the SAG. Which might help me deal with the 2 raw spots I am developing where I make contact with the saddle. Bag Balm helps, but hasn’t eliminated them, even with the help of the chamois cream. Between that and the stabbing pain between my shoulder blades, one might think that I am aging or something.

Enough for now. I hope Vince and Robert read these posts and leave a Comment.

Good night,
Rick