4.28.2012

Riding High through Big Sur

Pacific Ocean Highs
Wednesday morning we left David and Sasha Sheridan's house ready to have the icing-on-the-cake ride along the Pacific Coast Highway, although with fresh squeezed orange juice in our bellies and a box of their very own oranges to take for the road, we would have loved to stay at their orchard retreat longer. Winding our way back through San Luis Obispo (great bike lanes!), we had a deja-vu experience as we once again found ourselves on Route 1. None of us can believe that it has been almost 3 months since we took pictures with the Mile Zero Heroes of the southernmost point in the United States: Key West and the beginning of Route 1. As we left SLO and the houses got farther and farther apart and the traffic thinned, we were all in agreement that the PCH was a wonderful ride for the last week. We passed the Hearst Castle and stopped to gawk at the piles of Elephant Seals that line the coast south of Big Sur. They are molting now, so they just lie on the beach all day, snuggled up against each other in big groups. The noises they make were the most amusing to us: burping, farting(!!), barking, and growling at each other.

Fighting or love dance?
Elephant Seals along the Pacific Coast Highway. Rough life lying around all day.
Ahhh, the beauty.
Crazy time, RASR style.
Off and on throughout the day we had rain, which forced us to get the rain and warmer gear back out of our bins for the first time in awhile. Spirits stayed high despite the intermittent weather, and as we rode through the true Big Sur country we were amazed around every turn by the spectacular scenery. As the sun was setting, we were glad the campsite seemed to be farther and farther away than we thought so that we could keep taking in the beautiful sights, enhanced with the changing natural light. After a relaxing 85 mile day along the coast, we pulled into Kirk Creek Campground in Los Padres National Forest, where every site has a view of the ocean and in good weather you can see for miles along the coast in each direction. We toasted to the wonderful luck we've had on this trip, from the people we've met to the places we've ridden through and stayed at, to the pure fact that we have been able to be a part of this eye-opening experience (and, of course, only being 12 miles from our 5,000 mile mark for the trip!).
Warming up!
The sunset of a lifetime.
Who needs to stop riding when it's this beautiful?
We had an early start Thursday morning, and were disappointed to awake to drizzles and dense fog. Trying to look on the bright side, we realized this was probably Big Sur at its best, and donned our bright clothes and lights to make sure the 2 other vehicles on the road could see us. The Pacific Coast Highway is a bit of a roller-coaster through Big Sur territory, so we had to traverse around hairpin turns as well as climb and descend constantly. Chilled and wet to start, and then meeting more elevation than we expected, we didn't quite make as good of time as we had hoped. Our captain Jeanie decided about halfway through the morning that the weather wasn't going to get better and our appointments after lunch were too important to risk being late for, so all 6 of us piled like Elephant Seals into the van and headed towards Soledad, a town about 35 miles south of Monterey. In Soledad we gave 2 presentations at Jack Franscioni Elementary School, a very energetic crowd of kids who had spent all week in state testing. Thanks to Arlene Sanchez and Michele Archuleta for organizing our visit and chats with the kids.  Some of the same kids heard our presentation the second time we did it (at the after school program), and they we're just about ready to take over for us- they remembered all the facts and cues perfectly!

Big Sur showing us all the elements.
SUN!?!
Jack Franscioni Elementary
Middlebury? In California? Hi Monterey Institute.
Dry, please!
Impressed by yet another group of kids, we left Soledad to head back to Monterey for the night. After a bit of a wild-goose-chase to find a good campground, we were finally very pleased with the result: Veterans' Memorial Park on the top of the hill overlooking Monterey and the ocean. We had enough time in the afternoon to pull out all our wet gear and give it plenty of time to dry in the now-sunny weather. Able to connect with Mari Lynch from BikeMonterey.org, we were advised that we were in town for Her Helmet Thursday, where you can bike (or bring your helmet) to a selection of local restaurants and stores for a discount on your meal or purchase. We picked Krua Thai, which we had been craving forever, and biked back down the hill to fill our bellies with delicious food and check out Monterey. Over dinner we reviewed the very specific plans for the next two days, and made sure everything was lined up perfectly. Even the weather seems to be finally cooperating with us! 

2 comments:

  1. Hello ladies! Its Naoma Staley here in Las Cruces, NM. I just want to let you know - I've been following along and LOVE your blog! Thanks for all you're doing - and congratulations on makin' it so far... and right on time! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks again for stopping to share your story with our kids in Soledad.

    Your timing was so perfect, being here on a Thursday! Your readers may want to know: Those discounts are for male and female bicyclists on Thursdays year-round, at H-E-R spots--Hotels, Educational and Entertainment venues, Restaurants--and related places too, such as wineries. The helmet avoids need for a coupon, punch card, etc.; just walk in with your bike helmet as evidence you biked there. There are special arrangements for lodging; you don't need to bike there, just BYOB (bring your own bike) or rent a bike for one day or longer from any rental location in the county.

    Hope you'll be biking here again. Sounds like Big Sur will draw you back!

    ReplyDelete