Day 70: An unplanned rest day

As if I plan all the other rest stops, heh.

The gist of the story is that we came up to Jerald’s home and were shown a nice cozy corner to sleep in and we, the Cooking – Dish washing duo, decided to make a dinner. During dinner, Tom offered to show us some Mountain Biking routes, Krissi the exponent decided to ride them, and I in my infinite wisdom, chose to stay in and rest, heh. So a rest day it is.

Lets rewind a bit. We are in a super sports household. Everyone in here, is an absolute athlete and pretty much each of them is a bike nut too. As we talk, I hear fleeting comments like, Dillon does triathlons and is trying to do an ironman. Or, Kevin rode the London-Edinburgh-London Rando event in 106 hrs. Or, Christiana rode up meet us mid way yesterday to keep us company. Or, Jess just came back from working in the San Fran Half Marathon! The list just goes on. And Jerald and Tom are avid Mountain bikers apart from giving touring a go once in a while.

The best part was that in spite of being such avid endurance athletes, they looked at me and Krissi and were genuinely interested in what we do (we do a gently ride of 50 miles in a day and finish up at 2-3 pm and stuff ourselves with food, heh). I suppose its the mutual appreciation of the outdoors that bonds people like us.

It was a fun evening and I spent the day roaming around town, getting food and looking for spare batteries for my GPS. There is a cute little downtown with some really old buildings and interesting shops nestled within tons of cafes and food outlets. It was fun and nice to take a day off, as usual.

This evening the crew gathered again and we ordered pizza’s and hung out more. What was amazing was that even after the initial enquiry of where are you headed, where you started from, etc., the conversations kept flowing. I guess we just made fast friends out here!

Route: San Luis Obispo
Distance: 0 Km (yay)
Ascent: 0 ft
Descent: 0 ft
Expenses: $ 129.38 (don’t ask)
Comment: The company was absolutely awesome.

Day 69: Riding with Friendly Neighbors

I was up really early, may be 5 am or so and forced myself to stay in the warm sleeping bag. It has been getting dark and chilly early these days and I end up crawling into the sleeping bag after it gets dark at 7 pm. I read a bit, but 12 hrs is a really long time to stay in bed I think.

Anyway, we had an earlyish start from the campsite and our first order of business was to find wifi. We found it soon enough in the next town and I got a cup of coffee and emailed Jerald (he was cool and offered to host us for the night in San Luis Obispo). I updated by blog and set out on the road again.

I scouted 4 cyclists up ahead and tried to use them as a target and put my head and rode hard. The route was flat and fun to stretch the legs a bit. I caught up with them and was chatting with the lady who was bringing up the rear with a pretty long flag. I thought that was a good idea on the bike. As we chatted about my travels and things I was doing at work, she mentioned the guy up front might be interested in my work as he was from Cloudera (which is a consulting group for implementation of cloud services with hadoop etc…).

The group was riding slow and I went up to the head and caught up. Turns out the guy was the founder of Hadoop. Say What! He was Doug Cutting and is a pretty prominent feller in the open source software movement too. Dang! We rode together for a bit and we spoke of a variety of things. It was fun to talk tech after a while.

At the next town we parted ways and I rode up to catch up to krissi. She had met a local cyclist Ian who was a nice chap and offered to show us some of the quieter routes ahead. He took us thro some pretty neighbourhoods and some nice bike paths which avoided the highway for pretty much all of the way. We stopped at a really nice cafe for another dose of coffee and we headed towards the last stretch of the road.

We parted ways with Ian and met another group of cyclists who were on warmshowers and were willing to host us for the night! We had to politely tell them no, because we had an appointment to meet up with Jerald in the evening.

We got into town pretty soon (Flats + Tail wind = I am superman) and we hung out at the Starbucks till 6 PM so that we could get to Jerald’s place before 7 pm.

San Luis Obispo is a nice university town and has a good vibe to it.

Route: San Simeon State Park to San Luis Obispo
Distance: 69 (+5) Km
Ascent: 1750 ft
Descent: 1150 ft
Expenses: $ 22.50
Comment: Meeting Doug Cutting on the road was a pleasant surprise.

Day 68: Riding thro the American Dream

I should say the day was more interesting than the title suggests, but let me get to the dream bit first. I learnt yesterday that the hoard of mustangs on the road are rental vehicles and nearly all of them driven by European tourists. Funny that everyone wants to uphold their cultural superiority when at the end of the day, they are all sold to commercialisation and the marketing hype. Let me explain again.

America’s was occupied by people who left Europe and they seem to always feel nostalgic about the ‘romance’ of Europe and everywhere I turn, I can see bits of continental influence here. Most prominent are things you notice in tourist spots, ski towns try to look like it was part of the Swiss Alps, for instance. But the 20th Century America has mostly steered clear of this and has created an American ideal that is a variety of things, but mostly sold thro strong branding and marketing and advertising helped with the popularity of the movies and TV. I guess most people who have had a whiff of money wants to live the lifestyle that’s advertised. I guess the richer tourists from Europe probably also bought into this and are blazing on the Highway 1 in their mustangs living it for a wee bit before they get back to their regular lives where such over consumption is probably shunned upon. I guess I may not be making sense, but that’s the extent of creative writing I can muster in me I reckon.

Anyway, back to scheduled post.

We had a big campground yesterday and though we didn’t have showers, the campsite was lively with the two guys from San Luis Obispo (Jerald and Tom) and the trio of elderly cyclists from San Diego. We managed to stay up till 8 pm though it got pretty dark at 6:30. We started the day with 2 nice hills and I was feeling good after being on a dose of Panadol for the night. I guess a couple more days and I’d be fighting fit again.

I rode pretty well and as I got to the descent there was a coffee shop where I got a drink and waited up for the others. Jerald was nice and invited us to stay at his place in San Luis Obispo! Awesome. I guess we could get a good shower after the few simple wash up days in these state parks.

The rest of the day was sowed down due to the stop overs at the elephant seal colonies. As it turned out, we were riding thro some of the beached where the elephant seals decided to make their home and the female’s were basking in the beach and the juvenile makes were practicing their mating ritual in the waters. Sounds like humans to me. We stopped a few times, and enjoyed their little quirks, grunts and the general cuteness of these beasts.

By the time we got past them, we were on the falt’ish valley and not very far to go to the next campsite. We planned to take a short day given that I was nursing this wee bit of flu and krissi was having issues with her knee too. I guess we are ready for a rest day already heh.

I stopped to get a quick snack at a touristy joint next to a super kitschy place called the Hearst Castle (Hearst, I reckon was the character imitated by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane). Hearst, by all accounts was a crazy guy (say what you may, but if you brought a polar bear to the Californian Desert, you are crazy… I recall Singapore brought 2 polar bears, heh). He just had too much money and in his hubris wanted to do too many things. Along the way we even saw a bunch of Zebras roaming near the road side. Hearst brought them to his ranch. duh.

Anyway, we got to the campsite pretty early and found a decent spot to hangout for the rest of the day. Tomorrow, we might have a roof and a shower too!

Route: Plaskett Creek Campground to San Simeon State Park
Distance: 58 Km
Ascent: 2200 ft
Descent: 2350 ft
Expenses: $ 31.88
Comment: Nice bright day with Elephant seal sightings!

Day 67: Riding through Mustang country

Not the horses, but the muscle car that Ford makes. I have a feeling I have seen every Mustang that has ever come out of the factory floor. Dang! It seems like everyone has drunk the Ford Koolaid and are driving one of those. And funnily enough, every car has a couple with a guy driving, the top off (the car roof I mean) and they look like they are going to a funeral. Weird how they seem to be stuck within their own world. Many of the other cars are the same too, but I did get some feedback and smiles from the non-mustangs.

My day started the same, but I was feeling a bit under the weather with a inflamed throat. I guess an onset of flu, wonder where I picked it from. But the legs and body feel fine and I decided to plod on. We started with the big climb of S California. Everyone was talking about the climb up to Big Sur and we started the climb right of the bat. But it was a gentle climb and not that high either. There are bigger climbs in N.Cal and Oregon and I am sure inland too. Ah well. Once we started to descend we hit the ocean views and I should say it was stunning.

The coast is really rugged, I wonder why someone would have come here and said, alright, I am going to make a house on top of those rocks. Dang, there are few trees in sight and the cliffs were steep as. All day long, I was riding along the cliffs at 600 ft or so above the sea and the drop was pretty much straight down. I was nervous in the descents along the rolling hills and had to slow down a bit.

The day was super warm and after a couple of hours, I was starting to lose steam a bit. Breathing has been a bit hard, but I rode on. We Planned to stop at one of the earlier campsites, but as it turned out there was no water and we had to ride up another 10 km to get to another site. Hard work when you are mentally switched off. I guess I might do a days rest or a short day and give the body time to recover.

And, I suppose I wouldn’t mind if I never caught sight of a mustang again. Ever.

Route: Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground to Plaskett Creek Campground
Distance: 50.5 Km
Ascent: 2450 ft
Descent: 2900 ft
Expenses: $ 25.31
Comment: The mustang’s are getting on my nerves

Day 66: Riding through Steinbeck Country

I was happy to be back on the hammock today and slept like a baby. Though the night was long: From 7 pm till 7 am. Ouch.

We got on the road at 8:30 and rode into Monterey along the bike path. Sweet. It was pretty easy riding and we stopped at a supermarket for some resupply. I picked up a sandwich for lunch and we took Bart’s advice and decided to take the 17 mile look along the Monterey Peninsula.

This, as one might know is where Steinbeck set a bunch of his novels in and given his popularity, I was expecting some references. But seems to me like the entire town is being sold on Steinbeck’s reputation. Everywhere I turn, there are paintings based on characters from his novels and the streets are steinbeck this, the museum is steinbeck that, etc… We rode thro Cannery row which is so far removed from what he describes in his books, of course, he wrote in the 30’s. Anyway is was fun riding thro.

The beach side route was sweet as. The views were stunning and it was awesome to see the swells in the ocean. I guess I am getting into surf country soonish. The route meandered up and down and we stopped a bit for lunch and a bit of coffee before we got on to the highway.

It was somehow a bit of a relief for me to leave the urban areas and head out into the long highways again. The route today was stunning. It was mostly rolling hills along the beach and the views were jaw dropping. There were no trees though and it was a bit of a work in the heat. There were a couple of tiny bumps of 800 ft or so, but they were gentle and easy to ride up.

We eventually descended inland and stopped at the first state park. Bummer that they didn’t have a camp site and We had to ride another 5 km or so to the pfeiffer big sur campsite. This was a pretty spot but with over enthusiastic rangers. It was funny with them telling us, “Sir, please stand to the side” etc.. Ah well. A lovely day of riding for sure though.

Route: Marina Dunes Campground to Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
Distance: 91 Km
Ascent: 3050 ft
Descent: 2650 ft
Expenses: $ 36.50
Comment: This was a pretty coast