I was off to a reasonably early start this morning. The mileage was not too great, but the climbing was going to be huge. The rude start to my day began as soon as I made my way out of the campground at Big Sur. It was nothing but uphill to escape the river valley. In the first 3 miles, I had climbed 600 feet. By 8 miles I hit 1,000 feet. This may have been the most per mile over such a long period. The complete ride summary is here.
As is usually the case for this trip, big climbs mean spectacular views of the ocean. Today was no exception. I was slowed by the climbing, but it was also difficult not to stop for a picture.
At one of my next photo ops, I asked a young couple to take a picture of me and Hidalgo. I learned that they were Swiss. They had bought a used minivan in British Columbia and were heading south, touring the coast. I asked what their ultimate destination was and they said they would continue into Mexico, sell the van, then probably go to Columbia. I asked what haapens after that. They didn’t have definite plans afterwards. They were just ready to find adventure.
At the end of another long climb, I pulled over to catch my breath and check out the scenery. Soon, another rider, loaded with camping gear pulled up behind me. Henry was from British Columbia, had left from Vancouver and was headed to San Diego. He seemed to have made the climb easier than I had. As we talked, I learned that he did at least one big ride every year. This was the second time he had done the Pacific coast ride. He was averaging about 75 miles per day, with a few days with as much as 95 miles, but a few less than 75 as well. He had left 1 day after me, from a point farther away and was now at the same spot, carrying a lot more gear. He is also 3 years older than me. It put me in my place. Another rider he had camped and sometimes travelled with soon joined us. Mike was from Seattle and headed along the same path. We were all headed for San Simeon, but staying in different places. I was in a motel and they were headed for a campground.
We rode off, but both soon left me behind. I’d like to think it was because I stopped to take pictures, but they were probably riding faster, too. There was the usual up and down of the road and customary gorgeous scenery. At a particularly nice overlook, a young man on his bike had stopped. I asked if he would take my picture. He obliged, then set to work unpacking a small drone. He attached his phone/camera and tried to get it airborne before his wife caught up with us on her bike. He told me that he and his wife had just returned from China. They were riding to, I think, Los Angeles. They had sold all their possessions and everything they owned was on their bikes. They weren’t certain what was waiting for them, but they were going to find out when they got there.
The next place with any services after leaving Big Sur was going to be Gorda, 38 miles from Big Sur. The closer I got, the better the views, but there was some climbing I thought would never end. See the chart above, before mile 40. The views were amazing, but I was very glad to get a sandwich and liquids when I got to Gorda. I got 2 sandwiches. One roast beef and one ice cream. I also caught up with Mike and Henry again!
The climb (see chart right after mile 40) after Gorda seemed, as my Italian exchange student used to say, “unyielding”. Every time the road curved out of sight, I thought I would get relief. And everytime I was sorely disappointed. I still got amazing views.
I made one more stop at Ragged Point before the final push to San Simeon. There was a viewpoint where you could supposedly see seals. From the road, I saw a lot of cars and people, but no sight or sound of seals. Less than a quarter mile down the road, where a car could not stop, I saw tens of elephant seals playing and barking at a cove about 100 yards away from the road.
I was only 5 miles from the hotel when I could start to see the famous castle of William Randolph Hearst. I wanted to take a closer look, but I was very tired and I would have to climb a hill that went a half mile. Instead, I went to the hotel and called it a night. As I walked down to a restaurant further from my hotel, I saw 2 loaded bikes outside my hotel’s restaurant. It was the couple who had returned from China! I tapped on the window and waved. They finally recognized me. They had camping gear, so I don’t know if they were just having dinner or spending the night at the hotel. I’ve learned that on a bike trip, adaptability is a key component to a successful trip. I also learned that there are a lot of people more adventurous than I.
The Lone Rider