Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 37

June 28, 2011

Today I rode from Malibu to Long Beach. I was somewhat dreading the experience of riding through the huge city. The ride started with a few small hills in Malibu while I gazed at the highest density of really cool houses that I've ever seen. The route went along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) for a while and much of it didn't have a shoulder, especially in the town of Malibu. I've been desensitized to traffic and the lack of shoulders, so I was hardly phased by it. I got to a state beach just west of Santa Barbara and my route took me onto the beach bike trail. That trail is so amazing! It's so nice to have a bike trail to follow. About half of my 60 mile day was on a beach trail and it was a kind of cloudy day, so there weren't that many people on the trail, which made for perfect riding.

I apologize on behalf of Los Angeles because it doesn't have very nice scenery, so you'll notice the lack of pretty pictures. One interesting sight I saw was the Santa Monica Pier, an amusement park on a pier.

Part of what made the ride through LA fun was the places that I went that I had either been to before or had heard all about from others. I had heard all about the Santa Monica Pier from Rebecca E. and later the next day I would pass through Huntington Beach, which holds horrific memories of the worst sunburn I've ever had and delicious memories of fried clams at Joe's Crab Shack.

I got slightly lost while circumnavigating Marina Del Ray, but a homeless man put me back on track. I didn't spend any significant time on the road in LA till Redondo Beach where I cut inland to Torrance and Carson. The road I went on was pretty nice as it had a bike lane half the time and a very large lane, big enough for a car and a bike, for the rest of it. I found myself at the Los Angeles river, which was a sight to see for its world renown beauty.

I made it to Long Beach and saw a big boat.

 And a nice inlet

I stayed at a hotel in Long Beach that night, taking a good chunk out of my budget, but it was totally worth the extra 30 dollars to be in a hotel of the non-prostitute variety. That evening I went to Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery for dinner and met a cool guy named Jason who is a Colorado native. Woot

Day 36

June 27, 2011

Today was a surprisingly nice day. I didn't really know what to expect of Malibu with its reputation for having lots of rich people and surfing, but I liked it. I spent the day resting even though I wasn't too tired, but I needed to reserve a plane ticket and hotels for LA and San Diego.

It's pretty much impossible to sleep in  for me when I'm camping. The sun rises early in the morning, shines on my yellow and blue tent, and wakes me up at the same time every day. So even on my rest day I woke up at 7:00. No worries.

The day started out with a very casual ride to Malibu averaging about 10mph (pretty slow). Well I didn't ride all the way to Malibu. I just went to the western edge of Malibu since the entire city is 27 miles long. I stopped at the Starbucks in town and used their internet for several hours. Pretty sure I spent 4 hours in there. It was the most productive 4 hours I've had on my tour though. 1 plane ticket bought, 1 hotel in LA reserved, 2 nights at a hostel in San Diego Reserved, and directions to all these places copied into my notebook. To boot, I had a good conversation with Jessica, a girl who was in the big group I had met the previous day at the Orcutt Starbucks. She teaches middle school at a private school somewhere in the LA area, so I might be picking her brain if I'm ever confronted with the choice between public and private (and if I am ever possessed to consider teaching middle schoolers...shudder).

Since I was in Malibu, I figured I should check out the beach. It was just like any other beach I've been to actually. Lots of sand, lots of people, and saltwater. No surfers. I ate my very big lunch of 3 bagels, half a square of cream cheese, 2 bananas, and maybe something else that I can't remember.

I was craving ice cream, which happens daily, and I also felt like going to watch the surfers at the Leo Carrillo State Beach where I was staying. So I stopped by the store and rode the 6 miles back to the campground. Before heading down to the beach I met Maggie and McGee, two smart ladies. They planned to do something like a week long tour, but after their first day riding up to this campground from LA they realized that they weren't physically prepared for a week long tour and decided to turn back the next day. Before my ice cream melted completely I went down to the beach and watched the surfers for a while.

It looked like a pretty sweet place to surf and I even witnessed someone "hang heel," which I didn't even realize was a trick. I thought hang 10 was pretty cool.

Back at the campground I met an older man who looked like he was in his 60s. It was kind of hard to tell whether he was homeless or touring. He was riding some longer distances, but got to LA and just decided to stick around here for a while. He told me he usually sleeps on the beach since it's legal without pitching a tent, but he'll occasionally treat himself to a night at the campground for a shower.

It was a nice relaxing day in Malibu.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 35

June 26, 2011

Mike left early to catch his train back to Tucson, so I was alone again. Riding alone has a completely different feel. It's fun in some ways and less fun in other ways. I left at 8:30 and stopped in town for groceries. It felt like I was back in Denver with the numerous Hispanics in the area speaking Spanish. I rode along a road that paralleled the beach in Santa Barbara and was a bit jealous of the people playing volleyball in the sand.

The ride didn't have too many hills, but there were some very pretty mountains to the left. I passed through several smallish towns and got to Ventura, a cool-looking beach town where I stopped for lunch. There was one section of the bike trail that was closed due to construction and I had to ride and push my bike through the sand. It was a pretty horrible 100 meters.

I stopped in Oxnard for some more groceries and decided that I would go to the Starbucks nearby to use their internet. Writing this blog has been great, but it's a ton of work to write 7 blogs at a time, so I just posted 2 while I was there and would wait till later to catch up on them. There was a group of touring cyclists there and I met them. They were doing a short 4-day tour up and back from LA to somewhere 2 days north of LA.

I finally left the starbucks and made my way to my campground at Leo Carrillo State Beach. Just 3 miles before the campground I met a couple guys who rode from New Jersey and were now making their way up to San Francisco. They were pretty cool, but boy they weren't touring right, so they weren't enjoying themselves at all at this point. They just couldn't wait to get to San Francisco. They were riding really light Aluminum road bikes with light weight (and weak) wheels. They started out with camping gear, but had some wheel damage because of all the weight, so they ended up mailing their camping gear back home. That meant they were staying in hotels every single night. I can't think of a more lame way of doing a cross-country tour. Hotels are depressing and holy cow they're expensive. I have no idea how they afforded that many nights at a hotel. They asked me if I was just doing the tour for fun and then I found out that they were raising money for cancer. That was pretty awesome to hear, but they weren't in it for the fun of it at all, which was really sad. They just wanted to get from point A to point B, get the money raised, and then go home. They really didn't seem like they enjoyed touring at all, which was depressing... I said goodbye and went to my campground.

At the campground I met a fellow cyclist named Ed. He rode from Denver to Costa Rica and is going back via San Francisco!! That's quite a tour. We talked all evening. He wants to move to Costa Rica and live on a boat. He is a retired Navy Seal who was injured and retired back in 1993. It was nice talking to him for the evening. I found out that he only had 86 cents, completely broke. So before I went to bed I gave him all my extra food to help him get to pay-day. I felt sorry for him. Hopefully he'll contact me when he gets back to Denver so I can hear how the rest of his tour went.

I went to bed and slept nicely. There were apparently tree rats outside, which kind of creeped me out, but whenever I heard them I just ignored them and went back to sleep, knowing that my food was safely hanging from a tree branch.

Day 34

June 25, 2011

Today was Mike's last day of riding and it was to have a pretty fun ending. He met a lady up in Santa Cruz whom he talked with for 5 minutes and she invited him to stay at her place in Santa Barbara. So we planned to stay at her house that night and coincidentally, Santa Barbara was having their famous solstice festival that day. So we tried to leave pretty early so we could enjoy the festivities.

It was a pretty cool ride today. The day started out with some uphills, peaking over 1,000 ft. The elevation charts are always deceptive, so we weren't quite sure if the uphills would be difficult or not. They ended up being  very very low grade climbs for several miles. We honestly had a bit of trouble telling when we were on a climb and when we were on flat ground. We had a very gradual hill at one point and thought that it was the big long descent at the end of the hill, but it wasn't.

Finally our confusion was relieved when we saw a steep grade sign indicating that we had finally made it to the top of the easiest 1,000 foot climb ever. On the downhill we both reached 42mph, which was pretty awesome. The views were beautiful as we passed through canyons and tall, steep mountains. The downhill was awesome, but I did have the self-control to stop for a couple pictures.  We got out to the coast and enjoyed a nice tailwind for a long time. The mountains right when we got to the coast reminded me of Boulder.

 In Santa Barbara, we passed through UCSB on a bike trail and eventually made it to Camille's house, where we'd be staying that night. The ride went by really fast even though it was about 55 miles. We averaged almost 13mph, which is awesomely fast for us.

Camille left a key for us under a flower pot, so we let ourselves in and helped ourselves to showers and laundry. After just relaxing on her couch for a while, we went down to town to check out the festival. It was pretty crazy. People were everywhere. Many of them were dressed up, hippy style, and tons of people had face paint. There was live music, a dance party, a collection of stands, food, etc. Mike and I were itching for a burrito, so we asked a local for directions to where we could get a burrito since there were none at the park. Just 4 blocks away, awesome. We walked the 4 blocks and didn't see the Chipotle. Kept walking a few more blocks and still didn't see it. Nobody we asked knew where it was really. They just said it's down there a few blocks on this side of the street. So we probably walked about 3/4 of a mile to get there, but we finally did. After walking back to the park, we ate our burritos next to the drum circle (about 30 people banging on drums). Camille called Mike and invited us to come to her friend's party a few blocks away. We went there, met Camille and her friends, and chatted with a few random drunk people. The party was pretty annoying, so we left with Camille and her friends and hung out with them for a little while downtown. They were all really cool. Several years older than me, but very nice. After hanging out with them for a while Mike and I went back to the house and slept soundly on Camille's couches.

I get the feeling we aren't supposed to be going up this ramp.

Day 33

June 24, 2011

I can hardly believe that I only have one week left. The time flies by and it just seems crazy that I'm almost done. When I started the tour, the distance I'd be going was just too great for me to really imagine. I took it one day at a time and here I am 33 days later almost done.

Mike and I rode together again today and went from Pismo Beach to Lompoc--pronounced Lom-poke as the ladies at the church explained while poking Mike.

You're probably wondering about this Mike guy. I originally met him in Monterey, saw him again at Kirk Creek, rode together for the day and we have just ended up riding together. At this point it looks like we'll just stick together until he catches the train in Santa Barbara. He's a very cool guy from Tucson and works part time as a Montessori teacher and part time at a bicycle co-op in Tucson called Bicas.

The ride was pretty boring since we were several miles inland among lots of flat farm country. There was one climb for the day in the Purisma hills which we tackled around lunch time. Mike was having some knee pain so we stopped half way up for lunch. As we ate two other touring cyclist passed us, going uphill. The wife waved and a minute later the husband came up and stopped to talk to us. He seemed happy for the break. We saw them again at the grocery store in Lompoc and got to know them a bit. Their names were Randy and Karen and they were from Portland, doing a portion of the Pacific Coast. They were very nice and a lot of fun to talk to for a while.

We had heard that the Lompoc area had no hiker/biker sites, so we tried to find a church to stay at again. It was pretty ridiculous though. We went to about 5 or 6 different churches and all but one said no. The other place had nobody there to give us permission. The area is apparently kind of ghetto and all of the churches had had problems with homeless people staying on their property. Eventually we called the campground in town and found out that they do in fact have hiker biker camping. So we just went over there after putting a ton of effort into finding a church. Oh well. Now we know how ghetto Lompoc is.

The campground we stayed at was alright. We met a group of mountain bikers riding around the area trying out different rides and we also met some Kiwis named Dan and Anna. We talked with them for an hour before going to bed about all the many differences between New Zealand and the US. Then we went to bed.

Day 32

June 23, 2011

Today Mike and I rode from Hearst San Simeon State Park to Pismo Beach. The ride was pretty nice, but mostly uneventful. We passed through a few towns, stopped in Morro Bay to use the library's internet, and made it to San Luis Obispo for lunch. 40 miles before lunch feels good. San Luis Obispo seemed like a very cool city. It had a cool downtown area and a little creek to go hang out at, so we went down to the creek for lunch, gorging ourselves as always.

We were sitting down next to the creek, enjoying our food when I heard the name Jonathan shouted out. I looked up and heard it again. Some people up on the footbridge were calling my name and noticed me look up. They had my little green bag, which is the little bag that I keep absolutely everything important in. It has my wallet, keys, and cell phone. I'd be devastated without it and thankfully they found it on a bench I was sitting on for a minute before lunch. I thanked them and went back to gorging myself.

Mike had heard that there was a hotel in town called the Madonna Hotel that has the best bathroom ever and we had to go try it out. Along the way to the hotel we stopped at a bike shop to buy a new tire for me--an expensive touring tire which would hopefully prevent all the puncture flats I've had (2 this morning and many on previous days). We got to the hotel and planned how we would find this famous bathroom. We walked into a door that went to the cafe and it just so happened to be a side door, so nobody bothered us when we walked in. I was afraid we would have to do the old dine and dash in order to try this bathroom out, but we just walked right through and found the bathroom. It was just okay. Definitely a nice bathroom, but the only cool thing was the faucets were old pumps, like the ones you'd find in an old school state park, but it was automatic. Later on, we found out that there was some other bathroom in the hotel that has a waterfall you pee in and we missed it. Oh well.

We followed the route to Pismo Beach and started thinking about where we'd be staying. We had heard that there was no longer hiker/biker camping at the campground in town and we didn't feel like spending double the price for the normal tent sites. So we decided to find a church and ask if we could stay in their yard. Best idea ever. Kurtis did that on his tour from Denver to the east coast every single night, so I figured we could pretty easily find one to stay at for one night. The first church we went to was Community Presbyterian Church. There were a couple ladies and kids inside preparing for something so we walked in and asked if the pastor was around. They told us that they were pretty sure it would be fine for us to camp in the back yard, but that we could wait for 15 minutes for the pastor to come. They were having a kids sleepover ("VBS on speed") and he'd be by to drop his kids off. So we waited for a bit and Pastor Bob came up and gave us permission to stay there. He was very nice and was smart enough to make copies of our IDs, just in case. While we were in the backyard making dinner the kids all came running through. It was hilariously chaotic and we were very entertained by them. There were two ladies in charge of the sleepover named Suzanne and Karen. They came back and told us that they had some extra pizza for us, but we had already eaten dinner. Pretty awesome that they offered it though. Around 8:30 we went inside to brush our teeth and were caught by the ladies. We ended up spending a good 30-40 minutes in there joking around and eating pop corn while the kids watched a movie. It was a lot of fun and they told us they would make breakfast for us in the morning! So we went outside, slept like babies, and in the morning we came in for breakfast. They just kept offering more food. I had two big waffles, a couple bananas, and milk. Then when we got around to leaving, they piled a bunch of sandwiches, carrots, and bananas into our arms. We were really impressed by how nice they were to us and that night was one of the coolest nights I've had on my tour. So glad we stayed there.

Day 31

June 22, 2011

Today I rode from Kirk Creek Campground to Hearst San Simeon State Park. I woke up, ate my breakfast and got ready to go. I was just about to pull out of the campground and was going to say goodbye to Mike at the neighboring campsite, but he was about to leave too. So we decided to just ride together for the day.

I love these roads that are on the edge of the cliff. It gets the adrenaline pumping.

The ride was pretty nice and it was cool riding with someone else. The ride started with a long climb after a town called Gorda. During the climb we saw a group of cyclists doing the climb at about the same pace as us. They had several SUVs and a big truck carrying all their stuff and one of the suvs was trailing the riders to keep the traffic down. It looked pretty plush. After the fun descent we stopped at Ragged Point where the other cyclists had stopped for a break. They were a boy scout troop doing a week long supported tour. The troop leader came up and talked with us and one by one the scouts started coming up too. It was kind of funny because the man was telling all the scouts about my bike, explaining every little detail, and saying that if they ever go on a self-supported tour, they should do it just like I did it. He made me look like I was super well prepared and looking back at the tour I think he's right. I've been very happy with my preparation for this tour and I've met lots of people who have ended up getting in some unpleasant situations because they were unprepared.

Anyways, we said goodbye to the scouts and headed down the road, hoping to get a few more miles before lunch time. The scouts were in a few groups and the fast group passed us along with the troop leader in his SUV. He stopped ahead of us and took some action photos of us riding while he cheered us on. Just another mile down the road Mike and I stopped at a creek for lunch, gorging myself with vast amounts of peanut butter, bread, and fruit.

Elephant seals fighting

The day really passed by fast because it was pretty flat and we had a tail wind the whole time. Along the way we stopped at a couple beaches to look at elephant seals and to just chill. We arrived at the camp ground and just chilled for the evening. There was a beach nearby so we went over there, looked for cool pebbles, and grabbed some driftwood for a fire. After putting an enormous amount of effort into building a fire, I finally got it to start. Stupid fog makes everything damp.

Mike at the beach

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 30

June 21, 2011

Today I rode from Monterey to Kirk Creek Campground just south of Lucia, CA in Big Sur National Forest. The day ended up being much longer than I expected and I rode with two other guys, which was pretty cool.

The crazy old men were kind of annoying me and I needed to go to the store for breakfast, so I left the campsite really early before eating. I bought some oatmeal at Trader Joes and ate some oatmeal and coffee at a park in town. I had seen on my elevation charts that the day had a pretty challenging climb near the town of Big Sur, so I wanted to get out of town quickly. So I quickly ate, drank and left, giving me my average start time of 9:15.

I had lots of short, steep climbs to start the day, which were tough, but made it to Carmel soon enough. Mike had told me that the Safeway in town was the last real grocery store for a couple days, so I went there and stocked up on food. Typically I only carry one day's worth of lunch and dinner, but this time I'd be carrying more than twice that. It's worth the extra weight to not have to pay for the crappy food at gas stations and convenience stores.

Got out of Carmel and about 5 miles later I saw a guy who looked like he might be on a bike tour resting on the side of the road. His panniers were very small, so I was actually uncertain as to whether he was on a tour or just a day ride. Found out his name is John, he's from the Bay Area, and he's working on a tour from there to LA. He spent a year travelling and got back a couple weeks ago and just decided on a whim to ride down to LA and visit several friends along the way. He didn't look like an experienced cyclist, so I was really surprised when he told me he was averaging 100 mile days! (that's twice my average distance) We decided to ride together for a while. We rode at about the same pace, so it worked out. There wasn't much talking on the road, but we stopped for lunch at Andrew Molera State Park, a few miles north of Big Sur and talked some while we ate. He had several stories of his travels to Europe, Africa, and Asia. After eating a nice big lunch we left and headed toward the big climb for the day. After about a 6 mile warmup, we headed up the climb south of Big Sur. We just took it slowly and stopped halfway because it was quite long and John was having knee pain. I told him about the knee pain I had further north and that a higher cadence and higher seat height helped me, so he took my advice. Throughout the day he asked to stop to give his knee a break. It seemed like it wasn't getting any better.

Just after the descent of the really big hill we climbed, John and I were resting on the side of the road and another loaded cyclist rode up. His name was Matthew and he was originally from New Zealand but lives in the Bay area now. He was a really nice guy and just rode along with us when we finished our rest.

It was pretty different riding with other people. I am so used to riding by myself, I always just ride my own pace and not really think about it. Riding with John and Matthew was pretty different. Whoever was in the front set the pace and when I took my turn leading we took a slower pace due to my passion for enjoying the scenery. I'm apparently relatively out of shape compared to them, oh well. Throughout the rest of the day John kept on needing more and more stops because of his knee, so we made pretty slow progress.

I had hoped to call it a short day and stay in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, but as we rode by there I found out they didn't have camping. Rats. So I just decided to press on to Kirk Creek like Matthew was planning on doing. About 5 miles from the campground our pace slowed to that of a snail. John's knee was killing him and we didn't want him to hurt it more than he already had. After trudging along, we finally made it to the site around 7:30 (super late). Mike was there, so we just setup our stuff near him and enjoyed dinner together before the sun set. As the sun set, we all headed to bed, Me and Mike in our tents, Matthew on his sleeping pad and sleeping bag out in the open, and John in his hammock with nothing but warm clothes to keep him warm. Before going to bed I told him that if it got too cold that he could join me in my 2-man tent. He looked kind of miserable and it was a pretty chilly night, so I wasn't going to be surprised if he joined me.

After sleeping a few hours I heard John outside my tent. “Hey Jon, can I sleep in there.” “Sure, let me get my stuff out of here.” I packed up all my junk into my waterproof panniers and threw it outside. He spent the rest of the night tossing and turning while sleeping on the hard floor of my tent. At least it was better than his hammock out in the drizzly cold.  

Day 29

June 20, 2011

Today I rested in Monterey, a very cool town. I woke up in the morning and saw a few extra people at the campsite. Two guys that I met earlier, John and David were sleeping on their tarp out in the open and a guy named Mike was in his yellow tent. I was the first to wake up in the campsite. As I started making my breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, Mike came out from his tent and came up to meet me. He is from Tucson and works part time as a montessori teacher and part time as a bike mechanic in a bike coop called Bikus (spelling?). The crazy old men started waking up too along with the cousins David and John. We had a good ole' cyclist breakfast party. The crazy old men were blabbing on about their nonsense while everyone else gazed at them in wonder. Soon enough they started getting annoying so one by one, the rest of us backed away and started putting away our stuff for the day.

I wanted to go down to the city for the day, so I packed up my stuff, said goodbye and rode down the hill to Monterey. The town is very cool. There's lots of little shops, cool looking restaurants, beaches, peirs, bike trails. I liked it. I found a visitor center and was able to get directions to everywhere I planned to go for the day-Library, Trader Joes, Coffee Shop, and Cool Places to Visit.

So I went to the coffee shop, used their internet only for an hour because they only allow you to use it for that long. They also didn't let you use the internet if you spent less than 5 dollars. Kind of weird coffee shop.

Next I stopped by the Trader Joe's grocery store for some food, then went to Denny's. The library didn't open for another 30 minutes and it was close to lunch time, so I thought Denny's would be affordable enough and a ton of pancakes sounded really good. They found me a seat, I orded all you can eat pancakes and sat for a bit, staring at my maps. There was a man sitting next to me at his table by himself and handed me a slip of paper. 20% off entire bill! “You look like you might be a hungry college student and could use some help.” Thanks. We ended up talking during my entire meal of 5 pancakes. Found out his name is Bob. He used to be a salesman and he was very interested in astrology. About 2 sentences into our conversation he asked me my birthday and then started describing me and my personality. Throughout the conversation and random times he asked when the birthdays of the rest of my family were. Kind of weird, but whatever. He told me all about the area and about how California guys are so dull. Their best pickup line is, “Hey you wanna go to a movie or dinner or something.” It was an interesting conversation. At the end of my meal he handed me a hotel coupon book and we left our separate ways.

I went over to the library to take care of blog stuff and paperwork for my trabajo. Very enjoyable experience. Also stopped by the post office and the dry cleaner. By the time my laundry was done, it was time for me to head back to the campground, eat dinner, chat with the crazy old men who were still there and then go to bed. There was also an interesting guy there that night who was homeless by choice and spent a lot of time meditating. I had a hard time understanding how he lived a life so dependent on various technologies and public services yet didn't feel guilty about not working at all. I didn't bother him about it though. I'm sure he's heard it a million times.

Bed time

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 28

 I planned on taking a rest day at New Brighton State Beach near Santa Cruz, but I found out from the ranger that it's illegal to stay there more than one night. I was really angry at first, but it turns out that I signed a contract that said it. So I should have just read the contract better. So I decided to just not take a rest day and ride the 40 miles to Monterey, CA. The ride looked pretty easy and I figured I'd have a tailwind since it surely would give me another headwind.

The day started out with lots of pretty farms with easy hills. Most of the crops were strawberries so it smelled so good! I was very tempted to steal strawberries.

I stopped to eat lunch at Moss Landing and then soon afterward I found an awesome place. It's called "The Whole Enchilada" and it's a fruit and vegetable stand. It was all ridiculously cheap, so I stocked up on fruit and veggies, spending $1.19

I was on a bike trail for the last 10 miles and it was pretty nice. There are these little plants that grow on sand dunes very well for some reason and they're very pretty because they're green and red.

I arrived at Monterey and climbed up the tallest hill in town to get to my campground. Heck of a campground I chose with that climb. It was a very difficult climb. At the top, I sat down and started my ice cream while August and Sydney rode up. They are a couple who have been at about 4 of the same campgrounds as me at the same time, so I've seen them a ton. Most people don't go the same pace, but they seem to be going the exact same pace as me and like to stay at hiker/biker sites like I do. They didn't have maps for the last leg of their trip, so I let them take pictures of mine and I finally had a chance to talk to them. It was good getting to know them a bit and I'm sure I'll run into them later on the road. Rest day tomorrow. Woohoo!

Day 27

Day number 2 with a headwind. A very rare thing for south-going cyclists. I rode from Halfmoon Bay State Park to New Brighton State Beach. It was very good to be out of the city, but the day was still pretty difficult with the constant headwind. There was lots of riding along the beach and it was pretty, but nothing breath-taking I thought. I noticed not far into the ride that there were a lot of other cyclists riding that stretch of the road. It was easy to tell because each one of them passed me. Every time I was passed I thought You're only passing me because you don't have as much weight on your bike as I have. None of them said hi. It was stupid. There were even cycling teams practicing on their time trial bikes and of course they all had frowns on their faces along with their several-thousand dollar bikes.

A couple highlights for the day were road-side strawberries and road-side pie. So good!

One annoying thing was that the screw on my front rack broke. Thank God I had a spare screw, because that happened before on the other side. Now I have two hardened steel screws for my rack, so that should hold better.

I made it to Santa Cruz, where I bought Subway for dinner. I realized that $5 footlongs is actually a good deal. A lot of my dinners that I make on my own end up being that much anyway since I can't buy in bulk at all. I had to complement the subway with more food though because I can just eat and eat without getting full.

I arrived at the campground, took a shower, ate my subway, and went over to meet the other cyclists at the camp. I met Ian and Kaitlin, who were pretty cool. They were definitely roughing it though since they had buckets instead of panniers and didn't have a tend. They just slept out in the open and had a tarp in case it rained. They were pretty cool and we made a fire. While we were standing around the fire two other guys rolled in named David and John. They were very funny guys and a lot of fun to talk to. They were doing a tour from San Francisco to LA. They were completely unprepared for the tour, but were having a great time and had really good attitudes. Addictively good attitudes. After a while of talking, we all said goodnight and hit the hay.

Day 26

What a day. Cities are challenging to get through, even if you have a good route and even though it's a seemingly cool city like San Francisco.

I left from Samuel P. Taylor State Park and the ride started out well. I really enjoyed riding through Marin County. It was a very cool area with lots of little shops, tons of cyclists, and just a neat atmosphere. While riding through Corte Madera, a man rode up next to me and asked me where I was riding. He ended up going out of his way to take me to the nearest REI so I could buy fuel canisters, so it was really cool to meet him. I bought the canisters I needed and headed out, following the route the man suggested to get to the Golden Gate Bridge.

I had a bit of a late start and the detour to REI took some extra time. There was also a headwind, which really slowed me down. I had a 60 mile day if I wanted to get through San Fran, so I resolved to ride 30 miles before I stopped for lunch. But boy was it hard getting that far before eating. I was pretty tired and hungry by 11:45, but hadn't made it to the bridge yet, so I stopped in Sausalito for a quick snack at a coffee shop.

I wanted to make it past the bridge before I ate lunch, so I pushed onward. I made it to the bridge and took a picture. Notice how much higher the bridge is than the place I'm taking the picture from.

Let me rant for a moment about why exactly the Golden Gate Bridge was a royal pain in the rear. I had to climb a ridiculously steep trail to get up there with a headwind that changed directions depending on which way the road was going, which meant I had a constant headwind no matter which way I turned. After finally getting to the bridge on the west side, I saw a sign that said "West Side of Bridge Closed. Take Stairs to East Side" The only way to get to the east side was to go down about 50 stairs, then back up about 50 stairs. @#%^&*!!! Stairs are the biggest pain when you have a loaded bike. It weighs a ton, so stairs are nearly impossible. I made it down the stairs okay by going one step at a time with my hands firmly on both brakes. Then came the tough part. I stopped at the bridge and just thought for a moment. How am I going to get up these stairs? This bike is ridiculously heavy and I don't know if I could carry it all the way up. I could take off the bags and make 3 trips. No, that would be dumb. None of these stupid tourists passing me are offering to help. Fine. I picked up my bike and started climbing the steps. This guy and girl were on the other side of the handrail from me, just enjoying the walk and I was climbing up panting the entire way. It was the most strenuous part of my entire tour, but I made it up the stairs...50 stairs. After reaching the correct side of the bridge I cursed inwardly because of the multitudes of tourists. Half were on rental bikes and half were walking at 2mph. It was very stressful riding across the bridge. The walkers were a bit annoying because I had to go around them, but at least they all had plenty of experience walking. The tourists on rental bikes were another story. Most of them haven't ridden a bike in years and just freaked me out because of all their wobbly riding on the very windy bridge. I was so glad to get to the other side of the bridge and just found a place away from the people and away from the wind to eat my lunch.

I was so exhausted and in a bad mood that I considered just staying in the city at a hostel after only riding 30 miles. I called around to see if there was a hostel on my route. All 3 that I called were on the other side of the peninsula and they all charged $30, which is more money than I felt like spending, especially with their inconvenient location. One of them had a guy with a thick Australian accent on the phone. I barely understood what he was saying except for the moment where he shouted, "Get the **** out of here mate." I hung up the phone and gave up on hostels. I wanted to get the heck out of the city so I just decided to get to Half Moon Bay State Park.

The rest of the city was annoying too. Lots of long steep climbs among neighborhoods with like 10 square feet of yard per house. Looked like a horrible place to live even though this was a "nice" neighborhood. Townhouses they call them...Ugh I'd never live there...looks miserable to me. I went down the "Great Highway" which was closed off on the southbound because of sand dunes drifting onto the road, so I had the whole 2 lanes to myself and other bikers. Unfortunately there was a very strong headwind, slowing me down significantly.

I was so glad when it started feeling like I was no longer in the city. I saw surfers in the waves and big hills nearby that were not covered in town homes. There was a challenging climb called Devil's Slide as soon as I left the urban chaos with no shoulder and tons of traffic. Most cyclists are completely freaked out by the climb because of how scary it was, but I can't tell you how over joyed I was by it. I was just so happy to be out of the city and to be in the trees where there was no headwind. I found a Canon Powershot point-n-shoot camera at the top. I'll attempt to find the owner, but if I can't find him and you need a camera, let me know and I'd be happy to give it to you.

I stopped for a burger for dinner because of my difficult day and arrived at my campground pretty late, around 7:30. I met Adam and Rory who invited me to join them at their campfire and I enjoyed a good conversation with them before going to bed after the ridiculously long day.