(I guess I will beg off adding pictures as this time….sorry)
Apr 6 – Ventura, Ca. (After three days ~350 km)
Three days out and things are pretty good. Day 1, to San Clemente and day 2 to LA, were both about 110 km. Both days I had heavy head wind for my final three hours which pretty well drained what energy I had left at that point. Day 3, today, I did closer to 130 km. A little less headwind late in the day and fewer stop signs and red lights to contend with. My bike is running very well, my body struggling a bit, after a winter with less than ideal preparation,. it took about 3-4 hours to make my way out of the endless communities that make up San Diego. The rough map I made from the Adventure Cycle maps was essential, as was the equivalent one I made for LA. Once out of extended SD, I entered Camp Pendleton, which was followed by a state park, and had me fighting headwind with no stores where I could fuel up. I did sit down on the bike path to have one of my emergency bars, but I was still drained as I dragged my way on down the road. I had a nice camp site at San Clemente State Beach, with beer and a restaurant not far away.
Day 2, I started out with a light drizzle as I made way on the intricate bike route through San Clemente. I got to Mission San Juan Capistrano an hour before opening, but as I had ridden 3.5 miles off course to see it, I waited it out for a visit. I struggled a bit finding my down the road from there, but hit my first significant dedicated bike trail along Huntington Beach. There is an 8 mph limit, but as it was near the end of the day I wasn’t too energetic anyway. I had lost my odometer earlier in the day, but I probably did about 12 mph as the path wasn’t busy. Entering greater LA, with the benefit of my map I had another bike path along a river near Long Beach and then a long painful ride into the wind into Torrance, where my gps found a cheap hotel.
Today, Saturday, I had more street riding before hitting the bike trails at Redondo Beach, which I followed for a couple of hours more or less all the way to Santa Monica, past a number of other beaches. These paths were good in that they were mostly dedicated bike trails with lots of riders faster than me. I saw thousands of bikers, runners, walkers, volleyball players, and a few muscle builders at Venice Beach, which was also where the street people hung out. The main people in the water are surfers with full body wet suits, and there are a lot of fishermen as well. I am quite impressed by the activity I see. With the benefit of my map, getting through LA was quite enjoyable. When I got out on the Pacific Coast Highway, things continued well. A big shoulder and lots of other road riders meant that the traffic was used to cyclists and by noon I had done my 100 km target, even with the hills that began to come at me. I continued on, without eating and like day 1, hit another military base, which took two hours to get through. My targeted camp ground, on the beach was flooded, so I am in a hotel in Ventura.
So far, the ride has been more scenic, hillier, about 50/50 flat and hills, and much easier traffic-wise that I had expected for this section.
Apr 7 – Lake Cachuma (San Ynes valley) – (80 km/3000 ft)
I was a little late leaving my hotel as they were serving waffles. Heading down the road to Santa Barbara went quickly, but once in town I really lost time. I rode around, up and down hills and finally found the Mission, which I was not looking for. I was looking for the side road to the San Ynes valley, which took me a long time and much up and down to find. Once on the road it climbed another 2225 ft. I began to regret the steep climb as soon as it began, because I had not found a place to get some food, and it was going to take a long time to get over the pass. At the pass the wind really began to kick up and the steep run down was scary as I was buffeted around a lot, and the traffic was quite heavy. When I came to the campground at the lake, situated in the valley, a long way from the coast I pulled in to find food and to get out of the wind. I have now been here for close to four hours and the wind has not let up. I only hope that tomorrow will be better, or I will be a long time climbing back out of here.
Apr 10, Pfeiffer St Park, Big Sur (After 7 days ~750 km)
The last three days have been the worst and the best of cycling times. The road out of Santa Ynes Valley was not too bad, passing through the little Danish town Solvang. It seems as though towns like Solvang are more danish than anything I have seen in Denmark.
The wind continued unabated and so it would continue through the day and the next as well. I continued on into Lompoc, now back on the Pacific Coast route, but the wind was still howling. People in Lompoc claimed never to seen anything so bad. It was only noon, but I was not going to tackle the big Vandenberg air-base, which would be another 30 miles of open fields, with nothing to cut the wind. I was directed to take a little shuttle bus, with carriers for bikes on the front. For $1.00 I got to the next town across the base. What a bargain, even if there was no wind. From there I made my way on to San Luis Obispo, where I got a nice hotel to watch the Final College basketball game.
I was away early the next morning on a modest freeway getting across to Morro Bay before the worst of the wind hit. Now I was planning for the next few days ahead, and rightly or wrongly decided I needed to get to a place called Ragged Point, about thirty more miles. It was not overly hilly and I had much of the day left, not too much of a task. Luckily I stopped for a late morning breakfast, which had me well stoked as I went by San Simeon and the Hearst Castle, still 14 miles to my destination. As is now the case on each windy day, these last miles into the wind killed me. I got to Ragged Point around 3:00, but was completely empty yet again. The accommodation is high-end and well beyond my budget, but I couldn’t even fake that I might move on. There was no place to move on to. I did enjoy the grounds and the bed was the best of the trip so far. With my afternoon pick me up and a lovely meal, it was about a $200 stop.
So why did I push so hard to get to Ragged Point? From Ragged Point to Big Sur I needed to ride 50 miles, and what turned out to be 1100 m of accumulated climbing and possibly into the wind.. At about 7:00 I hit the road into this most hilly part of the trip. The road winds up and down and in and out of the bays, often with speed limits of 20 mph, and there is rarely a shoulder. The morning was wonderful, only a little mist rising from the water and not a breath of wind. I rode for probably half an hour, all the way up the first big hill, without a car passing in either direction. I had a late breakfast a bit before 9:00 and a power bar around noon, where I was able to spot a whale with my binoculars. The traffic built up a little by noon, but at no time was there much of an issue. Most significantly, the wind never appeared. What could have been a horror, turned out to be one of my nicest riding days ever. I was quite strong all day, thanks in part to my good sleep, but mostly because I was not fighting the wind. Right now I feel I made a good call yesterday. The campground is set deep in a redwood forest and it feels a bit warmer, without the wind.
Apr 11, Monterey (70 km)
The wind was up as soon as I pulled out of the campground, and it gathered steam as the day progressed. I guess I am being charged extra for the good day yesterday. The hills were not as long as yesterday, but with wind, and still poor shoulders I was weaving around a bit too much to be safe. I also missed the turn into Monterey and did an extra hour and a bit of riding. I checked into a hostel here and had a nice walk along Cannery Row.. The forecast is for more wind, and so I am contemplating taking a bus tomorrow to get closer to San Fran and to have a mental break from the wind.