We woke up in Pfether campsite in Big Sur, and due to nasty weather and a wobbly back wheel on Jackie’s bike, we decided to take a rest day. After trying and failing to repair Jackie’s bike, we came to the agreement that it needed a professional and decided to make the most of our day off. We spent the day in the lodge of the campsite where we met fellow cyclists Josh and Enrique. Josh was a young father of 3 girls and a community college professor who has cycled from Santa Cruz to L.A. nearly 20 times. Enrique was a 24 old student of Josh’s who with the personality that’s up for anything, jumped on the opportunity to go on his first bike tour. They were an unlikley pair that seemed to make a perfect team. Josh was calm, well planned and incredibly patient while Enrique was energetic, outgoing, eager, and hilarious. We spent the day sharing stories, playing cards, and even went on a short hike when the rain stopped for an hour.
Big Sur to Cambria With Jackie’s bike unrideable, we stayed behind to hitch a ride to the nearest bike shop, and didn’t wait long before Ann and Ripley, who reminded us both of my dad, stopped their RV and told us to jump on in. We stopped along the way to enjoy some views, they bought us a delicious lunch on the coast and showed us where hundreds of elephant seals huddle to give birth. When we arrived to a bike shop, we hugged goodbye and waited an hour for Jim, the friendliest mechanic, to whip that wheel back into shape. We biked to San Simeon campsite to meet Gordon, Josh and Enrique after their challenging but amazing day biking Big Sur. I promised myself then that I WILL go back and ride that section again one day. Who knows, maybe even 20 times like Josh.
Cambria to Pismo Beach. Long, sunny day- 52 miles. A long, sunny day of 52 miles that was broken up by lunch on the beach and Kyukoos famous cookies that Josh raved about, rightfully so. We all shared a campsite, and made a lame fire that gave off no heat but offered something to sit and hang out around. All in all- successful day.
Pismo Beach to Lompoc 43 miles . With big head winds and rain, this was not the most pleasant of days. Stopping for burritos helped, as it always does. At the top of one unpleasant raining hill, I noticed a man with a fancy camera and Jackie and I waved a goofy smile that in the picture looked like I was nearly enjoying climbing that hill in the rain. I stopped to talk to Frank, who happened to be the weather photographer for the local newspaper. I answered questions explaining who we were and what we were doing, and a couple days later he sent me an article with that picture in the Santa Maria Times! Link to article. That day I got two flat tires as it was getting dark. A truck stopped to offer their help and I gratefully took them up on their offer. I squeezed into the front seat with Chris and his two kids who wanted to hear all about our adventure, and when stopped for gas, Chris even called multiple friends to tell our story. They made me promise that I would would include them in the book I write. Deal
Lompoc to Carpintera- 65 miles. This was Jackie’s first 60+ mile day on only her 8th day of biking! What a rockstar. After stopping on the side of the road for lunch and chatting with two well-lived hippies who enthusiastically approved of our lifestyle, it started to rain. And it didn’t stop. The last couple miles, Jackie’s bike nearly fell to pieces. With squeaky breaks, 3 broken spokes, and dead bike lights, I wouldn’t have blamed her if she was cursing up a storm. Instead she wrote an extremely catchy song about the day including many of our group’s inside jokes. I’m still upset I never recorded her singing it. We stuck together and slowly made it to the campsite where my wonderful friend, Jo, (who drove 50 miles in the rain) was waiting for us with a bunch of Thai food! All is well that ends well.
Carpintera to Malibu- 50 miles. Today was Jackie’s birthday! It started with a bike shop repair and crossed fingers that it will get her to her destination in San Diego, and ended with confusing scratch off lottery tickets. We had a birthday lunch outside Trader Jo’s and made a feast of a dinner with whatever food we all scrambled together. Although to normal people the dinner was probably mediocre at best, to us it tasted amazing. We began making plans of opening a restaurant that you needed to bike 50 miles to before getting a table. Everything would be delicious.
Malibu to Long Beach- 72 miles. This was a long but super enjoyable day. Josh was our guide which made negotiating the city a million times easier. We almost seemed to stall making it to our final destination, knowing that it was the last day we would be riding with Josh and Enrique. Goodbyes are the worst. We all had lingering hugs, realizing how much we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. We still miss you Josh and Enrique!! That night we stayed at Jackie’s friend, Dillion’s place in Long Beach. He invited us one of the best sandwich places I’ve ever been to and we all slept like babies. (If babies actually slept through the night) .
Long Beach to Laguna Beach- 40 miles We had a much deserved lazy morning and an enoyable afternoon ride along the deserted beach bike paths to Newport Beach (the upside about biking California late in the season) We then took more well kept bike paths inland to Laguna to see a childhood friend of mine, Julie. We enjoyed catching up and reminising about running around our neighborhood as kids over a delicious dinner. Our night consisted of our first load of laundry since we left San Fransico. It was a little pathetic how excited we were for laundry day.
Laguna Beach to Carlsdad- 48 miles In the morning we stopped at G2 bike shop in Laguna that had an amazing atmosphere that made you just want to hang out there all day. After our bikes were ready for Mexico, we made our way nearly 50 miles to Carlsdad, where we had contacted a Warm Showers host. When we arrived, Ern and Steve along with their daughters, Aquila and Melissa had a feast ready for us as we walked in! We enjoyed hearing about their many stories of the hundreds of bicycle travelers they welcome into their home all year round and of their own adventures they go on as a family. Inspiration. We can’t say enough good things about this Warm Showers community. If you are reading this, you should think about signing up.
Carlsdad to San Diego We did it! She did it! Jackie made it to her destination, after having been traumatized by a bike crash as a kid and never having previously ridden 20 miles in a day. She’s a superstar. Gordon overcame visa issues at the Canadian-American border and I road a Frankenstein bike (that I have grown incredibly connected to) down the entire West Coast after my beautiful Trek 520 was stolen my first day in Washington. All of our stories of overcoming individual challenges were made possible by the support of each other and the shared attitude that it’s “all part of the adventure.” And the feeling of arriving in San Diego was an amazing bonus.
San Diego to Imperial beach We decided to relax and spend a full day in San Diego with my dear friend Sydney, whom I met while in graduate school at Whitewater, Wisconsin. She welcomed us into her home with hugs and the most amazing blueberry goat cheese, possibly one of the best cheeses I’ve ever tasted. The idea of getting more of it could have also persuaded our decision to stay an extra day. We thanked Sydney for being such a wonderful host (thanks again!), and before leaving she put us in contact with her aunt Kristine, who was said to be the first to bike all of Baja California a few days after the highway was connected in 1973. So ridiculously cool. We stocked up on advice and made our way for the border!