The first week we rode, our days were filled with small details that needed to be worked out. For one, both of us were riding road bikes for the first time. It was a challenge to simply sit on our bikes and pedal with our hands on a different style of handlebar. I was learning to clip in and out of my pedals for the first time, which led to 3 falls on Day 1, one of which was on a busy road, and another of which was almost in front of a truck. We’ve learned a lot since then–I’ve only had 1 fall in the last 3 weeks, for one. We’ve learned to ride comfortably on our bikes, even when fully loaded. We’re learning how to effectively climb hills and mountains and accept that sometimes, it’s just going to be slow. We are even shopping for groceries more effectively by learning to count how many packages of tuna, oatmeal, and canned chili we estimate we will need in a day.
As we go up the coast, we’re also finding time for simple pleasures. Taking the time to step off the bike to snap a shot of endless California coastline. Engage in conversations with the countless incredibly nice people we encounter. Go for short walks down touristed paths, and sometimes even longer hikes. Start the morning with coffee, a form of full-fat dairy, and a pastry. Take silly photos. Make shadow puppets on historic missions at night. Moonlit walks on the beach. Compare notes with other cyclists.
When we camped in Big Sur, we got the opportunity to meet several awesome people on long-distance rides. Two of them–Abby and Mathilde–were solo women riders (we met them separately). Abby has little idea of where her bike would take her, but she glides on and off gracefully and with poise. I have no doubt that she is in for some excellent adventures. Mathilde is a French young woman who studied in Vancouver and is riding for a few weeks before she goes back to France.
We also met a couple of men who are traveling with pets. Shane keeps a trailer for his cat, and Doug has a front milk crate for his dog, Salem. Both pets are having a great time with life on and off the bike. Salem even acts as a watchdog for Doug; despite her small size, she keeps animals and pests away!
We also met a group of a dozen or so older riders–all of them are over 60, and they are touring from San Francisco to LA! There have been a lot of people on this ride who I’ve met, and then walked away saying, “I hope I’m like them when I’m older!” These folks were excited to ride, enthusiastic for OUR ride, and just full of energy!
The last few days have been very leisurely as we know we are approaching the bay. Our daily mileage has been from 30-55, and we haven’t woken up before 8 AM. Once we’re in the bay, though, the intricacies of life in a city will be a stark contrast to our slow pace of life in the woods. We can already feel the shock of city-sprawl here in Santa Cruz! But we will be spending a few days in the bay area, so we’re excited to see friends and rest our muscles.