This past weekend was the annual MLK weekend "The Ride". It has been going on for quite some years and I have riden along for the past four or so. The ride starts in San Francisco (SF) and most ride to Santa Barbara (SB). A few continue on to San Diego. I usually only go to SB so here are the routes for the first 3 days.
Day 1 is SF to Monterey
Day 2 is Montery to Morro Bay
Day 3 is Morro Bay to SB
This year I decided to ride it differently. Instead of starting at 8am in SF I started at 7PM. This would get me to Monterey in time to start off with the group for their day 2 and get me a 250 mile ride.
So I dilly dally'd all day just waiting to start my ride. I love riding at night and I have it down as far as taking minimal stuff. Started off right at 7PM and of course it is already dark this time of year. I have about 4 blinky's on the back of my bike and on my helmet as there are a couple hills I worry about right away. About 25 miles into the ride I am heading thru Half Moon Bay (HMB) and I run into a rider who has no light what so ever, I knew right away he was not your typical migrant worker on his 20 year old rusty mountain bike as he was riding on the correct side of Hwy 1. As soon as I got along side I offered and he took one of my many blinky's. Turns out Micheal was heading down to Santa Cruz (SC) 45 miles south. He said he had a flashlight but I never saw it. The one thing he had going for him was some great reflective tape on his helmet. When I mentioned how effective it was he told me he ripped it off of a traffic cone a few mile back. I will have to remember that the next time I am in his situation. Anyways, I am also heading to Santa Cruz for my fist stop and my midnight snack at the Denny's so we ride the next 45 miles together yaking away and he using the light thrown off by my generator hub. Very little traffic out on Hwy One at night between HMB and SC so we were able to ride side by side most of the way and talk. Turns out he is 23 and met a girl at Critical Mass last month who is in SC. All he did was text her he would be riding down to SC and off he went. He never even got a text back but figured he will figure it out when he gets down there.
So I part ways with Micheal and I head to my usual Denny's. It is only midnight and I will be meeting up with the gang for a 7am Sunday start so I really have to waste some time here. So I order some breakfast and milk my time drinking coffee. I head out at 12:45am for the 50 miles or so to Monterey. I have done this so many times I do not need a map. It is about 15 miles thru the various cities before I get out to farm land. This is a very flat ride so I am moving along a bit faster than I wanted without any extra effort. It is actually harder than I thought to ride slow. There is really not much to write home about this section and less to show you as none of the pictures turned out in the dark. I pulled into the hotel where everyone was staying at about 4am. The hotel clerk let me use the guest computer but really all I wanted was a place to sit down and close my eyes while I waited two hours before everyone woke up. Next year I will have to either leave later or drink more coffee at Denny's.
So come 6ish everyone is milling about and at 7AM sharp everyone rolls out. This ride used to be where everyone had to take care of themselves and carry what they needed. Now there is usually one person with a SAG van so everyone throws their stuff in it and rides their lightweight racing bikes. But since I was self supported I have to carry everything I needed along with lights etc. Needless to say my bike weighed in about twice what everyone else's did. Within 10 miles we are in Carmel where the homes are beautiful and the views are just stunning. By this time we have also hit a couple of small uphills and I am off the back. Everytime I have done this ride it always seems like everyone is in such a hurry. Knowing I might not see anyone for the rest of the day I stopped every chance I could to take a beautiful picture. I have to say that after half of the day I had to stop taking pictures. Not because I was running out of time but mostly because they all started to look the same. Everytime I would round a corner there would be a world class view you could not believe but it looked like the past 10 corners.
After about 25 miles we hit the town of Big Sur. The faster riders stop for Bfast. Since there are 125 miles to cover some feel they have to keep moving to beat daylight this time of year. Having lights allows me to take my time if I like. Before I forget I should mention that by this time my leg warmers and windbreaker are off and it is only about 9am. It will end up in the 70's and not a cloud in the sky. This ride report is as much to tell you about The Ride as it is to piss off all those who live back east or up north. The next time someone asks where they should go to take a break from winter weather and get in some riding I think we can all agree to just refer them to this discussion.
So now I am officialy the last guy except those that stoped for bfast and it will only be a matter of time before they and their carbon bikes catch me. Well not all have carbon as Peter B is on his BEAUTIFUL red Llewellyn bike. He was stopping to take lots of pics as well so we would pass each other most of the day along Big Sur. But mostly I was on my own and my legs were feeling the effects of making this ride into one long 250 miler. Big Sur does not have any long climbs like in the Bay Area but you are forever either going up or down. There are probably only about 10 miles of flat'ish section in the 75 miles between Carmel and Ragged Point and my legs are feeling it. There are however three memorable hills. There is one two miler right after the town of Big Sur and two Motherf'er just before Ragged Point. The last two are back to back and both between 1.5-2 miles long but they each have about 5 false summits. I have ridden them many times and know they have false summits but each time someone has managed to throw in a couple new ones....on each hill. Did I mention my bike/stuff weighs about 35 lbs, I now have 180 miles in my legs, and I have had no sleep for the past 30 hours?
Once at Ragged Point it preaty much flatens out and there is usually, including today, a nice tailwind. I am shooting for San Luis Obispo (SLO) where I plan to rent a car and drive back to Pacifica. As you ride south you pass the off limit beaches where there are literally thousands of ElephantSeals. They have a fence to keep folks off the beach and good thing it was there as there was one sea lion who was only about 10 feet from the hwy. He had to move about 100 feet and around a big sand dune to get there so I am preatty sure he is not looking forward to moving his big ass back to the beach. And these guys are huge!!!
Peter B passes me for the final time and since everyone else stops in Morro Bay I am now offically behind everyone and on my own. But I have a feeling there are many on this ride who blaze thru in pace lines and do not stop and realize where they are riding thru...just like I used to do.
I make one long coffee stop just north of Morro Bay then head out for the last 25 mile to the SLO airport for the rental car. I would have just made it to Morro Bay without my lights but since I still have to go 15 miles I light up the road with the generator and just motor along with the slight tailwind.
I pull into the airport at 7pm just when I told them I would after 24 hours since I started.
This is one of the most SPECTACULAR rides in the world and I am lucky enough that I usually ride it a couple times a year. I have a big ride coming up and I plan to work this into my training. There is a train back to the Bay Area that leaves SLO at 3:30pm so if I leave in the early AM I can catch it back home to make a great easy ride.
If anyone ever wants to give this ride a try let me know. I have maps and advice and will even ride along if I can, be it one or more days.
Willy in Pacifica
PS, I had to stop twice on the way home to take 30 minute naps.
PSS, A shower and my bed never felt better.