Cycling to Mexico

Clinging to the edge of the continent

Or at least that’s what the cycling book calls it… We’ve just finished cycling over (and I mean up and over!!) the much hyped Big Sur coastline. We’ve been hearing about it since we reached the coast – as though it is the pride and joy of the Pacific coastline in America. Whenever chatting to someone along the way and we mention we are heading south, we’ve seen faces light up and eyes start to twinkle as people begin to describe the Big Sur coastline. “If you think this is spectacular, wait until you get to Big Sur!!”

And… it did a pretty good job living up to its reputation! From the cliff-hanging rides over a 1000 feet above the turquoise waters below, to the remote beaches – it’s been pretty fantastic. So fantastic in fact that we spent an entire day camped at Andrew Molera State park, partaking in a ridge top hike overlooking the ocean – we even found our own private beach before watching the sun set over the water. The hike reminded us that the tree trunks we call leg muscles these days are meant for biking, not hiking – it’s a little different to climb up a mountainous summit than it is to haul a bike up one!

Highway 1 since Legget in Northern California (San Franciscio was in the middle) has been narrow, often shoulderless, precarious, and AMAZING! The traffic is pretty light and the setting is fantastic. I have to say, it’s got to be scarier to negotiate hair-raising curves atop sharp cliffs in a vehicle than it is on a bike! I can’t imagine trying to steer around some of those corners at 50 mph…

From San Fran, we cycled south through Santa Cruz and Monterey. We cycled along the famed 17 Mile Drive and marveled at the excessive displays of money to be seen in Spanish style mansions and surfside Pebble Beach golf course. We stocked up in Carmel-by-the-sea (the streets littered with BMWs and other fancy things), and headed down to the more remote coast.

I have to say, this is not at all what I expected from the area just to the north of LA! Groceries are hard to come by and traces of civilization have been few and far between. We actually had our very first bean-less dinner the other night, as we just couldn’t find any in the gas station style markets we’ve been frequenting. It was an odd experience, and I must admit that we missed our staple dearly.

According to all indications, we are officially entering Southern California today – land of sun, surf, beaches, and boardwalks. Right? No. Actually, there are flash flood warning for tonight and tomorrow… We’re happy we’ve cycled through the section of the road that is characterized by cliffs down to the ocean on one side and cliffs boasting frequent rockslides onto the road on the other. We know that landslides happen often, as our “shoulder” has been frequently covered with anything from pebbles to boulders. Keeping in mind that the area has been damaged by forest fires in the last year, flash flooding doesn’t sound good!

Anyway, we’re in flatter lands now, our shoulder is wider, and the traffic is getting heavier as we get closer to LA. I had the most disappointing experience of the whole trip this morning, as my promised “hot shower” at the campsite (I’ve been waiting for this moment for a whole week) was nothing more than a cold bath. 3 quarters and about 20 minutes of standing with my hand under freezing cold water, I moved on to shower number 2. Same experience. I was extremely disappointed, to say the least. And I’m still not clean. I did my best, but the water was COLD. Doing laundry is our new purpose in life, so I think we might try to find a cheap hostel/hotel tonight. We’ll never be invited into Barbara Streisand’s house looking like this!

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