Notes from the Smile Ride

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Got a chance to write down some notes on the SF to LA solo bike ride I'm doing as a benefit for Smile Train.

Day 0 - Saturday, May 5. Driving up to Marin. Late start. Left at 11 rather than 9:30. Drove up the 5 with Colin and his elegant Italian Greyhound Dan. A Taco Bell lunch in the Central Valley. Colin had orange Dorito tacos. Stopped at North Beach in SF after almost bypassing the city via the 580 north and got great parking right by the Columbus triangle park. Had a Moretti on draft and some calamari at a lovely place called Pellegrini's where passersby and our waiter had is shocked by how friendly they all were compared to Southern Californians. We rolled out of the city by 6:00 pm and arrived at the Reillys' in Mill Valley around 7 pm. 9 year old Mason barked at Colin on how to properly park his car in the shared driveway. We sighted a couple banana slugs along the way up to their house and found out that the two kids were a couple of energetic firecrackers. Bill and Meghan were most gracious, offering us beer, wine, great food and music all through the night and before I knew it the clock was striking midnight. Had an awesome 1998 Rodney Strong cab along with some other gems. Slept in Farrell's room and woke up the next morning in a hungover state. Highlight: bbq chateau briand with the Rodney Strong. Low Point: Leaving LA so late.

Day 1 - Sunday, May 6. San Francisco to Santa Cruz. (Strava map) Pancake breakfast with the Reillys. Hilarious. HUGE banana slug on the Reilly driveway that Colin shot with his iPhone super 8 mm app (link to come) Got to the north end of the Golden Gate and left around 9:30 am. Colin almost got a ticket for going 8 mph while trying to shoot GoProo video of me. The reason he didn't get a ticket is because the officer was called away to assist in a pedestrian accident that involved yours truly who was waiting for him on the south side in the parking lot. As I was calling Colin on my cell phone to meet up with him, a woman in a large SUV backed into me slowly and I had to yell for her to stop. If she had gone six inches more my newly tuned bike would have been destroyed. One more foot and she would have snapped my right tibia. A bus full of Chinese tourists emptied out and scolded the driver. I was pretty pissed at her as well and a couple officers wanted assurance that I was okay before we both moved on. I found my way south to Ocean Beach not really following my map and soon enough I was trucking my way. Perfect weather. Low 70's and Sunny with a little tail wind from the north that got me to Half Moon Bay before noon - two hours ahead of when I thought I'd get there. Along the way I had a couple nice climbs through Daly City and Pacifica. Met up with Colin and Dan at Sam's in Half Moon Bay where we had a nice lunch and I had a couple beers which was a little too much for me (learned my lesson) - The ride from HMB to Santa Cruz was long and scenic. Got chased by a husky that scared me for a few hundred meters. Pedalled into the Santa Cruz and felt wiped out. My legs locked up right when I crossed the city limits. I had my doubts about making Big Sur on schedule for the end of day 2. I was hiding it from Colin and maybe myself. Recovered as much as I could for a couple hours in a nice room at the Sea Way Inn in downtown Santa Cruz before heading out to a great Chinese dinner at a place that a friend of Colin's recommended called O'mei. I had some great red chili dumplings that were superb and a chicken mu shu. Colin went with shrimp fried rice and a chicken with cashew nuts. Our surly Chinese waitress was a hoot and Colin was in love. Turned in early determined to get up early for Day 2. Never even went out to see the Santa Cruz wharf, its boardwalk or beach. Highlight: Getting underway/crossing the Golden Gate. Lowpoint: My legs cramping up in Santa Cruz.

Day 2 - Monday, May 7. Santa Cruz to Big Sur. (Strava map) I was up at 6:30. Had breakfast at the hotel and was on the road to Big Sur by 7:30. The town was a ghost. Made my way through Soquel, Aptos, and Moss Landing where I took a break and admired a huge colony of sea lions. Beyond Moss Landing on the way to Monterey were large fields of artichokes where I was eating flies every other fifty feet. Got my nasal breathing down there as much as I could. Found my way through Seaside, Sand City, and Monterey. Had to stop many times to refer to my map and ask people for directions. Everyone in Northern Cal seems to be tuned in. SO nice. I met a great truck driver named Manuel while grabbing a breakfast burrito at a taco truck outside Monterey and he gave me some great perspective. Dropped into Carmel by the sea for a rest by the beach and a deli lunch on my own. I was to meet Colin and Dan the dog in Big Sur for a night of camping. On my way from Carmel to Big Sur I had a scary moment with a couple of double trailer earth movers who had me screaming for my own life. Luckily Colin had found us the perfect campsite at the Big Sur Campground right by the Big Sur river where we dove into the chilly waters and sunbathed on a rocky shore. He had out campsite all decked out and ready to go by the time I arrived. A two man pop up tent that you can stand up in. a table decked out with beer, wine, double burner stove, and a Coleman lamp. Colin had a new grill on our fire pit where he cooked up huge baked potatoes, ribeye steaks, garlic asparagus, and flammable whiskey. Colin has turned out to be the most perfect companion and friend for this journey. Recovered well and was in the tent a little after 9 pm. Highpoint: Jumping into the Big Sur River after a tough day of riding. Lowpoint: Getting buzzed by the double trailer earth mover.

Day 3 - Tuesday, May 8. Big Sur to Cambria. (Strava map) Highway One south the whole day. On the road at 8 am. The inimitable Colin Remas Brown stayed behind to pack up our camp. It was foggy and cold along the coast for most of my ride. I could only hear the Ocean. Disappointed since this was supposedly the most dramatically scenic ride of the trip. Ah, well. Wore my arm warmers, leg warmers, a wool jersey, and long fingered gloves. Lost my favorite Craft winter lid that I've had for 8 years. The traffic was far less busy than I thought it would be. I was nervous at the start of the day since I knew I'd be riding south with a pretty narrow shoulder. Had a much needed lunch in Goleta around 11 am and had to climb up to 1000 feet a couple times which drained me big time. Saw sea otters in the wild for the first time. Somewhere along the way I fell more in love with California and its coastal denizens. There was very little trash along the way. Super courteous drivers. Never got brushed aside once. Stopped at Hearst State Beach in San Simeon before riding into Cambria for the night at the Fog Catcher Inn where we've got a fireplace, a spa, and a great view of the sunset. Colin quickly noted that the tourist population in Cambria is exclusively retired. We are quite the outsiders here. After a great al fresco dinner a the Moonstone Grill we toured the beach here and spotted some harbor seals and brush rabbits.  Highlight: The descent from Ragged Point to San Simeon when the sun finally broke out for me and I caught a perfect tailwind to take me home. Low point: Almost taking a little poo in my bib shorts.

The fundraising page is @

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This page contains a single entry by Nigel published on May 9, 2012 9:26 AM.

Channeling Dave Stohler for The Smile Ride was the previous entry in this blog.

Smile Ride notes part deux is the next entry in this blog.

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