Day 20: Santa Cruz to Monterey
Used to think I knew a lot. Something special. Something other people didn’t know. Had a special gift, a purpose, a mission… to set the record straight. To teach all the ignorant people what they needed to know. To rescue all the victims from the oppression all around. To save the world.
Now, I got nothing. The beginning of humility. Humiliation. Learning after nearly 5 decades that I have so much still to learn. That most of what I thought to be true, unquestionable, sacrosanct, most of that wasn’t even real.
Riding hard today, but with ease. Cruising around Monterey Bay, even with a headwind, made good time, rode faster than I did last year. I am stronger. Last year, I was sick with a cold that had suddenly come on in Santa Cruz.
Just a few miles north of Seaside, a rider joined me for a stretch. Unusual rider, face covered with a bandanna, full gloves, leggings, basically covered head-to-toe. She struck up a conversation, and before I knew it I was talking with her about the struggles of this year, my feelings of running away, of trying to find myself on the bike, on this tour.
She shared her losses too, asked questions, and gave affirmations, things that surprised me and were somewhat hard to take in. Then as abruptly as she joined me, she spun off at a turn. “See you down the road”, she called out.
Almost immediately another rider joined me, a man who showed me a great side route away from the freeway. We cycled through rolling dunes covered with scarlet tinged ice plants. A steep climb lead us to a stunning vista of the bay and the mountainous headlands I will climb tomorrow. Then he asked about the first rider, said he saw her a lot, but she never talked to him or even waved.
“Maybe its because I’m just passing through”, I suggested. That strangely common experience of spilling your life story to the person you share a plane seat with.
“I’m not stalking her,” he replied. Just wanted to be friendly.
He said he’d seen 400 touring cyclists this summer, always tried to lend a hand. Then I spun off at a turn, thanked him for the route advice. Relieved to ride away.
Alone again. Not liking it, but needing it.
Got to the campground, high on a hill overlooking Monterey. Listened to a voicemail from a friend, offering me encouragement and support, saying I was missed.
I set up my tent. Crawled in the sleeping bag, even though it was only 5pm. Then the tears came.