Things I (should have) left behind

Day 31, Big Sur to Capitola, 71 miles

I’m freezing. Not literally. But temps are hovering just over 40. Just like when I set out from Big Sur a couple weeks ago. I head over to the River House, finding the store closed until 730. I wait, shivering for a half an hour. I want coffee. Big Sur Fire Brigade blend. Fine stuff. I pull out my journal, the old pen and paper kind, and scribble a bit. Thoughts too personal for this blog. Feelings too annoying or petty, characters blamed, stuff I should have done differently. The doors open rescuing me from my diatribes.

That’s better, now down the road. North again, I break into sunlight and the temps jump to near 60. That’s more like it. Passing Point Sur, I see surf breaking, crimson ice plants line the roadside, clear skies. A gorgeous day to ride this spectacular landscape. Up and around the river cove, then the big climb. I’m ready for this! I generate even more heat, am rewarded with even more beauty.

Still, my mind spins along with my pedals. I’m struggling to overcome an inner battle, as much as overcome the thousand foot climb. Somewhere miles down the road, I’m checking my bags and realize I left my cookware when I’d packed up in the dark of the early morning. Damn! Stainless cook pot, bowl, cup, even the tea ball. Do I turn back? No, leave it for the next cyclist. I’ve hardly cooked on this trip, relying mostly on prepared, cafes, ready to eat foods. I should have left that cookware behind, from the beginning.

What else should I have left? Not much in terms of actual baggage. But what of the inner, intangible burdens? The regrets, resentments, confusion, wishes I’d done better, lived my life differently. How have these hindered my ride, slowed my progress? And how might I overcome, push through, finally let go? There, the hill is crested. My thoughts are back and riveted to the highway below as I race down the other side. I’m taking turns faster than the posted 25 MPH signs. Cars follow my descent at a safe distance back. Down the other side, then up another climb. I’m more focused.

The Monterey Peninsula looms, just past the opulent Carmel Highlands. Climbing this is no fun, the side of a busy Cabrillo Highway. I opt to descend on the freeway, though signs restrict against this. Then the long 40 miles to Santa Cruz. I stop at Moss Landing to gather my strength, then put on the ear buds and power down the highway. Fog has overtaken the skies, rising from deep waters off Monterey Bay. The temperature has dropped from 80 back to 60. I don my jacket, pedal into the wind.

Winds shift about 20 miles to the end. I arrive on Soquel Avenue an hour before sunset. Down hill, enthusiastic to finish this day, pedaling hard through the small towns East of Santa Cruz. I stop for groceries just before camp, coming back out to a stunning sunset, high above clouds are aflame in the chilly evening.

Lights on, I descend to the campground, arriving as the last rays of light wane. I meet two cyclists, just down from Half Moon Bay. I decide to stay another day in Santa Cruz, relax a little, before the last haul to San Francisco. I spend the evening chatting with Gabriel, a French cyclist, telling him about campgrounds to the south.

Thoughts return to the excess baggage as I make my bed for the night. How important it is to let go, to carry only what is needed. The road is difficult enough.

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