From mountains to plains

Day 32, Plaskett Creek to Morro Bay State Park, 61 miles

I’m grumpy as I leave camp. Didn’t sleep well. My fellow campers were pretty respectful about noise and all, but somehow I was restless. The dream’s effects still lingering. One of those so real, so heartfelt. Woke with tears.

Pedaling seems harder today. Legs complaining. The ride will be too long. I don’t want to leave Big Sur. I just got here. I love this place. Too many hills. I can’t do it.

On a very slow climb, I lose balance for a minute, wobble too close to the guard rail, I yank my left foot out of the toeclip just as I teeter, catching the bike from falling. Ow, that hurt. My heel complains, and as I pedal further my knee. This is why I don’t use clipless pedals, I’ve seen people fall even after riding with them for years. And with a 70+ pound touring bike, even a low velocity or stopped fall could wreck your day. Or tour.

I take this as a warning. Be careful. Ride more carefully. And pay attention to my mood. I’m the master of my feelings, after all. How I choose to respond. I stop in Gorda, and buy the most overpriced and uninspired breakfast of the tour.

I take time to catch up my blog, but then I’m late getting the ride going. 10am, for a 60 mile day. The biggest climbs are directly ahead, two 900 foot hills. I take them slow and steady. Views are amazing, even with the overcast skies. I do so love this land, the ocean, the few trees, the sage and dill and even the invasive pampas grass.

Ah, Ragged Point! Live band of old guys playing oldies. I stop for coffee and a big piece of chocolate cake, also overpriced. I must remember to bring more provisions for this part of Big Sur. I meet an fascinating man in the coffeeshop, a local who developed a technique for shiatsu on horses. I listen and he talks and talks, I’m entranced by his passion and salty character. He says more than once he’d like to write his book, but needs someone to do the writing. A thought. Maybe I should pursue this. Next year?

Strong handshake, I get his card, then head on down the highway. Mostly descending now, onto the level plains before San Simeon. There they are, the elephant seals! Best secret viewing spot is just south of the official parking lot, where “No Stopping” signs will prevent any car travelers from finding this little beach packed with seals.

Can’t stay long, still 40 miles to go. I ride on past Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Cambria. I climb through the minuscule town of Harmony, population 18. One family? Alice should get a chortle out of this sign. Her favorite town in Oregon was Winchester Bay. Something in the name a Brit would love. And then I see the ocean again, and the massive rock in Morro Bay. I have a tail wind now, which helps these last 20 miles. Through Cayucos, on into Morro Bay. I take a spin down to the waterfront, somewhere I’ve never gone. I find numerous restaurants, a harbor full of boats, a massive electric plant, which nearly dwarfs the rock. I stop for chowder and give Angelina a call to ask her to send the solar panel and some bike clothes I left behind.

Meanwhile, the sun sets in its greatest glory, past the harbor and boats and massive Morro Rock. I linger in the restaurant, online too long. I have been out of range for a few days, but still, need I spend so much time of Facebook? Instead of watching nature’s fireworks in the sunset? It’s past dark when I head to the park. Lights full on, 3 miles around the bay. A shower, hot. So good after all the miles. But I get to the site and am too tired to set up the tent.

So I roll out my sleeping bag and pad on a picnic table. The first time I was in Morro Bay was on my tour of 1987. I remember hanging around a fire, sharing stories with other cyclists. They asked if I’d met Earnie yet, yeah, he was a trucker who realized he just wasn’t getting ahead, so he “dropped out”, started riding his bike, dumpster diving for food so he could sell his food stamps for bike parts. This was before we’d call Earnie homeless. More of a vagabond, hobo, gypsy?

I wonder at my own status, here living on a bicycle for 32 days, tonight sleeping under the stars, in the shelter of tall eucalyptus trees. How close to being homeless am I? Are most Americans? To being Earnie?


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