A (mostly) calm day on the Cabrillo Highway

Day 51, New Brighton Beach to Half Moon Bay State Park, 56 miles

So chilly this morning. Brrrr. The sun is rising over Monterey Bay, beautiful but still cold. I pack everything up, roll out of camp and over to the Ugly Mug, my favorite hangout in Soquel. I’ve been stopping here as often as my timing allows. I’m glad to find a new route to New Brighton, directly from the Ugly Mug down to the campground.

I set up my laptop, intent to charge my batteries, get caught up on the blog. I’m chuckling as I listen to the owner, Steve Volk, who greets everyone walking in the door with his seemingly endless enthusiasm. He says, I’ve decided to limit myself to one cup of coffee, holding up an enormous hand thrown piece of pottery, emblazoned with The Ugly Mug. That’s an ugly mug, customers say. To which Steve responds the cup is ugly too. I imagine he’s told that joke hundreds of times. Maybe thousands. Still funny.

Overhear him asking someone if he has a Hawaiian shirt. I lift my finger. You can have it, I’m done with it. I go to my bicycle, fish the shirt out of my pannier, noting I’d just washed it in San Luis Obispo. Whew. Don’t want to give away a smelly shirt. Steve is glad to receive it, with the story behind it, the shirt that traveled from Oregon to Ensenada. He then explains that his biking buddy has an end-of-life celebration, for which he wants to wear an Hawaiian shirt. I don’t ask how his friend passed. Hopefully not while cycling. Or maybe that would be an appropriate way to go. A touring cyclist can afford to be philosophical at this stage of the journey.

I finally push off, telling Steve I’ll see him next year. It’s 1130am, way too late to be riding 50 miles up the Cabrillo Highway. I’m counting on NOAA’s prediction of light winds to make the trip faster. And I’ve charged my lights fully, ready for another after dark arrival. The first miles do fly, all the way to Davenport, second coffee break at Whale City cafe. Riding further up the road, my legs are feeling tired. Can’t push them faster. California 1 has a fair amount of hills. And it’s chilly, still. I put on my coat, my tights, but can’t shake the chill. I need a woolen layer, didn’t plan for this colder cycling.

I’m glad to be riding north, on a calm day. The sun is bright, though at my back. Skies are brilliant blue. I pass Pigeon Point lighthouse. About two hours to go. Then the winds kick in. Not as bad as when I rode this highway north in 2013. But my fatigue is making this some of the hardest riding of my trip. And the chill. I’m really wanting this ride to end. I put on some music, helps distract me from my complaining mind. Sun is setting as I pass San Gregorio Beach, begin a long climb. I turn on the lights, and am glad to feel the winds calming again as twilight descends.

A couple more hills, then the road straightens out, descending into the valley south of Half Moon Bay. Easy riding, all the way into town. At the turnoff to the campground, I detour into Tres Amigos and order chicken fajitas. The sizzling plate of food helps warm me, but I need to get to camp. I’m shivering the last mile. I check in with the camp host, riding over to the hiker biker site. Ah, a deliciously hot shower. I throw in extra quarters, enjoy the warming of the hot water. At last, I set up camp, crawl into my sleeping bag. The night doesn’t seem as cold, now that I’m dry. My last night camping of my tour. Tomorrow, San Francisco.

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