Crawling the cliffs of Big Sur

Day 24, Veterans Memorial Park to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, 32 miles

My sleep is better this night, save the raccoons wrestling in the dark, the neighbor’s baby crying. I’m back to waking at 5am. I’m planning an early departure, so I lay away another hour, then decide to get up and on the road. Packing my gear and tent is now routine, a quick bite to eat, and I’m on the road in 20 minutes.

Climbing above the campground up over Monterey Peninsula, descending briefly before a steep climb over to 68. Too steep, I walk the bike a few hundred feet. The sun is rising as I begin to descend, rapidly down 68, then rejoining busy Route 1. I turn off and descend into Carmel. Coffee and pastries. Phone calls with home, restaurant, friends. Reflecting on my trip, considering the growth of the past year. And here, how much I see ahead as well. Evolution.

The sun is high in the sky before I leave Carmel. Warmer temperatures too. Too warm? Do I prefer the cold? Can I ever be pleased? My, I am a cranky boy on this trip! Ah well, I just keep riding. I stop at the Mission Carmel, wonder at the adobe, how old this building is. Who built it? What of the missions? What mistreatment was wrought upon the natives by these god fearing conquerers.

I descend further to the Carmel Valley intersection. The sign for Route 1 reports all destinations are open! Yes, I am so looking forward to riding over the new highway at the Mud Creek Slide. I ponder Big Sur, my next destination, remote, overpriced, beautiful, stunning, lonely, pristine. So many times I’ve ridden these miles now. And with moods as similar as the ones I’m bringing in today. I remember the dark moods well, the grief of certain past tours. I remember even these sluggish legs, dragging myself up, crawling these cliffs.

How slowly I climb them today, Rocky Creek, Hurricane Point, the climb out of the Little Sur River. Even the descents are not as thrilling. I’m glad for the afternoon tailwinds, blowing me along Route 1 into the Big Sur River Valley, all the way to camp. I stop briefly at the River House, then continue the few more miles to the state park. I’m glad to find it mostly empty, just a couple cyclists. A hot shower, dinner of cous cous, then an early bedtime. Tomorrow I’ll head to Esalen. For tonight, my sleep comes as quickly as my head hits the pillow.

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