Ready to ride on

Day 27, Esalen to Plaskett Creek campground

I’m usually reluctant to head out again after the Sun workshop. This year, I feel more at peace, ready to ride on. A bit relieved, actually, that the weekend is over.

After a last soak and good bye to new friends, I push my loaded bike up the steep drive to Route 1. I stop several times to catch my breath. The weekend has renewed me, as well as taken a lot out of me. I lost my pride, for instance. And my begrudging. Humility is a good thing.

I begin pedaling up the hill just south of Esalen, stopping at the bridge to look back. Far below, I see the bathhouse I had so enjoyed all weekend. I wonder at next year, will I return, to a different workshop? Might be good to do something entirely different.

I continue, over rolling hills, wide vistas. I’m riding easy, legs feeling strong and relaxed. I stop at the little store in Lucia which sells the most overpriced Spam I’d ever seen. On then down the long descent before the avalanche shelter. I recall the road worker saying that the shelter and adjoining bridge cost $200 million. I wonder what the price of the new stretch at Mud Creek will be. I’m looking forward to riding that tomorrow.

Miles are passing easily, gentle climbs and descents. I pass Kirk Creek campground and the famed Nacimiento Road, which was the only access to Big Sur for over a year. I think of the fellow cyclist I met at the last camp, high up the hill, exploring the fire roads along the ridge. And I thought I was antisocial.

I wonder at my need for solitude, something I don’t give enough consideration. I think what Sy said, that maybe I’m working internally right now. Certainly. Perhaps this is why I’m more at peace with my departure from Esalen. I’m accepting my need to head off again, alone. With only myself and the road, and the ocean and vast skies, and the red tail hawks and California condors.

I reach Pacific Valley, finish the last few easy miles to Plaskett Creek campground just as the sun is setting. I roll into camp, glad to see several other cyclists already there. And there’s Kurt, with his recumbent. He calls out, you saw me cheating. Taking a bus when your knees hurt isn’t cheating, I tell him.

And how about avoiding talking to people when your heart is hurting. For I go about setting up camp, sharing few words beyond the normal greetings to my companions. So different from other tours, where I talked to everyone, effusively. And, for once, I’m understanding this reluctance, this inward focus, honoring this season of my heart.

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