Day 35, Plaskett Creek to San Simeon State Park, 36 miles
A bittersweet ride. Each time I tour Big Sur, the final day cycling this epic landscape is filled blessing and regret. I think of the many times I’ve been over these miles, how my attention has been occupied, distracted, wheels whirring in my mind just has surely as my bicycle climbs and descends the highway terrain.
Today is another day, with many thoughts and feelings. I consider at the same time what I’ve learned, what I’ve begun to explore. This moment offers me support. These wheels, this road, this landscape, this ocean, this sun, all offer me support. How do I meet this experience. How do I receive this support.
My legs are hurting, as well my seat. I’m experiencing, again, my lack of preparation for this tour, over the past year. The riding I should have done in the spring, in the summer, in the early fall, to get ready for this epic trip. And I accept this as my reality. I’m thankful for the strength I do have, and for the wisdom to adjust my efforts to match my abilities. So far, no injuries or dangers due to my condition. Simply more opportunities, to experience this body, in this condition. To meet this moment with gratitude and with grief. And to think ahead, to consider what I will do when I return.
My return. I am considering this, even as I head south for a few hundred more miles. How do I bring my sense of adventure into my everyday life in Corvallis. How will I receive the support of the moment then. I can sense the turning ahead, where I will stop my moving away and begin the long journey home.
Today, the skies are misty, foggy. The highway moves up above these low clouds, and my cycling has more of a sense of flying than ever. I pass the Mud Creek slide, marvel at the engineering which carved this new road out of the million ton landslide. My tiny bicycle is dwarfed by a large earth mover. Yet I think: how many miles have I moved with my simple pedals, with my strong legs. Nearly 32,000 now and counting. I’ve been moving mountains too, under my wheels.
I summit the dual thousand foot hills at Salmon Creek, entranced by the geology of the road cuts, the sparkling green stone in the blazing sunlight. I pass Ragged Point, then descend to the long plains before San Simeon. Fog blankets the road, then clears. Elephant seals bark, claw at each other, snooze on the beaches.
I roll into the empty hiker biker campsite of the state park. I feel the isolation of my ride, walk under the highway and out to the beach. The sun is setting and I shiver with the chill of the oncoming night. Tears of loss and of joy, this most amazing day is drawing to a close. I’m so grateful for this place, for these emotions, for this body, for this moment. For the power to move mountains, outside and within.