We left San Francisco at 9 am on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. This 3-day weekend supposedly marks the end of summer (but not for us!), so it was expected to be quite busy traffic-wise. It was. We had a nice day of riding on Saturday, but put effort into getting up early on Sunday and Monday to beat the traffic. Our riding in this section has been a little hectic with the cars, narrow roads, and urban road negotiations, but we’ve been rewarded with good coastal views and wildlife sightings.
Our first day out was a shorter one, only 35 miles, and we hit a few towns that were crazy with traffic. Luckily, an narrow section of highway in an area called the Devil’s Slide had been replaced by a tunnel, and the old highway had been converted to a bicycle and pedestrian only path. We loved this section of care-free riding! That afternoon we met Ryan and Kristen, two of Jason’s friends from Penn State that now live in CA. We spent a few hours chatting on the beach under a beautiful blue sky. It was great to see them. That night we stayed in a hiker-biker site with about 20 other cyclists, all but one of which were on an overnight ride from the San Francisco area. It was fun to be around so many other people on bikes.
The rest of Labor day weekend was busy busy. Jason got his second flat tire of the trip, another tiny thing of metal that thwarted our efforts to get out of camp early. We entered an agricultural area and saw huge fields of artichokes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and strawberries. We even stopped at a farm stand to buy 10 avocados for 1$. Wow! The terrain was pretty gentle for a few days, and we enjoyed afternoon tailwinds. One night we stayed in Sunset State Beach campground, and watched the sun set over the ocean. Another night we camped in one of the southernmost groves of California redwoods.
On Tuesday morning we were so relieved that traffic would be lighter than we slept in far too late and got a late start on the road. It was our 5,000 mile day! It was also a day filled with hills, as we were traveling through Big Sur, where some mountains meet the sea. It was good to be back on some big hills. From our vantage point high above the ocean we could see pelicans, sea lions, and even some whales. Later that day we saw elephant seals too. Apparently, these giant marine mammals were hunted nearly to extinction. A final, tiny colony of less than a hundred survived, and in the last 25 years has grown incredibly to over 15,000 animals. We saw a big group of them lounging on the beach. They were so big and fat!
We are now rapidly approaching Southern California, which means that we are doing more and more urban riding and less of the isolated riding that we tend to prefer. We are nearing Los Angeles, and plan to head inland from there to enjoy some more mountain riding before heading back to the east coast for a week. Still some more work to do before the defense, but still we ride on! I put all the pictures of lovely coastal views here. They go on and on in this stretch of road.