U.S. 360 Tour III – Day 33 from Half Moon Bay CA to Santa Cruz CA (Hitch Hiking and Whale Watching)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter.

58 miles (93 km) – Total so far:  1,666 miles (2,681 km)

Woke up early to a heavy dew, having camped very near the beach at Half Moon Bay State Beach. Given how wet things are, including me, I’ll probably consider camping with the rainfly in the future, especially when I’m close to the ocean. I hit the road early, but ended up stopping off at a little grill on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay for a hearty breakfast and sufficient carb intake.

After regaining a good cadence after breakfast, I happened to look down at my front rack and noticed a beautiful, quite large ladybug had landed on my gear. On tour, I’ve found that sometimes the little things can become a big focus. I think that’s one reason I love to tour so much. So, my attention fixed on the little red and black guy, I wondered how long he could hang on. Granted, I wasn’t traveling that fast, nor was the wind blowing too hard, but the little hitchhiker stayed with me for another 38 miles into Davenport CA, and then disembarked like he knew exactly what he was doing. A free trip for him, a quirky story for me.

Today’s agriculture were some of my favorites. I saw fields and fields of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and onions. I ended up stopping at a farm on the way to Davenport CA and picked up a pint of fresh blackberries and literally ate them on the spot. We ate lunch in Davenport CA. The town of Davenport got its name from a whaling captain named John Pope Davenport, and it is famous in the region for whale watching atop the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. I looked for whales, which are a common site, but didn’t see any, probably because we didn’t drink enough beer…..

The coastline in this area of California is absolutely beautiful, and I suspect you’ll get tired of me saying that in these writings. But bear with me, because the coastline is indeed magnificent. Passing through the beautiful city of Santa Cruz, I was struck by the terrible roads, but still thrilled with the natural setting of this city settled by the Spaniards in 1791.

I passed two sets of touring cyclists and many overnight bikers on today’s fairly easy ride. We’re camping at New Brighton State Beach tonight, a spectacular campground overlooking the Pacific high on a bluff. We’re camping in a hike/bike area among a stand of tall, glorious pine trees. Ended up meeting some outstanding park hosts, Dave and Carol, and they let me charge my iPhone given that most California state parks are not equipped with electricity. We all exchanged “bucket list” stories, and they were confirmation that anyone can be adventurers, regardless of the adventure. They were adventurers in many ways like me. Also met a wonderful camper named Tobi from Reno, who is camping up and down the Pacific Coast with a wonderful companion, a long-haired dachshund!

Ended up getting a good tip and had pizza delivered to the campground tonight, courtesy of Pizza at Heart! Goodness gracious, only in California.

It’s All Good.

Inland view near Half Moon Bay CA
Inland view near Half Moon Bay CA
Surly Pearl looking down the coastline toward Santa Cruz CA
Surly Pearl looking down the coastline toward Santa Cruz CA
Lighthouse on the way to Santa Cruz CA
Lighthouse on the way to Santa Cruz CA
Necessary rest stop near Davenport CA
Necessary rest stop near Davenport CA
Fresh fruit and honey at a farm near Davenport CA
Fresh fruit and honey at a farm near Davenport CA
Whale watching cafe in Davenport CA
Whale watching cafe in Davenport CA
The view from my backyard tonight at New Brighton State Beach
The view from my backyard tonight at New Brighton State Beach
Campsite at New Brighton State Beach
Campsite at New Brighton State Beach

U.S. 360 Tour III – Day 32 from San Francisco CA to Half Moon Bay CA (Half Moons and Heavy Loads)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter.

28 miles (45 km) – Total so far: 1608 miles (45 km)

My plane arrived in San Francisco a couple of hours late on Friday night, so I barely made it to Fedex to pick up my disassembled bike by their midnight closing. After picking up the bike, I scampered back to the hotel for a late-night bike re-assembly, a scary thought in and of itself, given the many sheer cliffs and mountains I’ll be pedaling along in the coming weeks. Around 2am PST, with bike somewhat assembled, I dropped where I stood to at least get a couple of hours of shuteye before the first day’s ride down the Pacific Coast.

I got up early, along with my buddy Jim (who is making this run down the Pacific with me), and made all of the final preparations for the upcoming journey. We were out the hotel door by mid-morning, assumably the latest start of any day on the tour.

As one would expect in a city famous for its hills, the day started with small mountains right out of the gate. I’ve often felt as though loaded bikes feel the heaviest on Day 1 of a tour until your body, and more importantly your mind wrap around the weight and deal with it. The loaded bikes felt heavy, and the hills only exacerbated the issue. There was a significant amount of up-and-down on the South side of San Francisco, and progress was slow getting out of town. Jim didn’t feel well, particularly early, so he smartly reduced his packed weight and sent some gear back to Austin Texas as we were leaving town.

After a week’s worth of rain in the area, Saturday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day and a nice wind, mostly at our backs. Beautiful scenery was the order of the day, with pine trees, stark hills, blue ocean, and lots of vistas a staple. I made the comment that if we were to stop and marvel at every beautiful vista we saw, then we probably won’t finish this tour for another six months!

This is artichoke country, and I saw massive amounts of it. I’m a vegetarian, but really haven’t eaten much of it over the years. Seeing the fields of artichoke plants, heavy with the fruit, has renewed my interest in it. Passed by the spot where they surf the famous Maverick waves, and saw a few brave surfers dealing with the frigid Pacific waters. Also rode through the new Devil’s Slide Tunnel on the Pacific Coast Highway. Interestingly, this is the first new tunnel in California in 50 years. It was a wild ride on the bicycle as I flew through the bridge with my headlight and rear blinker lights blazing. The tunnel was so long that engineers have built huge ventilating fans about half way through the tunnel so crazy cyclists like me wouldn’t inhale too much carbon monoxide gas.

Passed through the cool (literally and figuratively) towns of Pacifica, Montara, Granada, Miramar, and Half Moon Bay. I didn’t see any touring cyclists, but did see a fair number of what I call overnight cyclists, those packing light for a quick overnight outing.

We’re camping at Half Moon Bay State Beach, which is a stone’s throw from the ocean. It’s chilly (actually cold) and a bit windy, but I’m thrilled to be back in the thick of things. Camped next to a park employee who knew literally every plant in the region. We had a great conversation until I got tired of hearing about plants. There’s actually wild spinach growing in the campground, but I won’t be picking any at dusk since this is also bobcat country!

As I write this journal, I’m camping in an open air tent tonight, which coincidentally is my favorite way to camp. It seems only appropriate that the moon overhead is a half moon and I can hear the Pacific waves crashing on the nearby beach. Ahh, Half Moon Bay….

It’s All Good.

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed at the start of the tour in South San Francisco
Bright-eyed and bushy tailed at the start of the tour in South San Francisco
The hills of San Francisco in my rear view mirror
The hills of San Francisco in my rear view mirror

 

The new Devil's Slide Tunnel near Pacifica CA
The new Devil’s Slide Tunnel near Pacifica CA
Selfie at Half Moon Bay State Beach
Selfie at Half Moon Bay State Beach
Home for the night at Half Moon Bay State Beach
Home for the night at Half Moon Bay State Beach
One of the many vistas near Pacifica CA
One of the many vistas near Pacifica CA

U.S. 360 Tour III – My Immediate Destination – Down the Legendary Pacific Coast Highway

“Stopped in to a church I passed along the way
Well I got down on my knees
And I pretend to pray
You know the preacher likes the cold
He knows I’m gonna stay
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day”

— Mamas and the Papas

This tour is the third leg in the pursuit of my goal to cycle unsupported around the American perimeter. My two previous journeys took me from Austin Texas westward to San Diego California and the Pacific Ocean.  So far, I have covered 1580 miles, crossed 4 states (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California), and have already had experiences that will last a lifetime.  While I love my home in Austin Texas, my family and my friends, I find myself routinely anticipating what the next 10 mph journey on the open road will bring.

This trip will actually commence in San Francisco and head South down the legendary Pacific Coast Highway all the way to the U.S./Mexico border at Imperial Beach.  Originally, I had intended to pick back up in San Diego and go North, but prevailing winds along the west coast are typically North-to-South, and I’d like to minimize that particular meteorologic torture as much as possible.  If I’m calculating correctly, the distance should be around 650 miles and I will be in the saddle for approximately 13 days.  I’ll be passing through quintessential California coastal towns like Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Monica, La Jolla, and Coronado Island.  Wow!  Just Wow!  I would mention that my only concern about this route, having spoken to numerous experienced adventure cyclists, are the hills.  While not exactly mountainous terrain, the significant hills on much of the route are right along the coastline, and are a constant.

My intent is to camp just about every night along the way. Campgrounds are plentiful along the route, and most of them tend to be considerate of through hikers/cyclists, meaning  they will accommodate cyclists arriving late and leaving early, as long as there is a spare piece of turf to pitch a tent.

And now, for the Mamas and the Papas.  I’ve always loved this song, and found it quite fitting, given the brutal cold suffered by so many Americans this winter.  Count me among the many “California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day”……..

It’s All Good.