Day 4: Big Sur Part 1

Today is day 4 and not even the freezing mists of hell can get our spirits down. I’m writing from the side of the road at Pezini farms outside Moss Landing. It’s a Steinbeck and hot chocolate kind of day. The mist is falling, the clouds are gathering, and we are riding in style with matching lunch boxes full of food (and booze) from Gram. Many thanks and much love to the worlds best grandmother, who saw how exhausted we were yesterday and didn’t say “I told you so” when we asked to crash with her. (My mother had no such scruples when she called to check in.) This morning we woke up to Christmas bread, bacon, eggs, strawberries, orange juice, coffee, and two matching lunch boxes packed full of goodies. Life is so sweet. Having bundled us up in many layers of sweaters and hugs, Gram sent us off with the cautionary words “If you get hurt, do it within driving distance so I can come get you.” Who needs support cars with family like this?


Spent a good part of the morning reveling in how fresh our legs felt and how cold it was outside. Then we learned how to take photos of each other and steer at the same time! Day seized.

On our way out of Pezini Farms we met Paul, the Road Angel who gave us power bars and a spanner to fix my saddle, as well as stellar advice about navigating Monterey. Paul was an avid cyclist in his youth, and even rode across the USA. Now he and his wife hang out on the side of Monte road in Corralitos paying forward the debt of gratitude  they have to the cycling community. As we rode off, he charged us with one small task “go make a difference in the world!” We should have known there was a catch.

Just got into Monterey and found crepes, cappuccinos, and a place to sit for a pre lunch break. One exciting development to tour cycling is that we now eat like Hobbits (and look like them too).Whatever few scruples we used to have have vanished, buried beneath a mountain of second breakfasts, elevenses, and afternoon tea/cake/snack breaks. Our legs are getting strong, and our bellies are getting…strong and round? There are no excuses; the bike belly is real, as is the appetite that comes form riding 6-7 hours a day. It’s hard to type in here because it smells sooooo good. We keep looking over hoping it’s our turn–two crepes sucre with lemon, coming right up!


Big Sur killed us. At one point I found myself singing about all the ways we were going to die on the hills. It turns out Risa and I have different hill riding strategies. She, like the intelligent logical superwoman she is rides until here legs feel like jello and then takes a short food break, hydrates and keeps on going. I rely on momentum and a hatred for cars to fuel me up each and every slope. This works well when there’s lots of cars to hate, but not so well when you run out of steam. My MO for hills is to put it in the granniest of gears and sing. Cuz in theory you can’t hate life if you’re singing. And so we proceeded thorough the hills of Big Sur–Risa taking care of her body and spirit, and me singing increasingly offensive songs as my legs and mind dissolved into a puddle of Gu.

After about 10 miles of straight climbing I ran out of verses to “I really hate this fucking hill” (a song of my own creation to the tune of “You put one foot in front of the other one”) so I stopped. And fell over. But I fell over slowly, so I was alright. Risa found me sitting on my bike just after the Bixby Bridge, grinning like a loon and eating the power bar from Paul like a rabid squirrel. Between the manic look on my face, my dirty frizzy hair and the way I clutched the peanut butter chocolate golden nugget, I’m fairly certain I looked as though I’d permanently crossed that semi-permiable boundary between homeless and cycle tourist.

“Hey.  I fucking hate hills.” I said by way of greeting.

“Me too,” said Risa, “But you know what I did to get over them? I listed all the things I love about you”

“Well shit” I said. ” I sang a really nice song and listed ways that we could die.”

“Can I hear it?” Risa asked.  That, ladies and Gentlemen, is how you know you’ve found your best friend. And so, adding on verses about hot-totties and death by landslide we set off, singing our hills songs.

About 20 miles and a million hills later, we were more than easy for bed. Our plan was to camp at Andrew Molera State Park, because our Adventure Cycles map said it had a Hiker/biker spot. Paul, in his infinite wisdom and kindness had warned us to camp elsewhere, but we, being exhausted and tired, decided to try our luck. Poor choice on our part. No sooner had we set up tent, had dinner, met our neighbor, and had a beer and some Tylenol PM than the Rangers came around. In our defense, the Map said that there were hiker biker spots. The sign right next to our tent might or might not have said no camping whatsoever, but who in their right minds evicts two female cyclists in the middle of the night on a dark windy road with semis whiz zing by? Apparently this guy does. His logic, which he explained to us while per tending to scare off “something big” in the bushes, was that if he let us stay, there would be a tent city by morning. That’s a quote. He also told us that he was a “nice guy” and would let us pay to camp in the hosts camp two miles up the road. Then he told us to “quiet down” because he thought he heard guitar playing.  We smiled in our nicest drug induced way and asked how much our tickets would be. He said a couple hundred each. We broke camp and watched him leave.

There is nothing more difficult than fighting the effects of Old Rasputin and Tylenol PM while trying to pack a bicycle with all your worldly possessions in the middle of the night. Nothing. But we did it. We packed the bikes haphazardly and grumbled our way out of Andrew Molera to the spot across the road where our friend Stu was stealth camping. As we rolled up to his car, we saw multiple lights bobbing in the distance and the sound of laughter and drums. We had inadvertently stumbled upon a Kiwi burning man birthday celebration in the back woods of Big Sur being thrown by the New Zealand Women’s Rugby team. Apparently Stu had found them the same way after leaving our site earlier that evening.

“Hello hello, been evicted as well? Welcome to our dance circle! Come have some pad thai!” They all chorused in unison. How could we say no? So, still suffering from the effects of  the Tylenol, we and Stu joined our new friends (who’s names are a blurr) as they celebrated someone’s birthday. After a couple of hours of revelry and much strategic planning about where to camp, we followed Stu up the hill to his site, and camped next door. I have never fallen asleep so fast or so soundly out of doors.  We all got up at six to find the Kiwi van gone, our mysterious new friends and their insane revelry with it.


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