San Francisco to Koa Costanoa – Days Oct 9th & 10th…
A day off in a place such as San Francisco is hardly a day off! Much hill walking and sightseeing is still tiring even though I’m not pedalling. I won’t go into to all the details, but it was fun and I posted lots of pics at the usual link under Oct 9. I met Scott for lunch and we said our goodbyes riding a cable car – sad to see him go, he & Bob were a good find out of the blue for touring partners. Later yesterday, Bob showed up at my motel and after we chatted a while, he decided to also stop at San Francisco – sad too, as he also was a great guy to bike tour with. I knew that they both would be ok guys when I first met them in Oak Harbor as they were both wearing sandals to tour in, just as I do!
After a quick goodbye with Bob this morning, I set off in a light mist, overcast skies but not too chilly a temperature. A flat road to start with, but that changed very soon into the first climb – not too bad, but the route took me off the freeway that was Highway 1 to avoid Daly City. A climb of over 600 ft was next and the fog was up there. All my lights on, I crawled up the hill, very quiet though as it was the bike route. After cresting my morning workout, I started a steep downhill and in no time the fog was behind me. Still on the bike route, I wound my way through back streets of Daly City and then Pacifica – all in all a good route so far. In Pacifica I rejoined Highway 1 and hit some roadworks – not bad though, but immediately after I had a stiff climb with no shoulder to wobble up before conditions improved – and they did.
The shoulders on the road were now quite wide and remained so all day – and a slight tailwind was helping me along. Between Pacifica and Montara are two tunnels, but cyclists (and pedestrians) get a treat here. No tunnel for us, the old Devil’s Slide Road is repaved and just a non-motorized road now. This used to be very dangerous section for vehicles as there were constant slides here – mostly caused by heavy truck traffic. Now they have tunnels and we get the view – what a fantastic by-pass!
Wow, that was great! And the day only got better. After that there were the towns of Montara and El Grenada, all scenic, lots of ocean views and nice roads. Then a coastal bike path into Half Moon Bay where I stopped for an early lunch and some supplies at the Safeway store. Another bike path adjacent to Highway 1 led me out of town safely.
After Half Moon Bay, I had excellent riding conditions, mostly next to or above the ocean and even the sun was coming out – not to mention the strengthening tailwind.
I arrived at the Costanoa KOA (think, Costalotta! ) fairly early, which was nice as I had to put up my tent and get cleaned up. This place is definitely “Glamping!” For most anyway, it has everything, restaurant, bar, fancy cabins, saunas etc. I’m in the “back forty” with my little tent with some other frugal souls. I can take advantage of all they have to offer here, but like most tonight, I am in my tent as the wind really picked up later on – it is howling right now to the point that I have extra stakes on my guy ropes. Hopefully it will die down by morning to nice tailwind again.
So a sad day in one way, as I’ve lost my two friends, but a great 82 km day of riding and scenery picked up my spirits. This was definitely one of the best sections of California coast that I have ridden to date!
AdamK & (No wind in this nice warm sleeping bag) Basil
KOA Costanoa to Watsonville – Oct 11th…
Today was a short mileage day at 72 km, but it took a lot of time to gain that distance!
I did start a little later than usual though, but only because there was a pancake breakfast starting at 8:00 a.m. at the KOA that I didn’t want to miss 😉 And I didn’t!
But let’s go back to last evening – as I mentioned the winds were pretty strong then and I had a meal at the resort there as I figured that I’d have a hard time keeping my little stove lit in that wind. So back to the tent, it was already dark and I started on my blog. I heard a rustling outside, and figured that it was just the wind blowing stuff around. The rustling didn’t stop so I thought that I’d better investigate. I opened the tent flap and shone the light out – there was a food wrapper stuck in the spokes of my bike wheel that had blown in from somewhere – but attached to that food wrapper was a skunk! It was trying very hard to extricate the food wrapper and was almost chewing my tire off to get at it. I tried “shooing” it away – no luck and I thought that if I went out and tried anything else I would end up getting sprayed with the obnoxious liquid that the skunks are famous for. So the battle of sprays – I got my bear spray out, tried once more to shoo it away and the arrogant little devil just stared at me – not for long though! He was downwind from me so safe for me – I gave it a shot right in the face through the spokes of my wheel, Well, you’ve never seen a skunk do a jig like I did! He (or she) just rolled and tossed and tried to wipe its face and retreated to wherever it came from. I cleaned up the food wrapper and never had another problem after that. Not many can say that they won the battle of the sprays with a skunk – even Basil was proud of me! The winds did die down considerably later in the evening, making for a peaceful night’s rest – one of my better ones when camping.
Back to today’s ride – for the first 30 km it was really nice, just like yesterday. I followed the coastline again with a nice tailwind and due to the winds and swells, the “Surf’s Up” in this part of the California Coast. I saw hordes of surfers everywhere that there was beach access – cars were parked at any available site along the highway. Some beaches were easy access, but I noticed that others were high up and away from the beach – but the surfer dudes and gals bushwhack and clamber down steep inclines to reach their favourite beaches and waves – dedicated or foolish? There’s no help out here and no phone service for many miles, but they live for the wave!
Yesterday, I saw no cyclists whatsoever, today, no touring cyclists, but hordes of Lycra clad recreational cyclists on this stretch of highway. Most of them are what I call “Roadie Snobs” – cyclists dressed such as myself and hauling the house along are ignored completely, not even a nod of the head or “hi” from them – weird bunch – I guess that their expensive attire and bikes allows them to ignore the humble riders? Today they seemed to emanate from Santa Cruz – not far south from where I camped. I saw a bunch more of them at the coffee shop/bakery in Davenport, a small coastal town about 16km north of Santa Cruz . I stopped there for a snack and the place was packed. I squeezed in next to a young fellow (not a cyclist) that had worked for a contractor in Vancouver and North Saanich – he knew my home town of Sidney very well – small world. We had a nice chat and he was very interested in my trip – and others that I have done.
Onward I rode, and once that first 30km was over, I was in suburbia again. Santa Cruz, Soquel and Aptos are three populated cities, and they are knit together so tightly, that it seems like one big city when riding though them. Cyclists are not allowed on this section of Highway 1, so we have to negotiate all the backstreet bike routes to get through these cities.
This, while not strenuous riding, took a lot of time – passing by shopping malls, dealing with traffic, traffic lights etc. all slow the progress. I stopped for a bite to eat and it was people everywhere. So I just took my time and eventually wound my way to a motel here in Watsonville. I did find a nice rural route, Larkin Valley Road, for the last 10km, but there were a few wicked hills on it – however it was peaceful after riding about 30km in suburbia.
Not many pics today, as there was nothing much really to catch the eye,
but a couple more at… Oct 11th
AdamK & (I hid in the tent for the skunk episode!) Basil
Watsonville to Monterey – Oct 12th…
I had originally intended to ride from Watsonville to Big Sur, about 100 kms including a couple of long climbs. South of the Monterey/Carmel area, Highway 1 gets to be a narrow, twisting highway, lots of climbs and descents and a good deal of traffic. After yesterday’s ride through the ‘burbs, I realised that I would have more of that today when I got to Seaside and Monterey – besides, Monterey has a lot of sights to offer for the visitor, so some extra time there would be worthwhile. So I’m splitting my intended route to Big Sur into two days.
I’m so glad that I did this too, as I had a wonderful ride into Monterey. At first, I had to find my way out of Watsonville and then get back on the bike route proper – not too difficult, but at the designated on-ramp for me to access Highway 1 was the no bicycle sign – crap! It was Sunday morning and light traffic so I rode the shoulders of the freeway anyway for a few short miles, before I was “legal.” No problem, all the cops must have been in church! Riding on, I still had that freeway wide shoulder, but the road had gone back to one lane – not much difference otherwise! Some nice views through this area, mostly farming communities.
I only had about 16 km of that until I accessed a safe and quiet bike path that would eventually take me all the way to downtown Monterey. Just before leaving Highway 1, I went through the small town of Moss Landing and when I crossed the Bridge there, I heard the barking of seals – I rode back a short distance and saw a whole Jetty full of them – nice treat.
Moss Landing was a nice stop for a coffee and snack – busy little community with farm stands, a nice bakery/cafe, antique shops etc. There was a car “Show and Shine” just setting up, music was playing (Beach Boys – go figure!) and the sun was shining, people were in a happy mood and it was great little place to stop.
Not long after, I got on the bike path and toodled along with an unrushed demeanour, taking in everything that I could.
Eventually I went through the town of Marina and Seaside – then I got deposited on the beach front in Monterey Bay – right at the Fisherman’s Wharf – the working one, not the tourist one. I found a nice cafe about halfway up and had some Abalone Sliders and a bottle of beer for my lunch – lovely!
So it was about 45 km to this point and then I rode around for another 21 km to all the other sights that interested me. The “touristy” Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row and many other venues for a very enjoyable day of riding and sightseeing.
I made up for the lack of photos yesterday,
by taking many today located at… Oct 12th
More tomorrow as I head into the Big Sur region of the Coast – I’ll be updating my blog, but I probably won’t have Internet access for some days until I reach Morro Bay and beyond. So don’t hold your breath for a daily report – it might be a while!
AdamK & (Wow – Seals, Pelicans, Beach Babes, what more could a beaver ask for!) Basil
Monterey to Big Sur – Oct 13th…
Another day that I am glad I didn’t rush and try to “over-mileage.” Lots of wonderful coastal views on much of the route coupled with sunny skies and warm temperatures made the day enjoyable.
I started off with an excellent motel breakfast and just as well. I has to reroute myself back onto the bike route as I was not allowed to ride on the freeway from where I was located – and I wouldn’t want to today as it was Monday morning rush hour and not a place for a bike. After about 4 or 5 km I found the route and – or should I say, I found the hill! Up to 600 ft this one and a rude awakening that was. Basil pushed and pushed and we made it up and over into Carmel. During the climb I was allowed to re-enter Highway 1 and stay on that for the rest of today. Not much to see in Carmel proper as it is off the highway, about halfway down the descent from the hill. I rode on along the coast and through the Carmel Highlands – Lots of ritzy housing and not much more there, but the views that these property owners get are nothing short of amazing.
Beyond Carmel Highlands there is literally just miles and miles of coast, with splendid beaches and views. Riding along, I took many photos of waves crashing over rocks a below me, and other great sights. I found myself stopping every few miles just to take it all in.
I’m glad that I wasn’t rushed and that the weather cooperated for this section.
There were three high bridges to cross today – the one of note is the Bixby Bridge as it is the highest on the California Coast – quite the spectacular structure.
Also quite the view while crossing the Bridge – the road beyond actually goes higher than the bridge eventually.
So lots of grades again but they went well until late morning, when a strong headwind kicked in to make the hills that little bit tougher – but a short day of only 54km helped with that.
I stopped at a convenient store with restaurant about 2km north of my objective for the night and had bite to eat, boy that place was busy, but it really was the only stop south of Carmel. There were a couple more stops before the park, all small places with minimal groceries, cabins, camping and restaurants. I may hit a couple more after leaving in the morning too.
I’m camping tonight at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. I thought that I would have ocean views, but I’m in amongst the Redwoods again – with the mozzies this time – first time on this trip that I have seen any. Or at least, first time that they have fond me. Should make the others in the campground happy as I’m the “Human Mosquito Magnet.” Didn’t see any touring cyclists on the road again, but there are a few showing up here to camp – one or two familiar faces from further north encounters too.
This is a big campground with great facilities, nice hot showers right at the hiker/biker area and there is a lodge and restaurant. I think that they may have WiFi so I’ll try to post this later when I go for a walk.
More pics at… Oct 13th
AdamK & (I knew those little biters would find us eventually, scratch, scratch) Basil