Day eight: bring on the miles

Start: Pismo Dunes
End: Isla Vista
Miles Biked: 92ish

I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse that I’m very good at waking myself up in the morning sans alarm. It’s nice that if I know I have to get up early, I will–but it’s lame that in the course of making sure I get up on time, I’ll often wake up over and over during the night, convinced I’ve overslept.

That’s what happened before today: after waking up basically every hour starting at midnight, I finally got up at 5, made myself some oatmeal while I huddled in my sleeping bag, packed up, and left Pismo Dunes by 6. In the dark.

The bleary-eyed bike awakening–slowly feeling more alive as I warmed up and the day turned grey, then light–nicely set the tone for a day spent mostly churning out the miles. This was a good day to spend biking. That’s a nice way of saying that there wasn’t really much else going on today. After a brief stint on hilly, unpeopled back roads and then the heinous, strip-mall city of Lompoc, the bike route joins up with Highway 101. And though there’s a huge shoulder and the biking is relatively safe, 101 does not make for a scenic, pull-off-the-side-of-the-road-for-adventure journey.

Truth be told, Highway 101 is pretty ridiculously lame. Between the loud, fast cars (and trucks) and the rough, glass-hewn pavement–plus the fact that it goes ever so slightly uphill for 13 miles, and you can’t even see the ocean anymore to raise your morale–it was definitely not the most enjoyable of rides. It was a good mental exercise, actually: how do I pass the time when it’s just me and a boring ride, how do I keep my spirits up about bike adventure when what I’m doing for most of today hardcore blows.

So I sang, reveled in my wandering thoughts, and tried to focus on finding cool things in the landscape. All in all, it was a pretty nice day, despite the flat tire inflicted by the aforementioned glass-hewn pavement. Tip for anyone considering bike travel: make sure you can fix a flat by yourself before you go anywhere where you can’t walk home;)

I biked for 60 miles or something before I finally stopped for lunch. And my lunch stop made me feel like a total badass. When I pulled off 101 into a little rest area near Gaviota, there they were, all the cars lined up in their neat little parking spaces while their occupants stretched, picnicked, whatever–and there I was, pulling off the highway on my bike, normal as could be. heh. I could feel one family watching me as I parked, stretched, opened up my trailer, grabbed my Jetboil, and made myself a pretty rockin lunch. They wanted to hear all about how bike travel works; I was super conscious of their little daughter–perhaps 5 or so–watching me with wide eyes. Score one more for bike travel ambassador.

Refugio State Beach, 80-some-odd miles into my day, is where I finally stopped to play a little:

And how amazing is that? Palm trees? Sand? Sun? All in the middle of December? This kind of thing is why I kept forgetting that Christmas was coming.

I was definitely tired by the time I got to Refugio, and it had a really nice campground, but I knew it was supposed to start raining hardcore that night and I was not super psyched about being in my tent for it. Or rather, being in my tent would have been fine, but packing up in the morning, with everything wet and no shelter once I collapsed my tent, was less appealing. So onward I went.

In case you forgot, Skye, one of the dudes I met in the Big Sur campground, had very generously offered his house to me if I needed it. He’d written his address in my journal and told me where to find the spare key; I could just let myself in and stay in from the rain. Plus, I should feel free to help myself to any of the food in the house. His generosity astounded me. I wasn’t totally a stranger, but I was pretty close–and yet he not only let me stay in his house, but let me stay there when he knew that none of his housemates would be around, when I would have free reign of all his belongings, accessed with his spare key. I’m humbled by his trust in humanity. And I want this world to be one in which there are more people like that.

So I found his house, just a few miles away from a cute farmer’s market that I of course stopped at.

It was just getting dark by the time I got there; the wind was picking up, it was getting cold, the sky was starting to cloud over. And after over 90 miles of biking, I was exhausted. Thank goodness for a warm, dry place to stay:)

Bike…flat…bike…headwind…bike………….ocean!!

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