Start: Half Moon Bay
End: New Brighton State Beach, about 10mi south of Santa Cruz
Miles biked: 59
I went to bed the night before my bike adventure determined to wake up at the crack of dawn and set out before anyone could see me. Why? Because I was nervous about leaving Alex’s van parked for over a week by some apartments in Half Moon Bay, and my response to that nervousness was simply to try to slip out unnoticed.
Unfortunately, I forgot that it was winter and dawn doesn’t crack until, oh, 7:30 or so. So even though I was awake by 6, the combination of darkness and intense, soupy fog kept me hunkered in the back of Alex’s van until much later, at which point the people I was trying to avoid were already out and about, walking their dogs or heading to work. I unloaded my bike and trailer much more conspicuously than I would have liked.
Preemptive nervousness is always the hardest part of any sort of adventure (or change) for me. Before I set out, I can only imagine what’s ahead of me. The unknown-ness of it all is unsettling, especially in the face of what I already know, of what’s already comfortable. But I understand myself well enough to push through the nervousness: once I jump in, I’m going to love it. It’s simply a matter of mustering the initial activation energy.
Finally sucking it up and taking my bike out of the van was the inexorable step that set me off onto my bike adventure.
So what did day one of adventure hold? A lot of this:
That is, though I was biking on Highway 1–right along the coast–and though I could hear the ocean, I could see very little. I’m sure it must be quite beautiful when it’s not cloaked in the mists. Regardless, I slipped into easy and enjoyable riding, and soon got over my foggy-day nervousness of cars coming at me from behind (it wasn’t for nothing that I brought three extra lights and lots of reflective gear).
I made a few side trips along the way–nothing too intense because of the weather, but did manage to see harbor seals at Pebble Beach, not much of anything at Pigeon Point Lighthouse (I didn’t even see the lighthouse through the fog until I was basically on top of it), and a bunch of other harbor seals that actually, upon closer inspection, turned out to be surfers.
The highlight of the day was probably my lunch stop, at Swanton Berry Farm. They had super friendly, handmade signs out on the Highway advertising the best soup ever, plus a 10% discount for touring cyclists. Feeling very welcomed, I pulled in to find an extravaganza of homemade food, almost all of it featuring organic berries or jam in some capacity. The best part? It was all based on the honor system: the prices were posted and the till was sitting right there on the counter, out in the open. You ate, you paid, you made yourself change, and the Swanton Berry people trusted you to be honest. It made me insanely happy, like there’s still basic human integrity in the world. I guess in retrospect it’s a feeling I had a lot on this trip.
Thus fortified with what may, in fact, have been the best pumpkin curry soup in the world, I made it down to Santa Cruz, where dedicated bike paths replaced Highway 1 as my route of choice, and then further south to New Brighton State Beach. I made an amazing discovery there: hiker/biker campsites! Many of the CA state parks have them, apparently. They’re smaller sites without car parking that you can hike or bike into–and they only cost $5! It’s the most amazing deal ever. I paid my $5 with glee.
I set up my tent as it was just starting to get dark. At 4:30. I’d sort of forgotten that my daylight touring hours were going to be so short. Or rather, until I actually felt, from start to finish, what 9 or so hours of daylight felt like, I hadn’t realized it would be so truncated. Regardless, it was a lovely first day and I felt right at home again with my biking/camping regimen.
As it got darker, I hunkered down with my headlamp, book, and journal, something that became my evening routine. I was writing 6-word summaries of every day (part of a longer artistic experiment that I’m still working on), so I’ll include the day’s summary:
Day one: loving it so far.