By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano
This is a continuation of the story I began last month called It Begins. Bit by bit I will cover my entire two thousand mile journey.
After that minor disaster on the first day of the trip, I settled in pretty quickly. Riding in familiar territory, beautiful weather, comfortable seat pad, this was the way it was supposed to be. I caught glimpses of the Pacific Ocean on my left. I could have followed the coast but that would have meant taking convoluted winding roads and sacrificing a lot of forward progress. On my right the Santa Ynez mountains rose high in the sky.
Just past Santa Barbara a credit card cyclist caught up with me. I don't remember how far north he was planning to ride. He might have been headed all the way to British Columbia but I honestly don't remember and my cycling diary didn't record that tidbit. We rode together chatting for a few miles before he decided to make tracks. His mileage goals were a great deal more ambitious than mine. With my touring load, I would only slow him down. The road can be a lonely place and it was nice to interact with another human being.
The Gaviota Pass held my first real obstacle. I knew it was coming but I still hate cycling through tunnels on major roads unless they have a pedestrian way. This tunnel of course did not. It isn't a long tunnel and there is a wide shoulder but still potentially dangerous. When vehicles enter tunnels the sudden change in lighting makes seeing difficult for at least a few moments. There have been horrible crashes inside them. I waited at the entrance until there wasn't any traffic in sight, then I made a break for it. Pedalling like a madman, I was almost out the other side before another vehicle passed me. Phew!
Right after the pass, I decided to trust my map and deviated from my route of the previous summer. If it had gone well, I would have saved a considerable amount of time. I wasn't so lucky. I remember standing at the top of an overpass looking across a field of corn to the road I had hoped to end up on. I had to backtrack and then cut back to my old route. I was not a happy camper and had a few choice words for the map publisher.
My next series of stealth campsites were not very memorable. I made steady progress up the scenic California coast. Just before Pismo Beach I entered virgin cycling territory for me. Around Morro Bay I made a call to my family back in Ontario to let them know I was still alive. This was in the days before cell phones became practical for cyclists so I was dependent on pay phones.
I continued north. I made lousy progress the morning I pulled into Ragged Point for a quick lunch. From the other direction a female self-contained cyclist pulled in from the opposite direction. There was no resort back then, just a burger stand. I went straight to the counter and ordered a grilled cheese sandwich (I was on a pretty draconian budget). She wandered around the picnic area stretching her legs. I don't think either one of us had any intention of screwing up our schedules and starting a conversation. That got wrecked by the arrival of a tour bus full of senior citizens. They cornered her first and grilled her about her sport. I tried to sneak past unnoticed but did not succeeded. We fielded questions for a time. When the seniors left we weren't done talking.
First thing she asks me about was my gel seat pad, which at the time was a fairly new innovation. Asked me if it was one of those pads that prevented penile numbness. Here I was straight out of college with a Bachelor of Arts with a major in theology. I kept my cool. I think my sunburn helped mask any embarrassment. She was seriously cute too. Long sandy blonde hair and blue-grey eyes if I recall correctly. I towered over her but we couldn't shut up for quite awhile. The road can be a lonely place and I had to fight the urge to follow her like a puppy. We didn't exchange contact information. Never even knew her name. Based the opening scene of one of my unpublished novels on that encounter. We both continued on solo in opposite directions way behind schedule.