'Big Sur'iously

Bicycling up the coast

I've written so far about lectures, bumming, couchsurfing, defecating birds, and just about everything except my primary occupation at this point - biking and traveling. The reason I have avoided the topic of travel is simple... I'm not traveling, I'm sitting in a hovel of a basement composing a fantasy world through blogger. No, actually, the reason I don't write about traveling is because it is the backdrop of my life at this point. Writing about biking is a bit like trying to compose a narrative on sleeping, eating, or breathing. Fortunately, I am quite the writer.

First, let me relate to ya'll a little background, that will show you how confused and stubborn I can be. The beauty of a steed I am riding is a $99 mountain bike from Walmart, 'The Mongoose'. This cobra-killing machine is retrofitted with old-fashion shoe straps and an over-sized pannier-mounted milk crate filled with about 40lbs of stuff that I call my life. Its a bitch to haul this inefficient machine 20 miles let alone 2000 (my goal) and the hardship is aggravated by mountainous coastal terrain and a constant driving wind from the N/W that is my route up highway 1.

Other riders I see are decked out in spandex, riding lightweight bianchi's, and inevitably heading south to exploit the wind. But, I am a bit of a masochist and my jalopy of a bike gives me a sense of superiority to the hot shot biking world. When I first started riding in San Diego, I couldn't go 15 miles on this hunk of junk, now I can do more than 50. Things are definitely improving. And, I must admit I've fallen in love with my Mongoose. When the UCSD Co-oper found me a superior bike for only $80, I didn't have the heart to take it.

Like most bikers, the majority of my travel-days are spent eyes on the ground in front of me keeping up the dull steady rhythm of spins required to mount the next hill. Joy comes when I get to the top of long incline and get to feel the steady rush of no-work wind in my face, hit 30-40 mph, and look left to see paradise breaking blue to white across the dark sunlit rocks. During these times, I often find myself shouting songs of joy to the hilltops and smiling ear-to-ear at each passing car, bike, and motorcycle.

I've passed some really beautiful sights so far, and since I haven't planned much of this trip they come upon me as if by some divine accident. Three days ago, I drove by Hearst Castle and the 15 miles of land endowed to his estate. Two days ago, I drove by a pack, 1,000 strong, of sea lions huddled together for warmth on the beach, barking, biting, and jockeying for position. Yesterday, I arrived at Big Sur where the small brush and wild-flowers that dominate the mountains south of here transform into the first towering coastal redwoods, hundreds of feet high and shading a clean cool forest floor that gives me the magic feel of ancient fantasy.

I will stay here in Big Sur for a day. The Henry Miller Memorial Library is holding a jam concert beneath the afore mentioned massive conifers. One of the nicest things about not planning a trip too hard, there is no timeline to restrict spontaneity. When I find what I like, I stay. When I'm done, I go. There's an organic sense to this trip. When I cemented a yen to 'ride up the coast' I had no idea what I was getting into. But the will to ride planted a seed in fertile soil. Without my need to dictate in advance the vector of its growth, that plant is growing in shapes more beautiful than any I could design.

The moral is: From time to time you ought try flying by the seat of your pants. Its rather more fun than being careful.


E said...

Sea lions! I love sea lions. That must have been quite a sight.

We'll have to continue our discussion on physical activity later, but suffice to say I've decided I need a bike again.

Andrew Lusk said...

Holy crap! This is a pretty cool trip man. I assume by "up the west coast" you have a northerly trajectory, which if it lands you in seattle near the end, let me know and I'll ply you with ale.