Bike Hard

A ride from hell

If I ever have children and if they are ever to whine about the hardship of this cruel world of theirs I am certain to parley their self-pity with the story of my harrowing trek out of Big Sur.

On a Sunday, I made my first go at leaving this remote little paradise only to discover after 5 miles that a slow leak in my tire combined with a missing pump would allow me to go no further so I turned back around.

On Monday I left again, believing my tire to be fixed, but still having no portable pump for emergency. Once again, after mile 5 or so a slow leak had me flat. I had looked carefully at the maps the day before and knew that I would have to go at least 15 more miles before making it to a town of any size at all (like one that might have an air compressor). I also new that Big Sur had no help to offer in the way of purchasable pumps and the freedom bus would only run on weekends. So, I was stuck with 15 miles and a broken bike.

For 10 miles I managed an odd assortment of humping it up the hills and coasting down them on my less-than-adequate tubes. The coasting made life better, but the entire way I was plagued by the howling sea-coast winds fanning me backwards in 20-30 mph gusts. Following these 10 miles, my tire was at a point of worthlessness and rode only on its rim. So I took the last five miles walking.

The high point of my trip came when a dutch couple stopped to lend me a hand. They were beautiful people full of spunk and pastry gifts on their own long trek through the west coast. Unfortunately, the European biking world is centered on presta valves and had nothing adequate for pumping up my schrader valved tires. And so, I walked.

Finally, I arrived in the town of Carmel and made my way to a fire station. There I found a compressor and while I was fixing my setup the captain came out and pressed me for my story. In the end he compared me to another wayward soul who he had once met pressing from San-Diego to Alaska on a single-speed bike in Levi's pulling a 200 lb trailer with a Kayac. And so, I've learned that I'm not the craziest cyclist ever to grace the Pacific Coast Highway... there has been at least one nuttier than I. And that, is a rather reassuring revelation.


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