Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Southeastern Arizona

We are four days into our ride with Bicycle Adventure Club. This is the first time we have been on a supported tour, and we are having a blast!

We left Palmdale on Friday afternoon and drove to Chandler for the night.After a short ride (22 miles) along one of the canals we packed up the bike and headed south to Tucson on Saturday afternoon where we met up with our fellow cyclists. The cocktail hour/ride meeting happens every day at 5:00 to discuss that day's ride and go over the cue sheets for the next day. Most days we have the option of riding two different routes, with the hilly, longer route being the more scenic of the two.

Our first group ride was on Sunday morning. Most of the group rode a flat Tucson city tour, while about eight of us headed up Gates Pass (2,044 feet of climbing) and down the other side of the mountain into Saguaro National Park. The desert landscape has been amazingly beautiful, with lots of wildflowers, blooming cacti, and ocotillo. We lunched at Coyote Pause for lunch and headed back to the hotel for happy hour.

Day two took us on another 2,000+ climb day from Tucson to Tubac, a small golf and artist community. It was a hot, long day, with over 55 miles on the bike. We arrived at the picturesque Tubac Golf Resort just after 4:00 p.m. Along the way we stopped at the only Titan Missile silo, a museum with tours taking you down inside the silo. Unfortunately we arrived too late for a tour and couldn't take the time to wait for the next one. We read through the exhibits and learned a little about the missile system and it's capabilities before getting back on the road.

We spent two nights in Tubac, so a bit of a rest day. We rode a few miles down the road to tour the Tumacacori National Historic Park and mission, then spent the rest of the day having lunch and exploring a few of the shops. It's easy to just look and not buy when you are on a bicycle. Even with the van support, there is no room for any extra purchases along the way. We rode around some of the back roads of Tubac and finally got to see the Santa Cruz River, with water running. An odd site in such an arid place.

Today's ride was a short 35 mile ride to the small town of Patagonia. It was rolling hills through ranch land, along the dry river bed. Toward the end of the ride we rode several miles through a narrow canyon with sharp rock outcroppings and lots of trees.

Patagonia is a one-street town with a few art galleries, an organic health food store, and a hummingbird reserve. Many of the world's hummingbird species winter here and we saw many different kinds - although we don't really know what kinds we saw.

We're off to the daily ride meeting, and then a catered dinner at The Velvet Elvis. Should be interesting!

Happy Birthday Rob!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Back on the bike. Training for Wildflower.

Three rides in three days. Yes, it's been a while. Riding and Blogging. We are supposedly training for the Wildflower Century on April 27th which is our anniversary weekend. I do not think we will be riding the full century but maybe the metric.

Friday we did one of our "short loops." Starting from our house we did short, but hilly 13 miles. Wind...always wind. Friday night we had a "bike date" - rode the Townies for a beer and burgers at the Yardhouse. After dinner we rode to the theaters and saw "42". The best part is always the ride home in the dark.

Saturday we rode with Block Bikes. Again we started at our house riding to the shop. Riding as one group we headed East on Ave L. The split was at 70th Street west with the short group turning right, the medium heading to 90th and the fast group leaving us in the dust. We did our best to keep up with the medium group but were soon looking at the backs of bikes heading away from us. The first two miles were a false flat and we had a stiff head wind. We caught a couple riders on the down hill and kept the main group in our sights once we finally had a tailwind and a slight downhill. 33 1/2 miles and we felt it. We usually stop when we ride by ourselves and stretch, so were hurting, especially Ev's back.

Sunday we did a recovery ride to breakfast. We rode to the Sierra bike path, then a short eastward trek on Ave S, then to breakfast near Palmdale City Hall. After breakfast it was back home. A very windy ride it was, but glad we got out of bed to do it! 17 1/2 miles.

I just put on new 28c tires on the bike. Boy they are skinny. Think I might have made a mistake.

Friday, July 6, 2012

San Diego

The fireworks were amazing! Everyone put lawn chairs on the beach to watch the fireworks being launched from a boat just offshore. We don't carry chairs on the bike but found an empty bench at the entrance to the sand. The show for Dana Point started at 9:00, but other coastal city displays started earlier. We could see fireworks to our south and behind us. It really was spectacular.

Hiker-Biker site at Doheny State Beach
Surprisingly the campground quieted down quickly. We were concerned about theft since there were multiple signs about not leaving bikes out. The girl working the booth when we checked in took a look at our bike and told me it shouldn't be a problem as thieves were only targeting "high-end bikes". I didn't bother to tell her that our bike cost as much as many of those high-end bikes. To thwart off a disaster we locked the bike to some bushes at the hiker-biker site, hung our bear bells on the spokes, & strapped the front wheel to the frame. Then we set the tent up in front of the bike and tied the rainfly to the bike. We figured by the time a thief got the bike from behind the tent we would hear it. Around 12:30 I woke to footsteps near my head. I nudged Rob when I saw the shadow of a person on the tent wall. We quickly unzipped the tent to find a "cyclist" with some story about not finding his buddies who had his tent & sleeping bag. He left soon after.

The Amtrak trains started around 6:00 am about 30 feet from our tent (at least it seemed that close). We were up early but still didn't get on the road until 9:00ish.  Most of the day's ride was a repeat from previous rides. Once again we pedaled past San Onofre nuclear generating station. Then through the 3-mile parking lot of a campground to the northern entrance to Camp Pendleton. Lots of new construction on the base. A new dining facility & troop housing. It didn't seem as long or hard of a ride as I remembered. I do believe we have become stronger riders.

Pier in Oceanside
We stopped at The Breakfast Club Diner in Oceanside for lunch and to discuss plans. The last public campground was only a 35 mile ride for the day - not quite far enough for our goals. There were a couple of private campgrounds in San Diego, but the closer one was full & the other was too far to ride to. We were across the street from the Oceanside library so I went in to use the computers to find another hotel. Once again we are camped out at Camp Hilton.

We save space in the panniers for food,
but the baguette didn't fit!
The day's challenge was the La Jolla hill at Torrey Pines. We stopped at a small market in Del Mar to load up on no-cook dinner & breakfast foods. We managed the hill with just one stop to catch my breath. At the top of the hill was the hotel - my motivation to keep going  The hotel personnel are always surprised when we say we're checking in. The day's total: 54 miles.

Torrey Pines - Beach trail
So now the bike is in the room (it fits nicely in an elevator), and we are sitting by the pool sipping drinks and reading. We hiked around Torrey Pines State Reserve for a couple of hours this morning. We watched the junior golfers practicing for the world championship at the Torrey Pines golf course as we had lunch. Life is good! Tomorrow we will finish our ride to the border. Kendal will pick us up at the border and come back to the hotel for our last night. We head home on Sunday with a stop at Stone Brewery for lunch & beer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

LAX to Doheny State Beach

Imperial Hwy near LAX on the morning
of the 4th of July; traffic was heavy
the night before.
Doheny State Beach 71 miles. We obviously can't add or read a map. Supposed to be a 60 mile day.  We left our hotel at LAX and back-tracked to the beach. Much less traffic this time. We got back on the bike path.

This was taken before noon. It only
got busier throughout the day.

Lots of people out getting ready for the 4th of July. Seemed every beach, pier, and parking lot was packed with tents, pop-ups and lots of food. We dodged many other bikes on all the beach bike paths we were on today. We rode on Hwy 1 when we could to make up time. Had a head wind most of the day also so it was slow going.

Family we met on the bike path. They
tour on two tandems.
Even though the bike paths were slow we did talk to some interesting people. In El Segundo we saw a whole family on bikes and all three kids had trailers. They go everywhere on bikes and do not have a car. They were heading back home to Culver City. Shortly after that we saw another Co-motion tandem. We caught up and started talking to them. Mom and daughter were on the tandem and dad and son were on solo bikes. They had another tandem at home and have bike toured a lot. We rode and talked a long time and they escorted us to a great coffee house for breakfast.

We said hi to many others and lots of comments on our bike. There was a woman following us (and keeping up) on a cruiser. She was on her way to work. So much traffic she decided to ride the five miles to work. That's pretty good on a cruiser. Near the end of all the bike paths for the day we saw another tandem. They too had toured but were just out for a ride.

The perks of a bicycle vacation!
We stopped for a late lunch in  between Seal and Huntington Beach.  I was hungry and a bit grouchy. The burger & milkshake were good, but I pulled something in my groin & was in pain. I tried to walk it off. We tried to ride but I had to stop. We got off and walked for a couple blocks and I took some Advil. Got back on & rode slow. All was better. Just one of those guy things.

There were many hills at the end of the day riding through Laguna Beach and to our camp site. We stopped for groceries and finally made it. We are beat. The hiker/biker site is a sandy area 50' x 30' behind the showers. All to ourselves but noisy around us. The sky is overcast; guess we'll see colored clouds tonight instead of fireworks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day ???

We haven't been very good about posting to the blog. I looked back this morning and saw San Simeon as the last entry. A few thoughts and memories from the past few days:

From San Simeon we rode to Pismo Beach. We stopped for some awesome scones in Cayucos. When we stopped at the bakery, a local man (town crier?) came running in to say they had just found a body floating in the surf. We never found out anymore about it, but after he announced it to several people it was as if life just kept going - everyone went back to reading their papers or serving customers.

Rob & Doug in Cayucos.
The first newspaper we
had seen since June 30.

On a short little climb out of Cayucos, I felt a sharp pain in the muscle above my knee that only got worse the more I pedaled. By the time we stopped at the top the tears were flowing. Not much to do but pop a couple of Advil & keep going.

We met Jan at a sketchy laundromat in the outskirts of Morro Bay. She had gone ahead to do our laundry. Jan has been great to have along! She buys the groceries, cooks, AND does laundry. No, really, it was fun having someone to talk with at the end of each day who had done something other than ride a bike.

Morrow Bay
Ice cream on the pier in Pismo Beach.
We had lunch on the waterfront in Morrow Bay & then pedaled on through San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach. Jan caught up with us again in Pismo. We had some fabulous ice cream & watched all the people down near the pier. It was a short ride to Oceano State Beach to set up camp. Our friends, Teresa & Leigh came to visit and have dinner. It was so much fun to catch up with them.

View from the top.
The next morning my leg seemed a little better. The Pacific Coast Bike Route had an alternate route - looking ahead at the main route was a long slow climb. The alternate route looked relatively flat. Boy did we make a mistake! Just around the bend was a short, intense hill. It was the first (and only) hill we all walked.

We rode through Guadalupe before a parade. Thankfully the officers didn't make us detour around the parade route. Lots of farming in this area. We came upon a crew picking celery. I was so fascinated by the process I forgot to pull my camera out. We had no idea the field was celery until we saw them handling their machetes.

Encouragement painted on the
road at the top of the hill.
Around the 30 mile mark my leg started really hurting again. Unfortunately this was also the start up Harris Grade Road. We were inland so it was hot too. We rode by some raspberry farms where workers were picking. I think we take our food supply for granted & don't always consider the work that goes into getting it from farm to table.

The ride downhill was fun and long! We stopped at the Lompoc Wine Ghetto for lunch. Rob & I had spent our anniversary this year in the Lompoc area tasting wine & riding. It was fun to be back. He and I split a glass of Syrah - knowing we still had some long climbs ahead of us.

Lunch at Lompoc's Wine Ghetto.
We finally made it to Buellton late in the afternoon. Jan had already set up camp at a private RV park. There were some massive RVs there! Rob & I went to sit in the hot tub for a bit and started talking to some people about our trip. One of the guys looked so familiar to both of us. Turned out we had homeschooled our kids together! It had been 15 years since we saw them last. Small world!

Lunch in Solvang
The next day was a scheduled rest day. We walked to breakfast, did laundry, and went into Solvang with Doug & Jan. Teresa & Leigh also joined us for the day. Rob actually found someone to give me a massage on a Sunday afternoon which was absolutely wonderful! The other highlight of our Solvang day was a little museum about the Danish immigrants to Solvang. We ended the day at a fabulous tapas wine bar back in Buellton. At Avanti we were given a card to insert into wine dispensers. You could choose a 1-oz taste, a half glass, or full glass of more than 20 local wines. The food was great too!

We parted ways with Doug & Jan the next morning. My leg was feeling much better but we weren't sure if we could do the planned 72-mile ride to Ventura. We stopped at a bike shop for a minor derailleur adjustment and ended up with new brake pads and a brake cable barrel adjuster. It took a while so we went across the street for lunch and a bag of ice on my leg. We decided to go for the long day and made reservations at a hotel in Ventura.

We rode the route from Santa Barbara to Oceanside in Oct, 2008, so we already had an idea of the ride ahead. We stopped at an amazing garden center just before Carpenteria - Seaside Gardens. Good thing we were on a bike or we probably would have come home with plants, or my favorite fountain! They had acres of gardens designed by different landscapers. This is definitely a place we want to visit again.

Today's ride was much easier than four years ago. Then we were new to touring, and it was a weekend. Riding through Malibu is tough because all the cars parked along the road. The hill near Pepperdine wasn't as bad as we remembered it.  There's not any tent camping in LA proper so we opted for another night in a hotel. Kendal made the reservations and Taylor & Justin met us for dinner. It's after 9:00 pm now. Time for bed. The plan is to ride another 60+ mile day tomorrow and camp in a hiker-biker site.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 6: San Simeon

Cale, our impromptu camp guest, looked at our bike in the morning. We were having a couple issues. The bike did work a little better. We all left around the same time, Cale sprinting up the hill to Hwy 1 while we walked up the steep hill. This was the first time we have walked up a hill! Cale's bike was steel frame but had thin tires and only twenty spokes. He carried all his gear in front panniers. He was breaking spokes. Luckily he rides a lot and has lots of bikes so he knew what to do. Next time I think he will change his set up. Riding day after day carrying gear puts a lot of stress on the bike (and our bodies). Wide tires, deep rims and 48 spokes on our rear wheel. Haven't had a flat yet.

Our first stop was Gorda. Cale was there having breakfast with another bike tourist, Cat. She was riding alone from SF to SLO after rock climbing in Yosemite in between grad schools. We had coffee and goodies.

After Gorda we had two big, long, steep climbs. Our hardest to date. Slow and steady we stopped only once each hill. Imagine we used to stop at the top of Rancho Vista out of breath. That "hill" is barely a bump in the road compared to this trip.

Ragged Point
We lunched at Ragged Point. We had some cell service so I called the office. Gave them encouragement to handle all the issues that have come up.

We had to stop and watch the elephant seals at Point Piedras Blancas.  Mostly young adult males fighting for fun.

Waiting for Jan at our prime campsite
We got to San Simeon State Park before Jan so we picked out a great site and lounged around until she showed up. It was pretty windy so after cooking the steaks we all ate in the camper. Cosy but nice. Funny, we have been together a week but still have things to talk and laugh about. After dinner we walked around the park and then sat around the fire until bedtime (9PM).

Day 5: Limekiln, Big Sur coast

The ride into Limekiln at the southern end of Big Sur was just as scenic as the first half. We had a hard, three mile climb first thing in the morning. It was nice to get it over with right away while we were still relatively fresh. We did have to stop part way up to stretch my back.  We stopped at the Coastal Gallery for coffee and a sweet. The gallery had the coolest bird houses painted in bright colors with steep tin roofs and things like bent spoons, door knobs, or water faucets just under the hole for birds to land on. We bought a beautiful birds-eye maple travel size cribbage board at the gallery. The guy laughed when I said he could keep the box & didn't need a bag - too much extra bulk & weight to carry.  We did a side trip to Julia Pfeiffer-Burns SP for a hike overlooking a waterfall that spills onto the beach below. There are a few walk-in tent sites on the bluff nearby. We made note of them for a future trip.  The last major climb of the day ended just past Lucia. We stopped for our ice cream there and also found a sticker with "I survived Hwy 1" on it. Bought it for our bike tool chest. Everything was expensive at Lucia. Our two ice cream bars & the sticker were over $12; Jan bought us a 6-pack of beer there for $14. It tasted great by the time we found her.  Limekiln campground is on the chopping block next week due to the state budget problems. There were only a few spaces available near the beach when Jan got there. Three fourths of the campground - the part in the redwoods - was already closed. We did get to hike a bit and saw the limekilns for which the park is named. Rob & I crisscrossed the creek a few times to go see an amazing waterfall. We did the same hike with Kendal several years ago.  After dinner (yummy shrimp scampi) another cyclist came by looking for a campsite. We offered him a place to pitch his tent for the night and heard stories of his travels. Cale is much younger than us & is doing the same trip in just one week. We watched the sunset on the beach before returning to our campfire for s'mores.