Central California - Taring Down the Coast - CycleBlaze

Central California

Si capisci Campagnolo, land speed record, night at the rodeo, night with theVirgin Mary.


The bike shop wasn't going to have our bikes ready until the afternoon.  We packed up, and when it was convenient for Ed’s cousin, he drove us back to San Jose.  The Italians in the shop chided us for using our mountain gearing and declared using any rear cog bigger than twenty one teeth put your manhood into question.  One mechanic with a thick Italian accent claimed to have a cousin back in Italy that won a mountain stage in the Giro d'Italia with a 13-19 tooth freewheel cluster.  It was a good natured ribbing.  Ed got a second water bottle for the hot weather.   They straighten out my rim to near new condition and fixed Ed's free wheel and put his new crank on, finally.  Good thing, we were about to have the fastest ride of our lives and perhaps slowest.

After two weeks on the road we were fit and after two days of eating Ed's cousin out of house and home we were energized.  It was late afternoon and a north wind was being suck down the Salinas Valley by the hot summer Sun.  We waved goodbye and took off down the road.  With the strong tail wind we already were going at a fast pace.  The log trucks had been replaced with steady stream of covered trailer trucks hauling freight between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  They pull a lot of wind with them.  We managed to use them as a kind of serial side draft.  With the already strong tailwind the air around the trailer trucks would envelop and pull you along slowly losing their grip and letting go.  I am guessing we would accelerate to speeds up to fifty plus mph before losing the draft.  Then another trailer truck would start to pass us and repeat the sequence.  We averaged nearly forty-five mph (70+ kph) for the first hour on a mostly flat road, and completed one hundred miles in less than three and a half hours.  And then 101 became a freeway, "Bicycles and Pedestrians Prohibited."

Our AAA Trip-Tic map showed no way around it.  We stopped and waited for the State Patrol to come by.  We waited and waited until the black and white cruiser pulled up alongside us.  The trooper drew us a map showing a farm road that would take us into King City and bypass the freeway.  It was getting late, the Sun was setting, there was no moon, no street lights, not even an occasional farmhouse light, and there was a cloud cover and of course we had no flashlight to light the way.  It was so dark we couldn't even see the faintest outline of the  narrow country road, which had no center line.  We could just make out the telephone wires that paralleled the road.  Using these wires as a guide we tried to stay in the middle of the road moving along at a crawl.  When a car approach we quickly jumped off our bikes and stumbled into the fields.  This was the slowest miles of our entire journey.  We crept down the road and leaped into the brush many times coming into King City.  We found one diner still open and had our regular pot roast and mash potatoes for dinner.  Where to sleep?  We rode around town looking for a park to crash in for the night.  We finally stumbled onto the open rodeo arena and put our bikes and sleeping bags in the grandstands and had a pretty good night's sleep.  We were nearing the last section of our odyssey.  There were no more freeways between us and the Mexican frontier. (175 km)

We reached Santa Maria the next day and found we had spent less than $60.00 apiece in nineteen days, which left four uncashed $10.00 travelers checks and change each in our wallets.  We found a suitably fancy restaurant to celebrate and ordered the $6.00 the prime rib plate with a big baked potato with sour cream and chives, mixed green salad with real Italian dressing, freshly cooked vegetables and lots of hot garlic bread.  We found a beautiful small park outside of town nestled in pine trees. It had a shrine to Santa Maria the mother of Jesus. Bedding down with summer fragrance of the pine trees surrounding us, let us know we were nearing home and the end of our journey. 

In the morning we powered over the Coast Range with scarcely a glance at the famous Anderson Pea Soup restaurant with the parking overflowing jammed with tourists. Past Santa Barbara ,which even back then was a getaway haven for the rich and famous of LA and Hollywood. We slept that night at the same beach we had earlier lost our food to the surf on our shakedown ride.  We had a pancake breakfast at the same restaurant as on our training ride.  The pancakes were smaller with only a small pat of butter instead of the ice cream scoop of butter we got in Oregon,  and cost twice as much as in logging country, but cheap fast-food was not far away. We were entering SoCal country (Southern California) and the last leg of our adventure.

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