Day 1 – HD Bike 2018 – San Francisco to Half Moon Bay – 35 miles
Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day). We are on the road, just completed day 1 of Bike 2018 and are in a church in Half Moon Bay and totally exhausted! Hills, hills, hills — traffic, traffic, traffic, but we are safe and sound, praise God!
Marie and I drove from Grand Junction to Reno where we met the 2 sisters who are riding with us, Sherry and Mary Ann (60s). Sherry’s son has HD (from father) and is in a NH. She lives in Lewiston, ID and MA lives in Truckee, CA (near Reno). Their mother, Marge, lives in Reno, and Marie and I stayed as a guest of Marge in her senior living center. We also know Marge from HD conventions, but she can no longer go (88), so good to see her again. This is Sherry’s 9th ride with us and MA 5th out of the 20.
Sunday the 4 of us then drove with van piled high with 4 bicycles, 4 luggage, 4 people, driving from Reno to Sausalito, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge (4 hours).
There we stayed with Pastor Paul of the Presby church, and his partner Joey, and 12 yo daughter, Ellie. They all lived in New York City 30 years or so, had other careers, then Paul went to seminary and was assigned to the Sausalito church. The church is right on the bay, with very steep hills, very narrow streets, spectacular views of waves, boats.
Had a great evening with them as they ordered pizza, ate dinner with us, and Joey was a big help to Marie who had to replace her tablet that died in Reno, with a new one from Best Buy. However, then did not get to bed (couch) until 12:30 as we all had organizing to do to bicycle today. And yes, as pastor said, Jonathan, a homeless man slept on the outside steps as he does every night. Pastor told us that the homeless in this area live on boats in the bay. They cannnot dock as cannot pay the fee, so they each drop an anchor and bob out there day and night.
Today, May 28 perfect weather for bicycling, 50s and 60s and no wind. Left church at 7 a.m. We drove the 2 miles from the church to the GG bridge because it was mostly straight up. We could not park on the north side, so drove across, parked on the south side, then all bicycled north across, turned around and bicycled back south across. For those of you who have bicycled the GG, you know it can be tricky, but we were early so not many bicyclists yet, but foggy so could not see the sights from the bridge. The fog lifted as we finished! and there is a hill at each end to get up, blind spots where you go around a pillar and you pray no one is coming. I nearly had a crash.
The next 4 hours were very difficult for MA, Sherry and me on bicycles, and also for Marie driving van through SF, and down the coast, very heavy traffic fo.r 25 miles! For we bicyclists, terrain in SF one short steep hill after another, on bike paths at times, at times on the streets, but shoulders, lost at times. When finally thru SF (1 hour) and on coast, one beach after another, few people this morning, as day went on more people and more traffic for us. Parking lots full. Only a few people in bathing suits, most wearing jackets. There was a 1-mile very steep street to beach with several stop signs going down. You are using your brakes a lot and there is no way you can stop at a stop sign going down the hill, no way you can brake to a stop … You just pray nobody is coming from the side street as you fly down the steep hill. The re were at least 4 stop signs… thank you, Lord, for no traffic this residential area today.
At one time in SF, we mentioned we needed a restroom, and here was a blue porta potty, screeched to a halt, but it was padlocked! Here comes construction worker who unlocks it for us, thank you. He is working on a garage which is below the living quarters of the owners. They are having their garage remodeled into a 1-room unit to rent he said probably for $5000 a month! on the beach.
After SF climb away from the coast into Daly City where there are cookie-cutter houses covering all the hills and 3 very long half mile hills one after the other which we ground up one stroke at a time without having much of a down to recover, wiped us out for a while. Another time we were on a bike path (chose it rather than the highway packed with cars going about 10 mph).This bike path very steep down with narrow switchbacks, and too many people and bikes. Had to drag my feet a couple times at curves, but so steep could not hold bike back with feet, so on down and praying and braking and yelling at people to move over! but politely… bicycle, bicycle…. praying kids and dogs not jumping in front of me. Whew..
At noon, finally meet up with Marie for first time (had missed each other a couple times as in different spots) at a beach where parking lot is so packed that cars are circling waiting for an empty spot. Have lunch there out of cooler, and now much less traffic on hwy so I will drive to church in Half Moon Bay. I have ridden 25 miles. We are only 10 miles out and I program Maps with church address. However, only half mile away it disconnects, so drive by inadvertently. Reprogram and turn around and arrive at church at 3 p.m. where Walter and Sandra from the church meet us with Sandy with sodas and nuts. Walter engineer for Orowheat factory, Sandy housewife who writes and husband scientist with Parkinson’s. She kept us in stiches with stories of the irish (her husband) and his relatives in Ireland, even with the accent! Sherri and MA to her house to soak in hot tub, Marie and I sponge bathe and spend evening writing emails and notes to contacts tmro. To bed on a padded pew, thanking God for safety today. Praying you had a memorable Memorial Day as we did.
Day 2, Bike 2018, Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz – 50 miles
FYO- Forgot to mention, we have our tail lights and head lights on all day. I wear neon yellow vest or neon pink jacket, other gals also bright.
Up off the pews at 5 a.m. and Sandra appeared about 6 a.m., to regail us again with stories of her childhood–a mexican family of 7 coming across the border to work in harvest, moving with 5 kids in car from Mexico with only what they can stuff in the car. She grew up in the fields, but born in America, so only one in her family a citizen. Told us stories of first time they ate strawberries, which they had never tasted before, killed snakes in fields. Such a storyteller – each simple story turned into an adventure by her descriptive narrative; see why she is a write. Told us of her career, husband dying of cancer, she raised 4 kids. Now married to her scientist (she calls “my Dannie” in an Irish brogue), and drives a Mercedes! It could only happen in America.
Today easier, altho longer – fewer long steep hills, but continual rolling hills all day (so we are still pretty wiped out now), more mileage (50 today compared to 35 yesterday), arriving at both churches at 3 p.m., so our speed was faster today. In fact, the first 8 miles south of HMB were relatively flat and we thought “Oh, boy, this is great.” However, rest of 42 miles continual rolling hills one after another. The 2 significant, very long, tough hills were in the San Gregorio State Beach area, and we thought “oh’no.” for what this meant for rest of day, and surprisingly in the 50 miles between HMB and Santa Cruz the only town is Davenport, pop 325, on a popular beach and the traffic much less than around SF, but these 50 miles still busy because it is dotted with one small sandy beach after another, some useable and some too rocky, white tip waves crashing against the rocks. People surfing, sunning, walking, small sand parking areas full. One bad thing about bicyling is that you cannot look at scenery because you have to keep watching where your front wheel is going, traffic behind, hunched over with nose to handlebars going up hills, carefully watching road as speeding down.
At Davenport at 1:30 resting and looking at still another hill before us, not sure we can do one more hill, but with God’s, help… On one hill I was not paying attention, was not down in lowest gear when starting up, tremendously hard and cannot shift on way up these hills, as cannot move hands from handlebars without having to stop or falling over, going so slowly.
We were basically on Hwy 1 all day which was such a relief after being on multitudes of streets and roads yesterday, so already the stress level was down with that news by looking at map this morning. The tourism highlight of the area is Pigeon Point Lighthouse (on tip of rock with ocean on 3 sides) and Hostel 20 miles down the road. Marie and I stayed in the hostel in 2001 where there are 4 houses built in the 50s below the lighthouse, each house about 14 people in dormitory style, each with kitchen, bathrooms. Outdoors lots of flowers. Cold here today with cold wind off ocean, altho sunny. Today in 50s and 60s, sunshine, perfect.
Marie and I were at the van unloading her bike, loading mine, as she was going to ride. A young woman came up, noticed the HD sign on the side of the van, told us her friend’s 10-year-old son died from HD. Interested in info about HD. She and husband from Atlanta touring the coast, driving a white convertible which they rented, loving that luxury!
The lighthouse itself is tall, 115 feet, white, and can be seen from afar unless there is fog. Has been in use since 1872, It is now closed due to damage and they are raising funds for repair. Believe it was working in 2001, and we were able to walk around,(now fenced in). Well, our next stop 6 miles down the road had to be the Pie Ranch with homemade many kind of pies. It is also a little store selling fresh produce which they grow. In between the beaches and green covered hills, were little spots of farm land – one a pumpkin farm, another a berry farm, another a strawberry farm with free tasting. Some fields of artichocks which were very strange looking. MA stopped went into the field to look at a plant to be sure.
Texted Sherry (Trustee at UMC church in Santa Cruz) at noon that we expected to arrive about 3 p.m. I drive van to church as Marie riding the last 4 miles — she 14 miles today and me 36. Once again, thank God for Maps which took me through many residential streets to arrive. There is a school here so parents picking up kids. Sherry in kitchen helping with homeless meal . Church is close to beach and homeless come here at night from beach and charge their phones in the courtyard, which the church approves. However, there is a nightwatchman with a dog around all night.
Shelley has purchased pizza for us!, she makes coffee for Sherry and me, tea for MA, has a 6-pack of bottled water for us to take, which is so thoughtful. Provides a blow-up mattress for Marie, I will sleep on pew, MA and Sherry their sleeping bags and pads on carpeted nursery floor. MA and Sherry back from laundromat and it is only 8 p.m. but we are thinking of going to bed. Choir is practicing in sanctuary so have to wait for my pew. Grateful for another safe special day provided by God. Praying the same for each of you.
Day 3, Bike 2018, Santa Cruz to Monterey – 50 miles
What a tough day from beginning to end! Began as usual about 7:15 with MA, Sherry and me on bicycles and Marie driving. We spent 2 hours just getting out of Santa Cruz and the suburb called Soquel! And riding with these 2 young gals, I am riding to the max all the time to keep up. In the past I have always ridden with Marie at a much slower pace. And of course all of this was one hill after another! One problem was that there is a Soquel Avenue, and a Soquel Street, and we got on the wrong one, nearly went onto the ramp to the highway, then had to run our bikes over the median to get to the other side of the street, and watch for merging traffic at times. We were in the middle of a.m. rush hour. We had to retrace, went in circles and with phone calls to Marie. She is very good about finding us with the van and directing us, and we had maps, but things are never what you think they will be. Two hours later we are out of the city and stop at a KOA for a rest. We look at the map and look at our odometers. We have gone 9 miles on the map but have 18 miles on our odometers. What a start!
From here we surpringly enter farm country in a wide valley with chocolate soil, all hillsides farmed with neat roads running through. Many kinds of vegetables planted, and in one area acres of strawberries planted in rows of white plastic as far as you could see with workers picking. Noticed they each had a tiny wheelbarrow with a fruit box sitting on top that they picked into. In one field kids were running empty boxes out to workers and bringing full boxes back to the trucks. Many people in the fields, many vehicles lining the valley. We so welcomed this area as it was entirely flat — the first in 3 days. However, the roads through here were terrible, chipped, broken — too many autos and also the big trucks of buyers, and we had to go up a very steep difficult hill to get out of the valley with curves in it, so besides bicycling up you are bicycling up the curve, even more difficult.
And a strong wind had developed from the east (ocean) and everytime we turned east it was like climbing a continual hill. After 30 miles, I had enough, and rode with Marie in the van to where a bike trail and she began riding there. I drove the van into Seaside to a shopping area (using Maps), and the bike trail ended there. It was very windy and bitterly cold, so no one wanted to bicycle anymore! We loaded all the bikes and drove to the church 4 miles away.
We are now comfortably settled in a room at St. John’s Episcopal in Monterey. I had made arrangements for the YMCA to let us shower there free, and MA and Sherry then went to a special fish restaurant MA was familiar with while Marie and I ate out of the cooler, she tuna salad and me my favorite peanut butter sandwich.
In talking with Cindy, Sec., there are also homeless women staying here tonight. The church takes them in every Wed, Thurs, Friday for bed and a meal, AND there are some who sleep in their cars on the church property because they have animals, so all 3 churches we have stayed in are involved with the homeless!
And I may not be able to send emails or facebook because my tablet is not charging, so if you don’t hear from me anymore this whole trip, you will know why. However, I will write them, save the daily adventures and send them to you after i get home, and get a new computer battery.
Exhausted again, but we knew this trip was going to be difficult and we chose to do it, soooo we are exactly where we chose to be. It is still an adventure every day, a gift from God. We are blessed to be able to do this.
Day 4 Bike 2018, Monterey to Big Sur River Inn, 42 miles, elevation gain 2760
A day of spectacular scenery, along the ocean most of the day–only high of 58 and very strong cold east wind off the ocean all day, so 4 layers stayed on all day–gray skies all morning, sunshine in afternoon.
We left St. John’s English-style church at 7:15 with all of us loaded and our bikes loaded as we were not sure where we would find the Waterfront bike trail in Monterey. We took a wrong turn and ended up at the front gates of the Presidio! The guard let us in so we could make a U turn! and directed us to the Waterfront and here was the bike trail. So MA, Sherry and I started on it in this beautiful spot of Monterey, filled with flowers everywhere, altho it was very windy, very cold, and gray skies. Immediately we are in Cannery Row, famous Steinbech 1945 book about working in sardine canneries, now these big buildings are filled with small tourist shops, and then bicycle by Monterey’s famous aquarium.
Next is the famous Pebble Peach 17-mile Drive. Quoting from guide book, “This winds by beautifully landscaped mansions on the left side with unobstructed view of the rocky coastline with flowering plantons covering the beach to the white capped waves crashing on the rocks.”
This was basically flat for 10 miles, much appreciated and beautiful with seals covering one craggy rock, barking. A few more miles and we were at the Carmelo Mission (very large) founded in 1770, restored (beige stucco) with museum, library, etc. We did not tour.
We bicycled several tough hills from there to arrive on the main street of Carmel where we met up with the guys from Brazil again–young guys bicycling the West Coast whom we have seen every day somewhere. Very friendly, very good English, polite, and big! They paid for this tour so their gear hauled for them, and we like them a lot. Unhappy today as this is their last day.
From tour book again, ” Tackling the rugged coastline south of Carmel means Intermittent lack of shoulder, a couple of narrow bridges. Navigating these rolling hills requires attention to traffic and steel nerves! and all this is gradually uphill. All of this along the ocean and with being bent over for extra leg power, watching traffic in mirror, keeping front wheel to edge, there is no) sightseeing. Only when we stopped at an overlook did we see the spectacular blues of the ocean, the waves crashing, the mountain sides covered with green trees or grass. We stop to see Point Sur lighthouse on a 300-foot rock in the ocean (still working), also a house beside the lighthouse.
We arrived at Big Sur River Lodge where we have 2 FREE motel-type rooms (beds and shower) for which we are so grateful. Last night at church it was the floor, but I had a recliner and in the middle of the night it folded up with a big crash waking MA and would not recline again, so to the floor for me also, so we really need beds tonight. Last evening we had FREE showers at the YMCA!
Churches take us in as you know, but this 90-mile rugged Big Sur area has no towns, so no churches. What to do? There are several lodges for tourists and state parks for camping. In 1999 we stayed in a yert for $40 at Big Sur Campground. Now the yerts are $240! and prices up from there for motel rooms, rooms in the lodge. Decided to plead our cause and emailed 3 lodges (websites) hoping at least 1 would be generous. All 3 immediately offered us FREE rooms. I was stunned!
We are about 1/3 of the way to the top of the Big Sur area (in the Santa Lucia Mountains),so more up all morning, but so far God has been with us, so we have faith for tomorrow. Now to the office to hopefully send this as router to motel rooms not working for internet. Then we plan to watch the NBL game on the TV in our room. Thank you, Lord for today and all the people who have helped us on our way-way-way.