Pacific Coast Tour Ė Central California

 

Denis Kertz, ©1999

 

 

 

 

Day 26: 10/2/99, Saturday - San Francisco - rest day

Today was a rest day and my legs needed it.They felt tired as I walked to breakfast.On my way I asked a cyclist about a bike shop and found there was one nearby.Later Chauncey told me about another one close by.I called them and found they didnít open until 11:00.A few minutes before 11:00, I took my bike to this shop and explained the rear shifting problem which, starting a couple of days ago, had caused erratic shifting, particularly in the lower gears.I had tried adjusting the rear shifting cable tension but that didnít really help much if any.The bike shop promised to get it back to me by 3:00.

I bought 4 more rolls of ASA 400 slide film and bought 2 water bottles at the other bike shop (spreading the economic impact of my visit to San Francisco around).One of my water bottles had broken and another one had a funny taste so these were welcome replacements.Then I watched college football while waiting to hear about my bike.I had thought about heading down to the wharf but my bike put a crimp in these plans.However, this wasnít a big deal as I had been to San Francisco several times before.

At 1:00 I called the bike shop and they had barely looked at it.At 3:00 I called and they told me my rear bar end shifter was the problem and needed to be replaced although it worked fine in friction mode.I picked up my bike (no charge), glad to know what the problem was but not sure if I would be lucky enough to find a bike shop along the way with a replacement. Later, we went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant.One of the nice things about living in this section of the city is that many restaurants were within easy walking distance.

Day 27: 10/3/99, Sunday - San Francisco to Half Moon Bay SP (Half Moon Bay)[35.1 miles]

I walked to breakfast at a little cafe I found yesterday across from the bike shop and had banana wheat pancakes that were perhaps the best of the trip.Back at Gerryís, I packed up, waved goodbye and was off a little after 10:00.Today was the annual Castro block party and streets in the neighborhood were already blocked off.However, Gerry had suggested the best route out which was easy on a bicycle.I retraced my route back to the Golden Gate Park and I took the Martin Luther King Drive through the park.At the end of the park, I picked up the bike path along the Great Highway heading south.

Eventually, I picked up Highway 35 with a wide shoulder but a lot of noisy traffic.At Daly City I took a bypass that paralleled Highway 35 for about 5 miles, providing welcome relief from the noise.The weather was mostly overcast and mid-60s and the sun broke out occasionally.Shortly after the bypass merged into Highway 1, I started a steep climb over Devilís Slide with the shoulder narrowing, then virtually disappearing, then actually disappearing.There was a lot of traffic but fortunately only one RV and no big trucks but this mile section was probably the most harrowing of the trip, being at the mercy of drivers with no room to pull off.Descending wasnít much better as the shoulder would widen and disappear at random, but disappearing mostly just when you could have used a good shoulder.The great view from the top heading down was some consolation.

Back on the flats, I stopped for refreshments in Montara.Riding into Half Moon Bay, I looked for a bike shop at the junction of Highways 1 and 92 but there was no bike shop as the Bible reported.I checked a bike shop from the Yellow Pages but they didnít have any bar end shifters.I picked up some food from the shopping center at the junction and ate at a Subway.Then I started off down Highway 1 and passed the Half Moon Bay State Beach turnoff before I realized how close it was so I turned around and was at the park in less than a mile.

The campground wasnít much and it only had cold, outdoor showers.I saw a disturbing sign warning about bike thefts and the need to lock up bikes in a car or tent.I checked with the campground host who said about 5 bikes were stolen last year but he hadnít heard of any thefts this year.Nevertheless, I flipped my bicycle upside down and was able to put it under one of my tentís two vestibules with the front wheel removed.I called my ex-boss, Rich, who was scheduled to be in a resort area just south of Santa Cruz starting tomorrow so we could try to get together.We decided to meet at the New Brighton State Park tomorrow and I would call about 3:00 to let him know how I was progressing.

After cleaning up, another cyclist came along carrying something I couldnít see but not big enough to be a tent or sleeping bag.He stopped at the other picnic table next to mine.Shortly, he asked where I came from and was headed.Then he asked if I would like a beer (his package) and I found that hard to turn down.When he delivered a beer, I learned the life and times of Todd who grew up in this area and was visiting a relative.Todd worked on a maintenance crew in Yosemite and knew the guy responsible for the Yosemite killings this summer and had been interviewed several times in that regard.He had a 2 year old son of whom he was very proud and was determined would not grow up without a father like he did.But the unmarried mother was pregnant again and she didnít know whether Todd or another guy was the father so a paternity test was planned to decide this.This was weighing heavily on Toddís mind and the reason for his visit to the park, to get away from it all.Todd also told me how he was struck by a drunken driver when in high school while riding a bike and was in a wheel chair for over a year.

Todd had an annoying habit of ending every other sentence with a ďKnow what I mean?Ē.I enjoyed the beer but could have done without some of the conversation.This just reinforced that TNSTAAFD - thereís no such thing as a free drink.Know what I mean?

Day 28: 10/4/99, Monday - Half Moon Bay to Sunset State Beach (Santa Cruz)[78.2 miles]

I headed back into town for breakfast and located a restaurant with a pretty decent breakfast in the same shopping center where I ate yesterday.I needed a good breakfast to get off to a good start to make good time to meet Rich by late afternoon.On the road by 8:30 and after a reasonable warm up there was a long climb but the only real one of the day.The day started very cloudy and about 60F.Initially, there were produce farms and fields but that changed after about 10 miles.There were some nice views along the coast from elevation and one looking east towards the Santa Cruz Mountains.Nice, small beaches appeared periodically.

After smooth sailing on the easy route with some relaxed grades, I stopped at Ano Nuevo State Reserve, a popular seal watch area.But I discovered it was a 3 mile loop hike and decided I had better push on.Besides, there was a horde of small kids, probably a school outing, just taking off on the hike too.I continued another 10 miles to Davenport and stopped for refreshments.Another 10 miles and I took the Santa Cruz bypass off of Highway 1and looped along the shore through Santa Cruz.Downtown Santa Cruz had a huge beach that must be something on summer weekends.

I made good time and made it to New Brighton, the planned rendezvous, by 3:00.My ex-boss, Rich, was staying at Seascape Resort in Aptos which I knew from a basic map wasnít all that far away but I didnít know exactly how far.Since I had time I stopped at a food mart and found a detailed map of the Santa Cruz area.After calling Seascape for directions, I discovered the resort was just off my route, just about 8 miles further.So I continued on and had no problem finding the resort, maybe a mile off my route.I called Rich and surprised him by telling him I was in the lobby.Rich was suitably impressed with my bike setup and trip so I let him buy me a couple of beers in the resort lounge.

Finally, I had to leave since I needed to find food (Rich had a business dinner engagement) and get to Sunset Beach Park before dark.There was a little shopping center nearby and I got a delicious smoked salmon sandwich from the deli and pulled some more cash out of an ATM machine.Sunset Beach was another 4 miles down the road to the turnoff plus another mile or two that I was unaware of to the campground.It was rapidly getting darker and I just made it to the campsite while there was a little light left.Unfortunately, there were three campground areas and I didnít know which one had the hiker-biker sites.Since I didnít have time to search all three sites, I rode to the last site, not seeing signs at the entrance of the other two for hiker-biker, and rode through the loop.With no sign of a hiker-biker site, I picked a regular campsite and set up camp in the dark using my little single AAA battery flashlight.

Day 29: 10/5/99, Tuesday - Sunset State Beach to Monterey[41.5 miles]

I paid my hiker-biker fee as I exited the park and headed back to the main road on a clear day.This is a major produce farming area and most of the day would be flat with views of many fields growing artichokes, pumpkins, and strawberries.It was common to see fields with many workers out harvesting and I was glad I was riding a bike rather than harvesting, although I wondered how many workers might have resented my freedom as they saw me wheeling along.

I left the route and headed a couple miles inland to a town that turned out to be Watsonville.Nothing looked like a restaurant until I passed an unassuming building with a line of parked vehicles and a man leaving with a Styrofoam food case.I surmised this building must be a cafe and stopped for breakfast.

After eating, I backtracked to the route although later I would discover I should have jumped on Highway 1 in town.After 4 miles of zig zagging I rejoined Highway 1.In another 8 miles, cyclists were required to exit Highway 1, which was no problem as there were parallel roads and eventually a bike path that took me all the way to Monterey.I missed a turnoff to the bike path downtown but a query got me back on track and got me down on the wharf where I stopped at a visitor center.

Armed with some maps, I cycled past Fishermanís Wharf and along Steinbeckís famous Cannery Row to the Aquarium where I paid $16 to enter.Iím not the museum type but the Aquarium was very good and I spent a couple of hours there.Next I wandered through Cannery Row and Fishermanís Wharf looking for food.Just when I settled on an outdoor food spot, I was told it was closed so I took the hint and moved on.At Commerical Wharf I had fish and chips at a small cafe.The food was OK but the breakfast menu looked even better and the cook said they opened at 8:00.

After eating, it was time to find the Vetís Memorial Park Campground which was on top of a hill.Initially, it was a fair grade but the hill became steeper and steeper.I finally made it without stopping but it was a challenge and one of the top 5 climbs so far.Seems like I should have gotten a free site for the effort but I paid $5 for a hiker-biker site.Tomorrow I had to decide whether to make it a layover, exploratory day or to explore in the morning and ride on in the afternoon.

Day 30: 10/6/99, Wednesday - Monterey - exploration day[41.1 miles]

In the morning, I paid for another day and headed downhill to the cafe on the wharf only to find they werenít open at 8:00 and there was no sign of life.So I headed back downtown to another cafe and had great buckwheat banana pancakes and bacon.Then I started on my tour along the wharf to Cannery Row and onward.

All along the coast were low lying rocks extending offshore with lots of birds and an occasional seal.This was easy pedaling on an unloaded bike and I intended to keep it that way to make this a semi-rest day.After a while I came to the famous 17 Mile Drive gate where cars pay $7 for the privilege of seeing how the rich and famous live but bikes get in for free.However, thereís no such thing as a free gate and cyclists had to sign their life away on a form acknowledging that vehicles can be a pain in the a** and 17 Mile Drive cannot be held responsible for that.

Initially, 17 Mile continued along the coast and along the Spanish Bay golf course.I watched a foursome tee off on a beautiful hole and then saw an ugly sight - 3 golfers getting in a GOLF CART and riding off.Then I saw a beautiful sight - the 4th golfer picking up his bag and WALKING as golf was meant to be played (unless you have a disability like Casey Martin).

A little while later, I saw signs for Pebble Beach and pulled into the golf course parking area where I could see the 1st hole.I worked my way down by the lodge and saw the famous 18th hole and walk up to the roped off 18th green for a photo.Continuing on, I followed another road from 17 Mile to the lodge and saw several holes including the 2nd and 3rd holes and what I think was the 8th hole, a short downhill hole to the bay.I was really tempted to jump on the cart path as it looked like it was made for cycling and I bet I could outrun any cart today (MONTEREY NEWS HEADLINE:Mystery Cyclist Eludes Pebble Beach Golf Cart Posse).

But its onward and shortly a sign pointed to Carmel and I turned off.This lead to Carmel Beach that had awesome white sand which I discovered when I walked a short ways on to the beach.Speaking of awesome, an attractive woman walked out on to the beach to her significant other (or just some dude who was incredibly lucky) and removed her shirt and shorts to reveal a skimpy top and NO BOTTOM!No, wait, there looked to be something after all.It was a bottomless bottom with a waist band.Aw, it was just a thong bikini, nothing to get excited about.More interesting, from the beach you could see Pebble Beach and the 8th and 9th holes in particular.

Leaving the beach, I rode up and down Ocean Ave with all of the Carmel shops and then returned to 17 Mile Drive.17 Mile Drive started a long steep climb in a forested area with no houses and I was very glad to be unloaded.At the top began a winding descent, past Poppy Hills and back to the start of 17 Mile Drive.Along the way, a frustrated driver in a van asked me how to get out of the 17 Mile loop.Not really sure except for the way I was going, I had to shrug my shoulders and pedal on.

Shortly after getting back to the shore at one of the local golf courses, I saw 2 deer feeding right in front of a par 3 green, oblivious to any danger.A elderly couple foursome of less than stellar golfers managed to tee off without alarming the deer, apparently a mother and fawn, who finally moved away when the foursome approached on carts (the foursome was probably a lot more dangerous in their carts).

Back in town, food was in order.I rode downtown by what I thought was a Mexican restaurant but worried as no customers were in sight.Riding around the area, I spied what every cycling tourist longs for - an All-you-can-eat Pasta Bar.The food was decent and the quantity perfect.Then I picked up a few necessities and returned to camp where the uphill ride was much more reasonable on an unloaded bike.Not a bad rest day - 41 miles.

Day 31: 10/7/99, Thursday - Monterey to Pfeiffer-Big Sur SP (Big Sur)[40.3 miles]

Leaving camp, I went south on Skyline Dr and immediately began a steep climb, which didnít seem fair starting right off. I missed the Skyline Forest Dr but quickly realized it and back tracked to pick it up and another short steep climb to Highway 68 where it was rush hour and the challenge was to make a left turn without getting impaled by a car.I had to wait about 10 minutes for a break in the traffic.Shortly, I picked up Highway 1 and exited on Ocean Ave into Carmel where I was yesterday.I asked about breakfast and got directed to a small cafe around the corner for an OK, overpriced breakfast, about what I expected.After breakfast, I asked about a bookstore in the hope of replacing my reading light that had expired last night.I had to wait about 45 minutes until the bookstore opened at 10:00 only to find they didnít have any reading lights.Fortunately, there was a Sharper Image close by and I got their last one, a fluorescent job for $20 that proved to be very nice.

It was a perfect morning, with sun and temperature in the 70s.I rolled down Ocean Ave to the beach where the thong bikini was gone and turned left along the residential section of the coast, with many small homes with 2 bedrooms and 1 car garages which probably go for a minimum of $400K from what I saw in the real estate section.Merging back on to Highway 1, I climbed a little with a nice view of Carmel Bay and Pebble Beach in the distance.A little while later I cycled through Point Lobos State Reserve which had a very nice little ride along the coast and another one to a nice cove with another view of Pebble Beach.

Now officially in Big Sur territory, the route followed a long stretch of great views along the coast with huge, rambling hills cutting off steeply at the coast where big rocks jutted from the sea producing white water from the crashing waves.I made slow progress due to the need to make frequent stops to observe the breathtaking views.Riding was a bit difficult as there was little or no shoulder when it was needed the most along with a fair amount of traffic.There were few RVs but huge tour buses replaced them.

After about 30 miles, Highway 1 headed inland and I passed an area used to organize to fight the couple of forest fires still underway in the Big Sur.I smelled some smoke and saw traces in the air.I stopped at the town of Big Sur for refreshments and continued on to the Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park for camping where flies were a real menace.It was a short day as planned where the next camp was almost 30 miles away with some significant climbing.With the delay in Carmel plus the delay to admire all the great views, the short day was the right choice.

The park had a lodge and restaurant but I didnít like what I saw checking the restaurant so I headed back down the road a mile and nuked 2 burritos along with a 24 oz Bud Light for $5.50 which was as good as it gets.I also got advice on a place down the road 5 miles for breakfast in the morning.Back in camp, I met a cyclist from Sacramento who had just done the coast trip and managed to get a job locally in a restaurant.So he had just ridden back from Sacramento with all of his belongings strapped to his bike and a kiddie trailer that looked pretty full.But he didnít know where he was going to stay long term since he couldnít stay in the hiker-biker site forever and this was not Condo City.

Day 32: 10/8/99, Friday - Big Sur to Kirk Creek CG (Lucia)[29.6 miles]

I pulled out of camp and immediately tackled a long hill, 2.5 miles and pretty steep although I was doing OK in low gear.Just the way to get the heart pumping first thing in the morning.I was looking for the breakfast place I was told about on the left and I passed a place on the left that didnít look like it.Just when I thought I had missed it I rounded a curve and there it was.Breakfast was very good if expensive which I expected.Continuing, the road hugged the coast again and smoke was in the air from the forest fire.I also suspected the haze was at least partially due to smoke.

Today would be a short ride since I basically broke yesterdayís normal ride into two short ones.The view along the coast was outstanding, with Highway 1 cut into the side of large brush covered hills that dropped sharply to the sea.I stopped at the Julia Pfeiffer Burn State Park for a short 1/4 mile hike to a view of a waterfall streaming to the beach.I also met two touring cyclists from San Luis Obispo (SLO) who were heading north for the day before turning around and heading back to SLO.The weather was warm and quickly I was down to short sleeves.After 25 miles, I stopped at Lucia, which was the last food before Kirk.Not really hungry, I nevertheless nuked a bean and cheese burrito.

Four more miles and I was in camp as the next good place was another 40 miles.I set up and took a trail down to the beach where I read and watched three surfers.I could also see Highway 1 heading south and considered that my plan about heading four miles to Pleasant Valley for food was probably more effort than it was worth.Unfortunately, this camp didnít have showers so it was a sponge bath night.

Later, I took another path down to a different part of the beach where some guy had declared this to be a nudist beach.Then I watched the sunset in all its glory.That night while in my tent I noticed a lot of flickering lights so I checked outside and saw that regular campers were carrying their stuff from their vehicles into hiker-bikers sites.

Day 33: 10/9/99, Saturday - Kirk Creek to San Simeon State Beach (San Simeon)[48 miles]

In the morning I saw there were 3 wannabe hiker-bikers and there were some cars parked along the road.There was some up and downs when I started and when I got to Pacific Valley I never saw any place to eat so I was glad I decided I wasnít that hungry last night.Just down the road I saw that the next campground was jammed packed with what I assumed were weekend camping enthusiasts.However, later I saw a Jade Festival sign, which was probably the reason for the overflow camping.

After 9 miles of ups and downs, I came to Gorda which I had previously heard from a couple of sources had exorbitant food prices, being kind of the middle of nowhere.Nevertheless I stopped since its hard to know what you will find down the road, especially in the off season.First I tried to get a paper and was told none existed in the market-cafe-gas complex.OK.So I ordered the three banana nut pancakes for $9.95.I decided that was all I could afford, not knowing yet what coffee cost.Later a woman came in and asked for a coffee to go and was told $2.25.When she questioned the price (ďfor a cup of coffee?Ē) and I told her ďWelcome to Gorda.Ē

While the price was about double normal, there was free entertainment.There were 2 waiters and it soon became obvious that one guy was taking care of all the customers and the other guy appeared to be doing busy work.Eventually the first guy told the other one to leave and then the second guy would disappear for a while, put in a short appearance, and disappear again.Then when I paid my bill with my VISA the first guy filled in a zero for the tip and asked for the tip to be left in cash.I thought that was strange until later I figured the guy was going to collect the cash tips and make sure none was divided up with the other guy.So if you figure $5-6 for entertainment, breakfast wasnít all that expensive.

During breakfast, a woman approached and asked about the trip and said the Pacific Coast trip was her dream.She and her boyfriend/husband were on their way to San Luis Obispo from Santa Cruz and had stayed in Gorda last night so they did about 110 miles.Later I was to see their bikes at Ragged Point and she had only a large handlebar bag and he had 2 modest rear panniers.So relatively light bicycles but still significant miles considering the climbing.

From Gorda, Highway 1 descended to sea level and then climbed to about 800 feet.I had noticed over the last several days that the big climbs were easier and sometimes I didnít even need my lowest gear.I wasnít sure if I was getting stronger or the lower mileage made my legs fresher.After the peak, I descended to 300 feet and another climb to 500 feet but this one was a little steeper requiring my lowest gear, probably punishment for my temerity at thinking I was getting stronger.This climb would be the end of climbing for the day.

All along, the route still followed along the coast with great views.I could still smell the smoke and there were some ashes on my tent in the morning.It was another warm day and I was already in my short sleeves.On the descent from the last climb, I stopped at Ragged Point for refreshments and found a restaurant that would have been a better choice for breakfast although it was another 12 miles past Gorda and probably didnít have free entertainment.Here I met the Santa Cruz couple again, now on their bikes.

From this point the road was essentially flat and I was zooming along.After 30 miles I noticed some driftwood on the beach only to realize shortly that the driftwood was really seals sunning themselves on the beach.A 1/2 mile later I stopped at a parking lot and took a trail along the beach.There were sea otters bobbing off the coast too far to really see but there were two coves and a beach area with probably 50 elephant seals in the coves and 2-3 times that on the beach.These seals didnít bark.They uttered deep guttural grunts and belches.Some of them also used their flippers to flip sand on themselves as they sunned.Unfortunately, this being a weekend there seemed to be almost as many humans as seals.All in all, I spent about 1.5 hours watching humans watch seals.

Just down the road was the famous Hearst Castle (which I was to learn later was the most popular attraction in California after Disneyland) built by the famous publisher.Even though Iím not the museum type, it was still early afternoon so I decided to drop by the visitor center where tickets are purchased and busses take customers to the castle on the hill.I browsed through the visitor center and learned a little and probably came away a better man.

Just a couple miles down the road was San Simeon with a population of 462 and a row of motels on both sides of Highway 1 - probably almost as many rooms as people.I saw a Mexican restaurant and decided to eat before camping just down the road.When I sat down, two cute, young Mexican girls (about 8 years old cute) attended to those of us on the outside patio.I think this was a ploy to ďcutesyĒ the customers into bigger tips.So I fought off the impulse but the girls were undeniably cute, especially the one who kept slyly smiling at me, undoubtedly trying to weaken my resolve.The burrito I had was excellent and almost more than I could eat.I tipped more than usual.

Just a couple miles to San Simeon State Beach and I started paying attention to my rear wheel which had developed a noticeable thump over the last couple of days.Looking down at the wheel I could see the periodic sideways wobble.In camp after unloading the bike, I looked closer using the brake as a reference point.It looked like I might need some truing but I also noticed a short section of the tire sidewall looked damaged.I hoped I could get this taken care of in Cambria or perhaps SLO tomorrow.

I had finished my second paperback book so I headed a mile back into town hoping I could find another paperback.I lucked out and found a gift shop with used paperbacks and picked one up for $3.50.Back in camp I met the two tourers from SLO again, one who told me about the Jade Festival that was probably the reason for the overflow camping at Kirk and the other campground.One of the guys also told me about a bike shop in Cambria and also Alís Cycling in SLO which would be open on Sunday if I needed to check my rear wheel.

Day 34: 10/10/99, Sunday - San Simeon to San Luis Obispo[43.1 miles]

I talked to the SLO guys a few minutes before they took off.Then I packed up and headed into Cambria for breakfast at a place recommended by one of the SLO guys.After asking, I found the restaurant and had a good breakfast although it was a bit short on quantity.I checked the bike shop in Cambria but, not surprising, it was closed on Sundays.

Other than for a short hill climbing out of Cambria, this was easy cycling.Eventually two guys from a supported bicycle tour caught up with me and one of them started a conversation.He was from St. Joseph, Missouri, and had joined a Seattle-San Diego tour a little north of San Francisco.He used to be a marathoner but gave that up in favor of cycling to save his legs.He had cycled in New Zealand and South Africa.Yesterday, his tour group had to do a century ride from Monterey to San Simeon - one of the hazards of using a supported tour in an area with few accommodations.After an interesting conversation, he rejoined his buddy up the road a bit.

At Cayucos I exited Highway 1 to take a bypass, which turned out not to be a good idea as the town was hosting an arts fair and I had to walk my bike through town.Rejoining Highway 1 (Cambriaís library was closed on Sundays and Mondays and the bike shop closed on Sundays), I cruised into Morro Bay, a town of 10,000, with nice views of the beach and the Morro Rock, a distinctive rock just off shore.As I was thinking about a place to stay and a bike shop, library, and Laundromat, a couple cycling back to Morro Bay from breakfast in Cayucos caught up with me so I started asking.Eventually they suggested a hostel in SLO that was within walking distance of downtown and apparently near the Alís Cycling that the SLO guy told me was open on Sundays.Since this was only about 15 more relatively easy miles and pretty much along the way, I headed to SLO.

The shoulder along Highway 1 was very wide so the fast traffic was not a problem.However, as I neared a short bridge, the shoulder narrowed considerably and I focused attention on making sure I stayed on the shoulder and avoided the bridge rail when WHAM I was hit in the back and a car sped on.Somebody in the car hit me either with the flat of his hand or something like a newspaper.This initially stung quite a bit and was quite a shock too, given the unexpectedness.After the stinging and shock subsided, I wished I could have caught up with them.What they did could have easily caused a serious accident but was probably just a joke to them.However, it was probably a good thing I never caught up with them because I was in the mood to do some serious damage to their bodies.I probably would have gone ballistic and thereís no telling what might have happened.

Getting over this, I made it into SLO and came to a bridge under repair that I was told would block me from the hostel so I jogged around it and continued on a few blocks looking for the hostel that should be nearby.Not sure exactly where, I asked a woman getting out of a parked car and she pointed right in front of me - I was virtually staring at a normal looking house that was the hostel.Unfortunately, the hostel was closed from 10:00-4:30 but I found a guy on the side porch, who later I learned was staying there, working on a bicycle so I asked and he directed me to Alís Cyclery which was within easy cycling distance.

At Alís Cyclery, I checked in at the maintenance entrance and described the thumping problem with my rear wheel.The guy checked it out and observed a bad patch of sidewall that I had noticed.They had the same Continental 700x32 tire in stock (the last one) and the guy replaced the tire and did some minor truing for $49.I was impressed when the mechanic removed my tire entirely by hand without the use of any tire levers.They also had a replacement Dura-Ace bar end shifter but the mechanic noticed my rear derailleur was an Ultegra and he said Shimano didnít guarantee they would work together properly.So I stayed with my friction shifting.

After checking out the bike store that was very extensive, I met a couple outside the shop.They asked about the trip and the bike (you can tell real cyclists because theyíll start conversation as an excuse to get closer to check out your bike and setup).Then I showed them the Bible and they talked me through the rest of the trip and gave lots of advice, most of which I would forget but some pointers were helpful.I asked them about a library and got pointers to about where it was (locals often have trouble giving precise directions; they know how to get there themselves but they often donít remember the actual street names).

So I headed back into the main part of town and started looking.At a corner I asked another cyclist who apparently didnít know either but looked around quickly and pointed it out - diagonally across from the corner I was on with LIBRARY in big letters.Oh well.But it was closed on Sundays and didn't open until 10:00 on Monday.So I killed a couple of hours eating some yogurt (OK, a LOT of yogurt) in a store where you fill your own cup and get it weighed and did a little grocery shopping.

Then I cycled back to the hostel at about 4:00 where I met Kevin who, along with Michael who I met earlier, were staying at the hostel while working to make some $$ before continuing on the road.Michael had a fully suspended mountain bike with a lighting setup and a hand built trailer.Kevin had an older racing bike with unbelievably big gears for touring, a 52x42 and something like a 12-21 cassette.I donít know how he made it up hills unless heís very lightly loaded or superman.As I waited a guy from the Netherlands arrived and started asking questions about travel.He was touring in a car (ugh!) from San Francisco and needed to end up back in San Francisco and wanted to do a side trip to Yosemite.A couple of other guys also showed up while we were waiting.When 4:30 arrived, I got checked in for $14.25, sharing a room with two other guys.I quickly unpacked my bike, took a shower, and gathered up a load of laundry for the hostel washer ($2) which I hung up outside to dry.

One ďinterestingĒ guy just sat on the front porch swing and read a paperback, making no obvious attempt to talk to anyone.He sat there reading while waiting for check in and again after check in.He made me look like an extrovert by comparison.There ended up being quite a few people staying, including 5 in my room.This was a good location, within easy walking of downtown where I had dinner at a barbeque place that was very good.Later that night, I found a hostel bulletin board containing a list of places for Internet access and I made a note for tomorrow.

 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 1999. All rights reserved.