Thursday, 9 June 2011


There she is...all dressed up with somewhere to go. Namely, Santa Cruz. I needed an inspiration break, so I packed the panniers and headed out on Sunday morning, with thoughts of lighthouse hostels, quiet moments, artichoke garlic bread, new people, stunning vistas, grueling uphills, insane downhills, and celebratory brews at the end. I got everything I wanted.

The adventure began with a bus ride to Pacifica with my fully loaded bike. I had reservations at the Montara Lighthouse Hostel which turned out to be just six miles from where the bus dropped me off. I'm thinking, not too daunting for the first day. However, the first two miles were straight up to the top of Devil's Slide, on Highway 1. There's no place but in the road to ride here, and it was packed with weekend beach goers, and more than enough of those macho guys in big trucks with wide tires who get a kick out of nearly running cyclists into the hillside. They didn't get their way with me, though! Once at the top it was all about the three miles down, and I do mean down. I could have easily hit 50 miles an hour had I left my brakes untouched. But I grabbed 'em, topping out at only about 30. Fast enough for fully loaded. Cruised into Montara with two hours to kill until the hostel opened so I continued on to Pillar Point, where I took pictures. Wanted a beer at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, but there were no open patio seats. Headed back to Montara, for what turned out to be a mediocre plate of fish and chips. I then checked into the hostel. A little slice of heaven. Mileage total for the day, just 16.

It is still a functioning lighthouse, and the hostel part is where the keeper used to live. If you've never done the hostel thing, I will highly recommend it. Most have just about everything you'd want, except privacy. But, that's the draw for many. This is a view from the self-catering kitchen. Nothing to sneeze at there.

The picture above was taken in the morning. The one below was taken at the other end of the day, as the sun sunk below the horizon. The quiet was stunning.

The next morning was about coffee, and an early start in search of breakfast. I made two new friends here. One was heading north, the other was going the same way as me, with the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel next, some 30 miles away. We didn't ride together, though, preferring to go solo.

I stopped in Half Moon Bay, for another cup of coffee, and a cherry danish. Could not have been better. Then it was back to Highway 1, but with a short stopover in the parking lot of a British pub called Cameron's. This place is packed with just the kind of stuff I love to take pictures of.

A London black cab...
...and a couple of old double decker buses...

From here on out it was all about the ride...and artichoke garlic bread. No, really. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse's address is Pescadero...but it's actually about four or five miles outside of the little coastal town. There's not much to see or do in Pescadero, however, cyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers alike all make the trek here anyway...for the aforementioned bread. It's freshly baked all day long and is packed with quartered artichoke hearts and garlic. If you time it just right you can grab a loaf straight out of the oven, take it to the picnic area round back, and just shove it into your mouth! Unreal...but real. When I arrived my new friend from the night before was already there, stuffed..and happy. After I had mine, I bought all the fixin's for a big pasta meal at Pigeon Point, and headed out.

Arrived at the hostel about an hour before check in time, but did not add more miles today. Thirty-four miles down the stunning California coast seemed like just enough.

This hostel even has an ocean-front hot tub, which I took advantage of, after a bang-up meal of spaghetti and more bread. The next day's ride would be about the same as this day's, a little more than 30, with more than enough challenging climbs and declines for relief.

Said goodbye to Pigeon Point at about 8am, after finally getting a decent cup of coffee, but nothing to eat. I was looking for breakfast somewhere, but not really wanting to stop for a sit-down meal. Chose a basket of organic strawberries instead, at a roadside produce stand, as the clouds burned away and bright blue skies opened up. With only 11 miles to go, I was looking forward to the ride being over, but sad that it was over so soon. I hadn't done any sort of touring since my last trip to England to ride the End to End...that ended with me throwing in the towel because both hands went numb. This ride reminded me that I actually love doing this...and I'm so looking forward now to next year's return to finish the E2E...and training for it between now and then.

One of the bonuses from this sort of activity is the refreshing payoffs that are available. I finally got my beer, after three days of riding. Actually had a couple of IPA's at the Surfrider in Santa Cruz, while waiting for my Amtrak connection to home.

But that's not all. I really did have a Skippy burger. It's a burger with Monterey Jack, bacon AND peanut butter. And it is good!! Really.

Gotta ride!

1 comment:

TokyoRacer said...

Looks like it was a great trip. I envy you.