September 21, 2013, Saturday
San Simeon State Park to Atascadero, California
39 miles (running total = 875 miles from Florence, Oregon – journey complete)
Morning comes, the slight light that precedes what one would actually call daytime. I don’t care what time it is, for today is a short one compared to yesterday and many other long days with high mileages. I am but 39 miles from the end of the trail for the Pacific Coast Tricycle Adventure, which for me is a walk in the park.
Everything is wet outside. The fly works well, as the tent is totally dry. The rain covers on my panniers work well, as the panniers themselves are totally dry. Out comes the chamois, and I diligently spend the time removing the excess water from everything. Of course, with the fog still as heavy as it was, I ponder the wisdom of my actions. But at least I can get the tent fly fairly dry before I slide it in its bag. I can dry it out later this afternoon at my destination, where I will have plenty of time for such things, and where the weather will be warm and very dry.
Marking my territory last night worked flawlessly. Mister raccoon did not enjoy the smell I left for him, and realized that this marking marked the end of his territory and the beginning of mine. This is a lesson well learned. It works, but who would talk about such things? Most folks are embarrassed to discuss such topics. Oh well, I guess they can get their bags opened by invaders of the night then. Of course, depending on the circumstances of the trike/bike camp, this countermeasure may not be a practical one. Remember the night at Gualala, north of San Francisco? Well, the government packed us bikers and trikers in such a midget area so tightly that my traveling companions surely would not have thought too highly of me had I initiated this solution there! Our tents were practically on top of one another, and avoiding tripping over each other’s fly lines was a real challenge in the dark. I know I wouldn’t be too happy if another cyclist marked his territory right outside my tent.
Breakfast eaten and all business taken care of, I begin pedaling away. The other cyclist has already left before me. He is fast. I am alone, no more cyclists to chat with. The trek is winding down, and there is a certain sadness wafting through my head about finally nearing the end. While I am of course elated that another successful journey is nearly complete, and look forward to allowing my body to get plenty of rest and experience the life of Riley, there is a call that motivates all trike gypsies to be out here on the open road of adventure and freedom. We are free on three out here, in the best sense of the words, traveling for hundreds of miles and never once having to stop and buy gasoline. We are not prisoners of the big oil conglomerates. I like that. I cannot explain the freedom and wonder that comes with a trike journey to anyone, for it must be ridden to be known!
The final miles into Morro Bay are mostly flat, and my large chainring is the one of choice as the miles move quickly under my trio of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, the rubber that always gets me to my destinations without a flat tire. I have never had a flat tire. I have been warned by mystics that such words should not be spoken, lest Murphy’s Law kick in, but you know what? I have spoken them many times, and still, I have never had a flat out on the road, or anywhere else for that matter. The right tires do make all the difference in the world of tire eating debris.
As I ride, the fog only gets heavier. This turns out to me a little more than the traditional early morning fog along the coast, which really never leaves me damp or wet. Even the heavy fog in Oregon does not leave me wet. But today, the fronts of my pants below the knees, the parts that face forward at 15 miles per hour, are clearly becoming soaked. My shirt is getting quite damp too, and water droplets begin to fall from the bill of my cap. My sunglasses must be wiped off frequently so that I can even see the road well. The fog grows to a visible precipitant I can see ahead of me. Is it rain? Well, let’s just say this: It is as close to a light rain as you can get without saying it’s actually raining today. Regardless of what one might call it, I am damp and wet, and this is the only day of the 19 total days that this has happened to me. It is not heavy enough to don my rain gear, and putting on rain gear would only serve to quickly overheat me, as it is not cold as I pedal along
Halfway to Morro Bay from San Simeon State Park, I begin being passed by bicyclists going north on Highway 1. It quickly becomes evident that this must be a bike club of some sort, perhaps the SLO bicycle club (SLO is the jargon for San Luis Obispo). For miles I watch as these rough riders are flying along towards San Simeon in the light rain. I do not count them, but there are many for quite some time. We all wave as we pass, sharing the dampness this Saturday morning on the Pacific Ocean. They are out for a fun day ride, and recognize that I am out for a long haul journey of many days, apparent due to my heavily laden tricycle.
Fascinatingly, I also see, of all things, three tricycles with this group. They are not riding together, but are spread out among the bicyclists for many miles. One of the trikes, all of which are tadpoles by the way, is a velomobile, a trike fully encased in a fairing, making for higher speed potential, and protecting the rider inside from the elements in the sky. It is orange. The trikers seem to really get a kick out of seeing me heading southbound, based on their hand gestures and verbalizations. I give them all the thumbs-up sign and a big smile.
I arrive in Morro Bay slightly before 11 AM. The huge rock, as is often the case, is fully encased in dense impenetrable fog, and if one had never seen it before, one would not have any clue the massive monolith is even there in this bay called Morro. So today, I just see drizzles everywhere as I am leaving the freeway at exit 279B, which will drop me off at the intersection of Highway 41, called the E.G. Lewis Highway. This road will take me over the coastal mountains into Atascadero.
Into a Chevron mini-mart I pull for a drink of protein, and to make cell calls to Desert Dune regarding progress and to my hostess where the trip will end, so she knows I am about 3 hours out from her one-acre country spread, which she happily refers to as Rancho Relaxo, nestled in the rolling hills above the town of Atascadero. The mileage is not far from here, but the road climbs over the mountains, which will slow my progress from that experienced thus far today.
The female clerk in the mini-mart asks about my trip and destination. When I tell her, she becomes sick with deep fear that I will meet my doom on Highway 41. Seen from her vantage point as a motorist, she is convinced that to pedal this road is suicidal. I have been told this before, by a triker couple in the SLO area, who suggested I ride Highway 46 instead. If a triker listens to enough of this talk, it can undermine the facts and spook you out. My reality over the past 5 years does not support this fear at all. The road I have traveled for the past 18 days has countless areas far “worse” than the one mile section that grips this clerk with fear for my safety, but still, I am grateful for her kind thoughts, but I must leave before I start assimilating her fear.
My ride over into Atascadero is wholly without incident, and indeed, it is not one that induces any fear based on what I see or experience. One mile of it is tight and curvy, just prior to the Cerro Alto campground, but other than that, this road is very enjoyable and relaxing. Even the tight section was less, what some would call, “anxiety producing” than much of what I’ve been riding this whole trip.
As I roll over the summit area of these mountains, and begin coasting down towards town, the sky morphs into a clearing phase, with just a few white cotton clouds, sun out, completely different than in Morro Bay to the west. The weather is warming, and life is good. I pedal my bones into Rancho Relaxo just prior to 2 PM. No one is aware of my presence. Once again, the trike phantom has arrived in stealth mode. Of course, once I twist my shoes out of the pedal bindings, the two click sounds alert Bella, the resident K9, and out she flies with a roar … er, make that a bark – make that many barks. My back is to her as I remove my helmet, sunglasses, hat, and gloves, and I greet her by name: “Hello Bella” I say. Then I hear the Rancho Relaxo proprietor greet me by name. She puts Bella in a secure alternate location until the trike is no longer part of the picture, as sometimes doggies get confused by a tricycle – there is no memory data bank for most dogs as to what they are seeing. Trike? What’s that? Of course, this is true for many humans as well.
This acre of country belongs to an old high school classmate of mine. Okay, she’s not old, at least not any more so than I am, but it was 44 years ago that we were seniors there. I have never met this gal before. In high school, she was an ultra popular song girl, and I was an ultra ignored nobody with no friends. So, needless to say, there were no formal introductions as our two universes never crossed paths in 69. But then, 44 years after graduation, Debbie read one of my books, and what I said resonated in her brain, so she sent an email to who she learned was somewhat of a kindred spirit. And that’s how it all started earlier this year. Once we realized that my 2013 Pacific Coast Tricycle Adventure route coincided with her country acre of relaxing real estate, she put out the invite for me to recuperate after nearly three weeks of pedaling down the coast.
It all worked out well. I had no desire to continue south of Morro Bay, as what awaits a triker down there is not that high on my list of “go to” spots. I grew up in southern California, and am very well aware of how things tend to rapidly deteriorate the farther south one travels. The crowds grow to insane levels, the traffic makes what I’ve seen so far look like an infant’s playpen, and the industrial workings of mechanized progress have done a pretty good job of annihilating the breathable qualities of the human air supply. Morro Bay is the perfect place to bail out of this coastal ride, out where things are still laid-back and easy, out where the air is still clean, and out where people still trust one another.
So, 875 miles from home, in a place I’ve never been before, I am pitied and taken in by a wild woman, a confused dog, and a singing guitarman named Rob. I am fed, catered to, talked to, sung to, and more or less just allowed to relax with nary a care in the world. A warm shower awaits me, and after I shave off my scraggly beard so as not to over excite Bella with thoughts of Big Foot, I settle in to life in four walls again. It seems kind of weird after living on a tricycle and tent for 19 days, kind of like I am in some altered brain-dead state of nonthinking. Heck, I am even served the bizarre plant-based foods I normally eat, but, as most who know me know, I am not nOrmAL by any stretch.
After all, in my sixty-third year of life, I still ride a tricycle! See ya’ …
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until next time