We woke up full of excitement and after a quick breakfast we said our farewells to Mark and headed off on one of the most iconic rides of our entire trip!
The ride up to Golden Gate Bridge was surprisingly quite and as we approached the road it took us first under the bridge before winding its way back up and onto the top. With the west sidewalk closed for maintenance we headed down the East path, stopping for celebration photos.
There were plenty of other people doing the same thing and we weaved our way slowly between tourists, cyclists and runners to get to San Fransisco.
Still unsure of today’s destination, due to waiting for a reply on warm showers hosts, we took a leisurely lunch in a park and watched a few games of discof and checked out some of the more unusual animals. During which time we decided to push on for the day and leave San Fran behind.
As we headed south along the west coast of the city the wind picked up, but that wouldn’t stop us and we just got down in the drops and pushed hard.
Despite the constant wind the views were still amazing!
We went through the brand new Tom Lantos tunnel that was awesome and created the best echo yet.
For most of the day we took great pleasure in riding this cycle path along the coast, although it felt like Alpe D’Huez at times.
We decided to stop at the first state park with hiker/biker rates ($5 per person in stead of the standard $25-30 for a spot), which was Half Moon Bay. Here we had a memorable experience with some local homeless guys. Regardless of this being a campsite there was no actual barrier from the public footpath. One guy that was just trying to find a place to sleep whilst the other guy was under the influence of something and decided to start a fire with some of the decorative logs and stools. Due to his antics the park ranger was notified by a number of other guest. Though when the ranger came to investigate the guy was off collecting yet more wood, this resulted in the Park ranger mounting the chaps bike on the back of his truck and driving off with it. A nearby RV owner Sean kindly let us camp nearby to his site just in case the drunk guy returned. As it happened he did and he was fuming and aggressively stormed off in search of the park ranger and his bike.
Sean kindly invited us to share his fire and we finally got to tick off ‘seeing inside a RV’ on our bingo board. It was as snazzy as we were expecting and had all of the mod cons. We wearily sipped some margaritas and got to know Sean and his interesting life. He had previously been both a pro golfer and race car driver, but had been involved in a serious car accident which ended both of these careers. He was a very generous and kind hearted soul and we shared a pleasant evening with him.
When we awoke the next morning Sean had left two huge blueberry muffins for us, delicious. The tent was surrounded with a eerie mist so we had a lazy morning in an attempt to let the tent dry. I went down to the beach to catch some waves. They are so powerful when crashing into the shore not really suitable for swimming.
We eventually set off in search of our luxury cabin which was a present to ourselves for finishing the trip.
After only a couple of miles we were detoured by a traditional local English pub and village shop, in which they had lots of delicacies from back home including Crunchie, Marmite and Rice Pudding. Though we couldn’t bring ourselves to buy a chocolate bar for £3.
Inside the decor was super hectic with bottles and beer mats on the walls, they even had old board games on the ceilings (awesome). This reminded us of home and we both feel ready to come back, for sure. Of course Andy went for Fish & Chips, but opted for a local San Fran brew over any of his usual favorites, including London Pride.
They even had an old London bus, which had cunningly been transformed into an ‘out door’ smoking room
With the union jack flapping proudly flying in the ‘tail’ wind and out stomachs full we set off to continue our ride.
The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, but still lovely, with only one real climb.
For the majority of the time we were treated to yet more amazing views of the coastline and even spotted a light house.
When arriving at the KOA we were pleasantly surprised to get an extra discount due to arriving by bicycle, yippee! The ‘tent’ was decorated in a modern style with a minimalistic touch. It had a four poster bed with cosy heated blankets. Needless to say we both had one of the best night sleep of the trip.
Later that evening and following an outdoor shower and sauna we headed to the open air hot tub to relax under the stars. Here we met a strong minded and motivating female life coach that gave us some good ideas and positive encouragement for our future.
In fact we had such a good time we completely forgot to take any photos, oops.
We stayed in bed till the last possible moment and got on the road just after noon. Santa Cruz was our destination and we had a warm showers awaiting us. This stretch of road had the most farm shop stop per square mile of the whole trip. I think we stopped at three in total, though there was a option of at least six.
The first was the aptly named ‘Pie Ranch’
Where we were warmly welcomed
and after having a good natter with a few of the staff we got to shopping.
Despite the name there was more fresh produce then pie so we opted to stock up on some local vegetables in the hopes of having a chance of cooking in our WS that evening.
We then enjoyed a hot drink in their rustic gardens before getting back on the road.
We had to stop for this one!!
A few miles later we stopped for some fruit, but ended up getting the most divine goats cheese with apricots for lunch.
Then sheltered from the wind and sat and enjoyed our lunch on some comfy hail bail sofas.
We have decided we are taking the coast slowly from now on.
Starting with admiring the cactus.
This road seemed bike friendly and well used by other cyclist which was a relief after some previous roads this week.
The coast line was absolute bliss!!
When arriving in Santa Cruz we headed straight to Rita’s. She welcomed us into her home and we spent the evening making a delicious home cooked meal with the veg we bought. Rita was a strong independent bike fanatic that was babysitting the cutest kittens.
Though this sigh wouldn’t bode well in any English recreational area i.e. Southsea Common where we love a martini or 3!
Saw a proper ghetto ball court…
Spotted the head office off Santa Cruz bikes, but it was closed on a Saturday?!?!
Nice to know fire arms are prohibited here, if only on the University campus.
We walked for miles, but the day was beautiful and it was a pleasant change not having the bikes. Hunger strikes so we drifted into town and to Andy’s delight found $1.50 pizza slices. After two trips and four huge slices later he was fully satisfied, for now.
The Yanks sure don’t do things by half’s!!
Spotted a piece of home….MotivWhat?!
That afternoon we went to the Bike Church to get Alex’s brake cable fixed. This community set up was brilliant and hopefully what bike recycling will be in the future.
It was very busy so we had to wait about half an hour before getting into the work shop. Though when we entered the mechanics were super helpful and supported me in successfully learning how to change a brake cable myself. Andy was very proud!!
Beautiful ride and weather today as we crossed some man made creations that were eye catching to say the least.
Finally saw some seals we had heard them the other day in Santa Cruz, but were too high up the cliff. So we got to see a few full fishy friends (the smell was pretty rotten).
Even the bikes in the US are bigger
We officially completed the mileage we set out to do today finishing on 5027 miles, yipee!!
We had a warm shower booked slightly off course in Salinas with Jerome and his beautiful wife. They were great company and active cyclist.
Of course they have a standard tandem in the garage!!
As it turned out they had ridden this very tandem in Portsmouth! They had taken it on their honeymoon years ago and ridden across the UK and some of Europe with it! Very cool 🙂
We set out that morning with our own personal tour guide. Jerome had decided to take us to Marina via his own route which was great news for us.
We were traveling through the ‘fruit bowl’ where the majority of Americas berries are grown.This is a 10 mile wide by 100 mile long valley made up of lots of huge farm fields.
This area is predominately worked by Mexicans and Jerome gave us a bit of a history lesson in terms of how the boarder has changed over the years and how things are at the moment.
The beaches were certainly getting more tropical and tempting for swimming.
A large part of the day we had the privilege of using a smooth, off road, coastal, cycle path aka perfect!!
Great way to welcome someone home!! I wonder if Nick P had been on a bike ride as well?
First sighting of a Spanish historical building.
Here is some more moral support…’When you feel like giving up Keep Going!‘
We enjoyed a Thai lunch with Jerome at his favorite restaurant, which was so good Clint Eastwood had eaten there in the past, then went our separate ways and continued down the coast.
We caught a glimpse of more seals disguised as rocks.
Tried to remember our new motto of going slowly and decided to stop on an idyllic pebble beach for a while..
and take five.
Some more talented Californian surfers!!
We have hit the time of year where the antlers are starting to form, very impressive!!
One of the famous Spanish missions.
That evening we arrived late at a remote Andrew Molasses state park (recommend by Brenda) just outside of Big Sur then whipped the tent up and snuggled in.
Another rest day which seems ridiculous having three in one week. We literally did nothing bar catch up with the blog, sleep and watch these little critters, o and sleep some more.
We had a short day ahead of only 30 miles though it was a very steep climb up to Big Sur. The morning was errie with a thick fog drifting in onto the coast line.
Pausing half way up for the most expensive coffee of the trip, possible of our lives, was a good plan because it was delightful.
Stopped to get provisions in a local store might of bought too much…..!
Decided to re charge ourselves and equipment in the local library which turned out to be very hip with a unique community venue attached. This was a beautiful space with tipis surrounded by redwood we finally left there hours later, whoops.
We headed for Lucia which made me think of Miss Primrose and I hope she is well and happy with her beautiful family!!
The cliff edges were making Andy and even myself a little uneasy
Sam, we sourced a Big Sur bar in a local cafe and after you have got Andy hooked we had to make the expensive purchase at nearly $5 a bar, ouch!! But wow are they awesome!
Thinking of you Lucia, feel the love!!!
Met a fellow cycle tourist from guess where? Before you inquire yes I did ask where he was from, dough!!
More impressive bridges!! We actually ended up camping under this one in a hidden campsite with the steep graident of the trip!! Must of been 20% at least.
Great reward for a hard days work.
This ride has to be noted as one of the my favorites due to the rolling, but enjoyable hills and phenomenal scenery, definitely a memorable afternoon and evening. We had banana boats and enjoyed the best camp spot yet next to a flowing river surrounded by redwoods.
Finally got the timing right on the second to last day we were on the road before 9am and set off down the coast. Here we met more cycling adventurers heading south.
Now you see me know you…
Over lunch we started to get a little down hearted due to some of the interaction we had experienced over the past couple of days. That was all just about to change though, first we meta delightful fellow that was interested in the trip and our bikes. Later a lovely couple over heard the conversation and approached us, they were from York, UK and it was so refreshing to here a English accent. We were exchanging stories of our own adventure and they were so impressed with our achievement they bought us a drink each. Hearing the northern twangs slightly made me feel a little home sick. Steve and Jo seemed hilarious and a fun couple which we hope to see in the future.
There was lots of other cyclist on the road that day including three new hero’s of ours. Three gentlemen came over to greet us then informed us that the younger one, at 72 year old, was getting the coffee’s in. They were doing a casual 50mile supported cycle along the coast, we can only hope that we are as fit as the in the future. During the same stop we saw this tourer which is proof you can go with any package you dont need high tech gear, just grab a bike and start peddling!!
That afternoon we had a minor obstacle to overcome in the form of a forest fire.
As we got closer we found it to be a controlled fire which deemed it to be safe but didn’t make it any more pleasant to cycle through. We attempt to cover our face with our clothes to prevent the main smoke inhalation but afterwards i felt like i had smoked 100 cigarettes. Initially Andy thought it would be a good idea to cycle in the center of the road to bypass the main bulk of the smoke. That was until he realized we were invisible and currently in the best position to be flatten by a log truck.
As the smoke lifted we could see a huge croud in the distance as we drew closer they were all observing the baby elephant seals on the shore.
Here are the absolute legends from earlier!!
Later that evening we decided to stop in a motel due to the smoke and had my favorite, salmon salad, result!!
No motel ever provided proper cups or kettle so I had had enough and made my tea inside the coffee pot!!
Last day on the road, very sad times!!
Stopped for lunch in a lovely cafe in Cayucos, CA.
Andy’s epic meal will keep him quite for a while!!
End desitination was San Luis Obisbo we decided that this would be the perfect point to get the train since we would soon be off the 1 and back on the dreaded 101 heading inland which neither of us were interested in. Also found out that the train ride actually provides you with a better view of the coast since you were borderline in the sea!!
We were staying with Gary from warm showers who was a hoot!! Gary insisted that we go for pizza which was a great idea!! It was mouthwatering and I probably could have eaten a whole one but just shared with Andy. Later he took us to a traditional American coffee shop that had live music playing. Andy got serenaded by the lead singer which made him blush, bless.
Of course Gary had a recumbent I am sure it is standard practice in America to have this one or a tandem us Brits have a lot to learn!! This was actually the bike Gary cycled around America on last year.
A very early start at 5am to catch our first train in 4 months.
The benefits of having a bike on a train in America is that you get your own cartridge, we might have well been in first class. There was so much more room for activities.
We met the cutest mother and daughter Gloria and Paloma who were very interested in our story. When observing them she inspired me to want to be a great mother someday.
From chatting to Gloria and Paloma a strange thing, at least to us Brits, happened. As more passangers boarded the train and sat in our carriage they also joined in the conversation. This included JL and her grown up daughter as well as a number of individuals and a chap with a Segway! The result of which was a very sociable, fun and enjoyable run in to Los Angeles Union Station!
To all the people that supported us along the way, we want to thank you so so much and to all that doubted us and passed us of has dreamers we have one thing to say…we officially made it to LA bitaches!!
Though the fun did not end there!! As we exited the station we heard the rumble of drums and followed the beat to fuind this street show.
Ticked off another bingo board box!!
As we headed towards our next warm showers for the evening a guy randomly stopped us in the street and asked if I was Alex. Only turned out to be Mike, our host for the next couple of days, that had accidentally bumped into, hilarious. He then preceded to lead us to a great place for lunch and direction to the bikerowave where he worked part time.
We had the afternoon to ourselves until our host finished work so we obviously headed to the beach.
Straight to Venice Beach to watch some street ball and the famous Muscle Beach.
LAPD are surprisingly very friendly, its not like the films at all!!
What a perfect last warm showers not only is Mike the coolest dude on the block he also lives on a boat!! We spent the previous evening chatting to him and finding out his story. Mike is a very kind and interesting character that only happens to be dating a girl from Hampshire England, very small world.
We headed back to Venice beach for our last day in the states.
We managed to shoot some hoops of our own on the famous courts.
and catch the last rays.
We got a little emotional that the adventure was coming to a end, but also felt excited to get back to our friends and family back in the UK.
Our feet at the other end of the trip.
The last piece of crazy American hospitality was that Mike had kindly entrusted us with the boat for the evening, so we enjoyed a picnic tea with a could of local beers,
Day 117 ‘Homeward Bound’
The day has arrived, we are off home, very mixed emotions mainly including panic!!
So we found a great bike shop (MDR BIKES) that assisted us with the packing up of the bikes by lending us some tools and giving us two old bike boxes. What we didn’t consider was that the boxes would be of varying sizes i.e. being significantly smaller than on the journey here. After using up a couple of roles of tape, plenty of perspiring and minor swearing (by Andy) i called a cab and they were packed up ready for the airport.
At the airport we followed Luke Wilson though security, ticking off celeb spotting from the bingo board, before spending the last of our dollars on a new pack of cards. This was definitely an appropriate purchase since we recently discovered over eight cards were missing from our current deck!
So rummy was probably not the best choice of game for the trip. What a joke!!