Five months ago I was sitting in my room chatting with my closet cycling friends. We got on the topic of riding from San Francisco to Home (Orange County). 600 miles of jaw-dropping beauty on some of the best roads in California. It was casual talk like, “That would be so epic...” or, “How the hell are we going to pull this off?” But just like that we had a plan, an epic plan, to ride from the north side of the Golden Gate bridge to Orange County. With some PTO forms filled out and a couple new chains later, we were off to San Francisco packed in a car filled with gear and camping supplies.
Day 1: The Golden Gate to Santa Cruz
Not only did we have a sag vehicle filled with unnecessary amounts of nutrition and bike supplies, we also had an amazing person who made this trip happen – the driver. While she explored via car, we explored on our bikes and she met us at every campsite or hotel at the end of each day.
On the first day, we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed riding across the crowded Golden Gate. Peddling in the city was a pleasure and a nightmare all at once. Cars, unsafe roads, and unaware pedestrians are only a few of the hazards.
Dodging city life can be rather tricky and it requires great skill, but when you get to the outskirts of a big city you begin to notice the change in culture. Most of the time, we miss these subtle changes because we have the music blasting in the car, but on a bike you see all the nooks and crannies. There’s life untouched by the outsiders passing by and you realize you’re riding through someone's paradise. The day ends on the coast of Santa Cruz, and for a 100-mile ride we were feeling pretty solid.
Day 2: Santa Cruz to Lucia
This was the day we were all waiting for. The infamous ride on Highway One past Big Sur. It was supposed to be a ride like none other and this was by far the most scenic part of our route. We made sure our cameras were charged.
These rides are what I like to call “soul-searching” rides. The kind of ride where nobody talks and the only thing you can hear is the sharp sounds of waves crashing in the background. I begin to drift like waves in the ocean and sometimes I think about what it would be like to sit “comfortably” on a couch. What a dull life that sounds like. Look at what I’m doing!
Riding with my best friends, I’m in a place I like to call “heaven.”
The day ends with a beautiful light show from an outdoor ceiling. Falling asleep was so easy with the sounds of waves crashing in the background.
Day 3: Lucia to Pismo Beach
A frosty morning rolled in with the marine layer. Waking up was a little harder than expected. Morning coffee cured us from too-little sleep the night before.
Just like any other ride, we shoved as much food and goodies into our pockets as we could before we set off. The day was going to be long and we were prepared for the trek ahead.
A 30-mph tailwind pushed us along nicely through the last bit of the infamous Highway One. Stopping for a chat with the locals or finding that next Instagram post was not the aim for this day. Getting to Pismo Beach before sunset was our primary goal. With only a few stops planned for the day, we had the chance to really show each other how fast we could ride 120 miles. With equal turns at the front we arrived in Pismo, all of us nearly dead.
Day 4: Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara
This was the day when everything seemed easy. The ride was easy-going, the food was good, the people were friendly.
We rode through some quiet towns along the way. Some towns that probably wouldn't show up in your Google search. The towns with one face, one stop light, and one speed set on cruise control. I've never understood why these towns are so intriguing to me. It might be the way people pass through them every day without listening for the stories behind the places. Sometimes we forget to slow down, stop, and take a moment to soak up what makes the faces of small towns.
The day ends with a 4,000 ??? climb into the mountains where our camp awaited for the night. Quickly changing and inhaling food, laying my head on a pillow never felt so good.
Day 5: Santa Barbara to Home
So we were ballsy the night before. This day was supposed to end in Simi Valley but that wasn't epic. We wanted to ride 180 miles home, the long way...
The last day felt normal. It felt like another day, another normal day riding on the roads we ride every week. Hometown roads, if you will. Everything was perfect. Not a complaint came from our mouths. The last 50 miles were just as silent as Day 2, just gazing at our surroundings. When we ride in places that we are familiar with, it’s easy to forget the beauty that surrounds where you live. We go on group rides and stare at the endless numbers coming from the head unit. We start wondering what’s for dinner. We forget to take in what's around us. Why we call those places home.
The day ended with congratulations hugs and celebrations. We did it. 600 miles in five days.
The Next Day: Home
Well, it's easy to tell people that riding bikes for 600 miles is hard or remind them to wear shammy butter. But that's not the story. Well... not the whole story, at least, because one of those is very important. We go about life being comfortable way too often. We shoot for the idea of being stable, content with life. I’m here to tell you, live life outside your comfort zone, take risks and live life to the fullest!
Thanks to the people that made this possible. Jeff, Michael, Allen, and Pat. This trip would have been impossible to document without my trusty INNOCLIP Strap, which allowed me to carry my DSLR 600 miles without a problem. Here's to many more epics.