Thursday Sept 20, 2012 Paso Robles to Santa Maria
Today I rode...and rode...and rode...and rode. Then I rode so more. And then I was halfway there! Just kidding. This was my longest day ever on my own bike. Believe it or not, it wasn't too bad because there was only a moderate amount of climbing (moderate – HAH!). I rode 84.61 miles and my Garmin shows climbing of 3799 feet. I can not imagine a world where a "moderate" amount if climbing is like riding from the town of Aspen to the top of Ajax, but that's what I did today (and then some). I know there are riders on this particular tour who don't think that today was long or tough, but for a semi-old, semi-zaftig girl (for this who don't know what "zaftig" means, it's a yiddish word that means...that means..."you know that girl – she's not so skinny, you know, a little zaftig") such as myself, I'm very happy with what I was able to do today. Here are my stats:
We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I must say of all the chains we have stayed in on this trip; Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Best Western, and America's Best Value (it may be America's Best Value, but it sure as shit ain't America's Best "anything"), Holiday Inn Express is the nicest by far. Whoever repositioned and changed this brand into Holiday Inn Express did an excellent job. These new ones are not our parents Holiday Inns anymore. Even the hotel breakfast this morning was a cut above the others. Maybe we should buy the stock? Maybe Mark should buy a franchise?? I'm going to have to do something to get him out from under my feet, and fast. Bike trips are NOT the answer!
There were two options for departure this morning and given the mileage, Mark and I opted for the 7:15AM (not PM) early departure. Mark and I rode most of the day with Leticia, who is a very nice lady from Sacramento. She joined our group in San Francisco for the leg ending in Newport Beach (9 days). Unfortunately on her very first day she fell going over some railroad tracks and had to take 3 days off. She was "back in the saddle again" today too. At the first SAG, Mark bought some amazing pastry at a bakery nearby and the half of the almond/cheese bear claw I ate was amazing. Seriously delicious and full of calories, but I was riding a ton of miles today so, what the hell. We met up with our friend Joe Schroeder and he helped me out by eating the other half of the bakery goodies.
We rode through some areas of California that looked like the wild west. We are only 4 hours by car north of LA and look at this scenery. You'd have thought we were in Wyoming or Colorado. Big mountains, wide open vistas, dry sagebrush, and just a certain vastness more commonly associated with other parts of the country. What is even cooler is that about 5 miles from where this windmill picture was taken, there were beautiful fields of produce, flowers, and more. It is amazing the kind of agricultural diversity they have in California. We must have seen 2 dozen different crops today alone, just within a 10 mile stretch of road.
The second SAG was in a town called Pismo Beach. It's a real surfer town. Mark reminded me that in the movie Clueless, Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is the captain of the Pismo Beach Disaster Relief Drive. Just so you know, there was no Pismo Beach disaster and the town is doing just fine. After the SAG, the scenery got a little more agricultural. The last 20 miles or so, Joe, Mark, Leticia and I just kind of put our pedals to the, well, pedals (I guess) and finished the day as the scenery turned quite ordinary (ordinary is a code word for ugly).
Oh, I almost forgot, I had my first flat tire today. We were about 2 miles from the hotel, just coming to a stop sign (moving at like 3 MPH) when I heard a loud bang. It honestly sounded like a gun shot although I've never heard a gun shot. I looked down and my front tire was almost completely off the rim. I yelled "tire" to the gang in front of me. I wasn't sure what I'm supposed to do when I get a flat but yell I did. Mark, Joe and Leticia stopped and within 10 minutes, they changed my tire and we were on our way to the hotel. Mike the tour leader thinks I had a "pinch flat" while our friend Jeff thinks I overinflated my tires this morning, and as the day warmed up, the tube popped. The good news is that the new tire is good to go for tomorrow.
After dinner tonight, we walked over to Starbucks. On the way, Mark asked me to think about and contemplate on what was the hardest part of this trip. I didn't have to contemplate for very long.
My answer – the riding.
He seemed to be looking for a more in-depth response, but that's my answer and I'm sticking to it. No question, the riding is the hardest part. It's harder than the sleeping. It's way harder than the eating. But I'm really enjoying this. It's a challenging and rewarding adventure, even after 6 hours of pedalling like today. Tomorrow will be a shorter day as we are going 40 miles to Solvang. Solvang was the town featured in the movie Sideways (the wine-tasting movie starring Paul Giamatti). We will definitely be doing some wine tasting tomorrow.