Last weekend I finally visited Big Sur, claimed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, in the US or in California. At least it is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Steep brown sandstone cliffs, rolling green meadows and the deep blue Pacific Ocean make for a sight to behold. I am glad I visited Big Sur on a bike as I got to soak in the stunning scenery and appreciate the wonders of nature in solitude at a calm serene pace of a bike. God must have been in a good mood when He created Big Sur.
We started on a crisp Fall morning heading south on Hwy 1 from Carmel Valley. The road winds up cliffs hugging the coastline, through redwood forests and along beaches. The soft rays of the morning sun gave a delightful touch to the gorgeous scenery. We went as far south as Lucia before we headed inland where the monstrous climb of Nacimento Road awaited us. 2800 feet over 7 miles, which is a 7.5% gradient. I huffed and puffed my way up. The wild flowers cheered me on. I was left breathless, both from exhaustion and from the view from above. I felt I was gonna die. But then I realized that I had to write this blog post. Finally after almost two hours I made it to the top. I was elated. I learned that you can go on long after you think you can’t go any further. Don’t stop, just keep moving, no matter how slowly.
I cruised down the other side through the Los Padres forests and grasslands. Finally after riding 80 miles I made it to the Military base at Mission San Antonio de Padua. I was beat but felt a sense of accomplishment. But at the same time, my ego took a hit when I saw that people three times my age looked fresh as daisies at the end of the day. The next time I don’t feel like exercising, I will remember this.
Day 2 took us through the some rolling hills and farmland of Monterey County. Everytime I started a climb, I wondered when things would go downhill, of course only literally not figuratively. We rode past vineyards in their bright green and hills in their golden brown. Some of the steep descents were exhilarating. I hit 45 mph on one of the straight steep downhill sections. At one point I had to take a ride in the backup van for 10 miles when my legs refused to listen to me. They grudgingly agreed to push on after some rest in the van. I got back on the bike and cruised back to Carmel Valley as I covered another 80 miles on day 2.
The trip was a smashing success. Thanks to Brian and ACTC for organizing the trip. The riders were a great bunch, the food was awesome, the stops well placed and the route well planned. And thanks to my tireless companion, my Novara Safari bike!