Santa Cruz, Monterey and the Pacific Coast

One of the many surfer bays en route to Santa Cruz

A long and eventful day brought me from San Francisco down to Santa Cruz. First I got stopped by a cop because I didn’t stop at a Stop sign – just rolled through gently on a downhill near the Golden Gate Recreation Area. (He lectured me on not driving recklessly, then let me go with an appeal to “make a better effort” at trying to stop / slow down. Got it!) Then I had a flat tire on my Bob Yak trailer caused by a tiny wire (like a paper staple) – a first after 6,700km.

At the Santa Cruz county line

Lastly, in the evening the cable of my gear shifter snapped with about 15km to go to Santa Cruz :-( Since I didn’t carry any spare I was left without the ability to shift gears; I manually selected a middle gear suitable for flat ground, cruised down the hills and pedaled like mad before getting to any uphills… Kelly, a local friendly rider helped me by waiting for me and then showing me some quiet backroads to the center of Santa Cruz.

I find a cheap hotel to stay in Santa Cruz to get to a bike shop next morning – my first hotel room on this entire trip! I stay there after having a nice evening conversation over dinner with Lou, a “road warrior” I had met two months ago up in Yukon at the Toad River lodge. (You can follow him on Twitter @bacpkr). We both reminisce on the trip to/from Alaska and philosophized on the value of time and traveling.

Lou and I over dinner in Santa Cruz

Next day I bring my bike to a nearby bike shop. They replaced the cables and also the worn out brake pads of my rear Magura disk brake. In the meantime I have time to explore the Santa Cruz beach on foot – not a bad place to get stuck for a few hours while waiting for the bike repairs…

Santa Curz Beach from Wharf

However, it made for a late start to the day around 2pm, so I wouldn’t reach Monterey until 7pm when it gets dark (hence no time to visit the famous aquarium there). Rolling hills, dry pastures and cultivated farmland with artichoke and strawberry fields dominate the scenery (and a lot of cheap laborers picking fruit). I arrive in Monterey at sunset.

Arriving in Monterey at sunset

After some Indian food for dinner I push my bike up a steep hill to the Vets Memorial State Park and camp there for the night.

The following day brings very nice and rugged coastal scenery, but also some pretty big hills. US1 leads via Big Sur to a small campground between Lucia and Gorda (both these “villages” consist pretty much of one restaurant and grocery store).

Pacific Coast South of Monterey

More coastline and hills South of Monterey

The views in this area are spectacular, the price for food outrageous, there is no cell phone signal and only in one place did I find wireless Internet. I think this is about as remote as it gets nowadays along the California Coast. But hey, that’s why we riders come here, right?

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