I stayed at the Super 8 in Santa Cruz last night, a stone’s throw from the Boardwalk. Nice basic hotel and, thankfully, a ground floor room I could just roll the bike straight in to. Spent a little while at the pool stretching my legs before heading out for dinner and then slept like a log. Decided that it was “only 46 miles” the next day so a late start would be fine.
Just down the street from the hotel there’s a laundromat so I took the opportunity to, err.. get rid of the “memories” from yesterday’s clothes, grabbed a pint of milk from the adjoining mercado (have to keep the doctor and the wife happy by sticking to my morning nutrient regimen) and then packed up to leave.
I’d consulted the map first (key learning from yesterday) so knew roughly where to pick up the trail south.
The first few miles were pretty boring escaping Santa Cruz and then headed through Aptos and the traffic thinned out. The cycle route is pretty well signposted. Bumped in to a guy at the lights who was fully laden and heading from San Francisco to the Mexico border. Apparently there’s some big construction project he’d heard about……
You can’t cycle on Highway 1, for good reason, so the parallel road snakes along for a bit and then recrosses the highway and you head off in to agricultural land. It wasn’t anywhere near as nice as the scenery yesterday but once you pass the vast fields of strawberries the amazing smell starts to make up for it. There are some truly amazing looking homes dotted around the hills near the Monterey Bay Academy on San Andreas Road and I was sorely tempted to stop and take photos but I just elected to take some scenic ones.
There’s just mile after mile of crops and roadside stands selling fresh strawberries, apricots and other fruits.
Just after I took this photo, past the turn off for Manresa Beach, the headwind really started. At first it was 45 degrees to my right but after crossing the Pajaro River it was full-on for about a mile and it was all I could do to maintain any sort of forward momentum. I was pedaling harder than I had done all day yesterday and was barely making headway and although it wasn’t that bad for the rest of the day it was a lot worse than yesterday.
I rejoined Highway 1 and pedaled in to the wind for a few more miles until I got to Moss Landing. A friend had recommended Phil’s but the line was snaking through the restaurant and out in to the parking lot so I tried the oddly named Haute Enchilada Cafe, Social Club and Gallery. Don’t be put off by the strange name or very odd appearance. Inside the restaurant is nice and the food was amazing. The ginger sticky toffee in particular pudding was awesome.
I was even more sluggish setting off in to the wind again but the road heads east at one point so it became a tailwind for what seemed like the briefest of times. The road snakes through Marina and then becomes a two lane bicycle lane that was jam packed on a Saturday afternoon….
After a few more windy miles I got my favorite view of Monterey Bay.
I wish I’d taken a photo of it but a few hundred yards back there was a sign that said something like “Sandy City bike trail” and as I rounded the corner, they were’t wrong.
Key learning – you still cant ride through sand without falling off.
After walking the bike through a few hundred yards of this the trail cleared up and then puts you in Seaside where I got a bit lost, well not lost, but not on the trail. I’ve been to Monterey more times than I can remember but somewhere along the way I missed the signpost for the trail and ended up having to head down not-so-pretty Fremont Street instead of following the ocean. It was all good and I ended up where I needed to be, even after a sketchy half a mile on the Highway 1 on-ramp. Oops.
I finally go to the turning for my motel and oh was it a climb. The Comfort Inn is almost the very last motel on Munras Avenue so it was quite a climb after a long day. I checked in and found that I had also booked the only hotel on the entire road that didn’t have a hot tub and, for good measure, had to deal with a flight of steps to get to my room. Nothing like finishing the day with a challenge.
The motel room itself was really nice and there was a bath that looked like I’d want to get in it and, wait for it, it had a plug!! Last night’s motel, not so attractive in the bath department and no plug, so not an option, even if I was brave enough. Reception told me that there was a laundromat not too far away so i headed up there, only to face my greatest danger of the day – amputation by washing machine!
Quite an alarming set of images really but I managed to do a warm wash without losing anything other than the odors of the day. A quick pit-stop at Rite-Aid for some “essentials”, i.e “Excuse me, where would I find the diaper cream?” – something I have not uttered for over a decade.
The bike had an early night while I headed out to dinner.
All in all another great day, lots of me time and a whole host of puffing. Lots of random thoughts about last year, scuba diving in Monterey and Dominica, family, friends, singing songs from The Jam and just generally trying to keep myself amused and not notice how hard it was to ride with used legs and a fierce headwind.
Key learnings of the day:
- Riding through sand is not going to work out with those tires. Keep it for the mountain bike.
- Research motels more thoroughly and find ones on steeper, longer hills
- Be very, very, very careful when applying Bengay to your upper hamstrings and have lashings of cold water (or a fire extinguisher) standing by, just in case of a slip up.
- Be careful of laundry duties and always keep one item of clothing out to use as a tourniquet, just in case.
Tomorrow’s adventure takes me roughly 65 miles to the lovely hamlet of King City. Thanks for reading.