On Saturday and Sunday (Memorial Day weekend), Elliot and I did our shakeout ride to New Brighton Beach. We took the route that I knew – up and over Highway 9. Although I had hoped to leave at 9 am, we ended up leaving at about 11. I wanted to pack as realistically as possible, packing all kinds of things I knew we would never use on this ride, but would use on the real trip.
The climb up Highway 9 was uneventful, although it took 92 minutes. I considered that good, because it was only 12 minutes slower than our time with no load at all. Like last time, we stopped at the top for lunch. Elliot ate 3 hot dogs. I had only one, knowing that the next 15 miles were basically gentle downhill, and sprinkled with towns.
We stopped at Johnnie’s Market in Boulder Creek to get some dinner supplies and snacks. We stopped again at a gas station in Ben Lomond to get 50 cents worth of unleaded for the camp stove. I called Merrianne (my wife) on the cell. She remarked that we were just about to go up “the big hill.” What big hill?!? I thought our climbing was done for the day! I found out that they call it Graham Hill Road for a reason. It might have been one, two miles tops, and there was little traffic, but I had no idea when it was going to end. I was in the granny gear all the way up.
My sister-in-law Janet and her family lived near the top of Graham Hill, but I didn’t even want to bike even the extra 100 yards of hill to find out if they were home. We instead went over and down the other side, stopping at Graham Hill Center at the bottom. I called from there. They weren’t home. From the store, I got possibly the best Popsicle I’ve had in my life – one of those coco delicias.
Travel through Santa Cruz and Capitola was a breeze. Motorists were very friendly. We pulled into New Brighton Beach State Park at a little after 6 pm. The sign said “campground full,” but that didn’t apply to the shared hiker-biker area. It was $5 for each of us.
There were 5 other cyclists at the campground – Jan and Anna (Jan was a man, they were like Dutch or something), Brian, Jerry, and Ian. I chatted with them for a while as I was cooking dinner.
The campground had showers – 2 minutes for 25 cents. That’s pretty cheap if you think about it. Elliot didn’t want to dry out his skin with a shower, but I decided to take one. I had two quarters, and the whole thing planned out. I got completely naked first, and planned to jump right in, even if the water wasn’t hot, yet. I put in the first quarter and rushed in. The water was already warm. I rinsed my hair vigorously, and sprayed my face and head. Then I moved on to the rest of my body. My goal was to get all the salt and sweat off. All this time, I was counting 1, 2, 3, 4, … When I reached 50, I realized that I was all done with the basics, so the rest was just enjoyment. My whole shower, 25 cents.
It got dark, and there was basically very little else to do but go into the tent and go to sleep. Cyclists don’t carry lanterns with them, generally.
When I was half asleep, Elliot said, “Dad! A raccoon knocked over our pots outside.” I passed him a flashlight, but we couldn’t see it through the window of the tent. I went outside to look. The coon had been into Elliot’s open handlebar bag, taken out the ziploc bag of cookies, gnawed a hole in it, and eaten every one. He was surgical about it. The cell phone and other items were left undisturbed. He didn’t even really knock over the (clean) pot, he just moved it to the side a little. There was no more food out, but I zipped up Elliot’s bag, anyway.
About 15 minutes later, I heard a scratching sound up the pine tree. Through the window of the tent, I watched a 20-pound raccoon climb up. I went outside to take a picture of him, but he ran away.
In the morning, Ian told me that there was a quicker and easier way back than Highway 9 – over Soquel-San Jose Road, and Old Santa Cruz Highway. I liked the idea of an easier climb and 10 miles less.
Elliot felt eggs and sausage. Since we had already proven the stove and cooking the previous night, I saw no need to make our own breakfast. I had hoped to find a McDonald’s, to get breakfast and blog over wi-fi at the same time. We first stopped at Gayle’s in Soquel, but they only had pastries. We got back on the road, and just around the corner was the Cookhouse Restaurant – just the thing. At the restaurant, we got to hear the banter of the locals, and joined in to the conversation a bit. I think we should adopt this rule on our real trip: if it’s a choice between meeting the locals and the internet, we should always choose the locals.
|2 Eggs||Meat||Toast||Drink||Price (w/o drink)|
It was 4 miles of rolling terrain, then 7 miles of climb up Soquel-San Jose to Summit Road. Up at the top, there was Summit Market, a premium market like Whole Foods, but in the middle of nowhere. It had a plaza with shaded tables, and all kinds of interesting food, including made-to-order sandwiches, a salad bar, and a hot food bar. They had free wi-fi, but I decided to relax rather than get on the internet.
I took notes on this ride. Here were the main discoveries:
- Plastic bag holding camp stove is disintegrating
- Zyrtec helps. Elliot took one before leaving.
- A hat might help with warmth at night
- Elliot must bring sweat pants
- I need to get bigger sweat pants
- Careful opening sodas acquired on the road – they get shaken by the ride
- Put food away – raccoons
- Get real ear buds – Elliot’s retractable ones were clumsy
- Elliot’s handlebar end is loose
- Elliot rear derailleur cannot shift into lowest rear gear with granny
- iPod’s battery is dead after listening to it for the whole ride