Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tour de Big Sur - Day 1

Ongoing notes from last week's vacation.

Monday/Day 1 - Early morning around 6am. Weather over the past weekend has been Ark/2 by 2 animal-grade and it was still raining at 5am when I peaked out the window last. Forecast for the day is thunderstorms and hail. Hmm. We discuss our options: 1.) go for it and suffer the consequences, which could be uncomfortable, 2.) bag the whole thing and just go back to sleep (sounding pretty good, to be honest), or 3.) hold off today and see if things get better mid-week. Our tickets for the train and hotel are already booked, and its not raining at the moment. We can make it down to the Oakland Amtrak station while it holds, take our train to Salinas, then ride to Carmel. If its intolerable, we can always turn around and catch a train back home. Besides, Bionica has a new bike to ride. And so we go.

Amtrak gives us boxes to put our bikes in, and we break them down in a few minutes. Trains in America are still the domain of retired folks, despite all of the young hip people they show on the brochures. I overhear many people who are those 'say what they see' types. You pass a field of artichokes, they say "Artichokes" or you pass a Jiffy Lube and they say "Look, a Jiffy Lube." I wish I wasn't making this up. But, the seats are way roomy and there is a dining car. Which you'll need since the leg we are on, which maybe takes a bit over 90 minutes in a car will take 3 hours on the train. As we ride down the bay, we can see huge thunderheads and black skies on the other side of the water. Prospects are not looking good.

When we do arrive in Salinas, there is a hole of blue sky overhead; clouds can be seen around us but we're in the clear. And so we pull the bikes from the boxes, re-assemble, and ride. As we only have one touring bike at the moment, we decide to take turns riding the loaded bike. Twelve miles each, then switch. Not sure how we arrived at this number, but it turns out to be a good system as the days go on. The ride itself is half highway with decent shoulders, and half hilly backroads with barking dogs worried about their territory. We get to Carmel by 2:30pm, and its 64 degrees and sunny. When I check in at the front desk at our hotel, the woman, says "Bikes? It was gushing here this are lucky!" And so we are.

Day 1 miles - 32.2