** next roast 11/26 **

San Francisco to LA (via bicycle)

... a 500 mile journey down the California coast. Special care taken to ensure close proximity from campsite to coffee shop. Originally posted on the Topanga Creek Outpost blog in May 2016. 

I finally ran out of excuses why not to UnPredict my Wednesday recently. As a longtime supporter of Topanga Creek Bicycles Outpost, it was a bit silly why I couldn’t pull off a mid-week overnighter… especially with a flexible “work from home” schedule. When I finally committed to a recent overnight excursion up Mt. Lowe, it was a game-changer on many levels.

Who am I?

I am you … well, most likely. I’m the guy who’s made excuses for seriously fun adventure for way too long … and all it took to change that was one single UnPredict. Within 48 hours of the Mt. Lowe trip, I was fully outfitted for my first bikepacking tour of the California coast (courtesy of the amazing people at Topanga Creek Outpost).

 

Funny thing about technology these days: for a whole lot of us, you can pretty much work anywhere so long as you have internet access. I took conference calls from quiet alcoves behind gas stations + wherever else I could manage it. Urgent emails were responded to promptly from the side of the road… otherwise, “bulk tasking” took place over lunch or after setting up camp at the end of the day. Despite having to lug my personal work laptop, I was otherwise able to pack light since no cookware is required on this coastal route (you pass through plenty of towns and can eat pretty much whenever). McDonalds, baby!!!

I was prepared physically for this route … but the ‘big surprise’ was the sheer amount of time you spend alone with your thoughts. At first when leaving SF, this was rather terrifying. I wasn’t quite ready to face a recent emotional trauma that I’d been busy distracting myself away from. The bike forces you to confront what’s really happening upstairs – and in the end, I found tremendous healing on the road.

 

It’s not a “thing” at every campsite … but one thing that surprised me majorly was the hiker/biker group camping. This is a huge blessing for people with unclear itineraries (such as bikepackers). I found incredible camping for $5-10/night at the following locations: New Brighton State Park (Santa Cruz / Capitola), Plaskett Creek (Big Sur), and Carpinteria State Beach. I also managed to camp for free in Pismo but we won’t go into too many details on that …

Lessons learned:

  1. Say ‘yes’ to new experiences as often as possible… unless you’re in Los Alamos, CA
  2. More often than not, pain (physical and/or emotional) leads to something beautiful
  3. It’s really hard to understand Lesson #2 when you’re in the middle of that pain

Rough itinerary:

  1. SF – Santa Cruz: 95 miles + 5,600 ft climbing
  2. Santa Cruz – Monterey: 50 miles + 2,600 ft climbing
  3. Monterey – Plaskett Creek (Big Sur): 68 miles + 6,000 ft climbing
  4. Big Sur – Pismo: 84 miles + 4,460 ft climbing
  5. Pismo – Los Alamos: 51 miles + 2,500 ft climbing
  6. Los Alamos – Carpinteria (via Hwy 154) : 61 miles + 4,000 ft climbing
  7. Carpinteria – Venice: 81 miles + 2,400 ft climbing

Music was hugely important on this ride too – and I have this Spotify playlist to share with you.

More photos available here