Having had an amazing week riding up the Big Sur and spending time in Monterey had been so much fun and now with Jules here we were about to head south along the same road to show him the sights. We had done so much just in the short time he had been here and we were excited about seeing so much more.
Sunday 17th April
Being the day we set off on our bikes it was time to get up and get ready to set off but this time we would be heading south. With the Big Sur being not only breathtaking but also so close it would have been a shame not to show it to Jules. We joined Frank for breakfast and he very kindly made us coffee. They had made us both feel so at home and so much like family it would be hard to leave. Having Charlie coming down from San Jose to ride with us was just amazing and so got our things ready for the off. The last time I had seen him was a year ago when we had climbed Bolivia’s highest mountain which was so tough due to the deep snow and being at 6.500metres. He arrived at 8am and I induced him to Frank and Michelle. He was also blown away by their incredible home and could see why we were a little late leaving.
Ready to head south but having to say goodbye to these lovely people was hard
We were ready just before 9 and said goodbye and started the 130 miles ride south starting with the 17mile mile drive road. It was great to have both Jules and Charlie for company and it felt like it was just a normal ride on a normal day.
Charlie and jules enjoying the ride
We rode the 17 mile drive which is famous in the area before heading out on to the highway and then south.
It was such a lovely day
Knowing what to expect it was great to see the other two enjoy the scenery of the high cliffs and the vivid blue sea. It was even more amazing then before due to the clear blue sky and the lack of wind.
We finally reached the Bixby bridge where we got shouted at by a stressed police man who was closing the bridge for a photo shoot so pulled over to have lunch.
We never knew what they were taking pictures of but to close the bridge on such a busy day meant it must have been important.
Awesome friends in an awesome location
This being the furthest Charlie was going we enjoyed our lunch before it was time to say goodbye. It was so good of him to drive down to meet us and we both really enjoyed his company.
Still having around 40 miles to go we set off to the Big Sur village and reached a garage and shop. Still feeling hungry we stopped for some snacks before we headed on through the redwoods and back out to the coast.
From here once we had climbed up the long hill and reached the coast the scenery was going to get even more dramatic. Now being high above the water the cliffs dropped almost vertically into the sea.
With the weather being so great the views became even for spectacular then on the way up
We could have stopped every 50 metres and even though I had seen it before it was still amazing. Getting ever closer we stopped at a shop a few miles from our camp and brought some beer to relax with.
The evening light was just stunning
With the sun slowly getting lower we made our way the last few miles to our camp just in time to watch the sunset. It was amazing and as we watched it, Jules spotted a whale making its way north making it the perfect end to a brilliant day.
Jules ready to camp now he has his beer
With the sun now set we pitched our tents and got dinner on the go but there was something lurking in the bushes. Once it was ready we ate our food but we could see eyes looking at us. Having been told about the raccoons we had to be careful as they could smell food and could attack in the night. Knowing they can be aggressive I tried to scare it away and hoped it wouldn’t come back. Still with a long way to go to get to Morral bay we washed up and hit the sack hoping we wouldn’t get any visitors.
Monday 18th April
Waking up knowing we hadn’t been attacked by a raccoon in the night was great and also having a good nights sleep we were ready for a new day. Jules had already got up and had almost packed his things by the time I climbed out of my tent.
I cleared my things away and joined him at the bench to eat. As we sat drinking tea we watched a pod of dolphins pass along with the odd grey whale. It was just amazing to watch and even better we were in such a great spot to see it. We set off around 9.30am and joined the now much quieter highway.
We climbed out of the dip we were in and high above the sea. The scenery from here was stunning with many unsurfed waves and the odd whale heading north. We made good progress as we followed the road that weaved along the cliffs, enjoying the descents and also the great weather.
It was perfect for riding this road and couldn’t have been clearer. Once past Hurst Castle we reached our next spot which was the elephant seal colony. Being in a different place then before it was great to see them play in the sea and just lay in the sun.
These waves looked so perfect to surf
Once we had spent time looking at them we headed to San Simeon where we could have lunch. Having found a phone on the road yesterday and wanting to get it back to its owner and now having phone reception I managed to contact someone who new who’s phone it was and we’re now arranging to meet. Being 30 miles from Morro bay we arranged a place and so set off.
Thought this was an interesting machine preparing the new road
From here the scenery became less craggy but still beautiful. It was much flatter then before and so we made quick progress. We arrived in the town around 6.30pm and waited for the girl to arrive to collect her phone and while we did we saw a guy photographing an old but recently restored car. It looked incredible and couldn’t believe the work that had gone into it.
Deciding to grab a coffee we went to the waterfront to wait. A while later and with still no sign I got a message to say she had a flat tyre so we headed over to our contacts in town. It didn’t take long to find them and arrived at Bill and Donnia’s house and got to meet their kids Mariah and Dane.
They were such a lovely family and we were both made to feel so at home. They made us dinner and spent the evening chatting and just enjoying their company. Having a plan to leave early to get to Monterey we needed an early night and get some rest. We had both had an amazing day we just hoped it would be easy to get to Monterey tomorrow.
Tuesday 19th April
With the usual sound of alarms gong off in a family home we got up and joined the family for coffee. With Bill working in San lois Obisbo he offered us a lift to the town in his truck which would make our day much easier. We said goodbye to Donnia and their kids and headed to the train station. Once Bill had kindly dropped us off we checked out the train times only to find the train wasn’t leaving until 3.30pm but also that we would need to pay for bike box and pack our bikes. Being recommended Sally Loos for breakfast we got some food and checked car hire prices. Seeing that they weren’t much more expensive then the train and deciding not to waste the day we arranged to pick up a car and headed for the rental shop. Finding out that we could not only save our day but also we could have a car that was big enough fit both our bikes in with little effort was amazing.
Needless to say we were soon heading out of town and heading north to Salinas. Once there we turned off towards Monterey and stopped in REI which is an out door shop to see if they would exchange an air mattress I had brought. pleased with the yes we headed to Monterey dropped off bags then back to REI to swap the mattress and to pick up a couple more things. Still being fairly early it was then back to Monterey and on to the sea life centre.
The sea life centre was so amazing I could have posted all the photos
We had been told so much about it and it didn’t disappoint. The wildlife was incredible and we both wished we had the whole day to look around but with closing time fast approaching we had to leave and head home.
Welcome to Monterey
We often saw houses with a tent over which was for fumigating termites.
With the plan to leave to the north tomorrow we headed first to the supermarket to buy supplies for dinner and head back to cook and pack ready for the morning. With so much to sort out Jules ended up cooking and I tried to work out where to put my things.
Enjoying an amzing last meal with an amazing family
It was so great to have the time to spend with Frank, Michelle and Savannah but I knew I would miss them all. They had been so kind to have us both stay was incredible and we couldn’t have wished for a lovelier family. With a few things left to do and a little work on the blog we had to leave enough time for a last dip in hot tub.
Jules making the most of our last night in paradise
Wednesday 20th April
It was hard not to wake with the sun coming through the window but I didn’t want to get up. Frank and Michelle had made us feel like family and had been so kind in letting us stay but we needed to get going. Having already packed most my things I got up and joined them in the kitchen while Jules sorted through his things. By the time we were ready it was just before 9.30am and my bike seemed to weigh a ton. With Michelle and Savannah having already left we said our goodbyes to Frank and Bella, joking we would see them later and headed north.
Not having a huge distance to travel we took it easy riding into town spotting many creatures on the way along with the usual grey whale heading up the coast. We were soon out of town and on the cycle track heading north.
Beautiful spring flowers coming out
Jules taking a picture of the local wildlife
It was good going but we weren’t going fast. By the time it was lunch we spotted a farm shop and decided to stop and have a break. While we sat two cyclists arrived heading south James on his surly and Tim on his Brompton.
They had come down from San Francisco and were really interesting to chat to. Being great company we sat chatting for well over an hour and with James having already been to Alaska it was good to get tips.
Needing to get to Santa Cruz it was time to say our fair wells and head on. From here we followed the highway which was often busy until we were directed off and would then ride through strawberry farms along a marked cycle route. We reached the edge of Santa Cruz around 5pm and stopped to have a snack. Feeling tired I put the directions into my phone and found we were just 6 miles away. Jules made a call and were soon arriving at a nice house in a beautiful green area. Dick and Jenny who were originally from England were very lovely and had a gorgeous cat.
Eddie was the boss
We were immediately made to feel at home and sat on their veranda out the back chatting while hummingbirds came to the feeder. We were then treated to an amazing dinner and great company. It had been a great day but I was shattered. With a day off tomorrow to hopefully go for a surf we relaxed and enjoyed the last of our day.
Thursday 21st April
Having a lay in we got up and joined Dick and Jenny for an amazing breakfast. With a plan to go surfing later I worked on my blog and sent a few emails. It was a great place to chill out and relax before we headed to the beach.
Waiting for the tide to be right we headed down to the seafront and stopped at a cafe to grab a snack before we were left to hire boards and wetsuits.
Feeling refreshed we hired what we needed and paddled out into the surf. The waves were great but our boards were so slippery it was a nightmare trying to stay on. We took our boards back where I changed mine for a shorter one and then had them both waxed. From here it was a different story, we caught numerous waves and sometimes caught the same one. It was so much fun having Jules there with me and so cool we were surfing together in California.
With the shop closing at 6pm we headed in once our arms were about to fall off and called Dick and Jenny so we could meet up with them for a drink.
We went for a beer together and watched a Gipsy Jazz band for a while then headed home for an amazing dinner.
We spent the evening chatting, listening to their favourite music and hearing their stories of all the bands they had promoted. It was so nice here but once again it was time to leave and head north.
Friday 22nd April
Being in a deep sleep it took Jules to call me before I woke. He had already been up for an hour and I was surprised at how tired I was. I got up and packed my things before joining then all for breakfast. Jenny had made an amazing omelette along with fresh fruit and pretty much everything we could think of. They had been so kind and such lovely company. We had to get going but we had been made once again feel like it was home. Jenny needed to leave for her painting class which left Dick and Eddie their cat to say goodbye.
We loaded our bikes while hummingbirds ate from the feeder and were soon waving goodbye. We dropped down to the highway and started to head west into Santa Cruz.
The sky was very quickly turning a dark grey meaning only one thing ’rain’. We made our way into town and arrived at the pier where it was renowned to be a great surf spot. As the rain started to fall we could see there was no one in the water but great see it for ourselves. We set off again and were soon joined by a guy on a bike. We got chatting and found out he raced 24 hour enduro’s on a single speed bike.
Sully was a local guy and was heading out to check out the next course. He was a really nice guy to chat to and he told us that we took his mind off the rain. Taking a different route then us we split up and headed in different directions and arrived at an old dairy.
It was interesting to see the old farm and after a short while looking around we headed along a track to arrive at a large carpark. As we arrived we saw guys driving around a carpark with sirens sounding and driving between cones. We could see it was a training day but it looked so funny to watch.
From here we made our way out to the highway and continued north west. With no other road we continued north on to the hard shoulder until we reached Pigeon point lighthouse.
It was a good place to look around and also a good place to stop for lunch. Once we had something to eat we set off again following the road that now followed close to the cliffs.
It was beautiful scenery and exciting we were getting close to San Francisco. As we rode north getting closer to the Half Moon Bay on a climb a black pick up passed us and a bag of rubbish just missed me. I looked back to see that Jules had also been a target and had been hit by a water bottle. He was ok but it tainted the day somewhat and surprised someone would do that. We rode on and reached the town to pick up a few things for dinner. We arrived in Half Moon to find a pretty centre with many nice wooden clad buildings that lined the high street. We picked up what we needed and headed on to find the campsite and after riding the long way around through a golf course we arrived at the campsite to find other cyclist there.
It was nice to see them and so chatted while we got our tents up. With our tea cooked and eaten it was now getting dark so once everything was packed away we could sit and watch some ‘all creatures great and small’ and relax after another good day. It had been a shame we had been a target but it wasn’t going to affect our mood and excitement about reaching a great landmark tomorrow.
San Fransisco here we come.
Saturday 23rd April
Getting up early we chatted to the other cyclists that were camped next to us and slowly got our things packed away by 10am. We checked where we were heading for and found that Claudette’s home was 49 miles away. We set off out of town and headed east inland towards the pass. It took a while to climb to the top but once there we were rewarded with great views down the other side.
Now at the top we had a great descent the other side where we would turn left and head up through the Silicone valley and through some very nice suburbs.
Making good progress we saw a nice cafe and stopped for a break. Apart form Jules dropping his scone in his tea again it was a nice break before checking the GPS which would lead us to Claudette’s.
As soon as we arrived we were met by a lovely lady who was so welcoming. We met her friend Sara and Larry then shown where we could sleep. Claudette had very kindly made us lunch so we sat with her to chat.
With the afternoon free Claudette kindly showed us to the BART underground system where we made our way into the city centre. The stop we got off at was perfect to catch the Cable tram up the steep streets through the city centre.
It felt so surreal to be here as it was so familiar having seen so many movies that had been filmed in the city. We were both so excited to be here and made it so much more fun having Jules with me.
We reached the fisherman’s wharf where we got off and went to have something to eat.
Being next to the water was great as there was so much to do from here. First we headed to the mechanical museum which was had loads of very old arcade machines.
One of the old mechanical farms
This was an old steam powered motorbike
The seal colony on pear 39
Once we had spent a few dollars we headed out to pier 39 to see a famous sea lion colony and also from this point we could also look across at the island of Alcatraz which is the home of an old federal prison island that was opened from 1933 and closed in 1963.
As we stood watching the sunset I spotted something strange in the distance. It was hard to make out and didn’t look normal. Looking like a glider but huge I thought it looked like the solar plane I had seen on tv.
You can just make out a faint shape below the aeroplane
We headed out along past the piers to try and get a picture of the bay bridge when we saw a guy looking up. We looked up and saw it wasn’t just a glider but as I thought it was the Solar Impulse arriving to San Fransisco having flown over the pacific from Hawaii. It was fascinating to watch and to see history in the making.
We got a call from Claudette who was on her way in to meet us for dinner. She arrived an hour later with Sarah and showed us around more of the city. It was so cool to be here and to have the company.
Sarah, Jules and Claudette
With a plan to head out on the bikes tomorrow we headed back to get some rest for another day in the city and out in Marin county crossing the Golden Gate bridge and could’t wait
Sunday 24th April
After a late night we inevitably woke late. Sarah came downstairs to tell us she was cooking breakfast so we got up and joined her and Claudette. They had made an amazing breakfast that would set us up for the day. Claudette needed to leave early which left Sarah who kept us entertained while we got ready to leave. They were both really great people and we were so pleased we had stayed. By the time we were ready it was gone 11am and so we made our way to the train with our bikes.
Ready to go for an adventure
All went well apart from getting my bike wedged in the barrier but soon prized my way out and on the train before anyone saw. Wanting to get off at a different stop we soon arrived at the Civic centre and made our way down Haight street and dropped into a huge park. Being Sunday everyone was out along with roller bladder’s that were dancing to music along with some very random characters.
We passed many weird and wonderful people along with families out enjoying the sunshine. On our way down to the seafront we stopped at a Bison enclosure which was interesting as they were so huge.
From here we reached the sea front where the wind was blowing hard onshore. We struggled along the waterfront until the road turned and the wind pushed us up the hill. As we neared the top the view of the golden gate bridge came into view. It was so cool we could see it and just looked huge majestic. Wanting to stop and have a snack we saw a bench with a view of the bridge right in front of us. It was just amazing and it is only as I type this now that it has sunk in that I have cycled here.
We rode on and reached the bridge but with the strength of the wind we could hardly stand up. With metal bars that were about 5 feet high broke the wind up enough to be able to ride across. It was just awesome standing on the golden gate bridge with Jules and see it for real.
We stopped along the way taking photos and headed out to Sausalito towards the ferry port to check the ferry times. Dropping down below the bridge was just amazing and the views across the bay were breathtaking.
This was incredible
We reached the harbour and once we got what we needed we stopped at a cafe for a snack and made our way to Mill Valley fighting a really strong wind. Not being that well sign posted we asked a guy who helped us find the hill to Muir woods and we climbed up through the woodland and past many beautiful houses to the ridge.
From here we dropped down a steep hill the other side through the redwoods to the park entrance.
We locked our bikes up and headed in to check out the huge redwood trees. They were incredible and we both really enjoyed walking around looking at the forest with the suns rays cutting through the canopy.
After a couple hours enjoying the forest we rode back over the hill to mill valley and stopped for a burger and beer. It was such a great day but with the sun now getting lower we knew we had to get going. By the time we reached the bridge at 8.30pm the gate was shut to cyclists. Noticing we could climb over and lift our bikes over as well we got on to the bridge and rode across in the dark. It was so much fun and were pleased we had got back late.
Looking across at the beautiful city of San Francisco
Once across the bridge we rode into the city and rode up some of the steepest hills in San Francisco. Being Sunday evening the roads were quiet so we could go on a bit of an adventure on our unloaded bikes. Riding up the steep side of Lombard street and down the famous winding street the other side, we then turned right and headed to California street which is famous for car chases in movies. We reached the BART underground station at 11pm which was interesting getting through. There were strange people everywhere but so sad to see so many homeless. We finally made it back to Claudette’s and met her before she turned in for the night. She was so kind to have us stay and we’d had so much fun in the process.
It had been an awesome day in an awesome city with an awesome friend, I was so pleased he was here to share this with me and we still had more exploring to do.
Monday 25th April
Waking up with another day off felt great and enjoyed catching up on some rest. I got up and headed out to pick up a few supplies then returned for breakfast with Claudette and Larry. It was so great to be here and Claudette was such an amazing host. Jules soon appeared and we sat together for a while before I needed to get some work done. It’s always hard to stop and need to work but I knew if I didn’t do it now I would get behind. Jules joined me for a while to go through some stuff and then he headed out into the city to look around. I knew he would enjoy it and I was quite happy sat working. Tomorrow would be the 2 year anniversary of when Sharon lost her life and I didn’t want to think about it. I had already received messages from home but all I wanted to do was try and stay positive.
I sat in our room and sorted through my things trying to get my bags lighter which is not an easy task. I moved between jobs to keep me motivated and as usual the day went fast. Having been in contact with Charlie who we had cycled with down the Big Sur we arranged to meet at the house and would also bring Jules bike box. It couldn’t have been more perfect for Jules with a bus waiting outside the airport to take him to Monterey and having his bike box brought to Claudette’s house which was one stop from the airport. It was also going to be great to see Charlie before we left for Nevada city. With Jules due to arrive back at 6pm Charlie arrived a bit before and once we were all together we set off to a Korean restaurant.
It was so great to hang out together and chat. The food was great and being Korean it was nice and spicy. With an early start for all of us we headed back to the house and said our goodbyes. It had been amazing being here in the city and I was so looking forward to meeting Chris and Heather who were a couple I felt like I had known forever.
I couldn’t believe how much we had fitted in to our week on the Big Sur, Looking around Monterey and seeing the famous city of San Francisco but even better to have company to. It was now time to head up to Nevada city to visit Sharon’s cousin Heather and Chris but at a time that would be on the 2 year anniversary of her death. I had already started to get messages from friends and family but I didn’t want to look at them or even think about it. I wasn’t sure why, I just didn’t feel like i could. It had been good to have time on my own to work and knew that spending time in Nevada city would do me good. With Jules having only a few days left we certainly weren’t going to waste our time and with Heather a manager of a brewery and Chris being a famous bike builder we were heading to the right place and couldn’t wait.
Thanks for reading xxx