Sunday, July 15, 2012

Going home!

Final Day and Thoughts

The trip is finished. As Cat said "Mission accomplished." Last day highlights included 42 mostly coastal miles and the Torrey Pines hill (hear the drum roll?). We rode the steeper hill thru the park, full gear without stopping. My haven't we improved since Cat's first training ride when she collapsed gasping after a half mile and 20 foot elevation gain?

 We arrived at the San Diego mission during the "Festival of the Bells", their celebration of the 243rd year since the founding of the 1st California mission. How appropriate.

 We even found T-shirts with our favorite Father Serra quote: "Always go forward, never turn back." This has been our mantra when bike lanes ended, paved roads suddenly became dirt tracks, hills appeared as we rounded the corner, we took wrong turns and climbed unnecessary hills, suffered through the stomach flu, sore knees, painful wrists....and so on. Our philosophy thanks to Junipero: Always go forward!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mission accomplished! The trip is over, tomorrow we go home!

The oldest tree in California at mission number 18

Our typical healthy breakfast!

Mission number 17! I liked this mission it was very different, it was less renovated than the others!

Mission number 15!


We have received lots of questions about the logistics of our trip. Such as:

 How do we keep our phones charged? Everywhere we stop we plant ourselves next to electric outlets and charge.

 Who is making which post? If it has a photo then it is Cathy. Since I have a behind the times blackberry I cannot post photos.

 Whose knee hurts? Cathy's. Much to Cathy's disgust, even though older I have been injury free while she has struggled with sore knees, and stomach flu.

 Did I get the stomach flu too? No, although both Tom and Cathy succumbed,Tom back at home and Cathy at camp. I never had a problem.

 Why don't our missions and numbers match the original plan? Naively, I planned a simple north to south approach. This plan changed the day we rode across the coastal range. Our original route would have had us cross the range 4 times! Instead we went from Santa Cruz to Carmel rather then inland to San Juan Bautista.

 Will we make it to all 21 missions? We chose to bypass the 2 in Los Angeles. The traffic and lack of time due the flu-enforced 4 days of no riding meant we had to skip something. Our current plan is that next week-end we will drive into LA and visit the last two missions.

 What is our favorite mission? Impossible to say: San Francisco has the most beautiful chapel, San Juan Bautista is in the sweetest community, San Juan Capistrano does ruins and provides an entertaining history, Purisima feels the most authentic. The only way to answer this question is visit all of them yourself!

Hills and Earthquakes

Yesterday we cycled 38 miles along the coast and inland on the San Luis Rey bike path to visit our 18th mission, San Luis Rey in Oceanside. Due to active restoration we could only stand in the front entry of the church. Pictures are being removed from the walls, pews are stacked up and scaffolding is being put up. The restoration is designed to reinforce the masonry against earthquakes. One theme we heard as we rode mission to mission, was chapel destruction during the 1812 earthquake. This quake was apparently a series and included the largest "recorded" in California. It damaged missions as far south as San Juan Capistrano and as far north as Carmel. Tsunamis came ashore in Santa Barbara and Ventura causing even more damage. The first quake hit during morning mass. Only the mission in SJC talked about quake related deaths; 20 parishioners died in the collapse of the church. The Padres, coming from Spain, a geologically quiet region, were not prepared for such violent shaking. In Ventura, they fled to nearby hills for over 3 months until the aftershocks finally ceased.

 Meanwhile back to 2012, Comicon is in San Diego and hotel rooms are a hot commodity and the only one we could find was 3.7 hilly miles away from the mission. The miles included three tough hills, roads with narrow or no shoulders, and lots of cars moving too fast and too close. However, we powered through and the room is huge, with lots of space for the bikes.

 Today is our last cycling day. Unbelievable.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Modern Travel to SJC

Although not exactly a rest day, we cannot claim a biking day either. Travel started with us catching the Amtrak Surfliner in Ventura at 10:03. After three and a half hours of luxurious non-self-propelled movement we and our bikes stumbled, thumped and slighly crashed off the train approximately 10 yards from the entrance to Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mixture of maintained but decaying ruins, a lush court yard complete with a koi stocked fountain and brightly restored chapel is irresistable. Not suprising this mission is one of the most visited. The professionally done audio tour adds to the ambiance with its tales of chickens, dogs and peacocks attending mass in the early days. Cat pointed out the appropriatness of this as the Franciscans founded the missions. (St. Francis is renown for his ability to communicate with animals.) After touring the mission we rode 3.5 miles to Dana Point and checked into a hotel. Lack of sleep from last night, tenting between train tracks and 101 is not conducive to a good night sleep, and raindrops dictated a short day. Our daily saddle distance: 5 miles.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adventuring to Ventura

Cycling the coast in Santa Barbara should conger up pictures of level bike lanes, tail winds, white water views, dramatic hills in the back ground, bridges over lagoons and state beaches which are free to enter on a bike. We had it all. The miles melted away today, perhaps because we only have 2 more cycling days left? Or maybe our leg muscles are finally hardened? We have decided to pass by the two missions in LA. Fear of city riding and time limits dictate moving farther south instead. Today we catch the Amtrak Surfliner in Ventura to be magically whisked to San Juan Capistrano, literally to the doorstep of our 17th mission. This train supposedly has hooks in each car for the bikes - no dismantling and boxing. I'm more worried about this plan than a 35 mile day of cycling as public transportation is never quite as advertised.We'll let everyone know tomorrow how it worked.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mission number 16, Today we rode 26 miles...and it seemed easy. I hope this  means we are getting stronger!

Mission number 15!

Misson number 13! This one was my favorite! I got to feed a goat :)

Santa Barbara Sunshine

Reluctantly we left Refugio Beach. From our beach front campsite we'd been hypnotized by rhythmic surf, watched dolphins dive and jump, and marveled that pelicans don't bend their beaks when they fold their wings and splash into the water with such force. Despite all this marine entertainment we packed and left. Most of the day we rode on coastal bikepaths, some old but scenic, others more urban without a water view. As usual google bike directions failed us on UCSB campus, but a student directed back onto bike trail which took us to within 2 miles of the mission. Unprepared for the last 2 miles of uphill through heavy traffic and narrow streests we arrived at the mission, in an urban induced state of seni-conciousness; thirsry, sweaty and flustered. Sitting in the quiet, cool church surrounded by the unique blend of catholic icons and native american sensibility which are the hallmark of the california missions I felt like a true pilgrim. Sanctuary. Retreat. Succor. Peace. I think the Padres achieved their aim. Fortunately the final 2 miles to the hotel were downhill and although crowded, and noisy the thought of showers and real beds with real sheets infused us with unstoppable forward momentum.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beach Therapy

Leaving Solvang yesterday morning was tough. Someone had filled the air with invisible molasses which made cycling 5x harder than usual. After buying food and water, and stopping for one last pastry fix we still managed to leave town before 10. We rode south on a small country road (Alisal) for 7.2 miles. Tree-lined,little traffic and an unrelenting 7 mile climb which took about 2 houts. At the top sat a county park, perfect for a lunch/collapse and filling up water bottles. Then back on highway 101 for a 1 mile 6% grade hill in the first heat of our trip, but the other side of the hill was 2 miles of downhill and cool ocean breezes. We arrived at Refugio campground by 3 and indulged in a snooze on the hot sand. Nirvana, hot sand conforming to all those tired muscles. In our beach front site, we slept under the stars, while listening to the wave lullaby.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mission number 14! Mom and I have been riding four days straight up hills with full packs, I am pretty proud of us!

A couple of mornings ago I woke up with an extremely sore knee. However, we got ice on it right away and wrapped it up, now it's all better!

Misson number 13! This one was my favorite! I got to feed a goat :)

Danish Pastries

After touring mission #13, La Pursima, we headed due east on highway 246 for some beautiful cycling. Tailwinds pushed us up a constantly upward grade through vineyards and golden brown hills. Our only problem came when we ran out of food 9 miles from the nearest store/restaurant. Winery tasting rooms in Santa Barbara county don't sell food. The first one we stopped at gave us some peanuts and two bananas, the second called and found out which one of the tasting rooms ahead sold snacks. As we left, our new found friend commented "I bet tailwind is your favorite word." To which Cathy replied, "Right now my favorite word is snack." We bought 47 dollars of beef jerkey, crackers, cheese dip, chocolate covered fruit, cookies and peanut brittle. Ambrosia. The calories surged straight into our muscles.

 Our observation for the day: everyone a bicyclist meets on the road will enthusiastically describe the hills ahead. Unfortunately since they only know these hills academically as seen through car windows, their information is inaccurate. Either too pessimistic or optimistic depending on their nature. And no one ever remembers the last hill into town which is always psychologically, if not physically the toughest.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lompoc - Finally

Arrived in Lompoc tonight after 3 days riding instead of the planned 1. We rode 32 miles miles and climbed an uncountable number of hills today. Tonight camp is a hiker/biker site in River campground just 1.5 miles south of Mission La Purisima. Tomorrow we tour the mission then ride 19 miles to Solvang, which has bakeries and oh yes another mission. Little known biking fact; There are two classes of bikers: the lycra crowd and the padded butt group. The first do wind sprints drafting behind support vehicles. The second attempt to draft behind tractors and fail. (Cat and I are definitely in the padded butt group!)

Back in the Saddle

Laurie here:
Two days ago  we road 18 miles from San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach. Nice ride, with the highlight being the dead-end bike path with a visual of the desired road 50 yards ahead. Rather than backtracking 2 miles we lifted the bikes over the barbed wire fence, pushed them 10 feet along the berm of highway 101 and lifted them over another fence and happily cycled away.

Yesterday was a 30 mile ride up one steep hill and endless agriculture land. Best moments were the strawberry stand stops. One was closed so we ate
a tomato we'd bought the day before. Cathy gave hers a nice dust bath. At the second stop the bike and helmet landed randomly on the ground until after the berries were gone. There is nothing as tasty as fresh berries after 20 miles in the saddle. Better than main-lining red-bull.

Little known bike energy facts:  you get 12 miles per cinnamon roll,
5 miles per pound of strawberries and 3 miles per tomato.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It was our first day back riding today! I am completely recovered and happy to be riding again!!!!!

Mission number 11!!!!!

Forget bike riding! I'm running away to the circus!

Our new bike ;) mom and I rented a convertible for the 4th and went zooming to four missions. Man I forgot how fast you can get places in a car!

I got my first flat :(

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Here I am at mission number 8!

The beautiful view of  mission San Juan Bautista!

We are a little less than halfway through our "mission!" Misson number 10

Yesterday mom and I broke and got a rental car to go see some missions. I am feeling completely recovered and should be ready to get back on the bike soon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Yummy treats to help me recover!

Yesterday mom and I went to the John Steinbeck museum. He was a great writer, and I got to ride the "Red Pony."