PCH Tour: Encounter with Dom and Flat #2

Big Sur from the South

Day 52 – The fog really rolled into San Simeon State Park. My rain fly was the wettest it had been the entire trip. I towel dried the tent off the best I could, and then packed it up wet. I’d have to try and dry it out at the next spot. The German couple, Ralf and Francie, got up at the crack of dawn and left camp early. They mentioned doing laundry in San Luis Obispo, and that sounded like an excellent idea to me. I waived goodbye as they headed off.

I wasn’t far behind them. I packed up and went ahead on my own into Cambria to do a little web work. It was a few miles south, and the fog was thick. The moisture covered my sun glasses and soaked my wind breaker. I found an old style diner in town and set up shop. I had a nice breakfast of sausage, eggs and toast. This place was more reasonably priced. Soon, Michael and Liam showed up to join me for breakfast. We all chatted and exchanged adventure stories. Liam talked about some of the rock climbing he did in eastern Washington. He was also on the way to Mexico.

In the meantime I got in contact with Dom, a friend from a film shoot back in March. He biked from Austin, TX to Los Angeles last winter, and he basically got me inspired to do this trip down the coast. I found out that he had recently left LA and was making his way north on his bike. We were within 10 miles of each other and I was hoping to see him on the road. We all pushed off and I lead the way south toward Cayucos. That was where I last heard Dom was located. I had a ton of energy from breakfast and from the prospect of seeing a friend.

I got way out ahead of Michael and Liam and kept the pace up. Eventually, the guys caught me and we formed a nice pace line. The fog cleared up and the sun came in and out of view. We were up and down rolling hills. Members of the California Coastal Classic rode by on their empty bikes.

We were back out on the coast and getting close to Cayucos. I didn’t let up. I was on a mission. I saw the exit sign for town and then I looked across the road and spotted two cyclists coming the other way. I saw they were loaded tourists. I took off my sunglasses for a better look. My eyes connected with the other rider. It was Dom! I yelled out his name. He yelled mine back. Dom and a woman rider cut across the highway and rode straight at us. It was an awesome moment. We rode up to each other and slapped hands and gave each other a big bro hug.

It was hard to believe that we met on the Pacific Highway, miles away from home. We exchanged stories of the coast. He told us about his bike rack that was falling apart and that he just got it replaced in town. I told him how amazing Big Sur was and that he had a lot of great scenery to look forward to. We all smiled in disbelief. I thanked him for inspiring me to go on this adventure, and we talked about doing a ride together sometime in the future.. We all hugged again and wished each other luck, before parting ways. My day was already made, and it was still the morning.

We rolled into Cayucos and stopped at a cafe for some more coffee and wifi. I played around with my photos and we all warmed up a bit. The sun was out when we made our way to San Luis Obispo. It was a slow climb most of the way there. We went inland, past some desert looking mountains. We made good time, but we were on the freeway and the sound of the traffic was loud. Just a few miles out of town we saw the German couple taking a break under the shade of a tree. They decided to ride with us the rest of the way into town. We had a nice big pace line going when we sped down the mountain into the city.

The Germans found a Warm Showers host to take them in for a few days, so they parted ways. In town we found a pizza place. We got all you can eat pizza for $7.95. It was heaven. We stuffed ourselves silly. Liam had a big day of riding, with another 30 miles ahead of him, so he left and made for Santa Maria. We exchanged info and planned to meet in San Diego later on.

Michael and I headed toward the end of town. I needed to get my laundry done, so I found a laundromat and threw in a big load. Michael shot some photos and adjusted his derailer. With fresh warm laundry packed away, we went and grabbed some groceries, before making the final push to our campgrounds in Oceano.

We had a nice tail wind. The canyon road back to the ocean was almost all downhill. I took the lead first and got way out ahead. I let Michael catch up and found out that he lost a banana on the road and had to pick it up. He lead the second half of the ride and I was right behind him. We were only a few miles from camp and riding fast so we’d have time to setup in the sunlight.

Just then Michael passed a large rock. I was too close to him to see it in time. I hit it with both tires and thought I may have blown out the front tire. It looked okay and I kept going. Then my back tire felt squishy. The bike slowed down and I realized that my rear tire was flat. So much for getting to camp before sunset. Michael was still booking it as I called out his name. With the traffic he couldn’t hear me.

I pulled over into the grass and began changing the tire. I pulled off my panniers and detached the wheel. I pealed off the tire and looked for anything sharp stuck in the rubber. I didn’t see anything and I wasn’t able to find the hole in the tire. I grabbed a new tube from my bag. This time I knew I had the right one. Just as I started putting it on, I spotted Michael heading back toward me. He thought maybe I turned down another road. I got the tire on with his help and we hurried to camp.

The sun had already set when we began putting up our tents. It just so happened that we were in the same campsite that the California Costal Classic was staying. One of the participants gave us the details on the showers and said it would be fine if we used them. After two days of no showers, we got a nice, hot, free one, with great pressure and clean floors. What a wild day. From seeing Dom, to the flat, to the best shower I’ve had in a long time. We ate. We slept.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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