It felt really weird starting again and switching from talk mode to scooting and I was feeling far from enthusiastic. We had some huge hills to get over today to take us from San Jose to the coastline.
I made some calls home and spoke with my friend Seanna who asked if it was boredom that was making it hard. I think that definitely plays a part (scooting 8hours a day can get pretty dull after 10 weeks) but I also just think I’m tired. Tired of pushing my body so much every day but also mentally from dealing with logistics and being in a different bed each night. Every person we meet we have to explain what we are doing and answer all the usual questions. And all with enthusiasm so they might get excited about our fundraising and donate. We probably meet an average of 20 new people every day!
We got our 4th flat tyre as we were whizzing down the mountain and pulled over to fix it…we’ve managed to spread them out nicely. One on each tyre.
We didn’t stay on the coastline for long but instead turned inland, stopping en route for the night at Bart’s in Aptos (a warm shower host who was just the kindest man). Although we’d be missing the beautiful coastline, following the 101 was the flattest, shortest and quietest option….a no brainier on scooters.
Laura and her son Robyn insisted on meeting us en route to bring us lunch after hearing about our challenge!
Previously a woman had warned us that we should not go this way because “It’s disgusting. It’s farmland and smells of manure”
To be fair it did smell pretty bad in some sections but mostly of rotten cabbage. But it was also really beautiful and I liked the empty back roads and watching the workers in the fields. Those strawberry pickers are super human!
I found $20 in a bush!! (Added to our fundraising pot of course)
A ban on politics
We were being hosted in Salinas by an Israeli lady who’d heard about Gil on Israel news. Irit kindly picked us up at the end of her lane so we didn’t have to do the long scoot up to her house. I was very grateful as I was sunburnt and running very low on reserves. Although I’d been daydreaming about an early night and Netflix, we were surprised with tickets to see a country star called Blake Sheldon (I’m told he’s very famous!). Well…we couldn’t say no to that.
Irit also took us to see some of the local sites the next morning. While on a beach in Monetary a guy made a beeline for Gil and I. He’d heard Gil speaking Hebrew and turned out to be a fanatic Jew who dove straight in to heavy politics and how we should be doing more for Israel (he assumed I was Jewish too). Gil told him he just wanted to relax and enjoy the beach. So damn heavy!
At least Chikita didn’t want to talk politics!
It’d been an intense few days with politics. Another guy (with his ‘great again’ American flag tshirt on) told us London has 80 million Muslims surrounding it and the police are afraid to enter the areas where they live because they are terrorists. Of course I told him this wasn’t true and that actually the Muslims living in London are a lovely community. The hatred in what he was saying was hard to hear. As is all the sad and downbeat people we have met in America who feel so hopeless with the current political climate.
My head just couldn’t deal with it anymore. Everyone we meet wants to talk about Trump, Brexit or Israel and it’s tiring. So I decide to have a ban. No more talking politics….a plan that I managed to withstand for all of 8 hours. Well we were staying with a local politician that night so my timing wasn’t the best.
The road to Chris Lopez (the county’s supervisor) and his wife Jasmine was easy. One flat side road almost the entire way. My head was miles away daydreaming about all sorts. By absolute coincidence we bumped in to Larry and Rhonda (who’d hosted us the Bay Area). They were driving back from a vacation and happened to be on the same side road as us that day.
We took a break at a nice view point then scooted on, taking left and heading towards Peach Road our end point. It was then that we spotted a tiny puppy in the hard shoulder.
He was so hot and really not in a good state. We called Chris and Jasmine who said we should bring him to them (thank goodness they were animal lovers). I scooped him up in one arm and scooted on. He went all floppy in my arms and his sad eyes looking up at me were literally breaking my heart.
Chris arranged for a local shelter called SNAP to take him and we named him Peach after the road. How could anyone abandon a little thing as sweet as this? I wish we could adopt him.
A big mistake
We were so slow scooting the next day and both in grumpy moods. It didn’t help that google maps directed us to a dirt road which we got stuck on for 10km. Gil and I don’t argue often but we had our second fight of the trip so we scooted separately for half an hour for some space then met up in King City where we made up and ate a giant veggie burger at Wendy’s.
I just didn’t want to scoot any more especially as our plan that night had been to camp in someone’s yard. So when we saw a motel we checked in spontaneously. In hindsight that turned out to be a big mistake but at the time I really enjoyed my lazy afternoon off. I ate an entire tub of ice cream (U.K. size not US size) and watched dumb Disney films.
The worst day
Sometimes I feel like I’m gliding on the scooter but today it felt heavy and sluggish. We were still scooting at snails pace which was not great as we had extra miles to make up from stopping early the day before.
By 25km my body felt like I’d already done a full day but I wasn’t even a third of the way there. As we were passing the oil farms the temperature started to really soar. We were having to break it down in to 5km chunks, finding shade where we could cool down. There was no alternative but to go back on the 101 which felt even hotter and provided no shade for miles.
This felt like torture!
Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any worse we saw a sign saying the hard shoulder was closed due to road works and we’d have to take a detour. Great! Our long day was now even longer.
The detour took us through a ghost town called Bradley where we stopped in a classic car mechanics who topped up our water (I’d drunk 6L already).
Our breaks were now every 3km. We cut the detour short and returned to the 101 as the hard shoulder on this part was clear. Although it said no cyclists I didn’t care…there was no way I could make the 10km alternative through the mountains.
I saw Gil wave to a car coming the other way. “It was a police car. It’s ok….they were waving” he told me. “Are you sure they weren’t waving us to stop?” I asked not convinced.
5 minutes later I jumped a foot in the air when the police car sounded it’s siren right behind us. Sweating a looking like a tomato I told the officer (who looked exactly like the cop from T2) what we were doing and assured him we were getting of the next exit. He looked a bit bemused by it all but let us go.
It took every ounce of my energy and a few tears along the way to get to San Miguel. We were meant to be camping….sod that! A motel 2 nights running – luxury. I had a cold shower and went over the road to eat an amazing authentic Mexican meal at Dos Hermanos who insisted we have it on the house.
I don’t even remember getting in to bed that night, I was exhausted. That’s what scooting 82km in 40 degree will do to you.
Another tough day
You know it’s going to be a tough day when your muscles start burning before you’ve even left the car park of the motel. Every muscle in my body was sore.
We’d got up at 6am to try and miss some of the heat of the day. I just zoned out trying not to think of the 72km we had to cover. We stopped at a Starbucks at 18km and then again at 34km…guaranteed aircon every time. I used a mantra to try and keep my mind distracted and positive. Or I’d pick a lamppost in sight and focus on just scooting to that and not thinking any further.
Our route took us towards the coast. I couldn’t wait to reach it, but first we had to climb those mountains again. It was a gruelling 400m climb leaving Starbucks (number 2). Reaching the top felt like reaching the summit of Everest. I honestly thought it was never going to happen. I was at rock bottom physically and mentally….but I got there.
As soon as we were up and over the temperature dropped dramatically and we were enclosed in a blissful fog.
We saw so much wildlife today – deer, wild turkeys, square Los that live in ground holes, eagles, coyotes….and dinosaurs (this is someone’s front yard!!)
Gil’s salty sweat marks…I enjoyed watching this develop throughout the day.
The scoot down down wasn’t as fun as usual as the road had no hard shoulder and a rock wall that left us little space. American drivers don’t seem to get the concept that they can use their brakes and wait behind cyclists (scooterers) for a safe overtake. It’s really frustrating and means we have to keep a good look out when we are exposed like this.
It was a bit hairy but we made it down to Morro Bay and then on to Los Osos. My body physically couldn’t cope with another day scooting – I was completely done. Facebook had proved an invaluable tool once again as Robyn and her family had answers our post for help and offered us a bed for 2 nights. We were treated to some much needed TLC, enjoying some good food and being shown round Sol’s monthly food market.
A well earned rest day!
Im trying really hard to use my legs evenly….but look at that ridiculous muscle on my right leg!!!
We are doing this expedition to raise money for ACE. Please help us build a school in Tanzania by donating here. Thank you…..your support means a lot!!!
This expedition is being supported by Vivo Life!