Day 18: Aptos - Lucia (on the side of the road)
Saturday, September 24, 2005

97.29 @ 15.6 = 6:12'10, max: 40.9, trip total: 1363.1

cool morning with nice high temps (70's through the day). sunny all day

oreos, banana bread, cookies, triple whopper, fries, crunch and peanut butter, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, ham and cheese sandwich, doritos, klondike

side of the road, $0

It was a nice sunny morning and the hope that it would warm up was quickly realized. It was getting warmer as we packed up camp. The warmth was obliterated by the the shadows of the descents that started out as we rolled from camp. It was cold again, but as we had hoped the sun warmed us up and we were off to the next place.

There was a bit of navigating to get out of town - apparently we were in the biggest town for miles-- well for many miles. And we saw little other than agricultural fields for the first 25 miles. There was a ton of strawberries- also artichokes, lettuce, brussel sprouts and a nice potpourri of manure smells. At times the smell was really overwhelming, and not in a good way. Whatever they were using really had some stank to it.

But the process of farming the land was really interesting. The top photo shows an entire hill covered with plastic- as if to saran wrap a whole 20 acres. Amazing. Then the deep rows of dirt - like two foot deep curls of corrugated cardboard- to plant the strawberries on the higher ground after the plastic is placed on top. We figured this would make it easier to pick the crop by hand and also keep the bugs off as well as have the berries not lay in dirt. All speculation but then again we had some time to speculate. We also saw a ton of laborers working the fields. And from what I could tell a largely mexican population which made sense with all the mexican restaurants around in the previous town.

So my Mexico jersey went over very well. I got a couple smiles and some gestures - all positive. I guess we're getting closer? We also saw the first signs of cactus today.

So we had some "easy" miles at the beginning of the day. Then we started the climbs and shortly there after there were no more businesses. That was it. Now we were really out in the middle of nowhere. Great biking- long climbs, great descents, vistas all along the coast. It was one thrill after another. And yet "camp" wasn't really getting any closer. It was a long day.

The hills wore on with breathtaking views at every turn. The camera got tired from coming out and so the last half was like - 'do I really need another shot of that?'. I mean, it was spectacular but it was also much better in person. The pix where just not doing any justice to the beauty of the scenery.

But Todd took the time to get a nice panoramic shot:

Full Size Panorama (keep scrolling!)
Photo by Todd Lindeman, rider

video clip: jamming downhill - too hard to capture »

We got to town - a restaurant with a few cabins. That was it - one place on the side of the road. We were told that it really wasn't a town but they put it on the map because there isn't anything else around - for miles and miles. Like at least 30 miles in each direction.

So it's Saturday night... and apparently this is a hip area to come to on the weekends. No places left. No camping in the three campgrounds - all FULL. Hmmm. Ok, plan B. Uh, what's plan B? Seeing how it was 6pm and we had no real options except drive for quite a ways with too many bikes to transfer. We asked the owner of the restaurant if we could camp in the back - that was a NO. Well, time for a beer and a little reflection.

The beer tasted great.

Then we got back to business. We ended up getting some "dinner" at the general store - there was one aisle of food in a tiny store. The choices were limited at best. But we made do and headed off to some side road three miles away. Picked a great spot on the side of the road and set up camp.

Yeah, it wasn't the best option but it was the best option for the night. I met some local hunters coming out onto the road a little ways up and decided to introduce myself before they shot us. All was good. The stars are bright. And I'm sure we'll get to sleep before too late.

No tent for me tonight. Just the bag out under the stars. Everyone is a little freaked about "critters" in the woods and such but we'll be good. The no shower is the roughest part. Those handi-whipes really don't get you as fresh as they say. Good thing is we'll probably be up early.


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