Big Sur tour: done

Elkhorn Slough

[by Leonie]

The final day of our tour dawned cold and blue. We knew the atmospheric river of moisture was schedule to descend on the Monterey Peninsula somewhere between 3:00 and 4:00 PM, bringing up to seven inches of rain. The storm was predicted to last at least three days. We ran out of fuel just as the water boiled for tea and coffee, packed our scant bags and pushed the bike up a hill of sand back to pavement.

Before we had pedaled 50 ft, the front shifter cable snapped. Our minds flipped through scenarios — finding a bike shop, calling Leonie’s housemate to rescue us, cursing in frustration — before settling on an elegant solution. We adjusted the limit screws to hold the front derailleur in the middle ring and decided to limp home on seven gears. We had 46 miles, quads of steel, and relatively flat terrain between us and a hot shower. No problem.

We followed a wide boulevard with a generous bike lane to the Monterey Scenic Recreation trail and enjoyed another anomalous southern wind at our backs, blowing us home. At Moss Landing we opted for a scenic detour inland, away from the twin tower power plants and Highway 1’s rush of traffic. Elkhorn Road brought us past the eponymous slough, where the immense sky and a scattered flock of snowy egrets were reflected in a placid mirror of water stretching to the horizon.

We threaded the needle of a pleasant route back to town while avoiding both steep hills and busy streets, arriving home just three hours before the storm hit, and 48 hours before a chuck of Big Sur’s Highway 1 fell into the ocean. Who knows when we will be able to ride that road again- but we are already scheming about our next tandem tour.

[Final stats by Yours Truly. — ed.]

The tour added up to about 375 miles and 27,000 feet of elevating change over 11 days, including one hiking day, two half-days due to weather, and about a full day of dirt. While not much by South American standards, I was pleased by how much ground we could cover in a winter day on a loaded tandem — roughly 45 miles. On the last day, with moderate terrain, good roads, and comfortable temperatures, we traveled almost fifty miles in just over a half-day, suggesting we could accomplish more in more conducive conditions.

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