Day Five: Uphills and Downhills

Day Five: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Last night was a wonderful end to a big Big Sur climb. For the first half of the day most of us were separated, individually the team worked towards climbing Big Sur and then we all reunited at Ragged Point. Together we then biked into San Simeon. For about 16 miles we had the open road to ourselves. Yes, Perhaps I was playing The Goonies' song in my head and yes perhaps I am playing that song as I write this post. Who doesn't love Cyndi? She's good enough for me. I digress.

We biked past the open fields, passed Hearst Castle and into the elephant seal observation at the Pierdras Blancas Rookery where more than 7,000 elephant seals reside. We spent a good amount of time watching those boys and girls, they were either mating or sparring or doing both at the same time (to each their own)…it was hard to tell, much like real life. 

Some useless information about those elephant seals is they were almost hunted to extinction in the 1880's. Seal and whale hunters harvested the seals for their blubber and oil. But around 100 seals survived the hunts and found shelter near Baja, California off of Guadalupe Island. Over time they migrated and a colony of seals were eventually found at the rookery in 1990. The first baby seal birth happened in '92 (awwww) and then after that more than 600 births occurred. Perhaps it was the San Simeon sunset or the castle in the hills that set the mood but ever since they have all congregated there and it's pretty amazing to see hundreds of seals lining the coast. I guess it was "good enough" for them (ok, last time).

We railed out of there and I don't know, I guess we timed it perfectly and ended up biking with one beautiful sunset behind us. We were in a hurry to make it into town before it got dark but we just had to stop to enjoy the beauty. The one thing about doing a tour in a short amount of time is you don't always feel like you can stop and just enjoy the environment that surrounds you. But we did for this. 

We got into town just as darkness began to hit and stopped at this little diner. We were starving, happy and feeling accomplished. I can always tell when these moments hit because everyone is very chatty, patting each other on the back and being encouraging and it's just a wonderful accomplished moment to experience after a long but satisfying day.

Around the diner were a ton of little motels so I jumped on the chance of using that night as my motel night. I hadn't had a proper shower really and all I could think about was soaking my muscles in some hot water after nights of sleeping on a rock hard van floor. I also forced a couple people to join me but I won't mention names in fear of asterisks (asterisks are a point against you if you succumb to comfort or ease. You did the ride except_____). Half the team shared a room with us, the other half of the team stuck it out and camped. By the time we dropped them off at the campsite and got to the motel it was already midnight. We still needed to all shower, sleep and be up by 6am. We didn't get much sleep but it was the most glorious 4 hours of sleep I had in awhile. 

We headed back into the campsite to pick everyone up and biked to a little food stop in Cambria. Everyone sat outside in the parking lot eating their grub, rationing and strategizing what they should save for the next time they were hungry…which when you're touring it's usually every hour to two hours. Plenty of people stopped to talk to us and I noticed in small towns people are much more friendlier and  more inclined to come up to you. We even had a few strangers hand us money and one lady even knew what HIBM was. After I spoke to her Viet and Ben were sure it was the same lady they shared HIBM with back in 2012. Small world indeed.

We headed back to the road. Destination? San Luis Obispo and then Pismo Beach.

I was uploading some pictures to instagram when I noticed a comment from one of our followers. It was a couple that had sent our story to KCBY News, NBC network for Central Coast of California. KCBY then told them they were interested in covering our little cross country coastal grassroots project and asked to call them. So I did and quickly we were able to schedule an interview at Morro Rock which was on our way to San Luis Obispo (SLO). Morro Bay was a pretty quaint waterfront city, unfortunately we only had enough time to do the news piece and head onward to SLO but I intend to go back to Morro and explore. 

If you want to view the KCBY new story on Bike for Kam, click here. Thanks to Jae for helping us spread the story!!

We exited Morro and moved onward to SLO. I really like this stretch of miles from the rig. The sun was pouring down as golden fields, farmland, condors and neatly packed hay bales scattered the land.  

There were many rolling hills and I couldn't help but look at these uphills and downhills as metaphors for life. Like this bike trip there is undoubtedly an endless supply of uphills and downhills in life. On the downhills you're coasting through life, it's the most fun part of the ride and life is good. But where there are downhills there are inevitably uphills. On the uphills it feels like an endless struggle. You have to be strategic so you can endure the length of the climb, like anticipating steep sections in advance so you can adjust your gears, maintain and adjust pedaling rhythm, maintain focus and stick with it. The uphill won't adapt to you, you have to adapt to it.

During these stretches I did alot of thinking and at times I could see myself running or walking through the fields. It's something I used to do as a kid at my grandma's countryside home so when I have these "dreams" I'm usually a child. I got a little misty-eyed seeing myself running in the fields…she seemed so far from me. She didn't notice me but I saw her. But they weren't feelings of sadness, just enjoying moments of past. And, sometimes my thoughts aren't even real past moments, sometimes I just like to create fictional stories in my mind.

I get alot of people telling me not to think about the past, to only think about the present but one, that is easier said than done and two, I don't think there is anything wrong with it. I don't know anyone in this situation of continuous loss, or loss in general, who don't have moments of wishing they could experience the past - even if just for a moment. And in my case it's walking again, or feeling blades of grass and squishy sand between my toes. If the constant thinking of loss cripples your ability to enjoy life, then it is an issue but if you're momentarily revisiting times past then I think at least you're acknowledging the loss...which isn't a bad thing. These visits also force you to ponder the scope of time and just how fleeting it is, and how the waves of change can visit you at any moment. And these moments force appreciation. I don't think I appreciated it (my body) enough when I had it. In fact, I know I didn't.  

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."

We arrived at Pismo Beach campground. Very nice oceanside campsite. No one was in the mood to bbq so we grabbed some really good chinese takeout and ate it next to, you guessed it, a camp fire. First two days of this ride I thought they would never end, now the days are just sailing by...