Inspired to ride

 I'd be lying if I said I had an easy weekend of mountain biking. I set out Saturday for a four-hour ride and became so tired midway through that I actually laid down beneath a tree to take a nap. A cold ridge-top breeze woke me up less than five minutes later, but the power nap really did give me a nice boost. The back half of the ride was more peppy.

On Sunday morning, I woke up so groggy that I felt like I was under water, but I'd already made plans to ride with a new friend, Jan. I'd already bailed on Jan once before, so I made myself rally to Windy Hill in the late morning. We motored up to Skyline Ridge on a lung-searingly steep fire road while being baked by the April sun (literally. I always have that one spring ride where I forget sunscreen and come home the color of a cherry tomato. Then I slather multiple layers of SPF 50 on myself for the rest of the year, and my skin never attains any real hint of color.) We kept a mellow pace but our ride was five hours long. Still, I did feel better after this longer ride than I have in a while. As a woman, I often can't tell whether my slumps are mostly hormonal, or if they're rooted in a deeper physical problem. I've decided to blame the former, because adventure is calling with a siren song I can't ignore.

Ever since the Moots came into my life, I've been struck by a strong desire to set out on bike-splorations, at a level I haven't experienced in a couple of years. I've got a big one coming at the end of the month, the Stagecoach 400. I wanted to do a shakedown ride with my new bike anyway, and I thought — why not counter that hot ride across the Southern California desert with a cool, wet tour along the Central California coast? I've lived in California for a year and yet I've seen so little of this state. Inspired by the recent Condor Ride, I mapped out a route that rolls through the Santa Cruz Mountains, snakes along a series of dirt roads that the Condors scouted, cuts down Highway 1 beside the coastal cliffs, wends around Morro Bay and through Montana de Oro State Park, then cuts southeast toward the Santa Barbara Mountains where Beat is racing the Santa Barbara 100 on Friday. The route is about 350 miles and probably somewhere between 60 and 80 miles of dirt  — and likely a lot of climbing. I'm planning to leave Wednesday morning and hopefully finish late Friday evening, or perhaps early Saturday. It's ambitious and the weather is likely going to be cold, wet and difficult — but I can't seem to talk myself out of it. I figure I can at least set out on Wednesday and see how day one goes. If I feel strongly like I need a nap after two hours of riding, I can always cut my tour short and ride back home via Santa Cruz. But if day one goes well, why not go for broke?

I've been so inspired that much of the last two evenings were dedicated to preparing for a multiday ride. I created my Google map route and uploaded it via .gpx conversion to my Garmin, so I even have a GPS track of my intended route. I retrofitted my bikepacking bags to work with the Moots. It took some cramming to get the custom Fatback frame bag into Moots' tiny triangle, and that 2007 prototype seatpost bag has now been through a few wars and back. Beat sewed a new bottom into the bag because the tires rubbed holes in the material during the Tour Divide. The straps are worn and it doesn't hold a pretty shape any more, but it still supports an overstuffed configuration of clothing, tubes, bivy sack, and a sleeping bag. The bags' creator, Eric, expressed embarrassment at its state when he saw me using it in the White Mountains 100. I am planning to order new bags from Revelate Designs soon, but for now these will work. I loaded the bike with sleeping gear, extra clothing, a lot of rain gear, repair kit, med kit and 4,000 calories. Even fully loaded for touring (with exception of the hydration pack) it weighs in at a svelte 37 pounds. I can't wait to hit a few back-to-back centuries with this bike! Oh wait, did I just write that?

I don't really know what to expect, and I can assure you I'm not doing this for training. Actually, I think it's a bad idea for training, but too intriguing from an adventure standpoint to resist. I spent much of this past winter pretending I was still a resident of Alaska. Now I'm finally going to see some of this big, beautiful state in which I reside.

Update, mainly for my mother: I'm carrying the SPOT on my tour this weekend. View my shared tracking page here.


  1. I shouldn't go fueling the fire here, but as someone else that frequently relocates, you almost have to seize these opportunities while you live here! You never know how long you'll be in California....that's kinda the reason I'm not ready to leave yet either. There's too much left to see.

  2. Are you doing the whole condor? Love the idea of a solo lady doing it. Have fun...can't wait to see pictures!

  3. Oh right, should have read more closely. Glad you are skipping the muddy/snowed in section, that sounded like a total misery fest.

  4. Leah, really just day two of the Condor ride, that Arroyo Seco, Indians Road and Coast Ridge trail section. After that it's highway 1 and sort of a self-created route south of Morro Bay on farm and forest service roads to the western side of the Santa Barbara Mountains. I don't have the time or the wherewithal right now for the whole Condor Ride ... not to mention this storm is supposed to dump snow down to 4,500 feet this weekend, so I expect that whole section through Carrizo Plain and beyond will be steeped in mud. Maybe another time. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks to your friends for the inspiration!

  5. Looking forward to reading about your Californian rides.

  6. Durango Joe11:21 AM

    "...I'm not doing this for training."

    Actually, when burned out, a lot of pros go back to basics, nice, long, non-goal-oriented rides to rebuild their base fitness, pedal easy circles to redevelop the "suplesse" in their stroke, and rediscover the fun. It can be considered "training" of a sort.

  7. Koen Delrue3:31 PM

    Can't wait for the story and the pictures Jill.
    Make a picture of your campsite pls, curious how that looks with the bivy sack, etc ...
    Enjoy !!

  8. I'm excited for you Jill and looking forward to reading all about it.

  9. Safe travels down south, I am jealous of the time, but not the weather. I missed the beautiful weather up here in hmb this past weekend

  10. Hey Jill, I too seem to relocate a lot, so much its become a way of life almost- anyway, CA for all the obvious things not so cool about it does have some awesome places in it. If you haven't checked it out yet your going to love the Tahoe/Truckee area. The whole Sierra Mt range actually has some fantastic riding to be done. I hope you find enough to build some good memories of the place.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Another crash

My night on the PCT