“If I can do this,” I told myself as I planned and trained for the multi-day ride, “I can do anything.”
The most environmentally sound way to start such a trip is to take your bike on a northbound train to San Luis Obispo. That gives you an idea of the Pacific Coast as you’ll see it on the way back down. It also gives you a view of remarkable landscape you’ll never see from the road, like the rugged shores and hills in Vandenberg Air Force Base, south of Lompoc.
I set an easy goal for my first day: to ride from SLO to Morro Bay and stay overnight with friends.
“Morro Bay is a straight ride from SLO,” they wrote. “Just take Highway 1. It’s about ten miles. You can be here in an hour or so.”
Rookie numbers, I thought.
To avoid any goal being too easy to achieve, I took bike and belongings from the train station at SLO to a northbound bus, then started my ride on Highway 41 from Atascadero out to the coast. The first few miles included a climb of about 500 feet under clear, warm skies. The middle few miles included a winding descent on a road that wise cyclists probably avoid on busy weekends. The last few miles included a quick freeze as clouds blew in and a damp ocean wind gusted straight up the valley created by Morro Creek.
But the entire ride included the thrill you get when anticipation finally meets reality. Maybe you feel that as you stand in front of your house with your suitcase, and your ride finally pulls up to the curb. Or when the airplane jostles your seat as it finally backs away from the gate. I felt it watching the road out of Atascadero, as it finally started rushing under the wheels of my bike.
“Now, that’s The Road,” I said to myself.
I capitalized it.