Winter is not a particularly difficult time for bike riding here in California. With our mild temps and hero dirt it’s hard to really call it a winter at all. But, there is one thing that even a Mediterranean climate cannot provide: enough daylight hours to do a silly big ride. Not just a long ride, but one of those rides that you sketch out on paper and wonder, will this actually work? Between a full work schedule and an ever-growing list of races, early summer offers a short window of time where conditions lend themselves especially well to epics. This year, longer days, no races, a huge stretch of beautiful California coast, and good friends all came together in the form of a 176-mile adventure from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo. Taking the iconic California 1 through Big Sur over the course of 12 hours was just the thing to kick off the summer.
There is just something special about starting and ending a ride in the dark with a vast distance checked off in-between. However, it can be daunting locking yourself into a ride that just might be too big for your britches. One way to ease yourself into a big ol’ ride like this is to plan an escape route. For this particular day out we set ourselves up with a sag van filled with all the snacks, beers, and parts needed for a well-supported cruise down the coast. This not only allowed for frequent fuel stops, but also allowed easy bailout points so everyone in our diverse crew could dial in their preferred level of mileage. As for me, I had a hankerin for suffering that only a full-pull of coastline could satisfy.
While most of my favorite rides require a bit more travel, my trusty Major Jake fitted with some nice wide slicks was the perfect vantage point for 12 hours’ worth of views like this.
The Route, although mega, is fairly straightforward. Start yourself in Santa Cruz, make it to the legendary Hwy 1, and head south. There may be a few hills and all-time vistas in between and like any good day-long ride, this one ends with donuts and exhausted smiles. With the solstice right around the corner, it’s the best time of year to get out there and go big!