San Francisco to San Diego - 600 Mile Cycle Adventure

San Francisco to San Diego - 600 Mile Cycle Adventure

Photographer and all around friend of Deus, Kelly Hammond recently conjured up a cycling adventure from San Fransisco to San Diego. Needless to say - this is an effort worth mentioning. 

From Kelly...

February 11th 2021
Luke and I were up in San Francisco together for work. Luke had been cycling for a bit and I had teased about getting a road bike and joining him. I wasn’t too serious about it until he mentioned a ride from San Diego to San Francisco. I had done one previous multi day big mileage ride from Morro Bay to San Diego about two years prior but hadn’t ridden since. That trip went down in a similar manner. A thought turned into a plane ticket and within a month Luke and I found ourselves checking our bikes on to the plane with a one way ticket to SF. With just two wheels and two legs to get us back the 600 miles. Enthusiasm, Tylenol, and a cold beer at the end of each day were soon found to be essentials as began the long journey home.

March 27, 2021 at 8:05 that familiar feeling.
Just a bike and one thing to do all day for the next 6 days. Unfortunately Murphy’s Law hit us from the get go. My internal seat clamp slid down the seat tube. With the help of a wire close hanger and some brute force we were back in action by 12pm. The ordeal set us back a bit but we managed to put down 80 miles rolling into the Manresa camp ground shortly after dark. It was about 8pm when we got to the campground only to find that it was closed. Exhausted, we decided to pull up on the side of campsite and set up camp anyways. Little did we know that this was a mistake. After settling down into our sleeping bags we heard people partying in the background which was a little distracting but not enough to keep us from sleep. Then the gunshots came. Awakened, confused, and a little concerned Luke and I woke each other asking, “did you hear that?,” again, exhausted from the day we fell back to sleep. “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE HERE, PACK UP AND LEAVE,” were the words that jolted us from our sleep around 1am. A ranger had found us and woke us with his 4X4 brights. He was not happy with us setting up camp in a cluster of trees next to the guard shack. So I gave him a thumbs up as we staggered out of our sleeping bags and began to pack the little camping materials we had. We rode a mile and a half out of the campsite cold and delusional to find a set of train tracks off the main road. We unpacked, hoped that there wouldn’t be any trains that night, and passed the fuck out, least I did. Luke had brought a summer sleeping bag which was about 20 degrees too cold for the weather. He told me the next morning that he was doing sit ups in his bag for 2 hours waiting for me to wake up so we could start on our bikes again. Between the partying, gunshots, and ranger, sleep wasn’t sweet but it was enough to wake up the next morning with excitement to start on a new day.

March 28th, 2021 was supposed to be our catch up day by making up the mileage we had lost. Wishful thinking as we set out at 5:45am running off 3 hours of sleep. Breakfast at Starbucks, and off we went. Due to the washout of highway 1 in Big Sur, our route ran east, and paralleled the 101. We had 20 miles under our belt riding on cracked, rough farm roads with a headwind. The least desired conditions for a bike. Fierce and gusty winds slowed our progress to a crawl as we pushed on and the unkept road was ripping us a new one. It was mentally and physically draining to be putting max effort but seeing little progress. The scenery had changed very little since we began that morning. Distant green mountains on either side of us, with endless farmland and vineyard filling the entire valley except for the little back road we were on. The mental strain of looking at the same thing for hours and hours begin to hurt us more than the head wind. The inevitable thought loops were becoming a serious issue. I tried anything to stay for lack of a better word, sane. Reciting all the states, the alphabet backwards, and counting to 300 were just a few methods of distraction that got us to the next town. Here, Luke and I decided the most vital asset to our recovery was sleep. So we booked ourselves the luxurious vagabond resort. A Motel 6 for the night after learning our lesson from the first.

March 29th, 2021
We set out on the longest day of the trip attempting to cover 130 miles. I had never ridden that far and neither had Luke. Good conditions and morale, we set off stoked that things were seeming to go our way. We started riding in 20 mile segments eating at each stop to keep our energy up. We crushed it. We went from King City to Santa Maria without many issues. We arrived at our second motel of the trip exhausted but proud of the accomplishment of a proper day of bike riding. Luke went in to check in only to come out looking defeated. We had gone to the wrong Motel 6. Apparently, there were two Motel 6’s in Santa Maria. We were able to laugh about it and got on our bikes to ride the 4 miles to the correct motel. Again, Luke went in to check in and came back with a defeated look on his face. We had not only gone to the wrong hotel but had also booked the motel for the wrong night. Slightly frustrated Luke went into pay for the new room when he came back asking for my ID. Now it was my turn to look defeated. I had lost my wallet. No cash, no ID, no cards, nada. I rode back to the first hotel hoping that I had dropped it when I took it out to get my ID for the first hotel. Luckily it was on the ground in the parking lot of our first hotel. We should have anticipated something like this happening. A day this seamless on any adventure is a good reason for concern. Finally, a nice shower and a bed to end a long day.

March 30th 2021
115 miles to Ventura. To be completely honest with you, I don’t remember much of this day. That's something funny about being on a bike for long periods. Time starts to melt and thoughts you had a few hours ago seem to feel like you had them yesterday or maybe 5 minutes ago? Really doesn’t matter because there was only one thing to do, keep pushing pedals.

March 31st 2021
Was supposed to be a mellow 105 mile day with pretty minor climbing. This day the conditions weren’t the problem but our bodies were. The previous 400 miles had started to take its toll. My achilles and knee was pulling and Luke’s knees were swollen. We learned about Tylenol and hazy IPAs this day. Just enough to make the pain manageable. We took the coast, a bike path/pedestrian path that arguably could be much more dangerous than the actual road. Homeless, tourists, locals, all congested together as we rode through. It felt like we were in the future with everyone on their electric bikes and skateboards, a trippy sight to see. We made it to Huntington but not without pain. Called it a night at a buddies house, a few margaritas and we were out thinking about the final day ahead.

April 1st 2021
Last day of the trip. Knee and achilles pain was peaking but we didn’t care. We were riding on familiar roads. The sense of adventure and seeing new things was diminished, now it's just work. Home was 75 miles away and all we had to do was keep going. With some determination and mostly the desire to be in our own beds we pounded on taking the coast and some of the 5 freeway until reaching Oceanside. We rode together through Carlsbad until we split off. There was a bridge where Luke went left and I went straight, as we split up to go our own ways I looked and saw Luke put up his arm and cheer. I can’t describe this feeling of euphoria. This final moment was worth every head wind, shitty farm road, and questionably cleaned motel bed we had been through. Realizing that it's done. We did it. We made it all the way. I finished up the last 10 miles with a grin from ear to ear, pulled into the driveway and laid down. It’s done


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