The heart of this trip is the cycling we do every day. However, there are side trips as well, which allow us to immerse ourselves in the history of this region. Yesterday we took a morning trip to Hearst Castle for a tour, and today we toured the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. Each afternoon we've returned to our roots for some cycling. After the first day on the coast, we spent the second day on an inland loop, riding up out of Cambria into the hills. It was 40 miles of some of the steepest and windiest riding I've ever done. The uphill grade reached 21% twice, in a section called "the steps." Several of us had to zig-zag up the road during the first half of the climb, and during the final three and a half miles, the grade averaged about 13%. This ride was not for everyone, but the boys who chose to do it were stalwarts, soldiering on through adverse conditions. After a brief descent, there was another mile climb, then a descent, then a two-mile climb. Then, in case anyone decided to let their guard down, the 9.2 mile descent back to Route 1 was harried by strong cross-winds that had the boys tilting their bikes just to stay upright. A stiff headwind then had everyone in their lowest gear going downhill. After all this, the short hill back into Cambria didn't exactly seem short, so the group took a break to eat, and then pedaled the final four miles back to our hotel. What a day!
In light of this, today's ride was relatively easier, though eight more miles into a headwind tested our resolve once again. We got to practice drafting a bit, and those who chose to go it alone realized very quickly that there was strength in numbers. We had lunch at Ragged Point, returning to the ocean overlook and a narrow, rugged trail that dropped several hundred feet to a black sand beach below. Of course we decided to take it, discovering two waterfalls and countless rocks to play on at the bottom. We then trekked back up, returned home, and headed out on our ride to the seal preserve, where we adventured off onto another side trail. The central coast certainly has provided plenty of opportunities for adventure, and this group has been sure to take them all.
The entrance way to Hearst Castle, built by newspaper magnate William Randol Hearst, who hosted scores of famous people here in the 1920s and 1930s
Davis and Chris enjoying Hearst Castle
This is the section of yesterday's climb shortly after "the steps." You can see the quick elevation gain from the road below. I was so winded I didn't get too many pictures on this ride.
We then continued to Ragged Point, where Zach, Steve, and Tommy got up close and personal with the roaring ocean. Thanks to Allen for this shot.
Allen at the bottom of the side trail that dropped several hundred feet to the black sand beach
Davis does his best Gollum impersonation above the waterfall
After lunch, we rode to the seal preserve, where Ryan, Sidney, Chris, Devin, and Abhi showed their true colors
Ryan, Abhi, Chris, and Allen on the sandy trail to the seals.
Sidney, Chris, Davis, and Devin observing a seal colony
Davis takes a moment for contemplation (kind of) in the waning sun.
Devin enjoying the sunset as we head back to San Simeon
Ryan has been experimenting with photography throughout the trip, and took these two shots on the beach outside our hotel after we got back today.