Courtney Lewis
Pacific Coast
Monterey, CA to Venice, CA It might be that I'm almost done, but this week flew by and was the best so far. The landscape between Santa Cruz and LA is the most diverse I've seen: rocky beaches, farmland, arid hills, palm tree lined roads, fields and fields, and a few military bases to boot. The roads change from rolling climbs to flat stretches to epic switchbacks (and more brutal climbs) and then more flats. After the area around Santa Barbara, Los Angeles almost feels hilly. My latest ride had climbs of 300 feet and the other cyclists and I complained about the sudden effort. We've become pampered by easy pedaling so quickly.

I woke up early in Santa Cruz to grab coffee at Verve (another local company who hosted the Rangers in the Spring) and got strawberries from a family farm on the way south. This stretch was riddled with industrial and small-scale farms growing avocados, strawberries, red peppers, and cabbage. Sometimes I would get waves of sweet fresh strawberries scenting the air but would turn the next corner to rotting peppers. It’s been incredible to be almost entirely coastal this tour, even when the sun is beating down I can get a decent breeze to cool off and refresh me.

Big Sur has been on fire for over a month now. When I was in Seattle a friend who lives on the coast was up avoiding the smoke and ash, and he warned me that it might still be going when I made it down here. Unfortunately, he was right. According to one camp host there are still 130 acres burning, and the two state campsites in Big Sur are closed to the public to host firefighting teams in the area. Almost all of the hiking trails (inaccessible to dogs on a good day) are closed to travelers, and there's a sixty mile or so stretch of beach that's also closed off.

Even with a sky of gray plumes Big Sur is still striking, and like every cyclists I met along the way has said, it's a trip all its own. Fortunately I met a group of Malibu surfers who were camping in the area and let me post up (and surf) with them for a night. One of them is a sous chef in LA and made me incredible road fuel when I got in and then made me breakfast the next morning. I met as many touring cyclists in this stretch as I have the entire tour, and finally met some other Americans on tour. Everyone was booking it through the area to avoid the private campgrounds.

My stop in LA prior to this week was a much needed break for my leg, and I feel so confident on my bike again. Just in time to wrap up the tour and kill the last 200 miles, I suppose. For once I've mapped out my stops along the way. This last week I met road touring cyclists doing 120-150 miles a day, and a couple loaded down who are averaging 30-40. The two groups make me feel both slow and speedy. I'll go only forty miles a day from here to give myself time to enjoy the last bit of road.

- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -

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Courtney Lewis

Gear List

- My Ride -

- My Favorite Blackburn Gear -

- BLACKBURN GEAR -

- Camping Gear -

- Riding Gear and Equipment -

- Clothing-2 stuff sacks labeled “pretty clean” and “dirty” -

- Giselle (my dog's) Gear List -

- Backpacking -

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Courtney Lewis
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? I’ve had the fortune of seeing a lot of the world, and it’s taken me time to recognize that there is so much amazing adventure within close reach here in the US. Travelling from one end of the country to the next will give me an incredible lens into the landscape of my home, and I am excited of the people and natural beauty that I will meet along the way. I’ve followed the Blackburn Ranger program for the last few years, and the variety of their backgrounds and approaches were immediate inspiration for me to tackle the same path in my own way.
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? The last time I traveled by bike was a few years ago, but I can always be found around one of my bikes, commuting or exploring on day trips. When I travel, I make sure to rent a bike or bring one with me: there’s no better way to see a place than to get around by bicycle.
  • What is your goal for the route? I plan to camp along the entire route, and share all of the natural beauty and cultural quirks along the way. I also plan to hike a number of summits with my bike and friends, and find beautiful views that can only be found far away from cities.
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? I'm excited to shake up my routine, and the routines of my friends (and friends-to-be!) along the way. I want to push my limits to get the most out of the time I have, and to learn more about myself.

- Pacific Coast Milestones -