Jennifer Schofield
Pacific Coast
Innocent When You Dream At Oceano State Park Billy and I managed to finagle a camp spot (OK, it was all Billy, I just showed up looking piteous). Before long two other touring cyclists showed up. I went to do the day's laundry in the ladies' room sink; when I walked back to camp I saw we had another cyclist. Then I saw it was a woman … Could it be? No, she is still way north of me … Then I saw pigtails … Carrie? It was! I was so happy to see my friend. We worked at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort a long time ago and have kept in touch on Facebook. I had hoped that we would connect on this ride, just wasn't sure where! We caught up as the daylight dwindled and began strategizing for the next day's ride.

In the morning, I started out with Carrie and Billy. Soon I was trailing Carrie, who was trailing Billy. That's how it was most of the day. They are both strong cyclists, and total scenery junkies. They inspired me to go for the more challenging and prettier Santa Ynez detour which ascends higher (2,224 feet) than Leggett Pass (1950 feet), the highest point on the official PCH route.

We rode through wide open spaces—a contrast to the winding hilly cliffs from the last couple days. Although I was tracking Carrie and Billy, I mostly rode alone. I was acutely aware of my body—feeling sluggish and slow today … probably didn't need a burrito the size of my arm for second breakfast. Listening, breathing, being on the bike. Breathing in dust, the scent of strawberries. Feeling the hot sun on my back. Looking across the fields to people hunched over picking berries. It's only 10 a.m. and already 74 degrees. They don't tell you about this part when you buy the strawberries in the grocery store.

Listening. Pedaling. What's that squeak, is that my bike? Where's it coming from? Oh wait, it stopped. Now it's back. I'll take a look at the next stop. I'm hungry. Wait, am I really hungry or just thinking about food? I'll try downing some electrolytes and see how that goes … Nope, I'm definitely hungry. Good thing I have a cookie in my handlebar bag.

There's something about cycling under wide open skies—it feels like a heavy curtain has been lifted from my mind, and the world is wide open. Before long, I was wondering, what's next after this trip? What do I want?

I want to live in a world where we're not worried about women traveling alone.  

I want a world where cyclists don't get teased for wearing fluorescent yellow … Or better yet, where we don't need to wear high viz gear to be seen.

I want to keep riding my bicycle.

I'm sure there's more but that's what I've come up with so far.  

And now, back to the ride …

After a visit to touristy Solvang, we came upon Sedgwick Reserve with its miles of oak woodlands. Had there been any doubt that California was the PCH's most beautiful state, this made it official. We camped at Lake Cachuma Recreation Area, complete with a spectacular sunset over the lake. The next morning we woke early to tackle the 4-mile climb over San Marcos Pass. We reached it before 9 a.m. and it was already hot. Continuing through the national park reserve area made it all totally worth it. It was a hard climb so early in the morning but I'd do it again just to see that valley.

It was a breathtaking morning; to the gorgeous vistas I willingly gave my breath; that merciless hill stole it. Again trailing Billy and Carrie, I kept myself company by singing Tom Waits. He is known for what his wife and writing partner calls “big weepers” and “grim reapers,” so I alternated between “Innocent When You Dream” and “Hell Broke Luce.” You can guess which category each falls into.

Before long we were cruising down into Santa Barbara, back to the reality and familiarity of city life where we enjoyed second breakfast. But I'll still be dreaming of that valley for a long, long time.  


- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -

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Jennifer Schofield

Gear List

- MY BLACKBURN GEAR -

- MY BIKE SPECS -

- PERSONAL ITEMS -

- TECHNOLOGY -

- CAMPING GEAR -

- CLOTHING -

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Jennifer Schofield
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? Have you traveled by bike in the past? Reading Bruce Weber’s New York Times posts about his 2011 cross-country bicycle trip rekindled my 20-year old dream of doing a long bike ride. Then I talked with several friends who have done long tours – both the PCH and Transamerica…and I started thinking, hey, if these guys can do this, I can too. I’ve done the Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic a couple times – what’s a few more hundred miles?
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? Have you traveled by bike in the past? Reading Bruce Weber’s New York Times posts about his 2011 cross-country bicycle trip rekindled my 20-year old dream of doing a long bike ride. Then I talked with several friends who have done long tours – both the PCH and Transamerica…and I started thinking, hey, if these guys can do this, I can too. I’ve done the Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic a couple times – what’s a few more hundred miles?
  • What is your goal for the route? What do you hope to get out of this journey? I intend to ride from Port Angeles, WA to the US-Mexico border. I am hoping for adventure, time on the beautiful Pacific coast, a good tail wind and embracing life outside the cubicle! I’m looking forward to visiting the small towns along the coast and especially meeting new people along the way.

MY MUST HAVES

  • Magic Feather Because believing I can do it is what's going to get me there
  • My Journal Documenting the memories as I go
  • My Phone Staying connected with friends and family
  • Lip Balm A little bit of comfort that I carry with me on every long ride

- MY RIDE -

- Pacific Coast Milestones -