My1x: Time Machine
This My1x report comes from James Stout of Appetite4Adventure Media. It chronicles his most recent adventure riding California’s Central Coast on a SRAM Force 1 equipped Santa Cruz Stigmata. All photos © Appetite4Adventure Media
I called my girlfriend from Cambria, California last Sunday on a telephone that plugged into a wall and that wasn’t capable of taking, let alone sending, photos. There aren’t many days that go by without us exchanging a flood of multi media messages across the six platforms (yes I counted) that we regularly use to communicate. But sitting on the deck of our hotel twiddling the looped cord in my fingers and watching a seal play in the ocean, I remembered how nice it was to take the time to actually talk. I enjoyed the rare opportunity to spend the day unencumbered by little blue bird icons, yellow ghost icons, and the persistent vibration of my telephone in my pocket.
As people who enjoy exploring, adventuring, and a glass or two of wine, my friend Sean and I didn’t have to think twice when our friends in the Central Coast of California invited us to come up and ride with them. We wanted to check out the legendary road riding which has been used for countless training camps and stages of the Tour of California. We also wanted to find the trails that only the locals could show us in the hills above Cambria and San Luis Obispo. It didn’t hurt that there were wines to be tasted and cookies to be eaten.
Our first day saw us rolling up late, but not too late, to grab some sweet Santa Cruz Stigmata bikes from our friends at SRAM. Suitably impressed with their huge tire clearance, robust Force 1 drive trains and sleek black on black paint we loaded up the bikes and rode into San Luis. There we met our friends Daniel and Dillon for what was to be a huge day of sweat, singletrack and sweet, sweet cookies. We were lucky to be perfectly equipped for a ride that took in roads, gravel, profoundly rocky singletrack, some more gravel, some more roads and some ridiculously steep climbs. Oh and did I mention it was over 100 degrees F (38 Celcius)?
As we rolled out, I noted that my choice of a tighter ratio cassette (11-36) might be a disadvantage over the 10-42 blocks that I saw Sean and Daniel using. It turned out to be just fine. Indeed the combination of the dust, the grinding climbs, lack of cell phone signal, and the beating sun contributed to the sensation that somehow I had pedalled my way into a black and white photograph. It was one of the best days I’ve had on the bike in months.
In my memory, a few moments stand out: after 10 miles of climbing gravel roads, Daniel led us down some steep switchbacks as we flew past some confused ROTC cadets on a survival exercise. I suppose they weren’t expecting whatever they were looking for out there to come past on drop bars in Lycra. After a few miles of scaring soldiers (and frankly myself), we popped out onto the road for a sustained downhill. We pacelined at 27 mph for the next 30 minutes. I looked down and noticed that my bike was probably experiencing its first use of the 40x11 a full two-and-a-half hours into the ride. Despite my worries about gearing, I was perfectly capable of taking my fair share of pulls into the wind as we descended towards the ocean.
After the high speed run into Cayucos, and a detour to the Brown Butter Cookie Company (which I may or may not have mandated), we set off on more steep road climbs where my 36-tooth cog saw a lot of action. Although I was sweating so much that I looked like I had been in the ocean rather than next to it, the climb up Old Creek Road was worth it. The view back down to Cambria was breathtaking. As far as the eye could see there were gently rolling green hills sprinkled with pine forests and crowned with the ocean on the horizon.
As we hit the 101 and let our weary legs turn over easily in the tailwind, we all breathed in the fresh ocean air and enjoyed the best kind of tired feeling. All of us except Sean, who had been feeling the worst kind of tired. His weariness notwithstanding, after sitting on the back all day he proceeded to launch a vicious attack for the city limit sign. I still maintain that we could have beaten him if we hadn’t been so overcome by laughter that we nearly fell over.
That night we put up our feet in our waterfront hotel in Cambria, opened up a bottle of local beer and watched the waves until the sun set. Just 36 hours before we had been answering emails and scheduling calls but now the only thing of importance seemed to be food, sleep and what our route would be tomorrow. Our phones didn’t have signal, but our hotel rooms had fireplaces and proper metal keys, and we had little to do other than watch the sunset with a cold drink. I can’t think of a better way to step back in time than that.
Appetite4Adventure Media is making a video chronicling their California Central Coast trip and have provided this trailer video for it.