September 21

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Dear Mom:

I’m a little crazy. Not sure where I acquired my lust for adrenaline? You and Dad seem a tad more conservative than me. Perhaps you should have consumed more chamomile tea during pregnancy. You might not want to read any more of this entry, by the way. I broke our rule, a couple of times this trip, actually, and I rode in the dark. What follows below is the account of this!

September 21. Since I knew Santa Cruz pretty well, I decided to find a new spot for coffee. Coffee houses are one of the places I where I talk about the project. I get access to a wide variety of people and a sense of a city’s “pulse.” I wound up at Ugly Mug’s, about 5 miles outside Santa Cruz. And it’s a whole other world there. I really enjoyed both the coffee and the space. Had fantastic conversations with people and typed for about 3 hours. Then it was time to get to San Luis Obispo. Of course I was leaving later than planned-but this blogging stuff takes up some time!

The route was still undecided from the moment I got on Highway 1-which would split in 12 miles. Highway 101 had been recommended to me by several people. My original plan was to ride along the Coastline as long as I could. We just don’t have a road like Highway 1 on the East Coast. This is where our country ends. It’s breath taking and thrilling to ride, even in a car. So I decided to do it. There are tons of switchbacks, curves with 15mph turns. The lanes are small and if there are few guard rails-even those look incompetent from a scooter viewpoint. I trudged along in traffic for a bit, inhaling exhaust. Then I sped along crazily in traffic, actually pulling over and calling people while waiting for it to subside a little.

I would be driving in the dark. But that was ok. I still had 3 hours of light left to work with. I also had secured a reservation at a hostel in San Luis Obispo and they told me checking in late was fine. Eventually Hwy 1 became 2 lanes and the curves started. For whatever reason, my bike was not balanced. I tried numerous things short of repacking the saddlebags over completely. In places the wind was gustier than others. Of course I stopped to take many pictures, and since I can’t type long today, I’m gonna post a bunch of ’em here, the rest are on my flickr account.

It was the most fantastic, meditative ride I could take. How I considered, for a second, any other route, I do not know. It’s harrowing. You must be safe. You must watch out for crazy drivers. And you must watch out for the edge-as it plummets down hundreds of feet to a rocky ocean. You must know how to ride a bike and handle wind while taking extreme curves. But the view will reward you, seduce you, make you smile huge under that helmet. If you are in it to ride. If you are in a hurry-don’t bother.

Google maps UNDERESTIMATED the time by about 2 hours. Then add some time for me, because I rode in the dark. And it started raining. I rode over tight curves on careening cliffs, with wet roads, in the dark. It was amazing! It was one of the first times I rode at night and felt no fear. I don not know why the human mind takes a fear and runs with it, or becomes so easily conditioned; but I am de-programming these fears. Of course, I don’t think you should ride this road at night. I saw NO motorcycles at night and very few cars. I did however see 2 ambulances. Stopping for gas, the clerk warned me to be careful. There had been a double fatality two hours before. The road was warm with death. That could have freaked me out. There weren’t even places to stop if I had wanted, other than pullouts along the road. Basically, I rode 110 miles in the dark. Mainly at an average speed of 25 miles per hour. I was cold, wet and WIDE EYED when I reached the hostel. I eventually went to sleep- feeling like a bad-ass. Just won’t ever do it again-I promise, MOM.

I’ve spent the day in San Luis Obispo and I love it here. Here is a link to an article about SLO’s stand against corporate takeover. It indicates that smart, conscientious citizens inhabit SLO and that despite some differences they want to make this a good city to live for all.

Heading to Santa Barbara now, to meet up with some people at the Endless Summer Rally. Tomorrow I will ride back to L.A. with the NOHO scooter gang. This is exciting and means I can throw away the map for once and just enjoy the ride!

Here’s the pics!

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