October 13 – Big Sur to Cambria – 70 miles (gain/loss 5,100’)
The hills of the Big Sur coast get even bigger for the first 50 miles of today’s ride. You are either climbing or descending virtually the entire way, with Highway One often carved right out of cliffs that rise over 1000’ above the ocean. This is some of the most dramatic riding of the trip. South of Ragged Point the hills level out as we ride through idyllic ranchland past an elephant seal colony and Hearst Castle before getting a well earned night’s rest in the picturesque coastal village of Cambria.
Accommodations: Bluebird Inn, 1880 Main Street Cambria

Route on Day 4 – Big Sur to Cambria

As we needed to make an early start and breakfast was not served in Big Sur lodges before 8am, John made breakfast for us.  We had been teasing him a bit about smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels the day before and he took the bait and managed to produce them for us. What a nice guy!

Breakfast – Day 4
Day 4 – Breakfast

Day 4 – Breakfast

The 4 sharing a room situation was on the whole ok although Lewis was banished to a room on his own for insulation against snoring but the noise still came through the walls!  At some points we had stereo effects with both Richard and Lewis!  And what with Alan rustling for headphones in the early hours meant I got 6 hours sleep! I woke at 5.30am again.
Richard P has been really struggling with a knee problem over the last few days and in the end went to see an emergency doctor on Friday in Big Sur.  His knee had been really bad and painful. After many hours waiting and a mountain of forms, he had an x-ray and was diagnosed with a sprained knee. He was given pain killers and told to rest it and ice his knee. He woke to a happy surprise this morning that it felt so much better. After much debate and consideration by Richard, he decided, at the last moment to try the ride. A very brave decision as it was the most difficult day and with 3 major climbs, the first of which was immediate.

Early Morning Spectacle

We started this climb with much trepidation. It was 2 miles long and took me 17.5 minutes.

I cycled with David.  It was especially hard as we only had a few hundred metres to warm up!  This was what we had trained for and I had looked forward to the challenge. We had to just grind it out and that is what we did. With legs burning and lungs bursting I still felt like there was more in the tank, which was just as well because the first 45 miles were all up and down with no flat at all. Everyone achieved that hill really well. Alan, using his new gears to good effect, was feeling much better (aided by red Bull!) and Richard happier now his knee felt OK.

After all the big climbs at Ragged Point

The sun was out and no clouds, it was going to be a great day.The next 40 miles were some of the most spectacular coastline I have ever seen.

Awesome Views

We could see for perhaps 10 miles in each direction. Cliffs down to the coast, mountains behind, rolling roads and hills to climb with speedy descents. Hence the crazy maximum speed today. Each turn it just got better. I kept saying ‘that’s the last photo’, but just had to take more, not that they could capture it all.

It was just spectacular. I was smiling and enjoying the day so much. The pain of the hills was so worth it. Cycling along seems to attach us to the coast unlike driving it in a car. We also take far longer and see so much more.

Some of the day was spent cycling alone, which was superb. No one else in sight with no cars as the roads were so quiet, amazing scenery and just me and my bike. Just bliss. I really felt so lucky to be doing this.

The lo-down on all the other guys is that they are all amazingly well, considering what a hammering we are giving our bodies! Yes, there are aches and pains, moaning and leg pulling, but so far, so good.

  • Craig – If only he would get that head camera sorted out and working!
  • Stuart – steady as always
  • Alan – New gears, red bull, chest getting better, a happy chap at the moment
  • Richard P- Knee problem seems under control, doing really well, superbly organised the whole trip
  • Richard R – Cant wait for tomorrow and the day 5 races!
  • Keith – Mr DJ. Music from his phone in its special holder, plays over the loudspeaker (when it doesn’t fall off!) all singing along at times.
  • Daren – Mr bandanna. One of the fittest ones here. Keeps RR under control!
  • David – The fittest one here and my hill climbing buddy.
  • Lewis – Coping well with all of us! A mine of facts and knowledge (Google)
  • Me – Doing great. Surprised how well my body is holding up and very happy after a superb full massage this evening!!
    Richard P and Daren
    Stuart, Craig, Daren and Richard R

    What other facts can I tell you:

  • Burning between 2800 and 5800 calories a day ( according to Lewis’s watch computer)
  • Our guide, John is superb and nothing is too much trouble for him
  • We could all do with more sleep but we seem to be managing
  • Still don’t know what’s next after this challenge
  • A big thank to all my sponsors whose support really does give me encouragement – so far I have raised £2,528 for charity
  • This is so much better than I had imagined
  • Kili was harder overall but this has shorter more intense levels of physical demand
  • This blog takes a huge effort. It’s mainly down to my wife Lorraine typing up my voice notes and putting it all together at home (I’m cheating!). Thank you so much
  • We are about half way through
  • Have not seen any of the towns we have stayed at because we have neither the time nor the energy to do so!
    Richard R

    Now back to today:

    The cycling just got better and better and better. The scenery was more amazing each corner we turned.

We stopped for lunch at around 37 miles to refuel before the “double whammy” – the last big climbs of the day. The first climb was 2 miles long. Then 2 miles fast downhill before another 1.2 mile climb up again!  Not quite as steep as the morning but a few short parts were steeper. After 40 miles this was a big ask and again I found myself cycling with David. I led the first and he the second. We just got into the lowest gear and kept the same rhythm till we reached the top. I find it is easier to go through the pain than it is to go slower. Slower takes longer and I find needs more effort to keep momentum. We did a similar speed to the morning, probably a bit faster at 8 – 10 mph. At the end of the second part I was really shattered – but proud to say we didn’t stop on any of the climbs. In fact I don’t think any of us did, even Richard P did them all, much to all of our delight. Alan hardly stopped all day and his new mega cog worked wonders on the hills.

We cycled that – wow!
Some of the steep bits!

The descent was about 4 miles long and just wonderful. I love free miles with no pedalling but have to concentrate as speeds can get very fast and need to take great care. The roads surfaces are remarkably good so far. This was by far the hardest 7 miles of our trip!
After the descent the last 20 miles were almost flat. Amazing scenes of long winding roads with little traffic, seeing far into the distance, like being in an American road movie!
Clear blue sky with no sea mist and little wind. It was perfect weather for cycling. Had sun cream on too.
At one stage I was playing a little game seeing how far I could get on the undulating road without pedalling. The downhill speed getting me over the ups. I was doing quite well when I came to a halt near the brow of a small hill . All of a sudden Craig shouted “Neil, what are you doing??!!” as he very nearly crashed into me. I hadn’t realised he was following. Not sure if he fell off, but his chain came off as a result! We did have a good laugh about it.
3 punctures today Stuart, Richard P and Richard R and a shredded tyre from a sharp stone for Richard R at the same time. All fixed by the ever vigilant John.
At 59 miles we stopped at an Elephant seal colony. There were masses of them sunbathing on the beach. Quite a spectacle.

Baby Elephant Seals near Hearst Castle

Got back around 5.30pm in time to shower before going for a massage.

Afternoon Easy Cycling

Arriving at Cambria

Dinner was at 8pm in one of the best restaurants in town. Great food.
Saw a car park full of Porsche 911 here for a weekend gathering.
Also, in Cambria there is a special Scarecrow Festival and most shops and houses have one outside. Not like the straw man in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, but all themed. It was wonderful because the hotel we were staying in had a family of cyclists as their scarecrow theme – quite apt.  What a coincidence.

Outside the hotel in Cambria – The Scarecrow Festival

To summarise:  This was a very hard day. The hardest I have ever done on a bike, but what places we have seen! Just stunning.

I could go on about the fantastic ride today but its 11.30pm  and I am getting tired!

This is a wonderful amazing experience. I am a very lucky man to be doing this. The experience is beyond my wildest expectations.

Tomorrow is said to be the easiest day. I wonder if we will be back early enough for a swim and sunbathe?

The stats for the day:

Time:  Start 7.45 finish 5.30 – a very long day

Time in the saddle:  5hrs 35minutes
Distance: 71 miles

Speed: Average 13.1 Maximum 36.5