Good ol’ Monday: arguably the most forgettable day of the week that ends in a “Y”. Until recently, it had been a long time since Monday really struck me as exceptional, and I thought it was time to shake things up. So on a Monday, I went for “that ride”. The local, overnight bike camping ride I’ve wanted to do for years. After riding the same trails for close to a decade, it can sometimes feel like there’s nothing new left to ride. A quick and easy fix for this is a shift in pace and perspective. This ride was going to do exactly that.
One excuse I’d been using for not doing this overnight ride was the lack of a dedicated bikepacking setup. After being fed up with that excuse for entirely too long, I simply threw all of the necessary gear into my ultralight backpacking setup, slung on my backpack, and hit the road after work on Monday afternoon. This ride was 44-miles round trip, with about 6,000+ feet of total elevation and would take me further out on the Cuesta Grade than I’d ever been before.
About two years prior to this adventure I’d built my first ever bike frame. I call it a Clandingus, but some might call a “cross bike”. It’s perfect for mini treks like this. It is setup with a Rival 1 drivetrain (Rival GXP cranks, Rival 1 Shifters/Lever, and a Rival 1 Long Cage Rear Derailleur in case I want to run a 42 tooth cassette). Running a 38-tooth ring up front and an 11-36 cassette in the back, I knew I was well equipped with all the gears I could need. For wheels I’m running Zipp 30 Course because I need a tubeless ready wheelset that can handle wide tires, seriously rough roads, and heavy loads.
The ride was so much more than I thought it could or would be. Fall was arriving quickly and was noted by the earlier arrival of darkness and the sharper temperatures that directly contrasted the heat waves of the previous months. I was also graced with the most still of afternoons. Every sign pointed towards calm and peaceful.
Although spiders terrify me, I was delighted to encounter a tarantula that was entirely too excited to say “Hello”. As the sun set, I stopped to embrace the view that encompassed all of my surroundings: Los Osos, Templeton, Atascadero, Pozo, San Luis Obispo, and Shell Beach. Not knowing where I would be camping that night, riding forward into twilight was that much more exciting. After it got too dark to ride without a light, I slapped on my riding light and kept going until I finally found a spot that perfectly suited me.
When light and dark became the dictators of my day’s events, I quickly and happily settled into my tarp tent when the darkness finally surrounded me. I read John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” while watching the stars and planets come out to play for the night. After an incredible night of sleep in absolute silence and stillness, I woke up in the morning to a view of fog rolling over coastal hills and a bobcat, sitting alert, waiting to see what the day had in store for him.
Through all of this, I was able to get a great change of pace and perspective, as well as get outside of what would have otherwise been a “standard Monday night”. It is a wonderful thing to be reminded of all the blessings that you have directly within your reach… every day of every week.