Cycling the West Coast: The Final Ride! [Day 33]

Luke Guilford | CycleCycle
A view from above. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
A view from above. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 33

It was a bittersweet morning. Packing up and realizing today is going to be full of “lasts” was a tough pill to swallow, but knowing I get to finish my incredible journey in one of the prettiest coastlines had me stoked. I did my morning stretch, ate the last bit of fruit I had, and wheeled my bike out of Andrew Molera State Park.

I few miles down the road, I biked through the “town” of Big Sur, which is really just a gas station and a few hotels. I was curious to see what people were paying at the pump, so I pulled up to the station and saw $8.55 per gallon! An employee noticed my curiosity and told me that a pump further south had reached $11 per gallon… I guess it’s the year to bike, not drive your old beater of a truck down California.

Shortly after my stop in Big Sur, I had a gnarly climb that led to one of my favorite viewpoints of the entire trip. All you could see were endless miles of the coastline extending out into the deep blue Pacific Ocean.

The epic Big Sur coastline. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
The epic Big Sur coastline. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

After the peak of the climb at around 950 feet, it was mostly downhill until I met my father at Big Creek Bridge. The last 15 miles went by in slow motion, I was taking it all in before my final sprint down to the meeting point. I loaded up on mental snapshots of the coastline zipping by me, and the burn in my legs as push up the few remaining hills.

As I finished my final sprint across the Big Creek Bridge, I didn’t experience relief from the “it’s over” feeling. All I could feel was an enormous pull and a voice in my head telling me that I need to keep moving south. I think some of that feeling derives from the way of life I had created over the past month, a new normal that I happily adopted.

If this can become my normal, then I have no idea what my future has in store for me. Before this journey, biking a couple of miles to class or some light mountain biking was about all I did. I never had a love for cycling, but for the last 33 days my bike has been my home and I couldn’t have imagined it any other way. It’s proven to me that believing in yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone can lead you to a life well-lived.

Celebrating at the bridge with my father was a great moment. We took it all in, then set off down the coast to visit family, that we’d both never met before. It was great being able to connect with them and create new friendships. Sharing stories and connecting the dots of our family history filled our night.

1400 miles later. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
1,400 miles later. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

This trip was just as much a miniature family tour as it was a tour of the west coast. Connecting with family I rarely get to see in three different unique places along the route gave me fuel for my ride. Biking with my father for a week was also a wonderful experience. Making new friends along the way made taking my time down the coast worthwhile.

Get out and do something you don’t normally do. I get caught in this trap of a repetitive routine, which, don’t get me wrong, structure is a great thing, but sometimes we need to break the cycle and try something new. A small change allows us to learn more about ourselves, others, and the world. It slows down time and creates new memories that we can hold onto for years. Whether it’s as simple as taking a new way home from work, you never know what you can gain from stepping out of your comfort zone and creating new experiences.

I hope to continue traveling by bike and making time for adventures. But since this is the end of this journey, I thought I would share a small list of my favorite things along the route.

Favorite towns:

  • Mendocino, CA
  • Manzanita, OR
  • Astoria, OR

Favorite campsites:

  • Cape Lookout State Park
  • Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground
  • Sunset Bay State Park

Most beautiful scenery:

  • Big Sur
  • Mendocino County, CA
  • The Redwoods
  • Yachats, OR to Florence, OR Coastline

Most common reactions from strangers when I share my trip:

  • “I wish I did something like that when I was younger.”
  • “You started from where?!?!”
  • “You do know they invented automobiles, right?”

And finally, my stats from the entire trip:

  • 1,400 miles biked
  • 62,000 vertical feet climbed
  • 3 states
  • 2 flat tires (2 for my father as well)
  • 1 great adventure
The route in summary. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
The route in summary. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

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