Sunday, May 25, 2014

Analog, digital, visceral

For the Surf City 600K the instructions said, bring your own maps. Krebs is preferred (hand-drawn by a real cyclist), followed by AAA.

I had to read this twice, a blast from the past, something we used to do. Strap paper maps to the top of a bike bag. Pull them out for a consult. Verify where you are and where you're headed.

It is one thing to love paper maps and their navigational value. It's another thing to carry a library of printed materials for 375 miles. So, instead of packing the Krebs map I bumped into the 21st century and took a photo with a smartphone. Not the whole thing (impossible), just the corner near the turnaround point. And the phone has a backlight too!

When Jack and I reach the dark, mysterious intersection on Cattlemen Road outside San Lucas, I can't say exactly where we are, which road we're crossing. The phone happens to be sleeping somewhere on the bus that brought me to Santa Cruz last night. We'll just try going straight. There's no white line, so we navigate slowly, by feel. Kind of like venturing off the end of the earth.

It's after midnight on a day that started at 5am. We're somewhere in California, near the southern end of the Salinas Valley, in a place I've never been before. All the light in our world is overhead, in the Milky Way sprawling over us, stars and planets and nebulae and galaxies. Puts your smartphone to shame. All that energy not spent wondering about battery life, freed up for regular old wonder. You are here.

This information, and the wonder, is not totally without cost. 230 miles today on a bicycle (so far). And the cold.

The clear night sky with a view to die for is also a vacuum. The heat of the day, at one point more than 90 degrees, is gone and now it might be 45. We're both wearing every stitch of clothing, even hats. In my case, also an emergency pair of cleaning gloves from the liquor store in King City that stays open late. The rubber feels cold around my fingers but in theory, blocks the wind.

We both definitely want San Lucas to be the real turnaround point, rather than neighboring San Ardo, 10 miles further. Off the edge of the Kreps map (thank goodness, no more turns).

That extra 10 miles also means it will be another 10 back to this intersection. And 9 back to King City, with its warm motel rooms. Forty miles, round trip.

Any way you slice it, it's going to be a while.

1 comment :

  1. Wait, so was it the wrong way? I hope you guessed right...