Day 1 Santa Margarita to Carizzo Plain

Hopium Ride Profile

Day One of any bike tour is special; it’s the day that sets the tone, it’s a day that’s pregnant with possibility, it’s one of those where anything can happen, it’s the kind of day we imagine in our dreams. Paraphrasing John, it’s being on “hopium.”

Our plan was simple; meet at our house at 7:30am, load up the trailer with bikes and  gear, load the cars with people, pile in, and our shuttle drivers (Thanks Dan and Ray for delivering us.) would take us to the start in Santa Margarita where we’d load up and be pedaling by 9:00.

Day 1.b Assembly Spring Bike Ride 2016It can take a while to load the panniers and all the gear and then overcome the inertia of a big group, but we were able to do it pretty quickly.  (Click on the pics for the full size view.)

Day 1-2Group Portrait Best BeginOne last bit before leaving, the obligatory group picture. We were fresh and jonesing to get on the road. I don’t know what people’s thoughts were, but mine were- “This is going to be GREAT!”

Day 1-3 Posse Starts outAfter a few minutes of picture taking, we rolled out of town. The road east took us up and down over 37 miles- a relatively short day- to the Carizzo Plain, and it was familiar territory for many of us. Still, there were plenty of hills to get over- more than enough to tame our hopium buzz.

The first day was the second shortest of the four, and our eyes found plenty to distract us from our legs- velvety green hills, Fiddlenecks in bloom, Lupine, Poppy, Goldfields and of course, the riders with ear to ear smiles.

Day 1-5 Spring Color K&FThe downhills were wonderful, and because our legs were fresh, the uphills were largely easy to roll over. Still, each uphill and downhill reminded us of the baggage we were carrying.

Day 1-4 Rolling up and downEvery bike was fully loaded,  that kitchen sink, the extra wine, the luxurious fresh vegetable meal, and it all added up.

Day 1-6 Shell Creek LunchWe stopped a few times along the way, for pictures, or a drink of water or to take in a view, but the first real stop was Shell Creek Road for lunch. Marty broke out the stove and had some coffee. (This is when we found out that Daniel has a serious love of tea. Hot tea anytime please.) The winter rains had brought out deep and luscious grass and flowers galore. Our lunch was leisurely and fun and no-one was in a hurry to move on.

Day 1-7 Big Assed Climb Spring RideAfter lunch we started climbing a bit more. The section from about 20 miles to 37 had very little flat. The good news is- going up and down and up and down caused us to use different muscle groups. The bad news was going up was hard with a fully loaded bike. As soon as it got steep, the stronger riders moved to the front. Daniel and Weston just cruised. I started to suffer a bit. The first big climb after lunch had me thinking that maybe the three liters of wine wasn’t such a good idea and that maybe training more would have been a good idea.

Eventually, we all made it to our first camp. Some of us had a more difficult time than others. I found a new motto on the last climb- “If you’re not fit, don’t bring extra shit!” It wasn’t the last moment on this trip that I regretted bringing so much stuff. Day 1 was hard! Hopium doesn’t power you up a hill. This was the second time I’ve ridden this section fully loaded and it was much harder this go around.

Day 1-8First CampOur Day One campsite was a pasture near an emu ranch. It was rough ground, but beautiful. As people rolled in they’d set up a tent and throw down the food for the evening meal. Those of us not on cook duty that night would sat and talked and drank cold beer or had some wine. Poor Ron had a work commitment and missed the whole up and down with a kitchen sink thing. We didn’t mind a bit when his friend dropped him and his gear off, gear that included the coffee that I forgot to bring, a 12 pack of ice cold beer, and lots of water for dinner and breakfast the next day.

Day 1-10 Emu MotelWe went to sleep to the lullaby of emus screaming, geese honking, dogs barking and later coyotes yapping, and yeah, the neighbor’s dog that wouldn’t stop barking and the occasional ranch truck flying by on Highway 58.  I think that all of us may have had a little bit of “hopium” in our systems as we looked forward to a solid sleep, breakfast, and the short, flat day coming up.

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