Day 31: Greenfield – Nacimiento Lake Resort
Distance: 60.80 miles.
Average Speed: 10.4 mph.
Expecting more of the same, after last night’s sprint along the Salinas River, I complacently finished off the final third of yesterday’s dinner, and set off with a few rolls and some cereal bars. I knew there was a shop at Lockwood after 30 miles if I needed anything else.
The first 20 miles were like yesterday evening, continuing through stunning Monterey wine country. The only difference was that it was punishingly hot: last night, I could ride for miles without bothering too much with trivialities like food and water, today I was constantly dehydrated and a little worried that I only had 1.5 litres of water. I was even more worried, when after 20 miles, the mountains seemed to close around me, leading me to the inevitable conclusion that I might be going upwards quite shortly. And up I went, a ramp as long and straight and unyielding as anything on the trip so far. In the heat, it was brutal, there was no shade, and I was suffering. Alarmed by my poor showing on a trifling little hill, I checked my altitude: 436m. In my book, that would be marked as a significant climb, but here I had no information about the route ahead – it could get worse!
Over the top of the climb, I instantly felt better, aided by the 3 mile descent where I barely touched a pedal. The landscape had changed, now it was African savannah, just missing the animals. The road deteriorated and I felt completely isolated, what a wonderful part of the ride, to think I was only here because Highway 1 was closed.
Eventually, after 36 miles I reached Lockwood store, a store, on a crossroads, in the middle of nowhere. Little worried about food, I bought a litre of Dr Pepper, 600 ml of water and a Starbucks Frappuccino. I wasn’t taking any chances, though there were only 25 miles to go.
Heading South-West on Interlake road, it felt even more like the back of beyond as I passed a beautiful ravine, and twice came close to running over foot and a half long snakes sunbathing on the Tarmac.
Just when I was starting to feel like Lake Nacimiento couldn’t be far away, the road ramped up violently on several occasions, it was a good test of my gearing, which was feeling much better after the chain change, and seemed to have stopped slipping at inopportune moments.
Then, with five miles to go, changing gear to descend from a hill summit, my front gear cable snapped, again! It felt like it was going to be all downhill now, so I coasted as long as I could, but I was going nowhere. I had to stop and fix it.
Just as well I did, I turned a corner and there was a wall in front of me, another long straight steep slope, but where did the road go after that? It seemed to crest a mountain way above. I was seriously fading now, I’d already covered 55 miles, in searing heat, with minimum food to boot. I kept on pedalling upwards, reaching the summit at 460 metres.
I was spent, but what a view, and then Lake Nacimiento came into view far below. An astonishing sight, and one I’d, unwittingly, come a long way to see.
At the lovely Lake Nacimiento Resort campground, the receptionist clearly took pity on me, waving me through with no charge. The saving didn’t last long as I went straight to the restaurant and wolfed down a burger and cheesecake, accompanied by a Lagunitas IPA – named after the village I breakfasted at on Sunday.