Editor's Note: This article is courtesy of the team at Art's Cyclery. The original post can be found here.
What is One With Nature?
One With Nature is a group of Californian environmental advocates promoting active outdoor lifestyles. O.W.N. believes the more time you spend outside, the more connected you become to the natural world, inspiring people to act on behalf of preserving our ecology for generations to come. Their products and services foster environmental awareness and other efforts are focused on projects that advance environmental progress.
The goal of this year's Coastal Ride was to tell a story that fosters a higher level of respect for the spectacular place that is Big Sur, a beloved stretch of California coastline near the Art's Cyclery headquarters. People flock to Big Sur for its beauty, but the collective irresponsibility that's taking place regarding litter and illegal campfires is leaving an evident impact.
While the ride was epic time, it will also gave us the opportunity to address the higher level of traffic that has come to Big Sur in recent years, along with both the positive and the negative impacts that result from this increased traffic. To go the extra mile, they raised money this time around on a per mile basis.
The route consisted of four days on the bike and three nights camping along California's iconic Highway 1.
- Day 1: Carmel to Andrew Molera State Park, 24 miles.
- Day 2: Andrew Molera State Park to Plaskett Creek, 36 miles.
- Day 3: Plaskett Creek to San Simeon, 30 miles.
- Day 4: San Simeon to San Luis Obispo, 41 miles.
- A bicycle with two wheels, recommended basic tune-up, and safety check
- Safety gear, (helmet, front and rear light)
- Cycling shoes, or tennis shoes with stiff soles
- Flat repair kit
- Water, we aimed for one 22oz bottle per hour
- Food, snacks, (aim for 300-400 calories per hour)
- A chase vehicle, someone that will drive the route up and down to help assist riders until everyone has arrived
- Camping gear, warm clothes, food, water, and extra riding attire, whatever we absolutely needed to survive during the multi-day trip
- First aid kits
With a rough plan and a tendency to wing it, we set out as a group of friends to complete a ride that would offer us an experience well worth the effort to make it happen. Not experienced cyclists, but as avid outdoor enthusiasts we knew compiling a crew and riding down Highway 1 from Carmel to our home of San Luis Obispo would be nothing short of a damn good time. With scrappy bikes, a lack of proper riding gear, and eager spirits we set out.
We arrived at our meeting point at roughly 6 A.M., promptly loading up in modified Chevy short bus. Unfortunately this initial high was short-lived as the bus broke down less than an hour into our trip.
Amidst loads of traffic on the day, a few riders with better-equipped bikes opting to venture on the Old Coast Road, a gravel road that parallels Highway 1 for the stretch between the Bixby Bridge and Andrew Molera State Park.
The second day's route was a grueling 36-mile route with over 3,500 feet of elevation gain. Luckily the holiday traffic had subsided and we were able to really soak in the beauty at the heart of Big Sur. This trip was all about experiencing nature while pushing our individual limits to discover our capabilities.
Following our first night of camping, there was talk of riding all the way to San Luis Obispo from one rider. We both had ridden Old Coast Road the prior day and were hungry for more adventure. To rightfully relate to this experience, I lead the mission out with him, (having never ridden such distance before either).
We started the morning with a hearty breakfast shared with the group and set out to conquer the 110-mile route. We made it to Plaskett Creek with the crew and as they pulled in to setup camp we kept rolling. At this point we knew we were in it for the long haul. With many miles to go and only a few hours of daylight, we laid down the hammer as best we could.
Once we had pedaled 70 miles to San Simeon, my riding buddy decided to throw in the towel, having charged more than double his previous distance. I charged the remaining 40 miles solo, initially felling fine until hitting a vicious head-wind just North of Cayucos. 7.5 hrs. after departing Andrew Molera, I arrived in SLO. I proceeded to jump in the car, pick up my buddy at a local San Simeon Restaurant and head back to camp to share the day's adventure with the crew.
The third Day of riding, was the most impressive: the route was over 70 miles with nearly 4,000 feet of climbing. Our crew of riders set out wearing vans and rocking bikes that would be right at home in a local college's bike rack, so we definitely weren't optimally outfitted for a ride this intense. An approaching storm pushed us to charge what was intended as two days of riding, but that kept things interesting.
Most of us hadn't broken much more than 40 miles on a bike in our entire lives and for some of us it was the first time we had cycled in an over a year, but we had a goal, beautiful scenery, and a group morale that was determined to get'r done.
We plugged along periodically catching iconic views that identified our home region; from Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, to the first glimpse of Morro Rock and the Seven Sisters as you pass through Harmony Headlands, to the classic surf-town vibe of Cayucos, and to our ultimate destination of San Luis which was sitting in golden light as evening approached.
Our organization, One With Nature, advocates for outdoor activity with the base belief it's the primary form of inspiration for environmental concern. We ourselves were raised as consumers, but our paths have led us to critically question some of the norms of today that are harmful to the environment and are easily correctable. We have taken steps to lead efforts for environmental reforms and have met great success in just over a year of action.
The crazy thing is, we operate in a fashion similar to this ride. Perhaps not the best equipped, the most skilled, or generally prepared, but we've found something worth doing so we make the moves to make it happen. It's great how you can find meaning in something as simple as the childhood joy of riding a bike, but ultimately everything in life offers us a lesson and it's on us to decide what we do with it.