Heading into day three, my journey from San Francisco to San Diego brought me into the splendor and majesty of Big Sur. This of course meant a big day of climbing and descents, almost 12,000 ft during this portion of the ride.
The ride through Big Sur can be treacherous, a narrow two lane road with many twists and turns that are situated on the edge of a cliff hundreds of feet high. Trucks and cars passing me with little room to spare, descents that brought me to my fastest speed on a bike ever – it was all a bit hairy…
Before I even started, I had this unreasonable fear that I would go flying off a cliff in Big Sur, never to be found… and, to be quite honest… it almost happened!
I was coming down one of the steep downhills, flying between 35 – 40 mph when, for whatever reason, I lost control of the bike. I was flailing about trying to get the bicycle under control before it slipped out from under me. My mind instantly flashed thoughts of flying off the cliff, while desperately I made moves to control the bike and slow down. My adrenaline spiked and I was conscious of everything at once, passing cars on one side and a sheer cliff on the other. It was the most harrowing experience of my cycling life. Amazingly, I was able to pull out of it, take control, come to a stop and allow myself to calm my nerves. I was shaken… but that is when I met him, riding up on a bike… my guardian angel.
Oh, you may not believe in them but, I have no other explanation. He came out of nowhere and guided me on the rest of my journey through Big Sur. An elderly gentleman in his 70s. I never did get his name. He rode with me, guided me and provided me with good conversation about the area, about the other roads and where they led to and about life. Oh, he would disappear every now and again, let me have time alone to take in the beauty and my own thoughts, but then come riding up (he was a much stronger rider than I) and guide me again. He was a very calming influence, and once I got through, down to the ocean level again (near San Simeon) and away from the dangers… he disappeared, back to the mountains of Big Sur, perhaps to guide another solo rider on his way.