Earlier this week, I decided that it was time to scratch my bicycle touring itch and took off on a spontaneous trip on Christmas Eve. Because my family didn’t celebrate the holiday this year, and I am single for the first time in over 9 years, I decided that this was a good opportunity to do something I’ve never done before: bike tour / camp by myself. Believe it or not, I’ve never gone on an overnight bike tour by myself in the 4 years I’ve been doing this.
What’s an S24O?
For those who don’t know what a S24O is, S24O stands for a sub-twenty-four-overnight. This was coined by Grant Petersen of Rivendell Bicycle Works in which the rider can leave in the afternoon or evening and ride to a campsite, stay overnight, wake up, and ride back home. My initial intention was to make this a longer ride. I was thinking of a 4-8 days jaunt up the California coast. The idea was to ride for 4 days and see where it got me. If I made it to San Luis Obispo (SLO), which is the last stop of the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train I would take the train or ride back home.
After careful consideration, I decided I should probably spend time with people and not away from people for the next few days. Therefore, I made this trip a S24O. I would get 2 days of blissful riding and more time to see family and friends.
Destination – Point Mugu State Beach
I’ve passed the Point Mugu State Beach campsite several times when I’ve ridden up and down the coast, but I was always curious to see the facilities. It was only about 50 miles away from home, so it became the perfect destination for my S24O. There was a closer camp site at Leo Carillo State Park, but I wanted to see Point Mugu and challenge myself to get there before sunset. Luckily, I was able to witness a glorious sunset right when I got to the campsite. It was worth the extra miles as I saw the orange and red glow of the sun and clouds light up the sky.
I quickly located the hiker / biker site located near the northeast side of the campgrounds. I set up my tent with my headlamp as visibility was fading fast. I then made dinner which consisted of 2 packs of instant oatmeal, candy, cookies, an apple, and trail mix. It wasn’t the most nutritional meal, but that’s what I get for going on a spur-of-the-moment trip.
Overnight, the wind picked up, and I woke up with a layer of dust covering the inside of my tent. You see, the tent is a REI Quarter Dome T2 Plus. The tent’s inside is mesh, which easily lets in dust. I had a rough time sleeping because the wind was howling in the middle of the night and ruffling the trees above. Not to mention, the only other guest of the campsite didn’t retire to bed until the early morning hours.
I got up Christmas morning and proceeded to brush my teeth and made breakfast which consisted of the same food from the previous night’s dinner. I took my time and packed up my panniers and rode out onto the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) 1 heading south.
It was refreshing that I got to ride solo for this S24O. I didn’t need to worry about others and stopping to make sure that they were alright (no offense Sang Hyun). I just rode when I wanted to ride and stopped when I wanted to stop for a break or photo opp. I could ride as fast or as slow as I wanted to. It was a new kind of freedom that I’ve never experienced before. It was therapeutic. I loved every minute of it. I got to write in my journal and stop at locations to take photos, absorbing my environment. I collected nearly 100 miles in 2 days (I cheated and took the train back from Culver City) and enjoyed all the ups and downs PCH offered me.
My least favorite part of all this, besides the restless night, was riding in Santa Monica to Venice with pedestrians and cyclists intermingling on the bike paths. I suppose I can’t have it all. I did encounter very pleasant interactions with people on Christmas day. I had a guy honk and give me a thumbs-up, and two different people said, “Hi” to me as I passed them sitting at their front door. This was much better than getting buzzed by a Toyota Camry about 1 foot away and honked at by a Mercedes Benz the previous day.
I hope you all had an equally adventurous and merry Christmas!