27/10/2013 PEDAL ALL DAY SOLO Day 6 Ventura, CA

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My last day of the Pedal All Day Solo. 800km in 6 days has been the most consistent cycling I’ve managed so far. But in this scenery I could pedal forever. So many people have asked why I take on this ride. The driving force was to raise money and awareness for Macular Disease Foundation, but the motivation comes from experiencing a place through a love of road riding. In the meantime I have grown the warmest affection for my Dedacciai Super Scuro.Image

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I said goodbye to Venura this morning, and pushed on to the highways towards my Los Angeles destination. Ocean views again spread over my right with spectacular cliffs and rolling hills. The warmth of lower California is remarkably different from the foggy San Fran Coastline. Suncream applied liberally still couldn’t stop the tanlines so familiar to cyclists.

After 100km I passed Malibu and that fabulous RVCamp perched above the beach. It oddly felt like home. With David meeting me at this point to escort me into the City we again passed those fabulous architectural feats clinging to the Western shoreline. We again merged into traffic mayhem and, once hitting the inner City, diverted to a strip of restaurants. We stopped at ‘Raw Volution’ and ate ate ate.

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Everything here was delicious and I’d recommend it for the tastiness and their creative use of zucchini cunningly displayed as pasta. Sweet!

With food and coffees attended it was time to return to our RV parked at Malibu.  A few photos were taken of the moment I passed the 800km point.

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The final stop of my ride was at a Malibu beach with my trusty stead that never once let me down. The celebration was driven back to town, where I further ate at a another funky restaurant strip (so many here) and a cocktail bar where an awesome bartender provided necessary post-riding sustenance. Suddenly LA became less freaky and, for the next few days we settled in to enjoy many more km’s of unreal cycling and plenty more eating.

26/10/2013 PEDAL ALL DAY SOLO, DAY 5 Solvang, CA

Day 5 of an 800km Solo Cycle along the California Coast for Macular Disease

My few km’s that lead me to Solvang the day before had been a tad tedious on the up hill. But, without any major disruptions, the diversion of our route to Solvang allowed us to again experience the wonderment of this strange town.

By morning the tinsel lights and all those warm cosy interiors were gone. But the weird charm wasn’t any less effective. David spent some time fine tuning my gears before I entered the chilly & foggy descent from Solvang.

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The weather had proved cold on every morning, but warmed by about 10am. Fog met me every dawn, and Id grown comfortable riding through the residue.

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Within an hour the fog cleared allowing me to carve a space on the road where no shoulders existed. A few high rocky corners left me exposed but, again trusting I was visible i my pink Rapha Gilet, I rode on. Dave stayed back to refuel and pick up more supplies. Meanwhile, I had arrived down the mountain and entered the freeway when my bike decided to get my first flat.

I was out of service but as I’m pretty handy with a tire lever no hiccups were met. I retrieved the finest of metal strands wedged inside the tire itself. No tweezers were at hand, and it took 5 minutes to extract the darn thing by pushing it through with the lever.  I use Gators on my bike for the strength and puncture resistance. With only one flat occurring the entire trip, and knowing I’ve traveled through mounds of broken glass, I’m pretty satisfied.

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Dave found me in time to pick up the old tube, give some water, and get verbally accosted by a cop who rightly couldn’t understand why, at the widest part of the shoulder, we hadn’t totally pulled off ‘his’ freeway. My reply was quite simply, ‘We are idiots.’ Unable to argue with that he chatted a bit and advised us to move away from the traffic, and bid us luck for the ride. That was our fourth meeting with a nice cop who was wooed by our convincing appearance of idiocy. My riding on freeways marked ‘no cyclists’ also proved effective in quickly summoning cops. All in all, they were rather charming and very lenient.

Almost at the 550m Elevation point outside Solvang

Almost at the 550m Elevation point outside Solvang

Dave stuck with me a while and took some shots while I climbed a grade 2 then 3 then 4 hill of 8km. I ran out of water half way, and I would have stopped for more if I hadn’t seen the awesome descent that fell for 11km’s.

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Confident I could travel nearly as fast as a car down this one, I took on the curves with gusto. Words are pitiful at describing the intensity bought by such power in speed. The rush of sweeping down the mountain was close to the most pleasurable moments I’ve had. Comparatively sitting in a car totally sucks. You miss the air whooshing through your ears, the wind pushing you from either side as you turn, feeling the muscles while maintaining that tucked position, the cold, and the closest feeling to flying you can have. There is also the satisfaction that the hill you just threw your guts up for has made the incredible views possible. For every up, there is a down. And when I got to the bottom of this particular descent, I hit Santa Barbara and promptly got lost.

After half an hour I found Dave. As I resigned to navigational hopelessness he promptly took over. Never have I been so bad at reading a map. Luckily I was allowed to simply concentrate on riding. I rode through beaches at Santa Barbara, with no time to smell the coffee.

I rode along the freeway with the coast on my right. The beaches and the coastal rocks had by now become familiar. Finally reaching the skirts of Ventura was a blast. The last 20km’s was pure Oceanic cycling that I took on as hard as I could turn the pedals. A flat highway bore streams of cars 3 lanes thick, with a decent shoulder to safely accommodate a pace line of cyclist. RV Campers lined the beaches to my right. I passed a few and got tailed by a triathlete who screamed a complement to me. It was something about being ‘amazing’ unquote, but I’m not one to brag…

Anyhow, we got to the Ventura RV Camp in good time, and settled in to the domestics of washing clothes and cooking.

Cruiser Friendly Ventura RV Camp

Cruiser Friendly Ventura RV Camp

A quick word on Cycling Garments: I wear Rapha gear not only because most of it was kindly provided for this ride. My items are comfortable, designed specifically for women, wash incredibly well, and last. If it failed in any of these features I wouldn’t wear it. Sitting in a saddle for up to 9 hours and having to put up with substandard gear is not something I’m willing to compromise on.

My wish list included:

2 Souplesse Jerseys

1 Classic Jersey

1 Cyclocross Jersey

2 Classic Womens’ Bib Shorts

Merino Arm & Knee Warmers, Leg Warmers, Neck Warmer

Wind Jacket & Rain Jacket & Gilet

Caps, Socks & Womens’ Touring Gloves

Oh, and Chamois Cream. lots of it thank you

This park had a breeding population of bike riders, none of which were roadies. I was so out of place atop my stunning Dedacciai in my regal Rapha I may as well be riding a camel. Safely in the comforting arms of Ventura RV Camp we ventured to the local shopping centre, a stones throw away. We grabbed supplies and, by now, a habitual beer & apple cider. On the way back a bevy of cruisers lit the place up like a Christmas tree. The feeling that we were closer to the LA Coast was strong. And I realised that I only had one more day of riding to accomplish my goals to spread the word and raise money for those affected by Macular Disease. I think on the help of the supporters. Not only all those at home who had helped raise funds but also the companies who supplied their wares for the fundraiser.

After a beer, and yet another incredible meal concocted by David the chef, sleep hit me like a hard cold slap. Before I was aware it was time to pedal all day again.

25/10/2013 PEDAL ALL DAY, DAY 4 Morro Bay to Solvang, CA

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With spectacular views and the most incredible weather, it was hard to take any of this trip for granted. Id already accomplished over half my trip in 4 days, and the fact that 800km was conceivably achievable in 6 felt a reality this day. My ride for Macular Disease through the Californian Coast was passing me by with every kilometre and I struggled to think how Id cope after completing this challenge. We planned a week ‘rest’ upon our eventual arrival in Los Angeles so we could continue our cycling. There would be no standstill. I also had a charity ride, the Rapha Gentlemans’ Race, and  Rapha Cyclocross Event to complete after my arrival back in Sydney. But they played no part in my thoughts as I prepared myself for my fourth 150km cycle here.

I was pretty tired when I pulled in behind the van parked at Morro Bay the day before. My butt sank into the footpath where I freed my feet of shoes and socks. In my barefooted lycra state I blissfully sat before a lovely manicured garden. Eventually summoning strength dave drove to the RV site. He had researched the options and found a great spot to dry park in front of a spectacular water frontage. The most peculiar rock (Morro Bay National Park) stuck out of that water like a boiled egg.

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In the morning I woke feeling really good. I took my coffee back to that bench to relax and take a moment. Another spectacular sunrise spread before me, until it was time to bid farewell to Morro and roll to Solvang.

Dave gave a push to start me off. He followed a few miles before veering away to take care of food, and petrol. I was alone again, enjoying the long road and following the white lines.

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I bypassed Cabrillo Highway and opted for a country town road that meandered through hills. We had planned all along to cut back to Solvang, that quaint Northern European Wunderland of America. The thought of a dark beer and pretzel was never far from my thoughts.

The detour that our route took us was considerably more hilly than we had anticipated. Once again Dave drove on so, when reaching the destination point, he could pull his bike out and meet me for the last kilometers of the ride. I had done the main work and pedaled up the many hills that led to our glossy image of European magic. The last hill was just shy of 170m.

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By the time Dave met me we were close and the imaginary scent of cooking pretzels livened my anticipation. The afternoon was stunning and, the second day in a row, I peeled off my footwear and sat in the sun behind the van. I didn’t move from that spot for about 20 minutes soaking in a pleasure that 150km in the saddle without major mishap brings.

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The evening was spent wandering around this bizarre town with its quaint buildings and decorations. Finding a Dutch Restaurant managed by a mexican was an interesting experience. The building interiors as well as the menu’s give the game of their true origin away.

We had set our van between two buildings at a vacant lot, and I slept like a rock that night. The next morning we would realise that our van had picked up a decent sized nail in the front tyre. I think it may have originated from the dirt of that free vacant lot. It doesn’t explain my first flat of the journey which was to happen on the 5th day..

PEDAL ALL DAY SOLO, DAY 3 Big Sur through to Morro Bay, CA

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Terrain on the Big Sur was unbelievable. Not only did the scenery overwhelm me, it tortured me. I knew at some point it must end. The feeling on the bike and over the road itself was totally sweet and Id be inadequate to describe the adhesion felt between the road and my bike this day. Choosing lines over passing bitumen has never felt as good as this. The white line sliced that road like a thread of icing over chocolate cake. I wove my way through those hills, soared into deep corners and felt like I was flying.

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When I slowed up sharp inclines, I looked at blue sky and towering grasses to my left. To my right the ragged cliffs plummeted. The waves ate shards at the rocky baseline. Those rocks looked sharp and, if I were to fall, would cause some serious bouncing. The crashing of water brought along with it yelping seal noises and the cries of gulls.

Later I came close to huge number of seals laying on a beach. I’d waited in a traffic jam a half hour before getting to that point, and as I was going at pretty good pace, I kept riding past. A gravelled road approximately 4km was in the process of being pressing in readiness for a good layer of bitumen. The cars were lined up and on standby. So I took the liberties granted to bikes and rode up front. There I met 2 motorcyclists following the same path to LA. Visibly impressed with my effort, they thought my plight was pretty grand.  Workmen granted us permission to enter the gravel and I led the parade of vehicles over the rough surface. A workers ute held us at a pretty steady pace. But I had apparently upped the kudos levels in the minds of the motorcyclists as, on passing me later, they vigorously pumped their fists and yelled out.

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The leg of the trip was ridden without trouble. I arrived in the town of Morro Bay. It was quiet. Clinking boats atop the water were still and the scene proved incredibly photogenic. I relished in a hot shower. Soon after I sat on a bench looking at the water and slowly enjoyed a beer with Dave. The RV is parked behind me in this shot, and later we found some great bars not far to the right of the Bay.

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At these moments I think about how blissful it is to be able to see. To have vision allows me to ride, alone. With riding comes the rush of experience. Sounds, along with the feel of cold wind, the sensations of speed and the smells of the ocean were all bought in this occasion by my ability to see. Travelling in the closed compartment of a car cannot compare. I will never forget this.

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DAY TWO: SANTA CRUZ THROUGH THE BIG SUR

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155km of road taught valuable lessons today.

Describing this day as ‘tough’ is an understatement. Our trip started well. And then, at the 70km point, we decided to divert from the planned route. Within 1 hour of riding I was split from the RV and somewhat lost in Del Monte forest. Worrying about my phone battery, which was not in service, I cycled an hour and rode back and forth, up and down. I spent energy traveling without knowing Davids or my location. Aware that my legs were mildly sore I grew more frustration as the road split and I continually took incorrect turns that included a 200m incline. My pigeon beaconing was destroyed. The trees towered overhead, the road threw me left and right and I felt small and powerless. Miraculously, the mouth of the forest exit opened and, like a vomit, I was thrown out of that forest and in sight of our RV.

After my misadventure we rode / drove together for many kilometers. When I get emotional I quickly deplete my energy resources and while I can pedal all day, being in a state of panic is fatiguing. I’ve supported my husband & friends in ultramarathons before and seen the innards of people who, in the extreme case of physically demanding situations, hide nothing. Pain and fatigue are wicked drugs that turn a person inside out. The body becomes a mere transporter. Legs and arms move, lungs breath, heart pumps, eyes see and mouth consumes. They all combine to make you move, nothing more or less. It’s rarely the body that gives up. Emotion and mental weakness is the killer.

The ride this day hadn’t bought about such a physically exhaustive state. The emotional experience however had left me angry, upset and trying my best to explain to David that this can’t happen again. Though I wasn’t to know it would..

Once on track again, I set off a nice pace, carving my way through to the Big Sur. The traffic thinned, the view widened and the shoulders became a little precarious over those cliffs. But the road was so darn beautiful and I felt like I was flying. The worst road surfaces are inevitably on the edges. And thats where bike riders are often found, hugging and vulnerably invisible. I’m a big believer in non-defensive riding. If in doubt, ride in the center.

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Having found some sweet spots on the Big Sur hills, my photos start to show a happier me, a smile splitting my cheeks like a watermelon.

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The roads got curlier, the landscape became dramatic seascapes, the traffic lessened and I got faster. With no traffic lights I took on the road and got a feel for my bike. After about the 110km mark I convinced David to move on and return on his bike. He took a bit of convincing after our earlier mishap. About an hour away from my destination in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, David met me. I expected he needed a longer ride and, while I was fatigued from long hours in the saddle, he took my advice passed the keys and rode off.

I enjoy the solo aspect of riding. No distractions and no pressures. The pace is purely your own choosing, and the intensity of your relationship with the surrounding and the terrain emphatically expands. The wind in my ears howled, but not enough to hide the sounds of seals below the perilous cliffs. My legs were torn between wanting to push faster, and wanting to make these moments last. This constant dilemma was sweet, but I almost always chose the faster lane. A big part of this trip was enjoying the benefits of experience through a road bike. And this bike is too unbelievable not to push.

As the miles ticked by, the oceanscapes were replaced by massive trees and I was engulfed by shadows. I had entered Pfeiffer State Park and began looking for the RV Park. It didn’t take long for me to realise I couldn’t find that van, or even the rv park it was located. I began the tortuous process of riding between the many rv parks. The hills in between really did my head in. I love hills, but conscious of needing to conserve my legs, plus having no food or water, I was beginning to panic again. It is no lie that I actually looked at the sky squeezed my eyes shut and yelled out some terrible obscenities. Imagining myself cold and miserable, sleeping in a bush in the dark with my bike did not help. Where was David? I had the keys, so he was going to have to sleep in some bush too. I was miserable, upset, and felt completely on my own. No-one had wifi. I had lost service and my phone battery was all but dead. Speaking with the many people that couldn’t help me but who assured me I would be fine was fuel on my fear fire.

Night closed over as I pulled into one of the last remaining parks. I heard someone yelling at me. The van was 10 meters away while Dave was in someones truck with a small banded search party. I sank into the sofa and stared into the blank. I had done an extra 30 km including about 400m of extra elevation that day.

Strava Ride | 23:10:2013 DAY 2 Pedal All Day Through to the Big Sur

Id been on the saddle for about 9 hours and near 7 of those were moving. My bike is set beautifully, so thank god no pains from bad bike fit existed. But I was mentally done. The maps illustrate more than a route. They show my total confusion. I met a lot of people that afternoon who blessed me, fed me, phoned around parks for me, chatted and consoled me. Americans are amazing people who cut through misery with a glossy veneer. They say, ‘everything is going to be alright’. And surprisingly it was. With my van around me I was ok now.

Dave eventually arrived and was relieved to see me, and my bike, in one piece. We took ourselves out to spent big at a local restaurant on an awesome meal and celebrate a rather adventurous day. Tomorrow, we thought, would be another fresh day without diversions.ImageImage Image

San Fran Exit Route

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I did a recon ride yesterday, then realised it wasnt the easiest option. So this morning I will follow the coastal route and hope the deep fog that sets into San Fran eases. It should lift as I ride about 20km out of the city. Weather here is colder than expected. Luckily I have a full array of Rapha kit and I will use a lot of it today. As I move down the Coast, I should be able to lighten on the merino and arm warmers, as well as the wind jacket. Los Angeles feels 10degrees warmer.

Technology has been a total pain. But Dave and I can work this navigation out. My pigeon Beacon is generally pretty good. Plus, thank goodness for iPhones.

We will hit Rapha in the next hour. Then the journey begins. I have documented many things on instagram. Its easier & quicker than blogging the images here. So you can check those out too. But here are a few pics of yesterdays ride where we explored the skirts and petticoats of San Fran.. this City is so beautiful that I am sure to visit here again.

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Chat soon …

DAY ONE – SAN FRAN TO SANTA CRUZ

Quinoa with banana breakfast

After a good coffee and quinoa with banana in the van, I set for Rapha to start the first leg of my Pedal All Day adventure. This first leg of 7 (which I did in 6), was a solid but gentle 135km ride. A few inclines, the greatest only 200m, was a nice rolling leg turner. But I diverse..

outside the RPAHA Cycle Club in San Francisco

outside the RAPHA Cycle Club in San Francisco

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Rapha was the perfect spot being close to the Golden Gate Bridge and central. It allowed me to skirt west of the City to follow a coastal Road. But other than a few pieced memories of our hectic ride the day before, I wasn’t exactly sure how to get onto that route.IMG_0585IMG_0584pedalalldaysanfran

After our brief 60km exposure to the highways of San Fran, the idea of exiting this fog filled City really freaked me out. Our RV site hadn’t had any wifi the night before. And I technically couldn’t download maps onto my Garmin 800. As always, I was completely ill prepared when it came to having a set direction. This tends to ignite drama to my gasoline tank of crazy experiences in life. In any case, on this trip through the misty wonderland of San Fran, I was really riding blind. Luckily my pigeon beacon set fire, and I was born to the outskirts of San Fran.

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It took a good time to get out of the city but eventually I followed the beautiful Pacific Coast. Easily the most spectacular, and moving ride I had, at that point, ever had the fortune to ride. I certainly did not take my sight for granted as I soaked in as much as my eyes could take. The experience of navigating these highways and solo riding along this massive incredible coastline. The scene along the way was littered by pumpkin farms collected for Halloween. Id forgotten about this event. But i was quickly brought up to speed by the sheer abundance of pumpkins and pumpkin paraphernalia.

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Finally I made it, without too much drama, turmoil or pain, into the depths of Santa Cruz. This City was surprisingly easy to melt within and the night was spent relaxing with beer, a most amazing David cooked meal, and me looking forward to riding the start of the Big Sur the next day. Finished day two at Santa Cruz

map san fran to santa cruz

Touch Down in Los Angeles

An uneventful flight is a successful flight. Apart from developing ‘cankles’  by excessive fluid consumption, the flight was as uncomfortable as expected. Now I’m sitting in the hotel at 11pm, having enjoyed 6 small beer tasters from a nearby brewery.  My bike sits beside my bed and is 3/4 built by Dave. We’re set for an early breakfast and a few hours riding around this crazy city. Ive been told to head for ‘single hill’.

I have to add, before my deep slumber takes hold of me, the hotel we booked have made us very welcome. They’ve driven us virtually everywhere we needed. The driver even handed me back my tip – I had given him a hundred amongst a few dollar bills that he, correctly, assumed was a mistake. Duh! Then I proceeded to leave my sim card in a store. I’m a bit jet lagged it seems..

 

Nothing New for Race Day – Excluding the New Dedacciai Super Scuro

I know the term ‘nothing new on race day’ makes utter sense. But when you’re offered an incredibly beautiful and phenomenally awesome Dedacciai Super Scuro, sense does not enter the equation.

Please welcome the new Dedacciai to my family. Being in the workshop as David built her was better than watching the candy maker. This Italian perfectionist had the Scuro ready for the next days ride.Image

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I can very gladly say, this bike provided the most incredible 115km through the 3 gorges of Sydney yesterday because this bike is a beast! My brief description is based on this route that offers some steep descents and long winding climbs. The highway is fast, straight, with quite a few hills and dips. Firstly, the bike doesn’t like potholes or lapping asphalt. But if I cared about that Id ride a sprung & padded seat. So, moving on, the main highlight was a strong connection with the road Id never felt before. It takes a bit for me to adjust to the speed of a new bike down steep and sharp-turning roads. But the strength of that tapered head tube when you move your weight down low, allows you to quickly fuse to the bike. The stability is unreal.

I confess I took this bike nowhere near its potential. The excitement of knowing it can do so much more than me leaves me wanting to build a relationship with this incredible machine.

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Its hot. I could be that infamous model from the latest string of repulsive cycling adverts, wearing stilettos with pants so tight Id split them mounting this bike, but I doubt anyone would notice me. Because its all about the bike.

Descending those twists down Galston Gorge was exhilarating. The transition into each opposing corner was super smooth and I can’t help feeling guilt at not being able to put in the power I know it was made for.

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This image is of 4 of our amigos team (kev is taking the photo) amking a quick ferry dash over Berowra Waters before the climb up, up & up.

Thanks to David, Im super excited to get that bike packed and ready when we both hit L/A in two days time. If you missed the news, Dave is my mechanic, cook, and personal motivational coach for the 7 days of riding I’m doing for Macular Disease.

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This is the RV he is driving. Dave really will be doing it tough in the air conditioning, while I sit back and relax into the 800km ride. Ive done road trips in New Zealand with these RV’s and I’m looking forward to spending my nights in a familiar room, as opposed to turning up in a motel and relocating my stuff. Our first night will be spent near Malibu as we drive to San Fran and survey the coastal route which I’ll be returning on the Dedacciai. I may be spending some pre-ride time in the van, but my mind will be totally on the Scuro and what promises to be an incredible first-time experience for both of us.