A young man pulled up beside me on his loaded-down touring bike. "Where are you headed?" He asked.
"Seattle," I replied, "you?"
Hot dog, I thought, someone to ride with. We pedaled along chatting amiably until I noticed that my back tire was in need of air. "I'd hang out while you fix it," my new friend said, "but I gotta make it to Ventura this evening."
"Understood," I said, pulling off into a parking lot, "maybe we'll run int each other."
"It's a long way," he said with a wave, "I'll keep an eye out."
I took my time fixing the flat. It was a cool, foggy morning and across the road the sound of the ocean provided a pleasant backdrop to an almost-perfect morning of bicycle touring in Southern California. I'd started out from Santa Monica intending to take it easy on this, my first day of touring back in the USA. My goal was Leo Carrillo State Park a modest 27 miles up the coast.
That was four days ago and nothing since has dampened my enthusiasm for riding in this part of the world. The roads are excellent, the traffic is reasonable and the weather is fine and cool. I camped at the El Capitain State Park last night on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. During the night, I could make out two large, brightly-lit ships on the horizon.
Yesterday I got my first taste of climbing with a two-mile ascent followed by a terrific 13-mile descent into the small town of Lompoc. This part of the Pacific Coast Highway is, I'm told, very hilly, but that's okay. There was a time when hills bothered me, but no longer.
Like the weather and flat tires, they're just a part of life.