Thursday 31st August – Santa Cruz Second Round

I was up early enough to organise my bags one last time, then left the empty house properly empty. I loaded up all my belongings into the Astro and head south into Santa Cruz. My life in the Astro had been reduced to a couple of bags and a bike. Everything I owned was now in just a small pile.

I was meeting Jayne at her brother’s place for another day of riding in Santa Cruz. I got to Ross’s place before Jayne did and me and Jen chatted in the living room until they joined us. I met Ash, Jayne’s travelling buddy and with everyone in the living room drinking coffee and eating bagels, we started swapping stories.

We were geared up for riding eventually and we drove into town and to the Santa Cruz bike shop. Jayne and Ash picked up a couple of very flash bikes and we rode away on our expensive steeds and along the road towards Wilder Ranch. Once we got into the park, we started climbing up fireroad, then we climbed up some singletrack, followed by yet more climbing through the forest. I don’t think this is what Ash expected for his first ride on a proper bike! The whole point of climbing up all these hills were to meet Jen and Jonah so he could join us for the ride down.

After probably too much exposure to the sun, we were happy to see the top and the waiting Jen and Jonah. We hung around in the shade as Jonah got kitted up then we got going again, this time heading down. Instead of going back through Wilder Ranch, we rode into UCSC and did as much singletrack as possible. In amongst the redwoods, it was a welcome change from the expose and dry trails through Wilder. We did our best not to get lost in the maze and actually split up after Jonah had a stack and opted for some fireroad.

During my attempt to navigate with Ash and Jayne, we ended up on a sweet little downhill section that was way more technical than most of the trails that wound through UCSC. After that bit of fun, we climbed back out onto the main trail and met back up with Jonah and Ross. From here we went flat out to the bottom of the trails, Jonah politely getting out of our way when we caught up to him. Ash was out of puff by the time we got to the bottom and rightly so since he hadn’t ridden a bike in years and was at the back end of a cold. The rest of us were hungry at the very least and ready for a pub lunch.

At the end of the park we rode along the streets of Santa Cruz until we reached the boardwalk along the foreshore where we cruised past the rollercoaster then on to the surf spots. The wind off the ocean was chilly but the sun was still out keeping us warm. After what seemed like a long time, we were back at the Santa Cruz shop. Bikes returned, we drove straight to a brewery where we got a couple of pitchers and waited for Jen and her dad Tom to join us. Soon enough we had food infront of us to go with our beers and we were talking nonstop between mouthfuls. It was an incredibly late lunch and when it came to 4:30pm, we were all keen to get back to R&Js house for some wind down.

Jayne rode with me in the Astro on the way back and we stopped in at a couple of bike shops to look at more bike boxes. While I was happy with the one I’d already gotten, it was 15” larger than it was supposed to be for the plane so I was looking for something a little smaller. We had success at the second shop with a box skinnier than my original. Back at the house, Ash was already relaxing on the floor and Jayne joined him. No rest for me though, I had to get Scottie into a box in a way that would keep her safe.

After a thorough clean, I started the process of padding her out and taking off the bits that needed removing like the pedals and the rear derailleur. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the smaller box wasn’t feasible. I could barely get the frame into it let alone a couple of 29” wheels! The big one would just have to do, I’d have to rely on my negotiating skills if anyone actually got a tape measure out at the airport.

It was a long process and one I was sick of by the end. Jonah and Ross made me a couple of braces for my rear triangle and the front forks to prevent any bending which was much appreciated! With them and a bunch of packaging, I ended up semi-confident that the bike could make it home without a bent brake disc or damaged frame. I might do a repack later to make sure I didn’t do a half-assed job.

Everyone had eaten dinner by the time I was done but I wasn’t interested in food after the huge lunch so just had a peach for dinner. I took the last shower after everyone had gone to bed and took up my place on the loungeroom floor.

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