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San Luis Obispo

Chapter 2

On the Road in CaliforniaState of Gold
Chapter 1Death Valley
Chapter 2San Luis Obispo
Chapter 3Joshua Tree
Chapter 4San Clemente

Riding Fast in SLO

We wake to a chilly morning and mist rolling in off the ocean. Everyone’s excited—bike day—and we ride laps around our campsite at Montaña de Oro State Park outside of San Luis Obispo before packing up for the trailhead.

We’ve somehow hit the perfect day.

State of Gold: Chapter 2

It has rained on and off for the last week, and tomorrow the trails are closed for maintenance. The window for being able to ride was a narrow one, and we managed to hit it, at random.

We’re uncertain of the trails. What little we know is hearsay. Somebody at the trailhead recommends the Hazard Canyon Trail. I drive the first shuttle up to the top of the trail and let the crew loose.

They’re ecstatic when they show up at the lower trailhead. They scarf down some lunch and go back for seconds.

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The trails are just right.

State of Gold: Chapter 2

A wet winter here in Central California has made them buttery-smooth, perfectly tacky, dust-free. It’s a little foggy riding through the rolling hills. Combine that with the menthol smell of the eucalyptus forests and the occasional view of breaking waves out on the ocean—it’s magic.

The trails are ideal, we’re on sweet bikes, and we all come from places where it’s still winter. We can’t get enough. When we roll back into the trailhead at dusk, everyone’s as excited as I’ve seen them the whole trip. They’re all pumped to talk about the ride they just finished, and there are so many different conversations happening at the trailhead that it’s hard to follow just one.

“We were hollerin’ the whole way down!” somebody says. “Man, I thought you were dead.” There are high fives, fist bumps, and hugs.

The excitement is infectious.

State of Gold: Chapter 2

Other people at the trailhead join in. Random people ask Ben and Kyle about gear, about other places they’ve ridden. Our Gearheads form instant friendships with them, and at the end of the ten-minute conversation they’ve exchanged phone numbers and business cards and promised to be in touch the next time they’re planning an adventure. This is what Backcountry Gearheads do. It’s the first time I’ve seen it up close, and I’m impressed.

Everyone cleans up nice.

State of Gold: Chapter 2

We pack up camp and head into downtown SLO. We’re staying at a hotel tonight. I get my first and only shower of the trip, eat like a king, party downtown, and call it a night completely fulfilled. Tomorrow’s an early morning and a long drive to the next place. I fall asleep in the hotel bed excited by what tomorrow will bring—Joshua Tree—a place I’ve always heard about but never had the chance to explore.

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