Heidi, Mark, Gina and I had been planning this trip for a couple of years now… We loaded up my bike, golf clubs and Gina’s ‘handmade animals on a plaque’ and flew to San Jose, California. It was a super early flight and my bike box on the car rack made everyone nervous except for me, but it didn’t fall off. Our flight went super smoothly, we rented a mini van that fit all of our stuff and drove straight to Carmel Valley Village, California. We had an excellent lunch at Corkscrew (including a meyer lemon pizza), unloaded all of our gear and relaxed in the California sun at Fattoria Muia. Heaven.
Mark and I loved it too, but after a few hours we decided to do a ride he’s been promising me about for years. Cachagua. The climb starts 5 miles east of Fattoria Muia and climbs for about 2 1/2 miles. Beautiful, winding pavement that apparently heats up by noon. We were there at 10:30 and it was already smoking heading up that hill. It was great!
The next day Mark took me out for a ride over Laureles Grade, through Monterey, down 17 Mile drive past Pebble Beach and through Carmel-by-the-Sea and back to Carmel Valley. 49 miles of awesomeness. I was beginning to see what Mark’s fitness level was and I was scared. Crazy strong boy.
Once we got back from the ride, we jumped in the minivan with the girls and headed north to Moss Landing and specifically, Phil’s Fish Market. The line to get in was long, but totally worth it. Great weather, excellent food.
We’d been hearing about this crazy little restaurant that only operates one day a week and is located out in the middle of nowhere. So, the entire group loaded up in the minivan and headed over the Cachagua Pass to the Cachagua General Store. What an experience! Incredible food, interesting ambience, a fun band and incredible food. Wait. I already said that. That’s just how good the food was. REALLY, REALLY good.
Gibraltar: Almost 4000 feet in about 10 miles. 10% grade for most of it. Brutal. Mark put me to shame, again.
Mark found his hero, 2011 Paris-Roubaix champion Johan Vansummeren. He’s 6’6″ tall and weighs 170. Pretty ridiculous. He wasn’t in a great mood to have photos taken (understandably after a tough stage), but it was cool mingling with the pros.
After a great breakfast and packing up, we drove up the road Solvang and Los Olivos, where we did some wine tasting. Randomly along the freeway, we spotted a helicopter filming the live coverage of the race. We were only 15 minutes from the finish, so we zipped off the freeway and down to Avila beach. We grabbed spaces along the railing and watched my all-time favorite rider win in an amazing breakaway. Jens Voigt. Boy, was I stoked!!!
The next morning, Mark and I beat the heat and again rode up Cachagua, then up to Arroyo Seco Pass. Beautiful.
The next day, we drove down to Monterey, hit the beach and then the pier for a yummy seafood lunch. That afternoon we went up to the Village and did some wine tasting at Talbots, followed by dinner at the Running Iron. So good!
Thanks so much to Mark and Gina for entertaining us for 10 days. It was really great. And thanks to Tina, Carl and Charlotte for hosting us at their beautiful Trattoria Muia. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.