August 31 | Plaskett
Some of the most startling things about long-distance cycling are the smells. For the last couple of days, we’ve been riding past eucalyptus trees. Their pungent, aromatic scent takes me back to my high school years in north San Diego County.
The Pacific Coast Highway near where I lived and where I frequently rode my bike, was lined by eucalyptus. What we called “the forest” in town was actually a massive grove of the trees.
When in my 20s, I lived in a one-room cabin in the middle of a eucalyptus grove. I know the smell well. It evokes many fond memories.
Another thing we’ve passed on our tour south is wild anise, with its licorice-like scent. And we’ve encountered road-kill skunks and their own piercing odor.
One night late at camp, I came face to face–10 yards away–with a live skunk. We startled each other, and hurried off in our separate directions.
Much more pleasant encounters have been with people. At a roadside vista point, a woman from England came up to four of us and said, “This might sound crazy, but can I take your picture?”
A week ago, her daughter finished the TransAmerica route (Yorktown, VA to San Francisco) with Bike The US For MS. The woman and her husband came over to congratulate their daughter in San Francisco. Now they were sightseeing along the coast and following the PacCoast team on social media as we make our way down to San Diego.
Long-distance cycling is a continuous up close and personal encounter with the smells, sounds, wildlife, hills, valleys, and people around us. In other words, with all the beauty of this earth and life.
After 66 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing, we arrived at camp today to find that the school at which we’re staying is in the middle of a eucalyptus grove.
I felt right at home.
To learn more about Bike The US For MS, visit biketheusforms.org.