Out of the Saddle – Piedras Blancas

Generally meaning… climbing out of the saddle or sprinting out of the saddle. Standing on the pedals and opening up that corpus to, hopefully, squeeze just a wee bit more ooomph for however long you can maintain it. Today, however, it’s velo-independent.

Being that I ride so much, I often use the “out of the saddle” phrase to describe some activity that does not involve being IN the saddle. Such as, “I was out of the saddle Sunday afternoon and went to listen to Louie Ortega and Dorian Michael play at Shell Cafe in Pismo” or “After a big ride yesterday I was out of the saddle this morning and walked to the Templeton donut barn for coffee and an apricot scone.”

Last week I was out of the saddle on Thursday and went on a tour of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, sponsored by the Cancer Support Community in Paso Robles CA. “Piedras Blancas” is Spanish for “white rocks”, describing the large rock formations off the coast that are covered in whitish guano droppings from seabirds. I have ridden past the entrance to the light station a few times, but never have toured it, so it seemed a worthwhile trade-off for skipping my normal Thursday group ride. Here are a couple of photos from a ride past the light station back in 2005. (Nine years? It seems like maybe two!)

We met at the office in Paso Robles, then Jamie drove us to the lighthouse over on the coast in the office minivan. It was just me, Jamie and Beverly. Another client had reserved a spot, but had to bow out because she was worn down from a recent chemo treatment. Before arriving at the light station we stopped for lunch at Sebastian’s General Store & Cafe in San Simeon, just down the hill from the famous Hearst Castle, which is a California state park now. The Hearst Ranch (not part of the park) provides grass-fed beef for the cafe, and the Hearst Ranch Winery operates a wine bar on the far side of the room from the cafe. Slurrrp!

Last fall I stopped at Sebastian’s for lunch after riding from Cambria to Ragged Point and back, as described in this post. Here is a pic of Sebastian’s from that day where I met a few folks bike touring down the coast.

Sebastian's at San Simeon

Sebastian’s at San Simeon

After a fine lunch courtesy of the the Cancer Support Community, we headed north a few miles on California Highway 1 to the light station. It was brought online in 1875 to warn ships of the dangerous rocks jutting out from the shoreline here at the south end of Big Sur. Originally it was 100′ tall, but an earthquake damaged some of the upper structure, and those sections were removed due to safety concerns, leaving the remaining tower at 70′ in height. The original lens was taken down and currently is on display in the town of Cambria to the south. Subsequent lights and lenses kept getting smaller and more efficient to the point that the current light is a high-powered halogen bulb no larger than an average thumb from knuckle to tip. It amazes me that such a small bulb can produce such a strong light. Here are some photos of the station buildings and grounds.

Our volunteer tour guide Abel Martinez took us on a thorough and interesting tour. I’m not sure if it was because the weather was so nice, but we got an extra treat of going up to the top outside level of the light station, where the signal light is mounted. Here are some photos from up top.

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One Response to Out of the Saddle – Piedras Blancas

  1. Pingback: Frost Warning | Velobum

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