Fifteen months ago, in April 2016, Cambria cyclist Tom Parsons — referred to by some as “bionic” for his brutally long rides — completed the 100th straight month of taking 100-mile rides along the Central Coast. At that time, Parsons said in an interview he would continue the 100-mile bike rides “as long as my body will allow me to do it.”
In a West Village coffee house interview Sunday, July 23, after 15 additional monthly 100-mile rides had been completed, Parsons said that beginning in January 2018, he will undertake a kinder and gentler physical challenge for himself.
The 6-foot, 4-inch retired middle school teacher turns 70 in January. He said he will complete a 100-mile ride each month until January, but at that time he will lighten up the load.
“I may do two 50-milers a month; or a 60-miler each week, or something like that.”
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Meanwhile Big Sur’s Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge failure, and the colossal landslide that covered Highway 1 with more than a million tons or rock and dirt, have cheated Parsons out of one of his favorite 100-mile routes.
From Cambria to Gorda and back is about 100 miles, but since that trek is no longer available, Parsons — and his frequent cycling companion, Bill Walters — often drive to Los Osos, then bike north for 50 miles and back to his car for the 100-mile tour.
I may do two 50-milers a month; or a 60-miler each week, or something like that.
Tom Parsons, Cambria cyclist
In January 2017, before the bridge went out and the massive slide roared down, Parsons and his riding buddy were on a hundred-mile ride (from Cambria to Gorda and back) when they were stopped by two CHP officers in Gorda.
“We were actually told not to come up here anymore,” Parsons explained.
The officers said it is too dangerous for bicyclists because of the number of large road-repair-related trucks rumbling along on the highway.
Asked about the longest bike ride he’s ever completed, Parsons named the “Ultra-Marathon, 750-mile ride” he completed in four days (85 hours) along the west coast of France. “Believe it or not, I got tired of seeing castles,” Parsons said, smiling.
When there’s a castle ahead, it means the riders are in for a steep climb.
Moving from Long Beach, where Parsons and his wife, Bonnie, were married 44 years ago, to Cambria, was facilitated after years of the couple weekending in Cambria. In 1979, the couple bought property and built a house in 1983. That house is not as historically dramatic as the French castles Tom encountered, but it’s their castle nonetheless.
John FitzRandolph: email@example.com