This ‘not a blog’ has no profundity, it’s simply been a journal of some of the people I’ve met and places I’ve seen over the last several years. It won’t become a book, it’s time I lock the doors but I’ll leave on the lights in case people should stumble upon the words. If anyone has questions about cycle touring, wwoofing, travelling on a shoestring drop me a line. As karma goes I’m far in debt, were there a bank of karma I would be deep on the debits side of the ledger and light on the credits. Fortunately I don’t think one can go bankrupt on karma, I look forward to paying off that debt. It goes without saying thank you to everyone thats been a refuge for me, given me food, water, conversation or a smile; it wouldn’t have been the adventure it was without you.
I remember sitting on the same beach 2 years ago, each time a day before the end of the pacific coast. The big difference probably being one was the beginning and now it’s the end. It’s a little strange but wonderous to be able to say I’ve travelled around the world, it shrinks the perspective of the world. Theres lots left out there to explore, a popular question so far has been where to next. I wish I knew the answer to that question along with the answer to lots of other questions.
Having passed Leggett hill under my own power this time felt good, as everyone who has done it will tell you it’s a lot easier than it’s built up to be. Leggett is the start of Hwy 1 which is what I associate with the beginning of ‘Sunny California’ it’s where the route starts hugging the coast and it is officially southern California. To my disappointment I descended the hill into a thick fog that stuck with me for the next few days, there went my sunny. After I passed Leggett I had to turn up the tempo in order to make it to Los Angeles in time for a Summercamp project. Running centuries from Leggett on down to LA meant that I was doing in one day that took me three days on the previous tour. The byproduct of doing it this quickly is that none of the regular tourers will manage to keep up that kind of pace. Were I to give one piece of advice to anyone doing the Pacific Coast it would be to take your time and enjoy the ride. I had to break one of my cardinal rules of not riding at night a couple of times in order to get to particular spots, not fun again.
Strangest roadkill I’ve seen on the raod? A lobster in Maine, I literally had to do a double take in order to identify what it was I almost ran over. I just imagine that the lobster thought he was making his grand escape, only to flop onto the highway where he cooked on the blacktop.
Looking for the same experience as the last ride is perhaps the wrong attitude to have taken this time around but it proved to be no less magical a second time around.
I did manage to ride with a fellow from Canada for a few days starting from Humbug mountain on through the redwood forests. Patrick was a guy who in many ways seemed to be mirroring my first ride down with constant bike problems and not having the right gear for the time of year. Luckily for him I had a spare set of long johns and other warm clothes to help him get through the colder nights. According to rangers I spoke to on the way through Oregon the number of cyclists had certainly started to dwindle in the week before I got there, which I wasn’t very surprised at.
Much of Oregon is as I remembered it, except the hills got a lot easier a second time through. It is just as beautiful as I thought, which is a good thing since I encourage just about everyone I meet that they should do the Pacific Coast on a bike and especially Oregon. I thought I might have been more prepared for the attack of raccoons this time around always securing my bags at night before going to sleep. This didn’t deter them very much getting a few of my bagels one night and some of my granola bars. I hate raccoons. Another night they put some small holes into my panniers, which was probably one of my worst fears. Which means that one of my waterproof panniers is no longer water proof. I can see people laughing at me on this one, and on the whole I can see why. I just wish that Oregon put in bear boxes on their campgrounds like California does, it would make life so much easier and less frustrating.
I have to thank Mr. Ed from Oregon for dinner and all the smoked salmon he shared. I met Mr. Ed as he was cycling into the park and we got to talking about travels and he invited me to dinner which was really great. He had just landed a 48lbs salmon a few days previously and had been busy smoking it. He talked a lot about Spain as he’d had 14 trips there so far and I got to share a lot about other countries. He loaded me up with some salmon steaks and a heap of smoked salmon which I shared with some other campers when I got back to camp.
Getting to the Drury Parkway in Northern California is probably the best stretch to cycle down, for those that have gone down this particular stretch they probably remember it well. It’s one of the first tastes of the redwood forests and probably the most magical. There is very little traffic on this road and you coast downhill for almost 10 minutes in the quiet hush of the redwoods. I don’t think I would ever get tired of this road as the magic there is only interrupted occasionally by a passing car. I almost get annoyed by being intruded upon but their sight and sound is quickly swallowed by the forest and again your alone in the forest of Endor.
One more update for the rest of the way down the coast and some pictures.
Quick note to say that I’ve arrived at the end safely. I’ll post my thoughts in the next few days, the short daylight and long rides left me little time to post while riding so hopefully I can catch up soon. Things may be crazy in LA for a while so bear with me.
Thanks goes to Angie, Matthew, and Sam for hosting me in Seattle. I see again why I could live there, it just has a good energy and having friends there helps. The beer, food, and company was good. Two weeks went by far too quickly and it was time to hit the road once again. Of course I was already worried that I would be behind the cold as it’s already over a week after I had left last time.
Riding the pacific coast a second time I won’t lie and say I’m not looking for a similar experience to what I had the last time through riding with 4 great people. I almost found a piece of it starting the trail north of Seattle I ran into a British couple who treated me to dinner at the Public House in celebration of finishing the Northern Tier (or my version of it.) Unfortunately the next day I was heading into Seattle while they continued on south.
Speaking of looking for a similar experince of last ride I did get a chance to catch up with Jay who met me at Lincoln City and shared a pizza while he recounted to me his exploits of the last couple of years and I talked about riding around the world. Great to catch up with one of the gang from the last ride.
I found the hills of Washington to be the hardest yet and Oregon to be pretty easy compared to last time where I started each day agonizing over the many hills I’d have to crest. I do find myself thinking about where I took breaks last time and hills I had to walk my bike up, I’ve come a way from back then. It’s weird but the weather has been strangely similar to what it was last time, riding into Astoria dripping from head to toe was exactly how I rode through last time and riding into Cape Lookout to a cloudless night is just how I remember it. If things continue this way I’ll be soaked to the bone once again riding through Crescent City.
The first day riding out of Seattle it settled on me that this was the end, quite the depressing thought and something I don’t dwell on much but it’s the truth. Time for reality very quickly.
After a full week in Auckland I figure it’s finally time to hit the road. I’ve done most of the touristy stuff here, mostly on foot as i’ve been trying not to cycle through all this traffic. Unfortunately today i’ll have to learn how to ride on the left hand side of the road, i’m still trying to wrap my head around how that works, even though it shouldn’t be that difficult.
I’m pretty excited to get moving again as it gives me purpose, something I feel i’ve been lacking just lounging around in Auckland. I’ll be having lunch today with a pen pal of my uncles who he has been writing to for the last 60 years (at least) which I find pretty amazing.
Things seem to be going in my favor. I got approved for a New Zealand visa last week and I’ve purchased my ticket to New Zealand. It’s weird, I kept thinking they would deny me entry because I would be turning thirty 2 months after entering the country but it seems they don’t mind. Last week turned out to be a very intense week for me, Angie will be happy to hear that I have insurance (at least while i’m in New Zealand) I’ve joined up as a WWOOF’er. Much to some peoples chagrin i’ll be leaving on the 4th as planned and I still find it to be somewhat amusing.
On other notes from the rockstar house i’ve been living in the last few weeks, I got to attend a aireoke, like karaoke but only air instruments allowed. I have to say it was quite the enlightening experience for me as I seem to leave out the most important part of the philosophy of air guitar which is “If everyone picked up an air guitar they couldn’t hold a gun” It turned out to be a ton of fun, all of the performances were amazing and the group performances were transcendent. I shot a bunch of pictures and had fun with the rapid fire shooting of my camera and stitched together a few, the image clocks in at 2megs so it takes quite a while to load but it’s worth it (Janice and Elonda are in the back on drums and piano)
On a completely seperate note the fellow from London who I was cycling with, Alastair, completed his ride to the Mexico border late last week, so congratulations are completely in order.
Tomorrows the day, weird to actually say that after thinking about doing this for over a year now. Next time I write it will be as an expatriate.
I think it’s fairly fitting for me to end up where this road trip started, it adds a symmetry to this trip and it adds a nice ending to a long ride.
I’ve found the time to decompress after the ride and it’s given me time to think about the ride a bit.
These are some of the things I learned on this ride.
Drying your shoes by the fire can melt your shoelaces, but it’s worth losing those in favor of having dry shoes in the morning.
Disappointment Bay really is a disappointment. – Steve
Riding alone makes for an easy ride, camping with a group makes for a better way to end the day.
Cape Lookout, Oregon is the best campground.
I have to say thanks to Brandon and his family for housing and feeding us quite well last Saturday night. I think that food really helped me pull through the following day when I did my longest day of 97 miles, I ended up 2.5 miles short of a century. I didn’t quite plan my day to be that long but the campground I aimed for ended up being closed which meant I had to pull through another 9 miles as the sun was setting. I made it to camp as twilight was disappearing but it ended up being a long, I had planned to do 88 miles with two 1000 ft ascents just to see if I could do it, plus I wanted to see if I could stay ahead of Brandon who was leaving a day later to finish up the ride to Mexico. It ended up being a stark contrast to the beginning of the trip where I had to push the bike up hills, where I could now plow through such large hills without much trouble. It could also do with the fact that Galu was right and I should get new shorts and a new belt. While in SLO I got to jump on a scale and it turns out I lost at least 40 lbs. in 1 month. Perhaps I should write a book on my secret to weight loss though I think my book is pretty short.
Step 1. Quit Job Step 2. Buy Bicycle Step 3. Ride Bicycle for 1 month every day for an average of 6 hours. Appendix A. Diet – Eat everything you can, you’ll need every calorie to push that heavy bike everywhere. The end
Right now I’m waiting on a few things before setting off to New Zealand. The visa has been applied for and my bike is in the shop getting some much needed love. My uncle bill is hooking me up with some new wheels for the bike which have a few more spokes which will help with the breaking so much hopefully. The target date for liftoff is November 4th, which I find somewhat fitting. In theory if I leave then when I land everything regarding the election will be done.
I find myself tonight in San Luis Obispo, not nearly where I had planned to be at this point in the travels. It seems I’ve found myself slowing down after San Francisco for whatever reasons. I spent last night in San Simeon State Park. And tonight I’ll be in a guys backyard that I met on the trip. Hopefully tomorrow I can make it to Gaviota State Park at the least or Refugio State Park at the furthest. Putting me in LA on Tuesday at the latest. I only have two hills left and I hope to finish them both tomorrow and from there it should be smooth sailing.
I’ve found that once I passed San Francisco there are a lot of tourers. When I was having breakfast the other day in Gorda there must have been at least 13 tourers milling about the cafe and the grocery store next door. And I keep meeting new ones at every campground I stay at, probably because it’s warmer down here.
I went to Hearst Castle yesterday for a tour and it’s exceptional what that guy managed to acquire in his lifetime. The tour was very informative but it seems it barely scratches the surface. For $20 you get a tour of one, of the three, guest houses, the main house, the pools (indoor and outdoor.) But they have 3 other different tours that go through different areas of the house. You also get to see a National Geographic IMAX movie on the building of his empire and house. I think the most boggling fact of the day was that I could look in any direction from the house and he owned the land as far as I could see. That’s a lot of land.
I’m excited to get to sleep in a sorta real bed again, not that I’ve grown tired of the hammock but not having to worry about rain and dew would be a welcome change again. It’ll also be nice to see Fatty and Janice again and eat something other than oatmeal, pasta-roni, and bagels.
Got my first flat tire the other day as I was about to do the Devil’s Slide, which is a 4 mile segment of windy road with little to no shoulder. Turned out I had run over a screw on a downhill segment. After getting it fixed a guy waved us down and asked if we were about to do the Devils Slide. He then went on to tell us 5 times to be very careful on this stretch, this wasn’t the first time we’d heard about this road so in my mind it was certain doom. We (Jay and I) went ahead with it anyway as there is no easy way around it. Only thing of note that happened was a public bus passed so close I swear I could have stuck out my tongue and licked the side of it. Other than that it was as advertised, but slow and steady won the race that day.
Riding over the Golden Gate Bridge also ranks as a highlight for this trip now. As we were riding we saw the Blue Angels practicing for an air show later that day. I wanted to see them run under the bridge as if it were from The Rock, that would have made the day awesome. Traversing San Fransisco on a Sunday turned out to be the right way to do it. We didn’t fight traffic at all and coasted on through most of the city without trouble.
Spent that night at Half Moon Bay with friends of Jays, Opal and Floyd were campground hosts so we setup right behind where their camper was. Opal made a baked potato and chicken nuggets for dinner and biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Said goodbye to Jay and took off for New Brighton State Beach. It turned out to be an okay location for a campground, basically smack dab in the middle of Santa Cruz but we could hear the waves crashing against the shore which was nice.
I left this morning in hopes of making it to Big Sur but it turns out fate doesn’t have that in the cards. It started with a flat tire as I was just about to enter Sand City outside of Monterey. So fixed that (luckily I had bought a spare tube the day before so I slapped that on and decided to make my way to the nearest bicycle store.) Once I got a new tube and pumped up my tire it immediately went flat. So I got another innertube thinking it was the stem that got ripped. Got that installed and rode away about a block and a half when it went flat again. So I hobbled back and decided to get a new tire (I swear there is nothing stuck in the old tire but maybe it’s just done or the screw hole is wearing away at the tire.) Anyway they don’t have armadillo tires so I make do with a junky tire and decide to hit up the rest of the bike stores in Monterey looking for an armadillo tire. I finally find a shop that has one and decide to call it a day. Fate seems to want me to camp in Monterey.