Summer 2007

I'm biking really really far this summer

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 56 (Salmon Arm - Revelstoke 113km)

Today was a pretty short day because after Revelstoke there is really nothing but hills. I started at almost noon, since I stayed up late the night before watching World War II documentaries, emailing people and updating the blog on an unprotected wireless network (as I am doing now).
The riding was great, but again, hot. Eventually the trees and mountains got taller so I was riding primarily in the shade which was a relief. I had a close call with an 18 wheeler that either didn't see me, or didn't care that I was there on a very narrow and short bridge. I think he even sped up as he sliced by me with inches to spare. The pickup behind him followed suit. No quarter!
I caught my first glimpses of snow capped mountains since I was in Washinqton and now I am surrounded by them.
Campsites in Canada cost a fortune compared to the US and I personally think its a travesty when I have to pay the same as those ridiculous RVs. $3USD vs. $22CAD (and the USD is so weak right now!)
I didn't have any hamburgers today, but the night is still young and I'm in downtown Revelstoke so burgers abound! Anything but another Clif bar.
Tomorrow I ride 150km over Roger's Pass to Golden. It should be a good one!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 55 (Savona - Salmon Arm 165km)

I woke up at 7am to the hot hot sun and ate most of a bag of cereal. I was still tired and sore from the night before. The morning had some nice hills and I descended into Kamloops at mach speed. There I had a Quiznos sub and two Wendy's hamburgers (Oh boy!)
Out of Kamloops the road flattened out and I drank water and Gatorade almost non-stop as I gradually emerged from the desert into a more temperate climate. It got nice and cool and shaded as I passed through Chase, but I was still tired. My eyes started to get heavy so I had some of my Black Black caffeinated chewing gum and perked right up again. Its a magic bullet!
I got into Salmon Arm and couldn't find anywhere to stay so I tried to find a secluded spot in a park. I was swarmed by half a million mosquitos and had to hop on my bike to escape them! I asked around and some locals reccomended a retirement home that also rents out rooms which is where I am right now.
P.S. My hand is all healed right now but there are some nasty looking purple scars left over!
P.P.S. Thanks for the nice comments everyone!

Day 54 (Lytton - Savona 132km)

The 11am start due to the Tour de France was a big mistake. It was so hot! I bought some Vector powerbars in the morning and they promptly melted. Even so, the morning was fast and fun. Along the way I met a Dutch man with a ton of gear going the other direction. He started in Anchorage and was doing a tour around northern BC.
I stopped in Cache Creek for a hamburger (Oh yeah!) and the day turned sour. I rode into a mountainous desert terrain where the few trees there were there were dead and there wasn't a drop of shade to be found. I felt terrible and got a mild case of heat stroke. I lost all my energy and almost fell asleep on the bike. I had to find a billboard to have a nap behind as it was the only shade for miles and quickly fell asleep in the dirt for half an hour with my head on a waterbottle. I was really in a shabby state and hobbled into Savona, 40km short of my goal in Kamloops.
On top of this there were cracks in the road every 5-10 metres, sending shocks through my sore shoulders. I think they were also the reason that my right shifter is no longer working properly...
The only place in town that was open was the bar and the only food they had was chips and Costco microwave pizza, so I had 2 of each. At the campsite I fell asleep again in the shade and then paid $17 for a campsite.
Shortly after paying I met a Quebec cyclist who had ridden from Quebec and we realized we should have split a campsite. Oh well... There were a ton of weird bugs that got in my tent and the full moon was so bright I could read in its light.

Day 53 (Chilliwack - Lytton 183km)

I didn't want to wake up thismorning but managed to get going at 9:30am. It was hot and sunny and I went through 10 waterbottles. The wind was pretty strong again and passing trucks sucked me along with them. The morning was pretty flat with nice tailwinds so I was again flying along. I almost stopped to pick up 2 hitchhikers who waved theirs thumbs at me but didn't have enough room in my panniers.
In Hope, chainsaw carving capital of the world, I had a club sandwich for lunch (I couldn't find any hamburgers). After Hope I rode over 4 largish but gentle hills and 7 tunnels. Only the third hill (called Jackass mountain) was hard, but that's mostly because it was really hot.
Traffic was light and came in waves due to some roadwork, so I could take the lane much of the time. Drivers were friendly and I even got a few friendly honks.
I stayed at a motel in Lytton because I wanted to watch the last stage of the Tour de France. They only had a smoking room so I was given the senior's discount and put up with the smell. It turns out they didn't have OLN so I couldn't watch the live early morning race coverage and had to watch the really annoying ABC recap from 10-11am the next day.

Day 52 (Vancouver - Chilliwack 133km)

Wow! My new bike setup rocks! So much faster! I flew today!
In the morning I caught some of the Tour de France and then had a hearty breakfast while chatting with the very friendly girls at the hostel café and trying to decide which route to take across BC. I stuck with highway 3.
As I said, I was flying and averaged around 30kph the whole day due to a wicked tailwind. My fast time was shot though as I got lost several times in Abbotsford (that place sucks!). I managed to draft a dumptruck for a few blocks which was fun and fast.
Eventually I made it to Cultus Lake and paid the highway robbery price of $22 for a campsite. The lake the campsite was on was phenomenonal though and swimming in it (with all my cycling clothes on) almost made the price worth it. The showers ran out of hot water though so overall it was a total ripoff.
Since it was my birthday I pigged out on Japanese food (not that I ever need an excuse to do that). While I was eating I talked to a guy from Prince George and finally decided to take highway 1 instead of 3, firstly because of the fact that 3 is a longer route and secondly because it has roughly 3 times as much climbing. I am on a schedule and value my knees.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Day 51 (Vancouver rest day)

Mailed my front rack and panniers home, installed new tires, tuned up bike, rationalized my pannier packing system, did laundry, showered, watched some Tour de France, planned my route through BC (doing hwy 3 instead of the Transcanada [someone tell me if this is a mistake]), ate burgers with a beer, updated blog, went to bed.
Tomorrow I start my way back home!

Day 50 (Vancouver rest day 8km)

Got off train, rode to hostel, showered, went through my stuff to decide what to send home, went to MEC for new tires and an online gaming place for 4 hours to upload pictures and spice up the blog, went for an unagi extravaganza, walked in a crowd of people leaving the fireworks, got a beer, talked to a guy at the bar who turned out to be the actor behind Pokearoo, had some drinks with him, went on a 1am safari with him through cracktown, got locked out of my room, went to bed.

Day 50 (San Diego - Vancouver train)

Booooriiiiing!
We got so delayed we had to spend over 2 hours in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I took this opportunity to go to the grocery store to stock up on food and drink. The conductor had eagle eyes and managed to spot the beer can I had in one of the 3 plastic grocery bags and said it couldn't come on the train and that I would have to throw it out. So I walked around the block and quickly dispatched of the huge can at 10:30am (aka beer o'clock). I gave him a big thumbs up as I got on the train and promptly fell asleep for several hours.
Many more delays. Pretty scenery. Fat Mexican child who's mother has been stuffing him with potato chips for the last 26 hours won't shut his damn mouth for 26 seconds unless its filled with potato chips. I wanted to slap that kid.
This is all painful to recall, so I will skip the boring parts: we were almost 8 hours delayed and the other passengers started to get irate and complain, which annoyed me because it was pointless. Door to door (between hostels) I was in transit for 52 hours. Ugh.

Day 49 (San Diego - Vancouver train 16km)

I woke up at 4:20 am, shovelled back some yogurt and rode 16dm towards the train station in the dark as the sun was coming up.
I took the 6:10am Coast Surfliner train from San Diego to LA. There were plugs at every seat so I monitored our speed and progress on my GPS.
Once in LA I had to quickly box my bike to catch the 10:15 Coast Starlight train to Seattle. I had to deal with a particularly nasty and fat lady who was in charge of the checked baggage room and who obviously hated their life and wanted to take it out on me. I wore a smile and kept apologizing through so she was powerless over me. I got on the train and prepared for a very long journey.
Sitting next to 76 year old James from Chicago, I fell asleep quite quickly, but still saw some interesting things along the way: 2 campsite I stayed at, an ICBM launching tower, the biggest American flag "west of the Pacific" (there must be a bigger one in Hawaii?) and a space shuttle landing runway.
We encountered the first of our many long delays due to the fact that the freight companies own the tracks and have priority meaning we had to stop at nearly every sidetrack to let them pass.
I ate all my food and had to buy dinner on the train. I ended up being seated with 2 unaccompanied minors (12 years old and 14 years old girls) and a 19 year old guy. The youngest, Alyssa was a little firecracker who is headed for trouble. She says she has had 12 boyfriends. I asked her if I counted as number 13, but she didn't think it was funny. She says her mother forced her to get a bellybutton ring... Odd...
Before I went to sleep we were already a few hours behind schedule.

Day 48 (San Diego rest day)

Since I consumed so much beer the previous night I spent most of the day recovering. I caught up on my blog and organized my return trip to Vancouver. Since my Canadian passport expired in May, flying back was not permitted, so I had to get a train ticket instead. It was a somewhat reasonable price, but was scheduled to start at 6:10am and included a 1.5 hour train ride, a 32.5 hour train ride and a 3.5 hour bus ride! The sleeper tickets were too expensive so I got a spot in coach.
For the rest of the day I wandered around Mission Beach. Since it was Sunday there was plenty to look at: The man with a razor thin goatee and a deep tan who sits on his million dollar beach front patio with his amazingly matching dog (think Fido commercials) on matching chairs each with their own umbrella. He had a special stone path built from the boardwalk so that he could invite pretty girls to talk to him from his elevated position. Slick!
Thousands of people running, surfing, swimming, drinking, tanning and playing horseshoes, soccer, whiffle ball, hackey sack, guitar, football, volleyball and wrestling. The cops were out in force driving around on the beach on quad bikes and in SUVs handing out dozens of tickets for smoking, drinking from glass bottles, drinking on the boardwalk and being drunk. It was pretty much a crazy scene.
I did as much walking as I could stand, but because of my hangover got a little weary of the sun and headed back after eating gyro. I spent the rest of the evening chatting with interesting hostel guests and workers, the most interesting being Jaime from England. She used to be a gang member hooligan and lived near my aunt's old house in Islington. She raised her sister since she was about 7 years old, and her boyfriend is locked up in jail for 7 years for an extremely messy and botched £500,000 jewel heist. She is past all that now and working at the hostel. Hardcore! She made me 'proper english tea by a proper english chick'
I went to bed as early as possible since I had to wake up at 4am to catch the train but ended up getting to sleep near midnight since there was basically a party going on in my room.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

PICTURES!

That is all...

PS. its my birthday on the 27th. Hooray for me!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 47 (Dana Point - San Diego 116km)

I did it! The first leg of my epic journey completed in style. Steven and I rode the whole way into San Diego together and arrived at around 2:30 in the afternoon.
The day started out looking like it was going to rain and we had a slight headwind all day. I was really stiff , tired and sore from the previous day. The riding conditions weren't exceptional and the riding wasn't very exciting, but since it was saturday morning there were literally hundreds of roadies out in full spandex, some in uniforms matching their friends. We saw so many of them fixing flats in groups because they were training on race wheels that should really only be used for racing.
We passed through Camp Pendleton US Marine Corps base after flashing our IDs to some marines at the gate (while we were riding off I yelled "HOOAH!" and then spent some time quoting Full Metal Jacket. The base was absolutely huge with several towns and a big shopping centre, as well as cheap gas.
After leaving Marine country Steven and I split a delicious pizza and then we hit the road again for the final stretch to San Diego.
We missed a turnoff at the top of a tall hill in La Jolla by riding down the hill, and didn't want to go back up so we took a detour through UC San Diego, missed another turnoff and took a second detour along a bike path, not needing to make up any elevation in the end, which I was glad for since I was still drained and sore from the night before.
Finally reaching San Diego I booked a spot at the Banana Bungalow hostel and spent the evening playing beer pong with the other crazy guests. I got to the semi finals!

Day 46 (Malibu - Dana Point 180km)

My longest day yet! My longest day ever! I started really early just north of LA and pretty much spent the entire day trying to get through it as quickly as possible. The riding was terrible, either on crazy roads or on annoying beach bike paths. LA, or at least the section I went through, is terrible. Dirty, ugly, mean and sprawling. It reminded me of riding through the worst parts of Mississauga but with palm trees and much, much worse. I got some nostalgia of Toronto when I was cut off, squeezed, honked at and nearly doored. I'm too quick and experienced for you nuts to pull a fast one on me!
Passing through Malibu I went by hundreds of multimillion dollar properties with automatic gates and security cameras, with so many service vehicles parked in the shoulder that I had to ride in the lane, getting buzzed by countless vehicles. Just like home!

I reached Santa Monica and got on the beach bike path. Since it was still before 10am I missed all the crazy people and general scene of Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo beaches. I was more than happy with this though as the beach bike paths were pretty empty. They were still irritating since they were excessively winding, and sand drifted on to the corners making them hazardous to take at speed.
I wanted to keep a pace of 25km/h so that I would finish the day with time to spare as the book said it was 94.4 miles between the first campsite north of LA and the first campsite south of LA. Despite getting slightly lost twice, the book was way off and I ended up riding 20 more miles. Stupid book!
I took some terrible roads past Torrance, Carson and Long Beach that reminded me of riding on Alan road. I went along what is called the LA river, but should be more aptly called the LA drainage ditch, wide and stinking with high sloping concrete embankments. I even saw a garbage truck driving up it. The only nice thing I saw in LA county was a pair of pelicans flying just above the water at the same speed of me. I was very glad to be out of it but I still had a long way to go.

Once I got in to Orange County I started to get fatigued and my legs went into autopilot, not really wanting to take me faster than 23km/h.
I went up some unexpected 250 foot hills on the shoulder of busy highway 1 and eventually reached Dana Point. There I did a few groceries and got take out Mexican food as I was in no mood to cook supper once at the campsite. I rode down a steep hill and into the campsite where the ranger told me that the hiker/biker site was full and that I would have to go to another state park, the closest being 6 miles away. I was really in no state to do any more riding so I asked them if I could check to see if anyone wanted to share a site.
It turns out that Steven was there, and a lady I had met just north of San Francisco, so they were glad to share. I was really surprised that I had managed to catch up with Steven and so was he. I had a beer, Mexican food and M&Ms to celebrate such a long day and then stretched took a shower to wash off the crust of filth that LA had deposited on me.
If I can ride 180km straight through LA I don't think there are many rides I can't do!

Day 45 (Gaviota - Malibu 139km)


I managed to get going at a pretty decent time today as I knew I would have to stop in Santa Barbara to get my wheel retensioned. The ride was basically flat and again very hot. The wind wasn't very strong, but I had a slight tailwind. I had entered into the area known as Southern California as evidenced by the tall skinny palm trees, huge expensive cars and heavily made up people.
The riding wasn't all that memorable and I had to put up with a lot of car and truck traffic on the road and bike and pedestrian traffic on the bike paths. I generally rode with the cars because its faster and they are much more predictable.
In Santa Barbara the head bike mechanic was angry and surly that none of his mechanics showed up that day so he had to do all the repairs himself. He made time for me though and did the work in 30 minutes so I gave him a nice tip. While he was working I ate at an incredibly obnoxious hamburger joint called Fatburger. Oh boy was that place annoying. Every order would be yelled 2 feet back to the kitchen who would parrot it back in unison, despite their high-tech LCD order queing system. "Fatburger!" "Faatbuurger!" "Skinny fries!" "Skiinny Friies!" "Fat Salad!" "Faat saalaad!"
This went on non-stop the whole time I was there and the place was plastered with corporate image building banners and signs. It was funny and sad seeing fat people eating fat burgers.

Leaving Santa Barbara, traffic northbound was at a standstill because some yahoo with a big purple trailer with flames painted up the side had managed to jack-knife and overturn the trailer and his dually pickup truck blocking all 3 lanes.
A whole lot of uneventful riding took me past a huge US Naval base where I got to gawk at a display of gigantic cruise missles, laser guided bombs, air to air rockets and fighter jets. USA! USA! USA!

Arriving at Leo Carrillo state beach just north of Malibu I was greeted at the campsite by an insane man. He was wearing a state park volunteer hat that he made sure I saw and demanded to see my receipt for the campsite. He was drinking some odd looking brown liquid and was suspiciously eying over my stuff. He said it was his day off and that it was disgusting that he had to check the receipts. I went back to the park rangers to verify that he was not in fact working for them and they let me know that he was harmless and wouldn't rip off my stuff. He just likes to think that he works there and apparently lets them know what's going on in the hiker/biker campsite. He had a funny voice and talked really loudly to himself until about midnight.
I ate 4 hamburgers this day.

Day 44 (San Luis Obispo - Gaviota 149km)

Today was epic! The sun was merciless and the winds wild and derranged. Having been set back and losing a riding partner I wanted to make up as much time as possible.
After a large pancake breakfast I checked the bike shops to see if I had left my multitool there (I realized I had lost it at some point during the day I arrived in San Luis Obispo). It didn't seem like I did, so I bought a Park Tool hex wrench set and a spoke wrench. I ended up hitting the road late at 11am in the noon day sun.
The pace I made was really fast with the heavy wind on my back. I often maxed out my biggest gear on the flats, consistently travelling at 50km/h on certain sections. The wind pushed me up the hills such that I was climbing faster than I usually cruise.
I flew through Pismo Beach and Oceano, stopping for a quick burger break in Guadalupe. A few miles down the road I climbed the last two hills of any major description on the coast. I decided to take a shortcut to get to the hills and ended up riding up a seriously steep road. One of the steepest yet; I can understand why the guidebook routed around it. I rode all the way up it non stop, and I was a mess by the time I got up to the top. It was about the same grade and steepness as the Bluffer's Park road in Scarborough, but dead straight and very busy. A car slowed down to cheer me on but I was travelling so slowly in my lowest gear that I didn't want to risk waving to them. After spinning for the next few miles to catch my breath and flush the lactic acid out of my legs I came across a strawberry stand run by an 8 year old mexican kid. No, they didn't have boxes smaller than a pound, so I ate as many as I could bear and strapped the rest to my rack to be bounced around and start leaking everywhere.
I soon reached the base of the first major hill, with an easy 500 foot climb over 6 miles or so, followed by a pleasant descent, and then immediately beginning a steep and winding 600 foot climb over about 2.5 miles. I endured the scorching sun and inland valley heat and did the climb non stop on the unshaded, but nearly deserted road. I had been going through water like crazy to this point, and would continue to thanks to the two extra water bottles and under-seat bottle cages I had bought in San Luis Obispo.
Finally reaching the top of the Purisima hill I was welcomed by a strong cool breeze and appreciated the panoramic views of farmland and oil derricks while staining my fingers red with some severely abused strawberries. A car gave me a thumbs-up while I stood at the summit.

On the way down into Lompoc I hit the sharp and abundant curves hard and fast and was too engrossed with riding to pay much attention to something hitting me in the chest through my open jersey... Well it turns out it was a bee and it stung me on the stomach while I was entering a particularly sharp turn. I had to brake and steer with one hand and beat my stomach with the other until I could come to a stop and get the bee out of my shirt. That's my third and most dramatic sting of the trip!
Lompoc was pretty depressing so I rode through it without stopping so that I could get the final hill over with. It was a nice rolling 13.5 mile climb up nearly 1000 feet with a short steep section at the end. On the way up I passed a middle aged Korean man loaded down on a trekking bike wearing a pith helmet and covered head to toe despite the heat. At the top I finished up what then only resembled strawberries and took the straight and steep 1000 foot descent as fast as I could. I wanted to break 80km/h, but only managed to beat my previous record by 3km/h, reaching a max of 75km/h. I would pedal like crazy, max out, get really low in the drops, start slowing down, start pedalling again and max out etc. I figured that if I had less gear, a bigger chainring or faster tires I could have hit 80.

At the bottom of the hill the wind picked up and the coast started to go east. I flew through a perilous flat section of busy highway narrowly hemmed in by steep canyon walls at nearly 70km/h and emerged on the coast. Since I was now heading east along the coast the wind was hitting me from the side mercilessly. I would lean in towards the ridiculously fast and busy highway 101 to avoid being blown off the shoulder by gusts, and then an 18 wheeler would pass me at over 100km/h and suck me towards it. I was basically being blown around the shoulder like a leaf!
After about 15 white-knuckle miles of this I arrived at the state beach and who should be there but Professor Recumbent. He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. I was again victim of being talked at incessantly, this time about string theory and evolution and palm trees. Some time later the Korean man showed up and we struggled through a few brief conversations.

The campsite was set just of the beach and the sky was totally clear but I couldn't watch the sunset because a headland was in the way. I still haven't seen a real west coast sunset on this whole trip!

Day 43 (San Luis Obispo rest day)

Wow another rest day! I wish these came about by my own choosing and not surroonding unfortunate events... I suppose I did stay in Monterey by choice but I really can't be taking any more days off.
During this day I walked all about the town eating at various places and browsing various shops. I ate pancakes, coffee, belgian frites, quesadillas, twix bars and unagi, among other things, at various points throughout the day. I went in to two bike shops, a sports store, a gas station and a liquor store. I did a good deed by buying beer on behalf of a 19 year old and I rode in his truck. I realized that I lost my multitool and had to borrow allen keys from an Englishman. I bought new bike shoes and more water bottles and bottle cages. I took a nice stroll and had a wheat beer accompanied by lackluster country ballads. I bumped into fellow bike tourist that I first met in San Francisco. I read my book. I had my ID questioned. I checked the Tour de France standings. I took a photo for a group of young Chinese people. I searched without luck for an internet café. I picked up my bike with a rebuilt rear wheel and adjusted the front derailleur. I chewed gum while in contemplation. I jaywalked. I ran. I hopped. I peed behind a bush. I was friendly in all conversation. I exchanged currency for goods and services and I often perspired. I wore a hat at one point and sunglasses at most points. I took them off at night. I went to bed and was inexplicably itchy.
That about sums up my day.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 42 (Morro Bay - San Luis Obispo 32km)

Another gloriously early day! Damn is it cold and foggy in the mornings though...
Steven and I were making really good time with a nice tailwind and sunny skies as we cut inland towards San Luis Obispo when I noticed my rear brake was rubbing. Damn was it out of true! A serious wobble. I loosened the rear brake and kept going.
When we reached San Luis Obispo I saw a bike shop and decided to get it trued. The mechanic, Miles, worked his hardest for an hour to get back in to true, but 2 nipples stripped and we both agreed the only solution was a complete rebuild of the wheel with new spokes and rim since the rim itself was out of true...

So I said farewell to Steven, booked into the hostel, and brought the wheel to a bigger shop (owned by the same guy) that Miles suggested because of their expert wheel builder. They can luckily get it done in one day, but that means I basically lose two days as it will be done in the evening and I had a very short day today. Such is life and now I have another unexpected rest day. At least San Luis Obispo is a very nice town and the large bike shop is incredible. And my blog is up to date.

Day 41 (Pacific Valley - Morro Bay 103km)

Wow! An early start! Fantastic! I was on the road by 8:30am thanks to Steven and had finished the final mountainous section of highway by 10am. Steven had left before me but I caught up with him just before the final descent to sea level.
I started the day in a thick blanket of fog. The riding was unreal... I could only see about 25 metres ahead and the sounds were muffled except from what was right around me. The traffic was very light and I had more trouble keeping warm than cool. At the peaks of the two highest hills I was treated to incredible views over a sea of fog crashing into the cliffs.

I was kind of sad to leave the hills, but Steven and I started drafting off of eachother in front of a great tailwind so I had no complaints. We covered 55km an hour and a half bringing us right to San Simeon where we stopped to watch hundreds of huge and rippling elephant seals basking, molting, and sparring on the beach.
Another mile from there was Hearst Castle where we took 4 hours out of the day for a tour of the spectacular estate and a corny Imax movie about it that gave me an urge to watch Indiana Jones. The castle (or ranch as he dubbed it) was impressive, but I didn't like it as he merely bought, appropriated or stole historical and religious art and relics from all over Europe and put them together in a dark and meaningless mishmash. There was no original art there except maybe the landscaping, but even those layouts were copied. It seemed to me like a rich old man living out his childhood fantasy of being king of the castle.

After this long interlude we rode a fast and easy 30km to Morro Bay State Park where we each ate a pound of strawberries and then much much more. I started a campfire that turned into a 5 foot bonfire we had to move well back from and then we went to bed. Soon after going to bed a cyclist came in trailing his large dog in a trailer and his collection of handmade walking sticks. He had various religious scripture scrawled on the trailer and basically lived out of his bike full time. All his stuff together must have weighed 150 pounds and his northbound journey was going seriously slowly.

Day 40 (Big Sur - Pacific Valley 60km)

Boy oh boy did I get a late start and I was doomed to a short day since the next campsite was further away than I cared to ride that day (or could have in daylight).
In the morning professor recumbent started talking off my ear again as soon as I got up, while I packing up and while I was cooking and eating. It got genuinely irritating but I was too polite to tell him to shut up and leave me alone so I ended up leaving at 11:30am, meaning I was basically limited to a 60km day as the next campsite was all the way in San Simeon and I wanted to see Hearst Castle which was on the way there.

Riding was fun and fast and at the top of the first big hill I hooked up with some roadies doing a weekend credit card tour and we rode some very brisk miles until they got bored of me and I got tired. They were very friendly though and if I was unloaded wouldn't have had trouble keeping up.
I was occupied with keeping up with the roadies during the turnoffs to the scenic attractions of the day, namely the Julia Pfeipher State Park waterfall but I was later informed it was a let-down with no actual access to it so it was no loss. Google it if you are curious. I caught a quick glimpse of it and it was quite pretty...
Fog rolled in and out during the ride providing visual drama and air conditioning since the climbs were hot and unshaded.

Eventually I reached Lucia, which the map listed as a town with restaurants and groceries. It turned out that all Lucia was was a fancy restaurant with a tiny store attached to it. I actually had a very vivid visual memory of this place from my childhood car trip of this road. Opting not to eat rack of lamb for lunch I bought some overpriced crap from the store and ate it outside while half a dozen convertible mustangs pulled in and out of the parking lot.

15km later I arrived at the campground at 3:30pm and spent the afternoon doing nothing in particular. Later on Steven from Ohio arrived who had been touring from the top of Washington along the same route as me. He is a 20 year old horse-shoer (at first I thought he said horse shooter and had to hide my surprise! Then we made lots of jokes about killing horses...) going to school for business. He sleeps in a bivy sack and is touring ultra-light with only rear panniers for a total bike weight of less than 30 pounds (less than half of mine!).
We spent the evening talking to various local campers who all had a slightly insane streak running in them. One had crazy eyes and kept saying that he did mountain biking. Another kept telling as about hell's angels and abalones and his tiny magnum handgun but he brought us chicken and amazing plums that grow in his garden. He retired when he was 35 and has millions in property on the coast and travels around in his air stream trailer a lot in dirty flannel shirts.
Steven and I decided to ride to the same destination the next day.

Day 39 (Monterey - Big Sur 62km)

Today entailed some great riding but the most interesting part of the day had to be the morning.
I said I wanted to get an early start - of course this didn't happen... I woke up at 6am and decided to sleep in a little longer. I eventually roused myself at 8:30am and ate a disturbingly large breakfast while reading Tour de France updates. Finally getting ready to leave at 10:30am I realized that I had lost the key to the outdoor bike locker. I assumed I must have locked it into the locker the previous night by mistake.
I remembered that this type of lock coud be defeated by jiggling a bic pen in them, so finding a similar pen I tried, but to no avail.
I went inside to admit my stupidity and the check-in guy said he had found my key in the lounge. Success! Or so I thought... It turned out a sliver of the plastic had sheared off inside the lock compressing two of the pins and rendering it inoperable. I feebly tried to fix the lock, with the hostel closing up for the day in the mean time. I even bought a lighter to try to melt it out but no luck.
I resigned myself to getting a locksmith but they told me that they would have to drill out the lock and replace it, but wouldn't since it wasn't my lock. There was nothing left to do but keep picking away at the lock with a bent pair of tweezers and wait for the hostel to open at 5pm and check in for another night.
Miraculously though, I managed to dislodge the obstruction and the pins popped back up allowing the key to work. Hooray! And I didn't even have to admit or pay for my stupidity. Lesson learned though...

I hit the road and had many shoulderless and hair raising miles of riding. The scenery was spectacular and the terrain was fast and challenging. I was only buzzed really badly once and two cars honked and waved in encouragement. I was playing leapfrog with a few drivers who would pass me and then pull over at the viewpoints where I would pass them and so forth. Every time they passed me again they would give me a little more space as I suppose they were getting embarassed.
I was also passed by at least two dozen late model Ford Mustangs, which seem to be the car of choice for this section of highway 1. I find them somewhat tacky but this is California after all.
I stopped along the way at Point Lobos state park and took a nice stroll through groves of nearly extinct Monterey Cypress trees, dramatically swept by the wind and resembling giant bonsai trees.

It was a short day overall and I have left all the big hills for tomorrow, stopping just short of them at Pfeipher-Big Sur state park where I am camped next to an older recumbent cyclist. He is a typical 'bent rider except that he is missing a beard and he literally talked my ear off for 2 hours while I set up camp and ate supper. The topics ranged from bio-fuels to Bush to bikes to slavery to Islam to the Rapture and back again! He is a substitute teacher from the LA area but I still don't know his name.

Now I am going to get beer and ice cream from the camp store. Riding tomorrow should be unreal!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 38 (Monterey rest day)

I started yet another rest day (after taking barely any earlier on in my trip) today with pancakes. After catching up even more on my blog (this entry is actually being written on the day of) I set out to see the world renowned Monterey aquarium which was fantastic, albeit very expensive and crowded. There were tons of obnoxious people taking flash photos that will never turn out blocking all the information boards and generally being obnoxious. It's also great to see enthusiasm about nature in kids but damn can they be loud and annoying when I am trying to quietly contemplate the etherial deep sea world of jellyfish. I somehow need to arrange a private night tour of that place as the exhibits were sensational.
I was starving after navigating through the crowds so I got some Korean food for lunch and then walked the boardwalk to fisherman's wharf where I got even more food. Still unsatisfied I rode my bike to Trader Joe's and did groceries, some of which is frozen right now and that I will have to eat any minute despite the fact that I am totally full.
Tomorrow I am going to try to get up early to get a head start on the steep, narrow, winding and precipitous road between here and Big Sur. From what I remember, this is 'the' road of the west coast and I will need as much strength and daring as I can muster to get to the other side unscathed.

Day 37 (Santa Cruz - Monterey 81km)

Hey! Today was pretty fun! The skies were clear, the winds generally favourable and I was feeling pretty good. The guidebook said the ride was boring but it was written by a pair of landscape photographers who only care about quaint lighthouses and picture postcard views.
I had a hearty breakfast at a busy café in town and started the circumnavigation of the broad bay separating Santa Cruz and Monterey.
After riding on decent bike lanes out of the city and suburbs I entered a large flat valley blanketed in farmland. Yet again I passed signs for fresh organic strawberries and was going to ignore it, but I passed a strawberry field and caught scent of them and couldn't resist. I bought a pound of them, eating most of the box on the spot. These were serious strawberries. One was the size of a peach and so sweet and flavourful I pretty much ascended to another plane of existence.
During the next 15 miles or so I passed through endless fields of strawberries, right in the middle of being harvested and the air was heavy with their aroma. It was like riding through a dream and I relished every breath with a smile on my face.
Later I passed through fields of anise and had more delicious aromatherapy before pulling over at a produce market for some shade and a snack. While resting there a gigantic pickup truck with the double rear wheels pulled up and was left idling for over 10 minutes while the driver was inside shopping. He came outside just as I was taking a picture of it for my records and he looked like he was about to come over to me, but got in and drove off instead. I wonder how many miles per gallon that monster gets idling... Oh yeah: zero!
From here was a very long separated bike path that took me right into the core of Monterey and passed the US Army graduate school. I passed literally hundreds of bright eyed young officers jogging up and down the path in matching grey T-shirts, short shorts and safety green reflective belts. I guess all that advertising really pays off!
I luckily managed to stake the last available spot at the hostel, did some routine bike maintenance including rewrapping my bar tape which had been coming somewhat unravelled over the past few days (due to my hand injury I can only hold the bar tops, and in an awkward fashion, which is what I think caused the unravelling) and had a nice refreshing shower. I had a big fat leaky Monterey burger for dinner and wrote blog entries in the hostel until late while a large tour group of young teenagers entertained themselves.
I took my last antibiotics pill as well so hopefully I will be feeling 100% by the time I get back on the road.

Day 36 (Pescadero - Santa Cruz 61km)

Today was not so bad... There was still a headwind but it was slightly warmer and the scenery wasn't so grim.
After finishing off my soba noodles, 3 packages of oatmeal, a bowl of miso soup and some tea for breakfast I hit the road at a somewhat reasonable hour. The traffic was light in general and I was feeling a lack of motivation, so I turned on my MP3 player with some fast paced music to help me keep my cadence up. It really helped and I was travelling quite fast.
I told myself I would only stop at the end of each album. This schedule was interupted by another strawberry stand where I ate half a pound of strawberries, had a strawberry scone, a strawberry shortcake, strawberry cider and a sample of every other strawberry product they had. I was delighted to receive a 10% discount for riding a bike there (the caveat being that I had to have worn a helmet).
On a huge sugar rush now I put on some Rage Against The Machine that Carey had loaded onto my MP3 player for me and Raged Against The Wind. Sand was blowing in my face and I had to gear down on the downhills but I was making good progress. At one point a whole peleton of local roadies swept onto the road a few hundred feet infront of me and I desperately tried to make contact with them so I could draft off of them and ignore the headwind but they were way too fast and disappeared into the distance.
Finally arriving in Santa Cruz my GPS led me right to the hostel which was full so I had to stay at a motel instead.
Traffic lights in Santa Cruz laugh at pedestrians making them wait for obscene lengths of time before they can cross. This is of course of no concern to the scads of teenagers driving around in Mercedes SUVs...
I did some laundry at the laundromat, did a brief exploration of the town, and being unimpressed had a few beers instead.
Takeout Chinese food for dinner while I caught up on emails and blogging.

Day 35 (Montara - Pescadero 55km)

Today was not so bad... There was still a headwind but it was slightly warmer and the scenery wasn't so grim.
After finishing off my soba noodles, 3 packages of oatmeal, a bowl of miso soup and some tea for breakfast I hit the road at a somewhat reasonable hour. The traffic was light in general and I was feeling a lack of motivation, so I turned on my MP3 player with some fast paced music to help me keep my cadence up. It really helped and I was travelling quite fast.
I told myself I would only stop at the end of each album. This schedule was interrupted by another strawberry stand where I ate half a pound of strawberries, had a strawberry scone, a strawberry shortcake, strawberry cider and a sample of every other strawberry product they had. I was delighted to receive a 10% discount for riding a bike there (the caveat being that I had to have worn a helmet).
On a huge sugar rush now I put on some Rage Against The Machine that Carey had loaded onto my MP3 player for me and Raged Against The Wind. Sand was blowing in my face and I had to gear down on the downhills but I was making good progress. At one point a whole peleton of local roadies swept onto the road a few hundred feet in front of me and I desperately tried to make contact with them so I could draft off of them and ignore the headwind but they were way too fast and disappeared into the distance.
Finally arriving in Santa Cruz my GPS led me right to the hostel which was full so I had to stay at a motel instead.
Traffic lights in Santa Cruz laugh at pedestrians making them wait for obscene lengths of time before they can cross. This is of course of no concern to the scads of teenagers driving around in Mercedes SUVs...
I did some laundry at the Laundromats, did a brief exploration of the town, and being unimpressed had a few beers instead.
Takeout Chinese food for dinner while I caught up on emails and blogging.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 34 (San Francisco - Montara 47km)

I felt pretty terrible the whole day. Drained and lethargic and barely able to think. I think the antibiotics I was on were the reason for my weakened condition, and all I really wanted to do was sit or sleep. However, the hostel had no spots for me to stay in so I was stuck having to leave. I couldn't be bothered to check the other hostels in SF for spaces and figured that I had spent enough time in the city so I booked a bed at the Montara lighthouse hostel supposedly 20 miles down the coast. I lost track of time running errands and eating some Afghan food and ended up leaving on the bike at around 5pm.
It was foggy with a wicked headwind and I was not feeling good to begin with. The roads were ugly and highly congested and I recall not having even one enjoyable moment during the entire ride.
Getting out of SF was a nightmare as I unluckily (stupidly) chose what I am sure were the steepest streets in the whole city. One of them must have been 45 degrees because I nearly threw up and had a heart attack on the way up, stopping every five steps to catch my breath.
After some boring and windy suburban and freeway riding I stopped for a snack and realized it was almost 8pm and that it would soon be getting dark so I put away my food and rode as hard as I could despite my hand and feeling of fatigue.
I had to climb the steep, twisty, shoulderless and insanely busy (and aptly named) Devil's Slide hill right when it getting dark and broke into a cold sweat on the way up. It was close to pitch black on the descent and the crosswinds were blowing me all over the place and the traffic had no patience for my antics. I was feeling hopeless at this point since I had hit the 20 mile mark about 10km back.
Finally I saw the beacon from the lighthouse where the hostel was located and could breath a sigh of relief that I was almost at my destination.
It was so dark at this point that I had to use my GPS device to figure out where the turnoff to the hostel was and after turning around a few times in confusion I finally found it. Inside were Dave and Margie who thought I would have been long gone but didn't anticipate my clumsy accident. I cooked up some soba noodles for a late supper and went to bed in a room full of jetlagged Brits.

Day 33 (San Francisco rest day)

Today I had a mission to replace my water bottles which had gone missing and get a new cycling cap because mine is old and filthy and won't come clean.
I set the GPS to take me to Freewheel, a bike shop that I had heard had a good reputation. On the way I passed a movie theatre with the Transformers movie playing that very minute so I couldn't resist going in to watch it. So far as I can tell, it was funded by the US military to bolster enlistment and had heavy product placement otherwise. There were a select few scenes which were watchable but overall it was a nostalgic letdown.
After the movie the GPS took me through the ritziest neighbourhoods in SF along streets so steep they just turned into staircases. Lots of kept ladies in expensive track suits were running up and down them with their Ipods giving me dubious looks.
Eventually reaching the tiny shop I got all the items I needed and checked out some nice bike frames before the long walk back. I was getting shin splints at this point from so much walking up and down steep hills. The line-ups for the cable cars were just too long for me to bother with.
More reading and lounging around in the evening at the hostel.

Day 32 (San Francisco rest day)

I spent the morning of this day hunting down the Staples stores in SF so that I could exchange my Palm Pilot for a Pocket PC Windows Mobile based PDA. This took me on an extensive tour through the city over hills and dales and hither and yonder. I ended up with a Mio DigiWalker with GPS that is much better and the script recognition is really good so I can actually write pretty fast with it. Its also great if I get lost or don't have a map as it has all of North America preloaded on to it including millions of businesses and other points of interest. Very cool!

Lunch in Chinatown and the rest of the day was spent exploring, reading and playing with my new toy

Day 31 (San Francisco rest day)

The morning of my first rest day in San Francisco was spent searching for a pharmacy where I could fill the prescriptions the doctor had given to me. I sampled the California institution that is In'N'Out burger for brunch. They pay their employees a living wage and never freeze their meat.
After that was dealt with I met up with Caedmon and Dan at Caedmon's place between the Mission and Castro. Dan was just on his way to a stag party so after I cleaned and dressed my wound in her kitchen, Caedmon and I toured the neighborhood on foot, checking out an interesting pirate store and then having some nice pizza for lunch and watching hipsters with tight jeans, big sunglasses and fashionable bicycles.
I took a long walk back downtown and spent the rest of the evening reading at the hostel.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 30 (Bodega Dunes - San Francisco 137km)

Today's route took me inland to bypass 3 large bays. It was so damn hot. I started a little while after the boys from New Jersey, but soon caught up with them and gave them a run for their money. In fact, I got so carried away with chasing down various cyclists on the road that I missed my turnoff onto Highway 1 past Valley Ford by 5 whole miles! I had no other option but to turn around and go five miles back into a hot and heavy headwind. I looked on the bright side and considered it an extra workout, but didn't want to do any other unnecessary riding as I still had close to 100km left to ride in the day.
The rest of the day I rode alone, barely enduring the heat which was getting hotter by the minute. My water was getting hot and I was drinking through it quickly with few chances to refill them. Compounding that, I was totally out of cash so I couldn't even buy water or Gatorade when I passed a store.
Rationing my water and seeking out the rare shade on the road I cancelled all scenic stops and set my sights on the Golden Gate bridge. Eventually I made my way into the redwood groves of Samuel P Taylor park and was so unbelievably glad for the soothing shade and water faucets. No time to stop and relax though, still over 40km to go over some really terrible roads.
The heat was really getting unbearable at this point but I had no option but to keep going. Before the climb into Fairfax I chatted with a local roadie who was taking a breather in the shade. We climbed the hill together and then raced down it passing most of the highway speed traffic on the steep and winding road.
Once into Fairfax it was all city streets from that point on and about 20 km later I caught up with Dan and Caedmon in Larkspur and we fumbled our way through suburbia towards the city. We made a few wrong turns and Caedmon was getting very disgruntled. Did I mention how utterly hot it was?
On a long and steep hill I decided to give myself a challenge and chase a roadie up the hill. He didn't look to happy with my efforts and told me his legs were spent. Typical!

Once finally arriving at the Golden Gate bridge, it was so windy that I had to put on my warmest jersey and I waited for Dan and Caedmon as I thought it would be fitting to cross it together.

The wind going across was fierce! Once across we took some group photos and said our goodbyes and I made my way a final few km to Fort Mason where there was thankfully one final space left at the hostel.
I had a chat with the nice check-in girl and checked out her bike for her - she said it wouldn't shift: it turns out the shifter cable for her front derailleur had snapped so I just moved her chain to the middle chainring, lubed it and readjusted her brakes. Since it was the 4th of July she invited me to go and watch the fireworks with her.
I still had to go and eat dinner so I went out and of course ran late, so I ran back towards the hostel and cut through a parking lot. I cut between cars at full speed and went airborne when I tripped on a concrete parking abutment landing hard on my knees, shoulder and right hand on a pile of broken glass on the already rough and dirty asphalt. Apart from ripping my jacket and pants I only had one serious injury which was the base of my right palm. I limped back to the hostel to bandage myself up and soon realized my injury was beyond my abilities to deal with. So just as the fireworks began I was in a cab on the way to Saint Francis Hospital.

After signing various forms with my bloody hand and putting 700USD on my visa card a nice doctor injected my wound with anaesthetics and went to cleaning out the glass and grit. I cleaned them out of saline irrigating solution, then they drugged me up and sent me on my way.

What a crazy day!

Day 29 (Manchester - Bodega Dunes 116km)


As always, a late start... It was a gorgeous day though and I was ready to ride. The terrain was hilly, the sky completely clear, the sun hot, and the winds favourable. I covered the first 30km quickly and had stopped just past Gualala to inflate my tires a bit when Scott (he was one of the two who had been at the Fort Bragg campsite after my night adventure) rolled up. Soon enough there were 3 of us and we made a fast paceline for the next 40 or so km. They were going faster than my usual pace and I was just hanging off the back while they took turns at the front. I started to feel guilty about this freeloading, so I offered to take point but told them I might slow them down. After a good long pull Scott said "I thought you said you were going to slow us down!"

It turns out that when I go on the front I tend to get carried away and really put on the afterburners!
After our great cruise we hit the big hills of the day and spread out a little, and my skinniness and power to weight ratio really came in handy. It's really fun to ride with other people close to your strength because you push yourself that much more.
The descent from the 600 foot summit was surreal and we passed most cars on the way down. One turn looked as if you would ride straight into the sea, and the next had a herd of cows sitting on it watching the traffic go by calmly.

At Jenner we all stopped and had several bagel sandwiches before the final push to Bodega Dunes. Scott was continuing on to Samuel P Taylor Park because he had started 30 km after me. I had fish and chips and chowder in town and went to the campsite and met a pair of cousins who were just wrapping up a Trans-America tour from New Jersey. I cooked a second dinner and got so full I had to lie down and go to bed early as I felt like I was going to explode.
Next stop San Francisco!

Day 28 (Fort Bragg - Manchester 68km)

The previous night I diligently spent the evening in Fort Bragg updating my blog and completely lost track of time. Before I knew it it was 10pm and pitch black outside. I switched on my rear lights on having forgotten to bring my front lights and hit the road for the 5km ride back to the campsite. I immediately realized what a mistake this was but I really didn't have any other options. You see, there were no street lights at all, the shoulder varied from poor to non-existent and traffic travelled at at least 90km/h. If it weren't for the traffic however, I wouldn't have made it back at all, as each time a car passed I watched the road in front of their headlights and took a mental picture of what lay ahead of me. I occasionally slid into the ditch a little and after riding for what seemed like forever I was sure that I had missed the turnoff to the campsite. Like a beacon of light to a lost sailor, I eventually spotted the sign for the campsite and basically navigated by touch to my tent.

Waiting in the hiker-biker area were two friendly bike tourists who had arrived while I was in town.
I started late this day because I was waiting for laundry to dry that I had hung up the night before, moving it about 5 times into the most choice spots of sunlight. But to no avail, I got bored and shoved the damp clothes in my panniers and headed off to Denny's since I had run out of breakfast food. I then went and bought 2 new novels (one by John Irving and the other Philip K Dick), and then checked my email again. I realized I was yet again running really late so I did a very tough and enjoyable 45km time trial across hilly terrain with a great headwind where I rendezvoused with Dan and Caedmon at a great café in the town of Elk.
Elk was a very pretty and quaint tourist town and I had a local beer, hamburger and salad garnished with edible flowers (this wins the award for the best presented hamburger I have ever had). The café had an incredible flower garden overlooking some dramatic rock arches.

After Elk I caught up with Dan and Caedmon on the steepest climb on the entire Pacific route. I was totally amazed that Dan managed to ride it with his double chainring while I was spinning away in my granny gear. I passed him right at the top and threw my hands up in celebration but I was going so slowly that I crashed and had to spend the next 10 minutes readjusting my panniers and fenders.

The rest of the day I played tag with Dan along the route, spraying him with water from my bottle and seeing if he could catch up to get me back (he never managed but he almost caught me snoozing on a small hill).
I arrived at the State Park campsite set among a huge field of tall grass and immediately had a violent allergic reaction to the pollen. It was really, really bad. So bad that we went to the KOA campsite next door where my allergies were a non-issue and I could make jokes ad-nauseum about their corporate policy of replacing the 'c' at the beginning of all words starting with 'c' with a 'k' (why don't they call the KOA's in Canada KOK's? Shouldn't we bring knives to the KOA kamping kitchen next to the KOA kamping kabins? How does nobody find this offensive?) We also met Bob the bike tourist towing a Bob trailer. He is a groundskeeper at the Hearst Castle so I may meet him again. I also shaved partially after forever.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Day 27 (Legget - Fort Bragg 80km)

Hah! Legget's hill wasn't so bad after all. It was high, but not too steep, just long, and it was heavily shaded so I didn't overheat too much (I was srill dripping with sweat and had to take off my helmet for the 12km/h grind though). I didn't have to stop once on the way up and was happy to have a jeep driver honk and wave at me at the top to congratulate me.

The descent was awesome and really got the adrenaline pumping as I leaned into the 8 miles worth of hairpin turns in top gear. I was going faster than traffic so I had the lane to myself and coul choose nie wide lines and avoid any potholes and cracks I came across.

After the descent, another hill started immediately; shorter but steeper. I didn't go into the granny gear and climbed it with gusto, at the same speed as the previous hill. As before, I didn't stop at all, never got out of breath, and ate up the descent. On the way down I flew past Dan and Caedmon who were pulled over and gave them a thumbs up beore getting back in the drops and hammering down the rest of the hill.

I emerged from the hills back on the rocky coast with a beautifully cool wind on my back, which I used to sail around the windy up and down hills to Westport where Dan, Caedmon and I all had lunch at a shop that knew they were the only place in town ($7 tiny BLT! I had to dip into my food bag afterwards). While eating outside on the small patio, a disgruntled old man said we were blocking the way, which we were, and rudely demanded we moved. His wife took the route we weren't blocking and apologized on his behalf, hich she seemed quite used to! This is my second such incident in as many days. I guess angry old men need to take out their frustration on someone and it might as well be me. I really don't mind though as I get a chance to unleash my passive agressive politeness on them, which I love to do!

From here it was 12 more miles of nice windy up-and-down-and-around-coves roads, and some great tree-conopied sections, riding into Fort Bragg, where I am currently finishing off a plate of sushi. Dan and Caedmon are motelling it tonight, which they definitely deserve, so I'll be allmon my lonesome at the canpground. No motels for me since my recent bout of questionable consumption at Staples allowing for this mobile blog post. Its a beatiful night anyways and I plan to watch the cloudless sunset from the beach with a cold and gigantic beer in hand.

Until next time...

P.S. to the anonymous comment posters, please write your name or initials or pseudonym so I know who you are! Seacrest out--

Day 26 (Myer's Field - Legget 72km)

So, this is my first blog post using the palm pilot... anyways today was a pretty short day as far as distance is concerned, but damn was it hot! I pretty much spent the whole day seeking out shade because i was getting cooked alive on highway 101. I could see the heatwaves rippling off of the road and since l started riding at 11am the sun was directly overhead and the wide freeway shoulders seperated me from any shade that there may have been. To add to that the day was pretty much all uphill so i was getting drained really fast.
I pulled into Garberville after what seemed like not all too long and found Dan and Caedmon at a cafe eating grapes and tapping away on their blog. I was soaking with sweat and sat inside for a long time before ordering a smoothie, which was tge key to getting my body temperature back in check. I ended up spending about 3 hours there waiting for my PDA to charge up for its first use (it works great) and waiting for the sun to get to an angle that would allow for shadows.
Because of that wait the rest of the ride was quite pleasant and cool, but I had to say goodbye to the redwoods which I have grown so fond of. Tonight's camsite is pretty bad, but it was only 3 dollars which isn't too bad. Dan and I ended up drinking quite a bit of beer during dinner and got carried away searching for wood and trying to break massivr wer pieces of wood for the fire. One of the logs made such a loud crack that half a dozen dogs started barking after it snapped and we were worried the ranger would come after us.
The first few kilometres of tommorrow's ride starts with the highest climb on the coast route so I am going to make sure to eat before packing up camp to avoid getting he deaded oatmeal and yogurt shakes!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Day 25 (Arcata - Myers Flat 128km)

With a fixed up rear wheel and an early morning rise (I packed up all my stuff before the shop opened at 8:30am), I was confident I could make up any lost time and rendez-vous with Dan and Caedmon again. The day was great for riding, albeit very hot, but I still decided to take numerous detours to get away from the hectic highway 101 which was at this point a freeway with fast exits and onramps.

First I stopped in Eureka which I didn't think was very nice (Arcata on the other hand was great in my opinion). Eureka is known for its original Victorian houses, but compared to Cabbagetown I was really very unimpressed. I ended up getting a bout of consumerism and bought a PDA with wifi connection from Staples, so soon my blogging will go mobile, if only I can find a foldout keyboard for it.

Continuing on, the first detour took me down a beautiful farm road which reminded me of childhood summers in Sussex (mostly the smell of manure and hay bails). I devoured some poor peaches and nectarines next to a fruit stand and rode on with sticky hands. I passed through another Victorian town called Ferndale which I thought was nicer than Eureka and had a disappointingly small hamburger and fries at a diner that is authentically frozen in the 1950's. I managed to charge the PDA for 30 minutes out of the required 3 hour initial charge time. I had to climb some difficult hills to get back on track to Highway 101 and was sweating like crazy only getting cooled down during the bumpy descents. It was really enjoyable nonetheless and traffic was almost nonexistent so I could take as much pavement as I needed to.

After a short and very hot stint on the freeway I was so utterly relieved to enter the Avenue of the Giants which is a truly stunning road. 300 foot tall redwoods provided much appreciated shade and really slowed down traffic, which was thankfully light and not too oversized. I got a sore neck looking up so much and slowed down so I could take it all in. This was a perfect riding road in my opinion and would be an absolute thrill on an unencumbered road bike. After reaching Weott, which supposedly had a grocery store (it was a ghost town), I continued to the campsite suggested by the Pacific coast book. The campsite wasn't nice, and the bike sites were right up against the road, and since I was down to my emergency freeze-dried pasta primavera rations (which I have been carrying for almost a month now; thanks Mum!) I rode to the next town, Myer's Flat.

After stocking up with questionable food at the tiny grocery store I realized it was closer to the next campsite than the previous, so on I rode. On arrial, who should be there but Dan and Caedmon who obviously missed me very much. We shared couscous and pork rinds and that was the day!

Day 24 (Klamath - Arcata 105km)

Today I entered into Redwood country after climbing the second giant hill I missed the day before. It wasn't too bad and I wasn't full of food so that helped immensely. Morning riding was good, but eventually the road returned to the coast and it started to rain. As I understand it, when the weather is nice I will get a tailwind, and when the weather is stormy, I will get a headwind (obviously the reverse for northbound travellers), so I had to deal with the rain and a headwind and a broken spoke grinding along at 15km/h or so. It was mostly soulless freeway so I put my head down and rode as far as I could all the while trying to keep excess weight off my rear wheel and swerving away from bumps. I got lunch in the tiny town of Orick, which consisted of (the lunch; not the town) a huge chimichanga and torilla chips. I had to force it all down and was worries I might get some chimichange dizzy spells!

Evetually I rolled into the city of Arcata at close to 6pm and found a bike shop called Revolution cycles. I was a sorry state as I went through the door, but the guys were amazing and replaced the spoke on the spot and cut me 3 extras in case I break any more of them. They asked me where I was going to stay, which was the KOA campsite about 10 miles down the road and they immediately went on about how crappy and expensive it was and told me I could camp in the back yard of the bike shop. Awesome!

I pitched my tent and went into town for a super great Japanese dinner (don't ask how much I spent... I didn't have to pay for a campsite after all), and then read some more of my novel sitting under the bike shop security lights with a beer.

Day 23 (Brookings - Klamath 81km)


I started today fairly late in the morning, and said my farewells to Andreas who was taking a rest day that day. I rode along flat noisy highway 101 across the California state line to Crescent city rather uneventfully, where I found an internet cafe to amend my previous blog posts as they were below my standards of internet writing quality. I ended up spending quite some time there, and then crossed the parking lot to go get lunch at Denny's... I had a huge cheeseburger with onion rings on it and fries on the side, and a huge strawberry milkshake that the waitress made extra thick because you can get a runny milkshake anywhere. She also made it so big it wouldn't fit in the cup so she brought me the extra in the stainless steel mixing cup. I realized it was getting late so I ate this large quantity of meat and dairy and grease as fast as I could, going light on the chewing aspect of it. Then I rushed out the door to hop on the bike as I still had a good 30 miles to the campground, up the two biggest coastal hills in Oregon.

About 2 minutes into riding after lunch I realized what a mistake I made, and about 400 feet into the 1500+ ft elevation climb I started getting dizzy and had to pull over into a vista point, where I had what I call the cheeseburger and milk-shakes. I pretty much had to double over myself for the next fifteen minutes regaining my composure before I stripped down to the bare minimum of clothing and continuing on at a greatly reduced pace. I felt really drained. By the time I had crested the triple peaks of crescent city hill I was glad for the descent and decided to make up some lost time by hammering down the 3 mile descent towards Klamath, after which there would be another brutal climb.

Well, on the way down the road was really crappy and given the speed I was traveling at I popped a non drive side spoke on my rear wheel. After some cursing I got out my kevlar replacement spoke to do an emergency repair, and wasn't having any luck getting the wheel back into true. At this point I gave up the idea of finishing the day's ride and backtracked a mile where there was luckily a HI hostel that was very nice. They even had limited groceries and a bunch of free spaghetti since I was down to emergency rations at that point (freeze dried pasta primavera. Yum!) I spent the rest of the evening truing the wheel properly, cooking pasta, and reading a Haruki Murakami novel I have been lugging around since day 1. Strangely I was one of the only young people there, most other guests being families with young and rambunctious children. I left a message on Dan's cell phone telling him not to wait up as I was not optimistic about the strength of the kevlar spoke.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Summary of the State of Oregon

Amazing! At the US Bicentennial they created and official Oregon Coast bicycle route, and widened the shoulders in these areas. The terrain was great, the temperatures perfect, and drivers very courteous (despite an abundance of RVs). The route snaked along the rugged coast and through quiet floodplains skirted by forested hills. There were no gigantic clearcut areas as in Washington. The state parks charged 4 dollars a night which I was happy to pay compared to the gouging experienced in Washington. Logging trucks were few and far between, and best of all, I met a bunch of nice people riding bikes so we had lots of stories to tell and food to share. I really look forward to visiting Oregon again in the future.

Oh yeah, by my preliminary calculations I have done over 1700km/s so far this trip. There are way more to go though!

I will try my best to upload my photos of Oregon when I get into Eureka, California (I am in Crescent City California right now, the gateway to this very long state.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 22 (Brookings Rest day 10km)

I took a well deserved rest day today. This was my first real rest day since Victoria so it was really overdue. I did various things that needed to be done, like updating this blog at the pubblic library within a strict 1 hour time limit, eat some disgusting dairy queen hamburger and gather firewood for the evening. Dan and Caedmon had upgraded to a yurt for their domicile of the night so we had dinner there eating hummus and pita, jalapeno bread, salami, two different types of couscous and some delicious merguez-like sausage cooked over the fire. In the evening Andreas rolled in so he joined us later on for the second half of supper. It was a well needed rest day.

Day 21 (Port Orford - Brookings 95km)

Today was another really nice riding day. Since Dan and Caedmon were MIA I juust rode at a comfortably fast pace and met up with a guy called Danny on the road who grew up in LA butu is now living in an Israeli settlement which I think is in the west bank. I don't know what he does there. Soon after meeting him we reached the climb to Cape Sebastian, and at 800 feet I dropped Danny like a hot potato, staying in the big chainring the entire climb averaging something like 15km/h the whole way up. At the summit I had a lunch of guacamole and hummus, and then raced down the hill at crazy speeds. I soundly beat my speed record with a new top speed of 72km/h. I maxed ouut on my biggest gear and had to lay on the brakes a little since there were strong side gusts that were pushing my wheels around.

At the bottom of the hill I jammed on the brakes because there were Dan and Caedmon who were at the side of the road! We said hi and I rode on with a really nice tailwind at my back, helping me sail along for the rest of the day to the Harris Beach state park. Along the way to the state park I stopped at half a dozen amazing viewpoints of rock arches and natural bridges, and also crossed the highest manmade bridge in Oregon, something close to 400 feet high. I hiked down to one of the naturual bridges on what I think used to be a path (it was so overgrown I had to crawl on sections), but once I got close to it I saw I would have to do some rock climbing with possible 200 foot falls and it was really windy, so I chickened out and headed back up.

I rode past the state park into town to do some shopping at Fred Meyers which was a really really gigantic superstore for being in such a small town as Brookings. After browsing for ages I told the cashier that the place was giant and she looked at me like I was crazy and said it wasn't big at all! The state park was really nice and decked out with all the amenities (if I had brought my RV I could have had a cable TV hookup!). At the campsite there were a total of seven touring cyclists, myself included.

Day 20 (Charleston - Port Orford 100km)

The say started off with rain. Dan and Caedmon got up as usual and packed up in the rain and headed off. I was feeling lazy and didn't want to deal with the rain and my wet laundry, which I had strung out on a line the night before. I told them I was taking the day off and they headed out. At aboutu noon the sun came out and dried my laundry and the day became really really nice, so I couldn't resist getting out there and riding. Plus since Dan and Caedmon had left at around 10am, they had a 4 hour head start on me, since I ended up leaving at 2pm, so I had a really hard goal to catch them up and get to camp at a reasonable hour.

This ended up being a great riding day, despite 2 redneck run-ins. The day started on Seven Devils road, named for the seven steep hills that go up and down along it. I was inspired on these hills and hammered over them as fast as I could, riding 25km for the first hour, and doing 40km in first hour and a half, all without any breaks; well except for two short ones: At the crests of one of the hills large vicious pitbull-like dog chased me and nearly took a chunk out of me; luckily it got my panniers instead. I had to juump off the bike a few times and start screaming at it. I was close to having to fight it or stab it or something but I managed to fend it off after it attacked me a second time. It's going to get run over any day if it keeps up like that. I guess the owners think its funny or something? Shortly after the hills ended I was riding along a quiet road when a pickup in front of me slammed its brakes and then quickly did a reverse burnout right towards me! He kept coming I had to scream at it to stop. The driver leaped out and said that he obviously saw me and wasn't going to run me over, and then told me to get the 'f' off the road. I told him to try to have a nice day and he said he was trying. Didn't really seem like it... What a dork.

I had a quick lunch of fish and chips in Bandon and then kept hammering the rest of the day, getting into camp at around 6pm, after a short grocery fun. Dan and Caedmon were nowhere to be found, so I shared a campsite with a couple that were on a really unique tandem bike.

Day 19 (Glenada - Charleston 105km)

All of today was spent going through the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which while spectacular, was ruined by the fact that it was Satuday so all the rednecks were out with trucks and ATVs to have some good ol' fun. Traffic was bad, shoulders were narrow and drivers in pickups really resented the fact I wasn't burning any gas. As such it was not a great riding day. Maybe if I rode it during the week it would have been better, but I pertty much wrote this day off as travel... At the campsite, which wasn't all that great, Dan, Caedmon and I rode to the Cape Arago lookout in the evening and saw a baby grey whale spouting mist next to the reef. There happened to be some whale enthusiast/tour guides watching the whales so they gave us a commentary on the whale and on the other marine mammals in the area. I got a chance to ride my bike without any of the bags on it, and boy is it fast!

Day 18 (Newport - Glenada 107km)

Today was pretty flat compared to the previous days, but I took numerous opportunities to take detours and check out the coastal sea stacks and marine critters. I started the day with Andreas, the severely overloaded swiss guy on his gap year and we went to climb some sandstone stacks which didn't agree with his already sore knees. The views were fantastic and we watched people sandboarding rather unsuccessfully.

I kind of outpaced Andreas on the way to the cape so he told me to go on and said I was a monster on the hills which was nice! I saw among other things, harbor seals, some carnivourous pitcher plants and went through the last tunnel of the trip. The tunnels were really pretty easy, even thouugh the guiude book made them sound terrifying (while not mentioning a thing about the harrowing Astoria bridge!) After the tunnel (which was half way up a big climb) there was a great descent with amazing sweeping views but I was too into speeding down the road to stop and take them in. The state park I camped at was really nice and I met up with Dan and Caedmon again for supper.

Day 17 (Netarts - Newport 102km)

Today was a super duper awesome riding day. Oregon really spoils touring cyclists. The day started off right away with the highest hill on the Oregon coast, and I powered all the way up it, strangely relishing the pain! The descent was screaming but I didn't manage to beat my max speed. I took a detour on the second major climb of the day after passing through beatiful pastures and then passed Dan and Caedmon as I was screaming down the second descent! I waited for them at the bottom chewing on beef jerky and drinking a questionable pear smoothie. There were two labradors that belonged to the espresso stands owner and one was just like Barley, streams of drool and all. At Lincoln city I had a great sushi lunch, and headed for the last major climb of the day. I'm really starting to enjoy these climbs!

Day 16 (Nehalem - Netarts 66km)

As I was saying, I met my first pair of real touring cyclists the night before. They are Dan and Caedmon, who have a blog at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/seattletoSF so check their page for their more complete postings and pictrues and stuff as they have a laptop and can take advantage of the wifi. I on the other hand, am having a very hard time finding internet access.

Dan and Caedmon left before me, but I soon caught up with them and sped off. This day was a great riding and I really enjoyed it, even though it was quite short. we met up and went to the Tillamook cheese factory, which made me like their cheese less, and not want to get a job there. My guide book talked of a scenic route that I wanted to take, but I ended up taking the high speed commuter route during rush hour by mistake... It was hard and not fun, but it was thankfully short! I missed the nice lighthouse and have heard good stories of the scenic route so I was kind of miffed...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day 15 (Astoria - Nehalem 77km)

I started the day late, sleeping in and watching TV until 11am to make the most of my motel stay, then went to the Astoria Maritime Museum to check out some naval history. The people here were really friendly and let me bring my bike into the janitor's room so my stuff wouldn't get ripped off. The museum was great and I liked the sections on local fishing trades, coast guard rescues, the history of the mighty columbia river mouth and the over 2000 ships that have wrecked trying to cross the treacherous bar, and the historical naval section focusing on Gray and Vanbcouver's exploits. Then I wandered into the modern US military naval section and got kind of agitated because it was just huge bombs with captions enthusiatically saying "Over 15,000 of these 40 inch high explosive shells were rained on Iraq during the gulf war. One was said to have turned a forest into a 900 foot helicopter landing zone!" Oh god... I found it pretty frightening, as well as the vaguely racist exposition on the Japanese-American naval campaign of World War 2.

I had a terrible chinese lunch and then rode south along some very beatiful road, up and down hills large steep hills, across bridges and through bucholic flood plain pastures with mountainous forest backdrops to a state park where I only had to pay 4 dollars to secure a campsite (Way less than what RVs pay this time!). There I met my first real pair of touring cyclists!

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Summary of Washington State

Washington state is very beautiful. If BC has wildflowers, Washington has WILD FLOWERS. If you know what I mean...They grow from eveything. The air is fresh and crisp and smells like cedars. But thats mostly because the logging industry is totally out of control and logging trucks with fresh cut old growth trees are constantly buzzing you.

In Washington people drive trucks of various sorts. It seems they either have a ton of money for gas, or are total idiots with their heads in the sand. Or both. Here are my impressions:
Pickup trucks - They are huge come in red, white and black. People seldom carry much in them, unless they are really old and beat up, in which case they are smaller models and overflowing.
SUVs- Those who don't drive pickups drive these. I saw an ad on TV "WANT A SEDAN FOR THE GAS MILEAGE? BUT WANT AN SUV FOR THE EXCITEMENT? GET A HYBRID SUV!" Oh great... I guess it is exciting having a rollover while making a shallow turn.
TruckUV's - I invented this term for the monster truck pickups that are always black, and always really shiny with the roof covering the truck bed. They have super offroad tires so you can hear them coming from a mile away.
RV's - RVing, by my preliminary estimations is at least 9000 times more popular than cycle touring, as I have seen probably more than 9000 RV's of various sizes, ranging from van size, to coach bus size, and only one other cycle tourist. I could count the number of other regular cyclists I have seen on my hands and all were children. Hooray for gas! Funnily enough I have seen tons of bikes attached to the backs of RV's and trucks, but more common is to tow an SUV or large pickup truck behind the RV. These people seem to have a lot of money, but not a cent of taste. So utterly tacky.

As you go south in Washington, the people become more trashy and RV's become more plentiful. If you visit Washington, stay north. All in all it was a great state, and despite getting rained on and buzzed by either agressive or inattentive loggers and small truck drivers, I really enjoyed it.

Day 14 (Long Beach - Astoria 39km)


I had planned this day as a rest day, and decided to ride across the state line into Astoria to do some R and R. My Bicycling the Pacific Coast book pretty much said it was across the street from Long Beach to Astoria. This guidebook, I am noticing, is increasingly inaccurate and cuts out crucial sections, and makes some areas seem much harder than they are, while omitting altogether the really hard sections. Anyways, what I thought would be a leisurely recovery ride from the day before, turned out to be a full on hammer fest.

Right out of the motel I was faced with a 2 mile long uphill construction zone and the impatient drivers who had been waiting for the lane to clear for 15 minutes with me barley gave me an inch of space as I ground up the grooved pavement. From there it was 15 or so kilometers to the Astoria bridge (the book totally cut out these miles... they were simply unaccounted for...). The bridge also didn't make any mention of the hellish death-ride that is the Astoria bridge. It is a 4.2 mile 2 lane road with 6 inch debris strewn shoulders, huge sidewinds and an average traffic speed of probably 65 miles an hour. A couple of miles into the bridge is a large steep hump to allow ships to pass through. I surveyed the bridge and decided it was crazy so I tried to hitch a ride across but nobody was stopping after 15 minutes, so I just said 'screw it' and rode it anyways. I hammered along at a steady 42km an hour (this is insanely fast for being fully loaded on flat ground), dodging puiles of glass, garbage and lost car parts whenever there wasn't a logging truck 6 inches from my ear. When there was traffic 6 inches from me I just had to ride through the crap and hope I didn't catch a flat, which thank god I didn't because it would have been an absolute nightmare repairing one on that bridge... Once the hump came up I grinded along at about 15km/h sweating like crazy and wheezing. Finally I crested the top but it still wasn't over so I had to hammer down at close to 60km/h trying not to hit anything too large.

Once I finally got off the bridge I had to spend 15 minutes collecting myself off the pavement and got a triple espresso to try to steel my nerves. I then dropped my bike off at a bike shop to get the wheels retensioned and enjoyed a mediocre Japanese lunch and explored the town of Astoria, including a fully crewed and operational replica brig that was on its way to the Pirate Daze festival in Westport.

I looked for a hostel or campground but none were to be found so I had to stay in a motel again, so I ate some take out mexican food and watched Legally Blonde, the feel good movie of the year. I have to admit that I laughed a couple of times but the epilogue was really overdone and spoiled it for me.

So much for a rest day huh?