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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 6

Waking up this morning, things were different then the before.  There was no rush to break down camp or preparation for breakfast.  There wasn't that quick jolt of anxiety of what today's ride had in store for me or how my body was going to cope.  The truth is this.  I decided to end my bike tour early.  With a combination of poor weather and being on a time crunch, I simply could not hold out the coming storm.  Feeling unsafe to carry on through the rain on a narrow and wet coastal road, I made a confirmation call to Brian at 7am to inform him of my decision.  With a sound of relief in his voice, Brian told me he would head out as soon as he could to pick me up.  I gave him directions to my campground, thanked him and hung up.  Making my decision, I felt both relief and sadness.  On one had, I knew that weathering the storm would be both unsafe and unfun, but on the other hand I felt a sense of failure and defeat.  I had to tell myself that this was my first tour and mistakes were bound to be made.  As I mentioned last post, I didn't allow any kind of time buffer.  Rather then feeling like I gave up, I decided that I had just made a noobie error and mother nature capitalized on my mistake. 

With everything decided, I started to reflect on the last five days of my bike tour and I began to feel content with myself.  My goal for this trip was mental clarity.  I wanted to feel unchained from the daily grind.  I wanted to feel the rush of uncertainty of what lay ahead.  I wanted to be in a place where my mind could wander, uninfluenced and drift to the greatest depths of conscious thought.  I hoped to meet new and exciting people and see things I wouldn't have otherwise.  Determining that nearly all of these goals had already been met,  I felt accomplished and not defeated.

So what other goal had I not yet met?  Well, during this trip, I was looking for that one eatery where I could satisfy my insatiable desire for a killer breakfast.  With opportunity knocking, I set out at 8am to find a cafe that would knock my socks off.  Cruising into town, there was a light fog layer still looming the streets.  Deciding a local would have the best idea of where to go, I eagerly awaited the first person I could ask.  Within minutes, I flagged down a middle aged man who looked like a police man off duty.  He had a big bushy mustache and neatly combed greying hair.  I politely asked him if he knew of a good place to get breakfast.  Responding to me as if it was rehearsed, he said "Dorn's" without hesitation.  Content in his confidence, I felt assured that this was going to be what I was looking for.  Within minutes, I was turning left onto Morro Bay blvd, and after a few blocks I could see my destination.  There it was, a well maintained white building with an excellent view of Morro Bay.  I chained my bike across the street, walked inside and sat at a table with a great view.  I knew I wanted a traditional breakfast with eggs, bacon and pancakes.  Looking at the menu, I just had to decide on what sides to order.  When the waitress came, I asked for 3 buttermilk pancakes, eggs over easy, bacon, the side of fresh blueberry muffins, and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.  Within 10 minutes, everything arrived looking and smelling like it came form the heavens.  With the appetite of a linebacker and the frame of an Ethiopian, I deconstructed my plate with ferocity and precision.  Leaving a plate free of food, I was absolutely content with my meal.  Again, feeling no rush for the day, I relaxed, enjoyed the view, drank my water and then payed my bill. 

With several hours before my rescue wagon was expected, I rode out to Morro rock and checked out the waves.  After spending some time there, I felt the need to buy a book.  After all, i now had several days to relax in my hometown before I flew back to Orange County. Back tracking through Main st, I found a small bookstore that wasn't open yet.  The sign said open at 10 am.  Seeing that it was 9:45, I sat down on a chair and waited.  Right at 10, a woman opened the doors and I was the first customer of the day.  Inside, the smell of new and used books filled the air.  For such a small store, there was an incredible selection.  From floor to ceiling, thousands of books had found a home.  As a fiction fan, I began my search.  A few books I grabbed included, Moby Dick, Andromeda Strain, and finally The Hunger Games.  I decided on The Hunger Games, paid the cashier, and then went back to camp.

Feeling too tired to read, I layed in my tent, closed my eyes and took a nice nap.  At about 12pm I got a call from my aunt to let me know that they were close by.  After we spoke, I broke down my campsite, loaded my panniers, and then rode to the park entrance to wait for my saints to arrive.  Not knowing what type of truck to expect, it became apparent when a white Chevy Silverado came creeping by the the campground entrance.  After passing the entrance, I knew it was them when the truck made a 3 point turn and came back towards me.  As they pulled up, I started getting those happy feeling when a relative you havn't seen in awhile comes into sight but you havn't spoken yet.  Making eye contact now, we were all smiling.  With the truck parked, Brian gets out with his big grin and we embrace with a strong manly hug.  By this time, my aunt Elva is waiting by the truck so I reach over and give her petite frame a gently but loving hug.  As some of my avid blog followers, Brian and Elva are pretty keen to my adventures.  We immediately began talking about the trip while Brian tied my bike down into the truck bed.




Rather then being a long dull ride home in the rain, there were jokes being told, laughter, and friendly banter between one another.  With everyone pretty hungry, we stopped in to In N Out in Atascadero to eat.  Although I insisted to pay for their meals, my offer was turned down like a child asking for candy in a grocery store.  Feeling already grateful for them picking me up, I was also treated to a delicious #1 with a strawberry milkshake.  After eating we continued our ride home with more laughs, and for the first time since traveling, I was able to share the unwritten details of my trip.  Before heading home, we made one more stop to gather dinner supplies.  While Brian was chatting on his phone, my aunt Elva decided to drive the rest of the way home.  As we were making a left turn my aunt gives the truck a bit too much throttle and send us into a nice fishtail causing me to grab the OH NO handle! With the skills of Danika Patrick, she makes a seamless recovery and keeps on going like nothing happened. Who's got a bad ass aunt? That's right , I do.

Making it safely to the house, my aunt Elva began preparing dinner while Brian gave me the grand tour of the property they live on. Never seeing their current residence, I was amazed at what I saw. Wearing work boots and high viz jackets, we set out for the grand tour. Sitting on top of a high mountain, they live on a 130 ish acre equestrian center. Though it was drizzly, and very foggy, Brian said on a " house seeing day," you can see the coast and golden gate bridge. As we continued, he showed me the many projects that he completed on the ranch. From creating drainage systems for horse paddocks to fixing the ranch equipment, Brian had done quite a lot during his free time for the landowners. It became quite apparent that he possesses quite a number of skills.

After the tour was over, we returned to the house just in time for dinner. Spaghetti with meat sauce, foccacia bread, salad with avocado, and wine all sat at the dinner table. After eating an amazing dinner, Brian reluctantly shared some of his savory cookies for dessert.

April 11th, 2012 marked the officiall completion of my first bike tour up the coast of California. I left April 5th from Laguna Beach and within five days I managed to ride for 313 miles through cities such as, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Carson, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Port Hueneme, Oxnard, Ventura, Dulah, Carpenteria, Summerland, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Lompoc, Orcutt, Guadalupe, Oceano, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and finally, Morro Bay. Unlike a car road trip, I became intimate with each town, and city. I interacted with their people, and I touched the land. I became aware of each cities smells, sounds and climates. I felt the cracks in the road, and worked hard for every downhill cruise. I became aware of what the human body is capable of by spending sometimes 8 hours in the saddle. With all of these things experienced and documented, I feel grateful for having this opportunity and to share it with you. I encourage anyone that likes to travel, to try a bike tour. It doesn't have to be extesive, and you don't even need to be in excellent shape. You will be surprised at what you will encounter.
With my tour at an end, I hope to continue sharing my experiences with you. Eventually, I will finish my tour where I left off and see the coast that I missed out on.

Sincerely,

Spinning Gear


 




Day 5

I woke up this morning feeling cold and stiff.  The 42 degree temperature inside my temp didn't seem to make things any better.  It was just after 6 am and I realized that I had to urinate like crazy.  Wrestling with the thought of having to get up in the frost covered morning to relieve myself, I ultimately gave into my bladders request for relief.  Emerging from my warm sanctuary, I unzipped my sleeping bag and felt a wave of cold air hit my body. For a moment I thought maybe I had made a wrong turn somewhere yesterday and ended up in Alaska.  Quickly, I put on my frozen shoes and exited my tent.  Looking around for a close place to pee, I saw zero sunlight in my immediate future and only grey skies.  I made my way to a treeline and began my business.  Immediately I felt the most welcoming sensation of relief followed by an intense smell of ammonia.  Yes, in cold weather your urine will create the most awful steam you can imagine.  Holding my breath, I finished my first accomplishment of the day.

Now being wide awake, I surveyed my morning situation.  Cold and foggy weather, wet tent, hungry, and mildly irritable.  Deciding a hot bowl of oatmeal was priority one, I boiled some water, and made breakfast.  After adding the last of my fresh blueberries to the mix, I took a morning stroll to wake my legs up and eat my breakfast.  A few minutes later I was breaking down camp and doing my best to get the morning dew off my tent.  For those of you who don't know this, a tent stowed wet will yield a mold rag the next time you want to go camping.  After spending nearly an hour and a half of getting ready for the road, I set off northbound with long johns, a t-shirt under my Sugoi jersey, arm warmers, rain pants, rain jacket, gloves, and a ski mask.  I was literally wearing every article of clothing I brought on my trip to stay warm.

Mother nature must have felt bad for me because once I reached Harris Ranch Rd just outside of Lompoc, the clouds disappeared and I was greeted with welcoming sun rays.  About a mile up the road, I decided I had to stop and strip down to my basic cycling layers.  Now with just my cycling shorts and jersey, I was heading up a beautiful back country road with rolling green hills and thick tree lines encroaching the pavement.  After a few miles of a steady climb, I finally reached the mountain's peak.  Seeing a vista point turnoff, I took it and got off my bike.  Looking south I could see for miles.  It finally dawned on me just how far I had traveled in the past few days.  With well over 200 miles on my bike computer,  I could finally quantify how far that was.  Even with my view, I figured I could only see a half days worth of riding!

Back on the bike and heading downhill, I was moving at a cars pace.  With an enormous wind in my face, I squinted my eyes to keep the tears from developing.  With the road finally leveling off, I coasted my way out of the hillside and into a vast valley filled with various crops including bright red strawberries.  Taking in that familiar aroma of sweetness, I cycled on until I hit Hwy 135.  For several miles, I rode on the shoulder of an empty highway until I connected with my old familiar friend, Hwy 1.  During this particular stretch of Hwy 1,  the road was a roughly paved tarmac that traveled pencil straight as far as the eye could see.  In both directions, I could only see straight road that carried on to infinite.  With no cars in sight, it felt eerie being the only soul for miles.  I realized that this was a rare opportunity so I layed in the middle of the road and took some photos.



Entering Gaudalupe, I saw vast farmlands, rolling hills of yellow flowers and succulents with purple flowers in bloom.  Once in the heart of Guadalupe, a town of 5,659, I saw nothing but old buildings that were mostly vacant.  Now hungry, my stomach was challenging me to find a decent place to eat.  With nothing looking halfway decent, I decided to ask a local for a recommendation.  Seeing a well weathered and tanned skinned woman, I hesitantly approached her.  Wearing a shredded sweatshirt, and old blue jeans, she looked like she came right out of Mad Max starring Mel Gibson.  Speaking perfect English, she said i should visit the King Felafel.  "It's clean, has decent food, and is relatively cheap," she said.  After thanking her, I slapped myself for judging someone based on appearance and took her recommendation.  After having a decent lunch, I was looking forward to getting out of Guadalupe.



By now, the wind was picking up and I was becoming cold again.  I changed back to some warmer clothes and continued on Hwy 1.  Nearing Oceano, my spirit was fading, I was cold, and I just felt low on energy.  With my good fortune with fruit stands in the past, I decided to load up on some needed sugars.  I pulled into an elaborate fruit and veggie stand just near Halcyon rd and Hwy 1.  Inside was all sorts of produce and snacks.  I went for a softball size naval orange which happened to be locally grown.  Upon checking out I also grabbed a handful of those little straws filled with flavored honey.  On the corner of the fruit stand, I peeled my mighty orange and gobbled it down.  To my surprise, that one orange filled my stomach completely!

It took a minute to psyche myself into riding again, but I remembered that I would soon be entering Pismo Beach, and San Luis Obispo.  For those who don't know me, I used to live in San Luis Obispo and I worked at a restaurant in Pismo Beach.  While living there, I had the time of my life.  If you ever happen to be in the area, I recommend you stop and smell the roses.  Now that I was getting excited to see my old home, I started my pedaling journey once more.  After cruising through Oceano, which is know for their massive sand dunes, I made it to Pismo Beach. 

The first thing I wanted to do in Pismo was see if my old boss was still working at the Sea Venture Restaurant and Hotel .  The Sea Venture is a really nice beachfront hotel and restaurant that serves appetizers, dinner, and offers room service to hotel guests.  While working there, I always enjoyed the sunsets, and the employees were exceptionally friendly and fun to work with.  Unfortunately when I got there, I was too early.  Although my old boss still works there, he wasn't in yet.  Disappointed, I returned to my bike and continued on through downtown Pismo Beach where I passed the pier and rode by a familiar cafe sensation called the Splash Cafe.



Following my Adventure Cycling Association map, I turned onto Price Canyon rd and set out towards San Luis Obispo.  By now I thought I'd be used to scenic back country roads with rolling hills and panoramic views.  However, I was still amazed as if it was my first day.  As I was riding along the snaking road, I caught a a glimpse of what looked like another touring cyclist.  I could only make out a rider wearing an unbuttoned green flannel.  With tanned bulging calves, I could see he was carrying an overloaded bike trailer with knick knacks galore.  As I closed the gap, I realized this man was looking pretty grungy.  Upon passing, the man was trudging along with a tiny little chihuahua in a handlebar basket. I said hello and asked if he was touring. "No, I'm just homeless" he replied.  "I'm heading up to camp for the night."  I smiled, expressed my understanding and then asked for the dogs name.  "Tricksy," he responded.  "She my little companion."  He then asked where I was heading and I replied, "I riding up to San Francisco!"  He smiled, showing a set of worn teeth and said "enjoy your tour and safe travels!"  Thanking the man and wishing him luck, I picked up my pace and carried on into San Luis Obispo.

Once I entered San Luis Obispo, a nostalgic feeling consumed me and I got goosebumps.  Passing familiar buildings and recognizing street names, a whole slew of fond memories passed before me.  As I passed by Firestone Grill on Higuera st, I had to stop in for old time sake.  Eating there many times before with good friends, I knew to expect awesome food.  I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and a soda and then I found a spot to sit in the sun.  Minutes later, I was making history of my food and I found myself stuffed and blissfully satisfied.  Taking a moment to digest, I watched the other customers eat their food and I became jealous.  Jealous of the fact that they were living in this wonderful place, and eating this wonderful food. 



After my tummy felt settled, I knew I had to keep moving.  Earlier this morning I received a message from my friend who I was planning on staying with for the night.  Apparently, there was a family emergency and as a result, she would not be home for the night.  After determining a plan b, I knew I had a 75 mile day to work in.  With another 15 miles to Morro Bay State Park campground, I made haste.

At around 5:15 pm, I reached my campsite at Morro Bay State Park.  Located off Main st and just tucked behind Morro Bay, lay a beautiful campground surrounded by Eucalyptus trees and a golf course.  After paying $5 for a hike and bike spot, I found my site.  #136 was located just near the golf course well withing the treeline of the giant Eucalyptus.  As I was setting up my tent, a fellow bike tourer came over and we began talking.  Throughout the night I discovered his name was John Comstock. John was an engineer and he was putting the final touches on a book he finished writing called Bicycling and Touring the Big Sur Coast.  Talking to John, I knew his book would be great because his knowledge of the coastline was immense.  He told me he started his tour in Ventura, CA and worked his way into San Simeon when the weather took a change for the worse.  He told me of the weather forecast and that it was expected to rain for 2 strait days, then no rain, then rain again.  He decided to back track into Morro Bay to "wait out the storm."  Expressing my concern for the weather change, he suggested I should at most ride into San Simeon and "hunker down" for two days then ride to Plaskett, CA and "hunker down" for another day.  With road washouts and rock slides not uncommon, other hazards included, a narrow shoulder and cars loosing control on the road.  For the first time, I was seriously concerned for my safety.  With a wave of nervousness passing over me, I took a walk to "brainstorm" a plan. 



Being my first bike tour, I didn't exactly incorporate any time buffer to allow for problems such as weather, fatigue, or any other unforeseen event.  Sitting by the bay, i was watching the sunset and pondering my options when I received a phone call.  It was Brian, my aunts boyfriend.  I was scheduled to stay the night with them when i reached Half Moon Bay on the 13th.  When I answered, a concerned voice asked me how my trip was going.  "Have you seen the weather forecast lately?"  I told Brian that I had just became aware of the weather changes and I was deciding if I should press on.  Showing greater concern for my safety, Brian without hesitation offered to pick me up in Morro Bay.  I replied, "Brian, that like 4 hours away!  I possibly can't ask you to drive that far!"  He replied, "man, I drive for a living, that nothing.  I'm worried about you. It's no big deal to get you."  I told Brian that I appreciated the offer and I would let him know early next morning of my decision.  Feeling fairly sure my trip was coming to an end due to poor weather and novice planning, I ate my freeze dried dinner and decided to go to bed.

A few words of advice from one who's experiencing a setback during a bike tour.  Don't set your plans in concrete.  Things come up.  You may enjoy a town so much you will want to stay longer.  Or, you may be tired and want a days rest.  Perhaps your bike breaks and you need a day to gather parts and make the repairs.  Whatever the circumstances are, allow your plans to be flexible.  I put myself into a time crunch because I didn't think I would need rest. I booked a flight just a few days after my arrival to SF and that made me rush the trip.

Sincerely,

Spinning Gear






Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 4

A good nights sleep is something that is seriously taken advantage of.  There is nothing quite like tucking into warm, fresh sheets and being able to doze off effortlessly into a blissful rest.  This is exactly what happen last night.  Frankly, I don't remember much after laying down on Jill's wonderful couch but that's because I fell asleep like a baby.  Jill, if you read this, thanks a million for your hospitality and great advice.  Your directions and detailed descriptions of what I was to expect for today was SPOT ON!

Anyhow, waking around 8:30 am I was able to prepare a bowl of Trader Joe's cinnamon and spice oatmeal and share a cup of delicious coffee with my host Jill.  I learned of the many people from around the world who have stayed at Jill's place and she told me of her desire to travel in the near future.  After breakfast, I prepared my gear, and loaded my bike in anticipation of a 64 mile trek to Lompoc, CA.  After my bike was set up, I took a few photos with my host and then I began my day on the road.


Leaving Santa Barbara I had mixed emotions.  On one hand, I wanted to stay in SB and soak up the beautiful scenery, look at the gorgeous women, and just relax.  On the the other hand, the adventurer in me was looking forward to uncharted territories and new experiences.  It didn't take long for my body to dial itself in.  As my cold muscles began to warm up and generate that familiar burn, my heart started to beat like an uptempo song like "Whip it" by Devo.  With my body fully awake, I began to wonder what a day on a major highway was going to be like.  With no other travel roads, Hwy 1 and 101 were the only routes to work my way into Lompoc.  I wondered if traffic was going to be heavy on this Easter Sunday and I was also concerned about the cars roaring past me going nearly 5 times as fast as me!  I only hoped for a generous shoulder and good scenery to keep me occupied.  To my pleasant surprise, not only was the shoulder abundant but the weather was great, the scenery breathtaking and my music playlist was being shuffled with the most appropriate tunes.

Around 11am my body was reminding me it was in charge.  My stomach was empty and I needed fuel.  I just so happened to be near Refugio State Beach, so I stopped in for a break.  Cycling into the beach, I saw a generous campground, general store and a nice stream running into the ocean.  The parking lot was full and families were gathering for the special Sunday.  With a wonderful aroma of bbq smoke in the air, I quickly found a spot near a palm tree where the grass met the sand.  4 days into the trip I was getting better at picking what foods to bring along.  I sat down to a nice lunch of sourdough bread, fresh kiwi, delicious dates and an oozing orange.  After washing lunch down with some cold water from a faucet, I decided to make haste and get back to pedaling.  After minutes of riding, my body was not just whispering, but shouting, "you shouldn't a done dat!"  Feeling like little Mike Tyson's were using my stomach as a punching bag, I decided to keep going and "work it off."  Thankfully it did.


Just after passing a town called Gaviota, Hwy 101 intersected Hwy 1.  This was my turnoff.  Now heading on "the 1" I was realizing I was going towards a great deal of very large mountains (little did I know I was facing the largest climb of my trip).  With the temp rising in the low 80's I found myself in the lowest gear settings progressing up this "monster" with everything I had.  With a grin on my face and music in my ears, I pressed on for what seemed like eternity.  Every few minutes I found myself pushing the gear selectors with some hope that I had missed a lower gear and thinking that just maybe if I push hard enough I would miraculously find one.  Finding no such luck, I carried on to the top of the hill and to what seemed like the top of the world.  Now at the peak, I stopped to relish in my victory with a liberal application of sunscreen, water and a handful of dates.  Being content with a few photos and some video, I tore down the mountain with speed, pride, and a healthy wind in my face.  For miles I coasted down like a long roller coaster ride taking in the landscape of rolling hills of green grass, golden poppies and the occasional rustic barn.

Before I knew it, I was entering my destination, Lompoc.  A town of 41,000 and mostly agriculture and flowers,  Lompoc is a unique town that incorporates simplicity and beauty but nothing that would draw a major crowd.  Feeling high on energy and having several hours of daylight left, I decided to explore the area.  To my excitement, I learned of a mission nearby my campsite.  "La Purisima Mission," as it turns out, it is a grand place for one who enjoys the history of California.  I spent a good amount of time awing at the massive structure that was built by hand with basic hand tools.  I also got to learn how the missionaries and natives lived and thrived off the land.  Nearing the end of my tour of the mission, I caught a glimpse of something that was unrelated but equally impressive.  In a large livestock pin, there was a single, fully grown longhorn bull that would put any man into panic mode should he meet the business end of this thing.  In the very same pin was a frail old woman who was signaling for the bulls attention.  My first reaction was " oh god what is this crazy woman doing in this pin with a bull!"  Right then, this long horned giant begins to run full steam ahead to our dear old friend.  With the calmness of a cat sunbathing in a window sill, she lifts her hand to signal "stop."  To my amazement, the bull comes to an immediate halt no more then 5 feet from our dear old grandma!  To reward Ferdinan the bull for his obedience, grandma puts out a handfull of grass and feeds the well trained creature.


After my trip to La Purisima Mission, I rode back to River Park campground.  I set up my tent, ate a mediocre meal of freeze dried lasagna and had a desert of twinkies and fresh blueberries.  Tired from the days ride, I settled into my sleeping bag just after sundown and hoped for a good nights sleep and an even better ride for Monday.

As always, thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoy my literary representation of my journey and may it encourage you to do the same.

Sincerely,

Spinning Gear

  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Day 3

Well it's 10:30pm and I'm exhausted.  Today was the best day on the road so far but I'm affraid this will be a short post.  I left Point Mugu at 8:15am to get an early start.  My day called for at least 65 miles of riding into Santa Barbara and I really wanted to be able to have time to make stops along the way and contend with the infamous headwind.  As it turned out, being an early riser helped me avoid a headwind for a little while and kept me out of the direct sun for a good 20 miles. 

Leaving Point Mugu, my first city I passed thru was Oxnard.  Oxnard, as it turns out, is all agriculture.  When I turned onto Port Hueneme rd, I had strawberry and sod fields for miles.  With sprinklers blasting, I was greated with rainbows and a nice light mist to keep me cool as I cruised down a strait and dirty road.  As I was riding along I got this sense that this would be what a lot of Mexico would be like.  Being used to seeing all ocean, it was great to see fields of green and smell ripe strawberries for miles.  Of course this made me hungry, but guess what? There were fruit stands everwhere! I stopped at a stand and saw big luscious red strawberries and heavy golden oranges.  After selecting a banana, plum, orange and apple, I go to pay the man.  Any takers on how much I paid? Try one whole dollar.  I didn't think I heard right but sure enough...  Leaving with a bag of treats and a grin on my face, I began to ride and chomp down on a juicy apple as I continued on. 

Fast forward to Sunnyland, just south of Santa Barbara. I'm riding along and I see an enchanting building with a large ancient entrance.  There are stone buddah figures and succulents as well as a swing chair in the yard.  I don't know what it was but I felt somthing pull me inside.  Let me just say wow, I was blown away by what this store had done.  Inside there were imports from all parts of Asia and outside was an enhanting garden with bamboo succulents and a stream running through.  Rather then explain it, you really ought to check it out.  The place was called a Sacred Space in Sunnyland. 

When I made it into Santa Barbara it was only around 3pm.  I made my way onto and explored Stearns Wharf, basically a pier with shops on the end.  When I got to the end, I took my shirt off to catch some sun, and doubled back to the bike path.  Negotiating past other tourists on rented 4 wheel bike monstrosities, I noticed a group of ukulele players practicing near a shop.  When I stopped to watch, I grabbed a scoop of strawberry ice cream, listened to some live music and then left.  I took state st, the main drag, and slowly worked my way up and down to kill time until my host Jill was available.  After 5pm I made my way to her place, got settled in and went to Trader Joes to get some breakfast and dinner supplies. 

As I said, today was just a really overwhelmingly wonderful day.  Great weather, and great scenery made for the best day yet,  My energy was high and stayed that way the whole ride. 

Tomorrow, I work my way up into Lompoc where I will camp again.  We will see what that day has in store for me.

Until then...

-Spinning Gear     

Day 2

As it turns out, sleeping in a sailboat has its caveats.  From the wind tossing the boat into the dock to the ropes slapping the 53 year old wood siding, it certainly made for a noisy night.  After awaking at around 9:30am, I began collecting my things and got myself psyched out for another day in the saddle.  With nothing planned or prepared for breakfast, it was a pleasure have my "boat host" offer me a fresh bagel to eat.  Like a ravenous wolf, I downed the bagel with delight.  My appetite has certainly gone from "eats a lot" to "human garbage disposal".  After the 2 minutes of consuming that poor little bagel, Mike gave me a few recommendations for travel, we shook hands and I left. 

I was off again.  Day 1 a piece of history, and day 2 a new beginning.  Nothing quite like being out of the reach of your comfort zone if something goes wrong.  Just you, your bike and what you have between the ears.  It really is quite exhilarating to be on a journey where no one can help but no one can impeed in your decisions. 

Not long after my departure, I entered the city of Santa Monica.  Following my map, I head northbound on a bike path right on the ocean. Cruising through Santa Monica State Beach I see peddlers setting up their spots on the street.  Already, the walkway is lined with people of all walks of life.  I snap a few photos and keep on a truckin' until I reach 3rd st Promenade.  As I'm cycling up the Promenade, a city employee flags me down.  I almost keep going because I think he's trying to sell me something but I see his city shirt and stop.  He politely  informs me that I cannot ride my bike on the Promenade and I ablige.  Seeing my gear, he asks me questions about my trip, introduces himself as Thomas and as we chat he suggests that I check out the Bikerowave.  When I hear this my jaw drops because Mike, my "boat host" just volunteered there the night I stayed at his place!  When I tell Thomas about Mike we both laugh and says "of course I know Mike!"  What a small world huh?  We chat a bit more, shake hands and I continue on by foot until I'm on a regualr street.  After about 16 miles I enter Malibu and I begin to see vollyball players teaming the sand, expensive Bentleys cruising the streets and shops everwhere.  Around 11am, I decide to stop for an early lunch at a pizza parlor and go for 2 slices of greasy pepperoni.  Rather then waiting to digest, I hop on the bike and keep a truckin'.  As I reach the north end of Malibu I come across Neptunes Net.  For some reason this looks wildly familiar.  As I contemplate what movie I've seen this place in, I stock up on water, snap a photo and keep on keepin' on. 

After battling a nasty headwind and rolling hills, I reach Point Mugu Campground around 3:30pm.  I pay $7 and quickly find a spot in the hiker biker section.  After I set up camp and tour my surroundings, I being talking to my neighbor.  As it turns out, the gentlemans name is Russell and he is on a journey of his own.  Weighing in around 370 lbs, he decided he needed to take drastic measures to loose the weight.  His plan, as it turns out, is to hike 2800 miles over the course of five months!  With a pack of about 100 lbs of gear and eating only trailmix (for the time being), he treks up and down the Pacific Coast Highway on foot everyday!  If you get a chance, check out his YouTube vlog at youtube.com/user/weightlossruss/videos.  After sharing a fire and trading several stories, we check in for the night. 

All in all, Day 2 was a tought but rewarding day.  I got to meet a truly unique and interesting person, run into a stranger with a mutual acquaintance and I was able to camp for the first time in months!  I fought headwinds and hills, but saw many memorable things along the way.  Ahh... life is good.

Until next time

-Spinning Gear 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

First day on the road


Well tonight concludes the first leg of my bike tour.  After waking up this morning, I was more excited then I have been in quite awhile.  I was also pretty nervous to be honest.  However, once I was on my bike and I began to pedal, all the worry left me.  I realized that I was in my element and I pretty much had everything covered. To my amazement, I was treated to a wonderful tailwind for a good portion of the ride.  It wasn't until I reached north Long Beach that I had to go head to head with mother nature.  Let me tell you, from a head on view she's pretty ugly.  Luckily my direction changed more northbound and that headwind became a mere push on my left shoulder.  The big highlight today was the Redondo Beach Pier.  I was pleasantly surprised with an array of neat shops, beautiful waves, and nice architecture integrated into the pier.  Overall though, riding virtually right near the beach was quite a pleasant experience.

Tonight I will be staying in Marina Del Ray on a boat that belongs to my host that I found on warmshowers.com.  His name is Mike Roddy and he is a very welcoming, friendly and intelligent individual.  When I arrived, He gave me a tour, showed me where to find the showers, explained where I can shop (after he offered me his pantry of food), gave me a key to the boat and left to volunteer at a bike shop.  Wow! What a nice and trusting guy huh?  Before he left, he shared a story about his big tour from Virgina to San Diego with a group of friends.  Apparently it took 2 months and a few riders dropped out along the way.  During their ride, they met and rode with another tourer from Germany and stayed with strangers they met during their ride!

Tomorrow, I will be making a short trip from Venice Beach to Point Mugu campground in Malibu.  It's approximately 37 miles and I have no idea what to expect from the campsites.  Hopefully I can find something with an ocean view but more importantly, I hope for clear skies to do some star gazing! 

I'm pretty exhausted so excuse me while I tuck in for the night.

Take care and catch you next time

Sincerely, Spinning Gear

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Prepping for a Journey

For some, life is about trying new things.  It's about taking yourself out of your comfort zone in search of something fresh and new.  Our objectives may be to visit a new place, meet new people, try new food, or just do something that tests our mental, moral, and physical capabilities.  It is the latter 3  reasons that drives me to do things that are new and foreign.  I believe that by extending beyond our comfort zones, we can explore and discover new things about this great world and ultimately ourselves.  

I recently realized that I have been spending an ever increasing amount of time and showing progressively more interest in what is called "Bicycle Touring".  Bicycle Touring which can be defined as "cycling over long distances – prioritizing pleasure and endurance over utility or speed", is not a new activity.  In fact, when bicycles and touring were still fairly new,  a man named John Foster Fraser and two friends set off round the world on safety bicycles in July 1896. He, Edward Lunn and F. H. Lowe rode 19,237 miles, through 17 countries, in 2 years and 2 months.  Discovering that people were making journeys of this magnitude before today's technology, I found few reasons to not conduct an adventure of my own.  While doing my research, I found many valuable resources such as http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/ and http://www.adventurecycling.org/. Both sources contained a plethora of excellent information about anything and everything related to bike touring.  If you ever want to consider bike touring or just want to learn more about it, I implore you to visit these wonderful sites.

So, my mind is made up.  I'm going to start a bike tour.  Ummmm..... but where and when?  Realizing that I am going to do this solo and with little money, I decided I have to stay fairly local.  After considering the location of my network of family and friends, I thought that touring a portion of the California coast line would be perfect.  I have lived in California my whole life, been to a decent portion of coastline, but have never really seen the coast in all it's vast glory.  I plan to travel from Laguna Beach to San Francisco in 9 days.  During the night I will either camp, or be a guest in someones home.  I found a truly magnificent website called http://www.warmshowers.org/ that basically acts as a portal for all sorts of cycling enthusiasts to offer their homes as a place of rest for people traveling by bike.  During the day, I will navigate using the 3 cycling specific maps I purchased from http://www.adventurecycling.org/.   At the end of my trip, I will dismantle my bike, check it in at the airport, and fly home.

With my plan coming along, I have become increasingly anxious, nervous, doubtful and excited.  All of these thoughts and emotions are racing through my head.  The "what if's" are poisoning my reason, causing me to question my motive, preparedness, and physical fitness.  I sense doubt and negativity from some, and encouragement from others.  As I write this, I realize this is all part of the adventure.  I'm already being tested, learning how to cope and overcome fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of failure.  Fear of letting myself down.  Yet, this IS what I look for in adventures.  To see how far I can push myself.  I must believe, have hope and self confidence.  After all, where would the sense of accomplishment be if I chose to ride my bike down the street?  It's amazing to me that so many people are held back by fear.  Fear, this invisible set of shackles, binds us to the mundane.  Someone may love to sing but be fearful of singing in public.  Someone may love the ocean but be fearful of water.  Fear is ironic is it not?  Once I get into that metaphorical roller coaster and latch down the restraints, I will have no choice but to to enjoy the ride.  My fears will transform into excitement and I will embrace the moment, because that's what it's all about.

I know that we are all put to the test.  Sometimes it's a choice, but other times it's not.  Either way, embrace it, take action and learn from it.  Why else are we here?  Whether your life test comes in the form of a vacation, a miserable job, or a relationship, it's our ability to learn and persevere that make us who we are.  

For now, I chose vacation.

Sincerely, Spinning Gear