It’s Been Awhile

I have not blogged about my bike adventures since my solo month long 2000 miles down the Pacific coast the summer of 2011. Since, I have been on 3 more bike tours. Albeit not as long as my first, they were just as transforming. This past October I was able to finish the small section of the Pacific coast that I had yet to bike.  With that said, crossing off my list that I biked every inch of the Pacific coast from close to Whistler BC down to Tijuana, means nothing to me. I thought I would feel more accomplished about it. But what means the most to me are the people that I met along the way, the stories that these strangers shared with me and that I was able to share with them. And even more, were the indisputable lessons that I learned along the way. Continue reading

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SAN FRAN!!!

July 3rd-4th-SAN FRANSISCO!

Today I made it to San Fransisco. The man that could have killed me, and I, went to the bike shop first thing in the morning. We got my accordion-ed bike figured out and he dropped me off at the ferry to go over to San Fran. He was a nice enough guy and did take responsibility for his actions. He commented that I was ‘the best victim’ and didnt understand how I could be ‘so cool about it’. The thing is, I didn’t get hurt. My bike did though, but he took care of that. It happened on the end of my trip. I realized here that I do have an extremely forgiving nature, but not to a fault because if he wouldn’t have repaired what he did wrong, I would still be cussing his name out today. But people do wrong things, but its what they do when they realize their wrong-doings, that makes the difference.

BUT then, he had to be a typical man and ruin my perception of his genuineness with “I know it’s not really possible, but you are someone that I would like to date”. Alright buddy, thanks for the ride to the ferry……

I got to San Fran and called the guy I met in Oregon. I really didn’t want to deal with him but I was tired and getting a little sore. I wanted a bed, and an actual place–not a hostel. I wanted my bike to get fixed. He came and got me and we went to his apartment in west oakland.

He had to do that to get my front tire off…….

San Fran was fun. I had never been there before. My bike was fixed so I could ride it around town. My friend Kathi from stl happened to be there so we did the Golden Gate Bridge and Chinatown. Afterwards, she went back with her family and I biked all night, all over. Some of those San Fran hills!!!! Woah!!! I thought I was going to tip over backwards. Steep!!!

For the 4th of July, I went to this crazy party of this artist in Oakland. Very eclectic group of people, very cool though. I don’t know how to explain the people I met, but they were the kind of people that I could be around for a long time.

the day after the party I realized my journey was coming to an end. I couldn’t believe I had to fly out the next day. This sucked! 2000 miles and some change…and I am still alive! and my bike is in one piece, mostly. What I would do to bike down to Baja with The Birds for the next month….or two months….or…….

At this point I had no idea how I would feel in the coming months. I’ve been a nomad the last 35 days & it was wonderful in so many ways. There were still those moments of reality when I crumbled because no matter where I was, what beautiful scenery I was surrounded by, the fact was my mom was still dead. And no matter where I went or what I did, that thought rippled through my body

And then I got hit by a car….

July 1-38 miles MacKerricher State Park-The coast highway where I got hit by a car

Route-www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5126263

I didn’t leave Fort Bragg for awhile. I charged up in town and spent some time wandering around. There were lots of people in town because of the World’s Largest Salmon BBQ. I left town about 4pm.

I don’t really remember the first 37.2 miles of this ride well. I know that it was very pretty along the coast. I know that HWY 1 is a very windy road with no shoulder. I know that in Mendocino County, at some point, pictured below, about 150 miles north of San Fransisco, a car hit me and I flew off my bike and tumbled down the coast cliff.

Basically it turned out that I was fine and the guy was really nice. He was making a sharp turn (the turn right before the pictured car) and looked down to put his windshield wipers on and realized he hit something. He didnt realize it was a person until he saw my head pop up over the cliff. He ran down to me and freaked. I was fine though. I told him not to call 911, that I was fine. I was basically in shock. I looked at my bike and was pissed about that-the front tire looked like an accordion. He offered to put me up in a hotel for the night because no bike shops were in the area or would be open when we got to one. But if I did hit my head and don’t remember, and I was throwing up all night-he was going to be taking care of me. We put my bike in his car and went to his house, which was actually in Gualala, CA. I texted my friend his license plates number and said “if you don’t hear from me in 4 hours, call the police and this is who has me!”

Back porch view of the house of the guy that hit me

I walked into the house, which was on the ocean, and I said to him, ‘you built this house, didn’t you?’. If I was going to get hit by a guy–this was the guy. 55ish years old, ex-cyclist, stopped cycling because he was on adjuvant chemotherapy for resected colon cancer, worked for the parks department in cali., not married but had a girlfriend that lived in santa monica. We got food and then I basically went to bed. In the morning we were going to go to the bike shop to see the damage on my poor bike.

I think I died-The hills before and after Leggett, CA

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June 1st-71 miles-Garberville, CA to MacKerricher State Park

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I woke up in the hotel room and maybe had the best breakfast of my life. I also took advantage of the pool and hot tub. I left the comforts of the conventional world and I was on my way. I did not really look at what my route was going to be but I eventually found out. These were the biggest hills I have climbed with my gear on ever. It probably compares to Hurricane Ridge in Washington but I got to leave my gear at the bottom of the hill on that ride.

There were many ups and downs but elevation gain/loss only about 750 ft at a time. But in the middle of those hills were 2 GIGANTIC hills. However, I only knew about one. The first big hill is a little over 5 miles and about 2000 ft in elevation gain. Motorcycles passed me and was like ‘You are ALMOST done!’. Well, they were sort of right as there soon was a 1000ft decline. I was feeling good. Then it started climbing, and this next hill was only 2 miles BUT a 2000 ft elevation gain. Then there were more “little” hills. I literally thought I was going to die. The issue was, I had no water. I did not realize the intensity of these hills and I didn’t know the whole way would be deserted of any civilization. When I was done biking through these hills and was riding along the coast, I flagged down a mini-van that was stopping to take pictures and asked if they had any water. They did. I was saved.

Before I got to the horrible hills, this was hanging out on the side of road. Not exactly sure why

It was only about 20 more miles and relatively flat. I ended up stopping at MacKerricher State Park and camped. Paid my $5-only the 2nd time I paid for camping-and set up camp.

I decided to bike the 3 miles into town and explore it. It was very nice AND the World’s Largest Salmon BBQ was going on. I tried out North Coast Brewery and a couple of other places and then it was time for me to head back and go to sleep……

Garberville, CA–the real Weeds

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June 30th- 93 miles Eureka, CA-Garberville, CA

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My new friends had to work in the morning (oh yeah, people still do that work thing) so they drove me to the middle of town and i had breakfast at this co-op grocery store. I realized I forgot my debit card at the bar from the night before. It was 9am, the bar was not open. I biked around town a bit, found an awesome bike store that had a major clearance on bike gear. I went a little nuts. Then I found a post office to ship that stuff back to st. louis…..

At 11:30am I went to the bar, the Shanty, and knocked on the door. and kept knocking. Someone finally said, ‘Who is it?’.  ‘Um, I think I left my card there last night but I am not sure, can you check?’. She asked me my name and told me she had it but couldn’t give it to me because they were closed and she was not allowed to open the door when they are closed. I went into the fact I was biking down the coast and I couldn’t wait until 2…..we went back and forth and finally, she opened the door and said fine, it is $5 (I was sort of amazed bc I always had a drink, or two, in my hand….). When I replied with ‘I have no cash’, she said the credit card machine isn’t on yet. ‘Do you have an ATM?’ ‘Yes but I can’t let you in’. I said to her frantically. ‘Will you just take out the money yourself, my pin is ****.’ She was like ‘um, you know what?, just take your card, go ahead. go. just go. its fine.’ She was very happy to get rid of me.

Today was one of the pretty rides I have been on. I went through the Redwoods on the Avenue of the Giants Road. Rode literally through the Redwoods.  I rode all afternoon, evening and into the night. I was at a point where it was 11:30pm and the next campsite was 20 miles away but there was this town, Garberville, with a town park. I figured I would just cowboy it. But when I rolled into town, the first thing I saw was 5 homeless people sitting on the sidewalk outside a bar. Things like that don’t normally bother me as many of you know, but there was something eerie here. This was the first time that I actually felt sort of scared since I have been on this trip-actually worried about where I would be sleeping tonight. It was clear there was a large population of homeless people in this town, that apparently slept ‘down by the river’ so I thought I better get on their good side. I bought them coffee and got the low down on the town.

I ended up going into the bar they were sitting outside of and when I walked in, the bartender said to me that I should bring my bike in. I made friends with the bartender and others sitting at the bar. I inquired about places I could set up camp. No one thought it was a good idea for me to go ‘down to the river’ by myself and camp. I wasn’t too worried about it though, I would figure it out. The band started. A mom and dad came in the bar that were visiting their kids & new grandkids. Kids & grandkids were asleep so mom & dad came to buy drinks for themselves and everyone else at the bar. I have not had that many shots since college. wow.

I continued to make friends with bartender and she finally hooked me up with a hotel room across the street. I was like what? Something about her cousin owning an electric company that was doing contract work here so all the workers were staying at that hotel, but there were many rooms open. I was in. Slept in a VERY comfortable bed. Had a good shower. Good snacks. And found out about this crazy crazy marijuana town. It was a little unreal and I felt like I was in an episode of Weeds.

Happy Birthday Mom!

June 29th-Aracta, Ca-Eureka CA

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Happy Birthday Mom! Today is my mom’s 65th birthday. It was good knowing that her kids were doing what she loved to do-travel. My sister was driving to Montana and I think actually at MT Rushmore today. My brother Matt and his family were in Disney World. And Mark, well, Mark, who knows what he was doing but probably something ridiculous.

I decided that I was not going to make LA for sure and just keep spending more time in these great coastal towns. I literally biked 10 miles today. I did not leave the hotel until about 3pm. There were a couple of good breweries along the way. Humboldt Brews, Red Curtain Brewing (where the first person I met there was from St. Louis county).

When I was biking through a residential area I heard The Stones coming from this interesting looking house with 2 interesting looking people on the front porch. They flagged me down and I decided, why not? The place was sort of creepy, but pretty cool people. After I had my counterculture dose, I was off to Eureka.

When I got to Eureka, I loved the town. Such a cute town. Walked around all the shops, talked to locals, tried to go to Lost Coast Brewery but it was closing so I found a bar called the Shanty. It was the greatest hole in the wall. Really cool people. I had a blast. I couch crashed on my new friends’ couch.

Redwoods, Patrick’s Point & Arcata

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June 28th- 62 miles-Redwood National Forest-Arcata, CA

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They were actually that close.

I woke up and my new people cooked breakfast and fed me. I waited around with them until the rain subsided and was on my way. It only rained a little bit on today’s ride. I stopped for diet coke at this sketchy gas station and when I came out, a bunch of hippie kids were panhandling for gas money. They were playing Wagon Wheel so I was happy. It looks like there is an adult in the front seat of the car though, which is interesting.

Another point of interest I biked through today was Patrick’s Point, which is in the heart of the redwoods. There are hiking trails that lead you to the ocean and to Ceremonial Rock and Lookout Rock, which are old sea stacks that were left when the ocean receded. I can’t remember which old sea stack the pictures below are views from, but one of them!

View from before I climbed up the rock

View from on top of the rock

I realized when I got back to my bike, I could probably take the rain gear off because it had finally stopped raining. But I don’t know, I kind of liked how it looked. It was bright! The rest of my day I basically got to bike through the Redwoods. It was amazing. Someone told me to turn down this road and I could actually bike through. It was awesome. Gorgeous.

I stopped in a town called Arcata and got a motel. I was tired. I didn’t feel great and I was really hot. After I checked in, I jumped in the outdoor pool with my bike clothes on. That felt nice. I literally climbed in bed and watched horrible hour-long dramas until I fell asleep at 4am.

Hills and Rain

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June 27th-41 miles-Crescent City CA, to Redwood National Forest

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We woke up and all sort of went into town separately but met up at the most amazing used book store I have ever been to. It was awesome. We did other random things in town but I decided I had to start biking south. I still didn’t know if my stopping point was going to be LA or San Fran. At this point I didn’t really care but I would need to keep doing 75-80 miles a day if it was LA.

The bike ride out of Crescent City was a bit of a climb. Not to mention it was about 25 miles of a 2 lane highway and no shoulder. The whole time loggers past me and I could literally feel them pass them, I could not believe I was actually putting my fate in all these people’s hands.

I biked a little further and found a gas station. I refueled and was on my way. The views I had were pretty great and the crazy hills had stopped. I was now in the Redwood National Forest.

At one point it started raining, and then raining harder. I was sort of pissed but then I looked around and I am in the middle of the Redwoods and it is gorgeous. I was no longer pissy but looked on my phone and it was going to pour that night. The closest hotel was like 80 miles and I was not doing that so I just decided to camp. By the time I got to the campsite, it was pouring. I was under a little pavilion looking at the map, trying to find a hiker-biker site. It was here I realized that California has nice people too. A woman literally begged me to stay with her and her husband. They had an extra blow-up mattress and were setting up a giant canopy that I could sleep under. Another family told me I could stay with them too. They actually had family that lived in st. louis so I spent awhile talking to them and their family. But in the end I stayed with the overzealous woman and husband. In the middle of the night the canopy sort of crashed down on me because of the weight of the rain piling up on the canopy and I got sort of wet but not bad. The man got out of his tent and fixed the canopy in the pouring rain and I was off to sleep again. I could not imagine how wet my stuff would be if I was out in the middle of a hiker/biker campsite….glad for good people.

To California!

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June 26th-36 miles-Harris Beach State Park-on the beach somewhere South of Crescent City, CA

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I slept in so Sebastian went ahead and left the state park and got on with his journey. I think it was time. It was great and I am sooooo happy that we rode most of Oregon together, but it was just time to part. You do this trip on your own for a reason and you want to meet new people but after 5 days, I think we were both ready.

I was still feeling very sluggish. Days off are not good for me. I was on my way to Crescent City, CA. When I got there I decided I needed cheap flip flops for the beach, as mine flew off my bike somewhere in Oregon. I saw a Payless, but then I saw a $ store. Well, glad I choose to go into the $1 store. Apparently, the Payless during that time period was robbed at gunpoint. WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA. I tooled around Crescent City for a bit, kind of trying to see if I would just decide to be done for the day. I went to the grocery store and ate lunch/dinner at a park. A homeless man walked by and then decided to sit by me, and talk to me, and eat the skin and fat from my chicken. It was about 20 minutes into some ridiculous conversation before I noticed the bottle of Jack sticking out of his pants pocket. I was done there.

As I was biking out of Crescent City, I saw 3 touring bikes locked up outside Denny’s. It must be the three hippies (that is what Sebastian called them). I locked my bike up and went on into Dennys. I didnt really know them that well, met them only once actually, but many people I had ridden with had met them. They welcomed me into their booth and after they ate we decided we were just going to ‘cowboy’ it somewhere on the beach. We biked south out of Crescent City and found a perfect spot. We set up camp, made s’mores and drank beer. It was perfect.

Off to Brookings….and raccoons

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June 24th-63 miles-Humbug State Park to Harris Beach State Park

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We woke up, showered, talked to some other hiker/bikers and then were off. 5 days of 80+ miles. I was tired today.  I didn’t know I was tired but my legs were telling me th
at indeed I was. We stopped at Gold Beach but it wasn’t big enough to stay in really so we decided to keep going to Brookings. Before we set up camp we went into town and found a coffee shop. Sebastian had his laptop so was playing on that. I went into the bar next door and had a couple. Chatted with the locals and found out a little about the town. Tomorrow would most likely be a day off. Sebastian was ready to go so we went and set up camp and took FREE showers at the campsite. I still have yet to pay for camping. I told Sebastian that we should go back out tonight. He said he would think about it. By the time he was done with his shower and talked himself into going out, I had decided I was going to bed. He was like, well if I go, what do I do? Just grab a beer and sit there by myself? I replied that I knew him well enough now that he I knew he would be fine…and after 2-3 drinks, he would be making lots of friends. And that’s exactly what happened. Apparently he met some girls that took him and his bike across the bridge to a different bar and then dropped him off around 3am back at the campsite. But he forgot where we were so he was walking up and down the road, freezing cold, tempted to just lay down and go to bed. Oh Sebastian. The best part was that the next day he was going to meet up with them again but was nervous because he was pretty sure he kissed one of them but didn’t remember what she looked like. He didn’t want to see them and “Surprise’, you actually kissed a 60-year-old, overweight, male……”

While Sebastian was getting drunk, I did not go right to bed as I had an encounter with a ferocious animal. I heard a noise, like an animal that got a hold of a trash bag of food. The noise got closer and closer…..and then my tent moved. Of course my flashlight was not in my tent but on the picnic table next to it. I started googling the state park, what kind of animals were most likely around, and if there was an emergency contact. There was a cougar hanging out in the park last summer. Awesome. No emergency contact. I was pretty sure it was a raccoon but still, apparently raccoons can open zippers and my tent did not have the raccoon proof zippers. When my tent got hit again, I called 911. Yes, I did. The lady was really nice as I told her this wasn’t really an emergency and said that for this county the police, not park rangers, took care of these problems. Someone would be by.

The whole time this was happening, I was yelling for Sebastian. I did not know he actually decided to go out at that point. “Sebastian? Sebastian? Sebastian?!?!?!” No response. I finally starting yelling for anyone and someone yelled “Shut the F up!” I was so pissed and I replied “If you check to see what this is, I will!” No comments back. Finally I see the lights of giant flashlights. I unzip the little window in my tent and wave my phone so they could see the light as I whisper-yelled, ‘I’m right here’. It was a raccoon and it was eating a trash bag of food. The cops probably thought I was dumb but whatever…..I was not getting attacked by a rabies-infested raccoon, or a cougar.

It wasn’t until the next morning-the 25th-I knew Sebastian went out and that he knew about my raccoon attack. We shared our stories and he just laughed at me and continued to tell me that is why he needed to write a book about me. We hung out in Brookings, OR that day. I did laundry, went to a vintage clothes shop, used bookstore and some taverns. It was a restful day.Uu