Before my departure for the Pacific Coast, some people expressed concern that I would be involved in a tragic automobile/bicycle accident rendering my arms useless. People assumed they would not receive this essay in such a timely manner because typing with my nose is a skill that takes a while to learn.
Some parts of Highway 1 did bring about beads of sweat. The highway can become so narrow that there is no room for a roadside cross. A non-attentive driver simply has to knock you in the shoulder. The sudden jolt of shoulder pain wouldn’t bother you because you’d be soaring with a smile beside the seagulls as you plummet towards the sun bathing sealions or get smashed into the side of the mountain. Fortunately, a bicycle rider is more likely to get hit in an intersection.
Gaulala, CA (100 miles north of San Francisco) to Malibu, CA
575 miles in 24 days, a leisurely pace.
Average daily expenses $38, eating peanut butter and beans and splurging on a day at the Monterey aquarium.
4 busses and 1 train, public transportation from Malibu to Redlands, California
Concerning my preconceived notions of long distance bicycle riding and leisure time, I was in for a surprise. Usually the day would consist of waking up around 7AM, packing, hitting the road around 9AM. Our most frequent stops were at grocery stores, coffee shops with free wi-fi, produce stands, and at the tops of hills to take gulps of water. Only four campsites were actually close enough to town to check open mic or plug in the computer to work on films or travel stories. Usually we would pull into the camp around time for dinner, set up camp, maybe read or play cards, then go to bed. When the sun dropped it would get cold, so we’d bundle up in our sleeping bags. My dad gave me a radio run on solar power. Usually the radio couldn’t pick up stations, but on the nights when it was really cold and you could pick up NPR, it was definitely worth the added weight. Kind of how an apple tastes much juicier after a five hour bicycle ride, a day of pedaling makes Terry Gross’s voice sound that much sweeter.
The California coast has plenty of campgrounds with sites specifically designated for hikers and bikers. No reservations are required, all hikers and bikers share the same site, and the cost is reasonable, between $3 and $5 per person.
We rarely camped alone at the hiker/biker sites. Sometimes up to 13 bicycle riders shared a campsite, and we met people from all over the world. The world travelers we met were from Europe, Canada and New Zealand. Most people we met briefly as they were on tight time schedules to catch a flight or train home.
The US riders were typically from the West coast. They would ride down the coast, then take the train back home to San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle. Keep in mind, because of the wind, almost everyone rides Highway 1 from north to south.
Compared to Idaho campers, California campers are very clean. Almost all of the campsites had hot showers that were either free or cost a couple of quarters. All of the campsites had clearly labeled, easily accessible bins for recycling bottles and cans.
As we approached southern California, we started to meet bicycle riders who live on the road. The camp rules became stricter. For instance, some hiker/biker sites had “no alcohol” signs posted. RVs next to the hiker/biker site had bottles of alcohol littered around their comfortable lawn chairs. Some campgrounds had a one night limit, and one campground had a 9AM check out.
Bill rides the Iron Buffalo, a bike that weighs 175 pounds with gear, including the antlers on the handlebars. He started his journey 6 years ago from Boston on a search for the first Starbucks in Seattle. He didn’t start his trip with the white plastic buckets that serve as rear panniers. He used to have a tent and panniers just like ours, he claims. A squirrel in search of granola ate through one of his panniers, and he exchanged his tent for tarps for reasons we’re not quite sure.
One man who talked so much I could never ask his name assured me the cops will never ticket or arrest you the first time they find you sleeping under a bridge. The key is never get comfortable under one bridge. You must be on the move, always under different bridges. Similar to how people move their car from spot to spot in a 2 hour parking area. I got invited to eat at the mission in San Luis Obispo. Kept my curiosity to myself when he mentioned he had a warrant in Oregon.
At night, when I heard rustling sounds, I could always distinguish a raccoon from a bicycle rider who lives on the road. The raccoons don’t have a smokers hack.
Other fascinating people we met:
In front of Sunshine Bicycles in Fairfax, I met a man wearing an International Workers of the World t-shirt. When people ask how I can afford my Bicycling Highway 1 and into the Great Beyond trip, I tell them the secret is not having credit card debt. We started talking about national debt and the recession. He told me the union he belongs to encourages workers to take advantage of union discounts on cars, boats, etc. These discounts are a perk of being in the union. His fellow workers are encouraged by teamsters to go into debt. His voice gets excited, “How can a person go on strike if they are in debt?” I suppose a person in debt has no strike power. I cannot count how many people I have met who would quit their jobs if they weren’t caged by debt to flee a worthless job or this war-mongering nation. The first tool to enable a person to strike is a bicycle. The first step to a healthy economy is the bicycle.
Donna and Paul camped next to us in Gualala. When they discovered our route would take us right past their house in Marshall, they invited us to stay a night with them at their house on beautiful Tomales Bay. Unfortunately, instead of accepting their offer, we decided to ride 17 miles further to Samuel P. Taylor State Park.
Donna and Paul have a website called Divining Seduction. http://www.evolutionaryrevolution.org/
They have a fresh look and solution to the current US and world patriarchal system
The Egg knows…
Evolutionary Revolution gives Darwinian cultural permission to all women to use their forgotten biological power to initiate seduction. Hence, she will select her mate and guide him to mindfulness. Women can create loving and effective partnerships, stop the male war habit, help men to redefine “progress” and reduce their need of ‘stuff’.
Met Doug on the bike path in Santa Cruz. He was out for a day ride and gave us directions. The second time he passed us, he offered us a place to stay for the night. He entertained us with travel stories and YouTube sailing videos. He recently helped sail ‘Adios’ to the Moore 24 National Championship at Richmond YC. For the full story, check out the October issue of Latitude 38. Besides racing sailboats, he is a great host, took us to the farmer’s market, makes a delicious breakfast, has no TV, built his house using the most current green technology, and put a 60 foot bike lane in front of his house.
Videos we made along California Highway 1:
Tomorrow we are taking a vacation from our bikes and heading to Baja California, Mexico by bus. I thought it would be fun to spend the night and celebrate my 33rd birthday in Tijuana. We e-mailed a fellow in Tijuana that we found on a website called Hospitality Club to see if we could spend the night with him. This is what he said, “Why travel thru mexico? Havent u seen what is going on in mexico nowdays with all those murders, kidnappings, etc….? especially in Tij which is number 1. People dont party anymore or go to restaurants cus of the shootings in public. even myself i dont go out, be careful throughout ur trip. Ok have a nice day, bye”