INTRO

— IMPRESSIONS OF THE PACIFIC COAST RIDE —

Before I identify all the primary personnel concerned, I need to let you know the primary source of information for this ride came from the book, “Bicycling the Pacific Coast” by Kirkendall and Spring. You can get it through Amazon.com.

Now, on to the intros:

Dick (the Dick, Dick, Dick): still retired, still a powerful rider, meticulous in all details associated with riding and camping. He graciously volunteered to put myself and Dennis up in his house, picked me up at the airport, picked up my bike from the shop and even did maintenance on it for me. Fortunately he observed my brakes had a problem and took it upon himself to repair it. Had he not done so, I’d probably be swimming with the fishes right now! THANKS, Dick!

Dennis (the Spinner): still in Pennsylvania and took a leave of absence from his truck driving job; loves to climb hills; and recently returned from an around the world trip.

Kurt (the Monk): last year he was named Slacker but we felt it inappropriate this year and christened him with his new moniker! Kurt quit his job, tired of the 8-5 white collar life. He is undergoing a “young-life crisis” and endeavors to find a true calling. He feels he needs a new direction so will try to start a business and currently calls Florida home.

Merle (the Locomotive): Merle is also retired and trying to overcome a significant emotional event that would shatter many. But hopefully this ride, however short it was for him, helped a bit. Both Merle and Kurt will join us later on down the road.

Scott (the One-Track Mind): Scott recently moved to San Francisco and is working on his Trilogy. Part One may soon be in book stores. Having read part of it, I can confirm it will be quite the piece of non-fiction. Scott met up with us at S.P. Taylor Park north of Frisco and rode to Mexico.

John (the Beer Slayer): John is a friend of Dick’s and never toured before. He planned to ride to San Jose with us as he had other commitments. John is also retired and used to be a California Game Warden. OOOOHH, the tales he can tell!

So how did this all begin? Especially with so many of the same riders as last year? Well, it all began back in January or so when Kurt sent me an email saying he was thinking of ditching his job and cycling the coast. Having asked me if I felt like joining him, I begged off initially stating I had plans to go to Alaska. Then I gave it more thought and about 48 hours later cobbled together a tentative agenda and forwarded it to him. Since the trip would be right on the heels of my trip to Brazil, I needed to be sure enough time existed for me to get my affairs in order, arrange for mail, bills, papers, money, etc. in between trips.

Since Scott, Dennis, Kurt, Dick ,Merle, Hugh, Eric and myself all stayed in relatively close contact we got the word out to each other and lickety-split it looked like all of us save Merle and Hugh could make it.

As it turns out, Eric could not due to college tuition bills; Hugh could not due to other commitments, and Merle could (but only for a short while.)

So the idea went from just that, an idea, to full bore reality in little over 6 months.

48 hours before beginning this adventure I was extremely anxious and rarin’ to go! But one of my fears was that the hype I’d read about the trip would actually overshadow the event itself so I tried to prepare myself mentally for many disappointments—like bad weather, bad drivers, bad people experiences, and bad (or disappointing) scenery.

I tried to focus on the bad stuff that happened last year and find it amazing how one can compartmentalize bad/unpleasant memories and then focus specifically on the pleasing aspects of one’s adventures. Gone were my memories of rabid dogs, innumerable hills, heat, wind, rain, and rude motorists. Indelibly inked into my memory banks are the beautiful sunrises, sunsets, the great people, the feeling of complete freedom while cycling down a flower lined road.

As I wiped the mental slate clean, I wondered what the next 40 days would bring. Up front I knew the one thing that would make this a cool ride regardless of anything else was the fact that 5 of the 6 original starters of last year’s ride were going this year. No matter how you slice and dice it, it is very bizarre to have 5 grown men drop what they are doing to undertake a 6 week ride.

Is it love of cycling? Is it the bond of friendship? Is it boredom? Is it a lack of “a life?” Is it a desire to do something many dream of but few actually accomplish?

I was hoping for answers to these questions by the 13th of September.

Read along and find out.

For the most part, preparation for this ride was similar to last year except I decided not to take cooking gear. In its place I substituted technology: a Short Wave radio—which crapped out and had to be sent back; a cassette player with tapes—-which also got sent back for being too bulky and awkward to get to; a REAL camera—a Canon AE-1 and 210 mm zoom telephoto lens along with my point and shoot 35-85mm Pentax from last year. What a little work horse, that Pentax! Dropped it three times last year (while rolling!) and it still worked. This year it got wet, quit working for two days, dried itself out and resumed working again! Also took a micro-cassette but poor thing, it also gave up the ghost. Most probably from all the dampness. It, too, was from last year and suffered innumerable abuses. Speaking of giving up the ghost, so did my cyclometer.

Then what’s my point with the electronic stuff? Several, really…….

1.) As for the radio I’d do it differently (mine weighed over a pound with batteries!). I’d have been better served with a high quality portable AM/FM/CD. CDs take up a lot less space, too!

2.) The micro-cassette can be invaluable for recording your thoughts on the fly if you’re the type that likes to keep journals.

3.) The camera is personal preference. My Canon weighed a lot but I was able to get some shots the Pentax couldn’t come close to getting. Plus I had a lot of control over aperture not available in point and shoots. So the weight and volume were worth it.

4.) Buy a waterproof cyclometer!

Continuing with trip preparation, clothing was the same except I forgot to pack some warmer clothes for the coast. I really did not expect it to be as cool as it was so Wal-Mart came to the rescue. Also did not bring along a pair of off bike shoes. Big mistake. Don’t make the same one. Even though I had traps on my pedals and used normal shoes for cycling, your feet will not like being cooped up in the same pair of shoes for 18 hours, days on end. Trust me on this one!

I shipped Betty Boop to Gateway Bicycles in Portland but their re-assembly of my bike, Dennis’ bike and the work they did on Dick’s bike makes me think you should find another shop. Poor workmanship, poor quality control. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

Click to read Weeks 1 and 2

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