WEEKS 5 AND 6

You can see pictures here.

WEEK FIVE MONDAY: LOOKING FOR A TALL BUILDING TO LEAP FROM

 
A beautiful end to a day that started out cold and wet.

Bounced out of the park and immediately had to slog up a hill on the way to Carmel. Once there it seemed as if every store was either an expensive boutique, a gold smith, or an art gallery.

Stopped in for coffee at a ritzy café near 6th Street and felt very decadent. All the wait staff was smartly dressed, the tables had cloth table cloths, and also had nice place settings. We sat outside and there were 4 gas heaters mounted on tall poles plus a central round BBQ type pit with lava rock and flames shooting out of it keeping the outside warm. Not a bad way to get your first jolt of java every morning, that’s for sure!! Seated there discussing the day’s events, we actually saw the sun peek out from behind clouds and became heartened by it.

Clint Eastwood must have had a great time being mayor of this little burg. So upscale, so chic, everyone dressed and manicured and made up to the nines.

Leaving town we headed into fog and wind which made our climbs less than ideal as it was hard to see any coast line. Once we topped the big hill of the day the clouds disappeared and we cruised all the way into Pfeiffer-Big Sur. Very nice campground. We should have tried to get a site by the river and it would have avoided much of the traffic noise we got at the hiker/biker site.

The campground is situated in the middle of the redwoods and the sun makes things nice and warm. Very nice to be able to go around in shorts and not have to wear my sweat suit for warmth. Also gave me a chance to dry off my tent’s rain fly.

Got one hell of a rude awakening when I called my broker and found the market was down 500 points! I almost shit a brick! This can end up being one hell of an ugly bear market if world leaders don’t start paying attention to what’s happening to global finances. So far the Dow is down over 1800 points from its high in July. Damn I hate it when this happens. Same as last year! Shit.

Noticed that as we go further south it gets warmer but also observed that it gets darker faster, too. Since there was no fire ring for us to build a fire, as soon as it got dark we crawled into our tents to either read, write, eat, or sleep.

WEEK FIVE TUESDAY: THE HUNGER

 
Have gone almost 1100 miles so far and amazingly the temperature and the weather seems to be the same as it was in the beginning of the trip. In other words, this is getting pretty old. I am not sure that modifying my riding habits to leave later in the day and arrive later in the day would have improved the quality of the scenery.

Rode out of camp and immediately had to confront a long hill prior to breakfast. Beginning to turn into a habit. Not that the hill is so bad but psychologically I just do not like to begin my day with a climb. In Vilmar’s perfect little world, the first few miles are flat. Then the hills can come on.

The views and settings made the climb worthwhile. Chatted with the counter girl (Monica) at the little restaurant we ate in and also the gas station attendant. The gas lady says she gets $8 an hour, works for the Forest Service, and pays only $40 in rent. Needless to say, she likes the arrangement. The issue came up when I asked her where the service people worked (those who make little above minimum wage as waiters, bussers, gas station attendants, counter help, etc.) in towns like Monterey, Carmel, etc. where housing is $250,000 plus and rents in the area of $2500 or greater. I never did get an answer but did get to hear her story.

The day was a series of ups and downs with some ups being really up and some downs were a lot of fun even through the veil of fog. As a matter of fact, I played hide and seek with the fog all morning.

Today was the day I stuck my flag horizontally on my rear rack. Whereas before my total width was about two feet, I am now well over three feet wide as the flag protrudes into the roadway almost 18 inches. It’s very obnoxious but, boy!, do the cars steer around me! They do not know what material my flag tip is and do not want to run the risk of scratching their precious cars. Good. They need to stay further away, anyway. I should have done this long ago!

Ran across a Swiss couple touring down the coast having started in Calgary. Then, while on the road, this woman (a roadie) who was passing us on a hill, fresh into her ride, made some comment to the effect that her ability to pass us was facilitated by not having panniers – – as she looked at them somewhat disdainfully. We took umbrage at that and several miles later all three of us had the satisfaction of passing her—on a long climb, no less. I guess that taught her! Ha ha (Oh, the little things that make us happy!)

Pulled into Plaskett Beach (recommended by Bluey and Tricia) and found it to be very nice and set in a meadow-like setting with large sites.

Splurged on a bunch of wood in order to try and keep from going to sleep so early at night. Campfires get us to talking and help pass the time.

A word of caution to anyone about to do this stretch of road – – get plenty of food in Carmel or Monterey to tide you over Pfeiffer Big Sur, Kirk Creek or Plaskett, and possibly even San Simeon. Markets are rare and when they have anything the selection is quite poor and the prices very high. Even ready made sandwiches are outrageously expensive. They go from $9 to $12, small drinks are $2, etc. And you’d be lucky to find any canned goods.

Set up camp and refreshed as well as we could since there were no showers. Got tents up and worked at pooling our meager food resources. I was down to 3 English muffins and peanut butter. Things were not pretty and I was FAMISHED! Being quite early in the day we all helped Scott get rid of his trail mix which he didn’t like before but was taking a keen interest in today. There are no places to shop so that even if we did want to pay outlandish prices we could not. Scott resorted to a sandwich of peanut butter and cocoa-roos!

Went to Sand Dollar Beach and watched whales rolling around and venting in the distance.

Got to a pay phone and checked the state of the investment world. Bargains abound. Dow went up 280. This wild yo-yo effect is driving me nuts. Especially since I have little access to data for analysis. But what the hell, no sense stressing over it. That’s been my attitude. I’ll check, I’ll comment, but that’s about all I can do now.

What I like about this campground is that it is very quiet. Even though it is close to the road, very few cars pass by. Peaceful. Restful. Walked around the grounds snarfing up loose firewood from other unoccupied sites’ firepits. Along with the wood bought earlier, we watched Scott masterfully light the fire with just one match. A hero! A real Boy Scout! He used a combination of teepee and log style to build up the wood prior to lighting it. Actually stayed up until 10 PM! Almost a record!

One guy came over to our site, just out of the blue, and began warning us about this family of five raccoons congregating in a tree close to our site. He said that last night they got into his stuff so we should be careful. They got at his bread and tore open and ate 16 packets of hot cocoa. Must have been hungry raccoons.

We said it shouldn’t be a problem as we had no food left and, oh by the way, did he know what was down the road? He said there were some places but they were very expensive. We must have sounded pretty pitiful because the guy said his wife would drop by in the morning and give us stuff they did not want to take back home with them. We did not hold out much hope for that.

So we were not very happy campers at our lack of food. HARUMPH!

With nothing better to do, Scott mentions that raccoons have no salivary glands which is why they dip dry food in water. This then led to the idea of putting out a dish of sugar cubes and a dish of water. It’d be interesting to see how the raccoons deal with dipping the cubes in water only to have them dissolve in their paws. Damn we get bizarre!

WEEK FIVE WEDNESDAY: RACCOONS BE US

 
Woke up hungry and eagerly anticipated devouring my one remaining muffin when this lady named Julia (the wife of the guy last night) shows up with a bag of food. She said we’d be doing them a favor by taking it so that they’d not have to deal with it at home. In her goody bag were 3 cheese sticks, ham slices, 6 oranges, 4 chocolate bars, a chunk of cheese, graham crackers, and 3 hard boiled eggs. Nice how the stuff was almost all easily divisible by three. She was an angel! Helping them out my foot! It was readily apparent they took pity on us and performed a Christian act way beyond the call of duty. She was the one helping US out!

We thanked her profusely and politely waited for her to be out of sight and then we tucked into the food with a relish I’ve hardly seen before.

We became the raccoons!! Attacking the food, setting upon it like ravenous animals, like vultures setting on carrion, like sharks devouring chum—grinning from ear to ear at our good fortune. It was a feeding frenzy. In no time at all the only thing remaining was an empty plastic bag filled with trash to mark the passing of the food.

But wait! It does not stop there. Julia’s friend, Holly, came over with more oranges, raisins, power bars, and 2 liters of Gatorade. Our smiles broadened like those of sated Cheshire cats.

Then Julia returns again!! This time with 4 bagels. So we go from “poor, pitiful hungry us” to wondering how we’d take all this stuff and fit it into our bags. But fit it we did, matey!

Since the morning was so cool Dennis retired to his tent to feed. Scott, never one to let an opportunity go by was watching Dennis and then commented to me how Dennis reminded him of a monkey in a cage: Every once in a while its hand would come sneaking out of from behind the bars to either grab something or throw out what it didn’t want. And that’s what Dennis was doing. Every once in a while we’d see his hand pop out of his tent as he’d throw out some orange peels. Definitely a moment best appreciated in person. Words can not do justice to it.

We all thanked them some more prior to leaving for the day and realized that there really are good folks out there. And these kind people just saved us almost $30 in restaurant bills alone. We also knew if we had gone to a restaurant, we’d not have left so satisfied, either.

Happy as pigs in shit we rolled out and went to Gorda where we hung out at an outrageously priced restaurant. For an hour and a half the waitress would bring us coffee and we’d pound it down. Prices were outrageous! $3 for toast, $3 for an egg. A French family of 10 shows up and we could only guess what was going through their minds as they were slapped in the face with the prices. They ALL ended up having coffee or hot cocoa and toast! Every single one of them.

The waitress said about 8 out of 10 people that walk in the door take a seat, take a look at the menu, and walk out. DUH!! I wonder why! Of course, no sooner said than done. Folks walked in, sat, looked, and left. Too funny!

The day was beautiful for riding and the two hills were not at all bad. Broke through the fog on several occasions and had great photo ops. Much as I complain about the fog it does have its benefits. Like today, for example. Riding along I got to see it drift across the roadway deadening all sounds yet still able to hear the surf pounding on the rocks a couple of hundred feet below (or immediately to the right, depending on one’s altitude.)

Also had to deal with a lot of construction which worked to our benefit as the roads were brand new and smooth as silk. Flag men would stop traffic for several minutes in each direction so this gave us quite a bit of time to bike along without any cars harassing us. When they would come by, they’d do it in that herd mentality common to so many drivers which guaranteed they’d all be close to one another and all would pass us within seconds leaving the roadways clear once again.

Got to a great spot below Ragged Point which is very touristy. Lots of little fast food shops, a gas station, and a mini-mart. Specifically put there in a small piece of land to cater to tourists. In any case, we sat there resting a bit and realized we were being gawked at by the foreign tourists which happened to populate the area at the time. The highlight, though, was a young lady with what I believe to be the finest and most beautiful buttocks so far seen on a young lady on this trip. She had VERY short shorts on and they fit quite snugly. We couldn’t help ourselves. Yes, we are pigs! OINK OINK

Back to Ragged Point…… I was literally blown along the roadway and had to exert almost no pedaling effort to keep moving. In that temporary vacuum, this resulted in virtually no noise except the ocean and the bike’s tires whirring on the pavement. These are the moments that make cycling fun and enjoyable.

Stopped along the way, jumped a fence and went to the beach to get a close-up look at sea lions basking in the sun. From a distance they looked like huge logs washed up on shore. I got close enough to observe how they can close one nostril and leave the other open. Also one of these creatures was positioned just so in its little sandy depression that every time it took a breath small clouds of sand would fly up and away from its nose. To keep bugs off they’d use their flippers to fling sand on their backs so there they were, laying around, sand flying everywhere. Quite the sight.

Then we rode by Hearst Castle, situated on a hill and enormous even from the distance we viewed it. Had no desire to go visit it so kept plugging along to the campground.

Finished the day at San Simeon Beach. A nice enough campground but the hiker/biker area is right up against the roadway. Fortunately traffic dies down quite a bit in this neck of the woods after dark.

Rode into Cambria for dinner and groceries and I headed back to camp while Dennis and Scott went looking for books to buy. On arrival I observed 2 deer right above the camp and also a falcon cruising around the trees on the periphery of the hiker/biker area. Scott tried to find a shortcut back to camp and ended up having to ford a stream while carrying his bike. It was humorous enough when he told us about it that we all returned to the site and re-enacted the moment and captured it on film.

Returning to camp we find this bird doggedly pecking at Scott’s bread bag attempting to get to the loaf inside. Then this guy shows up carrying just a tent inside a bag. He puts it up and comes over asking for matches. We gave him some but couldn’t help noticing how his shorts kept falling down and he didn’t seem to notice. Then he goes to build a fire using I know not what and stands there for 15 minutes stirring it around and then leaves!! Bizarre. The scene was pathetic but worthy of a picture (as they say, a picture says thousand words!) As I was taking my picture, Scott had his camera out and couldn’t steel himself to press the shutter. He kept saying, “I can’t do it!” And Dennis would yell at him, “Press it. NOW!” He pressed it.

So today started out well, continued well and ended well.

WEEK FIVE THURSDAY: I DISCOVER A BODY’S JOINTS CAN PREDICT A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER

 
Wanted to give that guy from last night some food this morning but could discern no movement from his tent. I was not about to wake him but had he been up the least I could do was share some of what I had just like the folks from Plaskett shared with us.

Stopped back in Cambria for breakfast and then went to do clothes. This place is a harbor for real estate agents. Seems like every other building we rode past was a real estate business. Incredible. I’ve never seen such a concentration of them.

While sitting around I asked Scott and Dennis what this area was called prior to the town being here. Could it have been Pre-Cambrian? Ha ha

One bad thing, though. Like a dumbass I inadvertently mailed back to myself my return airplane ticket. How stupid!! I called my parents and asked them to go through all the mail I’d sent to myself. Lo and behold! It was there. So they will now priority mail the ticket to my friend, Tom, in LA. What a pain in the ass! I have no idea how I did that, either!

A nice thing that continues along this part of the coast is the wide bike path we get to ride on. It is great not to have to stress over cars.

Rode by Pismo Beach where I’d read that monarch butterflies overwinter . Too bad I did not get to see any. They are incredibly beautiful.

Today my knees were very sore. What I probably did not realize at the time was that they could have been warning me about an impending weather change. And change it did. We got to Oceano campground, did the usual stuff then went to the beach. I got off a couple of shots and the sunset was beautiful. Back at the tents I noticed the sky was lighting up in the distance. And later in the evening it rained. The first real rain of the trip.

Met up with the Swiss couple we’d run into back near Pfeiffer-Big Sur. They were doing OK but were pretty quiet and not so outgoing today. Not sure what’s up. Maybe a spat?

Today Mark McGwire hit his 59th homer. The boy is going to catch Roger Maris!

WEEK FIVE FRIDAY: THE BAD LUCK AMULET

 
Last night when we pulled into camp, laying on the picnic table was someone’s broken necklace, the kind with a leathery cord and a small stone encased in wire. I immediately labeled it the bad luck amulet.

I mention it only today because to have done so yesterday would have added nothing to the accounting of the day. Today, however, it figured into the way our day transpired.

Last night we weathered thunderstorms and rain but it was only cloudy this AM. Said goodbye to the Swiss couple and headed out.

Found no restaurants for coffee—very strange that on a Friday at 8 AM nothing was open so we pushed on to Guadalupe, 12 miles away.

Took an alternative route that looked like it would bypass a significant climb and were hoping to go around the hill and meet back up with the route on the other side (assuming on the other side the route resumed a downhill approach towards our “shortcut.”

Wrong answer, cupcake! What a bitch of a climb! It had to be a 15% grade to do in one quarter the distance the same climb that the other route did. Dammit! So, unless you are really into climbs, don’t take the alternate. It’s bullshit.

Once in Guadalupe we stopped in at Lynn’s Café. It will soon change its name as it was bought out. It is the first café you come to in town and it is on the right hand side of the road. Nice downhill into town, too!

Had coffee and a breakfast burrito and chatted with the manager. He’s trying to get artists and musicians together but finding it difficult. No reason given. It was a fun chat where he shared frustrations with us. As we palavered the rains moved in and wouldn’t go away. Enter the “Bad Luck Amulet.” We never should have touched it.

So we struck off, rain gear on, into the wet. It got worse and worse and then stopped. We, of course, were soaked. Almost got dry. Then Dennis got a flat tire. Then the rain began again in earnest, harder and harder as we climbed Harris grade into Lompoc.

Descending into town, drenched from head to toe, I ran into Scott who was waiting for me as he was not sure which way to go at an intersection. I looked over to him and by mutual consent our eyes said what our mouths were about to say: “fuck this rain and let’s find a motel.”

Going to a campground that had no dryer was absolutely out of the question.

In summary for the day, today was a mirror image of last year’s adventures in Yellowstone. Cold, wet, Dennis got a flat. Had shitty roads in Yellowstone and today we had shitty roads, literally, from the manure strewn across the roadways from the farms and then mixed with the rain to be splashed up on our bikes and gear. All of this culminating in a hotel at the end of the day, cleaning our bikes and drying our gear.

Also, today would have been the 30th straight riding day without rain. Woulda, coulda, shoulda!! Cursed by a broken amulet.

Stopped at the Motel 6 and there was Dennis. He had the same idea. Checked in to find out Bluey and Tricia have been here since yesterday. The lady at the registration desk rang them up and they came to visit us in our room. In our chat it was revealed the Swiss couple had both bikes, BOB, and some panniers stolen while at Half Moon Bay, the same place we were warned about bike thieves. They did not pay much attention, were there during the weekend before us, did not secure their bikes to the table, but only to each other, and left bags on the bikes. Fortunately they had insurance and were able to buy new bikes and gear. What a pain in the ass! So pay attention to the warnings is the lesson to be learned from their experience.

Today was the first day of the trip requiring a hotel room and boy was I ever glad to be in one tonight. The rain persisted through the evening. We went grocery shopping and out to eat then back to the rooms.

WEEK FIVE SATURDAY: WAITING FOR DENNIS

 
A small detail I forgot about hotels. Since I usually get up early and can not go back to sleep it becomes difficult to stay quiet and move about the room. Especially if your roomies are light sleepers like Dennis and Scott. Wish I could sleep later but that’d not my nature.

Lots of little things happened today. Some interesting, some annoying. None of them trip stopping.. My knees continue to hurt and it is not fun anymore pointing to confirmation this will be my last trip. That is an annoying one for me.

Flipped on the weather channel and the forecast was inconclusive. I was all for getting on the road and being done with it with the rationale being that once back along the coast things should improve.

So we left about 930, bikes cleaned up, ground cloths dry, etc. WAITED FOR DENNIS!! until after 10 AM so that he could get his mail drop. He got a few letters and was happy. While waiting, Scott and I entertained ourselves watching the locals attempt to parallel park. They’d leave car paint and rubber on the curbs. Finally a Texas plated car did it right. I complemented the driver on her abilities and she spent the next 15 minutes regaling us with her stories of all the different vehicles she’s driven in her long life: cars, trucks, combines, hay balers, etc. What the hell, it passed the time.

Headed out of town under misty/cloudy conditions and at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 246 saw a sign saying, “construction and no shoulders next 19 miles, Bicycles advised to take the alternate.” In this case the alternate was 246. I told Scott and Dennis I was not about to take any alternate route especially since I knew it involved having to climb a 2200 foot pass coming into Santa Barbara. I was in no mood for it and would take my chances on having no shoulders.

What a great decision! They came along and we had 18.5 miles of newly paved road, wide shoulders, and only half a mile of no shoulders but still good road. Almost no traffic, too. That was a plus. Then there was the descent. Literally one of the best I’ve had. Straight, extremely smooth, absolutely pleasant.

Meanwhile it rained on us as we easily climbed the pass on a very mild grade. Only lasted 15 minutes and then quit for the rest of the day.

Then Dennis got a weird noise in his wheel and we suspected the bearing. So we WAITED FOR DENNIS!! while he sorted that out.

Got to Gaviota (where we were to have stayed last night) and it was closed. Bacteria on the beach. Too many people shitting in the water, I guess. Must be all the shit flowing up from L.A and all the shit flowing down from San Fran. Several other beaches were closed along the coast which complicated things for campers along this area. It was, after all, approaching the labor day weekend and reservations must have been made months ago. I know I would have been really pissed had I continued on from Lompoc, cold, wet, miserable, and tired only to get here and find it closed. So I know there is a God. He kept us in Lompoc.

When we left Lompoc we did it with wet clothes from yesterday. And after fermenting all night in a plastic bag they were beginning to get ripe! We concluded we’d be just as well off doing clothes in Goleta since we were not sure about the weather when we departed. There was no sense drying everything off in Lompoc only to get a different set of clothes wet again.

Our decision proved prescient and confirmed for me that things happen for a reason.

Once we got on Highway 101, we WAITED FOR DENNIS!! while he fixed another flat tire.

Finally got to Goleta tired, famished, with bad bearings, and wet, stinky clothes.

I spotted a bike shop, yelled ahead to Dennis and pointed it out. We all pulled over and that intervention thing took over once more: Clustered in this group of shops was a bike shop, a restaurant, and a laundry! So we killed all three birds with one stone. Dennis got his bearing fixed, we fed our hunger, did the clothes, and Scott bought a new bike seat. It has a hole in the center of it and Scott commented on how much Joey and his two nutty friends were so much happier now. We were pleased for him—in a non-sexual, non-gay way.

DID NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR DENNIS!!!

Realized that all of a sudden the Spanish influence is much stronger here. Signs, buildings, people all testimony to the heritage of the area. I especially liked seeing all the old cars kept running and many tricked out with paint, fancy interiors, flashy wheels.

Went through Santa Barbara and took the tour of the town mentioned in the book. Saw the mission and a few other historic buildings. The marina area was packed with people so I could not take in the sights due to the traffic. But it was pleasant riding through the area.

Got to Carpinteria State Beach and went to the H/B site. We were the only ones there. The campground is nice but the H/B sites are right next to railroad tracks. For light sleepers this should be a challenge. I know I’ll sleep right through any trains coming down the tracks.

The camp had an outdoor movie theater so I went there for a while to see what was playing. Turned out to be 101 Dalmatians. At first I thought it was the cartoon version but then saw it was the newer version so I left and went to get some rest. It was boring.

WEEK FIVE SUNDAY: FORE!!!

 
Another cloudy day in paradise! Found a good restaurant and partook of breakfast. Sat outside and read the Sunday paper at a very leisurely pace. One of the customers rode up on his bike, a Schwinn Black Phantom. It must have been 40 or more years old and looked great. Had a suspensioned seat, suspensioned fork, a built in horn, a built in lock, etc. Single speed, too. In chatting with the owner I guess he figured we were OK guys and let us ride his bike. He’s been offered $3800 for it! So we were very careful but all of us rode it around the parking lot. The seat was a marvel of comfort! I’d love to have one like that on my bike! Granted it must weight close to 5 pounds, but………..

The riding was easy today and helped to make up for the two technological catastrophes I suffered today. My little Pentax camera gave up the ghost and my micro-cassette recorded went toes up. AAARGH!!

Stopped in at a golf driving range so that Dennis and Scott could hit a bucket of balls. They enjoyed themselves even though few balls went straight. I assume they were both practicing for those nasty doglegs at some of the finer courses. However, I’ve seen few where the dogleg begins 15 feet in front of the tee! Now I know why those ranges make everyone stand back!

Well, I’m getting close to the end of the trip and although I’m not experiencing the same feelings I was last year, my motivations for doing the trip this year are totally different so my feelings are more muted. I will be glad, though, to finish. The traffic is getting to be too much.

Zapped thorough Ventura and Oxnard and rode through a couple of “row” campgrounds; set alongside the road, next to the water, all asphalted, and nothing but motorhomes, 5th wheels, and campers. So ugly. So tacky. No facilities to speak of other than water. $20 a night, too.

It is also easy to tell a big city is nearby—-graffiti everywhere.

Got to Leo Carillo State Beach. What a crappy park! Dirty, dusty, rabbits everywhere, more graffiti. Yech!

Met up again with the Swiss couple and the German couple. They had themselves a grand time as all four could speak the same language. Unfortunately, our camping neighbors were obnoxious kids no more than 19-22 years old. They were quite noisy well into the evening.

We made a fire to pass the time and spent that time in deep intellectual conversation. Here’s a quote I will not attribute to anyone in particular but it was worthy of note when spoken. It revolves around relationships (or lack of them!): “finding girls that literally make your balls ache and then get sucked into your stomach only to drop down an hour later has been difficult. However, a lot of them exist in (name of city left out to protect the guilty!)” What a hoot!

Also spent a good deal of time sorting out the different categories of women. Since this is a PG rated site, I will not list what was discussed. Suffice it to say the list was comprehensive.

WEEK SIX MONDAY: HELLO!! LA-LA LAND!!

 
Today was a day to remember! Although it broke cloudy, the ground cloth and fly were dry. It is so much better to put away dry gear. Much lighter, too.

Climbed towards Pepperdine University and then cruised downhill right into Malibu where mansions proliferate on the hillsides and ocean bluffs. Also saw lots of places that required tremendous work to restore. I can only assume they were the result of El Nino’s many storms and lack of insurance to repair.

Also lots of row apartments on the water with parking spaces on the Highway 1 side. There was no lack of front ends and rear ends of BMWs, Mercedes, Vettes, Lexus, Infiniti, etc.

Finally got to the bike path which was a welcome departure from the stress of traffic. Rode past the amusement park area in Malibu right into Venice Beach. WHOA NELLIE!!!! All sorts of humanity and weirdness was there. Massagists, tarot card readers, spiritualists, women drummers, assorted and miscellaneous other musicians, people flat out asking for beer money, artists, Sea Shell Queens, etc.

One thing I noticed, though, while cruising the beaches was that there was a veritable paucity of drop dead gorgeous women. Can’t explain why but I sure was expecting to be impressed with babes sunning, rollerblading, and displaying themselves. Maybe I read too many tourist brochures!

What was not lacking anywhere in this area was advertising. It was everywhere. Even the trash cans and those little bars that separate peoples’ groceries had advertising for “Blade.” What a stupid movie yet the target audience is the pre-teen, teen, and younger 20s crowd which explained all the ads on the beaches.

Finally about 330 I called my friend Tom and found out we were far, far, away from his house. 20 miles far away as a matter of fact. A very big hill far away. And the sun decided right then and there to come out blazing!! Temperatures immediately shot up 15 degrees. Had the sun been out sooner, there would have been quite a few more people out and about so I guess in that respect we were spared.

After much sweating and cursing, we made it to the general vicinity where Tom lived but could not locate his street as the streets in that area appear on one block, disappear for a couple and then re-appear. We were close enough, though, that he walked over to meet us.

Prior to calling Tom, I asked for directions to his street from a guy hanging up a store sign. He flags down a lady friend of his who volunteered to help us by using the voice activated direction finder she had mounted in her truck. It was cool to observe how it worked. Due to considerable construction in the area, many of the addresses were altered so the machine could not give us specific directions from where we were. We thanked her for her efforts anyway. Didn’t really expect that degree of cooperation in a big city.

Got to Tom’s place, were introduced to Reggie, his cat, showered and then went out to eat at Acapulco’s after which Tom took us on a windshield tour of various landmarks. We got back about 10 and it had cooled considerably so we slept quite well.

WEEK SIX TUESDAY: REST DAY

 
Today McGwire hit his 61st homer to tie Roger Maris. This guy will surely clobber a few more before the year is out. Sosa has 58. Looks like two guys will break the record.

Tom took us to NBC studios where we picked up tickets to be in the Jay Leno show. Not being familiar with the area, we tried to find out how to get to Universal City but after talking to two bus drivers who couldn’t empty a boot full of piss even if directions with pictures were on the heels we gave up. I then tried calling the MTA and that was another effort in futility. What a bunch of incompetent assholes. So we walked a few blocks, located a place for breakfast, and hung around. Then we went to lunch at the Acapulco restaurant-yep, same one as last night. Stomachs full, we got in line for the Leno show. We were among the first 20 to get there and as luck would have it, someone from the Howie Mandel show came out asking for volunteers to go to that show’s taping. They promised we’d not lose our spots in line so off we went to watch Howie.

While in line I got to overhear people talking about their efforts at getting autographs, “seeing” famous people in different places, doing the tour of stars’ homes, etc. A fascination that bordered on the SICK!

Sure was interesting to see the behind the scenes actions during a taping and the technical aspects of how a show is put together. They have an “opening” guy who gets the audience warmed up. In this case, the guy was actually quite good and kept things moving during commercial breaks. So now I know what the audience does while folks at home watch commercials. Howie’s guests were Jean Claude Van Damme, Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead), Mary Stewart Masterson, some wack-o animal psychic, Howie’s wife and some woman named Mia something or other from a new show. Not having a TV I am at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to TV personalities.

From there we went straight into Leno’s show and it was another world altogether. Leno himself warmed up the crowd, his people made sure only pretty girls sat in the front, he gave stuff away, and allowed people to come up and get pictures with him. His guests were Van Damme (again), En Vogue, and an actress from Mad TV. She was good. And no, Van Damme did not talk about the same things he did in the Mandel show. However we were treated to clips from his new movie (it looks like it will suck very much.) Too bad, as Van Damme was the most personable of the bunch. Also the only one who’d turned as he left the stage and complement the audience and thank them.

After Tom got off work he picked us up and we went to Mel’s Diner (of American Graffiti fame) to have dinner. Did a bit more touring and Tom gave us great directions for getting out of town tomorrow morning.

WEEK SIX WEDNESDAY: HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO AND L.A. A BYE-BYE

 
Fatigue. Burnout. Exhaustion. These words best capture today. Thank goodness for bike paths! If it weren’t for the decent paths in this area, today’s ride would have been beyond miserable. Six hours on the saddle fleeing 75 miles from North Hollywood headed to San Diego.

We started about 7 AM and first sight of the morning was one of Tom’s neighbors praying or meditating or something to some Buddha looking statue. WHOA! Said my own little prayer and then we went off to face 18 miles of LA traffic. Hollywood Blvd. was fun as we got to see lots of stars on the sidewalk. You name a famous actor, he/she had a star. Also got to check out the hand and foot prints of many stars in front of the Chinese Theater. Especially notable were Jimmy Durante’s nose and Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger’s horse shoe prints

Had coffee at a restaurant on the boulevard right by Alfred Hitchcock’s star and then checked out the film site for Jim Carry’s new movie based on the life of Andy Kaufman.

Shot down La Brea to Santa Monica Blvd. for seemingly endless miles and ended at the beach where we began this little mini-adventure 2 days ago. What made today’s ride from North Hollywood so much better was that it avoided the nasty hill on Sepulveda Blvd. that we climbed to get to Tom’s place. Sure wish I knew about this route on Monday!

We rode the serpentine bike path for a few miles, threading itself along the cloudy coast and then found ourselves in the sun. Near Hermosa and Redondo Beach we came across a filming of a music video by some guy calling himself “Shaggy” doing his half of the video while Janet Jackson did her half in New York. While in the area, bought some lunch and Scott went swimming. He got caught in a nasty wave and found himself pounded back into shore. He said it was exciting; his description reminded me of the beach I loved so much in Portugal where I did the same thing and just loved it for the adrenaline rush.

Along the way, found a good artist’s rendering of what direction our lives should take.

Then we rode into nastiness. Wilmington must definitely be the wrong side of the tracks. Lots of poverty, lots of graffiti, lots of kids, Blacks, Hispanics, dirt, decay, unkempt homes, decrepitude, disrepair. Like being in a third world country. Then we were through it and into Long Beach where we stopped at a swanky coffee shop to relax a bit. Got a good view of the Queen Mary at its berth.

For those of you reading this and contemplating a ride through here, my advice is to get past this area as quickly as possible. You have NO reason to stop. Crank on until you get to Long Beach.

Proceeding on our way we were blessed with this lovely visage of a young lady rollerblading along fast enough to pass us in our leisurely pace. Not to let this opportunity go by, I accelerated in my MCP way, got closer behind her, pulled out the camera from my handlebar bag and put the zoom to work.

Finally made it to our camping location for tonight: Newport Dunes Aquatic Park-a swanky little RV park where we could put up tents but could not stake them out. Good thing there were no winds. Before checking in we needed groceries so decided to go to Newport Beach. Wow! Is this place ritzy! All the women in the grocery store were dressed to kill. Made up, manicured, pedicured, suntanned, nipped, tucked, rolled. And it is expensive here, too. But of course, you knew that already.

The day wasn’t quite over though. Went to take a shower and the whole area of town we were in had a power failure. What a pain. The bathhouses had no windows and I could find nothing to prop open the doors so I had to wait until power came back in order to take a shower. Finished with the shower I emerged to find Dennis and Scott engaged in conversation with these 4 young ladies (one might have been over 21, the others definitely under 18. Warning flags flying, I went over, said hi, we chatted for a bit and the over 21 one had something in her hand, (a can, I think) and flung it over us onto the ground. I expressed mild dissatisfaction at that, picked up the can and basically wrapped up my involvement. How crass! Obnoxious little shit. Of course, its to be expected as she lives there in a tent next to her Aunt and Uncle’s RV because of some disagreement with her parents. With an attitude like that, I’d have kicked her ass out of the house myself and not waited for her to leave. A veritable ocean of patience that I am , eh?

WEEK SIX THURSDAY: CLEVER BIRDS

 
A fine end to a day begun with a cloudy sky.

The ride in and of itself was uneventful. While in San Clemente I completely forgot about checking out any of Tricky Dick’s hangouts. I did, however, lose contact with Scott and Dennis. They were ahead of me in town and as I rode up, they had turned around and were going the other way. I had overheard Dennis saying earlier he needed an ATM machine and since I’d just passed one, I figured that’s where they were going as they said nothing when they went passed me. I stopped, turned around and they were gone. I waited 15 minutes, went back to check out the bank and they weren’t there so I headed off.

Rode through Camp Pendleton and made it to Oceanside where I stopped to get something to eat. Then they showed up. Strange. Still not sure where they disappeared to.

Since I decided to ride shirtless today I ended the day with a nice red tinge to my back. Not serious sunburn but could have been worse had I stayed shirtless much longer. Very deceiving when the day is relatively cool and a nice breeze blows.

Unfortunately, I missed the turnoff to Capistrano. It would have been interesting to see where the swallows return to.

Also noticed something else: south of Wilmington, the signs and directions, etc. were no longer in Spanish. Only the quaint little street names were. So I guess the more affluent the place, the more Anglo it is and the Spanish influence disappears completely. What does appear is lots of little closed communities with security guards and gates where entrance is gained only with proper ID. Around the Pendleton/Oceanside area, the riff-raff began to reappear—and so did the signs in Spanish.

Ended up at South Carlsbad State Beach Campground. Got a nice site on a bluff overlooking the beach. The roiling of the surf will cap off the day and put me right to sleep. It is only fitting that the last camping day should end so well. To top it off I witnessed a sight I’d never seen before. Being somewhat familiar with the habits of birds, especially large ones like pelicans and seagulls, and albatrosses to fly behind one another and use the benefits of drafting to minimize exertion, what I saw bordered on the genius. These pelicans would be flying along, locate a wave breaking onto shore and well before it did they’d “surf” right along its crest (in the curl) taking advantage of some upward draft created there. They’d fly along parallel to the wave for a couple of hundred yards and just as the wave would break they’d beat their wings and fly up over it to safety looking for another wave. A couple almost got nailed. At first I thought it was a fluke then I watched a couple more times and called Dennis and Scott over to witness it. Marvelous!

WEEK SIX FRIDAY: A CHANGE OF FOCUS

 
Today was the first day I realized that I was approaching the end of the trip and my mind started to drift from issues associated with riding to issues associated with what I needed to do when I returned home. I found myself building mental “to-do” lists. A completely different shift of focus. The end was near and the sooner it got here, the happier I’d be. Not to say I didn’t enjoy myself or was not enjoying myself but I realized I was now in a big city, would be staying in a big city for several days, and it did not interest me all that much.

Rode along the coast for the most part and then headed inland to climb into La Jolla. All in all a pleasant ride with a nice approach to the city’s coastal park. Ambled and drifted for a while, took photos, and then headed into San Diego. Stayed on the bike path a bit too long and then head to double back to get to the road that’d take us to the motel.

In no time at all we were there, unloaded and made like vegetables.

Killed some time by going to a local bar and having outrageously priced beer. As there was no other place to go in the local area, this turned out to be our excitement for the night.

WEEK SIX SATURDAY: FINALLY, WE GET TO DRINK OUR TEQUILA!!

 
The motel offered a continental breakfast so I, having gotten up early, left the room to get some coffee. Remembering that the local paper was going to publish the Starr report in full, I bought it and began to read the saga. What a despicable President we have. Using his office and power to take advantage of a 22 year old. Granted, she may have offered herself to him but being President carries certain moral obligations none the least of which are the decency to not misuse his office and engage in superior/subordinate relationships. He committed the same violation that, as Commander in Chief of his military personnel, he punishes through jail time or kicking out off the service with absolutely no benefits, Generals, Colonels, and Sergeants Majors for doing exactly what he did. Will his conduct imply there are two sets of rules governing infractions of laws? A disgrace of a man. We must never forget that the road to tyranny begins when those in high office are allowed to commit crimes and then go unpunished for them.

OK, on to the ride. Made it to Tijuana but not without first having to climb several pain in the ass hills to get down towards the ocean where our path was located. The ride was a pain because of all the traffic which magnified itself as we approached the border. Got to the border and flew right by customs. Not sure of myself, I actually sought out a Mexican Customs agent to make sure we could go in. The last thing I needed was a hassle trying to get back into the country.

The city itself was very seedy looking. A marked contrast to San Diego. People lurk in their doorways or on the sidewalks trying to lure you in. Many was the time we’d here, “come in, free parking for your bikes!” Not what the hell was up with that? Parking??? For bikes???

It all reminded me very much of Athens (and most of Greece for that matter) where waiters would stand on the sidewalk and try to talk you into going into their restaurant.

We resorted to walking our bikes as riding them looked to be very dangerous. From what I saw of the drivers, though, they looked courteous enough but the traffic was horrendous.

After a fruitless search for decent postcards, we found a restaurant, drank our tequila, had a beer, got our picture taken, and got the hell out of Dodge.

Back at the hotel, we showered and tried finding something on TV. Since we did not have real cable, just a smattering of syndicated stations plus one movie channel, the pickings were slim. Of course, all the movies on the movie channel sucked real big ones.

We then headed to the “Boll Weevil” restaurant. Home of the ½ pound steer burger. Scott’s comment was, “you guys realize we’re eating at a restaurant named after a parasite? It’s like eating at “Tapeworm Bob’s” and my tapeworm wants a beer right now!” Very humorous, and very like Scott to notice the parasite angle. Yum Yum, makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Earlier in the journal I asked these questions regarding why we did this trip: 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?

Obviously I can not speak for anyone else but for me, after 40 some days on the road getting shot at, facing traffic, roads with no shoulders, fog, rain, etc., the answer is a little bit of all the above except “lack of a life and being bored.”

It should be pointedly obvious that rides like these are really quite a life. Achieving a dream is quite an accomplishment in a life. Having good friends along on any venture is quite a life. Struggling to stay alive under adverse conditions does not make for a boring life. How many people do we know who dream of just being able to visit San Francisco or any of our national parks across the country from where they live (and sometimes right in the adjoining state) but never get around to it because they are so wrapped up in their day to day existence? How many of us know of associates and friends who do not know how to relax and have fun? Who don’t know how to pursue their dreams? To me, having accomplished this ride and the one last year ranks at the top of my best adventures. I came out of those rides with new and hopefully life-long friends. We may never ride together again but I know we will have other adventures!

WEEK SIX SUNDAY: REST DAY

 
I am very happy to report that Betty Boop made it almost 1600 miles with no flats, no problems. Sure made for a better ride without having to worry about the mechanical condition of your bike.

We left for Adams Street where we knew there was a bike shop that would ship our bikes. Sure was great knowing the last 3.5 miles to the bike shop were the last hills I’d have to do for quite a long time.

Dennis rode to the airport to pick up his rental car while Scott and I stayed at a nearby restaurant waiting for the bike shop to open. Slugged down some coffee then sent Betty Boop on her way.

A word of warning, though! This particular bike shop (Bike USA) is not high on my list of places that do a good job. 10 days after I got home I called them as I’d not received my bike and wanted the tracking number. Turns out they’d just mailed it 2 days earlier (22 September!) Then on the 30th, UPS pulls up with a bike. Before the driver even took the bike out I immediately noticed it was addressed to Scott! At my address!! We peered in to find it was Scott’s bike. I had no choice but to return it to the bike shop and inform Scott of what happened. I had visions of my bike going to Scott and then both needing to be returned and re-shipped, probably not seeing it again until late October.

The next day my bike arrives! Hooray!! I am happy! Boo!! I am sad—-the bike shop totally dismantled my bike. OK, I can understand the pedals, the seat, the fenders, loosening the handlebars, the rear and front wheel needing to come off, maybe even the racks. But did they need to break my chain, remove my brake and derailleur cables, even completely remove my rear derailleur? This was ham handed and stupid. Not to mention incompetent. I was livid.

So don’t use this shop!!!!

I return you to the regularly scheduled journal: When Dennis showed up with the car we all returned to the motel and then checked out. Since he and Scott were headed to Vegas, they dropped me off at the hostel on Market Street in downtown San Diego.

WOW! What a location. It was great. We all agreed that had we known about this hostel we would not have gone to a motel. Plus the hostel was located such that access to the bike bath was closer, easier, faster than where we were.

To top it all off, access was 24 hours a day, they had internet access, huge kitchen, and clean rooms. Just around the corner “Street Fest” was going on, too.

Dennis and Scott left and I went to do my tourist shtick. Went to Planet Hollywood, Hooters, Hard Rock, visited the festival, took in the sights, had lunch, listened to outdoor musicians, and eventually tired of the whole thing.

For those folks reading this journal, using the book, and contemplating going to Tijuana the best advice I can give is to ignore where the book tells you to go to the Chula Vista KOA. IGNORE IT completely! Go to the hostel. It just can’t be beat. And the cost is not that much. If you are solo, it’s cheaper. If you are with one friend, it’s only a couple of dollars more expensive. Surely you won’t be so tight for money that you can’t afford a few more dollars to be within walking distance of the bus that takes you to the airport ($2), the bus that takes you to Mexico ($4), and boatloads of cheap restaurants.

Here are the final numbers for the trip:

WEEK TOTAL MILES AVE MPH CALORIES BURNED *
5-11 AUG 295 ·····················11.2 ············29590
12-18 AUG 314 ·····················10.7 ············30860
19-25 AUG 253 ·····················10.9 ············27370
26-1 SEP 209 ·····················12 ············24650
2-8 SEP 303 ·····················13 ············30310
9-14 SEP 212 ·····················12.1 ············23500

* Calories consumed are meant to be a rough estimate of the exertion level for that day. I took a calorie table meant for regular “day riding on a flat surface with no wind” and extrapolated the values to include the extra weight of the bike on cross country trips.

TOTAL COST: $1859
PER DAY COST: $43

FILM AND PROCESSING:$200
PHONE $20
HOSTELS/MOTELS: $110
BIKE REPAIR/DISASSEMBLY/SHIPMENT: $169
AIRFARE: $398

You can see pictures here.

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