I have been struggling to write this last entry because itfinally marks the end of my epic journey. While I was riding, on theother hand, I had no trouble finishing. In fact, I was feeling pretty finishedby the time I got to L.A., but there was a big part of me that just wanted tofinish the route. I had the feeling this would happen; starting the journey asa casual ride and planning to pull out when I felt the time was right, but Ifelt so close that I wanted to make it to the Mexican border to feel some sortof closure and have a concrete start and finish to the route. "Canada toMexico" sounded so hypothetical a year ago, and now that the miles havepassed, it hardly seems like it really happened. My trip did in fact have a setdeadline and I stuck to it. I needed to finish by November so that I could makeit up to Girdwood, AK and get set up with a place to live before my new jobstarted at the ski resort. It’s not that this deadline couldn't be changed, butI needed it to keep me going, and I was looking forward to being settled afteressentially 4 months in transition (if you include my summer job, living inemployee housing).
In Santa Monica, it was the first time I realized that I wasmissing some simple luxuries such as the towel example, and the first time onthe trip I spent some time actually resting for a night by ordering takeout andvegging out on the couch. These are luxuries I had never missed before, and ifI weren't so intent on finishing the trip by November, I think it would havebeen a huge turning point for a much larger journey. It was the chance to takea break and appreciate these little things, but return to the touring lifestylewith ease. The day I left and had all of my things with me, I was thankful formy hosts, where I was, and how I got there. I had everything I needed on mybike and was happy to set out for the final couple days of the trip throughLong Beach and down to San Diego. I rode the beach trails and eventually met anice cyclist who escorted me around the Palos Verdes Peninsula and into LongBeach where I rested and had a Mexican Coke at the aquarium. And from there Irode past a few famous skateboard spots, and found my groove all the way pastLaguna Beach where I finally came to rest at Dana Point State Park, where Isomehow caught up to a cyclist I hadn't seen since San Francisco. It was a longday, but really fun riding the casual miles of beach trail along-side peoplewho were out enjoying another just sunny day in southern California.
My parents had driven out from New Mexico and were to meetme in San Diego, so I was pretty pumped to charge through this last day to staywith them in Pacific Beach and head to the border for the obligatory photo-opthe next morning. I got up with high spirits, feeling extra chatty withroadside workers and morning cyclists, only to get my spirits dampened by guysat the marine base entrance to Camp Pendleton. My cycling maps showed the routepassing through the base, and when I showed up there were two other cyclistswith a different map and the same problem. They checked our IDs, searched ourbags, and unsympathetically denied us access so that we were forced to ride 10miles of busy SoCal freeway. The decision to ride it was quick for me since Ihad done it earlier on the trip, but the visiting road cyclists were furiousand bought me a drink for leading the charge once we arrived in Oceanside. Theywere visiting from England, and apparently it was their first time getting ataste of American anti-cyclism. Maybe I was used to it by that point in thetrip, or maybe I just wanted to be finished with the ride, but at the time itjust seemed like another bump in the road that would pass and soon beforgotten.
From there, the rest of the ride was a blur. I made it toPacific Beach, found my parents on the boardwalk, swam in the hotel pool, andbusted down to the border the next morning. Instead of following the maps andheading to Friendship Park (which looked totally sketchy, btw), I made it tothe San Ysidro crossing and shared victory photos with my parents, followed byvictory churros, margaritas, fish tacos, and everything else I could think ofto celebrate the occasion including another surf lesson in Pacific Beach and aroad-trip to Albuquerque for a few days.
I made it! I could not believe how far I had come and itstill doesn't seem real as I look back at the photos today. I am so thankfulthat I had the privilege to make this trip happen and that I had so muchsupport along the way. I made some awesome friends, and plan to continuekeeping up with them as the years go on. A few have already started makingplans for their next big trip, and I have been wondering about that idea myself.In the days following the trip, I felt overwhelmed with feelings ofaccomplishment, but also a bit of shock after having such a specific purposefor 6 weeks. I flew into Anchorage at the beginning of November ready for awinter in the mountains, and excited to tell my story and meet new people inthe cycling community. I was ecstatic to see my girlfriend, find a place tocall home for the year, and reflect on the experience as it has solidified mypassion for travel and made me a lifelong advocate for cycle touring. This tripwas incredible and I hope that it will inspire others to seek out adventures oftheir own, whether by bicycle or some other form of transport (joking aroundthe fire one night, we wondered: has anyone rollerbladed the PCH?).
Thanks for reading!
- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -
- My Blackburn Gear -
- MY TRUSTY STEED -
- • Frame: Salsa Fargo 3
- • Frame size: Medium
- • Fork: Salsa Fargo V2
- • Headset: FSA C4
- • Crank (make, model, length, chainrings): Shimano Deore, 175mm. 26T, 38T, 46T
- • Bottom bracket: Shimano cartridge 2300
- • Pedals: TDB – currently $20 Welgo flats.
- • Cassette (make, model and range): Shimano HG 9sp. 11-32
- • Shifters: Shimano Bar-end shifters, with Paul Shimano Road Thumbies.
- • Brakes: Avid BB7s
- • Wheels (size, hub, rim): Front: Shimano Alfine Generator Hub Rear: Shimano Deore XT hub
- • Tires: Front - WTB Weirwolf 2.55in. Rear – Continental Race King 2.2in (but will probably get new tires)
- • Seat post: Black.
- • Saddle: Koski Contour saddle
- • Stem: Raceface Evolve XC
- • Handlebar (and aerobars, grips, bartape, etc): Surley Open Bar, Ergo lock grips.
- • Bags (racks, panniers, or bikepacking bags): Blackburn: Outpost front/rear racks Barrier series front/rear panniers Handlebar bag
- • Spare parts list: Extra derailleur hanger , A couple of spokes, Chain bits, Tube x 2
- • Toolkit: Spoke wrench, Chain-breaker, Crescent wrench, Pliers, Rubber bits, Socket Y-wrench, Blackburn - Heist 10 multitool, Tire levers Tow straps, zip ties, electrical tape. Blackburn – Mammoth 2-stage mini pump
- • Accessories (lights, fenders, computer, etc.): Bell Blackburn Atom SL 3 computer, B & M IQ Headlight, Blackburn Central Front Smart Light
- FROM: Bellingham, WA
- DOB: 1986-11-19
- Not Married
- OCCUPATION: Currently a full-time student, getting ready for grad school to study Occupational Therapy. During the winter I am a Snowboard Trainer at Mt. Baker, and during the summer I am a Zipline Course Supervisor in Ketchikan, AK for a company called Alaska Canopy
- What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? This trip has been a long time coming. Back in 2008 I began spending a lot of time at my local community bike shop in Bellingham (the Hub). I was beginning to learn a bit about bicycle repair, and did the typical college kid thing and built up a fixie. Eventually, I found a bike in a ditch and it was my goal to rebuild it from used parts and ride it to Portland. My buddy and I chose to ride the Washington Peninsula because we had never seen it, and thought it might make a good story. (It also had an easy bus system if anything catastrophic happened to my makeshift bicycle and trailer). We made our way to Portland over 10 days, and by day 3 I decided that I wanted to do the entire coast. Unfortunately, our short timeframe prevented that from happening. The trip to Portland went flawlessly, and I rode the train back to Bellingham hoping to complete the journey some day.
- Have you traveled by bike in the past? I have done multiple other 2-3 day trips since the Portland trip, but nothing as substantial. Around town I commute to school/work every day, mountain bike 2-3 days per week, and have the weekly town/interurban rides with the gang (The Wetboyz).
- What is your goal for the route? I have never seen to Northern California! I want to ride my bike through a tree, do some beach touring, find more small community bike shops, and do some surfing. It is also my goal to find some dirt connectors instead of just doing road the entire time. I want to have a loose plan, but let the trip adapt and change as the journey goes on. I want to share stories with people on the road, and travel to places recommended to me by other people, instead of relying solely on the guidebook.
- What do you hope to get out of this journey? I hope to see some new places, make some new friends, and connect with myself in ways unknown at this point. I hope I can inspire people with this journey, and show them that it doesn’t take years of planning and thousands of dollars to see some of these beautiful places that are right in our back yard. I believe the biggest barrier for most people is simply getting out there, and I really believe in Blackburn’s mission statement. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-Tsu Yes, it’s cheesy but that quote has inspired me in many ways. It encourages me to be open-minded and go bold-headed into projects instead of holding back and being overly particular.
“What’s in my bag?”
1.) Pink/silver Kershaw Leek knives. I lost and recently refound the pink one for a year, and the silver one was a birthday gift from my girlfriend to replace the pink one.
2.) Fujifilm Instax 210 Camera + photo of my girlfriend and I from the Portage Glacier (Whittier, AK)
3.) Lucky Bike Shorts – Had ‘em since high school.
4.) Ratball. (a drinking game for the rats, developed by the Wetboyz) For making friends on the road.