Stan Burns: Canada to Mexico

Written by Patrick on . Posted in Blog

During our time on the road we have met many amazing people. Few have been bike tourists let alone bike tourists we rode with. Stan Burns was an exception. We met Stan while resting along side a mountain pass. From the moment we met Stan there were series of events which only reinforced the knowledge that the universe works with you, not against you. Stan and us immediately started sharing stories about our crazy adventures from the road. He is a real-estate agent in Canada. One day it popped into his mind that he needed to get out of the box and do something interesting and exciting. Bike touring he thought and from that initial moment it only took him five days to purchase a bike, gear, and set off into the open world. Stan is truly remarkable, a child in a grownup body. I feel the need to express his writing because it is transformational. You can see his perspective blossom as he progresses deeper into the world of cycling. I know I can speak for him when I say he will be forever changed. His writing is simple, true, and vivid so I would like to dedicate this next post to you Stan, it was more than a pleasure running into you!

Day 1!

I was trying to think of something that would wake me up and give me some passion. I woke up at 4am six days ago and couldn’t stop thinking about a bike ride down the Pacific Coast through Washington, Oregon, California and finally Mexico. It has consumed me. I can’t stop smiling. I know I’m crazy but I don’t care it feels so good. I arrived in Seattle via the Clipper last night and I have my passport and my visa. I’m sure everything will work out keeping an open mind and keeping enthusiastic even though the weather is threatening rain. I arrived to the hostel at 10pm after almost getting attacked by a street person and after getting lost with this crappy tourist map. For a moment I couldn’t find my wallet. All under control now. Time to put on the rain gear and head out for my first day of biking the 2000 miles south. Wish me luck. 

Day 4: Wet Wet Wet!

Back sore, hands tingling. Went to a bike store and hit it off with this awesome dude (Ian) that works there. He invited me to stay over at his place. I arrived to his wife picking beans. She was a super cool mountain climber and super crazy fit. Had a great night on the couch. Went back to his bike store in the morning and bought rain gear and got my bike adjusted professionally by another totally awesome guy that knows all you ever wanted to know about bikes. Ian drew me a map on paper of the route to the Pacific Coast from Olympia. Got soaked and the map got hard to read. Had to stop for coffee and dry the map out on a chair…got lost cuz the map was falling apart…saw needles and crap on the ground. Just when I was starting to get concerned, this new motel out in the middle-of-no-where just popped up. Staying here for the night. Washed all my cloths in the sink and dried them in my room. Feeling so free and alive. Had two people honk at me and give me the thumbs up riding. Will have to stretch a lot tonight…

Day 5: Wet & Windy…

30 miles uphill… Oh my but!!! Thank god or this cream you put on your saddle and in your shorts called DZNUTs. Without the anti-friction something could catch on fire. Wet, wet, wet. There was a river on the road running down hill. To top it off the wind was so strong that I had to peddle going downhill. At times I could feel the incline but saw my speed at only three miles/hr. I think I saw a reactor…or what are those cooling towers in the distance. I laughed when I saw the sign… “ENTERING ARTIC” That about sums it up. There are a lot of churches down here and Bible stores… and guns… lol… I’m in this little logging town called Raymond with a Hotel that’s overpriced (65$/night +tax) and old but not much choice. I would have paid anything to get out the rain.

The business card was made on a home printer and the taps leak, dirty… etc…who cares it’s dry. I went to a diner and the burgers we so cheap… like five bucks! I flipped though the hostel paper they had there. Football, politics, graduation, and yes…GUNS and gun stuff. I was just thinking who would be caught dead in public wearing all this camouflage war gear when just then three people 100% decked out came in… jackets, shirts, pants… shoes… all camo…lol! I tried to plug in my laptop but the plug didn’t have the three-hole prong…so I had to unplug the TV so I could use my computer. Trying all my stuff out and getting ready for a week of rain… All good. I was soooooo stiff I stretched for two hours, it’s the only way I’m going to be able to peddle 60miles to the next town tomorrow…better run.

Day 7: Rest Day!

Went for a gentle walk and took some pictures on the bridge connecting Washington and Oregon (I have learned it is 4.2miles long!) Had a Burrito. Watched a movie on my laptop. Slept. Bought some power bars for the days to come…need to drink and eat every 30min while long distance biking. Had another Mexican dish…sooooo good. Portion sizes are huge. Watched a movie at a Theater – the new Batman – It was terrible. Stretch and bed. Looking forward to reaching the pacific coast tomorrow. Finally.

Day 8 & 9: Hitting the wall and the wonderful strangers!

Felt good to get back on the road again then BAM! Flat tire…third one to date…a tack was the culprit. I removed, quickly fixed, and sped away. I biked through a dangerous uphill tunnel that was, uphill. There’s no way to go fast you just have to hunker down and push like hell. Thank God there wasn’t too much traffic. However, I blew out my legs. Then there was a lady stopping traffic at the base of a mountain. I waited about 20min…then she said go…and go fast so the other cars waiting to come down. OK so again in pushed and pushed. Sweat and breathing hard I ascended 2miles up roughly 1000ft. Legs completely exhausted, I finished, hurting, and sore, but the beautiful lookout was my reward, and then had a fast ride down to a little coastal town called Nehalem. It was one of those towns that you blink and you miss it. Well that is exactly what happened I didn’t even see a hotel or motel.

In about ½ a block there the town was gone and I was wondering where I was going to be staying for the night. I asked a lady about 65 if there was a hostel or a hotel close by. She pointed at the top of the hill and said it’s expensive about 100$. I sighed she took pity and invited me to stay at her house. AWESOME, SCORE, PERFECT! Again… this is the 3rd invite in 9 days… small town people in the USA are wonderfully hospitable. She trustingly said she would not be home for another hour and to just meet me at her house… Not really knowing what to expect I thanked her and agreed. I had dinner “a la Gas Station” yuck! Then peddled to her house, or I thought so anyways. She said the address wasn’t visible from the road so gave me the sketchiest directions. I finally arrived, and was about 90% sure it was her house and feeling very awkward I waited outside for an hour stretching and killing time… she didn’t come and I was getting cold so I went inside. I started to have a shower… and man it was the weirdest experience not sure if you are in the right house, having a shower. While still in the shower I heard the door open. Someone was home – either it was her or I would have some serious explaining to do. Luckily it was her… PHEW!!! She ate dinner as I watched as my Gas Station food was sitting in my stomach like a lump. As it turns out she was a VERY eccentric lady indeed, and talked for hours about how she “activates” peoples dormant circuitry in their brain. She believes she is not from this planet and has an abnormal frontal lobe with gives her this gift of activation. Without judgment I listened and listened. She thanked me for listening as it she said it was really good for her to get this all out. She said I have some VERY BIG SH*T to do on this planet. Some VERY BIG SH*T… Anyways… She was very nice to have invited me for the evening and I am grateful. It was a win, win. She was able to express and talk and I had a warm roof over my head. I must say it really was quite an interesting visit. I left first thing in the morning and she insisted I take this book called E.T. 101. I’ve got through the first couple pages and man it’s way, way out there.

“Where the water goes, life flows.”

HITTING THE WALL OR THE BIG CRASH. Eating gas station food the night before and not stretching… I felt like crap riding today… So incredibly tired. I felt delirious and kept looking down to see if a brake was dragging or the was enough air in my tires…Nope It’s was me… I was exhausted from pushing the day before through the tunnel and the hill. I pulled off to a bakery in this small town called Rockaway Beach. I ordered a cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese. Then 4 older gentlemen came and sat to the table beside me. As it turns out they were the city council and the local politicians. One was the head of the roads; the other head of transit…can’t remember the others. We started talking and they wanted all the input I could give on my experience on my bike ride through their town so they could make it better and less dangerous. Right time at the right place… It was really cool being part of the meeting… He gave me his business card. I took a picture of the 4 and left. Another 15miles and I was totally done and checked into a hotel. Just then I realized I forgot my jacked back at the bakery. I called “John” who gave me his card and he drove it out to me. I tried to take him out for a steak dinner or a beer but he wouldn’t have anything to do with that. He just wanted me to stop again at his town if I come through again or send him an email. I promised I would. Just had a steak dinner myself and time to relax and get ready for tomorrow. I hear a rainy storm is coming in tonight for a week! Guess we’ll see.

Day 10: Bathtub laundry day and pain. 

I have had foot pain, knee pain, back pain, and my bloody hands keep falling asleep. It’s so strange feeling the pain move from one place to the other. I keep making adjustments to the bike and to my gear and seem to have most things sorted out except my hands keep falling asleep and my lower back fells as stiff as the floor I slept on the other night. My body is starting to adapt but isn’t there quite yet… I guess what do you expect having not worked up to this trip and now covering about 50miles a day… it’s a pretty big shock to the bod. Have to be gentle, stretch and put in good food if I’m going to make it.

The day started out great with a wonderfully complete breakfast American style – which means big… really big. Biked by several cow herds, cheese factories, and clear-cut fields. Kind of stinky at times but scenic in a rustic way. Houses were situated on big lots but with really heightened security… so much so I thought they were prisons at times; barbwire, sliding gates, and video cameras galore. Poured rain so bad the cars were hydroplaning. Soaked I treated myself to a “normal” hotel (Best Western $107/night) as apposed to the cheaper accommodations I have been staying. Everything is super wet so I decided it’s a good time for bathtub laundry… Scrubbed away for 5 minutes and hung everything out on my bike and a chair to dry in front of the heater… I’m excited for the thunderstorms tomorrow… I need to make it down south fast as I’m too wet riding right now. I expect another 2 weeks of very wet weather. That’s ok… I’m happy and healthy. I’m feeling my body start to adapt to the long rides and not just hurt everywhere. Time for a hot tub… and some stretching, and a laptop movie! 

Day 11: Exquisitely picturesque and the horrors of clip-in peddles! 

I have seen more beauty today then in the first 10 days combined. The weather-sculpted coastline is marvelous in all of its ruggedness. The sun came out, the rain poured, the sun came out, the rain poured, again and again, but each cycle left a rainbow in it’s wake. Biking this journey is definitely the way to see the most. You can turn your head and stop when your job drops. I would have taken more pictures but my camera got so wet it said, “lens error”. I’m currently drying it out over the heater.

Today, I learned to respect “clip-in” pedals. Just after I took a picture of the Yaquina Bridge I lost my balance and fell ass-over-tea-kettle in an awkward slow motion tumble. I tried to resist all the way with no avail. With the bike crashing on top, I bruised my leg and my ego. Exceptionally embarrassing I was a spectacle for all the passers by. There was a brief moment that I even felt sorry for myself as I was doing the funky chicken in the mud trying to get my feet freed from the damn click-in peddles. I also broke my rear view mirror, which is a real bummer. Oh well, c’est la vie. I’m sure every cyclist at some point has argued with the clip-in pedals but has managed to tame them to perform as they are expected. I have to remember, “heel-kick” to release not I’m falling, falling… faaaaallllliiiiinnnngggg!!! After my little flip-flop I decided to get some ice cream… simply delicious! Oh yeah and a case of beer for 5 bucks! Another grand day! Next stop Florence! Stay tuned! 

Day 12: Booze biking and Sea Lions.

Last night I had some beer. In the morning I had 3 cups of coffee with breakfast. I just didn’t feel like drinking water so I didn’t. I was dehydrated and didn’t even feel it. About 2 hours into my ride my feet became like cement blocks and I became so tired even up the slightest incline. I was starting to swagger on the road. 

I kept thinking a brake pad was dragging or the tires were under inflated. No I just had no energy. I drank about a liter of water quickly there was a surge of vitality and efficiency in my cadence. What a difference. I had a granola bar and put some oil on my chain and now I was flying. Standing on my pedals it felt good to crank hard. It rained again but I was warm. Just when it was getting hard there were the sea lion cave. I stopped and they were so nice. Admission was 12$ but they only charged me 10$ and gave me a free cup of coffee and some fudge. Sea lions can get up to 2400lbs and are the weirdest animal. On land they are clumsy and have mobility problems but in the water they are graceful powerful swimmers. The elevator in the sea lion caves took 3 years to build and goes down 200ft- an engineering feat. Was nice to get into the motel today. I was wondering why there where was all this horse crap on the road. My neighbor in the motel is a cowboy. I met him. Nice guy walking 3 horses down the 101 hwy. Tired. Big storm expected tomorrow I may have my second rest day but shall decide in the morning.

Day 13: Hail, frozen rain, and slush. (5 days of continuous precipitation).

I experienced all seasons today but predominantly winter. The heater didn’t work in my motel room last night so all my clothes were still wet from the day before. You could feel the squish of water inside my shoes when I put them on this morning. It was so very cold and wet I actually started to get a little upset. There was a brief moment of sun in the morning and within 10 minutes it all turned to hell. I could have sworn it was the middle of winter. In fact I did swear, a lot. At its worst I yelled at the sky and asked: “Is that all you got? Is that all you have?” About 2 minutes later a huge truck passed by and soaked water up inside my helmet, inside my glasses, and down the back of my neck… During the next couple hours the wind was howling and I felt hypothermic. I was soaked inside out and had dirt and pine needles everywhere from the splashing of vehicles. I have to confess today I felt a chink in my armour of optimism. 

I found a Laundromat and a cheap motel. Tomorrow will be better. Today, I summed up to a day of contrast. To experience sweet you must experience sour; pain – pleasure; Hot – cold, etc.…. OK well I’ve definitely experienced my share of wet… I can’t wait for dry, and when it comes I will enjoy it evermore. 

Day 14: Statistics and Attitude. 

Flat tires: 4
Crashes: 1
Wet Days: 12
Dry Days: 2
Distance to Date: 797 Km

Today was a great day. Not because the weather was good, or things went well, but simply because I decided it was good. I learned a about myself today. It’s astonishing how you can have a great time even in the face of insurmountable and potentially unpleasant hurdles. Chasing those demons out of your head and focusing on things that made you laugh, smile, inspire, play, appreciate, awe, recognize beauty, etc… made it great. 

I ate breakfast in a café today and overheard the waitress say something like: “My boyfriend better be picking me up after works end cuz I ain’t waiting in no cold rain for dee bus I tell ya I ain’t…. He can get his lazy ass off da couch or I’ll be having words I tell ya…words I say… Me the one that’s working for da bills you know… bla… bla… bla… I had a little chuckle to myself, as I knew I was about to ride through the “pea-soup” outside. I gave her a 40% tip and thought that would cover her bus fair and made me feel good and I liked her accent. The ride was instantly, cold, and wet. About 2 hours in, I had a flat tire in a horrible spot in torrential rain. My fingers were shaking so bad it was an extra challenge. Amazingly, it was kinda fun… I can’t explain it but it just seemed to flow and it was so easy. Like magic there happened to be two pieces of discarded cardboard on the ground that I used to flip my bike upon to prevent it from getting muddy. Instantly I found the sharp rock that created the tube puncture. I kept it for a souvenir. I replaced the tube within minutes had it pumped up reducing the pressure to 80lbs instead of the max recommend of 100lbs which I was running before. Let’s see if I get fewer flats. In fact it was a good break from riding and the pumping gave my arms a workout and heated up my upper body. I cruised over a wonderfully huge and beautiful bridge and wheeled into a bike store. I met to neatest, positive people in the bike store. The worker was super cool and he replaced my rear view mirror that I broke from my crash a couple days ago. There also was this guy in a wheel chair and he was just smiling ear to ear. I had to take a picture even though my camera was all wet and steamy. We had a great chat about it snowing in Arizona right now and the other biker came in and he’s travelling north… North- I say!!!! – Into the cold, and with no helmet. When I left there were pats on the back and smiles all around. I felt good. The guy with no helmet said: “Bike safe” which I thought was hypocritical but I took it to heart. Tonight lots of stretching and a good book on the menu.

Day 15: Crying and 52 Miles of Bliss.

Today I cried. The last time I cried was Dec 27, 2010 when my dad died. Although, this time it was much different. It has been the 9th consecutive day of peddling in precipitation, and not just gentile warm showers, but hard pounding rain like the Gods are angry. It’s as if the rain is being thrown at you in all directions.

 Minutes later, I pulled over and asked… “What the hell was that?”

I buckled down and quickly found my cadence. My grove was slow and steady, my drinking and nutrition balanced and consistent. I was ready for to “rock and roll” for the 6ish hours of peddling ahead. After a couple hours the strangest thing happened…Before I get into that, you must understand, I am, more or less, out here alone without a phone call in 15 days and have had minimal communication with anyone whom I know. Just me.

“Adventure… here it is… enjoy it… revel in it… soak it up… No shower, no nothing… you pack up, fill your water bottles, eat a granola bar, and hit the road.”

Nothing is familiar and I have had very few distractions. My life is so incredibly simple. Not easy- but simple. Take care of myself, and head south. That’s it. As a result, I have been having many old powerful memories. Things keep bubbling to the surface that I have not considered for years. Specific, clear, powerful memories are frequent. They have been making me laugh out loud, and talk to myself as if I’m reliving the moment. It’s as if my rational left-brain is relaxed enough to let my right side finally get some thought time. I feel hypnotized or detached or like part of me is asleep but I’m awake… It’s a place I don’t usually visit. I kinda feel like this has been a 15-day meditation on a bicycle… I am deeper “somewhere” down a though road I never have been. It’s still me, but the suppressed me that I never have time for or that don’t listen to. Well finally, I’m paying attention. Hello old friend, sorry for ignoring you for so long. I’m here now… Speak up… I’m listening.

So, as I was saying… the strangest thing happened today. The sun came out – I mean brilliant, bright, warm, revitalizing sunshine. The roads dried and this intense feeling surged life through my veins. Everything was so gorgeous. I experienced a perfect moment where time stood still – it was amazing, but too much. It was like drinking from a fire hose! I had tears running down my face but I was laughing at the same time. Inexplicably, I was totally aware, fully present but at the same time totally detached. I was totally emotional, I was every emotion at once. I was short-circuited or reset. At the pinnacle, I knew who I was, what I was doing, where I was going, what I’m supposed to do, how I was going to do it. I knew all my questions and everything was so clear. I was completely content and satisfied. And then it was gone. As quick as it had come was as over. 

Minutes later, I pulled over and asked… “What the hell was that?” What just happened? The rest of my ride I felt like I was doing the right thing at the right time. I felt like this is where I should be, and what I should be doing. I feel exhausted but Zen. 

I think tomorrow I will take a day off and smell the roses. 

Day 16: The American Flag and amazing scenery.

Yesterday I took my second day off in this tiny town called Port Orford.

I strolled on the beach, napped, watched TV, read, and just laid low. I didn’t realize how exhausted my legs and body were. I slept like a rock and had another beautiful no rain day. Spectacular scenery with long sandy beaches, cliffs, stone tunnels carved from the tides ebb and flow, jagged rocks that look impossible to support life with gnarly wind-blasted trees with roots twisted around precariously loose boulders. Breathtaking. 

One observation I found puzzling was the smaller the town the more USA flags present. This town has perhaps 1000-2000 people and within 15 minutes I saw well over a dozen American flags!

What do you think they mean? Are they just patriotic or is there a deeper I don’t understand? I’d enjoy hearing what you think?

Day 19: Goodbye Oregon Hello California. 

As if the weather obeyed a magical boundary between Oregon and California the weather got warmer the instant I biked into California. It’s nice here, or the weather is anyways. With the sun more people are outside enjoying. I met these kids scooting around on their 50cc Honda. They were having so much fun I had to stop for a bit and play. 

The trees are gargantuan, and you can smell the cedar in the air. It’s wonderful.

Day 20 & 21: Huge Trees and New Friends.

Biked hills over 1300ft high… over 6 miles long. The best part is that after the summit it’s a freewheel all the way down. Zooooom! With the wind in your hair you can smell the ocean mixed with the pungent dank rainforest that’s always kinda musty. Stayed at Crescent City where they had a Tsunami warning so everyone was on high alert. The next night Orick and tonight in Eureka! Love that name- sounds like I just hit the jackpot or found gold. 

Middle of the night I heard the strangest noises so I got on my bike to investigate. It was a dock full of sea lions. I got too close and they all were clumsily jumping in the water and making all this crazy racket. The security officer came by in a truck at 3am and told me that by Federal law you have to stay back 100ft. She was nice and gave me a lesson about Sea lions… Males (bulls) can reach 2400 lbs. of blubber.

“I learned cycle touring is the perfect mix of fear, pain, beauty, and excitement mixed to create the most exhilarating cocktail of awareness.”

Went through the Redwood National Park and saw huge- I mean huge trees. Speechless… you just stare in bewilderment like under a spell and feel this amazing feeling of respect and wisdom. The forest is full of life… It’s wonderful.

Peddling on I met some really nice lesbian biker babes that are really cool and a ton of fun. They are biking down to San Diego. We put in 80 miles over 2 days and shared a motel last night and tonight. We drank beer and played this addictive board game Kitan. The morning came too early but it was sunny and we got in motion. They have a dog and it’s a crazy experience towing an animal howling and breaking zippers trying to get out. I fixed their flat tire and zap strapped the zippers. The dog is destroying the buggy trying to get out and today accidentally flipped the buggy on its side coming to a grinding halt on the 101 by a merge lane. Sketchy. No injuries but some excitement. Currently, in a town called Eureka, had Mexican dinner and this drunk street person wouldn’t leave us alone so we had to leave before I would have to step up to the situation. We had a great Mexican dinner and then saw a movie in a theater called Paranormal 4. The manager was so nice we stuffed 3 fully equipped bikes in their ticket sales room because we didn’t want to lock them outside in this part of town. Sleepy time… night night.

Day: 23, 24, 25, & 26: Stressful discovery + sharing a bed with 3, massive tree, hill from hell, new friends with a dog that tows, and magic light. 

Today I’m cranking miles, while living in the flow, with a big smile.

You are in the flow when everything just seems to come together so effortlessly and so perfectly. Starting the day not knowing where you will sleep, or what will happen, is such a feeling of freedom. More accurately, it’s bewildering how things just work out, and workout magnificently. You couldn’t have planned how good things click if you are open to the experience. It takes courage and if you are a planner you may find it difficult to let go… I know I did, (or do still at times). I had this, and this, and this, planned but it didn’t matter a damn for what actually happened; So… I decide – not to plan, just live.

Putting in some serious mileage now. Pushing 70-100 km a day in this dry scenic paradise…. The flora and fauna are changing rapidly in this dry desert landscape. Ocean, trees, and roads melt into one another then divide again. The grind of the ocean and the sweet smell of Eucalyptus trees are common. 

Here are some highlights over the last couple days:

1) Stressful discovery, and 3 trying to sleep in a bed. Spend 3 days with these amazingly cool, fit, mid 20’s, lesbian, tree planter, and biker babes. After 90 km and crazy hills our legs were shaking and stomachs rumbling. We shared the cost of a Best Western hotel in Garberville, CA. 3 fully loaded tour bikes, camping gear, and a dog with trailer is quite a lot baggage. The only room they would rent us was a single king. We took it! Getting all our stuff into the room then opening it up was like a boom detonation. It was an obstacle course. It was nice to have a shower and eat out. Returning to the room was a trail of pot, dope, Mary Jane, marijuana, herb – whatever you want to call it. It was all up the stairs and lead to a sweater just outside our door. Bizarre! I picked it up and brought it into the room. Upon inspection there were buds hanging off the inside of this sweater… tons of it… it was packed (say 2 cups or more). We came to the conclusion that someone must have been carrying a huge amount of dope in this sweater and then just dumped the sweater because it reeked of skunk weed. After some thought we decided to just throw the sweater in the garbage. So we did. Traveling in another country you don’t want to have anything to do with this sort of thing… I was out but later on the girls told me that the hotel staff came to the door wanting to come in. They said that there was a leak from the room below coming from out bathroom. Nonsense – they just wanted to see if we were the ones that made the trail of weed and inspect the room. Crazy! We found out later that this is the harvest time for all the pot growers in this region particularly Garberville, CA… this 2 weeks is where all the California product is cut, dried, and clipped and this is the biggest town around. Looking around you could see people smoking it on the streets and when I did a load of laundry there was some in left in the dryer off someone’s cloths. Not to mention everyone was walking around with this glazed squinty appearance. After a long day we decided to hit the hay. Originally, I think the gals were going to sleep with their camping gear on the floor but eventually we all climbed into the king bed. We flipped and turned all night not getting any sleep. It was awesome! We were taking turns being the filling in the middle, then the bread, then the filling again. Every time someone would get up to go pee it was a noisy stumble to the washroom followed by giggles. It was so funny we laughed and laughed. It was great… However, all good things must come to a divide. Time to all go our separate ways with different time lines, budgets, and plans. It was wonderful but time for everyone to part as friends. What a great memory.

2) Massive tree! Drove through a huge tree… that was surreal. 

3) Hill from hell! Ascended 2000ft up a windy hill. At the top a jumbo plane was jetting across the sky and since they travel at ~3000ft it looked so closer than I have ever seen on the ground. 

4) New friends with a dog that tows a bike up hills. Didn’t take long to meet another couple grinding away on the pacific coast. They are the coolest! He’s like a photographer for national geographic with all his laptops and photo equipment. He makes money updating a website while bike touring. They have been on the road for 4 months. Actually I’m not sure if they have a fixed address because when he gets back he wants to live in a tent because he loves this lifestyle… what a cool outlook. When I held out my old primitive camera to take a picture and he volunteered to record a video of me going downhill and then email it to me. I agreed and it was such a rush- I could hear him drafting behind me! This guy is a total pro and it’s so nice so see someone so passionate about pictures and bike touring. Two nights ago we met this random dude that bought a Bed and Breakfast that definitely needs work. The house was built in 1875 and we didn’t want to use the plumbing just in case. He took us in for the night. Adrian, the owner, fed us dinner and gave us coffee in the morning before we left. Such a nice man. We all spit a hotel last night. Separate beds this time of course. Tonight I’m in a hotel in my own room. I’m going to consider getting some camping gear, as I don’t want to miss out on that type of experience. I should be in San Fran in 3-4 days… ;-)

5) Biking though light through trees. In the morning the way the fog and the light were refracting made this incredible spectrum of beams we biked through… it was magical… 

I have a heat rash, my butt has never taken such a pounding, legs are jello, but I feel great. This is all worth it… even the discomfort makes you feel alive and deserving of the intense pleasure and satisfaction around each corner that is yet to be explored. So free – so alive. This really is a trip of a lifetime. The fun continues tomorrow. Need to do some laundry in the bathroom sink. Have a wonderful evening.

Day 29: No food and bike gear.

I arrived at this hostel late yesterday and there are no stores for 6 miles (plus a biker unfriendly tunnel). So I’ve been living off the free shelf. Breakfast – black coffee. Lunch – stale potato chips and raisin bran cereal – bizarrely tasty with a cup of hot tea. Can’t wait for dinner scraps. 

Bike gear = Less is more! I’ve packed and re-repacked – see the video and see how little you really need. Enjoy!

Day 32: Vacation from the vacation. 

Today wasn’t just a day off from cycling – it was a mini-holiday. A nurse friend I met in Hawaii is living in San Francisco and drove an hour or so to Santa Cruz to hang out for the day. With no destination in mind we just drove around aimlessly without a care in the world. Every time we saw something we liked we stopped. It’s good for the soul to explore without a set destination and just see where the wind takes you. We stopped at the best store ever called: Trader Joes – dirt cheap and healthy. Went to an antique outdoor market. Had some mimosas at for lunch. Went for a walk around the scenic university and saw some crazy dudes with antlers on their bikes wearing a bear cape! Bought some cycling shoes at a bike store while checking out a $4,000 road bike. Smelt the pungent pot fumes on High St. and watched the people that looked like glazed donuts. Walked out on the sunny Santa Cruz pier. Fed the brave birds, gawked at the noisy sea lions. Enjoyed a thrill on a roller coaster. Ate spicy Chinese food. What a relaxing wonderful day.

Day 33: Lost in the brussel sprouts and indecent exposure. 

This morning I discovered a persimmon tree. I wanted to taste fruit so hunted down a chair and a mop. I beat the tree into submission until it gave up its sweet fruit. The first bite was terrific but soon after my mouth felt like cotton balls. Such a strange feeling that it made the experience unpleasant and I stopped eating instantly even though the persimmon was tasty. I cycled through open farmland for miles. The majority of irrigated plantations were strawberries and brussel sprouts. Huge powerful sprinklers boomed in the distance. They looked more like army artillery than farm equipment. I enjoyed watching the motion of the water streams out of sync with their echo. I saw again and again the stereotypical scenario of one white fat man commanding mobs of short Mexicans with brimmed hats. More tractors on the roads than cars. I got lost – terribly lost. I asked directions several times only to get contradictory responses. I think someone drives them to work and they aren’t paying attention. Anyways, I circled till I found my way – eventually. I am happy to have “taken the long route” I saw roads off the beaten path with hidden gems – like this little kid that stole his bothers candy and ran into the road almost getting hit my be and the tractor behind. Priceless. 

Indecent exposure. We’ve all seen it… the guy that just got off his bicycle wearing the tightest cycle shorts, one size too small. His bulges so pronounced, your eyes roll and you stand with your back to him so you don’t get an accidental glance of his manhood. You kinda want so tell him, “hey look, stop prancing around in those ball hungers and put some pants on or wrap it will ya? In all honesty, was that guy about a week ago? I rolled into a town last week and kept thinking I dropped something because all people I would talk to kept looking down – “below the belt”. I figured it out. If I un-tuck my t-shirt and let it droop over – problem solved. I feel better, guys feel better, and women make eye contact, (this is what it must feel like for women with naturally large mammary’s and guys with magnetized eyes). Take if off display and problem solved. 

Tomorrow is the most beautiful scenery on the trip. Stay tuned! 

Day 34, 35, 36: Night cycling – in search of a campsite and clarity of “thy” self.

Peddling into the night, chards of splintered glass sparkle a kaleidoscope of colours and intensities under my powerful front headlamp; stars twinkle, and the reflected moon shimmers a blue oval across the still ocean. The setting is more like a fairy-tale then legendary “Big Sur” along the Pacific Coast. Searching for a campsite, 5 miles, then 10 miles… There must be one around here… perhaps the next bend? Keep going… just keep going. The cold, dank, moist air sets in, and creatures of the night stir. Hearing movement in the forest and catching a glimpse of penetrating creature eyes makes all of your senses hyper-aware. You strain to listen, and breathe softly. You’re alert, aware, and must carry on. Creatures on the side of the road, scurry back to their borrows, as you trespass on their doorstep. You need shelter, you need rest. Admitting defeat, your brain starts to look for suitable flat, protected ground with promise to curl up for the night or at least a couple hours till daybreak. Denying your exhausted body to slow, you shove on. Every sound and movement in the forest delivers a new rush of adrenaline that keeps you strong… Everywhere you look is lumpy, noisy, and too “side of the road” for any acceptable “stealth” camping. Just then… A CAMPSITE… There is a big sign that says… no after hour entries, and a huge uninviting locked gate. You ignore the warnings and drag your fully loaded tour bike on its side under the steel gate. Deposit $35 in the office box and set up camp. Awake to the smell of bacon – you made it. Taking a moment to appreciate, you hear a river, and air through trees, crows pecking the dirt. Adventure… here it is… enjoy it… revel in it… soak it up… No shower, no nothing… you pack up, fill your water bottles, eat a granola bar, and hit the road.

Today, I learned cycle touring is the perfect mix of fear, pain, beauty, and excitement mixed to create the most exhilarating cocktail of awareness. Perhaps it works because it mimics our evolution: fleeing for our life, working hard, then being rewarded with rest, food or beauty. I know one thing – each day on the road you are fully present, totally awake, and completely alive. It’s bizarre the way the deprivation of some comfort feels like such a reward when that comfort is finally received. 

Today is day 36 without a phone call home or anything familiar to Victoria life. I am feeling the way I felt when I was a child – not a care in the world, playing and enjoying – just because it feels good. I’m thrilled not to be bogged down by distraction. I’ve discovered, when alone, I talk to myself. I struggle and argue until topics finally resolve. Sometimes, I get stuck on an issue – sometimes for days. I don’t let go and keep focused, and persistently come back to it. Then all of a sudden it just clicks – the answer. It feels so good to get the true “me” answer. To have opinion, and to know where you stand, and to know you have systematically considered every angle and let your rational and subconscious chew away till the naked bone of the matter is reveled and evaluated. The harder the question, the more satisfaction is derived when that sharp crystallization of opinion is formed. Then to own it. To become comfortable with it. Saying it out loud, re-affirm it, singing it; and by doing so letting the solder cool as to solidify the newly established hardwiring. It feels like a computer being upgraded and the trash emptied. Ready to go on to bigger and deeper considerations. 

At home, I can never go deep into “thy” self because of relentless distractions – usually the phone, oh yeah and the TV… oh and don’t forget food… etc.. Getting clearer makes me feel at peace and that this trip was worthwhile. I thought this trip was going to be a fitness vacation but has turned out to be a mental discovery. This bike ride has been such a gift. Seldom do we take time to talk to ourselves. We have lost our intuition in the present day hustle and bustle, thinking, scheming… We are so busy… we live in a world of 911 emergency distress calls; never, looking inward, always pre-occupied with circumstances that seem relevant at the time, but in the big picture unimportant. I think it’s in our broken culture that keeps us lusting for more, or “if I just had that home on the beach”, or “that new car” then I’d be happy. Wrong! It’s never enough. The further you look, the further you see into yourself. I don’t think it ever ends, but you can get closer and get clearer. I’m no Dalai Lama but he seems happy to me and I bet he knows himself better than most and probably has similar struggles but on a different level. Improvement and advancement in thy self, always feels good.

Note to self: I promise myself to break-free from the status quo jail of distraction our present day culture encourages. Even though, at times it may not seem logical to many, to live with intuition and to evaluate and choose the best course. To create an environment that encourages my inner child play. To keep my true self at the top of my awareness and to choose wisely from the heart regardless of how viewed from others.

Day 37: Taking pictures while cycling and bloody thighs.

Before I was a realtor, I wasn’t much of a multi-tasker. However, my ambition as junior realtor was to connect with many people. My goal was to make 100 phone calls a day – I didn’t care who – and sometimes I’d call my mom 2-3 times to make my target. Since you’d rack up roughly 4000 airtime minutes a month, you’d just have to run your life holding the phone, (car-phones and Bluetooth were uncommon). You’d feel the warmth from the phone, which I believe, was an amalgamation of radiation and battery discharge. To this day, I have a varicose vein from where the antenna my mobile phone would touch my hip’s side – I literally slept with my phone on my holster. You become skilled at doing things while simultaneously holding the phone. This is probably how new mothers feel when carrying their new addition. I’m not proud of this, but I learned how to flush the toilet while running out of the washroom door to muffle the noise, or text while driving. I had the old school “TREO ONE” which would require a stylus pen to text messages- I’d have to anchor the phone against the steering wheel with one hand and text with the stylus with the other hand. Going around corners was precarious and just plain stupid. Luckily, I never did get in an accident. Today, I love taking pictures while cycling. I believe all those times playing with the phone and driving developed a transferable skill of holding the camera while steering with the other.

“I’ve learned so much, and have been lucky to have met so many wonderful people that sincerely helped me along the way.”

Today I cracked 1350 miles or 2173 Km. I’ve been trying to ignore a heat rash that’s been brewing in my inner thighs and where my weight grinds my Brooke’s saddle. Today it couldn’t be ignored. I’ve tried everything: new cycle shorts, wool underwear underneath, plain shorts – (I even kept the fly down for added ventilation), cycling with my legs open, 3 different kinds of creams: Penaten, DeNutz, and prepH. Today, the heat rash is severe… Cracking with blood mixed with the creams to create a terrific mess, (Borsht?). I calculate about 6-7 days of riding left but I’m going to slow down and take care of this ailment. Rest days are the only answer I can think of. One way or another, if I have to crawl, I’ll make it to Mexico. If anyone has any advice on sever chaffing or heat rash please share.

Day 38: Rain

Strange seeing rain soak the brown dying thirsty-craved grass along the Highway 101 in Southern California. In fact, I didn’t seem like rain at all – more like suspended vapour that would instantly fog any glass and saturate most resistant gortex upon contact. Visibility was horrible and drivers were as speedy as ever. I over-heard a conversation and that if there are 4 consecutive days of rain it makes the front headlines news in the local papers. I arrived at my accommodation about 2 ½ hours before check-in. Having time to kill, I quickly found a movie theater. The manager kindly allowed me to store my loaded tour bike in their secure storage room. I enjoyed the latest James Bond. Planned tomorrow’s ride and now time for stretching and body some maintenance before I retire. Another wonderful day a la road. I can almost sense the Mexican border with mile closer. Can’t wait for tomorrow. 

Day 39: Tree Oranges.

Picked small juicy oranges from a tree today. There were hard to peel but wonderfully sweet. I devoured them like an animal half pealing them and half squeezing them in my mouth… I ate and ate till I was a dripping mess and my mouth was burning. Healthy, satisfying, and delicious.

Day 41: Statistics and Plant life. 

Flat tires: 6
Crashes: 1
Wet Days: 17
Dry Days: 25
Distance to Date: 1475miles (2373Km)

Where the water goes, life flows. Wide-open land with dusty desert like soil divided, as if by a line drawn in the sand, separating lush green trees, bushes, plants, exotic flowers, Eucalyptus, Orange, and some kind of nut with triangular seed. It’s beautiful here. Sandy beaches with large birds of prey are abundant. Drivers are fast, food is expensive. 

Day 42: Biking a centurion and old friends. 

Today I biked 106 miles or 171 Km. I had always wanted to bike over a 100 miles in a day and today I got that chance. Palm trees are abundant, and weathered mountain bluffs are breathtaking. I just kept my head down and cranked hard from morning till dusk. I’ve discovered it’s more of a mental thing that I expected. Your body says no… we haven’t been here before… abort… abort… and your mind just pushes you through. It’s really quite flat entering LA and beautiful with the sun setting. Can’t wait for thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and a hot tub.

Last night I stayed with Miles Banick a high school friend I have not seen for 20 years. Tonight I’m staying with Ratcheal Biggs another long lost friend I have not seen for nearly 2 decades. Both offered for me to stay with them from following my facebook posts. Both are so wonderful. A real treat to be greeted with open arms. I am so appreciative. Thanks you for your hospitality. A true gift – I hope one day I can return the favour.

Days 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49: Canada to Mexico Cycle Adventure FINISHED!!!

Total Distance: 1700 miles (exactly!) or 2734 Km
Starting weight 238lbs
Finished weight 221lbs 
Flat tires: 7

MEXICO! MEXICO! MEXICO! The wonderful Spanish speaking paradise finally under my toes. 49 Days of travel through rain, hail, traffic, and absolute spectacular magnificence. I arrived to be welcomed by my high school friend, Christine Carey. Her family prepared such a wonderful meal and arrangements for my visit – I am truly grateful. 

Reconnecting with long lost friends, (20 years from the past) has been overwhelmingly precious. I was craving an adventure and now I can honestly say this has been one of the best journeys ever; losing weight, seeing past friends, learning about myself, and seeing beauty has awoke something inside. This trip has refueled my desire to go back to work hard at real estate, and to stay fit. After a couple days of relaxing, I’ll take the train from San Diego to Seattle, then the Clipper ferry home to Victoria. 

It feels so good to watch dust collect on my bicycle today, knowing that my bruised buttocks can now heal. I’m sitting back and smiling.

I finished what I set out to do. 

I am so fortunate to have the health and resources to complete such an excursion. Somehow, I always found what I needed to, at just at the right time to keep this challenge manageable. Some moments were not pleasurable, but extraordinarily rewarding. I think you appreciate more the things you have to dig deep to accomplish.

I’ve learned so much, and have been lucky to have met so many wonderful people that sincerely helped me along the way.

 

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