The Avenue of the Redwoods--one of my favorite sections of the trip
Writing that phrase "this, too, shall end," it's beginning to sink in how close I am to finishing this epic adventure. Currently in LA, I am just three biking days from the Mexican border. Sadly, I even purchased my plane ticket back to Boston, meaning the previously open-ended adventure is, well, no longer so open-ended. Jess and I parted ways in San Francisco, as we both had different aims for the Southern California part of the trip (Jess--surfing for free, Mel--finishing the trip before the money runs out). So while it's been interesting traveling alone, we've certainly met enough interesting people in our travels so we're never actually lonely. After visiting my aunt and uncle in Menlo Park and getting a ride further south around some forest fires, I ran into a band touring by bicycle and was immediately promoted to band manager. I've unfortunately missed all of their shows since I met them and haven't booked them any gigs, but hopefully I'll be able to help sell CDs at their LA show tonight. Check out their personal myspace pages: http://myspace.com/jamesmiska and http://www.myspace.com/musicbykazoo (sorry Chaz I don't know your website). I also biked with Warm Showers host Saul from Seattle, who flew down to meet the Jess/Mel Bike Touring Attempt 2009 Tour but ended up getting only Mel. Touring with Saul was a blast. As Jess put it just a few moments ago on the phone, "So, what was it like getting up before noon and actually knowing where you're going?"
A few other things I've learned on the road:
Hit the Road, Jack
It takes a minimum of 1.5 hours for me to get on the road in the morning--pack up camp, fit it all neatly into two bags and a stuffsack, load up my bike, cook breakfast, and haul myself over the saddle. Shortest time getting ready: 55 minutes. Longest time: 4.5 hours. We were staying in Fort Bragg with some Warm Showers hosts who have a "Bicyclists' Cottage" where they host friends, relatives, and itinerant bikers. I got ready, took another look at the bed, and went back to sleep for two hours.
Even once I'm on the road, it takes a while to get moving. No matter how hard I try, the first 20 miles of every day usually take me about 3-4 hours because I stop to eat and hike so many times. I'm using a comprehensive book called "Bicycling the Pacific Coast," which I refer to as "The Bible." I take about 95% of the side trips they recommend, which makes it pretty slow going. After all, who knows when I'll be back here?
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bike Nutrition
"Eat like a fat person." That is the best advice I've gotten for nutrition on a bike tour. Anything you want, any tkime you want, in any amount you want. During a normal biking day (aiming for 60+ miles, usually doing about 55 miles) I'll eat about 4,500 calories. In real life, we're always inunadated with eating schedules and trying to overcome our eating urges. So it takes a little while to start paying attention to what your body is telling you. Your body is built to tell you exactly what it needs: craving for Lays potato chips means I'm low in sodium, salivating for a juicy hamburger means I'm hurting for protein (or we just passed a McDonald's billboard), or itching for a beer means I need more carbs (ok, maybe that one's a stretch). I often feel like a gas tank, partly because I buy food at so many gas stations, but also because I have to eat before my stomache hits empty. After one day of biking 45 miles without eating anything and totally crashing, energy-wise, the next day, I stop myself and remind myself to eat and drink every hour.
When biking, you develop a taste for strange things. My absolute favorite biking food: buying frozen perogies and eating them throughout the day as they thaw. A piping hot Cup 'O Noodles, laden with preservatives and sodium as it is, can't be beat. But even better than that is my B Vitamin Break.
B Vitamins consist of: beef jerky, berries, beer, and lately, iBuprofen. Around 4:00-6:00 pm, my prime biking hours (perhaps due to 4 years of frisbee practice during that time), I like to have some combination of those B vitamins to push those last 30 miles before dark.
I Saw the Signs
In addition to the massive amounts of roadkill witnessed on America's highways and byways, aside from my terrible singing and tribal war whoops on the downhills there's not a whole lot to keep me occupied. Which is perhaps why I've been paying so much attention to the roadside signs...
Means the climb is ending! Hooray!
This is my favorite sign of all--yahoo!!!!
There are some strange roadside attractions, like this giant Paul Bunyon at the Trees of Mystery in the Redwoods (yes, Jess and I successfully sneaked into here also).
Our first night in California was the first time we had seen the sun since entering the Oregon coast--and what a beautiful sunset it was!
Here's a picture of our loaded bikes from the Oregon Coast just south of Yachatz.
Some random facts:
Some random facts:
- My gear weighs 42 pounds, of which approximately 8 percent are made up of PBJ supplies
- In Portland, you can buy rhinocerous tranquilizer as a recreation drug (who knew?)
- Despite popular belief, my legs look awful: covered in bike grease that Dr. Bronner's just can't tackle, speckled with bruises from my heavy bike banging around, and a giant bruise on the back of my thigh from jumping into a river in northern California from a 30 foot cliff and executing it poorly
We've raised about $1,600 from our generous friends and family. I'll probably be focusing more on the fundraising when I get home, but we'd love to reach $2,000 before I get to Mexico. You can donate by clicking here. Or, if you know of somewhere where I can do a presentation about the trip, please e-mail me!
Thanks again for all of your support and help. I can't believe the end is actually in sight!