Interactive Route Map

Thursday, November 29, 2012

3 months of hiking...

Does a person a lot of good.

My original goal was to hike from New York to Georgia. 2 days before my departure I broke my toe, then pinched a nerve in my neck the morning of. Everything was telling me to hold back; to stay in the comfort of the known. I had a package to deliver to my friend OnTrak and figured I could do a couple of days and come back.

I'm glad I forced myself to go out and hike, and I'm glad I kept at it. The past 3 months have been pure bliss. I hiked 1287 miles (more then half of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine - Georgia) in 78 days at an average pace of 17 miles a day with two zero days. Considering the weight of my pack during most of the trip (hovering right around 45 lbs), my broken toe, major foot pain and the colder weather I am very satisfied with my average.

My days divided up as follows: 11 hours for sleep, 11 hours for hiking, and an hour in the morning and evening to cook and get ready to hike or sleep. Compared to my 10,000 mile bike tour this was 5 times harder, both physically and mentally. Here are some highlights:

- Falling into a pool of freezing stream water.
- Slack packing 42 miles and then starving for 3 days as I ran out of food.
- Mentally loosing all my shit on Thunder Hill in Virginia.
- Getting out of the pool at the Red Roof Inn, realizing there were no towels, and running past the front desk with OnTrak in underwear yelling "You're out of towels in pool room! Fackkk!"
- Ordering Pizza & Subs at every pizza place & never being able to finish everything, feeling like a bloated whale afterwards and then hungry again after an hour of hiking.
- Receiving numerous Trail Magic from all the angels out there!
- Hanging out with ponies at Greyson Highlands.
- Taking down Body Shops like pros and being lazy yellow blazers.
- Freezing half to death, toes & fingers numb from climbing under rhododendron bushes all day in heavy snow and hearing at the end of the day Flower say: "On the bright side, at least it's not raining!"
- Trying to put on frozen shoes with frozen laces after fighting to put on frozen sock.
- Waking up at 5:30 and hiking by 7 AM.
- Night-hiking alone, in the middle of no where, & feeling more at peace then one could ever describe.
- Gathering wood for all the fires that never failed to warm my spirit.
- Feeling like a complete bum, sitting outside gas stations and stores, smiling at people as they went by.
- Getting to see Washington DC and adding Tennessee & Delaware to the list of states I've been to.
- Every shower I took, probably a dozen in total.
- Every real- hot meal I had. Except for the pizza in Daleville, that shit was nasty.
- Free- climbing a 40 foot cliff on the Blue Ridge Parkway, getting stuck 5 feet from the top and hyperventilating, wondering if I would die or end up paralyzed if I fell.
- Trying to scare a bear away at the Priest Shelter that would not go away.
- Swimming across the Shenandoah River and getting sucked under by the current.
- Chasing cows and trying to touch one while hiking through the many pastures.
- Hiking and camping in the snow, trying to pitch our tents outside a shelter and failing miserably due to the wind.
- Running down a mountain and completing 6 miles in an hour. 
- The shooting stars, sunsets, sunrises and incredible views.
- Hiking, meeting & talking to all the people out on the trail- OnTrak, U-Turn, Aqua, Johhny Walker, Shake, Late Lunch, Wanderlust, Dunn, Halfway, Flower, Chucky da Fish, Heavy Panther, Crocket, Kansas Express, Acorn, Orange Crush, the many day hikers, northbounders & others whose names I can't remember.

I made it back to New York City on Thanksgiving Eve after a 15-hour Amtrak ride from hell, devoured a satisfying meal & unrolled my pad on the front porch. My mom asked me if I was "so excited to take a shower!", dumbfounded I looked at her and replied with; "why? I took one a few days ago & I didnt't even hike yesterday, I should be good for another couple of days." On that note I peed in the bushes, crawled into my sleeping bag slept soundly for 12 hours(except for my midnight lunch snack of course).

Currently I'm having some trouble re-adjusting, something I didn't experience after my much longer bike trip. I definitely changed quite a bit which wasn't evident to me while I was out hiking.

I am no longer able to sit and mindlessly watch Television and commercials like I did before, nor ignore all the ad's around me. With the "Holiday Season" upon us I feel more detached from the "real" world and just want to live simply in an environment that suits me. I hear people complaining and it bothers me. It seems as though people complain about complaining and then complain some more about problems that they created for themselves in the first place.  It goes beyond consumption and complaining though, I feel as though I'm much more in tune with my surroundings and people when I talk to them. I sense their unhappiness and anger, and it makes me wonder why I keep coming back to this place.

The goal for now is to save up some money and get some lighter gear. I learned on this previous hike how little I truly need to be content and how great it feels to hike with a lighter pack. I'd like to get my base weight (everything minus food & water) down to around 10 pounds. To save weight I'll cut my toothbrush in half, eliminate any extra straps and mesh, and shave every ounce that I can off of my gear. I plan on carrying no more then 25 items (including each sock counted as a separate item), and head out to California around February to hike from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. It stretches some 2600+ miles through deserts, snow fields, and the highest peaks in the US with less towns, more risk and even greater rewards.

Happy Holidays,
BrokenToe.

Fortune!2
U-Turn & myself recieved the same fortune


Grayson Highlands ponies terrorizing OnTrak (Ending is epic)

OnTrak & BrokenToe
The most beautifullll view on the entire trail! (or so we're told)

Colorful
Fall colors

Fira
Sitting by the campfire

In the middle of the Shenandoah River!
Crossing the Shenandoah River

yohosobo
Halfway, Flower & myself.

epic
Pony

Harsh
Summit of one of the bald mountains

More Photos Here!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Unfinished stories and upcoming torture.

I finished my bike trip on a date that eludes me, on the George Washington Bridge surrounded by teammates. The next day I was so weak I couldn't get out of bed and ended up in the ER a few days after. After receiving a mighty fine bill for 2 tylenol and 30 minutes of "rest" in the hospital I went home, rested, and started working soon after. The 70 hour work weeks became the norm the past three months, and now I'm a bit apprehensive to leave again to go walk in the woods.

I often wondered why so many people never finish their blogs nor go on any other adventures ever again. I think that part of the reason is that it's a thousand times more difficult to leave again after settling down then it is to do it for the first time. I'm scared. I don't say that often, but I'm scared of being miserable out on the hike. I'm scared of the rain, the cold, the nagging thoughts on food and a dwindling budget. I'm scared of myself, I'm scared of being lonely. I'm not scared of bears though.

I don't need to go and prove anything to anyone anymore. I never did, except maybe to myself. In a way the whole 8 months I spent riding a fucking bicycle around the country seem like a waste of time. People often ask me "Oh! it must have been so wonderful! What was your favorite part?" I don't know what to say. I got up and biked. I then biked the next day, and the next day. Over time I biked around the country. I saw things; I met people. It was great. Hooray.

Maybe I'm just down on life, maybe it's something else. I'm sick of the city and I'm sick of the uncertain. Life on the road is over-romanticized. It's nothing but torture and pain day in and day out.

I'm having a bad day.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

(:

Monday, June 4, 2012

What brings you to Ohio?

"I said damn if I know."

April 30th, 2012.

Leaving Chicago wasn't as bad as entering it- I stuck mostly to bike paths to go south east. Indiana was a lovely state. It had very well paved roads (including wide shoulders) as well as many places to pull out and camp. I decided that the Yellow River was the place to camp out the one night I spent in Indiana and it proved to be a nice quiet night on what I assumed to be hunting lands.

I got to Warsaw, Indiana the next day where I hoped to find a good Polish diner and enjoy some pierogis. At the gas station I was told that all they have as far as foreign foods go was Greek. I didn't want Greek! I went to the Visitor center where the nice ladies broke the news to me in a gentle manner; there is very little polish culture in Warsaw. I was told the lake-side restaurant had some good pizza. I didn't want pizza! My stomach was set on some polish cuisine, not Italian nor Greek. I left Warsaw disappointed with a growling tummy.

I was intimidated by the East whenever I would look at a map. Roads went everywhere, which one should I take? It all looked messy and unorganized. In the west there was a road that went north-south and a road that went west-east, and I could get on a road and stay on it for days (like hwy 64 in New Mexico). Navigating the east came back to me rather quickly though and I enjoyed quiet farm roads that went through little towns as I made my way into Ohio.

What brings you to Ohio?

I stopped in Continental, Ohio and filled my water bottles at a gas station. The employees could not control their laughter as I made my way through the store dirty, unshaven and wearing tight spandex. "I biked here from California and am..." Laughter stops. "You did what!?" By the time I left I had 3 new best friends at a gas station in Ohio.

The part of Ohio I went through was mostly farm land and it was hard to find that "perfect" campspots. Trees were sparse and few in between though I managed to find a grove in which the local rancher let me camp out in. At this point what I ate didn't matter anymore. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner and then ate ham & lettuce sandwiches for most of the next day.
My stove became dead weight.

It rained on and off and by the time I was ready to set up camp the next day all that looked promising was an RV ground ( I won't call it a "camp" ground as there is very little camping going on. I think "parking ground" would be a better way to define these fine establishments). The gate was closed so I called the owners, they said to come on by. When I saw the amount of RV's scattered all around I turned my nifty bike and trailer around and all the owners saw were my tires shooting gravel everywhere as I dashed out away from people and society once again. I knocked on someones door to ask if I could camp in the woods in front of their house. No one answered so I perceived the answer to be yes, even though those damn yellow Posted signs were everywhere. It was fine, no one came by waking me up in the middle of the night with a rifle pointed at my head asking me "Whacha doing here boy".

The morning held onto the rain, though the drizzle turned out to be quite refreshing. I passed a house in which a garage door was open and 3 people were inside. One woman looked like she was cold and uncomfortable, the other two were shifting through a whole bunch of crap. The garage was filled with shit; shit that owned these people. I was having a low day (fuel pump broke, everything was wet) until I rode past these folks. I realized how glad I was that I wasn't them and instead myself, almost possession-less save for a few items, riding along at whatever pace the wind allowed me to. I though about how they probably pitied me, went inside, made some hot coffee and stayed inside the whole day. I pity them just as well, for they know not of the pleasure of being free.

In East Canton I stopped to buy some fruit. The cashier, a cute gal with a pretty rad name which I can't remember now gave me directions out of the city and was the first person in the East to understand my unconventional camping style. I was in the mood for a pine tree grove with a view of some farmland and found just that. The neighbor was cool about it as well after making sure I wouldn't burn the whole forest down. I think pine trees inspire peace within me.

I crossed into Pennsylvania the next day after being interviewed by a reporter in East Liverpool, OH. Story here

The rolling hills began, the camping and food was great, the people rather nice. I got to Pittsburgh, had a Pittsburger cheese steak topped with coleslaw & fries (I learned about this restaurant in New Mexico after watching a food show) and made my way (slowly) out of the city. The road was busy and a pain to ride on. I stopped at a McDonald's after the rain began and enjoyed the company of a sweet girl who kept refilling my iced tea. I can't quite remember what was sweeter- her, or the artificially flavored tea.

My kinda road (: 2




Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hospitality & Chicago

I'v often thought about how people affected my trip. How kind everyone has been, how often I've been invited in. It was no different when I arrived at Bob's Hunting Lodge. Robyn ushered me in and got me some towels so I could dry myself off. She mentioned they were going to flag me down when they saw me going by their windows. I got to chow on some pie and told some of the hunters at the lodge my story but was set on leaving shortly. The rain never stopped and the wind kept howling (stripping shingles off of the roof)and the kind folks invited me to stay for dinner and the night as they had some spare beds. I didn't want to loose too many miles so Robyn offered to drive me out east a bit the next day as she was heading to Sioux Falls.

Bobs Hunting Lodge- Bob, Robyn & Carmelo
Rob, Robyn & Carmelo

I had some of the best Lasagna ever that night (sorry Mom!) and slept soundly. The storm passed during the night, Robyn drove me out to Vermillion, SD, in the morning (and left me with some Apple Pie, 5 pounds of cold cuts, bread and snacks)and after a few miles I crossed the Missouri River into Nebraska. People were super friendly, everyone waved or smiled. I thought it was a great day until I see a black cat start to cross the road. "NO" I yelled. The cat looked at me, startled; yet frozen in time. "Please... listen to me Cat, I don't want any problems, just turn around and go back to where you came from... Yes?". "STOP! No! Don't move, please!". At this point I am yelling as loud as I can at some cat that has made it about 60% across the road. I see the neighbors door open and 3 people come out. I smile and wave nonchalantly at them and then speed across both lanes of traffic (very little traffic) in hopes of scaring the cat into thinking that I will get to him faster before he can get across and instead it will be smarter for him to turn around and not complete his unfortunate (for me) road crossing. Needless to say it didn't work, he crossed the road, I cursed at him with the people still looking at me and kept heading East. Thankfully nothing bad happened and the next few days were pretty good, although you can never be too careful.

I got on hwy 20 with the goal of crossing the Missouri again and camping somewhere in Iowa but when I saw this path leading to the river side I knew I had to take it. I found a great spot for the night and had pie for dinner. Thanks Black cat!, I guess.

The reason I did this tour.


Iowa is not flat. I never expected to be as hilly as it was. Iowas DOT also doesn't believe in shoulders, and sharing a 10' concrete road with Tractor Trailers wasn't to much fun. I do have to however Thank each and every driver that moved over into the passing lane (when they could) slowed down, waved or honked to inform me he was behind me. I do wish though that a major highway could be designed in a way that doesn't have me looking back every few seconds. I managed 86 miles with a Southerly cross wind and camped right by the road. The forecast called for 10-20mph winds from the WEST and I was set on catching every little breeze that I could. I was on the road before 8 that morning and managed 201 miles in 11.5 hours (12.5 hours with breaks). It was a new 12 hour record for me. I took a nude bath in a stream that night by moon light and was pleasantly happy with myself.

As nature would have it the next day wasn't so fun. The wind was now from the East, rain was falling and the bike path I was told to go on by the Visitor center wasn't suitable for my skinny tires. I got to the Mississippi River at Dubuque and knew perusing a crossing with no information on bridge condition wasn't the greatest idea so I camped out by the River in a park. In the morning McDonalds provided the internet which let me know the closer bridge had no shoulder and only 2 narrow lanes. I took a ride through Dubuque to the northern bridge and my return Mississippi crossing went by without a hitch on a nice wide shoulder.

I went through Wisconsin and then headed south into Illinois, was some 180 miles from Chicago at that point. It didn't rain much but it was cloudy and cold. I stopped at Subway for lunch where a lady was interested in my story. I don't believe I got the couples name but before they left I was handed a one hundred dollar bill and told to get a nice Hotel room. I was pretty moved by this gesture and hope the folks realize how much their generosity meant to me. (Thanks Judy & Gary Bocker!) It wasn't about the money really, just another reestablishment of the idea that people actually care about one another out here.

I didn't get a room for that night as I really wanted to camp out. I found a great spot on some hunting land by the highway and got lucky in the morning when the crew working on the highway nor the sheriff said anything when they saw me coming out of the woods.

I made it across Illinois in 2 days and got to Chicago that night. I stayed with Ethan who I contacted via warmshowers. The roads to get into the city were hell as usual. Chicago was yet another city. Clean, nice. I don't know how to describe cities. An open field? A river, a wooded swamp? No problem, I can write a whole book about that one place. Cities, on the other hand, are too big to truly grasp in any meaningful way on paper. Too much is happening, too many people are moving. I went to Rei and then a Polish Diner before heading out the next day.

Chicago

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yellowstone & Aeolus

(As you might tell from the above map and pictures I have made it to Chicago and am now going across Ohio! I've been lagging on posts as after biking all day all I want to do is sleep all night. I haven't taken as many rest days as previously in the trip, hence my apoligies. My goal is to reach the GWB on May 6th, which leaves me with about 10 days to do some 600 miles.)
Yellowstone looked welcoming & inviting until people started telling me stories of people getting mauled by bears. The fact that I was carrying a pound of ham didn't help to settle my concerns, and I ended up buying a 60$ bottle of bear spray. Whenever I told someone (in west yellowstone) "yeah ill camp out somewhere in Yellowstone tonight" they seemed appalled and told me several times that I'm not allowed to do that. I'm not sure if they were concerned with my safety, protecting the park or just following the law, but they seemed pretty narrow minded.

The roads were clear with some snow on the sides, only a few maintenance vehicles were roaming around. Trees, mountains, streams, snow, animals... I was happy and content, as I was in a place where I truly felt I belonged.

I got to the closed Madison campground and decided to stay there as I could throw all my food in the bear box and not have to worry about using up my 60$ bottle of bear spray. It snowed during the night and I woke up to a picturesque scene of snow covered pine trees.

It snowed most of the next day and it felt like Christmas. I got to Mammoth Hot springs and went into the general store to relax for a bit. At this point my goal was to turn east and head to Cooke City, then traverse my way through 15' of snow as one of the highway passes was closed, and make it down to Cooke City followed by South Dakota. Several people have already mentioned that this would be close to impossible, and being told that I might sink into 15' of snow and possibly encounter avalanches by the rangers made me re think my decision. I figured I could buy snow shoes and get a ski or two for my bike but it wasn't a given whether or not I could find those items in Cooke city. Renting a snow mobile for the day was too expensive and would have been a hassle to transport my bike and trailer on it.

This was a ton of fun
Yellowstone Roads
I met Jerry and his wife, Linda, at the general store and they invited me over to spend a night at their place. I got to take a shower, do some laundry and have some really good conversations with these folks. They do a lot of bike touring and traveling as well and were great to talk to.

It snowed the rest of the day and night accumulating about 6". The closed pass that I was planning on traversing (11200') got some 5' of snow. Since Linda and Jerry were headed up to Livingston (and my plans looked less and less achievable) I agreed for them to take me up to I-90 which I could take east for 200 miles with little snow problems. I started biking around 11 and by 6 had done around 100 miles with the westerly wind on the interstate.

I camped across some folks home at which point sometime during the night the wind changed to the east and would remain this way for the next several days. I considered getting in 60 miles to be an accomplishment as the wind had it's way with me.

The land was flat and I was missing the Rocky Mountains. There is something so appealing about those mountains... I experienced the same thing in New Mexico when crossing them. It was then that the actual decision of doing the Great Divide mountain bike trail (and possibly The Continental divide hiking trail, both follow the Rockies from Canada to Mexico)sometime in the future came about.

I had a package mailed to a post office in South Dakota that was 500 miles away, it was Monday. I had to pick it up on Friday or Saturday morning as I did not want to get stuck somewhere for a whole day waiting til The following Monday to pick it up. This put me on a fast track across the rest of Montana and SD as I had to do about 120 miles daily to achieve this goal.

On Wednesday I got to Broadus, MT and started asking around for good places to camp out at. The supermarket ladies told me that there is a picnic area 40 miles east (it was 7 o'clock). The gas attendant told me I could try the highway weight station as it has a "grassy area". I wanted to ask her if shed like to try and sleep while trucks pulled in and out all night feet from where you were but didn't. Other people weren't helpful at all, some told me to go to the 70$ a night motel. I'm pulling out of town when I see a fishing area by a river. It's had picnic tables and bathrooms, no signs prohibiting camping. I was amazed that these people could live in the same town all their life yet know so little about it. I camped out but was woken up a few times by sheep... Meeeeh, and so I did what I did back in Florida with the boars, tried scarring them away by running out of my tent.

I told this to a rancher in the morning (after I stopped at a post office in the middle of nowhere) and he commented that I should have taken one of the sheep into the tent with me for warmth (as it got down to below freezing) just not to let anyone catch me with it in my tent as it might give me a bad name around town...

That same rancher gave me a ride 50 miles south to South Dakota as I couldn't deal with going 2 miles an hour due to the headwind anymore. I went through Spearfish and then camped out in Black Hills Nat Forest by some forest road.

Going through the forest was really spectacular. I got to the base of the road that goes up to Mt. Rushmore, hid my trailer in the woods and rode up to the monument in style.

The next day I started entering the lovely Indian Reservations of the US. I was praying that they would be different from the ones I went through in the south but was let down with the first sighting of massive garbage piles on the road side. Atop that I had dogs run out at me constantly itching to start gnawing at my feet if I let them; the 20 dead dogs I saw roadside wasn't all too appealing either.

The road through the Badlands, Red Shirt & Pine Ridge Reservation was incredibly scenic as long as you could block out all the garbage that not only littered the road ways but peoples homes. I couldn't, and when I got to the town of Pine Ridge I went their city hall and started complaining from department to department. I talked to several Native Americans, the director of housing, two road directors, the person in charge of pet control (there are only two of them for the whole reservation) and several other board members.

The common answer I got was simple and straight forward: "native americans are lazy." I'm sorry for generalizing here, for these are the words of the non-lazy Native Americans hoping to change things. It turns out when you give people everything for free they stop appreciating it.. Huh, who knew right? I was told how laws (like the 2-pets per household limit) weren't being enforced as everyone knew each other and was somehow related, so no one wanted to fine their great great uncles cousin for it wouldn't be right. I was told of how gang violence is ripping communities apart and how on a regular basis people enter the reservation without ever coming out or being heard from again.

I was taken around from department to department by "lone eagle", a guy who just got out of federal prison. He told me to make it out of the Rez by that night, and was truly concerned about my safety. Several times he mentioned that he could get me food as he had an unlimited EBT card. I thought he was kidding but after the 10th time he insisted I relented and we went to get some groceries. 63$ worth of food, his card covered 61$ of it and the rest went into oblivion. Just like that I got sixty dollars worth of groceries for nothing, just as he does everyday, just as every native American gets for, well, being native American? (some people have limits, others get around 200$ a month in EBT on top of the 800$ monthly check). I think it's great that the government provides them with hundreds of thousands of dollars every month... After all we killed their buffalo and now the poor natives have nothing to eat right?

I continued east ward after that, camped out at another reservation and then got to Winner, SD. I had to get a motel room for the night as the rain was incredibly bad, my tent broke apart and my bike needed some maintenance. I managed to borrow a welder that evening and fixed my tent poles.

In the morning it was pouring out but the wind was from the NW at 20-30 with gusts to 50 so I decided to take advantage of it. To say I was getting blown all over the road would be an understatement. I ended up in the ditch twice and had to stop, hunker down with my brakes on and wait out a few northerly spells from Aeolus as it was just impossible to ride straight.

I was headed down the road when I saw a change of scenery up ahead. It looked wet. The trucks going the other direction from me were drenched, yet I was happy-go-lucky as it wasn't raining where I was. Well the hail started soon after, pelleting me with 1/4" size pebbles. It was hard to see and I decided to take shelter at the next place I could find. I came to what looked like some sort of lodge and pulled into the driveway in hopes of possibly hiding under the porch overhang until the cell passed. Before I even get off my bike the front door swung open and...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Let's talk about a shitty product!"

Hal!


On Saturday after leaving Lolo headed south I saw a gentleman around Stewartsville pulling into his driveway; I stopped and said Hi (he looked rather friendly).

I told him where I was going and he invited me into his house for a rest as he had done a couple months prior with a cyclist who was headed up to Alaska.

Hal turned out to be a very interesting person. He is a 78 year old widower who bakes bread for a hobby. If you ever see him on the street he will make a corny joke about how beautiful you are (if you're a girl) or how lucky you are to have that girl (if you're a guy), then ask you if you'd like to take some of his bread home with you. Pumpkin for 4$ or Banana for 6$, with or without nuts. Or you can have it for free. If this is the business practice all Montanans practice no wonder the state is in such a financial deficit.

Anyway, Hal is a retired door to door salesmen. He never liked to sell thing though, instead he would tell you about his product and you'd have to convince him that you want to buy it and will actually have a use for it. He never worked for money, simply for the joy of doing what he loved.

We talked a lot about God; not the God most people believe in (the same people who go to church, pretend to be spiritual for an hour and then go on screwing one another just as they've been doing an hour ago) but a spirit that exists in everything. Hal believes that spirit also has a path it guides you along, though never forcefully.

Ask a 78 year old about happiness and they will tell you that it's a decision you make; the secret to being happy is to simply: Be happy. Shrug off the negative influences of other people and stay true to who you are. You think you can't, you can you can't. It's all relative.

Hal seems to have a lot of trust and faith in people. He says that he loves everyone. I think that's something that people who live in cities loose very quickly on, innocence and faith. Again, I guess once you know this it depends on you whether you want to keep looking at people in a positive way or not. It's a conscious decision that is made just as doing this trip was for me.

A quote that I will remember Hal by is:

"When you love, Gods light shines on you."

That morning I was going to join Hal at church but had to get going back on the road since the skies cleared up. He let me go with one of his Pumpkin breads and the invitation to come and visit him any time I'd like. I truly hope that I do one day. For the one night that I stayed with Hal I got more insight into what life is truly about then I did in my 12 years of public education. Hal did make me realize a very important thing about myself though; how much anger I still hold inside.


In Natures Realm


Mike and myself hit the road on Wednesday after getting our shit together in Colton, Washington. It didn't look too promising that morning with 1/4" size hail falling and clouds moving in; Mike was even considering screwing the whole "let's bike together!" thing and just driving me as far east as he could but I stood my ground and before long we were crossing into Idaho (on bicycles). After a fast start and a 15 minute descent we headed east along the river with the weather starting to look up.

It was great to have some company along for the ride. Although Mike couldn't keep up with my high stamina and built up leg muscles I had no problem with waiting for him every few miles. We chatted about why I haven't been enjoying the ride recently and about how everything is ultimately up to you to decide. I realized once again how thankful I should be that I'm out here doing what I truly love. I also realized that if I do another extended bike tour I need to find someone to drag out with me.
Snake River, Idaho

Our goal was to get to Orofino, ID and camp out somewhere. Well we got to Orofino, but as soon as Mike saw the billboard "Best Western Hotel- Hot tub & full breakfast" camping was out of the question. We headed out for dinner around 9 only to have every restaurant door close right in front of us. The only place open had the shittiest pizza I have ever had in my life. The long (1/4 mile) walk back to the hotel proved to be too much for Mike so he tried paying one of the waiters to drive us back. It didn't work but we managed to make it back just fine.

It was a rather sad goodbye in the morning (Mike quoted some song from probably the 40's on his blog, brokenspoken.com ), but as we parted ways I just hoped that we will get a chance to meet up again in the future someday. Everyday is a good day.

Riding along the river that day was really spectacular. I got into Clearwater Nat. Forest and camped out right on the bank. A classical "In Natures Realm" played on the radio and I started to feel at peace once again.

I woke up that night to see about 10 cricket-looking bugs stuck on my tent with their bellies eaten/ emptied out. A huge yellow & black bug was deemed to be the culprit. Not wanting to have my belly eaten out I stayed in my tent.

It rained most of the next day yet I managed to get over Lolo Pass (5,200') and camped in a closed Nat. Forest campground after crossing into Montana. I tried making a fire to dry out my clothes but all the wood was soaked (by "making" I mean I put a whole bunch of twigs, logs & leaves into the fire pit, doused it with gasoline from my fuel bottle and lit it on fire) and after a few bursts of flame I gave up. Falling asleep I found myself amused by the whole situation.
Montana!
It warmed up the next day and after hitting Lolo I went south in the valley. After biking for 50 miles I started to get really tired. I stopped at an outdoor "resort" that had a store, cabins, tent sites and a hot tub. When I walked into the store the lady behind the counter smirked "aren't you a little too early?". Her attitude made me think she was going to kick me out and tell me to come back in 2 months. I refilled by water bottles and bought some hot coco. I was going to ask her the price of a tent site but other customers came in. I sat outside drinking my chocolate and upon closing she passed me and said "next time do this in the summer." It was almost as if she was appalled that I would event try to bike there in late march. "Hey bitch, I said, I was going to rent a cabin here and spend a shit load of money at your diner but with that attitude of yours fughettaboutit." I didn't actually say that, but the whole scene made me think back to a postsecret card I read once, it went something along the lines of: " today I was going to kill myself so I called the suicide hotline. The operator was so rude that I filed a complaint instead".

With that I threw out my half- full cup of hot chocolate and a new sense of independence emerged. I felt really confident until I realized I left my water bottles back at the store.

Chief Joseph pass (7400') followed the next day and then into yet another valley (Big Hole) I descended. I camped at 7300' atop Big Hole pass, made pasta with salt for dinner and rice with sugar for breakfast. It got down to around -5° F that night.

On Tuesday I made my way to Dillon where Joe (the bike shop owner) came by just for me (as the shop was closed) and regressed my front hub as it was scaring all the cows away.

I went to Safeway and bought good bread, ham, lettuce, butter, candy, peanut butter and chocolate. It was sandwich time. That night I had the best meal in the long time. I even considered sending my stove back home and living off of ham- lettuce sandwiches for the next month.

Going through Nevada and Virginia city was pretty cool as they both had buildings that dated back to the Montana gold rush. Unfortunately everything was still closed "for the season". It's April silly people!

I descended into yet another valley in which I had to do 10 miles north and 60 miles south as that's how the *only* road went. I knew I was in for a ride when I didn't have to pedal to get to Ennis, instead the southern wind pushed me with quite some force. Well when I turned at Ennis and headed South (into a 30 mph headwind) it ended up taking me 6 hours to do 28 miles. Make no bones about it though, it wasn't raining, I was in shorts, and my lunch ham- lettuce sandwich tasted incredible once again!

It snowed that night as I camped at a BLM campground (for free! and legally as they don't start collecting fees until Mayday) though in the morning the wind shifted and I sailed south into West Yellowstone. My nose is so sunburnt I cant sneeze in fear of it falling of, my face is beet red from all the windburn and constant temperature change, my hands itch with sweat bubbles, and my ear is sunburnt to the point of not being able to sleep on my left side.
chilling
I'm off to Yellowstone! It's supposed to snow a foot but all is alright (:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

F**k this $#!t


I haven't complained much in this blog nor had much to complain about on this trip. That changes with this post.

I remember one time when I got caught in a heavy downpour while biking to school. I got to my first class soaking wet, and by the time it was over I left a huge puddle around my seat. I went home after that, dried out, and flopped on the couch with a cup of tea. You can't really do that out on the road, instead you just leave huge puddles in every store you go into.

My memory is spotty at best of the past few days but I will try to remember the most epic fails and share them with you; in hopes of possibly convincing someone reading this in the future that the Northern Pacific coast is not ideal for biking in March.

I screamed a lot, I know that. I also sang obnoxiously loud, and thought about everything except what I was doing and feeling. My shoes got soaked several times and my feet froze. (Frostbite froze, not just cold froze) My rear tire was so worn that the inner tube started coming out. I broke a spoke and came inches from getting crushed between a guard rail and a semi truck, twice.

Heres a good story for you; I'm fixing my third flat of the day when my tire lever snapped after fighting with it for 10 minutes. I lost it (mentally) and chucked my wheel into the nearby woods. I screamed and cursed, then went into knee deep mud in search for it.

I spent 2 days in Tillamook watching TV at some great warmshowers.org hosts. I didn't want to think anymore. On the road I was going crazy with all the random thoughts popping into my head. Here's a 1 minute excerpt from my head:

What time is it? Why am I so cold? I wonder how they built that handrail. Is my giro guy (food vendor) still back in NY? I need to tell him about my tour when I get back. Yes! The rain stopped. Shit, no I didn't. Dammit I'm so sick of these cars! Whoooosh, whoooosh. Another hill?! Hsiejrhbdowudh. My hands are cold, these gloves obviously don't work. Can I eat my peanut butter sandwich now? NO! 2 more miles, c'mon man! I haven't seen the beach in hours, why is this called the coastal highway again? YES! A gas station just up the road. Let's go inside, spend money, screw my budget, and talk to the people inside for half an hour about my trip. That way I can cool off, get back on my bike and be super cold for an hour before I see another gas station and decide to do this all over again.

So what's next? A bus back to New York.

Just kidding.

I bought some new rain gear and met up with Mike from Vegas. We went to the Portland bike show, then up to Seattle and we are now on our way east to Pullman, WA, meaning I have cheated some 300 miles off the trip. I couldn't give a shit less.

My attitude? Yeah, it's quite different. I'm sick of this shit. It's the end of March and I got my annual spring fever. I though I wouldn't this time around being out on the road and all but the lack of sunlight and constant aggravation makes me feel like shit all the time. Does quitting and going home sound good? Nope. Does continuing sound good? Nope. So what sounds good? Nothing, that's the problem; nothing makes sense. Hence I shall continue with the hopes that all figures itself out soon.

----------------------------------


Alright! That was some of my whining. I feel better now, ready to go out and cross the Rockies, then head into Yellowstone. I have about 39 days to do 2700 miles. If I make it to Yellowstone by months-end I should have plenty of time to finish.

P.S- If you checked out my new flickr photos you might notice that rain is absent in most of them. The reason? I don't take my camera out when its raining, hence you get photos from the 2 minute breaks I was so fortunate to receive between otherwise constant downpours.


This campspot made up for the whole day of misery
Redwoods,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Bad Black Cat

So I've made it up to Eureka after an eventful 4 days.

Saturday went by without a hitch. I started feeling like shit around 4 and wasn't sure of what time the sun set so I camped out at a closed of section on a state park. It rained on and off but nothing too bad. Once I packed camp the next morning it cleared up quite nicely.

On Sunday a black cat crossed my path early in the morning. I'm not superstitious, but started thinking about how it might only effect people in cars. Digging more into it I realized that the saying/ superstition must have been around for quite some time, a time when cars weren't around, and therefore if anything it excludes people in cars. ( I've been doing a lot of rational thinking about irrational things on this trip). Didn't give much thought to it after that.

The day went great until I was getting into Fort Bragg. My shifting was acting up but decided my shifters just needed some oil. I went through town and about 5 miles north my rear derailleur cable snapped. I couldn't shift, was stuck in my lowest gear but was thinking I could make it up to Eureka nevertheless. I threw out that plan when I was walking up the next hill and went into a field to look for a camp spot by the beach. I figured I'd ride back into town in the morning.

Before I realized it my legs were all cut up from thorns and weeds and I was knee deep in Poison Oak. I decided to make some soup for dinner, so I put in a whole bag of mix into my pot and added some water. I didn't realize the mix was meant for half a gallon of soup and ended up with two water bottles full of potato soup. That's when I remembered the black cat.

It rained most of the night (washed away the bad luck I guess) & in the morning I went back to town, fixed my derailleur, did three very tiring hills to go from Hwy 1 to 101, and camped in a Redwood grove overlooking the Eel River.

The winds raged all night and rain kept falling. I could feel the trees swaying and was incredibly at peace with everything.

Going through The Avenue of the Giants was a lot like going to the city for the first time, for you keep straining your neck to see the tops of those that surround you and are filled with awe and inspiration. It felt as those trees had so many stories to tell; I could wonder off into the forest and get lost in there forever. To think that back in the 20's it was all going to be logged is unfathomable.

It doesn't seem like I'm allergic to Poison Oak as my legs look fine, no nasty rash moving in. Tonight will be my last night camping in California, and although I am a bit bummed out as this state has been nothing shy of complete awesomeness I know I will be back here soon.

Away North we go!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Part Two

The Trip Ahead:

Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming (Yellowstone), South Dakota (Badlands), Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois (Chicago), Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York! 4000+ miles, 52 days.

Planned arrival in New York City is around the beginning of May. I'm expecting constant rain through NoCal, the Oregon coast and most of Washington. I'll actually be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't rain for most of the time I'm on the road. Temperature wise it can only get warmer from here on out. (from their current temps, not from the 60's that I'm experiencing out here in Cali)  Yellowstone National Park roads will be open to bicycles only when I go through there in early April. Highway 12 looks like a good option.

That about concludes my planning, it took all but 5 minutes to figure it out; I now feel I'm very well prepared (: I lost my gps in Vegas and maps are a hassle to buy & carry so I will be navigating old school, relying on the sun for direction and locals for road opinions/ options.

I'm doing this part of the trip a little differently, much more focused. I cut my baggage by a third and left only the essentials. No more Pepsi and Coke. Going to start up my Calisthenics routine every morning. Also going to actually stick to my budget this time around, which is set at 40$ a week. No motels, roughing it every night. I have 21 pounds to loose to reach my ideal racing weight. A big goal of this trip will be to build up more mental stamina.

To quote Christopher McCandles (again): "... & now comes the final and greatest adventure. The climatic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage." Although this ride won't exactly conclude what I started (spiritually) back in September (whatever it was), it will definitely close a chapter in the journey.

Wish me luck, will update soon!

W

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happiness in March

It's March and I'm happy. Past Marches I was angry at the weather, disappointed with people, tired of work & school and was watching way too many "Corruption! Greed! Revolution!, change the world" occupy-type movies that didn't help in making me feel any better about the world. This year is different. I spent the past 2 weeks in Culver City/ Santa Monica and have come to truly love this place. The weather is incredible, the cycling phenominal. People are friendly and working out here has been a joy. I should have enough funds now to last me all the way back to New York.

 I took a bus up to San Francisco ( I was hoping to hitchhike on the Pacific Coast Highway but time wouldn't really allow for it) where I was re-united with my bicycle and trailer. The weather is perfect but rain is coming Tuesday, so I'm heading out on Saturday to start Part 2 of my Bicycle tour!

 It feels like I'm staring a whole new adventure again. The jitters & uncertainty is back; though it was a great idea to take the time off the bike. When you travel in the simplistic and natural way that I am you rarely look back at where you've been and what you saw. You think about the future, but mostly you're just in the moment. Being off the bike has allowed memories to come flooding back to me.  In a split second you get these vivid memories of biking on a highway in Louisiana, swimming in the Atlantic in Florida, suffering in the cold and windy New Mexico. It takes a second to actually remember where you were at that point in time, but when you do you forget what you're doing and are taken back to the road.

I will post more on my planned route and takeoff tomorrow,  but for now I just want to thanks some of the people who helped me out in the past month. Mike and Rosa in Las Vegas for letting me stay with them while I worked on their condo and making me gain 10 pounds. My teammate, Ryan Johnston, his uncle JD Johnston & Lillie for letting me stay with them out in Culver City, CA and providing me some work on their house. Geno for letting me borrow his tools and Amy for being cool with me sticking around for 2 weeks. Peter & Christina in Fairfax, CA who let me keep my stuff at their place while I was away. Dan, Steven, Bobby, Autumn, Max and George for helping me get to Las Vegas.  It's been a blast guys! Thanks for everything.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A love for building

     I had always loved to build things. When I was younger I'd often get these urges to just go out and create shit. At first it was cardboard box houses, then it progressed to popsicle stick models. I'd create plans, research ideas and build model homes that had working lights, pools that were hooked up to air pumps and roofs that were hinged so you could look inside. Photos Here As time progressed I started working with my father who taught me everything I know about construction, carpentry, electrical & plumbing. Slowly I got the skills and confidence needed to take on bigger projects.

If you're reading this by any chance Dad, I just wanted to Thank You. I know I wasn't the best student but I hope you know that I appreciate what you have taught me more then anything else in the world.

I got to Las Vegas three weeks ago and renovated a friends condo out here. We put in Laminate flooring, slate tile, tiled kitchen backsplash, moldings/ thresholds and 7 new high hats among other things. Doing all this work made me realize how much I truly love working and how I have missed my tools. Everything is pretty much finished and the place looks great, it's a job that I'm quite proud of.

I've always tell people that I have a trade and love working with my hands when they ask me about college, but was never sure about my answer in the past. I think this whole experience has made it clear to me how much I love what I do and that I don't need to keep questioning myself anymore.


set2
Kitchen backsplash, slate floor. Tile/ Laminate threshold. Moldings
set2b
Master bath tile/ threshold. Tiled entrance. Sexy tan lines.


I am now off to Los Angeles where I will spend a week cycling and training with a couple of teammates. After that it's back to Fairfax where I will pick up my bike and continue onto part 2 of my Tour around the country. (:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hitchhiking Escapades.

The short version:

Stopped by the police, shoo-ed off on-ramps, mistaken for a homeless druggie, confused for a "The Price is Right" contestant, hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail and walked for more hours then I was in cars for. All in all I made it to Las Vegas unharmed and well. Will be working here for at least 2 weeks.

Long version:

It all started on a rainy morning North of Frisco. Peter gave me a ride out to Vacaville as he was heading up to Oregon. I made my sign, "I-15 South!", got an umbrella and found a good on-ramp.

It took quite the mental effort to fly that sign. I normally don't ask people for help, and standing there being passed by hundreds of cars feeling as though you're being scrutinized by each and every person was tough. I was in a town that I knew nothing of, in the middle of California just standing on an onramp trying to hitch a ride. The level of pathetic-ness I felt was overwhelming.

Thankfully within 5 minutes a guy in a pick-up stopped and got me to Woodville. I was on a pretty busy on-ramp when a couple came up to me and told me I had no chance getting a ride here, should take the bus into Sacramento and hit the truck stop. I foolishly listened to them.

I got into downtown Sacramento, checked out the city and took a bus out to the truck stop. What I forgot to consider is what Interstate that truck stop served. Not mine! After a couple of failed attempts at hitchhiking I pitched my tent in a city park and dealt with a mean wind set on ripping my tent to shreds all night ):

I left early in the morning to avoid trouble, took the bus back into Sacramento and figured an on-ramp going out of the city should get me a ride. It didn't; I ended up walking the whole day and covered some 20 miles. Before nightfall I went into a McDonalds to weigh out my options and wait for it to get dark (so I could sleep in someones cozy-looking backyard) when a fellow hitchiker came in. He told me he's been stuck in Sacramento for a week (thought I bet his appearance didn't help in getting him a ride). At that point I figured I'll just walk to Vegas.

We talked for a while before a couple next to us came over and started asking questions. "So how long have you been living on the streets?"

"Uhm, I'm not living 'on the streets' I might be living on the road but not the streets". The guy talked to us about how he was involved in all sort of bad shit when he was younger and how it's not a path we should take, instead we should find God. He offered us some food and got the other hitchhiker 6 burgers and a milkshake.

The next morning I had a plan. I took the bus to the other side of town, dryed out my shit at the laundromat (the look on people's faces when I dumped my whole backpack into a dryer was priceless) and with positive energy emitting out of me got on to the on-ramp, flew my sign for a whole 5 minutes before getting a ride from George who was heading down to Orange county to do his taxes. He thought I was homeless and gay but was relieved when I told him I'm neither (half-true on the homeless part)

I slept under a bridge in Anaheim and in the morning walked along the Santa Ana River trail. I had zero luck on 3 on-ramps and started walking north on a side road. Got a ride from Autumn (who stopped to picked me up even though she had her kid with her) and later from Max who got me to a great on-ramp on I-15. Bobby (a retired business woman originally from Virginia) took me to Cajon Pass. I found out I was right on the Pacific Crest Trail from a gas station attendant and decided to camp out by a creek.

In the morning I didn't want to head back to the road just yet, so I went hiking on the PCT. I hiked some 20 miles headed southbound past Lake Arrowhead, mostly all in the nude. I camped by a creek and made a fire for the first time since South Carolina. When I awoke that morning I was once again enchanted by the woods (desert), serene quietness, and my self-sufficiency.

I hiked back to the road but spent another night on the trail with yet another fire. In the morning while hitchhiking on the side of an on-ramp a highway patrol car pulled over on the other side of the road and with his loudspeaker blasted "NO HITCHHIKING". I got up and he waved while pulling away. I moved up a bit to the intersection ( I was still on the un-paved shoulder, technically not considered a "road" and therefore according to the law I was in the clear.) He didn't seem to think so and on his third round (I managed to see him coming by the second time and pretended to be on the phone) pulled over on the other side of the road again and this time blasted " No hitchhiking... ANYWHERE!". I tried flagging him down to come by and talk to me so I could explain to him it is in fact legal but he just waved. Not wanting to be in handcuffs when he came by the fourth time I started walking up a side road, thumb out. After 3 cars a guy stopped and got me to Hesperia, where another stretch of no rides, miles and miles of walking, and police stops resumed.

I couldn't take the bus into Vegas as I only had a couple of dollars and wandered the streets. I saw a guy charging something by an outlet so I asked him "whacha charging?" - "Just my gps".

Thinking we could compare Garmin models and talk about getting .gpx files to work he lifted up his pant leg and showed me his parole- issued tracking device. He used a whole bunch of street terminology to ask me whether I'm into crack, like it in the rear, and how long I've been homeless. He told me the local church gives bus vouchers and that there is a homeless shelter down the road as well as a squatting place under the bridge. Why anyone would sleep there when there is an awesome mountain with an incredible view up the road is beyond me. I hiked up to the top and slept under the stars and above city lights.

the view from my sleeping bag, oh<3
In the morning I gave in and called up my friend in Las Vegas to ask him to pick me up. I was some 240 miles from LV but knew I wouldn't get a ride. I waited for 3 hours on the on ramp with my sign out (just to see if anyone would stop) and no one did. We cruised to Vegas top-down.

It took me just about a week to get here. While not ideal I definitively did learn a lot about this fine craft.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

A change of pace...

Today marks 120 days on the road, the day I turn 20 years old (no birthday wishes wanted), and the day I start a new adventure:


Hitchhiking to Las Vegas and beyond.


Why you ask? Well, why not? I've got the time and it's getting a bit cold & rainy on the coast. It will be impossible to bike across the Northern part of the country in February/ March. I also have a small job lined up in Vegas that will take about a week to complete and my team is having a sort of training camp in LA at the end of February. I figured instead of rushing ahead North, why not go back and see what I missed in a different type of way?

I'm leaving my bike here in Fairfax, CA with some friends along with more then half of my gear. I bought a 45L backpack and took only the essentials: Tent, sleeping bag & pad, stove & a single pot, some clothes and a few other small items. People backpack around the world with much less so I should be okay. I plan to be back in NorCal in the beginning of March and continue my bicycle tour up north and eventually back east.

"Oh my god what happens when some crazy trucker picks you up and then kills you!?" Won't happen. Real life would not make good movies, and therefore movies do not represent real life in any actual way. Will I meet some crazy people? Of course! Will it be awkward at times? Sure, but it will all be part of this new adventure.

In a way I see the world as my playground now. I feel comfortable out and about. I love the freedom and the ability to do as I please, to sleep where I want. Real life does everything to strip people of that happiness yet I will cling onto it as long as I can. Simply, I love unpredictable travel & I love meeting new people. Aren't we told to do what we love? What can I say, I guess I will be a dreamer forever.

Wish me luck! Best,
Wojciech




Friday, January 20, 2012

Renovo Bicycles

I took a side trip while in San Francisco to Sausalito, just over the Golden Gate Bridge. My destination was the showroom of Renovo Hardwood Bicycles, a bike company I have been dreaming of ever since I gave up my x-mart mountain bike and got into cycling.

I met Ken Wheeler, the founder of Renovo bikes and got to take one of their incredible pieces of art (yet very functional and usable) out on the road. The thing about these bikes is that they are made out of wood. The frame is a Monocoque, laminate hollow multi- pieced frame that has the strength of steel, stiffness of carbon, and vibration dampening qualities of titanium. Not to mention it looks like a work of art and is an overall joy to ride.

I spent two hours around Sausalito climbing, descending and sprinting. I told Ken once I was finished with my test ride that he better start getting the wood for my frame as I will be ordering one in the summer.

Check their bikes out if you haven't already, you will be truly amazed by the quality and craftsmanship of these bikes.

Renovobikes.com

Renovo Hardwood Bicycles!

Detail

Note: I have not been in any way endorsed, paid nor sponsored by Renovo for this post/ any other mentions. I truly believe that they are a great company making a quality product.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Water front views & the road north.

It's been quite a pleasurable week! Going North from Los Osos I've experienced some of the nicest scenery and roads thus far. My tent held up fine as well (a section of pole was broken causing the whole thing to collapse on me a few times; David helped me fix it and it's stronger now then ever!)

My days on the road were pretty short - 50 miles, 30m, 60m & 70m. I did lounge around quite a bit, taking in the elephant seals and their wallowing, picking strawberries at a pick-your-own farm, & enjoying the sun as it fell below the distant arc of the Pacific. My camp spots were utterly beautiful and probably very common among free campers as a lot of the people I talked to on the road knew which place I was referring to. Sunny most of the time, warm during the day and night, cool during sunset, couldn't ask for better conditions.

Traffic was at a minimal with no major problems until I got past Half Moon Bay. There the cars multiplied like crazy and the road going through Devils Slide (they're building a tunnel, hence neglecting the current road) was shit- no shoulder & the right side of the road littered with stone & glass. I had to walk a section of it up as the cars would not slow down for me as I was riding.

I got into San Francisco on Sunday. The worst winds I've ever experienced in my life were while coming up North along the coast. They weren't steady; constantly changing direction and speed so that it felt like you were truly getting a beating from Mother nature. My face got sandblasted (I was on the coast) to the point of gritting sand with my teeth was the norm. I asked a couple of people if this was a daily thing and was given conflicted stories that went something like: "Yes! I hate this damn place Ahhh get me out of here the wind and fog drive me crazy!" to: "nah don't worry about it... Want some weed?".

I spent the last couple of days here and got perfect weather, no fog or rain just a bit breezy. Biked around the whole city, saw Alamo Square, the Financial District, Chinatown, The Golden Gate and rode on a railcar! Also did some training in the Park, was surprised at how well I handled my intervals and the fact that my times from before this trip hadn't changed very much. Glad this tour didn't hurt my racing, hopefully when I get back to NY I will be able to take a week off the bike and then dive right into some training followed by racing.

Great city but as far as cities are concerned (which I'm not too fond of anyway) I still prefer New York to SF. Sorry San Francisco!

Today is supposed to rain a couple of inches, I'm heading out in it to test out my gear and see if everything is still waterproof. I'll be riding for another day or so and then it will be time for a change of pace. Monday I set out on a new journey off the bike! I will post another blog regarding that later this weekend.

Thankyou for reading,
W





Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pacific Swimming!

At loss for air

On Friday I went into San Luis Obispo, which had a nice charm and was really enjoyable. People ask you where you're coming from & what you're doing. They take the time out to be... Human. I hung out at the bike shop and book store before battling a brutal headwind to make it to David and Richards house in Los Osos. The weekend tuned out great; I rebuilt my bike, organized my photos and cleaned out my gear.

We talked a lot as well about pretty much everything. One thing that really hit home for me was the idea that when you give people space they become friendlier. It couldn't be more true for me as for when I lived in NY all I wanted to do was to get away from people and go hide out in the woods. I still love nature and isolation, but no longer do it to escape humanity. I got my space and now when I meet someone I'm glad I have the opportunity to talk with them and make a connection. In a way I've become civilized.

Swimming in the Pacific was something I had to do, just like in the Gulf. I had my "tough guy" mentality in place and thought "psh this will be a piece of cake". The Atlantic is tame compared to the forceful Pacific and the water is super cold as well. I wore a thin 3/4 skinsuit but when I dived in the air got sucked out of me. The undercurrent was super strong and the waves "gnarly" to say the least. Now I have swam in the 2 largest oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Baltic sea, four pretty significant bodies of water.

I'm ready for San Francisco and should be there by late weekend, after that its truly unknown. I'm considering doing Tioga Pass and going inland to Yosemite if the weather holds up. Winter weather is definitely coming but thus far I've been blessed with hot days and cloudless skies and it looks like it will continue for at least a bit longer. I'm actually scared of rain now as I haven't encountered any in about 2 months (is my gear still waterproof? Will my rain jacket keep me dry? Etc.) Wish me luck and dry weather ahead!

-W

Lovely little place
Post Pacific swimming after I got warmed up^

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Summers Welcome

It's been a while & I apologize, its just that California is so awesome that I love being out and about rather then sitting on my ipod typing. Anyway here's a little synopsis from a boy lost in California.

I made my way down Highway 395 counting Ford Mustangs and riding on a pretty narrow shoulder. In InYoKern I "splurged" and bought bread, my first purchase in over a week at that point. It was stale and old, and I was upset that I just spent 2.50 on some pretty bad bread. Nevertheless I fried it in butter and made it work.

As I made my way south I passed Mojave (a real shithole) and then Rosamund where I talked to a whole bunch of people about my trip as I was waiting for my ipod to charge up in front of the supermarket. I got a Meatball Marinara from Subway and devoured it. Making my way into Lancaster I was pressed to find a camp spot. I stopped at a farm where a lady wouldn't let me camp because she was concerned that I would shit on her property, and recommended I go to the airport where I'll have "better bathroom facilities". I thought that was a lame idea and instead contacted a bunch of warmshowers.org hosts to try and get a place to stay for the night. Derby & her husband allowed me to pitch my tent in their yard and made me some dinner.

The next day I had a goal, Los Angeles. Of course I wasn't going into the city itself, just the outskirts where I was hoping to stay with some folks and rest up for a bit. Soledad Canyon Road was one of the most pleasant roads yet. A gradual descent coupled with a tail wind made it even more spectacular. I met a couple of cyclists and saw greenery finally. Standing on grass for the first time since eastern Texas was something to call home about.

I went into Angeles National Forest, climbed to an overlook and then descended down. Camped out on the side of the road, in the green. The smell of rotting leaves was intoxicating. I made pancakes to celebrate.

Can't say I had much to celebrate about as far as the coast goes, it was foggy. I didn't actually see the water until my third day out. After Ventura I had enough and went back inland through Los Padres Nat. Forest. There I met a cyclist who has been to 56 countries. We rode up a bit on Hwy 33 and then camped out off a little side dirt road. He has a goal, Texas, while I had all the time in the world to make it 120 miles up to San Luis Obispo. I did 30 miles daily ( left camp at 10, sat up camp by 4) and took every opportunity to explore.

On one occasion I ran out of water. There was a stream but there were also some ranches around. I managed to boil a pot full and then I ran out of fuel for another. It was enough but I was concerned when I heard mooing in the morning. I passed a pistachio farm and then an onion farm (oh the smell!). A gas station had me looking at either diesel or unleaded for fuel ( I've used kerosene thus far) and so I go 50¢ of diesel as it would work with the jet that was already in my stove. It didn't, and the next morning I went back to town to buy 50¢ of unleaded. That proved to be less sutty then kerosene; it burned hotter and worked out pretty well.

I went out to the coast on Friday, & was again pressed to find a camp spot again as it was a residential area. I stopped a cyclist I saw going the other way and he invited me to spend the night at his parents house. People are great (:

The fog was gone and I got to enjoy the sun once again (: