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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.

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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.