What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
For the last week, I’ve been focusing more on the lifestyle aspect of the project and capturing material, rather than ‘truckin on and watching the signs go by. Some planned stuff was related to specific days in LA, so it’s been fun taking it easy, and taking it all in with that in mind.
The last post was written from Encinitas, where I spent a couple of super rough nights stealth bivvying. For some reason it felt really tense and on edge for both nights, so sleep was pretty minimal, but the ocean does wonders to wake you up after a rubbish night.
Then from there:
Day 121: Encinitas to Oceanside, CA (15 miles)
This section of coastline is amazing. I don’t know why, but cycling through forest and even desert becomes very ‘samey’ after a few days, but the ocean just doesn’t lose it’s charm. Weird. Nice ride on friendly roads, totally flat through Carlsbad and into Oceanside. Pulled into the beach at Oceanside as the sun was dropping, and there was a bunch of people out surfing just off the harbour. Being able to walk out along the harbour wall meant you were parallel to the waves, so there was plenty of photo opportunities and it was a unique and way better location when compared to the standard looking-out-from-the-beach.
Stealth bivvy once again, but this one was quite different. It was at the marina on a raised bit of grass, pretty hidden but with a bizarre buzzing noise next to a fence. You could alter the noise with your hands – which sounds weird and is tricky to explain – but by waving your hands you could make a tune. After a while the buzzing stopped and making music wouldn’t work anymore, so a guess is that the fence was electric and got turned off.
Day 122: Oceanside to Dana Point, CA (30 miles)
Sea mist is damp isn’t it? Woke up to a visibility of about 20 metres, a dense wet fog soaking everything in sight, adding to the overall grogginess that life on wheels inherently provides. There was also a really strange noise close by, which ended up being couple of very loud seals hanging out and playing games in the marina much to the audiences appreciation. Those things are WELL LOUD!
Onwards through Pendleton Marine Corps Base, which is the route that avoids the interstate and is pinch-yourself reminiscent of a real life The Expendables. You’re cycling through and suddenly there’s 20 soldiers on exercise walking out of the bushes with camo paint and huge machine guns, hummers flying past to get somewhere urgently, and Black Hawn helicopters overhead. An ace days riding which eventually lead to camping at the Doheny State Beach campsite in an ants nest (again).
Day 123: Dana Point to Sunset Beach, CA (30 miles)
Looking on the map, today would involve going through super affluent areas in Orange County. Often this makes everything tricky. Sometimes security is abound, there’s stuffiness in spades, and it’s like a oversized Range Rover slalom. But there’s also generosity, and in this case a waitress from RJ’s cafe, who epitomises awesome. Finishing breakfast and finding that the bill’s been unexpectedly set as ‘Birthday Meal – Free’? Priceless. (For some reason this blog entry is full of puns.) It was a random act of kindness that put a smile on my face all day, so thanks Marina!
After that it was a quick and easy ride over some rolling hills to Laguna Beach, which provided a close call with, yep, a Range Rover pulling out and a driver who looked far too young to drive. I was pretty keen to make speedy progress from then on so pedalled on through Newport and Huntington Beach, ending up at Sunset Beach, where I spent the next full day prepping for the following days and chatting to Jack from Maine, who was bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider and was hospitalised for a week as they tried to reduce the swelling on his face. Damn.
Day 125: Sunset Beach to Pasadena, CA (38 miles)
Laguna Beach had been busy traffic-wise, but it was nothing compared to Los Angeles, in particular the stretch from Long Beach to Monterey Park. By ‘eck, it’s certainly a driving city and they don’t make it easy for cycling. Stop and start at traffic lights, in and out of buses, keep your wits about you and move your eyes like a madman. What was quite weird was that happened for a good twenty or so miles, and then just stopped. That’s the grid nature of the LA street plan at play I suppose. From then on it was quiet suburbia, and there were even some really nice cycle lanes.
Day 126: Pasadena, CA
Had an amazing day on the set of a new pilot with Ruben Fleischer, director of films such as Gangster Squad and Zombieland (plus some killer shorts), and loads of other talented folks. There’ll be more on this in future posts, but it was a great day with great people. Ruben’s testament to the fact that paths are changing, in large part due to the web – and you don’t need to follow the route that has classically been instilled in us. Moving away from a metaphor, what I mean is he didn’t go to film school. He started making stuff, working his way up from the bottom and was damn persistent. It’s a lesson that anyone can apply to anything. It worked, clearly, because now he directs films with some chap named Gosling in them. I was keen to explore his route and his battles with ‘the struggle’, and his response was super inspiring and took him back to the early days. Here’s a very brief transcript before I get chance to sit down and edit the content from the day.:
“When I was struggling, and I was so stressed and freaking out, and I felt like I was just muscling everything through, everything was through the force of will, and nothing was given to me, I had to fight for every single thing. I was broke and I was, like, just bummed and frustrated, and so ambitious, but it doesn’t happen overnight. So many people that were more veteran than me, were just like ‘Dude, just cherish these moments, because it’s never going to be like this again, and you’re doing cool shit, just appreciate everything that you’re doing in the moment, because whether you make it or not, you’re doing it. You’re trying, you’re having fun, you’re making stuff that you believe in. Cherish it, and try not to get so caught up on the future, and just appreciate the present.’ And that’s a really hard thing to say when you’re so focused on the destination, but it was great advice and I probably didn’t take it. At all. But now looking back, I look back on those times of finding it, and the struggle, so fondly.”
Day 127: Pasadena, CA
Still buzzing from yesterday, today was spent sorting out the next couple of days. To sum up it basically involved coffee and typing (hardly makes for exciting writing). Stayed with the wonderful, and amazingly hospitable Tracy and Arthur in the Pasadena suburbs. They’re avid cyclists and had a lot of stories to tell: from The Great Divide to Japan – their bikes have taken them to loads of places, and there’s loads more on the list. They cook a mean dinner too!
The next two days will be more LA, and then on Wednesday the journey begins to pick up pace once more. How do you cycle again?