What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Day 130: Pasadena to Stoney Point (nr. Chatsworth) – 40 miles.
It’s bizarre how when you ride a bike everyday for a long period of time, it becomes almost like a part of your body. So getting back on the bike after a solid chunk of time off it, took an hour or so of getting used to. Rested legs spin a bit too fast, everything acts a bit more twitchy. Anyway, time to leave the city of angels, which provided so much fun, great and welcoming people, and totally unforgettable experiences. On the road again. It wasn’t too problematic leaving the city, which was good really because I was expecting leaving to be similar to arriving (i.e. frantic car-dodging).
There was one scary moment that only a city can provide, though. That was a drive-by shooting. Just kidding, it wasn’t a drive-by. In San Fernando, a car drove past and the exhaust backfired twice. Two big bangs that were bloody terrifying and sent me ducking for cover behind a lamppost, only to look and see a rickety old car shaking it’s way down the road. Ended up bivvying in a boulder field, and was excited to see there was chalk on the boulders, and well-worn landings. This hadn’t been a planned stop, it was purely by chance, and it took a sunrise and a new day to realise that this was the legendary rock climbing area, Stoney Point.
Day 131: Stoney Point to Ventura – 44 miles.
Well you can’t wake up in a place like this and not spend a couple of hours exploring and attempting to climb rocks. Attempt being an accurate word. It got pretty busy quite quickly, and the daylight showed just how big this place is. There’s loads of rocks, and it was a place that seemed very beginner friendly and not too clique-intimidating. Fun couple of hours, and back to the road.
Today can be described as Citrus Day. I’ve never seen so many lemons. All growing in farms on the side of the road. One of the things America hasn’t latched on to is cordial (you should – it’s great). So it was a bit of a joy to have a supply of lemons to make the water bottle a bit less plain for once.
Thanks to the wonderful Crystal Lodge Motel in Ventura for providing a rad place to stay. Definitely recommend it if you’re passing through. Super friendly staff.
Day 132: Ventura to Carpinteria – 34 miles.
Woke up totally knackered and burned out. Didn’t eat enough yesterday and it’s caught up. And today there was a hint of cold / manflu. Not the best of starts ‘eh. Set off and made it about 3 miles before stopping in a park and sleeping for a bit longer. LA was awesome, but surprisingly I probably got less sleep there because it was such a busy few days, than the big days on the bike.
It was a beautiful ride though, despite all that. The route broke off from the coast and headed up to Ojai and around Lake Casitas. It was breathtaking. Like Tuscany or something. Loads of deer out to play and so green. It was so hilly though, with crazy gradients, and definitely was a shock to the system what with the last few days being pretty flat. Found this tree to hide under which provided some welcomed respite from the sun (it’s warming up and get’s quite hot during the day now).
Day 133: Carpinteria to Santa Barbara – 12 miles.
Urghh. Here comes the manflu. It’s been a while so it was bound to happen sooner of later. Woke up in a stealth bivy, only to find it wasn’t stealth at all and there was a town Sports Day happening about 20 metres away from my head. Oops. Here come the funny looks. Hit the road really late, not feeling it at all, but made a bit of progress to Santa Barbara. And then a puncture. Can’t complain really because it’s been a while.
And then an unusual scenario began. I went into a coffee shop. Got a drink. Half an hour later, Joel from Massachusetts arrived at the same coffee shop. Got a drink. Shortly after that, Katie arrived at the coffee shop, in the middle of her drive back home to Anaheim. Got a drink. Then finally, Sophie arrived at the coffee shop, a local. Got a drink. So we have this scene where no-one knows anyone. We got chatting in an attempt to solve the question “What’s that film with the blue aliens in it?”. And then half an hour later we’re eating pizza and sat round a fire with a Ukulele providing tunes. ‘Nout like spontaneity with new pals you’ve just met. It was Avatar, btw.
Day 134: Santa Barbara to El Capitan Camp Ground – 23 miles.
Still got a flat tyre, still a bit ill, and still really lethargic. Went down to Cranky’s in downtown after sleeping up in North SB, and got supplies – new pump (bit of advice for anyone doing something similar: get a good pump, cheap ones break) and a couple of tubes. Cheers Cranky’s for a good deal. Really simple ride out of SB, through Goleta and eventually to Ocean Mesa Campground at El Capitan Beach. Hands down the nicest campsite I’ve ever been to.
Day 135: El Capitan Camp Ground to Santa Maria – 58 miles.
Pretty late start, exploring some of the El Capitan trails (so many lizards). Met with Heidi who works in post-production in LA, and was at the campground for a three day break with her children. Super cool woman and we had a lot to talk about and nerd-out on. She amusingly admitted that she’s tried to disconnect but had been on her Blackberry doing work all morning – with ‘ya there, Heidi! The connected world can be ace as well as a drag.
A truly awesome ride, up the 101 and then splitting to the 135. Rocky, steep and vivid green landscapes made for easy zoning-out and enjoying the moment. For a while at least – before a bit of a battle with the night. Misplaced the charger for the bike light (writing this blog then searching the bags) so it was a lowest-setting and headtorch-lit end to today’s ride. Quiet roads lit by the full moon though, so not a bad night for it.