Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Sorry for the delay on this final blog post. I was too busy being at home watching TV and petting my dog last night to get in to that. So in case you missed all other outlets of social media from myself and others involved in this trip... we made it back to SF! We got up at our normal time yesterday morning and ate our breakfast / packed up at an unusually prompt pace. We tried our best to consume the last of our food before rolling out to crush our last leg of our journey.
We had camped that night with a dude named eric (who I had mentioned in my previous post I believe) who was doing this ride on a fully loaded fixed gear. He decided to ride with us up to the bridge. The ride itself was pretty uneventful. It was a ride that most of us had done many times and it was mostly through marin suburban areas. Some of it on bike paths, most of it on established biking roads. It was pretty much a cake walk and everyone was all business about getting home.
We tore through marin all the way to the bridge and stopped to get a group photo before traveling through tourist hell back to the san francisco side. Now we were in super familiar territory as most of us were close to home. We grouped up once more at the conservatory of flowers in golden gate park to say our goodbyes to sabah, matt, and jan before the rest of us headed in to the mission. It is still unbelievable to me that we just ran in to jan at an IGA outside of seaside and asked him if he wanted to have lunch with us and then he ended up becoming part of the crew all the way back to san francisco.
All in all, the trip was a raging success. No one got injured or sick. There were a surprisingly low number of mechanical issues with the bikes and the ones that came up were handled accordingly and no one got stranded. This trip was quite a bit different than any of the other non-supported tours I have been on completely based on the size of our group. It turned out that none of the problems that I was really worried about were problems at all (gear breaking, sickness, injury, personality clashes, difficulty finding places to camp...). All in all, rolling with the large group proved to be a really positive experience. Everyone got along. If someone was bugging you, it was easy to just talk to someone else until any hard feelings passed. Every night was basically a party. Rolling with so many people made us much more visible on the road and worked to our advantage when crossing sketchy areas like bridges and tunnels. We also ended up receiving lots of notoriety among other cyclists doing the route. Apparently people were talking about "the large rowdy group" around distant campfires haha.
However, just for anyone who was wondering what challenges we did face as a large group, I'll throw some out there in case you were planning to do a similar thing yourself. The biggest challenge that I saw had to do with time management. I intentionally kept mileage low (around 50-60 a day) on purpose to keep things relaxed and fun, but it turns out when you add a bunch of people to a group that time not spent biking gets sucked up really easily. Instead of two people stopping to use the restroom or get food somewhere, you are a traveling potty line. Every time you stop the forward pace of the group you can expect to sit there for 20 minutes to an hour. It is inevitable that someone has to take a 15 minute shit, or just wants to run in to a store and grab something, which leads to 6 other people doing the same... basically, in the future if I were to plan a trip for a large group again I would probably shoot for something more along the lines of a 40 miles a day. That was actually the only real challenge of the group. Small things that would typically come up once every few days that take up time for a one or two person group come up every day (sometimes multiple times a day) with a large group and before you know it 4pm rolls around and you still have 20 to 30 miles to ride for the day. Also, all of that starting and stopping really wears everyone out. Every time you get off the bike and back on, your legs feel like that want to burst off of your body.
So yeah, this is it for this portion of the deadly rigs saga. I have to say, this was probably the funnest bike tour I have a ever done and I owe it all to matt, pat, george, tod, jan, jessica, sabah, julia, charlie, jason, and joel. You guys really made this trip a blast. This tour was one of the more physically challenging tours I have done as well. I'm not sure if that is because I am over 30 years old now, or if it really was just ridiculous amounts of climbing. Either way, it was pretty tough.
Just to throw these tidbits out there... my favorite parts were definitely the lost coast (even though it was brutally hard to ride), the southern oregon coast, and the avenue of the giants. These parts were the shit. Washington was generally my least favorite along with anywhere near charleston oregon. That shit was just weak.
So this is it! Final post of the trip. I'll holler atchu all next time this blog comes to life!
We have done it! We're back in San Francisco after nearly a month on the road. The tour was a crushing victory. We raged across the Pacific Northwest back to SF. I went out in search of adventure, and it was found in abundance. Everyone laughed, suffered, enjoyed, and persevered through a very, very long bike ride.
The reality of bike tour is that you do not have time for nonsensical behaviors. You have time to eat, poop, ride bikes, and sleep. Maybe, if you're lucky, you will be able to do a river (or lake) swim. You're probably going to spend a lot of time looking at nature contemplating how insigificant your life is. We're lost in space, and the time is our own. (For the record Brian and Patrick love The Steve Miller Band). Also, this dude in Seattle's Pike Place market ruled.
The best way to summarize the tour would be to use some data points that I compiled along the way. I did this in a very scientific fashion, and I was diligent in my note taking. /sarcasm. Most of these numbers are fairly accurate.
- 1250 miles ridden (give or take 100 miles). Some riders did more, others less.
- 690 beers drank (6 beers per pack * 5 ppl drinking each day * 23 days). Not everybody drank, but most of us did.
- 666 bones collected from the side of the rode. Mostly deer.
- 552 sausages consumed (4 per pack * 6 people average * 23 days).
- 432 avocados eaten.
- 150 close calls with asshole drivers.
- 42 pounds of jerky eaten.
- 24 Ortlieb panniers packed completely full of stuff.
- 24 Sin Dawgs consumed (your flavors a sin)
- 21 different campsites (including one WalMart).
- 15 days riding in the same t-shirt (Slayer).
- 12 (maximum) people riding fully loaded touring bikes in one group at the same time.
- 11 lips blasted
- 9 miles of gravel roads.
- 6 Surly bicycles.
- 5 broken spokes.
- 5 broken chains.
- 4 camp sponges.
- 3 broken chainring teeth.
- 3 uneventful crashes (thankfully).
- 2 flats (which is kind of amazing).
- 2 new cranksets.
- 2 instances of hitch hiking.
- 2 hotels stayed in.
- 1 broken brake lever (self induced by me).
- 1 "Oscar the Grouch" sighting (on the ferry from WA to OR).
We climbed hundreds of miles of rolling hills and descended down into redwood forests that are so enormous it is impossible to articulate their presence. You are puny, and pale in comparison to the greatness of the wilderness that we rode. It was tight. The best parts of the trip were the entire trip. My favorite section was the descent out of the Lost Coast and into Humboldt State Forest. Second best section is the Southern Oregon Coast. Both areas had brutal hill climbs which ended in epic descents. The best descent, IMO, was when Jan and I we're coming back from the unnecessary trip into Crescent City on the 199 into Jedediah Smith State park. That shit was straight up speeder bikes. It's a rad feeling to take an entire lane on your bicycle and go faster than the cars do.
Another part of this tour that was sick was meeting interesting folks along the way. The number one dude we met who gets the most dap is Jan Booth. We met holmes in an IGA in Manzanita, OR. It was happenstance that he was touring down the pacific coast at the same time we were. Regardless, he linked up with us and helped us battle gnarly headwinds. Jan also helped out with several mechanical issues along the way. Good to meet you, Jan! Thanks for being patient with our old slow crew. There were many, many others who we met as well. I shall list the names of those who i remember for the record:
- The WalMart Meth RV Crew
- Disc Golf Jay
- Gerald and Nova
- Neil Warmshowers
- Bruce Cannondale the beer buyer
- Derek and Mike at Mike's Bikes Cannon Beach, OR
- Combat Boots
- The Narcissist
- Professor X (also a narcissist)
- Erin and Margo #1000milesforwomen
- Wild Bill from Wild Bill's Outlet
- The hotel lady who wanted to throw out our solar panels
- Smell Me Bro
- Mollie and her sister who's name I forget. They found 77 nails in the sand at our camp site.
- Kathryn from Eureka who is a true ruler
- Morgan the Elf
- Eric the Fixed Gear Rager
I could go on ad nauseum about the sickness, but I'm out of time and (more importantly) bored of blogging so I'm done. In summary: the trip ruled. I can't wait to do it again. Thanks Brian for organizing and leading us. I appreciate it, greatly.
Monday, August 18, 2014
we did about 68 miles today which were no easy task. basically since we got on US 1 we have been going up and down medium sized hills nonstop which is so exhausting. today was no different except the hills were a bit bigger. however, along with the big hills come great views and great descents. the descent right outside Jenner today was one of the coolest ones of the trip. it was riddled with huge switch backs that wrapped around the landscape. Charlie and I stopped at the top to watch Joel snake around the turns. it was awesome.
once we hit Jenner things started looking really familiar. this area is where we started getting in to familiar car trip area. as we reached tomales bay we started getting in to familiar bike territory. the stretch just before and after tomales was by far the hardest of the day. we had about an 18 mph head wind and some really steep hills for about 10 miles.
I was feeling pretty rough after that stretch, but as soon as we got in to familiar biking territory it became so real that home was so close and I got a huge energy burst. I don't know what happened to George as well, but he was feeling it too and we absolutely crushed the 16 miles between tomales and point Reyes.
once the posse rallied at point Reyes it was cold as shit so we tried to get in and out as fast as possible. in the meantime, pat rode up to the camp site from his apartment on a different bike and got us squared away.
we had 7 miles to go from point Reyes to camp and I broke my chain again... I popped a quick link in and we crushed the last few miles through the woods on the Samuel p bike path to meet up with pat. it was good seeing pat, but a bummer he missed riding with us today. at least he will be there to cross the bridge together.
anyway, tomorrow is going to be a joke of a day of riding. we will be riding a route I have ridden countless times easily rolling in to home. The hardest part of tomorrow will be carrying my bike up to stairs when I get to my apartment.
dear Jessica and lemmy, I'm coming for you tomorrow!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
about 15 miles in to the ride we were climbing a pretty steep hill and Joel popped a spoke. the next bike shop wasn't for 80 miles and we weren't really close to any towns. since we still had many miles to conquer, we left pat Joel and jan behind to fix Joel's spoke while the rest of us pressed on because 3 people travel quicker than 5.
so the 5 of us took off and stopped in elk not too far down the road to to snack up and potty. we then pressed on to Manchester where we sat down for lunch. about half an hour in to our lunch break pat, jan, and Joel came rolling up triumphantly. we had an extended lunch to give them some rest then we took off again.
a few miles later pat broke 2 spokes... this basically crippled poor pat. his wheel was wobbling in to his frame and he had no means to make this wheel rideable. he managed to hitch a ride to the next small town where we met up with him to figure out what to do. fortunately, pats girlfriend and some other friends of our were camping an hour and a half away and they said they would pick him up and take him home. so basically, pat is off the ride. such a bummer.
we took off now down to 7 people. we went pretty hard for the next 21 miles to gualala to stock up for food for the night. we ended up riding a bit on this stretch with some maniac on a fixed gear running a 50/16 gear ratio fully loaded. shit is absurd. dude was crushing it. we rolled up to a grocery store with him and he immediately rolled and smoked a cigarette. dude was an anomaly.
anyway, we had 16 miles left for the day. but that actually turned in to 19 because the camp site we were looking for didn't really exist. on the bright side, 2 miles from camp pat and crew rolled up in their car. they met us at a mystery camp spot, that I still have no idea what it is even called, we got to say one last goodbye to pat before they rolled out.
so yeah, it is a real bummer pat is gone. he has been with us since the beginning and he was a huge help when I was planning this thing. he has been an integral part to the whole trip and 2.5 days out of San Fran he is out. such a bummer. he might ride up to meet us on his road bike tomorrow to finish out the ride.
tomorrow we are hoping to do 70 miles to Samuel p taylor right outside of San Francisco. 2 more days of riding. 1 more night of camping. so close!
Saturday, August 16, 2014
today was back on track with being really sick. we started off doing the last two large climbs of the trip. the first one was about 1200 ft but it was pretty mellow. we had been hearing about the smoke from the forest fires for days and we experiences it a little bit on this climb. we could see it and smell it, but it wasn't too bad. this climb lead to a really awesome and looong descent that took us back to a much cooler climate which we were happy about.
not long after the descent we started our last over 600 ft climb of the trip. it was over before we knew it and descended to the ocean which was an awesome site. the red woods were really incredible to bike through, but I definitely missed majestic ocean cliffs.
the rest of the day was pretty foggy and we stopped briefly in Westport for lunch. pat had broken 2 spokes and was in desperate need of a bike shop so he Joel and I peeled off from the group to crush the next 16 miles to fort Bragg. those 16 were unexpectedly brutal. lots of steep ups and downs reminiscent of big sir roads along with zero shoulder. the roads were tough, but the views were great.
we made it to fort Bragg cycles around 2:30 and they hooked it up right. about 2 hours later pats bike was up and running normal again and we pushed on in to Mendocino to grab some groceries before heading to little river to get all van damme up in the place.
it feels good to have all of the mega hills behind us. 3 days to go!
Friday, August 15, 2014
the entire ride today was a gradual climb. the first 20 miles weren't bad, and we rushed to redway to try to get some bike maintenance done. however, we showed up and were created by a sign saying the shop would be closed until 3:30 because the shop guy took his kids to the fair. DOOF! we were there at 11:30. we had to make the decision to push on and hope to hit the next bike shop tomorrow.
since that shop was closed, we decided to have lunch in the next town, garberville. garberville is some kind of hippie megaplex. there were oogles everywhere and head shops on every corner. some dude even came up and gave matt weed. it was ridiculous. while we were having lunch Julia's mom rolled in to pick her up. we said our goodbyes, went to the grocery, then hit the road again.
our lunch was about 2 hours long due to all of the running around we did. this two hours was just long enough to put everyone in a borderline comatose state. we were all so tired for some reason but we had to hardest half of the day left. we trudged up and down 300 ft rollers for the next 23 miles and took turns nearly bonking.
all in all, today was a fairly boring day. we went through some red woods and saw some rivers... but overall was one of the least exciting days of the whole trip.
first thing in the morning tomorrow we have our last major climb of the trip out of leggett. after that it should be fairly smooth sailing back to San Francisco. four days left!
Thursday, August 14, 2014
on the way to the camp site we stopped in Meyers flat to ride our bikes through a tree and get smoothies at the coffee shop. the rest of the day was a proper day off where we just chilled out at the camp site and played in the woods.
tomorrow we are back at it and heading to legget which is apparently shrouded in forest fire smoke.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Joel showed up to meet us around 9:30am after driving since 4am. he immediately got out of the car and started getting ready while I loaded his car with bikes and bags. we came up with the grand idea that Jessica, jason could carry everyone's shit to the next camp site so that everyone could ride unloaded bikes up the massive climb out of the lost coast. however, someone needed to go with all of the stuff to the camp site since Jessica and jason were heading home after. I had no problem volunteering myself to skip that hill, then George decided to hop in the car as well.
after getting everything loaded up everyone hopped on their now lighter bikes and rolled out. those of us in the car left shortly after and passed them on the road. the drive was awesome. the lost coast is a pretty awesome place to check out if you are up this way. after goon over the huge hill you descend in to one of the coolest roads I have ever seen. it is a narrow one lane road cutting closely through giant red wood trees. it was awesome and it was at that moment I regretted being in the car even though we got out and went for a short hike.
we soon turned on to avenue of the giants right in the thick of the red woods and my regrets grew because this stretch of road was the primary reason I scheduled this trip in the first place. so after a quick drop off at the campsite George and I decided to set up our tents and out everyone's shit in them and hop on our bikes to ride back and meet the crew.
this made the day completely worth it and settled my regret. we made it back to the awesome one lane road and biked down it for a couple of miles before rounding a corner to find the crew. it actually worked out great because George and I ended up biking / driving down the best roads 3 times. it was an awesome day and I ended up biking 20 miles even after riding in the car for most of the day.
so in summary... the lost coast was really awesome and worth the struggle. the first half of it was a soul crushing ride, but those who rode the second half said it wasn't nearly as bad as the first half. so if you are up for the challenge, or in a car, definitely don't skip the lost coast.
tomorrow we have a day off. I may or may not tell you about it. but for now, night night.
This morning we left charming, historic Ferndale and headed for the Lost Coast. We knew there would be *four* significant hills to climb, logger trucks passing by, and some dicey road conditions.
It was all of these and then some. The first and longest hill had a 1,600-foot elevation, and it was STEEP. Even though my bike is light, I had trouble with the steepest parts, and for some reason I couldn't shift into my easiest gear. Some of us ended up walking up parts of the hill.
The scenery made up for it, though. Beautiful, rolling golden hills, hundreds of thousands of evergreens, Spanish moss, and eventually we made it to the ocean, where big rocks jutted out from the waves.
The descent down hill #1 was a bit treacherous. The road was torn to bits with potholes and ruts and the occasional cattle crossing, and there were many switchbacks. My fingers hurt from breaking so hard.
There wasn't much downtime before the second hill. It seemed even steeper that the first. Ugh! Brian's chain was feeling the strain, so in the heat of the moment he threw up his thumb to hitchhike. This friendly dude immediately pulled his truck over and drove us up the hill. I climbed in the back seat next to a giant chainsaw and two 18-can boxes of Budweiser. We smiled and waved at our friends as they slowly climbed up the hill. It was awesome.
We eventually all met up at an incredibly scenic lunch spot along the Lost Coast. The sand was made of tiny black rocks. After eating and resting, there were still two hills to deal with. Both had steep bits that I ended up walking, but we slowly chipped away at them.
Tonight's campsite is pretty nice. There's a little river nearby (no swimming, algae alert) and it's not as cold or foggy as precious nights. Eel River Amber Ale and rice, corn, beans and avocado are on the dinner menu. The campfire is roaring.
Tomorrow, Joel arrives to join the tour, and Hardy and I will drive his car back to SF. Todd also drops off to drive up to Oregon. I would like to continue biking, but there is an even longer hill up next, and I can't say I'm bummed to be missing that. I'm also excited to get back to Lemmy and my comfy bed.
Very impressed that these guys have been at it for nearly three weeks. Enjoy the ride back to SF, gang!
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
we woke up and rolled back in to downtown ferndale to hit the grocery one last time before heading in to the lost coast which had no resources for about 32 miles. this means we all needed to carry extra food and extra water. as a side note to those who know nothing about the lost coast, it is the most least inhabited region of the west coast.
right out of the gate we started the first of 4 brutal climbs. this first climb was 1600 ft over 6 miles very steep very rough road. I got maybe a mile in and my legs just gave up. I got off and pushed for nearly the next five miles. this shit took forever. we kept getting to points that we thought must be the top where it would seem to not be able to go any higher, and it would kick us in the teeth and keep going. matt and I actually both broke our chains on this hill. mine was still rideable, but had a bent link. matt broke his clean and did a roadside fix.
once we eventually got to the top of the hill we had some insane views of everything. mountains, forests, the ocean, neighboring small towns... you could see everything. after taking in some views, we began our descent which was one of the gnarliest descents of my life. these roads out here on the lost coast are completely mangled. there are huge pot holes everywhere or broken off pieces of road or sometimes the road looked like it was molded in to a magma ramp. there were a couple of points when the road was just gravel. it was a very difficult game of bob and weave going 30 to 40 mph but you inevitabley would hit some massive bumps or have to cruise over a cow catcher. it was pretty challenging and I was often pretty certain my entire hike might fall apart any minute.
the descent was bitter sweet, because right at the bottom of the hill we started our next 1000 ft climb. at this point my chain was clicking like crazy and ready to snap at any pedal stroke and the hill had just gotten so steep I was getting off to walk my bike when I heard a truck coming up behind me. I just tossed my thumb up to see what would happen and the dude stopped. I asked him to give Jessica and I a ride up the hill with which he nodded his head. he got out and helped us load our bikes in his truck and we were off. he barely said 2 words to us the entire time because he didn't speak English. but he cordially offered me a beer as he drank his while he drove us to the top of the hill. we said hi to our buds as we passed then one by one and chuckled.
our Chaufer didn't understand us when we asked him to drop us at the top of the hill, so he ended up driving us halfway down as well before running in to pat, Julia, and Charlie where we adamantly asked him to stop and he got it finally. they laughed as we hopped out of the truck with an incredible view of the ocean. we descended with the crew down what is know as "the wall" which is a 16% grade hill.
after this descent we perched up on the beach for lunch and I decide I better swap my chain. after a few complications I got my bike sorted and the rest of the crew joined us at the beach to eat.
the next 10 miles or so were really flat along the coast until we hit another 500 ft climb. I pushed up this one for a little bit as well but all in all it wasn't quite as bad. after this climb we descended in to petrolia which has one of the only stores on the lost coast. we stocked up on dinner supplies then went back to it to hit our 4th brutal climb of the day which was 500 ft.
this one was hard as shit, but not as big as the earlier ones. matt broke his new chain again... but we were only a couple of miles from camp so he decided to push up the rest of the hill and try to coast in to camp. unfortunately, camp was like another 3 miles after the hill. the rest of us trucked it to camp and I found a nice cyclist dude to ride back with me in his truck to pick up matt and Sabah.
we are now camped at AW way park which is a pretty nice spot with water and showers. today was our last day riding with tod, jason, and Jessica. they are leaving us in the morning and Joel is joining in their place.
in conclusion: the lost coast is way harder than anyone could describe to you. today was straight grueling, but I would say it paid off. this was definitely one of the best days of the trip scenery wise. it was also awesome how desolate it was and how few cars drove by.
stay tuned for day two of the lost coast. it is supposedly much worse haha.