Category Archives: Trans-am

Out of the Desert

I was urged to write, but everytime I sit down to do so I am unsatisfied by what comes out. I prefer to reflect on the events before putting them out there for the my tiny world of facebook friends and family to read. It could be that I felt defeated and wasn’t ready to admit it openly. Here is an abbreviated version of the last few days.

After getting dropped off in Fenner, I spent the night behind the gas station. I was camped along side three other cyclists, possibly the same ones from the earlier that day. They were already in their tents when I set up and long gone when I woke up the next morning. I packed up, refilled all of my water bottles, then set off. I was a long days ride from Laughlin, AZ, where I would take my first day off. I didn’t get far due to the strong headwind, and possibly my dehydration the day before. I was carried back to the gas station where I elected to take my day off. When the temperature got above 100 degrees I had had enough and started looking for ways out. With the help of my justifiably worried parents, I caught a cab to a hotel casino in Laughlin.

I spent two days at the hotel. I was there to escape the heat , so I couldn’t understand why so many people were out on the beach or near the pool. As most people question my sanity, I was questioning theirs. I spent most of my time in the room, only coming out for food. Getting food meant walking through the tar dripping casino, which made me feel nauseous.

Feeling less rested and more anxious, I left on the third day. I rode West for one mile until I could cross the small, dry creek bed that separated California to Nevada. I then rode the three miles to cross the Colorado River, separating Nevada from Arizona. Bullhead City was 15 miles up the Colorado River. I played it safe and stopped at a McDonald’s just before leaving town. After a bagel and a large tea I rode to the next stop, just 5 more miles up the road. It was a gas station with palm frond canopies in the back. I worked on my last blog post there before working up my nerve to start the 10 mile, 3000 ft climb to the top of Union Pass. Not to be confused with the much higher Union Pass I climbed last year.

I remained in my 1st gear for then entire climb. The highway was littered with empty and full water jugs of all kinds. I later learned that a local man collected, filled, and deposited these bottles along the highway for overheated vehicles. I thought they were for me! At one point I even thought my Dad somehow convinced someone to leave the bottles so that I wouldn’t get dehydrated again. I put this out of my mind after seeing 100s of the bottles. They were not just water jugs, but old oil, laundry detergent, anti-freeze, and even mayonaise jars. I chose the actual water jugs to drink from and was happy to have them.

After over 2 hours of climbing I finally made it to the top, but at a cost. I was feeling sick. I drenched myself using one of the gallon jugs. This plus the wind did the job and actually chilled me. After coasting the 7 miles down to the closest gas station my clothes were dried. I enjoyed a few beverages and the A/C while plotting the next stage. I was not yet in Kingman proper, but the residential overflow. Kingman was still about 15 miles away and over Coyote Pass. I coasted through the scattered trailer houses and RV parks to the base of Coyote Pass and then crept up the 1000 ft climb.

Still feeling sick I booked a room at a hotel and went straight there. Later that night I decided to take another day. Apparently, I wasn’t over the heat. Looking at the map and trying to decide what to do, I decided to escape. I was over the heat, the sand, and the lack of water. The morning after my rest day I booked a rental car and then a train to Colorado. Using Google Maps I looked for yellow. Light green on the map is usually a city park or cemetary. Dark green is a national forest or other public lands. Yellow is desert. I went just far enough West to get out of the desert. That put me in La Junta, CO.

I took the rental truck to Flagstaff, AZ and waited there for my 4:37 AM train departure. They just happened to be having a music festival called Hullabaloo. Flagstaff was full of bicycles, vegetarian restaurants, and long haired hippie looking people. Seemed like a good place. I sat outside the fence of the festival for a long while before deciding to go in to check it out. I was hesitant to leave my bike locked up out of sight, but I did. There were micro breweries, food trucks, vendors, live music, dance floors, and bump’n jumps for kids. I lasted about 20 minutes before returning to my bike on the outside. The music was good, but better from my solitary perch.

The music stopped at 9:00 and that’s when I went to the station. I rolled the bike inside and was immediately told to leave it outside. So, I set up camp outside. I stayed there for a few hours, but the frequent freight trains drove me off. At midnight I stripped the bike and dragged my sleeping pad into the station to spend the rest of the time. I was immediately told I could not lay down or sleep inside the station. Where else was I supposed to go? I walked the perimeter of the station and found a little cubby and layed down there. And then, at 2:00 AM the station attendant woke me up and said I couldn’t sleep out there either. I reluctantly went back inside, sat on a bench, and forced myself to stay awake. Besides, I could sleep on the train when it got there. But, the train was two hours late.

I Broke

I broke in more than one way today (May 28th). The day started with me packing up from sand parking lot in Ludlow. From Ludlow, I was 28 miles to the the next water stop in Amboy, Roy’s Motel and Gas Station. From there it would be another 40 miles to the next water stop in Fenner. I could either ride to Roy’s and stop for the day, or continue on to Fenner.

Despite my lack of sleep I was feeling good. I was only two days ride from my first zero. Ludlow to Amboy was flat and I had a strong tailwind. It took me just over an hour to do the 28 miles. I was at last using my 10th gear. I knew I had a strong wind behind me, but did not realize how strong until I stopped moving. I passed the road leading to a volcanic crater and thought I would check it out, since I made such good time. I turned the bike around and tried pedalling the 100 meters back to the turn-off, but gave up after struggling to move. I turned back around and coasted to Roy’s gas station.

Inside, I refilled my one bottle and Roy told me I just missed my friends. Confused, I asked what friends, and he said the three cyclists that just left 15 minutes ago. So I took off! I had the wind and plenty of energy and was determined to catch them.

The wind has proven to be either friend or foe and can change sides on a whim. Not 5 miles from Roy’s and the wind changed. The 12 mph wind that was propelling me forward was now ceasing my progress. It also felt like someone flipped the switch from fan to heat. I went through two bottles of water in no time. It was now 100+ degrees, I had two bottles left and had 30 miles to go.

This is where I found Chambless, an abandoned RV park and ghost town. The RV park and local store were both fenced off with “No Trespassing” signs, so I found a shade tree and patch of sand. The Weather Channel said it would cool down to upper 90’s after sunset. I would wait until then to ride the 30 miles. It also said I would have a 10 mph tailwind. I set up camp and got comfy.

For several hours I laid in the sand either listening to an audio book or checking the weather and maps. Not much else to do when it is that hot, now 106. Occasionally I would drag my camp further East to stay in the shade. Thinking I was alone in the middle of nowhere I stripped down and changed into my shorts. Only 4 more hours until sunset, and down to 1 bottle of water.

I can’t remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the gunshot, but I do remember jumping up and grabbing my shirt and camera. With no real defense, all I could do is record whatever was about to happen. Here comes a man in a side-by-side wielding a shotgun. He was dressed in a long sleeve button up shirt, buttoned all the way to the top, and a cowboy hat with an old t-shirt stuffed under and hanging over his neck. He was headed straight for me. He put the gun down, looked me over, and then said some things I couldn’t really understand. I walked over to him and introduced myself.

His name was Henry Enrique Mojave. He through in about three more names, but all I could understand was Henry Enrique and I named in Mojave because of the desert. He cleared room in the side-by-side for me to sit down, so I did. He then started to tell me his life story. It was hard to keep up from the secret service for Reagan and the 5-star chef of the movie stars, to the singers and mob in Las Vegas. He dropped a lot of big names and I was uncertain whether he led such an amazing life or if he was just crazy.

All of the sudden he says something about shooting and eating horned vipers and then takes off, with me with him. He wanted to show me his kill. We drove along the fence row until we came upon a twitching hare. He then takes me back and continues bouncing around from story to story. He hands me a cold Gatorade that was rolling around in the floor and then pulls out a cold beer from what looked like his back pocket. Just as he started, he suddenly stops talking, lowers his glasses and then removes them. He looks at me with a stare that sent chills down my back. He continues his stare for several moments until I asked if everything was alright. He then blinked and said that he’d been told that he has eyes like the devil. What was I supposed to do or say in that situation. I couldn’t say, “no, they are quite lovely”. So I said nothing and took a sip of the Gatorade. To ease the tension I asked if there was a place I could fill up my empty bottles and he came out of his trance and directed me to a spicket. He said nobody would bother me if I dropped his name. And then he left me.

I grabbed my bottles and headed in the direction of the well before he could come back. I was carrying 5 Liters of water, which would turn out not to be enough. I spent the rest of the day laying around unbothered. It occurred to me to stay the night there and wait for morning, but it was not supposed to get any cooler during the night and tomorrow would be even hotter. Besides Henry, I made another friend in Chambless. It was a small bird that stayed with me. He sat perched on the fence and tree near by. I broke up and tossed him a handful of pumpkin seeds, but he never went for them. Not long after that, I see him leave and then come back with a small lizard in his mouth and then drops it nearly on top of me. I did not eat the lizard, but felt I should have. Instead I took it, thanked him, and then buried it out of his sight.

With “plenty” of water and the sun going down, I packed up and got on the bike. The promised wind had abandoned me and I could feel the heat as I stepped out from under the shade. I had a 3.5 mile climb nearly straight up to start. Three and a half miles doesn’t seem like much, but I ended up walking a lot of it and by the time I was at the top I had one bottle left. I don’t know how long it takes for dehydration to set in. I do know that I am prone to it. With the final bottle gone my lips were already cracked, my tongue and throat felt like sand paper and I could feel a slight prick in the base of my skull. This is the same prick I have felt in the past in similar situations.

Only 20 miles to go, still climbing, but my pace has slowed to a crawl. Not wanting a repeat of last year’s heat exhaustion, I start looking for a ride. I sign up for Lyft and Uber with no luck. I then look at firestations, but the nearest was two hours away and not answering. So I finally call the highway patrol. They too were two hours away. The dispatcher asked if I needed a paramedic, 2 hours away, and I told her not yet. All I needed was a bottle of water and maybe a lift to the nearest gas station. I could still think and I knew I could make it to the gas station and Fenner, but didn’t know how bad I would be when I got there.

The stretch of road I was on was blocked off from normal traffic, due to bridges being out. I was the only person for miles. I got lucky when a family headed to Las Vegas were taking a short cut. I spot lighted them and stood in the middle of the road. I thought for a moment that they weren’t going to stop, but they did. The man gave me a bottle of water and helped me load the bike in the back of his already full pick-up. I sat awkwardly in the back, holding down the bike, as we flew down the highway. I later read the sign that said warned of a large fine for unauthorized vehicles on that stretch of road.

He dropped me off at the Fenner gas station and was off. I grabbed two Gatorades and a turkey sandwich out of the cooler and set down in the air- conditioned cafe. I have never tasted mayonnaise so sweet or lettuce as refreshing. I called everyone to let them know I was ok and then set up my tent in another patch of sand. The Mojave won.

First Leg of the Mojave

Sorry I’m late on posting. I spent too much time in the sun and haven’t felt very poetic.

Barstow to Ludlow was my first real test of the desert heat, and it kicked my butt. From Barstow I had a decent downhill until climbing a massive hill before dropping back down to Ludlow. What you may not on the elevation map below is the wicked hill just outside of Barstow. I found away around that hill, but when I took the route I was met by a guard at a military base. They had claimed an entire section of a highway, forcing unsuspecting cyclists to climb a mean hill.

The rest of the morning is a bit of a blur, so here are some photos.

I was riding on old Route 66, which parallels I-40. The old road in some places has a new slick black top, but it is mostly a beat up patchwork of a road. I spend most of the time jumping from smooth patch to smooth patch. At least it keeps my mind busy. On one stretch of some road at some point this trip I was riding a road with grating for water run off. Usually the grating is perpendicular to the road or in a cross pattern. After going across a dozen of them I lost focus and came up to one with not a cross section or perpendicular grating, but parallel grating. These were wide enough that my front wheel would have dove right in. In that split second I bunny hopped and cleared the two foot grating.

Back on Route 66, 30 miles from Barstow, I was ready for a break. It was already in the upper 90’s and supposed to get hotter. Only shade out here is under the palm trees around the occasional house. Off to the left I see the palm trees and then the small buildings at an oasis. It was a rest stop on I-40. Not finding a road to get to the oasis I treked across the burning sand (it was only about 100 meters) until I came to a fence. A fence that stretched the length of I-40 for who knows how far. The fence was tall enough that I couldn’t just toss my 30 pound bike over. I chose a direction and started walking along the fence looking for a hole I could squeeze through. Eventually, the chainlink turned into barbed wire. Barbed wire I could get through. I took the bags off, slid them under and then did the same with the bike. Parked along the road were a line of 18 wheelers that I hope weren’t watching the crazy cyclist hop this fence.

Inside the fence I had shade, a restroom, and potable, non-potable water with the aid of my filter. I chose a spot, spread out and enjoyed not being in the heat. It was still 100 degrees out, but I was in the shade. I had to relocate once due to the rest stop workers congregating and smoking near me.

Tired of just laying there in the heat, I packed up and left. Once again, I had to walk along the fence until it turned to barbed wire and then cross. This time I didn’t mess with sliding under and just picked up the bike, panniers and all, and lifted it over. I made good time getting to Ludlow. It helped that the last few miles were downhill. I got to the gas station there just before 8:00. By 9:00 I was setting up my tent in the corner of the sand parking lot away from the big trucks and RVs. The wind pulled my stakes right out of the sand, so I ended up using the bike and panniers to stake out the tent. I also had to sweep the ground good to remove all of the glass shards, wire, and bottle caps.

Descending from Cajon

The night before I decided to do a load of laundry, which consisted of my shirt, shorts, and bib. It had been three days of wearing the same clothes and I thought it warranted a cleaning. To wash the clothes I fill the bathtub with warm water and dump in a bottle of shampoo. After swishing it around a bit and giving it a scrub with the soap bar the bath water turned a mucky brown. Drain the tub, rinse the clothes, soak, and rinse again. Hang dry in front of the the A/C.

The closest bike shop didn’t open until 10 AM and was only a few miles away, so I got a late start. Studying the area the night before I came across the California Earth Institute. Not open at the time, but I got a glimpse of some of their buildings from the road.

The first bike shop did not have my spokes, but recommended another bike shop in Victorville. This one, I called first before going there. It was several more miles down the road, but in the general direction that I was heading. I got there about 1:00 and the owner said her mechanic just went to lunch and probably wouldn’t get my wheel fixed until 2:30. Not much I could do but wait. She recommended a burger place in the same shopping center and described it as “the bomb”. Burger joints and me don’t usually get along, but this place truly was “the bomb”. I got a handmade veggie burger with a portabella mushroom and avocado slices, and a full plate of breaded zucchini. I could only finish the burger and wrapped the zucchini up for dinner. I stayed there blogging until nearly three when the shop text me.

Forty miles to go and it was nearly 4:00 before I got on my way. It was mostly downhill with the occasional mound to cross and I had a strong Westerly helping me along. This section of Route 66 was full of contrasts in means. I saw two plywood and tin settlements that reminded me of the temporary housing near construction sights in China. Other properties had two story victorian homes and lush green lawns. I got caught by a tourist trap not too far down the road.

The highlight was the Bottle Tree Ranch. I got to speak to the owner and artist who had been there for 17 years. He said that he and his father would collect bottles and scrap along the route. When his father passed he inherited the collection and started the Bottle Tree Ranch. As I stood there talking to him I noticed a humming bird zipping around and he said he had just put out fresh water in their feeders and they were hungry. He also said if I stood real still I might catch a photo. I crept to where a few feeders hung, ready with the camera to catch the birds. Four sometimes six were playing around the feeders, but mostly on the other side, until a pretty red male dared to come to my side. He didn’t seem to mind me standing just feet from him.

It was a cool 70 degrees, but the sun was mostly on my left side and I could feel the burn on my skin. I stopped a couple times to re-apply sunscreen and finally decided to use the UV sleeves I brought: one on my left arm and one on my left leg. I must have looked odd to the occassional car going by.

Between the wind and descending elevation I kept an easy 15-18 mph pace. I stayed in my 9th gear for most of the day. Besides the few mounds, which I sweated up, I only had to pedal every minute or so. That was mostly just to keep my legs from cramping up from sitting too long.

I flew into Barstow about 7:30 and as soon as I crossed the city line I was stopped by a cop. I must have been speeding, because that was the only law I could have broken. The cop just wanted to make sure I wasn’t lost and wanted to check out the touring rig. He was a fellow cyclist! He said he would ride West into the wind and then let it carry him back home. Leaving him it was just a matter of finding a place to stay for the night.

Broke Down on the Second Day

I wasn’t actually broke down, but I was close. I knew I needed to get to a bike shop for a longer chain, which I thought would fix the problem. After just a few miles I stopped to adjust the derailleur and the derailleur hanger cracked. It did not snap in two, but it was barely hanging on. I called the closest “upscale” bike shop and told them the issue and he said they could fix it. It was 35 miles away. For fear of the derailleur falling off, I did not shift the whole way.

Not riding for nine months made those 35 miles a struggle. My legs were heavy and refusing to pedal. I was in and out of traffic, jumping from bike lane to road to bike path trying to angle my way over to the shop. I did get some GoPro video along the way.

I usually stop after 15-20 miles to sit and rest. McDonald’s is one of my favorite places because of the $1 drinks and free wifi. Getting to the McDonald’s I passed a CVS and thought I would grab some sunscreeen, but it was closed down. Outside was a fellow cyclist with no helmet and spandex, and using a black trash bag as a pannier. He asked me where people ride bikes with pink bars, a helmet, and sandals. I told him I was from somewhere in the East. I got to McDonald’s, locked my bike up outside and ordered my $1 wifi. As soon as I sit down to write I see someone outside near my bike. HE FOLLOWED ME! I was staring straight at him as he did something below the window and out of my sight. I go get a refill to keep a closer eye on him and see he is now locking his bike unnecessarily close to mine. He sees me and I wait and watch him dig through his pannier for an old McDonald’s bag and then enters the building. He heads straight back to the bathroom. I immediately go out and check to make sure nothing had been tampered with. Was I being paranoid? When I came back in I see the female manager perched outside the men’s restroom. I assumed to escort the man out. That’s when I asked if there was a safer place to leave my bike and hinted towards bringing it inside, but they would not allow it. So I left.

I rode most of the way on one bike path. It was next to a drainage ditch and not too scenic. The homeless were of course camped out there and occasionally I would see other real cyclists, but for the most part just me and the homeless.

At the end of the bike path was Route 66 Highway. I finally found it! My bike shop was only 1.5 miles down Route 66. After being sluggish all day, I found my second wind. I rode straight in and unloaded on their couch. After a rest I had lunch at a Thai restaurant and then grocery shopping.

The bike still not finished I sat back down on the couch and talked to a college kid that raced for the shop. I also took the time to find a place to stay. All of the motels were a couple miles South and the National forest many more miles North.

Leaving the shop I headed South, but first, I called Wyndham because there website was not working and asked to make a reservation. I was just checking their prices compared to the other sites I use. With Wyndham and IHG I get points, but IHG is too expensive. The cheapest hotel I could find was a Travelodge, regular $70, discounted with to $60 and discounted with Wyndham to $55. Plus, I get points. And, it had breakfast! I make the reservation and ride the 2.5 miles South.

When I get there I ask the front desk worker about my reservation, just like normal, and he says he does not have it. I check through my email looking for the confirmation number, but it is not there. The Wyndham app is still not working, so I call them. Tell them the circumstance so I get the reservation number, give it to the hotel worker, and nothing. He still can not find it. After an hour and a half of being on the phone with Wyndham then Travelodge, they still can’t get it sorted out. Both Wyndham and Travelodge can see my reservation, but the hotel guy will not honor it unless it is sent to him. Travelodge says he can book me in another hotel 10 miles down the road, but I’m not about to ride another 10 miles. The last option was to pay full price and get reimbursed later. The hotel guy then tells me he needs $40 cash deposit to stay there. I don’t have cash! We work it out, charging the extra $40 to my credit card, refundable.

I will most likely not be using Travelodge again. Also, the wifi didn’t work! Bike works though and my room has a sex mirror.

Cajon Pass

I joked with friends that I quit today, and I did. I quit when my legs ached. I quit when my saddle sore stung. I quit everytime something went wrong on the bike. And I quit about 7 times climbing over Cajon “Ka-hone” Pass . Somehow, I kept going.

The morning started with me mapping out the local bus and rail services. For $6 I could get from my motel all the way over the pass and to Victorville. I got to the train tracks, ready to give in and remembered the regret a friend felt when he skipped. So on I rode.

Air pressure always makes me feel better!

It took about 5 miles, but my legs weren’t as heavy and my saddle sores seized their stinging. I followed the Pacific Electric Trail and then the Cucamonga Creek Trail and they were very pleasant. It was a lot of stop and go, but I didn’t mind. I had all but forgotten that I was hurting. The trails were well maintained and their was plenty of greenery hanging over the walls from the housing complexes. I was attempted to snag some oranges, pomegranates, and prickly pears.

Once back on the road I found a city park and spent some time writing. It was so cold and windy that I wish I had brought my Minion blanket. Where everything else is sandy and gray, the park was covered in green. At the park, I studied the map and decided I would do a short day of about 30 miles. That would get me a little ways up the climb and the rest of the day to rest.

Another 7 miles and I stopped for lunch. Everyone says that it is incredible that I am able to do this, but if you were to ride with me you would see that I don’t go fast and stop frequently. In fact, just a few miles from my lunch spot and I was looking for a place to take a nap. I found a county park, but they required a cash fee to get in. A little further up the road and I spotted a shade tree with no litter, sap, or ants underneath (this is key).  I pulled in and then noticed the fire station across the road. It had picnic tables out front so I went there instead. The firemen offered me a seat and a cold drink. They sat and talked with me a long while before going back to their duties. Their advice was to not stop and camp for the next 100 miles: too many criminals, drugs, and all around bad people.

With their advice, I chose a motel, 9 miles up I-15. They actually advised me to stay off of the interstate and to take a washboard dirt road, which would be an extra 5 miles. I listened to half of their advice.  I stayed on Route 66 for 7.5 miles before it merged with I-15. Old Route 66 ran next to the newer road and was sectioned off, so I had the entire two lanes all to myself. Occasionally a rogue car would break off and zoom by me. I wondered what made them so much more important than the cars marching slowly up the hills. Route 66 was bumper to bumper, and at times I was moving faster then the cars. Two people actually offered my bottled water out of their cars, but I had topped off at the firestation. Another plus for California drivers!

I was climbing up Route 66 in my 4th gear (remember I only have 10 gears now). I was thankful for going East rather than West because I had a light wind behind me the whole way. I could feel it pushing and cheering me forward. Transitioning to I-15 I had to drop into my 2nd gear. I have yet to use my 1st gear. It was 1.5 miles from the start of I-15 to the hotel exit. I know, because I set a route, and yet I still missed it. I remember seeing a sign that read “Best Western next exit”, but I never saw the exit. On the interstate there was no safe way of turning around so I just kept pedalling.

There were four lanes of North bound traffic, five if you counted me. The big trucks were in the lane next to me and usually that can be scary, but they were having as much trouble with the grade as I was. I held a steady 4.5 mph and them about 20. I’d feel my legs getting slow and then I’d hear a pattern of honks and some guy waving out the window encouragement. I had constant encouragement from the cars going by. Twice I found a place to pull over to catch my breath, shake out the legs and take some photos. If you look at the map you can see a false summit. False summits are the worst, and what is worse is I looked at the topo and new about the false summit before going up. At the real summit I stopped, took a breath, and looked back at the conquered mountain.

I earned seven miles of all down hill to the next town. I barely pedalled. I also hopped off of I-15 and onto a local road for those seven miles. At the hotel, I dropped my bike off with the front desk and walked across to the Chipotle. I can’t pass up Chipotle. Not sure if it was the sun or my fatigued muscles, but I could hardly eat. I wrapped most of my bowl up and took it to the hotel for later.


Looking back, it was a good day. I pushed through the pain, climbed a mountain, and got more miles than I had intended. There was some bad.  While I was on Route 66 I heard a sharp twang and instinctively stopped. I had never heard that noise before. It sounded like something under tension snapping. I had broken a spoke, my first broken spoke. I removed it, tucked it away and kept riding. On the descent on the local road I heard another twang, and removed my second broken spoke. At a stoplight I had a sympathetic moment with a motorist who had a bearing going out. I could hear his screaching and he could see my wobble.

Day 1

It rained last night and the drip drip drip on my window seal would not let me sleep. A quick shower and organization of my panniers and I’m out the door by 7 AM.

From the hotel I was about 12 miles from the Santa Monica Pier. I chose it to be my starting point because it is where Route 66 ends. On the way I went by Marina Del Ray and Venice Beach. Maybe 6 miles from the hotel my bike made a noise I recognized from last year. What took me 30 minutes to figure out last year was immediate this year. The bolt holding the rack to the frame had come loose. No problem though! I just put it back in. Turned out to be a problem: the braze on in the frame had stripped just enough that the short bolt could not grab hold. I borrowed a bolt from the front fork and used it with no spacer. Hopefully it will hold…

At the marina, I was surprised at all of the different sizes of boats at the marina. I was expecting pleasure yachts and millionaire ships, but I also saw many small boats (the type that I could afford). I didn’t stay long, too anxious to get going.

I actually went through Venice Beach twice, once getting to Santa Monica Pier and again on my trek East. Unfortunately, both times I was there too early to experience the full effect. There were a few people working out on Muscle Beach and some volleyball players training, but for the most part it was just people out for their morning runs and rides. And of course the many homeless that were camped out there.

I got to the pier around 8:00 and there was not a lot going on. Nothing but a burger joint was open and I’m not sure why they were. After walking down to the end of the pier, because I felt that’s what I was supposed to do, I went down to the beach. A lifeguard was getting his stand ready and more homeless were congregating under the pier. I rolled the bike through the sand and got my Pacific Ocean photo. I realized afterwards how bad of an idea it was to get saltwater all over my bike. I then went straight to the beach shower we both got baths.

I didn’t actually follow Route 66, mostly because I couldn’t find it and because my unconditioned body wanted to avoid the hills of Beverly Hills. I chose the path of least resistance and that meant going back through Venice Beach and then East from there. The rest of the day was spent zig-zagging my way to the cheapest motel in my desired stopping point.

I broke down not a mile from starting when my derailer shifting on it’s own, sending my chain up and over my cassette and locking up the back wheel. I got it straightened out, but I noticed the derailleur was still a little crooked.

I am against spending money when I don’t have to, but this is one of those times I needed to. No Warmshowers in the area and no campgrounds. Usually I would just find a city park, or secluded area and hide there. The homeless population have already staked their claim on all of the prime real estate. So, motel it is.

I was worried about the traffic here, but found bike lanes and paths all over. I’m so used to being cursed and honked at back home that it was a relief to see how friendly California drivers are. I felt respected and less like a cockroach needing to be squashed. Not one person yelled or honked at me!

Getting There

To start from California, meant I had to be packed and mail my bike and gear a week before leaving. This gave me no time to test out the new components on the bike. I just hope everything works. It also meant no last minute substitutions or additions to my gear list. To mail the bike I used Bike Flights. Somehow using them and shipping through Fedex is cheaper than just using Fedex.

Hard to let it go.

In one week, I received and installed new pedals, tires, bar wrap, and cassette. The same day that I got my tires in and installed was the day I packed and shipped the bike. On the positive side, I will know exactly how many miles are on them. I got a bike box from Carr’s, LBS, and went to work. Everything except my electronics, clothes, and sleeping bag were going in the box.

Not a Cannondale

The night before leaving I packed what little I had in a $1 thrift store duffle and slept, sort of. I had confirmation that my bike was safely at the hotel, so there was no need for concern.

Oh, Jack! Jack contacted me about 5 months ago on Warmshowers, cyclist hosting site, for me to host him. Unfortunately, he had some “e-assit” troubles and ended up staying the weekend. Hosting him brought a little more excitement to my upcoming trip. He is a legend, at 74 years and 20,000+ miles of touring (I stopped calculating at 20,000).

Jack hitched a ride with us to Little Rock on our way to the airport and he was off again. Then, my parents dropped me off and said goodbye. The more of these trips I do, the shorter the goodbyes are getting. Maybe they are feeling better about my travels.

Going through security, I got my first pat down. I thought it odd they chose the person wearing the least amount of clothing to pat down.

Two flights and a bus ride later I was in L.A. and at my hotel. L.A. is a lot colder than I had anticipated. Now, the scary part. The front desk clerks found my reservation, checked me in, but could not find my bike. I described the box and showed them my confirmation. The lady even took my phone in the back to confirm, but still no box with my name. She did say that there was a box large enough to fit a bike, but it had the name Pam on it. The manager stepped in and said there may have been a mix-up and our bikes got swapped. THIS, is exactly the kind of thing I worried about when letting the bike out of my site. Never again!! I finally asked if I could take a look at the box and with some nudging they let me in their store room. IT WAS MY BIKE!!! I was so relieved when I saw that terrible duct tape job and new it was mine.

Pam was the original owner of the box that I got out of the dumpster of Carr’s. Not sure how I feel about the Fedex guy that took my box and said he would “take care of it for me”. No extra tape like I asked and old shipping labels still on the box. That wouldn’t fly over at Helen’s UPS.

All was good. Now for dinner. I had enough excitement and did not feel like unboxing and building until I got some food. Simple Google search yielded no viable food sources. For those not up to date on Jesse’s evolving diet, I am no longer VEGAN! Being vegan on last year’s bike tour was too difficult. So this year I am trying out a keto-vegan diet. You may have to Google that. Think vegan, but without sugar. I almost gave it all up when I spotted a Yoshinoya. Yoshinoya is a Japanese fast food chain that I fell in love with while wandering around over there, and we ruined it.

Luckily I found a little greek place where the manager hooked me up with a ton of salad and huge bowl of hummus to go. I have so much that I will probably have hummus and salad for lunch and dinner tomorrow. I actually went walking down the street from the hotel to a market that I thought I could find ingredients to make hummus and a salad, so this was perfect. The “market” only sold liquor.

I spent the rest of the night putting everything back together, organizing and getting ready for the next morning. I also contacted some Warmshowers down the road, but with no luck.

Round 2, The Trans-am!!

Last year I went on a once in a lifetime trip, cycling across the country. I made it from Russellville, AR to Seattle, WA in 60 days, covering 2800 miles. It was brought to my attention that I did not technically cycle across the country, only part of the country. So this year I am going on my second, once in a lifetime trip and cycling all the way across the country.

I am starting the trip in Santa Monica, CA and ending at a lighthouse on the far Eastern point of Maine. The trip is about 3500 miles and should take anywhere from two to three months, depending on how long it takes for me to get my legs back.

In preparing for this trip I have ridden a total of 14.6 miles. The first couple weeks may be slow and grueling and there is a mountain range and desert I have to cross. I have lightened my load and made some upgrades on the bike, which should help with my lack of fitness. I am carrying around 16 pounds of gear, excluding only the bike.

I switched out my clipless pedals and shoes for flat pedals and sandals. I upgraded my rear cassette from an 11-40t to an 11-46t (lower, easier gears for climbing). My dead GoPro Hero was replaced with a GoPro Session 5.

The cold was my biggest problem last year so this year my sleep system was my main priority. My inadequate sleeping bag was traded for a 30 degree down from Western Mountaineering and my uninsulated sleeping pad traded for an Exped insulated pad. The rest of what I will be carrying is basically the same.

The route I currently plan to take follows Route 66, hitting CA, AZ, NM, TX, OK, MO. At St. Louis I will head towards Indianapolis and go through IN, OH, and MI. I plan to cross into Canada through Detroit and follow the border back to Maine.