Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Crank Starts Turning

Well after a day in San Francisco hangin with my cousin helping her get her furniture up and put together and running some errands to get Shirley road ready the day finally came to start the real adventure. I woke up Sunday morning with Shirley already ready to go, she was itchin to get movin so we said goodbye to my cousin and began our way out of the city. Before we could leave though we had to meet up with a friend I had met on my last major tour from Flagstaff to New Orleans. A friend I made in Austin Texas had moved out to San Francisco a few years back, giving me the opportunity to meet him again on another bike trip. It was delightful to see a familiar face and made the beginning of my journey more pleasant. The first leg of the trip led me south from the city down to Santa Cruz to bug an old friend.
So let's talk about the first day of riding a bicycle. As you know I was leaving from San Francisco, and while I thought I was in good shape, I was nowhere prepared to face the hills of San Fran. First days of tours are always filled with jitters and a bit of nervousness as you launch into the unknown. Even though I have ridden this route before you can never be sure what the road has in store for you. You lump that in with spirit crushing hills and you have a recipe that will break you like a twig and I will admit I broke myself this first day. There are moments before you reach your breaking point where you curse yourself for being such an ass as to propose riding a bicycle any amount of distance. You think "fuck this, why I am I fucking doing this?" Your legs are already screaming for mercy as you look up to another daunting hill. Suddenly though your mind releases all of those thoughts, your legs begin to warm up and your breathing slows. Yes you get high, and as you crest that hill you see the ocean and mountains, you see all the adventure you have in front of you and you remember why you are doing this. A smile creeps across your face, for a moment and then you start back up another hill.
After I broke myself and came through to the other side I managed to pedal about 40 miles. The ride should have been only 30 or so, but I was detoured because of a bridge closure and ended up not making it to Half Moon Bay as I had hoped that first day. However I found myself on a lovely bike path and though most folks were not that friendly, I smiled and said Aloha to all of them as I pedaled my way south. As night began to fall I found a lovely little produce stand with fresh local veggies and fruits all for a very reasonable price and set out to find a good place to camp for the night. I ended up underneath a forest of eucalyptus with a reservoir just below me. I may have not made it to the ocean as I had hoped, but where I ended up was perfectly lovely.  My dinner consisted of a half pound of pasta, a golden beat, a carrot, some mushrooms, all mixed with my special seasoning mix and a handful of nutritional yeast, topped of course with a fresh delicious avocado. You would think all of this would leave one full, but you'd be wrong. So I also ate some Wasa crackers and sardines. I know most people have an aversion to sardines, but they hold a special place in my heart, especially over Wasa crackers with a sprinkle of hot sauce.
As I let my food settle into my belly I laid back up stared up into the trees, eucalyptus trees have a certain charm to them, their smooth bark broken by ribbons of the older bark flaking off looking almost like spanish moss in the fading light. I soon drifted off into a deep sleep. Suddenly I heard a car come to a screeching halt, I shot up and looked towards the road as a cop car spins around 180 degrees onto the dirt pull out and then whips back and peals out the way it had just come. I wasn't sure at first if all that had actually happened, but as the dust finally made its way to me I was reassured I was not dreaming. It had nothing to do with me though so I settled back into my sleeping bag and drifted back to sleep. Next I hear a scratching and pulling sound... Someones trying to get to my food in my panniers. I grab a stick next to me and swing it towards my bike. The scratching and clawing does stop. So I shout "Hey you, get out of here!" The scratching doesn't stop. At this point, as much as I don't want to I know I have to get up out of my coziness and investigate the brave little soul who was so determined to get to my food.
As I stood up and walked over to my bike, which was not not far from where I was sleeping, I heard the critter move back a bit, but he definitely did not run away. So I grabbed my flashlight and turned it on, there standing in front of me was a tiny little fox, not afraid, not backing down. I looked at my bag to see what he had been so interested in, it was my peanuts. He had managed to open the zipper on my pannier, and had almost slipped the bag of peanuts out the hole. I pushed the part of the bag he had managed to get out back in and zipped up pannier. The whole time I had noticed the fox hadn't moved. I shined my light back on him and there he stood, still just a few feet away looking at me intently. I picked up a stick and threw it in his general direction, he hopped back a little bit but stayed strong. So I grabbed another stick and yelled "Bad fox go away fox!" and threw the other stick at him, he moved a little further back and then made it seem he was going to leave. So I settled back into my sleeping bag. Twenty minutes later I hear the scratching again. I flip on the light and sure enough there he is again, SO I shine the light and sling another stick his way, I hear him scurry off, but I knew he would be back, so I rigged up a little noise maker for his next visit. Using a stick, a spoon and a well placed pot I set it up so when he came back he'd get a nice loud welcome. Another twenty minutes went by and suddenly I hear *Bang* *Crash* stumble stumble and scatter. That was the last I heard of my fox friend that night.

The next morning I awoke sore but feeling so good. I made up some breakfast which was oatmeal and apple slices and of course a ripe banana and then packed up Shirley. My morning ride started with a 4 mile hill winding up over the mountains that separated me from Half Moon Bay. I took my time just turning the crank on an easy gear at an easy pace, I was in no rush. Suddenly a red tail hawk swooped across about five feet from me. He perched just on the other side of the road as if showing off how easy the hill was for him. As I crested the hill I could see all the way down to Half Moon. I opened up my breaks and let myself glide all the way down. The cool breeze sending slight shivers down my spine, I am sure the smile on my face was visible by ever car passing me. I pulled into a gas station to fill up my water bottles and saw a payphone. If any of you followed my previous tour you know that I did not carry a phone with me and depended on pay phones to call family, which I quickly learned very few payphones still exist in this world. Sure enough at this gas station there was a payphone, and while I have a phone I thought about my previous trip and the exhaustible times I spent looking for a payphone. This payphone was different though, it had a sign above it that lifted "free calls" the first of which of course being "receive god's blessing". I could not resist I dialed *3 and sure enough the call went through to a gentleman on the other line.
"Hello and what can I do for you today?"
"Uh hello, I was curious about the daily blessing..."
"Well yes, do you have anything in particular to pray for?"
"Well I guess I am on a bike trip across the country."
"Oh my goodness, oh my, really? Wow, yes we can pray for that!"
He then proceeded to recite a prayer which I must say for being on the fly was really quite lovely. He incorporated everything one could hope for in an adventure, praying I meet good people along the way, praying my bicycle stays strong and working, praying I stay safe and healthy. I was actually quite touched by the experience I must say, just knowing something like that existed. I thanked him and after a brief a little conversation eventually went about my day. Having received my daily blessing I decided it was time to baptize my self in the cold salty ocean. I b-lined it for the beach and leaving Shirley in a place she wouldn't get too sandy and sprinted for the water. I ran in and as the cold water reached my knees I remember I was still wearing spandex underneath the shorts. Right before a big wave was about to overtake my waist I hightailed it out of the water, found a secluded place to drop my shorts and removed the spandex. Not free from any possible agitation or potential chaffing I sprinted back into the water and fell back. The cold was a shock but the salt water a blessing. I hung out on the beach awhile and let my feel sink into the sand. It was still rather chilly out but the sand was holding the warmth from the little bits of sun that was managing to peak through the fog.
I eventually gathered up my stuff, slipped back to the secluded area to put my riding shorts back on and hopped back on Shirley. The day was long and mostly uneventful. As I settled into a rhythm I let most of the world around me slip away just listening to the road and enjoying everything around me. I pedaled for awhile until my legs were ready for a rest, I pulled over off the road and found a grassy field over looking the ocean. I sat back and just took in the scenery made a couple of phone calls, texted a couple of folks, I even closed my eyes for a few minutes, then once my legs were rested I hopped back on the bike and started pedaling along down the road. At this point I had drank through most of my water and was hoping to come across a gas station or something of the like at some point, but nothing was presenting itself. I road further and further until finally I decided I needed to just go ahead and pull over to one of the farm houses and ask to fill up my water bottles. I spot a house not far off the road and ride over to it. Of course the place is abandoned, probably had been for awhile. Which I have to admit, while common sight in New Mexico and Texas I really did not expect it on the pacific coast in California. A part of my thought about squatting there for the night, there was some old berry vines which fresh black berries, a bit of overgrown gardens that I am sure if I poked around enough I'd find some goodies. I truly thought about it but thought I should check the time, so I reached for my phone when suddenly I realized I didn't have my phone.
I had left my phone at the place I took my break, which was now a solid 7 miles behind me. I thought about what I could do, I decided before hopping on the bike I would try hitching back, clearly I wasn't homeless and just needed some help, someone would have to help me right? I parked my bike at the abandoned house and went up to the road and started thumbing it. A good amount of time passed and no one was even remotely interested in giving me a ride, so I thought well there isn't much other option. I unloaded my bicycle and hopped on it. I rode back the 7 miles of coast line, going up and down the hills I had already passed until I finally made it back to my break point, sure enough there was the phone sitting right where I left it. I made sure it was in my pocket and then road back to the farm house to gather my gear.
After reloading the bike and making my way back to the road I pedaled a little further till I saw a hand made sign that read "Brewery", my mouth began to water. I decided then and there if that sign was real I was getting a beer. Sure enough I came across the Highway 1 brewery, I hopped off the bike immediately ordered a beer. The gent behind the bar gave me the bicycle tour discount making the beer just that much sweeter. I finished my beer and saddled back up for the last part of the ride to Santa Cruz.
I stopped once more at Stanton Farms, a lovely little farm just north of Davenport with fresh berries and pies and an advertised 10% bike tour discount (how could I resist?). I finally rolled into Santa Cruz around 5:30. I called my friend and she told me she would pick me up, but that gave me a minute to dip my aching feet into the cool water. I was later fed a most delicious dinner and able to take a nice hot shower. I will tell you there is nothing more satisfying than that hot shower.
I will be here in Santa Cruz for a couple of days in search of a trailer. With the instruments I have brought as well as computer I have decided it would be best to have a trailer to get some of the weight off my bike. SO I will be looking to invest in one as soon as I locate the right one. We'll see.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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