The end is here...or is it
Well, I’ve officially been on the road for 2 months now. I started this journey for many reasons, but primarily because I was not happy. Since leaving I’ve biked 3,000km almost entirely solo through 3 countries and 3 states, down the Pacific Coast to Mexico. It was a challenging ride, from the weather to the amount of climbing, to the setback with the theft of my bike and gear, but I’ve seen incredible things and met countless people along the way. This morning I waved goodbye to my new friends Michael and Antonius, who are continuing on to NY and then Cuba before heading back to Germany. We met back on day 22 of my ride, and spent the last 3 weeks experiencing southern Cali together, it’s been so much fun. I’m going to miss these guys, but now I have an excuse to visit Europe!
As I write this I am flying back to Canada (TO for now), and I don’t know what lies ahead quite yet - all I know is my gut is telling me it’s not quite time to put the passport away.
8 July 2018
It’s time for a night out on the town, Vegas style! After arriving to the hotel, we all quickly showered and did our best to look presentable with whatever “clean” clothes we had (With only mostly biking and camping gear, the “going out in public clothes” are usually also sleeping clothes, camping clothes, and day off clothes haha). Las Vegas at nighttime is pretty spectacular, and it was exciting to recognize various viewpoints and hotels from movies and tv. We started our night with burgers at White Castle (Harold and Kumar anyone?) and then made our way through Casinos where we capitalized on free drinks at the slot machines. We caught the water fountain show at the Bellagio before calling it a night. We had a lazy start the next day (after biking 3,000km and driving over 1,000km I’d say we earned it) and spent the day playing blackjack, seeing Vegas from 106 stories up, repacking bags for our flights and playing games in the room that night. Cheers to Vegas!
7 July 2018
The Grand Canyon
Viva Las Vegas! We made it to Las Vegas after a very long and hot drive from Joshua Tree Park that took us through incredibly remote desert roads - the whole time I kept thinking “please don’t get a flat tire”. We pulled into the Stratosphere hotel around dinner time and after being up since 4am, crashed pretty early. The next day we woke up early again to drive the 2hrs to the Grand Canyon. There are many Rims one can visit but given our limited time in Vegas we had to choose the closest to us, the West Rim. It also happens to be the most touristic, so I was glad we made the trek out there early before the crowds arrived. The hype does not disappoint - it is truly an incredible sight, and we scrambled over rocks at Guano Point for a closer view - can you believe that no one has fallen into the crater from this side in the past 30 years?! After admiring the canyon for a few hours we hopped back into the car to escape the heat (which topped out at 113F by noon!).
6 July 2018
Joshua Tree National Park
Anyone who knows me knows I love Dr. Seuss. Stepping into Joshua Tree National Park is like entering a Dr. Seuss book, from the expansive Cholla Cactus Garden to the twisted and cartoon-like yucca and Joshua trees, I can’t get enough of this place. We pitched our tents in BLM land outside of the park on Night 1 and then woke up for 4 A.M. to drive into the park to catch a sunrise. This place is HOT - believe it or not, it was already well in the 30’s by 6 A.M., and we hit a high of 118F (47.77C) in the afternoon without the humidex. That basically feels like being in a convection oven, and as soon as you open the car doors it starts to burn your skin and eyes. This is definitely the kind of place you do not visit in the summer, which explains why everywhere we go it’s empty. I love this place!
4 July 2018
San Diego & Carlsbad
Our time in San Diego & Carlsbad have been a blur! We are officially off the bikes and after spending every day on a bike feels like I am forgetting to do something. Readjusting to « normal » life will take some time. Our WS host Chris and his family are incredible and hosted and we were able to stay for a few days in order to sell our bikes. They have had some neat biking adventures also and it was fun to swap stories over an amazing home cooked vegan Chili dinner. We squeezed in some sightseeing in San Diego before renting a car and driving to Carlsbad for July 4th. What had previously taken an entire day of biking took us only 40 minutes to drive...we spent the 4th poolside working on fixing our terrible tanlines, then headed to the beach to catch some fireworks. From here we will start the drive to Joshua Tree National Park and them to the final destination of Vegas before flying our own ways.
30 June 2018
Im back!! I had planned on ending the posts with my last day biking into Tijuana BUT many of you have asked what came next so I thought I would continue with a few more posts to show you what came next.
Tijuana is a very cool place. After our arrival we cheers’ed to our bike ride with a tequila shot in our hotel lobby, before passing out in comfy beds! We’ve been told many times not to explore Tijuana, but you do not bike for 3,000km to get somewhere and turn around right away, so we decided to explore. With some very bad Spanish, we managed to explore the city, eat tacos and tamales, sip margaritas and cap off the night playing a very Spanish game of Uno at a local brewery. All in all, we all felt safe in the areas we explored and I would go back to Tijuana again.
29 June 2018
Day 50: Tijuana (~77km)
3,000km pedalled, 50 days on the road (39 cycling the route), 3 states, 6 books read, 24 nights in a tent (the rest hosted), 2 bikes, 1 police report for bike theft, 1 encounter with a bear, many animals spotted (whales, dolphins, puffins, elephant seals, 1 crash, 40lbs of gear, 1 flat tire, countless new friends and 1 unforgettable journey.
I made it to Tijuana! My last day did not go as planned: I woke up around 1 am and spent the next 5 hours violently vomiting everything I had eaten. It was a combination of the effects of the sun/dehydration from the previous days and my stomach not being used to the quantity or type of food I ate at our bbq. That morning I felt so shaky and weak and didn’t know how I could possibly bike the remaining 77km to the border, but with my supportive new friends and my fierce determination, we took it slow, took lots of breaks, and shortly after dinner time crossed through the border! Time to explore..by foot!
28 June 2018
Day 49: San Elijo (~67km)
Waking up this morning it’s clear the sun had a pretty big impact on us yesterday as we had a later start than expected. Today’s ride was just like any other day, and it hasn’t really sunken in yet that tomorrow is the last riding day before we are scheduled to arrive in Mexico. Today we rode on a mixture of streets, bike paths, highways and the freeway for a section (which was not so pleasant). The guys have been talking about barbecuing for the last night, so we hightailed it to the campground in order to have enough time to do so. We had enough time to take a nap on the beach, before finding the hiker/biker site. We were expecting a nice Beachside campsite, but instead we found ourselves right next to the highway, in a site full of ants, beside a train track, which we’ve affectionately nicknamed our homeless shelter. We spent the night roasting veggies, sausages and s’mores, and ended it listening to music by the fire. Tomorrow we ride for Mexico!!
27 June 2018
Day 48: Doheny Campground (~109km)
For the past 48 days, I’ve been biking in rain, sleet, fog and cold, but let me tell you, after hitting L.A. it’s like there was an imaginary wall where everything south of L.A. turns into an oven. Michael, Antonius and I packed up our bikes early in the morning at the hostel, and by the time we started riding, the weather had risen well into the thirties. The rest of the 109 km to follow were long and gruelling as a result. It was clear from the silence, slow movements and lethargy that we were feeling the effects of the heat, and struggled to muster the energy to get back on the bikes after each break. This is the kind of ride that would have been very difficult to accomplish riding solo. The driving force behind the day was the vision of cooking s’mores by the campfire, which we did late in the evening after finally arriving at the Doheny campsite. That night I slept with the fly off my tent, and had one of the best nights sleep! T-minus 2 days!
26 June 2018
Day 47,48: LA (Hostel)
It feels like weeks ago now when I crossed into San Francisco. If you recall, I did not enter San Fran alone, but with two new friends: Michael & Antonius. We said our goodbyes in SF, but after my bike was stolen, they’ve been able to catch up to me, and we planned on meeting up in LA at a hostel. They sent me the address and I rode off, but it turns out there are two streets in LA with the same name, and I ended up on the other side of town. I was pretty relieved when I finally got there and saw a pool and lounge chairs, as it was SO hot riding. After I arrived, we went on a hunt to find the Hollywood sign, and managed to see the teeny tiny words off in the distance. We also stumbled upon the walk of fame. I got my first flat tire, which ironically happened during breakfast the next morning when my bike tire overheated in the sun and suddenly blew a flat! Does that even really count? Today we continue what remains of the ride, in 3 days, we will have made it!
23 June 2018
Day 45,46: LA with the Renaud’s!
You may have noticed that I went off the grid for little a bit. A few days ago I found out I have Renaud family members in LA whom I’d never met. After some quick emails, I was on my way to meet them and paused my ride to spend the weekend at their house. They are such lovely people and it was an incredible weekend: I met my grandfathers brother, his son and daughter in law, along with their two kids. They were so welcoming and we had a lot of fun that weekend! My ‘grandpa’ Dan pulled out an old photo album and family tree, and took me or a bike ride around Venice beach and the canals. My new cousins and I played games, created a donut shop and made homemade lasagna for dinner. Mia’s family was in town and her family invited me to my first Jewish Shabbat dinner (ps. The Jewish have the most delicious bread!). On my last morning, I got to ride with the kids to their school nearby which was a neat way to wrap up the weekend. I can’t wait to visit again!
22 June 2018
Day 44: Los Angeles! (59km)
Point Mugu would be the last place that I would be camping at before arriving into the heavy density areas of Southern California. I left Point Mugu early and started making my way towards LA. The ride was pretty, with the Malibu coast on one side and the Santa Monica mountains on the other. I spend a lot of time looking around at things when I’m biking, (there’s not much else to do) and when I noticed that the seals were in a large pod I screeched to a stop...they weren’t seals, they were Dolphins!!
There wasn’t actually much to see in Malibu, so I kept going towards LA, and before I knew it I had arrived onto the path that leads into Santa Monica and the rest of L.A. Here’s the thing though, after sharing the road with only cars for so long, touristy bike paths are a nightmare, as you have to weave and dodge tourists on bikes and scouters, many of whom are completely oblivious to the other cyclists around them. Nonetheless, I’m in LA!!
21 June 2018
Day 43: Point Mugu (91km)
Remember Chelsea, the gal dressed in pink who I met riding and came to my rescue after my bike was stolen? We were both in Santa Barbara at the same time so I was able to meet up with her for breakfast before heading on my way towards my next stop of Point Mugu. Today was a very hot ride, all of a sudden the days are becoming scorchers, even though mornings and evenings are still very cool. On my ride to point Mugu I went by a very large naval air base, which reminded me a lot of Trenton where I grew up since the first thing I saw was a hanger with 3 Hercs parked outside. I stopped for a quick stretch, and all of a sudden an Osprey (part helicopter, part plane) comes out of nowhere to land and I caught the whole thing on video. This was followed by jets flying around in formation, and I was reminded by how obnoxiously loud they are. Definitely reminded me of growing up around aircrafts all the time. I arrived at Point Mugu state park as the sun was setting
20 June 2018
Day 41,42: Santa Barbara (~68k + 15k for sightseeing)
My ride from Buellton to Santa Barbara was a breeze. With only one hill, the road was so flat it felt like I was flying down the highway. Before I knew it I was at Mariane, Lewis and Irene’s (my warm showers hosts for the night) door being ushered in for an incredible home cooked meal. Mariane and Lewis retirer to Santa Barbara after successful careers in chemical engineering, and along with her mother Irene, have welcomed many cyclists and enjoy cycletouring themselves - even Irene, who is 89, joins in on the fun. I am more and more convinced that staying active WILL lead to a long an healthy life, as all 3 of them look much younger than they are. They were all so easy to get along with and when the offer was extended to stay one more night, I accepted! I spent the next day exploring Santa Barbara, which is a truly unique city. Mariane suggested a visit to the city courthouse, which sounds bizarre, but has the prettiest of views!
18 June 2018
Day 40: Buellton (~59km)
Did I mention the hotel included a breakfast. Naturally I ate 6 pieces of bacon, eggs, waffles, potatoes with gravy, 6 pieces of toast, orange juice and coffee...it was the biggest breakfast I’ve eaten and I didn’t feel a shred of guilt because today I’m celebrating 40 days on the road! (31 of them spent cycling the route). I’d say that warrants the extra food. It also seems as though the scenery has just completely changed overnight from cliffs, forests and ocean to valley floor desert, and it is getting hot! It felt like I had to wipe my hands of sweat every 10 minutes; I’m sure missing my bike gloves right about now (stolen as well). Speaking of stolen items, it occurred to me today that the item I miss most (second to my bike of course), is my iPod nano with all my music. Come the afternoon 2pm slump when I’m just too tired to move, I used to pop in 1 headphone and bike away! Now I have my iPhone with 8 songs and batteries I need to be mindful of, sigh!
17 June 2018
Day 39: Santa Maria (~71km)
I must have been really tired yesterday because when I woke up this morning my tent fly and screen were open - I must have passed out before I could zip it back up after crawling in! Despite being so tired, I still woke up super early, so I tore down camp and was on the road by 7:00 that morning. Yesterday I met a cyclist at the Elephant Seal sanctuary who was doing a day bike ride with his son. It turns out that he owns a hotel two towns over, and when he heard what happened he immediately offered me a room. I eagerly jumped at the chance to take a shower and be able to change out of my bike clothes without having to awkwardly change laying down in my tent, or hopping on one foot in a camping bathroom in order not to touch the ground. His close friend from Santa Maria who also owns a hotel offered to put me up for tonight, so off I biked to SM, slightly off my route, but worth every extra kilometre for that hot tub, bath and clean bed!
16 June 2018
Day 38: Morro Bay (~114km)
Today I did something kind of illegal. A year ago, excessive rains caused a massive landslide that wiped out an entire mountainside, taking part of hwy 1 with it (YouTube the drone footage, it’s crazy!). For weeks now, cyclists have been wondering how to get around - it is the only hwy, and the detour is long and remote with no services. The only option is through. But no one is permitted to go through. The cyclist grapevine had people talking of being able to sneak through at night. It wasn’t really something I was keen on doing solo, but I didn’t really have any other choice. I devised my plan: camp at Plaskett, wake up at 4 A.M., bike in the cover of darkness, get around the gate, and book it to the other side through the construction site. It was a terrifying experience, but I made it and was at the other side just as the construction workers began arriving. Then began the long ride to Morro Bay. Also saw elephant seals and 3 other riders today!
15 June 2018
Day 37: Plaskett Creek (~53km)
Waking up this morning, the weather was glum...I thought California was supposed to be sunny and warm! But today is misty, foggy and cold. It pretty much stayed that way all day and the thing about the mist here is it’s salty. By mid-morning my fingers were sticking to each other and my palms were sticking to the handle bars. Today I met 4 Manitobans traveling by motorcycle, who enthusiastically waived an imaginary finish line flag for me at the top of the hill. Later, I was so relieved to arrive to the “town” of Lucia, which is comprised of a few residents and a small Inn/restaurant on top of a cliff. Here I met Jessie and James. We chit chatted and laughed while I sipped hot tea to warm up my hands, and before I knew it, I was in their restaurant being treated to lunch! I was so happy to take a long lunch break and enjoyed their company! Later, James even took me to scope out the spot I would be attempting an illegal crossing the next day. Thank you!!
14 June 2018
Day 36: Pfeiffer Big Sur (53km)
Well hello Sur! There is a lot of hype amongst cyclist about riding through Big Sur country and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for weeks now. It is truly breathtaking. Bixby Creek Bridge is iconic of California, and I was actually relieved to see a throng of people already there when I rode up so that someone could take my picture. Bixby is the tallest North American bridge (or so I’m told), and it sure felt like it riding across - I’ve biked across many tall bridges this trip but this one is the first one that gave me vertigo. Again, I am SO much slower on the bike, and it took me the same amount of time to go only half the distance...
Today is also my first time back in a hiker/biker campsite, and I would be lying if I’m not incredibly nervous about the safety of belongings. Don’t be surprised if tomorrow you hear that I chained the bike to myself to make it impossible to move the bike without moving me!
13 June 2018
Day 35: Monterey with Gen & Roy
Having accomplished a few critical things, I felt in a much better place to get on my route. I probably could have happily stayed at the Ranch all week, but at that rate I’ll never finish this ride, so I knew I needed to get on my way. Thankfully most of the day was FLAT, since I still haven’t really gotten the hang of this bike. I rode through farm fields for most of the ride. Most of the produce we consume back home comes from these very fields, and I have I will never look at the produce again without thinking of all the hard workers I saw picking the fruit and veggies. I passed a fruit/veggie stand that was selling two of my favourite foods at a ridiculously low price and nearly bawled when I couldn’t figure out how to strap 14 avocados and grapefruits to my bike! I had a really good night with my hosts Roy & Gen in Monterey, who really went out of their way to make sure I could stay in a safe place that night, and went to bed feeling much happier!
12 June 2018
Day 34: City Limits Ranch (running errands)
Initially I had only planned on staying one night and then continuing south the next day. I’ve been feeling behind schedule and feel the need to get going, but when I woke up feeling absolutely drained and exhausted, I quickly realized the best thing to do that day was to stay put. You wouldn’t think I would have much of a to-do list while biking down the coast, but after the theft, I suddenly had a long list of things to deal with such as police reports, sending and replying to messages, re-planning my route and schedule, replacing items, etc. And I was feeling the pressure of all of these things with limited access to wifi and very little down time when biking. Kerrin and Dink are so kind and happily offered to have me as long as I needed. Kerrin is a veterinarian (I didn’t get to snap a pic because she was busy saving cats and dogs!) and Dink is the Ranch Manager. They both are incredible human beings and I want to thank them very much!!
11 June 2018
Day 33: City Limits Ranch (27km)
A mere 3 days after my bike/gear was stolen, I took the “new-used” bike for its inaugural voyage to my next destination. The day after the theft I circulated a photo of the bike online. I received many messages including a woman named Kerrin who offered up her Airbnb to help me with accommodations. After the whirlwind of emotions and stress of the past few days, I was looking forward to a quiet and safe space to spend the night, so I began making my way over there. The new bike was awkward to ride, so I relieved that I did not have to go far, because by the end of it my legs were tired and I was feeling so frustrated by how slow I was compared to before with my original bike and setup. As my dad put it, I went from a Ferrari to a Toyota. I was relieved to finally pull up to the Ranch, and received a warm welcome from Kerrin’s partner Dink and her dog Dallas. That night I slept in sheets for the first time in 33 days, and it felt glorious!
10 June 2018
Some of my earliest memories in life are of wanting to make crafts. I had books with craft projects in them, watched ‘Art Attack’ on the daily and am fairly certain I drove my mom nuts with all of my arts and craft projects. Over the years I’ve taught myself how to sew, how to knit, how to work with wood, tools, paints, stains, etc. I enjoy the challenge of seeing something I like, figuring out how to make it, and then making it. When I’m not making things, or thinking about making things, I start to get antsy. Even on this trip, with the limited wifi connection I’ve gotten, I’ve found myself using precious bandwidth to browse Pinterest for my next project rather than route plan sometimes. Today I found myself desperately needing a creative outlet, and with no materials at hand, I whipped up a little video to show you what my ride has been like!
*Facebook has blocked my video since I used a song. Hang tight as I try to upload via a different host*
(Pt.2) I know I’ll be trying to furnish an apartment from scratch minus the funds that I had reserved to do that, so if you live in the Victoria area and have furniture or other goods (bed, couch, rug, bike tools or bike accessories, old laptop), that you don’t need or are getting rid of, please think of me. Peace and love to you all! ✌️
(Pt. 1) To all of you who have reached out asking how you can help, offered financial help or a moral boosting message, I want to thank each one of you. I feel overwhelmed by how many messages I received, and so touched by how quickly and selflessly you have all acted in trying to help a friend in need. Ultimately, I don’t feel that any of you should have to pay for the selfish actions of one person, and I’d like to politely decline your financial contributions. That is not to say that I won’t accept your help - I am learning that accepting help does not mean you are weak. I’ve thought hard about this over the last 48hrs and I have found myself in a more stressful situation than I anticipated. I have made the decision to keep going on with my ride - I believe I would come to regret it if I didn’t. I’ve lost many things that I worked really hard to acquire, and had given up my belongings to go on this journey. I am worried about what that means for me when I return to Victoria.
Since Facebook blocked the audio in my video, let’s try this:
9 June 2018
Day 32: Santa Cruz - Part 2 begins
Joe had quite a selection of bikes. Unfortunately, almost all of them were road bikes, unable to hold the weight of gear. He did happen to have one bike, that was almost my size, with the capacity to add racks, and in my price range (sort of...). He was so sorry to hear about what happened to me, and when I began to involuntarily get emotional after giving him my last American dollars, he found some water bottles, cages, a rack and a few small bags to save me from having to spend on all of those items as well. When I got the bike back to Rita’s, now began the difficult task of trying to come up with a new setup to fit my remaining gear in fewer bags/spaces. It meant I had to leave some items behind, and even cut my map to save every inch I could get! After a long day working in the sun, I am dirty, smelly and exhausted, but I can say that I believe am ready to attempt a second go at riding the Pacific Coastal Route. I won’t let my story end here!
Day 31: Santa Cruz
Meet Rita (photo pending). Help came immediately in the form of a phone call the next morning. Rita is a Warm Showers host in SC, and she wanted to help. She offered to host me for a few days while I figured out what to do. Chelsea gave me a lift to her place, and Rita gave me the tour of her backyard. Rita is a an incredibly interesting woman; she is a retired ICU nurse who spends much of her time volunteering to fix bikes - when I arrived she was working on a child’s bike in the backyard, and she was really sorry about my situation. She lent me her old Salsa bike (which was very fun to ride) to hit up the various bike shops around town faster than on foot. While I did so, she browsed Craigslist adds and called a bike flipper to see what he had in stock. I did not have any luck with the local bike shops, so upon my return she sent me off with her own vehicle to visit Joe the bike flipper and see if he had anything available in my size that would be suitable to ride
Day 30 (cont.): Santa Cruz
Meet Chelsea. A few days back I met a pink flash on the road. When I say pink flash, I mean she was dressed head to toe in pink! We chit chatted while riding, and before you know it, Chelsea was offering to host me once I made it to Santa Cruz. We exchanged information before parting ways knowing we would get lots more time to swap stories when I made it to SC. Ironically, the day my bike was stolen was the day I was to bike the 85km to SC. When this happened I contacted Chelsea to let her know what happened, and she immediately offered to pick me up on her way back from SF later that evening. When she arrived at the park, she greeted me with a great big hug. I was so emotionally drained and exhausted from the day that I felt so grateful to sleep in a bed and be able to take a warm shower as the events from that day began to really sink in. That evening I circulated memos about my bike and began sending messages to the local cycling community for help.
8 June 2018
Day 30: BIKE STOLEN
Meet Jeff. A lot has happened in the last 3 days and I want to provide you with a better update. If you’ve been following along you are already aware that my bike/bike gear was stolen while I slept. I can truly say it was a horrible and bewildering day. It was the first time on my trip I really felt the heaviness of being alone in another country. That morning is a blur, but I know I spent a lot of it wandering around the state park in tears desperately looking for my bike. It was a horrible day, but in my moment of crisis, Ranger Jeff is the unsung hero of that morning. He pulled up in his lifeguard truck as I dragged my remaining belongings to the ranger booth where I would spend much of my day. There’s no doubt he could tell how distraught I was. He was the first person that morning to look me in the eye and make sure I felt safe. He went above and beyond to make sure I had everything I needed that day, and it’s clear he values his community and helping others.
7 June 2018
Day 29: Half Moon Bay (~54km)
When my bike was stolen, I had another day under my belt that I hadn’t yet posted about. Given the circumstances I hadn’t planned on posting an update of Day 29, but it is, after all, part of the journey, and the last photos I took of me and my bike, so I will at the very least post the photos from that day.
The past 48hrs have been awful, hectic and emotional. I know you are all eager to know what’s going on and what I will do next, and many of you want to know how you can help. I am still working on that and promise to update as soon as I know what I’m doing. I want to thank you all for your messages and moral support.
Update: On May 10th I left Victoria BC to solo cycle and camp the Pacific Coastal route from Canada to Tijuana, Mexico. It’s been an incredible journey, with difficult hilly terrain, cold weather and emotional hurdles. I am currently on my 30th day and have cycled more than 2,000km.
This morning I awoke to the worst sight possible; my bike, and the gear on it, had been stolen during the night while I slept at the Hiker/Biker site in the Half Moon Bay State Park, California. My heart sunk.
My life currently boils down to those two wheels, and it was the first nice bike I’ve ever bought for myself. With a strict budget, no income at the moment and steep rent to worry about back in Victoria, I cannot afford to replace my bike and the gear that was on it.
I am trying very hard to believe that the person who took it has encountered especially difficult circumstances in their life and is in a very desperate situation, but I’m truly devastated.
Will update when I know what I’m doing.
6 June 2018
Rest days (Day 27, 28): Exploring SF!
Biking in SF is exhilarating! I think I’ve officially entered the realm of confident city cyclist after spending the last two days dodging cable cars (and their rail tracks in the road!), buses, street cars, traffic, people and some of the steepest streets I’ve ever seen, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’ve had a BLAST doing it! I have a huge smile when I’m biking around SF, there are so many cyclists you can’t help but feel on top of the world here (also in a literal sense because everything seems to be at the top of a hill). I’ve gotten to see the Lyon street steps, catch a glimpse of Mrs. Doubtfire’s house, ride through Chinatown, visit a fortune cookie factory, attend the cable car museum, ride a cable car (twice!), see a cool tower, watch sea lions, walk up Lombard street, do a yoga class in a cathedral (with a live pianist) and wizz around the streets like a local. I’m almost sad to be leaving tomorrow to continue my ride.
4 June 2018
Day 26: SAN FRANCISCO (~56km)
“When you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”
After 26 days (24 cycling) and nearly 2,000km of being pretty much alone, I crossed into SF via the Golden Gate Bridge. Michael and Antonius (the Germans from the previous 2 nights) and I met up in Sausalito and rode to the bridge together. It’s a very surreal feeling to spend so much time biking towards something and then to finally see it. Even if I don’t make it one KM further, I am very proud to have made it this far and can always say I biked from Canada to San Francisco alone. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on two wheels into San Francisco is truly an incredible feeling and getting to do it with two new friends by my side made it a joyous and unforgettable experience! I’ve gotten to do a lot of things in my life, but this is right up near the top of the list.
3 June 2018
Day 25: Sammy P. Taylor (~66km)
Some days are just plain fun, and this was one of them! Last night I met a group of 3 from Montreal and a group of 2 Germans we were all heading to the same state park today. The road was mostly (I say mostly because there are ALWAYS hills) flat for the entire day which was a glorious change for the legs, and the weather was the warmest it’s been to date. We stumbled upon a Parade in Port Reyes (that marks my second parade!) where we got to eat free ice cream, candies and I was given a bouquet of flowers, which I tied to my bike for the rest of the journey. I haven’t had wine since I left for my ride, and I’ve been craving a glass of wine with dinner for days, so I split a bottle with the German. Only problem was nobody had a bottle opener, but not to worry, my new camping party trick is opening wine bottles with nothing but a shoe and brute strength...my forearm is still recovering. We concluded the evening with an intense game of Trou de Cul (cards).
2 June 2018
Day 24: Bodega Bay (~75km)
A wise man once said “Count the smiles not the miles”...I lied, it was written on the food cache at the campground, and boy is it ever true! In the last few days I’ve really stopped paying attention to my mileage and have been enjoying myself a lot more. It sure helps that there seem to be a lot more fellow cycle travellers now. I continue to spend my days riding solo, but I really enjoy the company at the end of the day! Bodega Bay’s campground had the most cycle-campers I’ve seen to date. Today’s ride was incredible and nuts all at the same time: highway 1 has climbed up and it’s so swervy with very little shoulder, often with a straight drop to your right, but the view is unreal and the water is so blue! Trying to capture what this road looks like on a cell phone camera proved to be difficult, so you should just all hop into a car and get driving down the Californian coast to really see this!
1 June 2018
Day 23: Gualala Campground (~64km)
Life is all about the nuggets! These are the experiences and people you meet along the way. That is the catch phrase of the day...After leaving Judy’s house (and tackling a 20% grade pictured below), I started running into other cyclists. First there was Hennebert, the Frenchman who must have been in his 70’s and was biking North to BC from Guadalajara, MEX. What a beast! He stopped to take a photo of me for his blog, which really made me chuckle when I saw someone pointing a digital camera at me in the distance, which you can see in my face on his blog (velo.hennbert.fr in his 1st of June post Salt Point-Albion). Next I met a comical pair of twins who were celebrating their 62nd bdays by biking to SF from Eureka, OR. I joined Mike and Mark for lunch, and we spent all of lunch laughing and swapping stories. They loved that I was doing this solo, and left me with a great quote: If you take measurement out of your life you become free. Thanks fellas!
31 May 2018
Day 22 (part 2): Warm Showers in Albion (~65km)
Wow thank you so much for all the comments, love and messages that I received since posting yesterday. Je suis tellement chanceuse d’avoir autant de personne qui sont investi dans mon voyage aussi!!
After a difficult 24hrs, I managed to make arrangements to stay with a lovely Warm Showers host on her farm, where I was able to take a shower, sleep indoors, wash my clothes AND soak in a hot tub!! She’s even taking my gear 20 miles down the road to work with her this morning so I can bike this next 20 bag free!! I can’t believe it. And I decided to cut today’s distance in half and enjoy the scenery. It’s a new day, ready for the adventure!
California Redwoods: What are they like?
If you’ve been following along I was plagued by a few tough days a few days ago and haven’t really had the opportunity to describe what it was like biking through the redwoods. So let me tell you know!
Redwoods are the oldest living trees and tallest living beings on earth. They can grow up to 375feet, which is significantly taller than the Statue of Liberty. In one year alone they can grow up to 6 feet, and sometimes their bottom most branches are 200ft in the air. The redwoods have had a troubled history due to logging, and the Redwoods forest is the only place they are protected.
I spent 3 days biking through the Redwoods, and it is incredible and scary all at the same time. The trees are huge, the forest is dark (there is very little sunshine, and as a result it’s also very cold), and the trees make a lot of noise (many times I convinced myself I was being stalked by a cougar). All in all, it’s an incredibly unique and special experience.
Day 22: The Wall (Fort Bragg, CA)
When I met Jamie we talked about the real side of solo endurance and how we usually hide that. For half his run across Canada he only shared the happy things before finally breaking down in Sudbury. Yesterday marks 3 weeks since I left, and today hasn’t been a great day, so I thought I should share the reality that is solo cycling.
I freeze at night and barely sleep. I spend my entire days/nights alone. There aren’t many solocyclists; occasionally I’ll bump into cycling groups but they mostly stay to themselves. My right knee has been hurting since day 4-5, and my legs are still bruised from my crash. I am super dirty, look terrible, and smell SO bad. Last night was SO windy the tent shook all night, and the wind blew out my camp stove every time I tried to make food, so I didn’t eat. I swore all morning as it took me almost 3.5 painful hours to go only 15m. I fell asleep in Starbucks and I just don’t feel like biking today. This is the 3 week wall.
Day 21: Westport Union Campground (~117km)
For many days now I’ve known about THE Leggett mountain. It’s on all the cycling elevation maps, and it seems to be the thing all cyclists talk about when they bump into each other (“so what did you think of the Crescent City hill? Looks like Leggett’s going to be worse..”). It’s been haunting me for days, and I knew I could either bike 70km and stop at a campground for rest and tackle the hill the next day, OR rip if off like a bandaid and get it over with. I chose the latter. And guys...it...was...brutal! Multiple switchbacks that just kept climbing up and up, and didn’t stop for close to 45 minutes. But I was determined to make it to the top, close to 2,000 feet without stopping, and I did. It was a pretty huge accomplishment, and then I had only another 15miles before my campsite for the night. Unfortunately I was so gassed from cycling all day that those last 15m were painfully slow, and barely crawled into camp by sunset.
29 May 2018
Day 20: Burlington Campground in the Redwoods (~62km)
Sometimes some really cool things happen. A few years ago, my mom encountered a guy in Trenton, ON dressed in a superhero costume running and pushing a buggy with camping gear. It turns out he was running across Canada, in Terry’s footsteps, to raise money for a children’s hospital foundation as he spent a lot of time in hospital as a child and wanted to give back. He completed that run, and raised enough money to build a new wing for the hospital. My mom told me about him and I followed him on FB. Before I started my ride, I noticed that he had begun a new fundraising run, from Canada to Mexico, across and then from Florida back to Canada. He was well ahead of me by the time I started, but wheels are faster than feet and so I was able to catch up to him before I hit the Avenue of the Giants. I found him charging his electronics in. Starbucks (currently what I’m doing as well), and we chit chatted over coffee! Meet Jamie McDonald!
28 May 2018
Day 19: Ferndale Campground (~76km)
My WS host last night told me about a really cool event happening in Ferndale called the Kinetic Race: a 50 mile, 3 day, self propelled race over road, water, sand, mud, gravel, you name it. Teams build their own bike-like device that must be able to tackle all these terrains, and they can only use what they bring with them on the piece. Ferndale was not on my intended route, but hey, this is all about adventure so I decided to go check it out. And it was amazing!! I arrived in town just as the « kits » began to cross the finish line, which is an entire town celebration. Teams come from around the US, and spectators flood this tiny town of a few hundred ppl in costumes for what turns into a large street party. This happened to be the 50th anniversary, and the energy was insane. A band played for each contraption crossing the finish line, and these things are like the Mad Maxes of bicycle builds! Washington hosts an event, who wants in next yr?
27 May 2018
Day 18: Trinidad (~45km)
Today was a real short day and I got to kill a lot of time at the beach! I normally wouldn’t have planned a day this short but this WS host in Trinidad came highly recommended and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sleep indoors (its been really cold at night). Trinidad has a beautiful harbour and beach, so I plunked down in the sand and read my book for a long time. I had a splendid evening with my WS host who has hiked the Camino 4 times. 2 other travellers (a young German couple who have been roadtripping the coast) were staying the night so we checked out the beach at sunset and they taught us how to play two card games. Sleeping in a WARM place felt glorious, and I was even woken up to coffee and scones! As I write this post I can barely feel my fingers inside my tent in the Redwood Forest and am really looking forward to my next indoor night, whenever that may be.
Day 17: Elk Prairie Campground (~55km)
When I arrived to Crescent City everyone made sure to warn me of the giant hill leaving town, and I’m glad I had a rest day because damn that was a straight up mountain! It made some of the other climbs I’ve done so far look like a cake walk. But after lots of huffing and puffing I made it up the mountain and started my days ride - I’m glad U planned a short day. Soon after CC the Redwoods begin, and with them, lots of exploratory stops, including a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and his Ox.
Im afraid of a lot of things it turns out. Elk are one of them. They sort of remind me of horses and horses freak me out for some odd reason (I always seem to picture them charging me or kicking me in the head). Below is a photo of the Elk preventing me from getting to my campsite. I also spent all night tossing and turning with every noise thinking the Elk were outside my tent about to trample me. The mind goes to weird places when outside alone at night.
25 May 2018
Rest Days (15,16) (~30km biking)
I am currently staying at a church’s community center! The St. Paul’s parish has hosted close to 1,000 cyclists on their journeys and I’ve been able to use the their kitchen, bathroom (with shower!) and couch for sleeping. Taking these few days off has helped me recharge my batteries and made me decide to proceed on the next leg of my journey at a slower pace. After all, how many times will I bike from CAN to MEX in my lifetime?! Katie, my lovely host, showed me the best trail to explore the Redwoods, which turns out to be a 15km ride uphill...so much for a rest day. This area was used to film E.T. and scenes from Jurassic Park! I traded my bike shoes for sneaks and realized 2 things as I explored: 1) I am very small and 2) I packed no ‘normal’ clothes, so I had to wear my pyjama bottoms, whoops! The next day was a rain day so I spent it trip planning, cleaning and repacking my bike/gear, and sipping tea with the church’s knitting ladies!
23 May 2018
Day 14: Gold Beach to Crescent City, California (~85km)
Life isn’t always a piece of cake, but it certainly enables you to grow. After pedalling for 14 days straight I crossed into California this afternoon. We rode silently through beautiful foggy coastline, where I waved goodbye to the Oregon Coast Bike Route and jumped for joy to see California’s sign. I have arrangements with a warm showers host in Crescent City, which just happened to have a deep stretching yoga class happening a few blocks away an hour after I arrived! In the past 14 days I’ve seen coastline, mountains, forests, whales, a bear, biked and camped in the rain and cold, spent a lot of time solo, and pedalled more than 1,100km with a third of my body weight in gear. Not too shabby for my first time. I’m stoked at how far I was able to make it in 14 days and certainly didn’t expect to be in Cali this soon. I waved goodbye to Pierre and Marc one final time and went to yoga to unwind.
Highs: Hi Cali
Lows: Bye Oregon
22 May 2018
Day 13: Bullards Beach to Gold Beach (~96km)
I was so pleased to catch up to Pierre and Marc today, and it was just in time for us all to sit down to lunch! Although I enjoy riding solo, it’s nice to break up the monotony from time to time. Also, as we discussed over lunch, riding solo has made me ride a bit faster than I should, mostly because of the eagerness to get to the next destination, and this, be closer to people should something go awry with my bike (or me!). Riding with these two kept my pace much more consistent and I enjoyed following their pace. I ate two ginormous pancakes for lunch and regretted it later that afternoon as we starting going up. After arriving at Gold Beach, I waved them goodbye (they were sleeping at a hotel) and headed on over to my campground “resort” which had laundry facilities and a shower!! I won’t tell you how long it’s been since I washed my clothes but you can imagine that it definitely wasn’t yesterday.
Highs: Consistent pace!
21 May 2018
Day 12: Umpqua to Bullards Beach (~83km)
Today was a solo ride as I camped a bit further from where I left my French Canadian friends. The day started off with a quick coffee/food break at a cafe in Coos Bay. For whatever reason, all my cards were declined, but these two guys below were so great they waved it off with the caviat that I put in a good word to other cyclists - check! The coastal route then detours onto the appropriately named ‘Seven Devils Rd’, which is a b**** of a backroad to climb. I legit died. But the views at the top were spectacular. On my way down I stopped for dinner and a drink and met Savino, the pizza turning wizard! I got to try my hand at it. When I left, the crosswinds were blowing so hard that a strong gust pushed my tire into a rut and I experienced my first real crash. Days later I am still bruised all down my outer right leg and inner right thigh. It wouldn’t be a real journey without some battered legs now would it!
20 May 2018
Day 11: Beachside to Umpqua State Park (~94km)
Let there be Sun!! It must have been all the singing I did yesterday because today it finally happened: the clouds parted around 2pm and I finally saw blue sky! Real sun! The day started off solo and rather dull but I soon met up with two cyclists who made the day much more enjoyable! Pierre and a Marc are two French Canadians riding from Portland to San Fran, both with an incredible sense of humour and positivity. They are in their 60’s (retired school teacher and principal), but with the amount of energy they exude you would never know it. If I can still do this at that age I will be one happy camper! They invited me to join them, and our trio passed through some amazing scenery and climbs, including Sea Lions Pass where several dozen sea lions barked down below. The funniest part of today happened when we entered Newport and suddenly became part of a Parade.
Highs: Speaking en français all day!
Lows: Not being the parade lead
19 May 2018
Day 10: Lincoln City to Beachside Campground (~68km)
I’ve officially entered double digits! I’ve been biking for 10 days now and I have made it just past Waldorf Oregon. Today started off which rain (you guessed it), and it rained until about 3pm when I pulled into the campground. I sang the little orphan Annie’s « The sun will come out tomorrow » in my head multiple times so I have a good feeling about it being sunny when I wake up! I took a long back route road to a peak called Cape Foulweather (how appropriately named), where I got to see two grey whales from above. After descending the Cape, I went and explored the famous Devil’s Punchbowl, a cavernous opening with lots of fun critters at low tide. The cold weather certainly has been affecting my moral and I haven’t been making as much progress, so today I had to remind myself to embrace the suck!
Highs: Whales (x2), embracing the suck.
Lows: Not catching a beachside sunset at beachside campground (too cloudy)
18 May 2018
Day 9: Cape Lookout to Lincoln City (~74km)
Rain...again. And this morning began with an 850ft climb right outside of the park, that’s one way to wake those legs up. On the other side of the descent laid sand dues. After biking for a few hours, I had a bacon donut and the best breakfast burrito. It continued to be a cold day, so in desperation I messaged a Warm Showers (WS) host to see if I could get out of the cold wind for a night. After waving Ben off on his journey east, I continued on South solo once again. I am now spending the night under a roof with four walls in Lincoln City at my host Marcus’ place. Those black dots in the waves are Harbour Seal heads poking out, and in the photo I am displaying every layer of clothing I brought, including my oversized fleece given to me by a kind woman at a thrift shop.
Highs: Scenic Roads and sleeping indoors!
Lows: Sleeping indoors is so good that it trumps all the lows.
17 May 2018
Day 8: Manzanita to Cape Lookout Sate Park (~61km)
There are some days where the weather just takes the wind right out of your sails, and after a cold and rainy day 6 and a freezing cold night on day 7, waking up to more cold wind and rain was very disheartening. The majority of day 8 was spent being wet and shivering. I even threw on my sleeping thermals and oversized fleece to try to stay a bit warm. It was nice to have a second person to ride with. And I finally got to see some goats!
Highs: Free cheese samples. Goats...I love goats!
Lows: Another cold day. Once you’re wet there is just no warming up, and that wind feels frigid. Climbing into a cold tent at the end of a cold day just doesn’t feel cozy.
16 May 2018
Day 7: Seaside to Manzanita Campground (~37km)
Today marks a full week of biking - ever wonder why a week from Thurs is Thurs but 7 days from Thurs is Wed? - and decided to treat myself to a rest day and do a few short rides between some neat stops instead. Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is a famous one, and my toes touched Oregon sand for the first time. Did you know puffins breed on haystack rock this time of year? I got to see them?! I also saw Cormerants and a weird blue plankton thing called Vullella Vulella. Took a catnap on Short Sands beach, which is sandwiched between two large peaks, both of which I had to climb in order to get to my campground. You’ll get an idea of how high these climbs were based on the last photo...Upon entering the site, I met my first cyclist, Ben, who was on day 1 of his journey travelling West to East. After a week of biking solo, I had someone to commiserate with. Oregon nights are cold, so we made a campfire.
Lows: So much climbing
15 May 2018
Day 6: Cape Disappointment to Seaside, OR (~57km)
I officially crossed the bridge into Oregon on the morning of day 6! I woke up to the sound of rain and packed away my camp quickly as it began to rain harder. After about an hour of pedalling, I saw the bridge up ahead. I knew it was long, but I did not think it was THAT long! Almost 7km in total. The crosswinds were strong, and there was very little shoulder as you begin to climb. The bridge is like a freeway between the two states and it is used by many truckers, in particular logging trucks, which when you are climbing a long steep bridge with cross winds nearly blowing you into their path, you wish you wore a diaper. But I made it to the other side in one piece and welcomed Oregon’s much larger cycling infrastructure! Yay for wide shoulders!
Highs: First ‘warm showers’ stay with long time host Neil, a retired school counsellor who has welcomed in travellers for the past 8 years - so nice to warm up!
Lows: Cold & rainy all day
14 May 2018
Day 5: Greyland to Ilwaco (~125km)
I encountered my first emotional hurdle. I had a lovely morning, stoping in at the best coffee shop for a cyclist. 7th street coffee had everything I needed: wifi, plug to charge my phone, bathroom, coffee, food and lovely staff (shoutout to the gals who even gave me ibuprofen!). But things took a turn for the worst when both of my maps led me down a hilly gravel road for close to 10 miles.
There’s a reason I’ve never picked up mountain biking, it terrifies me. For the next 2hrs I pushed, pulled, biked and talked my way through the road. The first picture shows my relief after seeing pavement again! I had a long way to go to get to Ilwaco so I booked it for the next 3hrs. As I’m about to approach the campground, the craziest thing happens: a large black bear crosses the road in front of me and stops in the middle to look at me/block my path. My bear scaring instincts completely disappeared and I just stared back.
Highs: Pavement, Bear
13 May 2018
Day 4: Aberdeen to Greyland (~55km)
Waking up and being able to bike out of Aberdeen was glorious, even a nice person I encountered on the trail leaving time suggested I get out of there fast because there are questionable characters who use the trail to camp out. I was a bit stunned by his comment, until I passed the sign pictured below...go figures! I planned to keep the day short in order to give my butt a break but also to conserve my energy for the long day that is to come tomorrow. I’m glad I did as I enjoyed many local stops, including the best cheese/sausage place. Ever. If you love cheese as much as I do hop into your car and get to the Bay Sausage Company on your way to Aberdeen. Do it. They have Dill flavoured cheese curds! And everything is made in house. I was very upset that I couldn’t fit more on my bike. Also tried local shrimp, made it to the coast, tasted cranberry wine (yum) and slept at the beach.
Highs: The beach, cranberry fields, cheese!!
Lows: My sore butt!
12 May 2018
Day 3: Potlach to Aberdeen (~110km)
I left the ocean to head West through the interior. Riding the 102 West was amazing, hardly a soul around. I was riding through farmland for hours and barely saw another car. Occasionally I’d pass an abandoned gas station or stop to see a pasture full of cows or horses (I’m really crossing my fingers for some goats). I went through my water much quicker than the day before, and was lucky to encounter a small general store in the county of Matlock (basically a few houses at a four way stop) to refill and have lunch. Tried my first (and last) moon pie. I eventually had to connect to Freeway 12 to make it to Aberdeen, and that was one hour of nervous riding - I hope I don’t have to cycle a freeway again. But I made it to Aberdeen by 7pm...home of Kurt Cobain! Splurged on a motel: I really stand out here and I got the feeling someone was going to rob me, even Kurt couldn’t wait to get out.
Highs: Farm country; Kurt Cobain
Lows: Hwy 12; Sketchy town.
11 May 2018
Day 2: Sequim to Potlach State Park (~99km)
Today was my first full day and I arrived at what would be my second nights stop by noon. I was feeling great so I continued onto Potlach. I met several cyclists on day 1, but none on day 2. The views going through Olympic National Park and along the 101 by the ocean are so beautiful I could have stopped every 2 seconds to take pictures! It was also my first time sharing the highway with logging trucks, which is a scary experience when you hear them barrel behind you. The wide shoulder I started the day with rapidly turned into a thin white line, and often disappeared altogether. The real highlight of my day was meeting the folks at Hamma Hamma Seafood, a local outdoor oyster bar/resto that shucks and serves fresh oysters directly from the local waters. The staff all reminded me of Tofino and it was such a fun experience chatting and eating oysters!
Highs: The views, Hamma Hamma, beachside journaling.
Lows: So many hills already...
Hi Friends!! I’m still alive, I’ve just been off the grid for the past few days. It’s hard to say how many km’s I’ve logged to date (I’ll have a better idea once I’m at a computer and can log it), but it’s roughly 250km since I started 3 days ago. Not bad for a bike loaded with gear. Will provide a better update during a rest day in the near future.
If anyone has any family or friends along the Oregon or Californian coasts who would enjoy hosting a cyclist for a night holla at me via email or FB messenger! I’d love to get out of the tent for a night or two 😁
#mexicobound #washington #cycletouring #roughingit #mychammyhurts
10 May 2018
Day 1: Port Angeles - Sequim (~55km)
Started out the day by saying adios to my home and taking the Clipper ferry to Port Angeles, and then following the Olympic Discovery Trail to Sequim State Park for the night. On the ferry, I met three lovely cyclists from Washington. We chit chatted for awhile before they pulled out a Snapple bottle from their backpack filled with hundreds (and I mean hundreds!) of small paper stars. They discovered it out on Dallas road at low tide and couldn’t figure out what it was. It turns out I knew exactly what it was, and showed them how to replicate these little stars with small strips of paper. They decided to write a note and toss it back into the straight to see where it lands. We exchanged emails so they can let me know who discovers this bottle of wishes, and off I went on the first leg of my journey. Pretty good omen I’d say!
Highs: ODT trail is beautiful! Easy day 1 ride.
Lows: My bike and gear combined weigh a ton (~60lbs); the nights are cold!
7 May 2018
6 May 2018
Today I completed my first triathlon. It was a spring tri distance and one I had been training for for a few months now. It started with an early morning to set up my transition zone, followed by body marking, athlete briefing, lots of jitters and nerves and finally the start of my heat. The swim felt great, the bike wasn’t bad but I started to really struggle with the run.
I’ve had chronic asthma for as long as I can remember, and in early March I started to get sick. This gradually turned into a pretty intense sinus and ear infection, which turned into an upper respiratory infection. I had been pushing myself quite hard during that time and had a lot to handle on my plate and my body couldn’t keep fight illness and keep up with my pace at the same time. Two rounds of antibiotics later and my lung capacity just hasn’t been the same, as it takes time for lungs to recover.
But I finished in 1h20 with the amazing support of teammates who helped me get to the finish line! YAY!
5 May 2018
It seems fitting that I should be writing this on Cinco de Mayo, which happens to be 4 years to the day that I left everything behind and made the big move to Victoria, British Columbia from my home in Ottawa, Ontario.
Today I mark 4 years, tomorrow I run my first triathlon, and a day after that I will depart on a 4 month leave of absence where I will attempt to ride my bicycle to Mexico (key word, attempt! I may get fed up half way there and decide to ditch the bike and hop on the first flight to Cabo...).
Because I apparently have many people who care about my wellbeing (thank you all), you can keep tabs on me here as I will post updates about my journey.