Vancouver, Canada → Tijuana, Mexico.
Day 1. 133 kms, a great start. Left my apartment at about half 7 as planned for the last time, when I return it’ll to a new place. I made the quick 50 km dash to the border and arrived there in time for my appointment to get my nexus card, which was taken from me by border security because I guess I’m a smart ass sometimes. I was held up for 2 hours as US customs tried to decide if an Irishman on a bicycle was a threat to national security or not. Cycled from the border to Bellingham and had lunch in the Boundary bay brewery. On from there along Chuckanut drive (yup chuck-a-nut). It was so beautiful even though it rained, hailed and snowed on me all in a 2 hour spell. I got 2 punctures with the second one happening in Mt Vernon late in the evening. A passerby, Doug and his wife Crystal must have spotted my dejected figure and stopped to offer me some help. A new tube, pump and a beer, I hope the whole trip goes this well. It was pretty late so I decided to hop a ditch and set up the tent somewhere in a field just outside the town! Ventured to a local bar Max Dales for 2 pints. Then back to the tent and off to sleep. Bring on tomorrow.
Day 2. 128 kms. Woke up to a frozen tent fly, bike and water bottles. Packed up, changed the puncture and found the culprit, a sliver of metal wedged in the tire. Then headed off east to Hwy 9. Puttered along until just outside Arlington when I noticed a trail across the road. What a find! The “Centennial Bike Trail” took me for 25 miles. Not a sinner to be seen with a great surface and lovely countryside. Hopped back on Hwy 9 in Snohomish, back to narrow shoulders, hairy bridges and lane changes with loaded lorries flying past. If my mother could only have seen some of those moments the rosary beads would be out, and that’s saying something since she’s no mass goer. Trekked on till Bothell and took another gorgeous trail the “Burke Gillman Trail” all the way to Ballard. Met with Debs in Ballard and.. it’s Friday so we had a couple of pints and crashed. Gonna hang with here till Monday.
Day 3 & Day 4 Spent relaxing with my girl. Had a great time as usual.
Day 5 168 kms. My first 100+ mile day ever! From Ballard to Centralia. Tough start navigating through Seattle but great weather and some helpful locals got me on track. Went along the green river trail and stumbled on the Seattle sounders training field with a session going on, pretty cool. Then took the interurban trail, 15 miles of peaceful trail to Pacific city. Back to the busy roads and onto Yelm, where a great bike path connects you with Tenino. From there I legged it to Centralia for the night. Chanced another obscure free tent site, some field beside a church which was hidden fairly well. I’m totally getting pegged one of these days. Anyways, off I went to “O’Blarneys” for a pint then back to the tent for some well needed kip. Tomorrows plan is uncertain, may sidestep Portland
Day 6 122 kms. Tough day to get motivated. Sore body plus fighting a wind all day. Nothing too interesting. Met a couple young lads on the road who were coming from Seattle and biking to Portland. Decided to hit for St Helens and I mostly took back roads all the way. Went through the towns of Chehalis, Winlock, Vader and Longview. Highlight of the day was crossing over the bridge from Longview into Oregon, the bridge was bumper to bumper and is one lane each way with a very small shoulder for me. Road works on the bridge took away my shoulder and made it pretty tight, one of the workers stopped the traffic so I could get off the bridge safely, thank you sir!! The weather looked like it might spill all day but it held off. Threw up the tent around dusk in a park in St Helens, don’t think I should be camping here as there’s a sign that says i might get arrested for it! Too tired to move now, head down and I’ll be out like a light. Thinking I will bypass Portland and head for McMinnville tomorrow.
Day 7 Shortest yet with 98kms. Woke up in St Helen’s pretty early and to my joy discovered a toilet with working warm showers!! Got showered, ate and off I went. Decided to bypass Portland so I took the Cornelius Pass outside of Scappoose. Big mistake! What looked a good shortcut was actually a very narrow steep truck route with zero shoulder. There were countless massive trucks with trailers flying by in both directions. Rumble strips on the sides ensured I had to stay on the road. Hairy, hairy stuff. Finally got off that route and needed a pint. Into the rock creek tavern for some marionberry ale. Then onto a big climb over bald peak. On through Newburgh, Dundee and into my destination McMinnville. No campground again so I quietly and inconspicuously set up tent on the grounds of Linfield University. Should be gone in the morning before anyone notices!
Day 8 was a 97km day from McMinnville to somewhere outside Lincoln City. Woke up at the college where I found a water tap. I ate, loaded up with water and off I went. Crossed over some large hills where the sun shone and the rain fell. Uneventful enough until I reached Lincoln City and saw the pacific ocean of Oregon for the first time on my trip, wow! Couple of pints in the local Mcmenimans pub and on I went. Found this amazing spot to camp, it was high up overlooking a beautiful beach, only problem is that it was on private land with plenty of keep out signs. Pretty isolated spot and it seemed like no one was about so I set up the tent and we’ll see what happens. What a beautiful, peaceful place to sleep. Florence, Oregon tomorrow. 8 days and no campsites!
Day 8 side note. I’m in some diner between Willamina and Grand Ronde listening to some serious republicans ragging on Obama. Something about an Obama-phone…? how you get one and how Obama hands em out… computers will be next he says. It’s hilarious, fat useless people get one if they vote for him they say. This is hick town for sure!
Day 9 114 kms. The first full day riding along the coast. It was spectacular in places. Cape Perpetua was stunning, the sights and views around the seal caves were awesome. I woke up, quickly packed my stuff and took off. Stopped at Beverly Beach State park for a shower. I bumped into a French guy there, Lionel, who was biking too. Then off I went on my way again. The bike was making some funny sounds so I hopped in to Newport Bike shop to get it worked on. The guy was great, even let me use his laundry to wash my stuff. Next up the wonderful sights, more bridges, a tunnel (scary!) and then on to Florence and disaster. I hit a nail that went clean through one end of the tire and out the other. My spare tube was a size too small (doh) so I had to patch the punctured tube that had two large tears. Took my time fixing it and then headed straight for Honeyman State park. Reached it a bit late around half 7, due to the setbacks. Can’t beat $5 for hike/bike camping. Ate and then off the bed. Might hang around Florence tomorrow for the day.
Day 10 rest day in Florence. After my dramatic puncture I decided to stay the whole next day in Florence to relax and stock up. Sent some postcards. Went to a cool bike shop that was called “bikes and guitars” and got some gear, strange combo/cool place. Great weather so I decided to head to Old Town for the rest of the day. Firstly I popped into the Suislaw Coffee house, then off to the beachcomber for a few pints. Sat outside in the sun and chatted with an old Vietnam vet Dean Fullerton. He did 2 tours in Vietnam, a gruff surly looking dude, a biker with all the tattoos and gear. Said he’s been shot 4 times, stabbed 7 times all for “standing with my own”. Nice bloke to talk to, if not a tad scary and after 3 pints I was off to get dinner. Bumped into another bike tourer from Squamish of all places, goes by the name Eagle Gamma, no shit! Real nice guy, we chatted about all sorts of things over a beer and he ended up taking my advice and staying in the Honeyman campground. Met a lady who has relatives in Miltown Malbay. Quiet day, off to bed early enough and ready for road tomorrow.
Day 11 89 kms. Was a handy days cycle from just outside Florence to Sunset Beach State Park near North Bend. I pedaled along the famous Oregon dunes for most of the day with occasional views of these massive sand mounds. Took a detour to one of the viewing areas and got a good view of them. Bumped into Eagle Gamma again, chatted with him over some food at a diner in Reedsport. Off I went crossing over a huge bridge that leads into North Bend. Looked as though it might downpour on me but it never did. Set up camp in Sunset Beach and spent the evening chatting with my neighbours Patrick and Elena from New Mexico. We talked over beer and whiskey that Patrick brewed himself, pretty tasty. Time for bed and then more of the same tomorrow.
Day 12 95 kms. From my campsite at sunset beach to Humbug Mtn park. I got up early to find it had rained in the night and the sky still looked like it would drop more. Nothing to do but pack up my stuff, eat and hope for the best. Before I left Patrick dropped over to give me a map of breweries along the west coast, score!! The first part of the trip took me up some Hills where visibility was very poor from mist and fog. I stopped and hooked on a reflector strip that I ripped from a vest at home, jimmy’d it onto my bags. Also stuck on my rear light. As I descended the mist improved. I stopped for food in Port Orfard and Bandon. The ride from Port Orfard to the campsite was about 7 of the most beautiful miles of scenery I’ve seen yet. Just magnificent. Got to the campsite and its basically just me there tonight. God bless the hiker/biker sites and the warm showers. Went down to the beach for a bit and cooked some food. The fog is slowly descending in, time for bed and then more tomorrow!
Day 13 was a short 86 kms. Slept for 10 hours, oops! left Humbug Mtn behind schedule. Foggy and misty for most of the day. Hugged the coast for the whole ride today. Got some good glimpses of the ocean when the fog occasionally broke. The views were again amazing. Getting a sore neck from constantly looking in one directions. The rides are definitely a little tougher when the weather is poorer. Ate lunch in Gold Beach. Though I was the only one in Wong’s Café the food was good. Arrived in Brookings and had a pint in the Vista Bar while my laundry was being done. Back to the Harris Beach campground for the night only to realize that my sleeping bag was still wet, so i had to go the 2 miles back into Brookings, throw the bag in the dryer and then back to the campground. I head into California tomorrow. In the morning I discovered there was laundry facilities at the camp, Jesus!!
Day 14 100 kms. Left Brookings early this morning, today would take me into California and through the beginning of the Redwoods. Chatted with a rider at the hiker/biker who was going north, he’d gone about the same as me and we exchanged advice. Worked through 2 pretty big climbs today. Luckily there were towns at the foot of each to grab a big feed for the climb. Descending the first was scenic as I had rose above the fog and could see it from above. Descending the second was just beautiful, gliding through massive Redwoods on a peaceful back road. Listening to the Ricky Gervais podcasts any people passing must have thought I was a loony, dude on a bike laughing to himself like a mad man. Arrived at the campground to see about 10 Elk grazing on a massive meadow across from the campsite, pretty cool. Ate, showered, planned and sipped on my now mandatory tea, orange and brandy concoction. Eureka tomorrow.
Day 15. 75 kms of the windiest, wettest and most miserable riding I’ve ever done. Got soaked on the route from Elk Prairie campground to Eureka. Didn’t see anything today, just a few deer and Elk in the morning before I left. Terrible weather all day. Cold, wet, windy. I was drenched to the bone and fighting a strong headwind, bah! One to forget.. Decided to get a motel in Eureka. Washed some clothes but the dryer broke, the guy fixed it and got my laundry done for free!! Had food and a few pints in the Lost Coast Brewery. Crashed as soon as I arrived back in the hotel. Totally drained from the day, lowest point of my trip. That is all.
Day 16 Rest day in Eureka. Well worth sticking around. Met Mim in the lobby, she was riding from Eureka to LA. We talked and she lives on a town on my route so she offered me a place to stay on her couch. Sweet! Stocked up on food and fuel. Tuned the bike in Henderson Cycles, great guys. Did lots of work but only charged me $10? Also went to a computer store and the guy moved songs from a memory card to my phone FOR FREE!! Things are comin up Sean. Went out for a couple of pints in a local Irish bar. Ended up chatting with some locals and having a few too many. I’m itching to get backing the road.
Day 17 123 kms. Being fully rested I decided to go for a long one today and aim for Richardson Grove State Park. The start of the route took me along Hwy 101 for a good few miles, twisting and bending along the Eel River for some nice views. Then came a trip highlight, a beautiful ride for miles along what is called “the avenue of the giants” it’s a small road off the highway that brings you through the heart of the Humboldt Redwoods. Spectacular, gigantic!! Grabbed a massive lunch in a town called Miranda before reaching my target in the evening. Set up my tent and a half hour later the clouds began to let loose. Luckily I was under cover, read a little before calling it a day.
Day 18 Rode for 104 kms. The route took me from Richardson Grove to Mackerricher State beach. Started out on Hwy 101 for some time until the town of Leggott where I posed for a quick snap of one of the famous drive thru tree. Popped off the highway onto the old Hwy 1 where the traffic is less but the climbs are tough. Nearing the top of a tough 2000ft climb I ran into Doug. He was fully loaded with gear and in the middle of a 4000 mile route, oh and he is 69. What an inspiration!! another short climb/decent and I was back by the ocean. Winding, gorgeous views from there until my destination, Mackerricher. Stopped in Westport for a sandwich and a local woman gave me a ginger shot.. very spicy. Being just 3 miles from Ft Bragg I decided to head into town and straight for the North Coast brewery. Had 2 pints and a pizza. The beer was good but the place was a little overpriced. Back to the tent along a logging road right by the water. Totally pitch black with only my headlight for guidance. Battling howling headwinds and sand blowing in my face I was barely able to move for the4 miles, I eventually made it back but I won’t forgot that jaunt for a while. It was unreal.
Day 19 was 72 kms but it felt like about 30. Woke up and headed into Fort Bragg bikes, the storm and the crazy cycle home last night dumped loads of sand in my drive train. The guy gave me a brush and a rag. I went out back and got the bike running great. A quick coffee and off I went. The sun was shining and a strong wind was at my back all day. The views were amazing, the cliffs came right up to the edge of the road in places, which made for some pretty hairy moments with the wind blowing so strong. Stopped in a café in Elk for a cuppa. The guy wouldn’t let me pay for it but was more than happy to chat away. Arrived at Manchester beach pretty early. Set up my tent in the KOA. $10 for bikers. Managed to pry open one of the vacant cabins that they rent but it didn’t offer much more than my tent so I stayed put. Off to bed after a Red Hook IPA.
Day 20 117 kms was the number today. Woke up, packed, ate and on the road by 8. After a quick 20 mile dash with some tight coast hugging I stopped in Gualala for coffee in Trinks café, lovely view. The stretch of road between Gualala and the town of Jenner was breathtaking!! Just amazing. The road was so close to some daunting cliffs at times. I was afraid to get too near to the edge because any drop would be the end of me and boy how close the cliff edge was to the roads edge in some spots. The wind was unpredictable too so I rode pretty much just inside the halfway line. Grabbed a sandwich in Jenner then reached my campsite at Bodega Bay Dunes. Went into Bodega Bay to grab Wi-Fi and some food, nice tourist town. Showered, ate and now I’m off to bed. Ready for San Fran tomorrow!Beach !
Day 21 and I rode 117 kms into San Francisco. Just a cracker of a day to be on the bike. Took off from Bodega Bay with headphones on booming down the road, didn’t realize I was going wrong until I hit Petaluma and about 8 miles off track! Oops! Sat in a café in Petaluma and plotted a course back on track. The new route took me over some big climbs through Nicosia and Fairfax. I hit a bike route that took me through some gorgeous suburbs of San Fran, through San Alsmo, Sausalito and up to the Golden Gate Bridge. Continued on into town and was trying to figure out how to get a hold of the people I was staying with. Grabbed some food in a restaurant on Filmore St and got talking to a couple beside me, Brian and Ciara, who let me borrow their phone. After a beer or 2 they insisted on throwing my bike into their SUV and dropping me at the door of where I was staying. Chris and Ellen were the people I was staying with, friends of friends… who are now friends 🙂 got in the door and met with them and teddy the dog, salt of the earth those folks. Had another beer or 2 and talked for a bit. Time to hit the hay, I was wrecked from the day and went out like a light!
Day 22 rest day in SF. Decided to explore San Fran. I wanted to visit the Anchor Steam brewery, so disappointing. There was no taproom and the place was visitor unfriendly. So I left unhappy. Lucky stroke, I met Ryan in a bike shop. He worked at the brewery and said he would take me inside to a taproom and give me a tour!! It was great, I got a wicked personal tour around the brewery and knocked back a tonne of free beer straight from the vat. Went to magnolia for a beer, heard it was good. Had a pint and bought a growler to give to Chris and Ellen, didn’t think it through and carrying it miles on the bike was interesting. Chatted to Liz and Steve in magnolia, good fun. Met brandy in St Mary’s pub in the Mission, she said I should check out “the hooks” a band from Sligo. Arrived back in the house and promptly left to met up with Paul Stacks niece in walnut creek. Partied the night with her and her friends, man I felt old!! Got a shout out at the gig we went to from the singer, someone had told him about my trip:)
Day 23 rest day in San Fran. Came back to Chris and Ellen’s from the party the night before, what a hangover.. Clare dropped me back at the BART and I made my way to Joe’s Diner for lunch. Met with Chris and Ellen’s uncle Dave. Got some Mexican food and pretty much crashed after that.
Day 24 Back on the road with 133 kms, left Ellen and Chris about 10am. Got stopped by a lady in her 60’s looking for directions, I guess she didn’t notice my bags and the fact that I’m clearly traveling. Anyway, she went on to ask where I was from, what I was up to and so on. “Where do you sleep” she says. Oh in my tent. “Oh my gosh is that safe, do you have a gun?” She spouted, oh lord America!! Just had the local sheriff pull up behind me and say over his speaker while driving “pull over to the right or someone will pick you off”. This was on a narrow, busy, blustery, windy road just outside Pacifica.. with a cliff on one side. Sorry officer but I’d rather piss off some drivers than be blown over a cliff to my death. Stopped at Highway 1 brewing for a pint of whatever they got, nothing special. Continued on and caught a powerful tailwind. Arrived in Santa Cruz early and did some shopping. On to my destination New Brighton State Beach. Set up, ate and chatted for a bit with JF, Ashley and Kevin. Three tourers who showed up to the hiker/biker site a little after me. Off to bed. Missing my lady these days. Big Sur tomorrow I think.
Day 25 79 kms from new Brighton. State Beach to Vets Memorial Park in Monterrey. Arose from my tent and ate breakfast. Chatted with the same tourers from last night and they invited me to join them on the ride for the day. So the 4 of us set off. The ride was the flattest yet, twisting and turning through massive strawberry, artichoke and lettuce farms. We stopped at one junction to figure out the route and along comes a biker down the road, it was Lionel! So he joined up and now we were a convoy of 5. We stopped in Castroville at a veg stand and topped up on cheap produce..7 avocados for a dollar!! 2 oranges for 10 cents.. JF from Belgium turned back there to San Fran and on we went into Monterey. Climbed the steep slope to the campground which was at the highest point if the city. We set up, cleaned up and headed for town and a few pints. Back we came after a couple of pints and some good laughs at the Cannery Row Brewery. Just before heading to bed I chatted with Jar, another biker who had arrived after we left. Interesting character ex-military. He gave me some pointers for things to do in LA. Time for bed.
Day 26 and 108 kms. Vets memorial to Kirk Creek campground. We all went our separate ways in the morning. Started the day with massive difficulty in getting out of Monterey. Ended up with an extra 15 kms and a flat tire before finally getting out. Pedaled right through Pebble Beach golf course. As I was leaving the city I bumped into Kevin and Ashley. We stuck together until Big Sur where they wanted to set up camp. Since it was only half 3 I decided to shoot for Kirk Creek which was another 30 miles. I reached the top of Big Sur and had a beer in Nepenthe where Debs recommended I go. It was stunning. Having a beer there somehow made me feel closer to her. The whole ride was stunning if not a little breezy. The wind in some turns was crazy, pushing you with some force towards the cliff edge. After some big climbs and beautiful views I finally arrived at the camp only to see Lionel again. We shared dinner, some brandy tea and chatted with the other biker there, Rose from San Luis Obispo. It was pretty windy and cold so I hit the hay soon after.
Day 27 A pretty easy day with 71 kms from Kirk Creek to San Simeon. Me and Lionel decided to bike together and would meet up with Rose in San Simeon. The day was a day of bumping into people and a bunch of short trips. We puttered along until the town of Gorda. To my surprise we met Kevin who chatted for a bit then left. then we met Ashley. turns out they had another fight!! Always drama with those two! There were two big climbs after that and Ashley stayed with us. We stopped for a beer in the town after the climbs. There Rose caught up to us and Ashley took off, doubt we’ll see either of those two again. Rode on to San Simeon heavily wind assisted. Made our way to the campground and set up. Then all 3 of us headed back into the town for a beer. We also bought more beer and firewood. Then we lit a fire and ate back at camp, it was fun chatting with those two. Bed at 11 and San Luis Obispo tomorrow.
Day 28 A short 68 km trip from San Simeon to San Luis Obispo. I left Rose and Leo in the morning and we arranged to meet in town later. I ambled my way through Cambria and Cayucos. Stopped in Cayucos for coffee in Kelly’s café. Cayucos is a nice spot and great for relaxing with a coffee. All day the ride was so smooth, the wind pushed me along with great force and the 40 miles only took me 2.5 hours. Then i rode into SLO and to the Frog & Peach. Met up with my two companions again. Hung out in Roses place and went into town to the Central Coast Brewing for some beer. Then on to Eureka Burger for some good grub. Crashed at Roses place. It was a lovely evening with my new buds.
Day 29 and the first day since I left that my bike was left idle. Woke up about 10 and decided to stay the day in SLO, it was Rose’s BDay and she invited us to her party on the beach so couldn’t pass that up. Leo cooked some lovely French crepes for breakfast with fruit salad over some conversation with Alyssa and Jenna who were friends of Rose. Then the 3 of us took off for a spot of wine tasting at the Edna Vineyard. It was a cool drive, cool vineyard and great fun. After chilling out we headed to the beach for the party. I spent the night drinking beer, kicking a ball about and meeting new people. The highlight was talking with Erin, an ecologist who heads off to remote places to do cool research. I was jealous!!
Day 30 100Kms. Me and Leo left SLO after more crepes with a somber cloud hanging over us. The three of us had become so close in such a short space of time. We covered 100 kms to River Creek Campground. Flat land and a wind pushing us on helped greatly. The sun shone all day. We stopped in the very scenic Pismo Beach for lunch. Next through the town of Guadalupe which was like something out of a Clint Eastwood western. Onto our destination we went, Lompoc. Very quiet and strange town which serves as a commuter area for the local Vandenberg Air Force Base. Our campsite was outside town to the east. Arrived about half 7 and set up the tents. After a few drinks and some chat we hit the hay. Big day planned for tomorrow, maybe 90 miles, we will see!!
Day 31 144 kms total. We got that 90 mile day. It was a long day in the heat. We packed up and left Lompoc early. Trying to avoid the warden since we skipped on paying the fee! We continued down the road and up a steady climb for 24 kms. Then it was mostly flat for the rest of the day. Decided to grab something to eat in Santa Barbara but we ended up eating in Mesolino about 54 miles into the trip. On down the road we went on the bike path until it sent us towards the highway. We got some great help from two fellow local bikers on the right route from there. Then exiting the highway we passed two “state parks” which were weird areas on the road where rows and rows of RVs were parked with chairs out front facing the ocean, all on the road! We stopped on Ventura which was 5miles short of McGrath State Beach. Grabbed a beer and a jaunt about the town. As we neared McGrath we noticed water all sitting by the roadside. Ended up the park was flooded and closed!! Disaster! So we rode on down to Oxnard and set up tents on the beach after dark and everyone had left. Now time for a good sleep and on into LA tomorrow.
Day 32 88 kms from the beach at Oxnard into LA. Started off the morning by packing up and trying to shake off all the sand. Beautiful morning to have breakfast on the beach. Left Oxnard and headed toward LA. Stopped in town to get Wi-Fi and msg my mate Fionn who was puttin us up. A lovely older man sat and talked with us about bike touring, he’d done a bit and still loved to bike at over 70. Another older lady stopped to chat and said when she was young rode from Big Sur to Oxnard on a single speed!! Wow!! The road took us by the coast winding and wiggling in the fog. About 35 miles from LA Leo spotted something in the water about 80 yards from the rocks. It was 3 whales!! Possibly some Orcas further out and there were sea lions too. Something was goin down. It was amazing to be so close and something I’ve been dying to see. We got into LA a little later than we thought Leo got 2 flats. That’s what you get for buyin a bike and all the gear for $150!! Came into LA through Venice beach and since it was Sunday it was jammers.. People everywhere doin all sorts of stuff, dancing on roller-skates , selling stuff, conspiracy theorists, the legendary freak show and so much more. I met with Fionn in a bar in marina del ray then we headed back to his. We chatted, caught up and hit the sack soon after. Tomorrow will be exploring LA.
Day 33 Me and my now permanent travel partner Lionel Bequet decided to explore the Manhattan/Hermosa beach areas on our bikes. Fionn told us everything else like Hollywood, sunset Blvd., etc. were way overrated and crap so we followed his advice and stayed pretty local. Hermosa was about 12 miles away. LA is so spread out its crazy. If you don’t have a car you’re totally lost. Transit is crap. So Leo and I took a few beers in a Mexican café on Hermosa in the sun. It was tasty food and pretty relaxing. I’d been having trouble with an infected finger so I toddled off to a clinic and left Leo to his own devices. Eventually made it back to base, had tea with Fionn before he headed out for a bit. Hit the hay about midnight. LA is not a pretty city at all, not bike friendly and gotta say it was really disappointing. Leaving in the morning and pretty happy about it.
Day 34 Powered through 110 kms today even on two kinds of antibiotics. I got up at Fionn’s, said good luck and hit the road about 9. The goal was Doheny State Beach. The route took us by the beach through manhattan and hermosa as far as Redondo, twas a nice seaside bike path. We then went through the city of Long Beach to get to the Pacific Coast Hwy. Long Beach is pretty rough and the closest to a ghetto I’ve seen in a long while. About 10 miles of sketchy LB then it all changed to rich white suburbia. Huntington Beach, Sunset beach, Newport and then Laguna Beach.. Rich white suburbs seemed to mesh into one and other like different shades of the same colour. We arrived tired and hungry just in time to enjoy our dinner on the beach at sunset, Doheny is actually quite nice and pretty. A quick shower and time for bed. San Diego and hopefully the Cave Singers concert tomorrow. Ca Scent La Fin!!
Day 35 109 kms from Doheny State Beach to San Diego. Pretty dull riding today. Nothing of real interest to see. Lots of houses and built up urban sprawl, ugly stuff. There was a huge army base that separated LA from SD which we rode through, Camp Pendleton. We deviated from the suggested route by accident but managed to navigate our way into the San Diego city centre with some shrewd map deciphering and some help from the locals. We arrived in SD late enough and booked into a hostel downtown, took showers and ate. Met a New Zealand couple in the kitchen who were newly weds and we shared dinner with them. They shared their wine with us, hard to keep Leo from wine! And then came the incident that almost ended everything. We made it out to the Casbah to catch the Cave Singers gig and it was a great show. I had a couple of drinks, nothin crazy. I guess it was still too much given the long days ride we did. On the way back to the hostel I got separated from Leo. I must have come off the bike, landed on my head and been knocked out for a good while. I don’t remember before or after, what I do know is patchy and filled in by what others have told me. The next thing I remember is stumbling into a hotel lobby in the early hours of the morning asking for help. The hotel concierge called 911. The police and the paramedics came, took me and the bike to hospital. I was in the intensive care unit. Vague memories of having all my clothes cut off, my only set of nice clothes. Lots of scans and kept in the ICU till the morning. I was then cleared for a bed in a room upstairs. It was serious, I was lucky.
Day 36 was spent in the hospital. My nurse Kealen was great. My new nurse Casey was great too. Maeve the Irish girl was lovely and Danny the guy I shared to room with was really nice given all his injuries. He was from Tijuana and in pretty bad shape, he had crashed his motorbike. I talked with him a good bit about going to ‘TJ’. 5 fractures, some bleeding, a lose tooth and a concussion was my lot. No serious lingering effects just a bit of a headache and some pain. All I did was rest. Had head, neck and eye specialists come talk to me. Watched some TV and was told I’d be spending the night here for observation because I was knocked out. Everyone was great and the people was so thorough and professional, I was impressed. Bed early, feeling so tired.
Day 37 Canada to Mexico done! Got released from the hospital in the morning and told not to ride my bike anywhere. The wonderful nursing staff gave me bus tokens to use for free travel on the transit. Not gonna change now so I picked up my bike from the security guys and hopped on it right outside the hospital, rode to the train station and got a ticket for tomorrow morning to Seattle. Then off to sort out the hostel for the night. Finally I’d decided I was gonna try for Tijuana since I’d come all this way. Plotted a course and set off. 52 km return trip. Got it done! Crossed the invisible border into Mexico where no one stops you and suddenly you’re in Mexico.. weird. I wandered about in Tijuana for a bit and then eventually joined the line to make the quick return back to the US. After 2+ hrs of waiting and the usual hassle by the US border guards I was back in the US, I had a black eye, swollen face and looked pretty rough so I can’t blame them really. Jumped on the bike and slowly made my way to the hostel. Quick celebratory meal, pint and off to bed for an early start tomorrow, train leaving at 6 and lots to do!
Day 38 The 36 hr train journey begins. I drag myself outta bed at 4:45, pack up and head from the hostel to the train station. In the compartment where I lock my bike theres a guy sitting, Bruce, we get talking for a while. he is wheelchair bound so I grab him some tea. W hen I get back there are 2 ladies there too. Barbara Duggan/Dahl and Cathy McCarty/Burns, a mother and daughter claiming Irish roots. Cathy was from Encinitas and turns out she knows Clare’s friends who I contemplated staying with, the Rumps. Small world!! I chatted with Barbara about Mexico since she lived there. She gave me a glowing report of life in Mexico on Baha about 170 miles south of the border. It made me want to come back and ride that route someday. Changed trains in LA and had to get the bike boxed. Back on the train at 10 am and I’ll stay on this one till Seattle. Grabbed my sleeping bag about 2 am and went down to the luggage car. Slept on the floor down there for a good 5 hrs, well needed.
Day 39 The End. I have conflicting feelings about this adventure being over. I’ve experienced such a broad spectrum of emotions on this trip. Some positive, some negative. I’ve learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know. Particularly the level of my determination, drive and my pursuit of adventure. I’m sitting on the floor of the luggage car as the train nears Seattle, I’m working through what I will take from this experience. A few contributing factors drove me to take this trip, to spend time with myself and confront my feelings on a some difficult issues facing me in my life right now. I’ve gained a more accurate and positive view on my capabilities which will certainly inspire future endeavors. For now I’m ready to go back to Vancouver and settle for a bit, start working, be with my friends and live in my new place. I’ve met so many wonderful people, seen some amazing sights, had some great moments, realized my potential and above all I recognize how lucky I am to have my friends, my health, my family and my girl. Thanks to everyone who made this possible it’s been a life changing experience and something I’ll never forget.