Sunday, October 12, 2008

Epiloge - Isnt that what they call it.


Well its over. A job that was 8 years in the making. A dream that was in the head. A dream that was talked about in times over a pint..'You know what I would really like to do?' 'No. What..'
Id love to cycle the Pacific Coast Highway from Vancouver to San Diego.''Well, why dont ya?'
Ah! I will one day...... have another pint..!
There were a few serious attempts ...well attempts! None too serious. If Im honest.
Then I turned 60. I thought.? If you are going to do it you better get serious.
They say you rarely regret the things you do but you always regret the things you dont do.
It was in Paulines garden, cutting the grass. There was an intervention. An element introduced, which made it possible to move, and it was a commitment.That commitment came from somewhere deep in the heart. Someone saying 'Do it now or regret it forever!' So I decided there and then to 'book the flight'.
No more prevarication.
Time to live the dream.
That done, everything else was easy. Make the plans, dust off all those old websites. 'Crazy Guys on Bikes' Dig out the book 'Bicycling the Pacific Coast'
Tell people!... 'your mad' 'your nuts' 'on your own?'' why not wait and go with someone'.
But I can tell anyone now ...
THERE ARE AN AWFUL LOT OF CRAZY PEOPLE OUT THERE. A lot of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Nice people!
There's a guy who is on his way round the world on a bike
there's a couple who cycled from Northern Alaska heading for Tierra Del Fuego. There's the 2 brothers whose jobs weren't going so well, Never rode bikes before, no training, bought 2 second hand mountain bikes and headed out from Seattle to San Diego. (have to say I worry about them).
My 'support group' Intrepid Canadians mostly. Who do something crazy annually. They are off to cycle China next year! Nutcases!!
Have to say, by and large, members of the older community. People with wisdom and fortitude. Not given to fanciful ways. Just ordinary people who want to do stuff and dont see the pitfalls.
THE BAND! A 5 piece band who were cycling the Pacific coast. Travelling with all their instruments including a drum kit. (Im Serious) and a double bass in a trailer behind the bike which was a coffin.Playing in different venues every night.
A lot of nutcases out there.
But people who live the life and dream the dream and make it possible.
Acouple wholeft their home in 2004 cycling round the world, were not due to finish until 2011. Can you believe that!!
A lot of crazy people.
I have been taken with the generosity of people and the support from people.Unexpected support, which made me feel that the next town or person i meet could be someone who will, in some way, change me.
And so it was.
In Vancouver, Colin Shanogue in The Bottle Tipper who gave me my breakfast every day and some nice dinners.
The bus driver who carried my bike across the tunnel in Vancouver and gave me a verbal travelogue of the islands in Puget Sound I should go and see.
Jean, who took my picture on my camera in Vancouver park in front of the Totem poles. She wanted to tell me her life story.Her husband wasnt too impressed.
All the people on the ferry to Vancouver Island who enquired what I was doing and told me their story.
The people on the ferry from Victoria to Port Angelas who seemed to be lining up to ask me about my trip.
The surly US immigration officer who told me to go back and fill out the form right. And the sweet lady immigration officer when I went back up. Cause surly was busy..

Piroska and Donald who extolled on me the ways of the camper. And who in reality gave me that, wanting to do it. And so it proved. Looking back, the nights in the tent, uncomfortable as they may have been where the best nights. Out under the stars listening to the surf. Meeting like minded people. It is an amazing dimension to experience that a soft bed doesnt give you. So to Perouska a very special thank.
Forrest Daniel, a professor of voice. 2 professors in one day!! Donald was also a professor. who was 'Salem or bust' who inspired my 'San Diego or bust' banner which got me so much praise and support on the road.
Nancy and Paul from Crazy Guys my support team. Nancy a retired teacher and Paul a nuclear observer, no less! Crazy Eh?
Chris and Tracy Berryman my first night camping companions
from Tacoma who shared their camp dinner with me and gave me coffee the next morning.
Werner from Cross canada who extolled the virtues of the heart rate monitor which really helped me.
All the cc crew.
John from London the Adventure cycling group who i never saw again. His wife had bought him the trip as a present on his 60th birthday.
Bonnie in 'Art Happens' in Nahelem who gave me a place to stay, where there was nowhere else. Trusted me with her paintings and left me with some music playing that really soothed me.
Virginia Gillmore in Yachats who showed me where she had marked the rising of the sun on all the solstices.
Herman and Mary Hutchinson in Half Moon Bay who brought me to their house and treated me to cheese and biscuits and some nice charrdonnay and watched the sunset from their deck.
, who invited me to his house in Berkeley in San Francisco. Told me to stay as long as I wanted.
, from Navan who had recently moved to San Francisco with his dad. Who wanted to pint with me in San Fran. Unfortunately or fortunately I got his message too late.
Ed and Marge Moore from NY and\Florida who had me to lunch and in the best traditions of a new Yorker made me promise him a dinner in dublin when next he comes.
Berry who got me out of San Clemente when I was lost.
And Jim Barnes a retired teacher who was cycling in aid of his foundation set up for his brother who suffered brain injury. He was stopping at every hospital on the way from Canada to San Diego to tell them about his foundation. He was great company for last few days of the trip.
All those lovely people who spoke to me and encouraged me on the way down and who thought I was awesome. There was never a begrudger. Not a single negative comment all the way.
And all those lovely people, my family and friends who didnt forget me out there.
I give a humble Thanks.
Thanks for making it memorable..... CHEERS!

san Elijo State Beach to Mexican Border 54 miles


The morning breaks early..
The joggers start at 6am (can you believe it!!) No respect for the elderly who want a lie in..
Jim and I rise and get set for the day. Break camp for the last time and decide to go and have breakfast together before we take on the day.
A young guy came to the camp last night to introduce himself. He lived in the town and had just completed his Canada to Mexico border trip yesterday. Came down to see if we needed anything. I dont know how he knew we were there but I suspect he was so full of his trip.. he didnt want it to end. I think i know how he feels....
It was he who told me about the great breakfast place.
Over we go, and as we enter this crowd of guys say... 'Where you coming from?' We say 'Vancouver' and they exchange to each other 'didnt I tell Ya' RESPECT!!
Great breakfast!
Jim and I decide to say our goodbyes, in case we do not see each other on the trip today. He has his stuff to do.
I head off apace down the road. Feeling elated and excited about the day ahead.
There are so many joggers on the bike path its like there is a marathon going on, Ladies in there shorts and T shirts, all carrying these big bum bags with water and the like. I cant imagine what is in there. They look like a SWAT team. But its probably like their handbags. Full of junk and change...

I thought all the climbs were behind me but entering Le Jolla (pronounced Le Hoya) there's a 3 mile climb about 6%. Im passed by many many road bikers. You get the impression they are trying to impress... fly by.. then run out of legs and slow. But great support... guy goes by.. tips me on the back and says 'awesome climbing man, fully loaded'. I get near the top and a biker who has stopped shouts ' thats great climbing buddy, with all those bags'. Its enough to lift you over the crest. Also guys going down on the other side shout encouragement when they see me.
This has to be one of the great things about this trip. The support and the encouragement i have got.A true bonus!!
Over the top and spinning now through La Hoya on the outskirts of San Diego a nice area.
As I wend my way around, following my direction book up hills and down dales I join a short bike path that brings me out into a quiet estate of houses and as I slow to check my direction a voice comes from a garden. 'Where you coming from?'.. 'Vancouver!'.. Awesome!!
I stop for a chat and in the conversation I say I am surprised by the support and encouragement I am getting, especially from people like him. He says ' well man, your a traveller, you deserve encouragement'. I tell him I thought all the climbs were behind me and I refer to the climb at La Hoya. He says , I know, I saw ya'. So he knew I would come by some time later and waited for me. What about that?
On I go into San Diego. What a beautifully situated city. Lots of water, outdoor life. A great place to live from what I can see.
Im sitting at a light and this guy in a pick up leans out the window.. ' Where you coming from?' 'Vancouver' I say... 'Didnt I see you in Oregan a couple of weeks ago?' ' You could have!' 'Way to go man!!' ... and he is gone...
No time to dawdle, the border beacons..
In my enthusiasm, I lose my way in National City. Its like driving down the North Wall in Dublin only miles longer. I miss my turn and have to go into a Wendy burgers place to find my way.
I meet some State Troopers who put me right. Soon Im barrelling down through Chula Vista. Getting distinctly Mexican now. And on into San Ysidro. I didnt ask for a pronunciation here. Just go... your nearly there........I see the huge city ahead, of small houses and soon enter a conjested town full of money changer places.I know im close now.
My map holder has fallen apart now and my directions are confined to my back pocket. which means I have to keep stopping to refer to them....
Pass under US 805 freeway...right on Camino del la Plaza... cross the interstate 5.... and take the first left.. follow the signs for bus and taxi parking ...
Then I see it ... like the M50 Toll Plaza except its got MEXICO above it.... WOW!! Im Here!!
I cant believe it... I cant be here ..after all this time.. 37 days with two days rest. 1984 miles.
But I must be .. there is a barrier says I cant go any further.. 100's of people streaming into Mexico on foot through barriers.. it has to be true.
And in a strange way its an anti-climax......

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Huntington Beach to San Elijo Beach Park 69 miles

This was an early start. I was so tired last night I checked into the worst motel ive stayed in. But it was ok. I just needed a bed.
Up at 6.30 and gone by 7.30 on the last big push.
It was an uneventful pull except that i Had my first spill. I was stopping to take a look at my map when my pannier bag caught a high kerb and knocked me off before I could get my foot out. Nothing serious, a bit of road rash on my knee and wacked my lip.
War wound!!
A pleasant ride apart from that through towns and cities. All built up except for a couple of short country stretches.
I took a wrong turn through San Clemente and while i was wondering which way to go up comes Berry on a road bike. He kindly stops to help me out and agrees to lead me out of the chaos im in. He kindly gets me on track and leads me through the hills and byways of San Clemente down as far as Camp Pendelton. He is a very fit 70 year old and a true gent. So, thanks Berry for your help.
Camp Pendelton is an army base where before 9/11 you could have sailed thro but now is restricted entry. Berry suggests I should ride the freeway. Its noisy and hot but its straight. I go for the easy option. The base was open and it was okto ride through it, as long as you had I.D. and werent a threat but my goal has always been totake the shortest route. So its freeway for me. I will never critisise the traffic on the Naas Duel carriageway again.
Soon im into Oceanside and Carlsbad. I had met Jim earlier and we agreed to meet in Carlsbad State Park but when I get there they wont take hiker bikers.
I leave a message for Jim, I have gone south another 9 miles and he soon follows. We meet up at San Elijo Beach and pitch tents. Cloudy evening but nice. Last pitch of the trip so make it good. I poach the internet from outside a real estate office , with their permission of course to do the blog.
We are pitched right a girl guides camp and Imin bed at 8. These little tykes are playing Hide and Seek till 10. KIDS!!!
Put thatwith the train track 100 yards away with the trains which give loud, long blasts on their horns (if thats what they are called) till 3am.
Not going to be much sleep tonight...
Big Finale tomorrow. 54 miles to the Mexican border... bring it on...
No pictures today. Nothing really worth seeing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Santa Monica to Huntington Beach 41 miles




There you go Peter. The bandana came to me in a flash of stylish wisdom... I think it could be permanent and fetching around Latton. What do you think??
I was glad I made that jump from Leo Carillo to Santa Minica yesterday because the 41 miles today was the least enjoyable cycling it was possible to have. It was both physically and mentally challenging and exhausting.
Once I left Santa Monica I had 9 miles on a cycle path the wound its on the beach. It was pretty scenic and novel at the start. With road bikers, roller bladers, people walking dogs and kids. But soon it became tedious with a fine film of sand on the concrete path which threatened to bring you down at every winding turn. The walkers and joggers and roller bladers became a nusience and sometimes it was just plain dangerous.
The cycle path went through car parks around marinas and at one time wended its way through an underground car park, Really!! like the Ilac center and out the other side. Then across a pier and ended at a very busy junction of the Pacific Coast Highway. Then it was 25 miles of heavy traffic through Los Angelas riding on the road without a shoulder. Traffic lights every 100 yards which always seemed to be red against you. Those guys out there wanting to kill you and on top of it all a headwind. I really had to be on the alert at all times. No day dreaming on the road here.At one stage I had to negotiate around a Highway Patrol car that had pulled in a driver. He had ssopped it awkwardly and forced me out onjto the outside lane to pass him with a bus passing at the time. I let him have it as I passed 'You are going to get me killed officer' i shouted at him. I tink he was shocked tohear me. But thankfully didnt react.
The ride finished with a windswept 6 mile open road into Huntington. By the time I got there I was ready for the first kip i came to. I didnt care what it was like. I am exhausted....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mc Grath Beach to Santa Monica 59 miles



We agree to meet today at the Leo Carillo State Beach, as its the last hiker/biker camp before south Los |Angelas. Its a short run, only 27 miles.
Im slow out of the blocks today. One reason is that I have my tent folded, packed and stowed and discover the keys of my bike lock are inside the tent. So all has to be unloaded and opened to get the keys. Language is foul!!
Everyone is gone before im ready to go, so I head off alone. 3 miles down the road and no breakfast in me I find a Subway and in for a sandwich and coffee. While Im having it they kindly charge up my phone.
Off again and into Port Hueneme, a huge American Naval Base and from there, across miles and miles of farm land. 100's of acres of parsley, (no kidding) And lawn turf 100's of acres. Wild!!
Around the naval base I come across this display of Fighter Jets and Missiles. See the pics!
Then I hit the coast again and these fantastic beaches.
Shed loads of surfers and beach people generally. Nobody seems to work out here. I soon come on my destination of Leo Carillo Beach Park.
Going in, there is no one there that I know and Im feeling fit still. Its early in the day and I cant justify stopping. So I decide to move on. The guys will realise that when I dont show and Ill see them tomorrow on the road anyway. A groupofteenagers on the road see me coming and and have the crack. Where you coming from buddy...? I say Vancouver... and he nearly gets sick... wow awesome!! The girls go 'way to go man'. RESPECT!!
So on up the road and a few miles further on I see Malabu! Did you ever think?? Long sprawling beach goes for miles.
I decide to go another 20 miles and get a motel.
Malibu is nothing to write home about,except for the people who build these homes on stilts right on the beach! Anyone tell them about storms or stuff...? Apparently not! Its magnificent beach with huge seas and surfers but apart from that no big deal, so move on. Im gone my 20 miles so I decide.. a motel here anywhere will do. NO HOTELS, NO MOTELS just rich beach front houses and nothing aproximating a lodging house.
Ok move on, Topanga.. nothing! Santa Monica where the drivers actually want to kill you! But no hotels!!
Starting to panic now... visions of sleeping on the beach. I join the Santa Monica bike path down along the beach for safety sake.
Now you see it.. Roller bladers, skate boarders, chicks bursting out of hot pants, jogging with ear phones, kids on bikes, boards and anything that has wheels, beach bums, body builders, muscles and boobs legs and ... the rest! Lovers, liars, smoke sellers and hustlers... all together in profussion. The beach, as I approach Venice Beach is thronged with people. 5pm. Hate to think what its like in full summer at mid day. Mad!!
Then on Venice there is about 2 miles of stalls selling al sorts of beads, baubles ,hats and the like. I think !!!!! Haight Street in San Francisco!!! Its all moved here. This is the new hippie culture. Right here on Venice Beach In Santa Monica..
Anyway. my problemis not solved... where am I going to lay my weary head. I ask a taxi driver and he points me in a direction... Holiday Inn!! You deserve luxury my boy after all you have been through..... book in... shower.. those little bottles... smellies and a soft bed and 2 tv,s.
Ill attend to my own body now....What muscles I have.....
Long Beach California.. another iconic name. Tijuana looms in 2 days

Refugio State Beach to Mc Grath beach 54 miles



Woke up to a Tequila sunrise and the sounds of the sea. Got organised and headed off again with Jim. Heading for Mc Grath State Beach.
Jim has a foundation for his brother who was injured badly in a fall at work and is now paralysed. When he was in rehab with his brother he saw there were a lot of kids in there who had hurt themselves (mainly head injuries) falling off bikes and scooters and roller skates. Now with the assistance of the police,they go to outings where kids are biking or skating and provide them with tuition and gave free helmets. Its a great cause. He is doing this trip, Canada to San Diego and calls at all the hospitals on the way down totell them about his foundation. As his literature says 'I am my brothers keeper' A great man!
We cycle our own path down and agree to meet later in Mc Grath Beach. I meet him later and he tells me he has met another Swiss guy who is coming to the park as well and I soon meet him on the road too. We stop for an ice cream and head on at our own pace. As I am going through a town I hear my name being shouted out and there at the bus stop, in civies, are some of my Cross Canada friends. They are having a day off and are getting the bus to town for some shopping. A few miles up the road I come across a library and I go in to get the internet, to post yesterdays blog. Who comes in, only other members of the Cross Canada group with the same idea. We bring each other up to date on our news and as I am leaving I meet Jim also having an ice cream. So we agree to cycle together for the rest of the way. Then Hans from switzerland joins us and the 3 amigos zipp into Ventura together. Jim has to go to a hospital to check in with them and we loose Hans going through Ventura. I make it to Mc Grath on my own and find only a solitary bike (no owner) in the camp site. Kurt soon arrives having been out in the sea for a swim, to claim the bike. Hans arrives and two young guys from Canada ride in, Jim arrives and we have a bit of crack around the table for the evening. Everyone has a beer with them(only one) and its very sociable.
Soon its dark and its off to bed at 8pm.
Better get used to it guys John is off to bed every night at 8 when I get home. Its ingrained...

In the night we are visited by racoons. They are devils, about the size of a cat but with front paws that are like fingers. They can open zips and bags and they are very curious. They upturn the bin and move the stuff around. Up on the tables and will open bags to get whatever is in them out.
But apart from that they are pretty harmless.
Tomorrow is an easy ride down to Malabu... and the GIRLS!! Bring it on....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pismo Beach to Rufugio Beach 77 miles






If you ever wake up and think 'this day is going to be a crap day' and decide to fold your tent on the day and go back to bed!!... dont!
Cause one thing i discovered today was that, no matter how you feel on any given day, as sure as eggs is eggs by lunch time things will have usually changed for the better.
That was how today was for me.
I woke this morning I had a sore bum, my legs ached, i didnt sleep too well and I was feeling 'this is not what i want to do today'.
I got no breakfast cause it didnt start till 8 and i wasnt waiting around. I headed out and soon, after a few miles, I had no legs. I was up and down in the saddle trying to find a good place to sit. It just wasnt working. A guy pull out in front of me on a bike and bob , we say good morning and in the chat i tell him I think ill only make Lompoc 28miles down cause im tired. He says the same and goes off.
He goes off ahead of me cause im slow today. Then Im passed by another guy on a bob who i had been with a few days previous and he goes on ahead of me. The last day we were on the road I was leaving him for dead. A measure of my malaise!
I stop 10 miles down the road for a coffee and bun and am writing the day off.
On the first major climb of the day i am joined by a nice guy who slows for a chat and i tell him to go ahead as im not on form today. He says you know, that rarely does a day finish the way it starts and by lunchtime you might feel differently. After a while he leaves me and i stop for a 5 minute break. Then the energy comes from somewhere and im sailing along. A few miles down the road just before the next climb of the day I come across him again and the first guy on the bob, stopped for a puncture. I stop to assist. The first guy says he is trying to make Santa Barbara. A good bit down,like another 70miles from where we are now. I refer him to the major climb after Lompoc and he tells me its 14 miles long.
I say yes that's a major climb and im not doing it. But he says 'well if it 14 miles long it cant be very steep!! good point. I head up that climb and sail into Lompoc energised. Stop for the proverbial 6ins subway and im ready for this 14 mile sucker.
I break my own rule by taking out the ipod and putting on Van the man, Astral weeks. Talk about the angels? Its totally inspirational and im flying up the climb. Its 85 degrees in full hot sun and im loving it. Got the factor 30 on and Im covered. Then comes REM more inspiration then Meat Loaf. Im bombing along and im eating this sucker.. Feeling really strong now. Make 2 stops for a weener and a gateraide and off again.
Finally, with a whoop and a holler, im at the top of the very last hill on the Pacific Coast. What a feeling. Ive got here and done all the hills and now its plain sailing all the way to San Diego. I am so happy with myself .I stop to take my picture.
Grandads a Genius rings in my ears.
The downhill was the best yet 2.5 miles of 7% grade. Im in the big ring and Im flying hit 40mph shirt akimbo and its a whizzer.
Camp ground awaits a mile of so up the road. When I get there the State Trooper tells me the camp is closed for the winter. But Regugio Beach is only 10miles further on.
Im ok! My ass is grass but the legs are like Fred Astaire. If somebody would massage my bum i could go for ever. The 10 miles is a flat fast run and Refugio soon appears. There im right on the beach and I go in for my first swim in the pacific. Really nice! I meet Jim the guy I met this morning who said he was going to stop in Lompoc.
He says I inspired him to do the last big climb and he is pleased he got here too. We share a bowl of mushroom soup and he brings some choc cookies his wife made for him and we have a nice evening over a beautiful sunset by the beach. Idylic!
Best day yet by far on the bike. I learned a lot about myself today. Stuff i wont forget.
Into santa Barbara tomorrow. To where the beautiful people go. 100 miles from LA. I sleep a great sleep to the sould of a thundering sea less than 50 yards from my tent. Where would you get it.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

San Simeon To Pismo Beach 52 miles




Had a Mexican dinner last night. Maybe thats in preparation for the border which looms a week or so away. I think its an indicator.. i dont like Mexican food!
Up this morning bright and early. I cant get used to sleeping late anymore. Packed and gone by 9am.
Its a nice easy spin to Pismo Beach today. The profile is reasonably rolling and for the first in along time, I do not have to contend with a steep climb as soon as I take off. Instead it a slight downhill for a few miles which stretches these stiff legs out and settles them in for the day.
There is a clear sense today of moving from the Mountaineous cliff type terrain to more moderate rolling landscape. Leaving the land of the high headland and the smell of Redwoods to the peaceful pasture land of livestock and the clear smell of the eucalyptus tree which is common here.
The cycling too is different. Straight roads for miles over rolling landscape that encourages me to put her into a big gear and spin at a nice high speed. Its great cycling. Skirting around the busy Highway ! where possible, is very enjoyable and the miles click over.
Before leaving San Simeon I go to the beach to see hundreds of Giant seals suning themselves on the beach totally oblivious to the people who have come to see them. I suppose there is a reason they all come just here, the seals I mean but I havent the time to ask them.
At Morro Bay that giantic rock you see in the picture is one of '9 sisters' down the coast. Its the remains of the 'plug' of an ancient volcano which has eroded away. The forces that existed then have now made up the San Andreas Fault over which I am now cycling. I hope it stays quiet till I get over it...
Before I know it im in Pismo beach. You wouldnt half know. Kids on bikes passing me out for the laugh. Little pups think they are great cause they can overtake a 'real biker' Ha!!
Its a real Southern California resort and a taste of what is to come. Has a great beach and a long pier that goes out to sea and you can go out to where the surfers are catching waves and be right over them. The waves are only to be imagined...
Tomorrow is the last big climbing day. Down to Lompoc for 2 climbs of 1000 feet and 1 of 600 ft....Easy Peasy! Bring em on.....This boy is hot...!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Big Sur to San Simeon 67 miles




Woke at 3am. Its pouring out of the heavens. Thats the first actual rain I have seen. Maybe it will clear! Go back to sleep.. Waken at 6am still heaping it down (It never rains in Southern California, It pours man it pours). Should Istay in the tent for the day or what. Then Tom Keenan's words ring in my ears 'john, you have to learn to cycle in the rain too'. So up I get. Get dressed fold up the tent. Everything is wet now. But Im feeling good. Stopfor a hugh breakfast at the restuarant. Pig out on bacon and eggs, burger, bagels, cheese and 2 big pancakes with shed loads of maple syrup.
Stuffed to the gunnells head up the first 3 mile climb starting just outside the camp ground.
This is the big climbing day 4 major climbs interspersed with 30 miles of roller coaster. I mentally break up the days journey and it seems easier as I go. Legs are good today and the climbs are rolling under me. At 25 miles I stop to get a picture and I meet Ed and his wife Marge.Marge is originally from Broadstone and Ed is completely taken with my trip. We have a good chat and take our leave. At the top of the climb there is a restuarant and I stop for water and here is Ed waiting for me. We stop ands have lunch together and have a great chat. They wantto relocate out to southern california. Ed isin the electronic surveillance business a big New Yorker. Nice people.
Two more savage climbs to come and the backis broken on this sucker. Bring it on.Im feeling good.
Up the climbs Iget a gale of a tailwind that means an extra gear and I fly. Thye switchback descents are fantastic. I hog the middle of the road and keep the traffic off my back. hitting 38mph. Awesome!!
Over the last summit and a 15 mile fast flat spin all the way to San Simeon.
Into a well deserved motel and a bath!! Soak the bones for an hour and bring in alkl my washing as well.
No Percil or Daz on this trip. Living like a pig!!! Who cares....

Monteray to Big Sur 35 miles



Today I decided I was not going to make it the 60miles in the book so i decide,if i cant i will go as far as Big Sur and make the assault on the big hills the next day.Maybe its the power of suggestion but the legs are not working so well today and the miles are slow in ticking over.
There is a savage 4 mile climb out of Monteray which takes a lot of time and effort.The spin down to Highway One is exhilerating but the one is very busy today with a lot of traffic. An unnecessary divert throughy Carmel add a few more miles. Into Big Sur territory and those roller coaster roads around the headlands appear again. Up and Down over and over again. Climbs are short but steep and the decents are over in a minute . Not enough time to recover for the next climb. That goes on for 20miles and its energy sapping.
There is a couple of things worse than logging trucks and winnebago's .
On is people who carry dogs in the back of their pickup. You are cycling along oblivious to the traffic then all of a sudden, this wild barking dog is beside you. Scares the living daylights out of you. Cause normally you can hear a dog coming froma distance.
The other is MOTOR BIKERS!!. The noise of them as they pass, its worse than any truck and when there is a group of them as there was today, about 50 then it a racket. 'Fart Box Sewing Machines.' They should be made eat them.
Get myfirst puncture today.Not paying attention I slip off the road into a gravely patch and after some expert cycling skills, even if i do say so myself, I bring the bike to a safe stop. But at the cost of a puncture. I have to unload the bike on the side of the road to put new tube in.
Big Sur finally comes . Its not what i expected. I was expecting a high headland with crashing waves and surfers. Instead, its the opposite. A quiet little hamlet with 1 shop 1 motel (full) 1 filling station in the middle of a redwood forest. What a surprise! I make it to the Big Sur state park and a hiker biker site without phone or internet coverage. (back to the
wilderness). But has a shop and a restuarant.
Get a good rest and assault the big climbs first thing in the morning before the traffic.
Bought a new self inflating air matress to see if it helps my old bones .....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Santa Cruz to Monteray 45 miles



Leave camp by 8am.
Takes me a while and a lot of referring to by 'Bicycling the Pacific Coast 'book to get out of this town and on the right way to Monteray. So a bit slow and tedious. I have a feeling ,now Im in Southern California, its going to be like this to avoid the highways and freeways.
But, Im soon rolling through lush farm land. All arrible. No wasted land here. Growing strawberries by the 100 acres, Artichokes by the 1000 acres and Brussel Sprouts. I kid you not.
Hey kids! who doesnt like brussels
?You think your dad is the only screwball in the world who likes brussels. WELL GUYS? THINK AGAIN!!! American's love em! Take a look at that photo. Thats billions of tons of lovely brusslers! You can even buy them on the stalk here.
There are huge strawberry fields with dozens of farm workers bent over double picking them. And they grow right up to the side of the road. If that was Ireland, the outside plants would be stripped for 30 yards in the whole way around. I resist the temptation to get off and sample. Dont want to leave a bad impression of the Irish.
Its also near holloween so there a vast quantities of pumkins for sale. Dont feel like taking one of them so pass on by.
Hit the drag into Monteray. Its one of those legendary places you think youll never see and here it comes. The old Sinatra number 'It happened in Monteray'.
Its a nice town with cycle lanes everywhere. The last 15 miles have been on an enclosed cycle lane away from the main road. They provide them and you better use them. Try driving on the road, as I did, and they will kill you!! take the polish off your shoes.
Park the bike, put everything on charge, wash out my smalls and head off into Fishermans Wharf for a nice dinner. Well deserved....
Big highlight tomorrow.... BIG SUR... big waves , big scenery and big hills.
'They say it never rains in southern california' ... 'it pours man it pours'
rain is forecast................Talk later..

Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz 54 miles



That Pacific Ocean. I tell you its not to be messed with. I woke in the night and you would swear the sunami was coming to get me. The noise was fantastic! None of your, lapping waves rocking you to sleep with whale voices and sea breezes. This was full on explosive! I swore it was thunder, and the sea. The waves were BOOMING the beach. And it wasnt a wave sound.. it was a constant ROAR! I thought about getting out of the tent but I thought I could be one of those casualties that you hear about. You know! The guy went out to see the sea and was never seen again. Imagine my surprise the next day when there had been no storm or anything for that matter. Just another night on the Pacific.
Anyway, had breakfast with the CC group the next morning and they went off quietly. I think thats the last I will see them. We are all moving on.
A nice pace on the way to New Brighton Beach. The sun is hot now, so I have to get factor 30 for my lips. They are getting sunburnt. I bought some energy bars cause there will be no water or food for the next 37 miles. Thats what happens in this country. One day there is nothing cafes and shops but and then you are into virtual wilderness. Im prepared, so off I go. Legs are strong today, spinning away nicely and the miles are clocking down. I soon pass out two of the slower members of the CC group and sail on.
Davenport comes not a minute too soon. Nearly out of water and hungry. Stop at a cafe and have the big breakfast. 2 eggs over medium (there is something else other than 'over easy') bacon sausage, a short stack and maple syrup coffee and water. Woofed it down. Have a pee and fill my bottles and on the road again. Into Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is a huge city. Sprawls for miles and I am looking for directions on my book so progress is slow. Once Im sure Im on the right track I stop for supplies for the night and head to the New Brighton State Beach and my tent. Showers dont work but it amazing how much you can wash under a cold trickle coming out of a shower head. Down as far as you can. Up as far as you can, and dont worry about the bit in the middle.
After I am pitched a guy I had met about a week ago rolls in. Nice to see him again.
Bed by 8pm!!! Can you believe it!

San Francisco to Half Moon Bay 37 mi8lkes




I decide to head out of San Fran today insteadof sta ying longer. Its going to be a bit hairy to get out, so I decide the best thing to do is travel with the Cross Canadian Group for safety sake.
Anyway I would need lots more time in SF to see it properly and another day is not going to do it. So we decide to leave at 9.30am after the rush hour. Some of us go out to dinner for the evening and its nice meeting new members of the group. I have a nice chat with Ruddiger. Setting off into a lovely warm day, we head back up towards the Golden Gate to pick up our route out south. Some steep climbs up to bridge level and I am pleased I can pretty much stay with them. They are unloaded. Head down the coast to Daly City a lovely cycle along the edge of the Pacific but this is where we part company. A long 5mile drag up into Daly City puts an end to my cycling in the peleton. Im left for dead. But I grind it out and eventually get to the top and Im ok cause I have my own directions. I meet a little asian man on a road bike out for a spin and I regale him with my exploits ( I think he had English!!) I joke.. He is suitably impressed so I move on telling him 'Lifes too short man' .
The road now evens out and its a nice run till I hit the Devils Slide. I dont think I have to explain that one!! Knee braker!!
Over him and a thrilling 35 mph 5mile descent. Meet up with Paul a member of the CC group and we stop for a 12" subway before we get to the camp site at Half Moon Bay.
I set up camp with them as im invited to and it right on the side of the sea. When I go down to see the sunset I meet Herman and Mary and their dog. We chat and they tell me about their holiday in Ireland and how good it was. They live upon the highway and come down here every night to see the sunset. We are having a nice chat and they invite me to their house for a glass of wine. I arrange to meet them at 5.30 and we have a lovely hour or so chatting on their deck in their lovely home. Drinking chilled white wine and biscuits and cheese. Wonderful end to a lovely day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

San Francisco - days of rest!





What a great city!
Its appropriate that a city such as this should have a great entrance hall that is the Golden Gate Bridge.
There is so much life here. The layout of the city with the steep up and down streets ensures that you see the skyline of the city, no matter where you are in it. Its not too busy traffic wise today Monday . Maybe the weekends are particularly busy and that would make sense. Everyone goes out at the weekends.
Public transport is very good once you get the hang of where everything goes and unlike some places, town maps abound.
I get the bus to Height Street to visit the birthplace of the Flower Power movement in the Sixty's. I was there a number of years ago when it was still alive and well. And then, there was a great sense of the bohemian there and it was good to be there. Today, I can say that the Flower Power movement is no more! There is still the shops there selling dope smoking pipes and weird stuff, the strange clothes shops where you could buy anything with chains and beads on. Where you could find yourself talking to some 'way out' shop assistants who wanted only to love you. Now the hippies are all gone and there are only a few down and outs and homeless and some aging old hippies trying to hold to the remnants of what used to be.
Now there are a lot of Obama t shirts and stuff and there is definitely a change of emphasis from the old days. It was a shame and I leave feeling that a period of my history and a lot of peoples history has disappeared even if you were never a part of it.
Some of the steep streets are a sight to see. I head up to see the bendy street that is so steep they had to make it so the cars cant come straight down , you have to chicane down.
The streets up to it are, i swear 45 degrees. Its like treking up a mountain. Good exercise.... more tomorrow!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Olema to San Francisco 34 miles 28th September 2008



Group agrees to meet at the start of Golden Gate bridge to travel over and find the hotel. Sounds like a good plan. So leaving at 8am.
I head out after coffee and bagels and cheese at 7.45. Cause I have a load. They will soon catch me. Out on the road its the now, almost predictable leg ripper of a climb but there is a heavy fog . Visability down to 30 yards and it s freezing cold. So take it slowly. Over the top the sun comes out and its warming up. I am soon overtaken by the fast men and women of the group and on I go at a steady pace. Its a short ride today so there is no pressure and I have the couple of days to look forward to.
Heading into Fairfax, a quite built up area i see what i have been missing for a while. Town Cycling! It requires different skills with cars coming from all directions and I have to watch for changes in the route through towns.
Its nice to travel through the towns you recognise form the movies , Fairfax, Larkspur, Sausolito The Bay area.
Larkspur, specifically Mount Tamalpais, is the actual birthplace of Mountain Biking. And you wouldn't half know. There are 100's of mountain bikers in car parks getting ready to cycle out. its like a convention or a pilgrimage.
Outside of that town we come across a dedicated cycle track to take us all the way into Sausolito. Away from all roads. Its used by bikers walkers and joggers and its full of all of them. All doing their own thing. We stop for an ice cream before making the final assault on the bridge.
Did I say assault? It was more like Iwo Jima. The hills were so steep I had to fight for every yard.
Finally it looms ahead of you! WOW.
O Connell bridge is a bridge!
The M50 toll is a bridge.
This is not a bridge. Its a structural steel edifice. Its a monument . And when you get on it, it has its own weather. Sausolito was sunny and warm this is foggy, cold and windswept. The wind is howling across the bridge.I see a couple stopped, taking photos and I ask them to take one of me. Turns out they are from Cork on holiday. Its too cold to stop and talk. Pity! It is very exhilerating to cycle across. Its so busy at the weekends that the path set aside for cyclists and pedestrians is devided up. Bikers on the right side of the bridge, pedestrians on the other.
There are 1000's of bikers here. I have never seen so many road bikers all kitted out in matching gear. Testosterone bubbling over! all muscle and shaved legs!
Friendly too,I stop, wondering which way to go and a biker stops and gives me directions straight to the hotel.
Check in get settled and showered and get the bus to fisherman's Wharf and some nice sea food.
All human life is here. What a bubbling city! Its great to get here , great to be here...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jenner to Olema camp ground 45 miles 27th Sept.






Woke early this morning feeling a bit sore but had a reaqsonably good night. Too early for breakfast so im not waiting around. Head off at 7am. Its very cold but sunny and threatening to get warmer.
Im going to take it easy today. I have those 10 miles to make from yesterday. Its good today, the legs are working and I get to Bodega Bay in short time. A real surfer town. There are lots of surfers out in the water and it 8am. Stop for breakfast in this very posh (by my standards of late) restuarant. Overlooking the seals and wildlife swimming in the bay. Its lovely. Good hearty breakfast.
Now move on, im back on track. Some nasty little hills as I go but nothing to depressing. I begin to see a lot of road bikers out today. I have only seen two on this whole trip. Now im coming across them, or should they are coming across me, in numbers.
In a group of 4 one slows to chat. Jerimiah was is name. A real nice guy. They are all coming from San Francisco on Saturday morning spins. As we are chatting he invites me to his house when I get to San Francisco. A generous offer. Says I can stay a few days if I wish. He is stopping at a bakery a few miles ahead and I say Ill call in for a coffee. Sure enough next town there are a crowd of bikers having a break. I hear an Irish voice calling me and its a guy from Navan Colm (hope I got that right Colm, let me know if Ihavent)living here now. Have a great chat with all of them. Exchanging stories and generally having a laugh.
Say our goodbyes and head on. nice tail wind as I cycle down the Tamasa river. Heading for Olema.
Taking it nice and steady and moving I soon reach the camp ground at Olema and meet my 'support group' who kindly invite me to dinner.
This is a completely different camp ground. Much more expensive for a start. 35 dollars for the night. The last one was 3 dollars but that was a state park. This is private. Even so its hard to see the differenced, except more families here.
San Francisco tomorrow..... a milestone
I need the rest badly... Think ill go to Alcatraz and stay a while...............

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Manchester to Jenner 52 miles 26th September



Well Amanda, here is another one of the days you told me would happen. Today was certainly not a day for me to celebrate.
It started out ok. Early to rise and out to get my breakfast ready in the camp. A beautiful morning with the likelihood of a sunny day. As soon as I got on the road i couldnt get the legs going, even tho the road was reasonably flat at this point. My destination was Bodega Bay some 64 miles down. Heading to San Francisco.I guess I am paying for the couple of hard days I put in earlier. Then I hit the rollercoaster road the same as yesterday and it is getting tedious.No sooner you get up one and down the other side and another looms. Leg Wreckers!! I try talking to myself to get some motivation and it works for a while. So this way I keep moving.
The climatology along this coast is weird im cycling along and i see what looks like smoke wafting across the road ahead. As i get closer I realise its fog rolling in 200yards ahead of me. I know as soon as I hit it the temp will immediately by about 10 degrees. Its cold and wet and lasts for only a couple of hundred yards and then sun again. Its weird. Never experienced anything like it before.
Stop for coffee and a bun and that takes me further. Then I meet 2 guys broken down on the side of the road. Stop for a chat. They are repairing a spoke and truing a wheel. I soon head on looking for food and find a restuarant a few miles down the road. Soon the two boys arrive in with the same idea and we have lunch and a bit of crack. We are all heading to Bodega Bay and agree to meet there.
Heading off refreshed and ready and feeling positive. Few miles down the road, I hit this hill or mountain and grind it up. After 3 miles I see what I think is the top. Struggle up to see another climb round the bend and up it goes again for another mile. Then another that is steeper. Then over the top...hurray!! fast switchback down. But dangerous so have to keep the brakes on. Then just when im on for a 6 mile descent round the bend it kicks again and again and again. I have to hit the brakes hard on the descent when I meet cattle on the road. The scenery is fantastic with fog over the sea way below me. But its cold and im really tired. Seems like an age later the town of Jenner comes and I say enough is enough. 10 miles short of my destination I give up and roll into a B & B for the night.
TIME FOR MY MOAN...
I havent had one in a while and I am really pissed about this. And as you all know I love my rants..
I lost the coverage on my Irish phone in Coos Bay about 300 miles back and never got it back. Now my American phone has had no coverage for the last 75 miles. I stop in a town to buy some credit for it and find I am unable to contact the company IT&T. Probably the biggest company in America, to have the phone credited.
This country is THIRD WORLD when it comes to telecommunications.
I am 80 miles from San Francisco for gods sake!!, probably the second biggest city on the west coast and I have no phone cover. I just cant believe that.
Could you imagine not having phone cover in Dundalk! There would be uproar. So I am seriously pissed... Gripe over!
Ill pick up the 10 miles in the morning. Dont worry.....

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fort Brtagg to Manchester 42Miles 25th September

Passed the 1000 mile mark today-what a man!




Fort Bragg to Manchester 44miles

Left Fort Bragg camp on a lovely morning , blue sky and the threat of a lovely sunny day. Blog has no been done so I must spend some time this morning to find breakfast and internet access. Doesnt take long. A nice cafe good food and WiFi. Get the blogs and my calorie intake up to speed. Eggs,bacon and toast and coffee.
Head on out to what is seemingly a short day about 40 miles but when I look at the profile in my book. Its like a roller coaster road along the sea. Tells me in my book that these are some of the steepest hills on the Pacific coast. Oh Dear!!
First 20 miles is ok nice countryide and pleasant riding. Then comes the first of the ups and downs.. hits ok , no problem. I must be getting fitter.Able to take these in a big gear and Im cruising.
The scenery along this part of the coast is amazing. Better than any I have seem. Huge cliffs, rock faces sea stacks and wildlife including seals in the sea. It is a whale area but I didnt see any.
I say to myself, If I start taking piuctures i will take hundreds cause a view from one place completely changes 50 yards down the road. So if you want to see more... come here yourself. I guarantee you wont bew disappointed.
Anyway! These hills wow do they get worse as I go along. There are amazing fast downhills into switchbacks and it is exhilerating but God had it right. One down? One Up!.
There was one where not only did I have to get off and walk but I could hardly push the bike up it. I was leaning at 45' pushing like mad. It was a struggle for about half a mile.
Just like the switchbacks yesterday that I thought would never end . I thought these hills would never end. Some of them you could tuck on the descent and the momentum would take you half way up the next but you still had to push.
Finally when I was about spent I see the sign for the KAO campsite. Very welcome.
Great campsite , pool jacuzzi and hot showers , shop and a dryer.
I also meet my 'support group' the Cross Canada Group. Its great to see them and they seem glad to see me too. Its nice to see them again. I havent seen them since we had dinner in Astoria.
Been a tough few days but its GREAT!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eureka to Garberville 23rd Sept 70 miles




Sorry about posts im doing them in a hurry to catch up.Ill edit them later.. been out in ther sticks for a couple of days.


Headed out today after a lazy day off yesterday. Im not in the mood for more cycling
Have my bagel and cheese and coffee breakfast and head out however reluctantly.
The first hour is always the worst but I get into my stride soon and after traversing the metroppolis that is Eureka I am soon on the nice flat road to my destination is Myers Flat. 50 miles down the road. 25 miles out I come to the Avenue of Giants. A heavily forested area of big californian redwoods. More than the last venture into the redwoods, this is awesome. 25Miles of giant trees lining the road. You might think boring! but WOW you want to be here. It is something you never forget. It makes me feel very insignificant.
Its a leisurely cycle and I come upon some bikers I saw yesterday in Eureka enjoying the spectacle. We stop for lunch at a roadside cafe and have a chinwag. They are 2 brothers from Fresno who just decided on the spur of the moment to buy 2 bikes and cause their jobs were unsure . Cycle to San Diego. No preparation, no training nothing, they hooked up with a french couple and the 4 were peddling along happily to San Diego. I thought I was impulsive!
I leave them behind and head on out of the Avenue of Giants and soon reach my destination of Myers Flat. And ITS CLOSED!! Its remote here so I have no other choice but to keep going.
Into Miranda. I shop at petrol station, nothing else there. Meet a guy who is motorbiking to saettle for a couple of days and he is from San Fran. Gives me some tips about San Fran and move on to Phillipsville,,, even smaller here so move on again. Now 60 miles done but nothing else for it if i dont want to sleep in a hedge. Remember the Bears!! no thank you . So eventually end up in Garberville, on top of a big climb where i roll into the first motel i find and collapse. 70 miles... what a day!!

Garberville to Westport 70 miles



Garberville to Westport
Garberville was a nice little town all mountainy and quaint people with big hats and moustaches. Even the women (no im joking). Coffee and 2 buns and off into the proverbial immediate climb. Its a bitch to get a hill first thing before your legs are ready. But this is not the little hill up by the garda station in Naas. This is 4% for 2 miles. A leg wrecker.
Little did i know this was just the beginniing of a day which when over would go down in the annals as the worst days climbiing on a bike I have ever done by a long long long way.
The 5 or 6 big climbs before Leggit were severe in themselves but put with that a very hazardous road. Shoulder of 6insto 1 foot on a single carriageway road with sheer 400/500 drops on your immediate right side with no guard rail. Man that was scary. The trucks had no where to go so it was a hairy few hours. The climbiing was the easy part.
After that it was into leggit for a quick coffee before tackling the BIG ONE 1500 ft over 6 miles switchback the whole way , no shoulder just relentless climbing. I was cursing the switchbacks cause every one you thought was the last.
The decent was a roller coaster 10 miles down of a switchback decent like something in the tour de france. Very fast. Middle of the road . Keep in front of the trucks . I was faster anyway. Made it ALL Worth while the climbing. Then when you least expect it .... a bitch .... 600ft over 3 miles. Is this climbing ever going to stop. Over the top and another sceamer down hill. Stop at the bottom for some well earned food and meet the guy i met on the ferry from Victoria to Port Angelas. What a surprise. We cycle together for a while but he and his mate are faster than me so off they go. Westport has no facilities so even tho im wrecked I have to keep going. for another 15 miles to a campground. When I get there i am the only one there so sleeping alone again.... bummer!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rest day in Eureka. 21st September



EUREKA!! A REST DAY!
What on earth am I going to do?
Start with a lie in. Thats 8am. Sleeping is still not the best. Up for a leisurely breakfast of Coffee, bagels and cream cheese and something that passes for saussages.
Ill take a walk into town and see this old victorian town with its nicely restored houses and shops. Its a strange place of quiet wide shopping streets of little bijou shops and coffee houses. Very pretty but not your bustling shopping center that exists in every other town center world wide.
Bead shops, bookshops, earthy shops all very environmentally friendly and in the middle?....An Irish Pub. I couldnt bring myself to go in. Found myself an Irish Tricolour for the bike. Must make a statement about who I am. I think people like to put some kind of a story onto when they see the bike. I have a sign on the back that says 'San Diego or Bust'. Always gets a comment.
Tomorrow I hit half way!!! EUREKA!!!
Over 900 miles... I think I can do this!!
Altho when people ask me where Im headed. They are not so impressed as they were in Washington. Until I tell them where I started from.
I see bikers going thro town today and I feel as if I should be going too instead of resting. However sieze the day, the weather is improving wind looks favourable and tomorrow sees me over the half way mark and thats to look forward too. Some big climbs loom in the next 2/3 days so i should be ready for them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Elk Prairie Camp to Eureka - 48 Miles



Well I was still all there this morning.
No Bears! Black or otherwise came to visit... well! Not as far as I knew. A few of the guys were gone but unless the tents were eaten as well.. there was a good reason for it.
Its a beautiful crisp clear morning at 7am with a thin strand of mist brushed along the forest in the distance. The sun is trying to come out and everything has a layer of condensation on it.... There is something about waking up from a nights sleep in a tent. Its hard to say if it is a good or bad feeling but it is definitely different and everyone should try it at least once.
Pack my bags trying to put on something that is not damp.. not easy. Getting dressed in a tent lying down... an experience all its own. Certainly not done at speed.
Up and at em! Up with the dawn and out with the dog as tommy used to say but in this case the bike. Spin on down to Orick for a coffee and a muffin. ALAS POOR ORICK! nothing happens too fast here. Id say even a fire would take its time. There are certain places in America where things havent changed for 100 years. Orick is one of them.
Today has a few climbs but nothing like yesterday. The day looks good and am soon passed by Alaska who says he will stop in Trinidad for breakfast and invites me to see him there. These young speed merchants!
Im taking in the sights, its a lovely run the 25 miles to Trinidad but he is nowhere to be seen. I have a nice breakfast of 2 eggs over easy, 2 strips of bacon and pancakes with syrup and 2 big slices of french toast and the proverbial gallon of coffee. 11 dollars and worth it all. Heading out I meet the 2 girls and guy from Seattle heading for San Fran who were with us in camp last night. They stopping for food. Its all the young people here talk about is food. I kid you not!
An uneventful downhill spin into Eureka... Eureka!! Tired but happy. First place i see is the campground... hesitate for a milli-second and say 'not tonight my lady' Im for the fluffy bed tonight... dont know when I decided that but it was sometime around the time I was putting on my damp lycra cycling shorts at 7am.... I think!!
Carleton Hotel... dinner included, pool jaccuzzi washer/dryer coffee machine and a bath. No Danger!!!
In fact,, time I had a day off so ..... 2 nights. There goes the inheritance kids but its a good cause ... your poor old dad's weary bones...
We will have a leisurely chat tomorrow... when I get up... Talk then.