Update from the Road: Days 1-5
*NOTE: I’m finding it difficult to post photos where I’d like to on my blog, so for a steady stream of photos, please check out my Instagram (my Instagram name is ‘FreedomPanda.’ Bamboo bike = panda food, riding to help victims of human trafficking = freedom…yep. There it is!) or my Facebook. *
“Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes
This is your life and today is all you’ve got now
Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes…” ~ Switchfoot
This has been a long two weeks, with final preparations for this trip, the journey to San Diego for the 2:00am start to this endeavor, to the last 6 days pedaling.
I would love to catch everyone up on the journey so far! I have actually written a blog post already, but that was two days ago & I didn’t have an opportunity to post it. So I’ll just catch you up in brief:
I left San Diego at approximately 2:00am on the 19th. I made it to Mission Trails Park, where I found a nice stealth campsite. I went to bed about 4:30am, and woke a few hours later, still tired. I rearranged my entire luggage set up, since I had never actually set it up until I was at Ocean Beach with Ryan Ross. (Thankfully he & I had downed some tasty-licious fish tacos & beer + had some great catch-up time together before the pedal-off. Huge thanks to Ryan for being such an amazing friend & totally ‘in it’!). I pedaled out of the park, and started heading up. And up. And up. (See Instagram for picture of elevation gain). Over 4,800 feet up through Alpine, Pine Valley, and Live Oak Springs.
Now, I have to make a couple of confessions. I am not a ‘cyclist,’ so to speak. Yes, I’ve used my regular bike to get around for almost a year before. But that was a year ago, and my job driving other folks around in a taxi took all that conditioning and threw it out the window. And that extra 20 pounds I gained? It was with me when I started this trip. I started at a solid 207 pounds. (When I got off the PCT this time two years ago, I was at 164). So my conditioning was essentially shot, I’m at my all-time heaviest weight, I’m not a cyclist, and I’ve never taken a tour like this in my life. So it didn’t come as a surprise that my body revolted once the trip began. Especially my left knee. What began as mild joint pain turned into a very painful swollen tendon located right behind the knee. Today is the first day in the last week that it’s felt better. Up until yesterday I had my doubts whether it would hold up, hoping that it just needed to get into biking shape while the other muscles developed around it to help support the joint. My hope is it continues to feel better. Hills, though, are not kind to it. Looking forward to flat land!
The people along the way so far have been amazing. From the other bicyclists down at Ocean Beach at the start, to the ladies having a Bible study outside of a Starbucks in Alpine. They donated $20, gifted me with a $40 Starbucks gift card, and the manager gave me a 12 pack of instant Via coffee packets. Amazing! And was it because I had a sad puppy dog face & looked needy? Heck no! I was in a hurry to get in/get out & get on the road…but THE BIKE! It stops people! Klaus & Thiago…you created a conversation starting machine. Thank you. In fact, as I’m typing this, a gentleman walked up to me and said, “Is that your bike? It totally made me smile…thank you!”
South of Boulevard, CA, I slept off the road 50 yards, and as I was just getting started a lady that lived nearby stopped, we talked, and she said at first she was concerned that I might be “an illegal” but then she saw the bike!
Speaking of the border, I passed one section where I looked right down on the border. Soon after, I crossed the Pacific Crest Trail and had a moment. Over two years prior, I had crossed the road right at the spot I was riding over, as I made my way northward. Here I was, now on a bike heading east, for the same cause.
As I finally crested the mountains & descended, I enjoyed the speed of the 6% grade to the valley below. And then I looked to my left, and realized I just passed a semi truck. Not just passed it – blew by it! I’m not sure how fast I went, but I loved it! The last few days had been full of pain, sweat, and pushing my bike on occasion up a hill or two. I’m pretty sure I was passed by several senior citizens with walkers. Now I’m passing moving vehicles? I’ll take it! Aside from watching for strong side winds, it went by too fast!
Just past Seeley, I was out of water & needed to eat. I rolled up to a nice looking but lonely house, and knocked on the door hoping the owners were home & could spare some water & shade. No luck. But the hose next to the door called my name. I thought they wouldn’t mind if a thirsty multi-state rider filled a water bottle or two, right? Unless they were bike-hating haters of happiness and life. Always a possibility. But at that point, I took the risk. I filled my bottle, drank it down, filled it again and drank half the bottle…then the owners pulled up. An ex-Boston police officer. I introduced myself, explained my water predicament, and did not reveal my loyalty to the Lakers & intense dislike of the Boston Celtics. Probably a good move. He said, “Let me get you some cold water. I hope you didn’t drink any of that water,” he said, pointing to the hose. “That’s bad stuff…straight canal water.” Oh. Um. Yeah…about that…Lots of canals criss-crossing the land I had been riding through. Pesticides, manure, lots of cows being raised (LOTS of cows!). I just envisioned a week of uncomfortable riding! Thankfully, I just had an upset stomach the next day, and even left some ‘cookies’ in the Algadones sand dunes the next morning. And that was all the effect it had!
In Glamis, I ran into Tom, a gentleman heading on the same route but aiming for Florida. We had an enjoyable time talking, eating, and as he left we said we’d stay in touch to check each others progress.
I’m now updating from a great BBQ place in Blythe, beating a little noonday heat, and feeling thankful.
Hoping this finds everyone well!
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