#34 – Cycle Across a Desert

Bicycle Touring, Top 100 Things I've Done No Comments »

Everyone in the towns leading into Death Valley told us we were crazy, and it only made the challenge more exciting. The heat was deleriously exhaustive and if I’m honest, I was was never sure we would succeed.

The relentless doubt…the inner battle during the mountain climbs and the long stretches of hot black pavement…was a serious mental challenge.

I got to know my mind better. I often found myself to be an observer, floating over my bike, watching the argument between the strong and weak parts of me and their arguments with the bike and the road.

You take something from every challenge you face and when you focus on one challenge for long enough a period of time, having to face it repeatedly, day after day, you will take exponentially more from it. Distractons strip away and you are left only to focus on the raw polarity of the problem at hand.

And from the cycle of those thoughts, around and around and around, burns a new pattern in your neurology, which you can take with you into a new and better life after the ride.

Bicycle Touring from San Diego to Las Vegas via Death Valley

Bicycle Touring, USA 8 Comments »

Lived and written by Luis Omar Lopez & John P Morgan Jr

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DAY 1 – San Diego to just south of Temecula (71 miles)

Written by Omar:

We didn’t start on our bikes until late around 10 or 11 our first day and soon as the noon heat began to hit we began the hundred turns and out of the way miles of straight-up straight-down hills it takes to get out of the city and towards the desert while avoiding major freeways. I saw a homeless man carrying his sleeping bag 10 miles into the ride and realized I’d forgot to pack mine. I decided not to turn back and instead hoped some cheap solution would pop up. We felt our first pains early and stretched ass-to-ass like turtles on our backs on the sidewalk for the benefit of everyone else stuck in traffic. We got a few happy honks and then kept going, stopping at every McDonald’s on the way to steal free Powerade, we moved inland then backtracked towards the coast across Del Mar, then back inland again for good, climbing a long uphill through Escondido to Old Highway 395 that runs along the side of the 15 North. John began breathing hard and soon couldn’t swallow any water so we stopped at a 7-11 for a break and using webMD via his iPhone John self-diagnosed himself with EIA (exercise induced asthma). In the parking lot two girls ran into a car backwards pulling out of their spot. The stout troll in the hit car got out in a rage, cursing the world first for his bad haircut, his shitty flat-top that made him shorter and fatter, and then for the 3 inch smear on his maroon 1995 Saturn. It was good theater and we rode off again until after dark trying to reach Temecula but ended setting up camp in a burnt out patch of dirt between the freeway and some golf course and all night the semis croaked their Jake brakes over our tent and down the hill to Temecula. I wore all of my clothes and borrowed John’s silk liner bag and was warm enough.

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The Cozy Kitchen

Bicycle Touring, USA 5 Comments »

My Bike on the California Coast

On an Oregon State Park beach after watching the Pacific sun dim to a bearable brightness and then slide behind dark gray clouds coating the horizon a Canadian kid came over to me and said hello. Comeau was too touring by bike. He’d been on the road over a month cycling from Edmonton, Canada to Vancouver and then down the coast. He carried a fraction of the gear I had and barely enough cash to buy a bus ticket home.

Comeau showed me some of his low-budget travel maneuvers. We walked into Best Western’s along the coast, filled our stomachs with eggs, waffles and pastries and our pockets with fruits and granola bars for the questionable price of a confident posture and coy smile.

Most of the Oregon coast was a beautifully scenic ride along ocean cliffs and through forests as we traveled from small surf town to small industry town.

In a particularly unaccommodating community characterized by the logging industry and dune buggy rental shops, my Canadian friend and I visited a small diner called the “Cozy Kitchen”.

Comeau asked our waitress Lisa for some hot water with which to mix his oatmeal. Despite my concern with asking a business to supply hot water so he could eat for free at their table, she kindly brought a steaming kettle along with honey and brown sugar on a glimmering silver platter.

Considering the sun was setting and the ugly little town didn’t have much to offer for a place to setup our tents, I wondered how far Lisa’s kindness might go.

“Maybe she’ll let us camp in her yard?” I posed to Comeau.

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The First Day of Pedaling – Talk to Strangers

Bicycle Touring, USA 5 Comments »

I envisioned an exit from downtown Portland with a slight breeze at my back as I pedaled down a long, straight and flat road with wide shoulders. Less than a quarter mile into my first self-supported bike tour the white line hit the edge of the pavement, the head winds started and the road turned almost directly upward. It stayed that way for most of the day.

I’d been running pretty regularly and I didn’t believe the mid 50’s woman cyclist I’d chatted with outside the ACE Hardware store who told me that running 30-40 miles per week didn’t mean anything when it came to cycling hills. Climbing mountains on that first day put a blazing fire in my legs I hadn’t felt since my years of self discipline conditioning in martial arts classes.

Thought it felt as if hot knives were being driven into my thighs with each down stroke, the cognitive battle was even worse. The first day was truly a test of spirit.

Should I have started extended bicycle travel without any training? I can’t do this. Maybe I should take a break? Am I really fit for this? Do I really want to be riding my bike across countries? Cycling isn’t necessarily for everyone. I’m probably better off backpacking. People make mistakes; maybe I just made a mistake. This isn’t just my mind; I’m actually reaching the limits of my physical ability!

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Traveling Again…

Bicycle Touring, Plans & Itineraries, USA 6 Comments »

In a few weeks time I’ll embark on a new adventure. This one will be somewhat of a different flavor. Instead of travelling by motored transport as usual, I’ll be pedaling a bicycle!

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Start Date: Early August
End Date: Unknown
Departure: Portland, Oregon
Direction: South
Destination: Unknown

For the past two weeks I’ve been daydreaming about pedaling through Central and South America. Daydreaming about travel is normal, but to daydream about the same place and specific travel idea…thats very unusual for me. So I decided to do it.

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