Coastal Ride: Days 31, 32, and 33

"Just because you're breathing doesn't mean you're alive." I found this quote on a subreddit for bad tattoos. Instead of "you're", they used "your". I suppose that's beside the point because I kind of like the quote. Sure it's a little cliche and yes, I can picture a good portion of my students really latching onto the words over the potential meaning (YOLO kind of shit right?), but for me and for this ride down the coast, it makes sense.

People's reactions over hearing what we were doing has varied from startled- to excited for us- to nervous for us- and at times very unclear as to why we would elect to do something like this. That's the part that is kind of hard to explain in a few minute conversation.We are not avid cyclists, obvious to those who know us, but doing something like this is not just about being on a bike for eight hours a day. No really, it isn't. And so while I wouldn't consider myself some hardcore bicyclist, I do consider my curiosity to be a major component for this type of trip. I like to go to new places. I like to see how people live, how they spend their time, what they do for work. I like to talk to people out of my norm, even if it's only for a minute. I like different terrains and temperatures and animals. I like the experience as a whole and I occasionally like breaking my routine.

Most people have been positive, but some simply can't comprehend it. They just don't get it. And I guess it's okay for those people that don't get it. They don't have to, but for a select few, their cynicism and "light-hearted" mockery has not actually been sought out. I would prefer they just responded with something like, "enjoy and be safe" instead of projecting negativity (doubts and assumptions) just because this is a goal that would be totally unattainable or unrealistic for them. Buuuutttt, as I've learned, I can't make people respond the way I would like them to.

So why did I want to do this? I just think that sometimes I forget to wonder about life. I forget to be curious. I get caught up in my day to day and I forget. There is so much out there to learn and experience and engage in. This kind of trip for me is a way to remember. It's a way to remind myself that there is way bigger picture happening all around me. It's a way to remind me of my insignificance, to test what I am capable of and to hopefully grow as a person. That's why I wanted to to do something like this.

Day 31: Santa Maria, CA to El Capitan State Beach

Total Miles: 59.48
Total Time: 6:23:36
Average Speed: 9.3 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 5,432 ft
Total Calories 2,604
Start Time: 6:50 am

Our breakfast was a "continental breakfast" from Solaire. I use the term only because it was 6:30 am, but really the offering consisted of cheapy granola bars and cheapy packaged danishes. No toast. No bagels. No English Muffins. No hard-boiled eggs. No fruit. No yogurt. No juice. No milk. No coffee. No cereal. Definitely no waffle maker. Definitely stupid. I've already mentioned how this "Inn" was really just a motel, which again would have been fine if that's how they advertised themselves. But to then suggest that they offer a continental breakfast with such meager offerings is bullshit. We took two of each to stick it to the man.

Once out of the city of Santa Maria, we headed right back into farming and grazing fields. We also headed right into 15 miles or so of headwinds, a bumpy shoulder, and a gradual incline that was just high enough to keep us breathing hard for a good couple of hours. It was an exhausting start and somewhere along this portion we lost our water purifier, our really good water purifier from my mom's days working with the Red Cross. This was the kind that they send over to countries in need. The kind you could lay into a puddle, gather water, and it would get rid of most harmful contaminants. We hadn't had to use it in such extreme cases, but we did use it most nights. We filled it up at each campground which in turn filled up all 5 of our water bottles. It at least kept the taste consistent. I drink a lot of water throughout my day in normal life and so this was pretty important for me. I kept the purifier outside of my gear, strapped down under bungees, because it always had just a little water left- enough to get my stuff wet inside my pannier. I guess the bumpy road jostled it loose and since I typically ride last on our team, no one was there to see it fall. Sad to see it gone.

After the first portion of our ride we basically were on 101 for the remainder. It was busy. Busy. Busy. El Capitan State Beach is an extremely popular destination according to every single person we talked to who couldn't actually believe that we managed to obtain a site. They probably wouldn't have been surprised when they saw our site. It was like the leftovers of the campground. It was in between two roads, one for the C loop and one heading out to the D loop. We were the furthest you could be from the ocean, and both 101 and train tracks were directly on the other side of the D loop road. This sounds super negative. I apologize. We did not have a good time at this campground.

The beach itself was pretty awesome and we managed to find a relatively quiet picnic spot to spend some time. We both fell asleep, but before doing so we saw a pod of dolphins swimming right along the edge of the beach. It was pretty great.

When we woke up we went back to our site to have dinner. Tyler learned there was a camp store and eagerly road off on his bike looking for sustenance (different from the food we'd primarily been eating along the way). He came back with some chips and salsa that went very well with our tuna tacos. [Not exactly tacos. Just one side of bread folded in half and stuffed with tuna.]

We went to sleep early as usual only to be woken up around 11:00 by some sniffing around our tent. The campground didn't provide bear/raccoon boxes for us to put our food inside, like every other CA campground we'd visited, so our food was in our tent with us. Tyler yelled "get" at the sniffer only to notice it wasn't our typical thieves. He's like, "That smells like a skunk." Well thank god the skunk didn't get scared and spray us in our tent. That would have sucked.

We had just fallen asleep when we woke up to whispers outside our tent. I thought someone was messing with our bikes. I lifted my head just enough so that my bottom ear was not mashed against my sweatshirt. I was in my opossum state when we began to see lights from flashlights and definite movement. Neither of us really moved. I didn't know what to do. I was just starting to whisper to Tyler that I thought they were messing with our bikes when a face and two arms mashed against our tent. The two wings that strap down the rain cover of our tent both ripped up off their stakes. It was fast and it was terrifying. I screamed- which made Tyler scream- which made the assholes run off laughing.

At this point though, I still didn't know what to do. I didn't want to get out of the tent, because it could have all been a plan to lure us out, and I didn't want to stay in the tent because we were like trapped in there unable to see anything. My imagination is too detailed for this type of shit to happen. We did eventually climb out. I walked down to the other end of the loop to try to find the camp host while Tyler stayed with our stuff. The host's RV had a sign up that said if there were any problems to go to Loop B or some shit but I had never been on that loop and didn't know where to go- real helpful. I just had my phone flashlight and I've seen enough scary movies to know that something bad can easily come from the direction of the area not illuminated by the light. I was genuinely scared, genuinely uncomfortable, and not sure at all what to do.

I didn't want to get back in the tent. I wanted to pack up all my shit and ride away. But that didn't really make sense. Where would we go. It was only 12:00. We were just kind of sitting at the picnic table when Tyler told me to shine my flashlight to the left. Skunk. He was just walking around all casual like, "Hey guys. What's going on?" What was I going to do, spray it with mace? I'm sure that would have gone over well. We got back into the tent and I spent the rest of the night moving closer and closer to Tyler in an already cramped tent and not sleeping.

Day 32: El Stupidtan State Beach to Riviera Inn, Malibu

Total Miles: 89.36
Total Time: 8:18:16
Average Speed 10.76 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 5,920 ft
Total Calories: 3,998
Start Time: 7 am

Because of the night at El Stupidtan, we were debating whether or not to camp the next night. After 20 something days of camping, we were kind of over it. The problem was that the next campground was already going to be a long ride and there wasn't a whole lot around the area. If we were going to get a motel we would need to extend it by another 20 miles or so. I was worried that my lack of sleep would be an issue.

Fortunately, it wasn't bad at all. Yes, it was long, our longest ride on the entire trip. But it was mostly flat which definitely makes the miles tick away a little faster. Throughout the ride, we stopped at two coffee shops and one bakery. We rode alongside two naval bases with beautiful beachfront property. We rode through a section of Santa Barbara which was pretty damn adorable. From Point Mugu State Parks all the way into Malibu was gorgeous--arguably with some of the prettiest spots along the coast. We rode past some pretty damn expensive houses that looked more like resorts and reeked of extreme opulence after all of our days cramped together in our little tent, eating basically the same foods over and over.

We did push forward leaving Mugu behind instead of camping. We called a motel and even called Mugu to try to get our money back from our reservation after explaining the previous night. We ended up at the Riviera Inn which allegedly holds some pop culture history. Upon arriving at a pretty outdated set of connected buildings, we congratulated ourselves for the long haul. There was some older hippy who was just kind of meandering around in front of the place who immediately took an interest in us. He couldn't believe how far we had ridden (for fun). He was extremely complimentary (about my legs) and then apologetic (about potential offenses) and then complimentary about the trek. I honestly can not tell you if he was high or had just done so many drugs over the years that this was his normal state.

Tyler went into the office to check us in leaving me outside with old hippy man. There was a random vending machine outside and I joked how it would be awesome if it was filled with cold beer. He responded, "yeah, man". He offered me some whiskey from his room. I told him how I appreciated the offer, but that I was looking for something a little more refreshing. Then Tyler and office guy join us outside and old hippy man started to lift up his shirt sleeve saying to office guy, "are we going to do this?" Office guy didn't seem to know what old hippy man was talking about. Either that or he was trying to maintain some small amount of professionalism. It was super awkward for some reason. I couldn't figure out if office guy genuinely didn't know what was going on.

This conversation went on way longer than it needed to. Tyler and I were kind of stuck standing there listening to a conversation I could only assume was about shooting up. Turns out though that old hippy man had misidentified office guy for some other guy who also works at the motel (?) and who was apparently going to cover up his forearm tattoo. We started slowly rolling our bikes toward our room. Old hippy man asked what room we were staying in. Tyler told him #10 and he said, "oh, that's a good one". I wondered what kind of criteria he was using.

The room was quirky. You could definitely tell it had been built and furnished long ago, but it had an oddly comfy feel to it. We changed and went to the outdoor hot tub which was right next to our room in a little patio area. Another couple was already out there. He was wearing jeans and no shirt and was repeatedly taking hits off of his pipe in between drinks out of his beer. She was "pornstar attractive", according to other people who were cycling down the coast with me.

I was probably eyeballing them. I didn't mean to be, but I wanted a cold beer so bad and had absolutely no intention of biking anywhere. Eventually, they were readying themselves to leave and I asked if he had any more beer that we could buy from him. Sadly, that was his last and they left. Maybe five minutes later, he came back (having taken pity on us I suppose) and offered to pick us up some. I asked Tyler (who was unconvinced that this was going to be beneficial) for some cash. I gave the guy, Brian from Jersey, 20 bucks and asked for a six-pack. He looked at Tyler and said, "so a half rack?" I thanked him profusely and he told us it would be about twenty minutes. It was more like an hour, but they was sooooo cold. Brian actually bought us 15 pints and still tried to give us five bucks back which I refused. And then he was gone into the night like some tanned, muscular, Jersey shore-esque, protein shake-drinking angel.

Office guy shortly after came down as we were drinking our bounty on the chairs sitting outside our room. He had a beer with us and shared tales of his also being a personal assistant to one of Nick Nolte's exes. He spoke of delivering flowers to Bob Dylan's house and he spoke about being the son of the bassist from Suicidal Tendencies. We asked about some alleged stays at the hotel by famous people and he told us how our room actually housed both Marilyn Monroe and Bob Dylan and that Dylan supposedly wrote a song in our room.

I guess that's what old hippy man was referring to when he said we were in a good room.

Day 33: Malibu, CA to Queen Mary, Longbeach

Total Miles: 51.76
Total Time: 5:34:02
Average Speed: 9.3 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 3,800 ft
Total Calories: 2,276
Start Time: 6:50 am

The ride from Malibu to the Queen Mary in Longbeach was surprisingly awesome. I say that because I was worried it would be horribly trafficy with tons of cars not giving a shit about us and full of roads with no bike lanes. The ride ended up mostly on bike trails right along the beach. We were up early enough that the boardwalks of Santa Monica and Venice were just waking up when we rolled through and we got to see all the vendors setting up shop. It was awesome riding right along the beach, another spot that reminded me of what I imagined the trip would be like. We stopped for breakfast at a place on the beach that didn't even have a sign and you just walked up to the door to order. It smelled awesome and it WAS unbelievably awesome. I had the best BLT I have ever had in my whole life. I'm no connoisseur or anything but I know good and this one had guacamole on it and some delicious sweet relish and if I ever go back to that area, I would most definitely order the same exact thing.

There was only one area that got a little dicey and that was right outside the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary is an old British mail ship that is now a kitschy hotel that is supposedly haunted and is permanently moored at a port in Long Beach. The rooms and bathrooms are all essentially the same, and the boat/hotel has tours that explain all of the historical elements. Since the Queen Mary floats in a port, the surrounding area is packed full of trucks heading into load and unload whatever it is they carry. Our size and ability to stand out in our bright clothes was pretty diminished along side all these monsters. I will say though that at one point I got stuck trying to go straight on the wrong side of two lanes turning right. A semi behind me beeped lightly to let me know I could go, but when he saw I was scared about the other turning lane he actually maneuvered his truck to create a blockade stopping traffic in both lanes. I thanked him profusely with as many waves as I could manage while moving across the lanes.

We actually arrived at the boat pretty early and were able to tour around. I even managed to get a nap in--the first of the trip. We drank a few of our pints from the night before that Tyler so gentlemanly added to his bags since there was absolutely no way we could have finished them the night before and still be functional for this ride. We checked out one of the bars on the boat while we waited for my friend Jaime from high school to meet us for dinner. Can I just say that meeting friends along the way has not been as easy as we would have thought. A lot of times we didn't have cell service just when we needed it, and sometimes I think assumptions were made for meet ups that were difficult since we can't just ride over to people's houses or maybe they thought we'd let them know we were exactly where we were supposed to be. I don't know. What can you do?

It does make me grateful for the meet ups that did occur. I have probably seen Jaime once in the last ten years, probably longer than that. I love having had the chance to catch up with him. We probably should have eaten and had drinks off the boat since it was ridiculously expensive, but again, oh well. As it were, we were trying to get his parking ticket validated when someone told him as long as it's within 3 hours he'd be fine at the gate. We looked at his phone only to realize he had 3 minutes to get out. We said quick goodbyes and then Tyler and I proceeded to cheer him on from the railing like a reverse bon voyage.


  1. Agree Tyler! I have so enjoyed reading your blog. Your writing is amazing and entertaining. What an accomplishment :-)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Holiday Pudding Shots

Leah Would Go

Pudding Shots 4: Specialty Shots