My epic 9 days bike trip

I decided to start writting the new blog posts in English, as more people would understand the stuff I write. It’ve a while since I wrote the last post and, somehow surprisingly, I changed pretty much – basically, I would say that I discovered what’s life and how one can live it :).

Now, let’s get back to the main topic of this post – my epic bike adventure in California. I will not describe how I see life in California, as it’s very personal and the overall experience is composed from many small things, that one may consider important or simply ignore (i.e. some of us don’t like moving 5kms to the nearest shop or living at countryside). One might ask, why epic? What’s so epic? You just ride a pathetic bike. Well, of course it’s not epic if you think that I’m as fit and experienced as a participant of Tour de France. Now, let me start with the most important statistics:

  • I biked roughly 1000kms (600miles) in the first 5 days of the trip with about 8000m (24000feets) uphill, from San Francisco to San Diego.
  • I had one day and a half to rest.
  • I biked 260kms (160miles) in 2 mornings and 2 evenings, because I really wanted to be in the desert; I biked the Death Valley during the summer! Nothing compares to biking in the desert where the temperature was roughly 50 Celsius degrees (115-120 Fahrenheit) and the air very dry. I think that biking the Death Valley is the most challenging thing I did on a bike; it’s both physical intense (i.e. high temperature variation) and very technical (you have 3 stops in total, from only 2 you can get food and the distance between the first two stops is of 72 miles, 115kms) – would you try doing this?

OK, now the first question one might ask: why did you do this? Well, I wanted to take advantage of my stay in California, and visit Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I would have visited with a car, but guess what? I don’t know anybody my-style wanting to go in L.A. or L.V. at the time I had some free days. So, I was basically alone and the only other alternative was to stay in the (boring from my point of view) Bay Area. I think it’s cool to go alone with the bike, because the landscapes are insanely beautiful and you bike in your own rythm. Of course, I would do the trip again, but with a 2 persons bike 🙂 – I find the wild US west coast to be very romantic.

Now, let’s start the story. I left San Francisco on 29th June at about 9 P.M and, after a while, I arrived in Pacifica. I ate something there, then I continued my adventure and lately I camped in Half Moon Bay. The weather conditions were difficult for biking and camping, as it was foggy and rainy. I did a terrible mistake by camping next to the street and I slept just two hours in the first night, due to the cars passing around.

As you can see, I had just a sleeping bag with me, as I wanted to be super-lightweight. I woke up before the sunrise and I noticed that all my clothes are wet; it’s definetly not a pleasure to bike with wet clothes, fog and rainy clouds. Nevertheless, I started biking with the first stop in mind: Santa Cruz. Obviously, things didn’t work as expected, and because of the weight I was carrying, my bike behaved strangely in a curbe and I had an accident. Damn, after this I wounded my right knee. I got somehow lucky, because last time I ended in the hospital after a bike accident. I had hard time biking and I was very disappointed by the event, as I really wanted to bike from San Francisco to San Diego, and that wound wouldn’t let me accomplish my goal. I rested 20 minutes and then I continued my way, and soon I met a guy who was touring from Portland, Oregon. He is teaching history and he allocated 3 weeks to get from San Francisco to San Diego :). At that time, I was asking myself: what’s wrong with me? I want to get in San Diego in couple of days, not weeks; do I still have any chance? I had a good time talking with this guy about history and life, on our way down to Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is a nice city known for surfing and other water sports. Because I had hard time sleeping the night before, I rested about 2 hours on the beach, where I watched some very attractive California girls playing volleyball 🙂 (well, not extremely hot, but definitely I knew I’m not in Bay Area anymore). Soon I arrived in Watsonville and the hard part of today’s ride just started; the weather was cloudy and the wind was coming from the front. After 4 hours of biking I arrived in Monterey; I was exhausted, hungry and sick of the weather. I didnt know where to eat, so I stopped at the first fast-food; interestingly, the fast-food menu made public the number of calories per product and I ordered the menu item with the highest score (roughly 2000 calories in a burger, fries and a soda). Damn, I felt so good after I ate these 2000 calories. Now, it was almost evening and I started searching for a place to sleep in Monterey. I was not happy about the idea of sleeping in the bag, so I started searching for a hostel. I found one, but it was full, so I had to negotiate with the receptionist about sleeping in the building, rather than sleeping outside in the dark. I got lucky and they gave me a mattress to use that night; yey, a decent sleep for me this night. I felt asleep instantly and I recovered pretty well.

Monterey

I started the second day in Monterey and soon I arrived at 17 Mile Dr; this time I skipped the scenic road, as I’ve already been there with the car. Very soon I started one of the hardest parts of the bike route: Big Sur. Biking Big Sur is challenging, as it goes up and down, and attention has to be paid to the traffic. It took me couple of hours to pass Big Sur, but it was lovely and amazing. Yea, Big Sur is impressive. I felt great when I met other bikers on Big Sur and I was biking at least two times faster than them ;). Eventually, I arrived in Cambria, which is located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. I wanted to camp in Morro Bay State Park, and I had to take some extreme decisions. Highway 1 becomes freeway on a portion of 10 miles (16km) and the Navigator showed me a workaround of 50 miles (80km); I was asking myself: 50 miles or 10 miles the hard way? Damn, I really wanted to feel some adrenaline, so I took the freeway with the bike. I already prepared my speech for the police, if they would have caught me, but I successfully and carrefully biked that portion of freeway. Nevertheless, I arrived in Morro Bay State Park and slept there in my bag.

The third day was insanely difficult, mostly because I never biked couple of days in a row. I visited San Luis Obispo and I had the early lunch in Santa Maria. Actually, before entering Santa Maria, I saw Guadalupe, a poor agricultural city with people that speak only Spanish; at the shop, I used cash to buy food and talked in Spanish. At that time I was asking myself, I’m still in the US or I passed the border to Mexico? Later that day I arrived in Santa Barbara, one of the most beautiful cities I ever saw. I wanted to rest and wash my clothes, so I went to a hostel where I met alot of nice people. I was stopped by 4 Swedish girls telling me: „You’re so fast on the bike, we saw you two times on the highway 1”. I wanted to show them that I’m also fast at other things (i.e. thinking or solving calculus problems), but I was too tired to talk with anybody, so I just went to sleep.

I was fresh at the beginning of the forth day and excited by the fact that in few hours I’ll be in Los Angeles. The route from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles is insanely beautiful; please check Oxnard and Malibu. By noon I arrived in Santa Monica and the first thing I did was to reserve one night at a hostel. L.A. has lovely beaches, very attractive females, huge traffic, nice places for tourists and a high score at the chapter of homelessness. I visited Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Bld, Universal Studios Hollywood and Venice Beach. I spent 2 hours of the night in an R&B club, where the live music was simply awesome, and then I entered a British bar after seeing it playing karaoke. Nothing compares to sing, with a Romanian accent, the song Eye of the tiger. Many people in the bar wanted to sing with me, but I told them it’s my song, as I biked from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 3 days and 5 hours.

Surprisingly, I slept 10 hours and I woke up at about noon, when I also noticed that I have a flat, due to the crappy streets of L.A. I fixed the flat at a local bike shop and I started biking to San Diego. That day was 4th July and there was some traffic in L.A., so it took me a while to get out of the city and start biking the highway. The beaches of south L.A. are very nice and romantic 🙂 (damn, I should avoid using this word); I would definitely go there again, but not alone and not with boys :). Soon it became dark and I was still pursuing the goal of biking Santa Monica – San Diego in 1 day. It was epic when I had to pass a military camp with the bike and the soldiers didn’t let me in. I tried to negotiate with them, but everything was in vain; eventually, the soldiers called their superior and they found out that it’s fine to pass the military camp with the bike. Nothing compares to see the sign „Tank crossing” and the stop sign, where you have to look left’n’right to see if there’s actually a tank crossing :).

I eventually got to San Diego, but not without an accident, due to sleeping on the bike. Yea, I felt asleep on the bike, if you can belive it. Why? Because I was completely exhausted. I was happy I’m in downtown San Diego so I was looking forward for the next days of my adventure. I was continuously asking myself: what’s to see in California or around? Hell, yea, Las Vegas and the Death Valley. I really wanted to do the desert during the summer. I don’t know why. Why on the bike? Why in the summer? I don’t know what was my inner motivation, but I really wanted to do it. I wanted to say that I biked the Death Valley during the summer.

I took a bus from San Diego to Las Vegas and I arrived in the city of sins just after the sunset. I took a hotel room, because it was pretty cheap, and I went out in a club. I was impressed by the nightlife in Vegas and I didnt do much, as I went there to bike, not for clubbing. I had some drinks in a club in Paradise and then I went to sleep. At the beginning of the next day, I spent some time searching for a truck to take me to Pahrump, the starting point for my adventure in the Death Valley. I did some hitch-hiking, but nobody even looked at me. Eventually, I started looking for a truck in a gas station and there a guy asked what’s with the camera on my helmet. I explained him that I want to bike the Death Valley from west to east and I need a truck to get there. I could have biked from west Las Vegas to the entrance of the Death Valley, but there are several issues: the distance is 100km and it can be biked only in late afternoon, so I would have spent one day more, the supply chain is poorly organised (i.e. there’s no food in between so I would have to take more food with me) and I already threw away the sleeping bag (it was extra weight and I had to take alot of water with me), so I would have to sleep in some bushes. Nevertheless, this guy and his friend gave me a ride to the entrance of the Death Valley. I really don’t know how to thank to these guys, they simply made my day! I was so happy at the entrance of the Death Valley! Now, the first sign I was: „Next services 72 miles” and that’s about 110km, hell ya!

Before actually starting the real ride, I also swam in a desert swimming-pool. Come on, how many times would you see this in a life?

Now, I would like say few words about the Death Valley. I’ve been to many nice places, such as Hawaii, Alps and Monte Carlo, but nothing compares to the feeling I had when I made the first steps in the Death Valley. I love the smell and the taste of this desert. I love the serenity I was feeling form the early beginning. And, honestly, I didn’t and I don’t care if I die, mostly because I like to take risks. There are other reasons, but nobody (except my mum, she would be the only one to cry) would be interested in hearing about these. Below you can see a collection of photos I took while biking the Death Valley.

I started the ride with 2000 calories in food and 9 liters of water. Hell, ya, 9 liters! In the first evening, I went from the entrance of the Death Valley to the Furnace Creek. There are roughly 115 km and I did them in 4 hours; I got lucky that most of the road was flat or going downhill. When I arrived at Furnace Creek, I started to search for a decent place to sleep and soon I met a local friendly guy. He showed me the swimming pool and immediately I jumped in it. Swimming after 4 hours of desert is the best thing to do! Then, I searched for a place to sleep, and because I didn’t have a sleeping bag, I just searched for a palm tree. I slept next to a palm tree and it was great! I felt so good after this sleep. I am amazed by the outdoors in the Death Valley; I would have stayed days under a palm tree and watching the near mountains. Nothing beats this mix of palm trees and bare mountains.

Nevertheless, the first half of the second day I spent at the local shops and thinking about how great is to contemplate in the valley. In the late afternoon, I started to ride from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe wells. I remember that there are about 20 miles and I did them in 40 minutes, so a speed comparable to the average in Tour de France. Of course, I had (a strong) wind from behind and it was mostly downhill. After Stovepipe wells, the uphill begins. It took me 2 hours to get to a point that I couldnt bike anymore. I was exhausted and I couldn’t eat anything. My organism simply refused to eat. I was not worried and I knew that I need some sleep, so I slept 30 minutes just near the street and on asphalt. It was dark and I wasn’t too far away from the third stop, from where I could take some water. Things became interesting, as the temperature during the night was pretty low and I was sweat. Before midnight I arrived at the last stop and I was looking for water. Because there was no (natural) light, I couldn’t find the water so I tried to find a place to sleep. There were not many options and I tried to sleep directly on the land; I couldn’t sleep and after 20 minutes I was cold. I started to move around and I found some bushes; damn, I slept so comfortably in these bushes! Before the sunrise, somebody woke me up and asked me „what the heck are you doing here?”. I told him that I’m exhausted and I’m looking to get out of the Death Valley. I still had 60km to ride, so I told him it shouldn’t be a big deal. Then, the guy asked me if I need anything; damn, they were all so polite. I asked them for an apple and they gave me: 1 apple, 3 bananas, 1 orange and some biscuits. I instantly ate everything, filled my water bottles and continued the ride. Just before getting out the Death Valley, I saw some wild donkeys. I still ask myself: „wtf are you doing here?”. Before the noon of the third I was out of the Death Valley. So, it took me 2 mornings and 2 evenings to bike 260km of the Death Valley. Damn, this was so cool!

That being said, thank you for reading this! Or at least for looking at some photos! I wouldn’t do it again alone. I wouldn’t do the Death Valley with assistance. I would bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles/San Diego on a tangem bike and only with a (attractive California) girl ;). I’m not interested in biking very long distances with a group of cyclists because it’s hard to find people with the same skills and fitness level. Looking forward for new adventures! 🙂

Anunțuri

6 răspunsuri to “My epic 9 days bike trip”

  1. wewewwewe Says:

    One man, one bike.

  2. Cip Says:

    super tare:)

  3. Taner Says:

    Interesting story and funny way to tell it 🙂 Congrats!

  4. Mihai Diac Says:

    Fain !

  5. pauldiac Says:

    Am citit si eu acum putin, Felicitari iar si la mai mare! Sa stii ca se poate merge si in mai multi si e foarte fain, dar nu cum am mers noi doar doi. Cand sunt 5-6 si se fac echipe care se schimba de la o zi la alta, variatii de la traseu cu despartiti si intalnit iar la loc, clacheaza cate unul, ma rog, merge frumos si in mai multi.

  6. Frank Says:

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    but I by no means found any fascinating article like yours.
    It’s pretty value sufficient for me. Personally,
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