Monday, June 30, 2014

People: Juaquin Silva.

People mentioned that I'll likely meet lots of interesting folks along the way.  It's already started on the rideshare van ride up to Ashland, OR. 

Juaquin Silva is a pro bmx rider (revenge industries, 43 hardware, s&m bikes, etc), bmx contest judge, and course builder (picture in front of the van and our bikes are on the rack).  We were talking about biking and he shared that he has done bike tours - on his bmx!  He rode from Santa Barbara to Costa Mesa once over two days on a bmx... That's what I call seriously hardcore.

Also, I received a surprising reaction at one of the stops.  A guy overheard discussion about my trip and said, "Oh, so you're one of those guys who slows down traffic on 101." Apparently he used to live on the coastal route in a few places and disliked the cyclists due to the impact on speed on the 101 of the RVs and bicycles (I always think of cyclists as the good guys so was helpful to hear his view).  We talked for a it and joked around some about traffic/drivers/tourists and he became friendlier as we talked.  At the end, he shook my hand before leaving and wished me good luck on my trip. 

With communication, even motorists and cyclists can get along.  OK, maybe that's a bit of a melodramatic statement but it was a funny exchange.

Juaquin, bmx bicycle pro and tourer:


One other prep item I mentioned I would post about is food.  I've been making and experimenting with some of my old backpacking one-pot recipes at home to prepare for the trip.  It's been >20 years since I've made some of these things (I used to lead backpacking trips then, but somehow haven't been doing that much since).

It was a bit funny to be cooking with only one pot at home, but I was glad I did as some of the dishes needed an iteration or two (and it's easier to remedy problems when you have more ingredients lying around).

Moroccan cous cous with garbanzo beans.

Lentil stew with okra (add pre-cooked rice in on top to heat everything up and then dump out and it's ready to eat... won't win any awards for how it looks, but it's filling).  The pre-cooked rice makes this technically not one pot.  I could obviously cook both together and sometimes do, but there are times it's nice to have the two separate.

Marinara sauce with capellini, mozzarella, and kale.  This isn't quite one pot, but making the marinara sauce doesn't take that long (~20 min) and the capellini cooks in 5 min, so it's acceptable to make one after another in the same pot.

I also make fried rice in one pot, but I make that all the time, so I didn't have to remember how to make that this week. :)

Posting this reminded me that I hadn't packed the olive oil and soy sauce (used small nalgene bottles), so just packed them along with some spices.

Also packed some small containers so I can buy bulk food to avoid using single use plastic.  Looking forward to cooking on the road!


I'm heading out at ~4:40AM to take a three day van-to-van-to-bus-then-bike journey to get to the starting point.  I'm excited for the trip and also feeling grateful for all the help I received in planning the trip and for the great community surrounding me (so glad to see/connect with friends... for those I didn't get to see I hope to see you when I get back!).

Here's a photo am me waving to a kind motorist - but I view this as a temporary wave goodbye to home for a while.

With all the preparations, I was getting a bit worn out (hit a wall about a week ago).  Fortunately, friends in town encouraged me to have some fun as well.  So one part of preparing for the trip was to also have some fun while doing it.

With the extra time from the delay of the start, I was better able to stay balanced: meditation, tai chi chuan, playing an informal little jazz music gig in the park, etc.   I spent some time in the ocean and overall appreciated things more (did make me wonder a bit why I am traveling since I have so much fun at home, but I guess a bit of exploring is good too).

Here are a few photos from the water.


Getting buzzed by pelicans:


Since I'm sharing water photos, thought I'd also post my two favorite freediving photos from last month (not officially part of the prep for this trip, but I just really like these two pictures and figure others might as well).


Harbor seal:

The harbor seal was super cute.  That's my swim fin at the top left corner (it was following behind me).

This post is mostly a reminder to myself (but maybe helpful to others) to make sure to make time for fun and that it can be done in addition to getting things done.

I did skip surfing today, but given it's my last day before heading out I wanted to get everything closed off (still up at a late hour wrapping up).

Going forward, I'll try to continue to capture thoughts on this blog, but will probably lean more on photos for many of the upcoming posts.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Here are some of the things I've been doing to get prepared for the trip.

Some of the items are fairly essential - so good thing I decided to go with the sane schedule/timing.  When I tried to get ready in a week, I could have gotten out there, but many things would have been a bit of a mess.  In all, this has been about three weeks of prep time which was about right.

1) Preparing equipment

Example: seam sealing the bivvy sac.

This is one of those things that I think I am pretty glad I had the extra time to do.  If it rains, I'll be happy I sealed the seams.

I took care of fairly basic things like my handlebar tape (as you can see, it was in pretty bad shape).

Taping is surprisingly the subject of some amount of fuss within some bicycle circles.  The bike shop made a bit of a big deal about it (that it's very difficult) and suggested I have them put new tape on for me.  One of my friends who is a serious mountain biker also suggested the same (have the bike shop do it).  Fortunately I bumped in to a friend who also commutes and tours and she had just wrapped her bars and thought it was not that bad.

So, I wrapped new tape on my bars:

No one will mistake my work for a bike shop's work, but I am happy with it.  It is way, way more comfortable now than it was and I tested it out this afternoon and it seems like it will hold fine.

Also did some cleaning of the drivetrain and lubed the chain.  Again, probably pretty good that I did that before setting out on the journey.  I probably should have cleaned things thoroughly but made do with a rag and a little stick from the yard.

2) Detailed planning of the route

I decided to at least roughly figure out where I have good options to sleep for most of the nights.  I'm primarily relying on the hiker/biker campsites in OR and CA, so used a highlighter to mark them on the map.  They are the most awesome arrangement possible for a bicycle tourist - but interestingly there are large variations in the distances between sites.  In one location there are about 3 within 10 miles of each other, and some have what look like 70 mile gaps in between (I didn't measure carefully - I guess I can't get myself to plan that much).

I'm also making notes on surf breaks (been getting lots of info from friends in various forms which I'm trying to capture on the maps) and any interesting meditation and dance things going on in the places I'll be traveling through.

In addition to the monastery visit in Oregon, my friend's mother offered to let me stay at their place in Oregon and a colleague offered to let me camp out at his ranch in CA.  Some folks I met in the economic forum at the White House recently also offered to let me stay further down south.  And I had already planned to visit family/friends along the way.  I'm excited and grateful for these neat stops.

3) Fussing with electronics

Had an unfortunate meltdown of my mobile phone, but I was lucky in that (1) it happened just before I left rather than just after... again, good thing I delayed the start... and (2) I was able to get support to get a new one rushed out.  It used a good amount of a day which seemed like a lot of time just before I am about to leave, but I sure am glad to have a phone that works as it's the main communication device I plan on bringing.

The other communication device is a personal locator beacon - someone I sold a microphone stand to mentioned that they have these devices.  If you fall off a cliff, you can send a satellite signal out for help.  I bought the simple one that sends an emergency signal only which transmits your gps coordinates (can't type or send status updates, etc.).  Seems neat... my only concern is that I've been adding items with the extra time. :)

The other electronic thing I am going to bring is a camera.  I wanted a backup to my phone camera.  I realized that my existing little point and shoot that I've had for a few years has no way to transfer photos to my phone to post.  So, I now have a little wifi-enabled camera that I have to learn how to use.

4) Not Training

For some reason, I can't get myself to 'train' for this trip (by doing long rides just to get miles in).  I have a hard time getting myself to train in general nowadays and generally just try to get my exercise via my daily activities or fun things (like surfing or dancing :) ).

The good thing is that I ride my bicycle pretty much every day.  I cycle to the shuttle I take to work, then cycle at work, and do all (or almost all) my errands on my bike.  The past 2 1/2 weeks I've not driven my car at all.  This is probably not smart as I'm extending the time my car isn't used - will probably need a jump start when I get back if I want to use it.  :)

It's not many miles each day I ride though, so we'll see how I feel when I am out on the road putting in higher mileage.

Here's a photo from earlier in the year, I thought my errands led to an aesthetically pleasing arrangement in my bicycle basket that brightened up one of the few rainy days we've had this year.   This is my 20+ year old mountain bike that I use as a commuter bike as the commute/shuttle was beating up my touring bike too much (see the first handlebar tape picture above).

The extra time has been good for me to get used to my touring bike again since I mostly ride my commuting bike everywhere.  That was a nice thing as my touring bike has a leather seat and it takes some time to get re-acquainted with a leather seat.

I still have a bunch of things to do before I head out Monday morning (the rideshare van is leaving at 5 AM near downtown), but I'm feeling that I'll be quite a bit more comfortable and organized now that I've had a chance to do a bit more prep.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Route and Timing


Here is roughly the route of the trip.

Main portion - Cape Disappointment (WA) to Santa Cruz (CA) [click map to enlarge]:

This is around 870 miles and seems to be full of interesting spots along the way.  I have spent very little time along the coast for this portion except from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, so I am excited to be exploring this portion of the coast.

Second portion - Santa Cruz to Carlsbad:

This is about 500 miles and I have spent a good amount of time throughout much of it, so if I spend too much time hanging out in the main portion and have to go back to work I may not do the second portion.  However, I would like to do this portion as well since I have family/friends along the way and haven't been back to Carlsbad in years (used to live there) - hope to catch up with some folks who I lost touch with but I'm guessing I can find if I go down.

- This overall route (main + second portion) is optimized for ocean/beach/surf access except for at the end.  I'm not starting all the way at the top of Washington state as it seems a bit more of a challenge to get to breaks from the bicycle route in Washington.  There are some good breaks at the southern part of San Diego that I'll be missing out on by not going all the way to the border - but this is me being nostalgically provincial.  I used to live in Carlsbad (North County San Diego), so being in San Diego and surfing Carlsbad is good enough for me.. no need for me to go further south. :)

- I'm also looking at some meditation stops along the way.  There are several monasteries in OR and CA, though the ones I am aware of are not on the coast.  At least one of them can be reached (or close by to) by an infrequently running bus, so may take an inland bus detour there (it's along a fairly busy highway, so will try to utilize the bus for that)

Timing / Departure Date

This has been a bit of a moving target.  The new plan is for the Monday after next.

So, if you dislike reading about preparations for the trip and prefer actual travel posts, you might want to wait until July to re-check this blog.  :)

I initially intended to head out in late June but then tried to speed up my preparations to early/mid-June in order to meet up with a colleague who happens to be doing the Pacific Coast ride right now (and I thought I'd make it down in time to join some friends for an annual Big Sur camping trip).  In my rush to get ready, I ended up hurting my back, which delayed my progress.  Then I still was trying to get out this week and two friends asked my why I was stressing if this was my vacation and it made me realize that it's a bit foolish to head out before everything is ready.  I have the intention of spending my break mindfully and rushing to get things done seems quite counter to that goal.

Two days before I was booked to leave, I changed it to the end of the month (the next time the rideshare I'm using to get up north was available).  Reverting the timing back to the end of June will allow me to do the following:

- Plan the details of my route carefully.  I had only planned the first 3-4 days out fully and then was going to wing it.  But, those first few days seem so nice (at least in the plans) that I realize I should spend a bit more time mapping out other parts of the trip.

- Prep my food.  I'll post more about this later.

- Test my gear.  I haven't had bike shorts in years and it turns out the ones I bought for the trip are incredibly uncomfortable, so the extra timing is giving me the opportunity to get some comfortable ones.  I also took my toe clips off my bike ~2 years ago as they were scuffing my shoes when I was commuting and putting them on again has been a somewhat embarrassing re-learning.

- Finish up some things.  I have some stuff to do for some of the volunteer efforts I do.  There's also a community event I had been sorry to miss.  I should do some things for my bike (like wrap new tape on the handlebars).

I will try to post things on preparing for the trip next week which hopefully won't be too dry/boring. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Here are photos of the gear I'm bringing.

It seems like lots of stuff. 

Given that these items represent my shelter, clothing, kitchen, toolshop, and entertainment for the next two months or so , maybe it's not outrageous from that perspective - but seems like a lot.  The surfing gear is quite extravagant - on the left, from the top: surfmat (, fins, wetsuit. 

I spent hours deliberating on how to bring a surfboard (started to custom order a 3'11" board which would be right at the lower limit of what I felt I could ride, but it was too rushed) as I didn't want to haul a trailer.  Fortunately I asked about it at work and a colleague came up with the brilliant idea of an inflatable surfmat.  I've tested the surfmat out three times and it's really fun - you lie on it kind of like a bodyboard but it feels a bit different since it's flexible.  So, stoked I'll be able to surf on the trip on the mat or bodysurf... might also use friends' surfboards along the way as well.

The other items - clothing is top center, the orange is the panniers, right green is my bivvy sac (with sleeping bag + pad inside), middle are the stove, cookware + 'ukulele, bottom are bike tools (grey bag is a tarp in case it's raining really hard).  I've usually used a tarp when camping, but decided to try the bivvy sac as this way I am not reliant on finding a spot between trees.

 Amazingly all the gear fits in my bags! Here is my bike essentially fully loaded.

Detail of the jelly roll in the middle on the rear rack consisting of: sleeping pad filling surrounded by a 2mm wetsuit (it's thin, I know - trying to save weight) and a surf mat, topped with a pair of bodyboarding/bodysurfing fins.

Food will go in the frame bag... I'd like a bit more room for food, but that surf gear is taking up lots of space.  This reminds me of one time when I traveled to London and saw my rollerskating buds out there but I didn't bring my skates... one of the guys was horrified and stated that he'd rather not bring clothes.  I guess shortchanging food for surfing gear is similar but maybe less smart. :)

Geeky gear photo for fellow bicycle tourers.  Figuring out a handlebar bag and lights is tricky as they occupy the same space on the handlebars and the bags generally also block the lights.  I initially wanted to use a basket, but finally decided a handlebar bag is a bit more organized.  I read a number of different online posts on elaborate ways to deals with handlebar bags and lights such as installing a second handlebar stem or adding a special light holder on the fork.  To accommodate both, I tilted the handlebar bag down - this seems to work so I'm quite glad to avoid the complicated solutions.

Here's the stuff when packed.  It is heavier than I hoped (I used a scale that had questionable accuracy, but came out to about 30 lb on that sketchy scale).  I was hoping to be more in the 20 lb range.  The fins are a bit heavy... I also am bringing a fairly thick jacket - it's summer but sometimes it gets cold at night on the coast and I think I'd rather be a bit tired from pedaling than cold. :)