Chas Eberle
Pacific Coast
Hiker-Biker Something about this adventure changed around San Luis Obispo, and contributed to a new type of travel anxiety. By this point, I was committed to utilizing the state park system, to which I had given my trust and confidence, but this changed quickly overnight.

Prior to SLO, each state park I had been to for the past month had either an adequate hiker/biker site for a few bucks, or at least other cyclists to share camping with. For whatever reason, I was unlucky on the night I stayed near Pismo Beach, CA. I showed up with plans of enjoying another night of camping with cyclists and getting up the next morning to head back into town to rent a board and ride some early morning surf. After checking all 3 campgrounds in the area, the least expensive rate was $35 per night (which yes, I realize is really is not that bad), and seeing that they had each crossed-out the hiker/biker area by hand, they subsequently insulted my recently adopted hobo lifestyle.

I figured I would find my own place to bed down in the state park and sneak into the showers late at night, but eventually convinced myself otherwise considering the intimidating signage and recently evacuated hobo camp I found nearby; it looked as if the area was patrolled regularly. At this point, it was getting dark, I was exhausted, and just needed a place to set up. So I asked a nearby camper if I could share his site for a few bucks. Hesitant at first, he agreed but warned me that his friends were coming over later. So I showered, and generally made myself scarce until I was invited to join their fire and share some stories from the road. They were only mildly interested in my story, and it was because they each had their own that was much more desperate, having spent approximately 30 years homeless between the 3 of them. They had each made it out of their individual situations, and since continued helping each other out. My camp host was a retired vet, and as a vet he was entitled to free camping at st
ate parks as long as they had open spaces. He was thankful that the busy season was over because he could finally go camping...which I came to realize was his primary form of housing.
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That night as I went on an evening stroll to stretch the legs, I saw that there were many more, and then something about the campground started feeling fishy. I began to wonder how hard it would be to fake a retired vet card for the sake of finding a free place to live, and then wondered how many of these eclectic campers were permanently living at the campground along with my host. At that point it made more sense that the hiker/biker sites had been eliminated, because I'm assuming it hosted many more travelers like me, only they probably didn't leave the next morning, or the one after that. I am not a stranger to the lifestyle and the attitude of the disenfranchised, but being that I was feeling a tad bit vulnerable with only my bike and feeling tired, it felt a little too close for comfort. That night, I heard people come in and out of the campground from their respected routes through the trees. I saw some neighbors lighting a 10 foot tall gasoline fire while hammering away at an old Buick, some others pa
rtying around their huge tent-fortress, and the rest that simply preferred their spot on the train-tracks. The place transformed into some scene that reminded me of some 80s action movie like Rumble in the Bronx, so by morning I was basically ready to high-tail it out of there before the dirtbike gang showed up. Luckily my bike was the outlet, and I couldn't wait to get back on the road to refresh my attitude by finding a new place to relax.

With an early start, I was feeling good, and only 10 miles in to the new attitude adjustment program, I got a flat. This would be my first flat of the trip, and I had already prepared for it to be a noteworthy event. Since it came early in the day, the sun had just come out and it was about time to start de-layering anyway. The flat was a chance to sit down and reflect on some things and it gave me the chance to turn a moment of helplessness into one of power. I realized how far I had come and how smooth the trip had been up until this point, and that was empowering. In that moment, the therapeutic benefit of this bike tour had been realized.

Since I got such an early start that morning, I was able to take a breakfast in the Mexican town of Guadalupe and spend the day riding through endless strawberry fields on down to Lompoc (pronounced Lom-POKE). This place was great, and had some cool parks to visit. Some bike shop (Unlimited Cycles) hospitality gave me a place to hang out, and some good advice for how to approach route over the next couple days. Total rejuvenation!

Next stop, Santa Barbara.


- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -

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Chas Eberle

Gear List

- My Blackburn Gear -

- MY TRUSTY STEED -

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Chas Eberle
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? This trip has been a long time coming. Back in 2008 I began spending a lot of time at my local community bike shop in Bellingham (the Hub). I was beginning to learn a bit about bicycle repair, and did the typical college kid thing and built up a fixie. Eventually, I found a bike in a ditch and it was my goal to rebuild it from used parts and ride it to Portland. My buddy and I chose to ride the Washington Peninsula because we had never seen it, and thought it might make a good story. (It also had an easy bus system if anything catastrophic happened to my makeshift bicycle and trailer). We made our way to Portland over 10 days, and by day 3 I decided that I wanted to do the entire coast. Unfortunately, our short timeframe prevented that from happening. The trip to Portland went flawlessly, and I rode the train back to Bellingham hoping to complete the journey some day.
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? I have done multiple other 2-3 day trips since the Portland trip, but nothing as substantial. Around town I commute to school/work every day, mountain bike 2-3 days per week, and have the weekly town/interurban rides with the gang (The Wetboyz).
  • What is your goal for the route? I have never seen to Northern California! I want to ride my bike through a tree, do some beach touring, find more small community bike shops, and do some surfing. It is also my goal to find some dirt connectors instead of just doing road the entire time. I want to have a loose plan, but let the trip adapt and change as the journey goes on. I want to share stories with people on the road, and travel to places recommended to me by other people, instead of relying solely on the guidebook.
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? I hope to see some new places, make some new friends, and connect with myself in ways unknown at this point. I hope I can inspire people with this journey, and show them that it doesn’t take years of planning and thousands of dollars to see some of these beautiful places that are right in our back yard. I believe the biggest barrier for most people is simply getting out there, and I really believe in Blackburn’s mission statement. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-Tsu Yes, it’s cheesy but that quote has inspired me in many ways. It encourages me to be open-minded and go bold-headed into projects instead of holding back and being overly particular.
  • “What’s in my bag?” 1.) Pink/silver Kershaw Leek knives. I lost and recently refound the pink one for a year, and the silver one was a birthday gift from my girlfriend to replace the pink one.
    2.) Fujifilm Instax 210 Camera + photo of my girlfriend and I from the Portage Glacier (Whittier, AK)
    3.) Lucky Bike Shorts – Had ‘em since high school.
    4.) Ratball. (a drinking game for the rats, developed by the Wetboyz) For making friends on the road.

- Pacific Coast Milestones -