Making Lightning Strike
After seeing how much syrup a single pancake could absorb (a lot), Carrie, Billy and I continued south from Santa Barbara. It was a warm day, and I was more than ready for my first trip midday swim. Before long, Ventura Beach presented itself, Billy and I were in the water, with Carrie as our official photographer. The surprisingly cold water jolted some endorphins into my bloodstream, enough to get me through the remaining 30 miles to Leo Carrillo.
Back on the highway, we saw the first sign with the distance to San Diego (198 miles). That was pretty exciting … and a solid reminder that the trip would soon end. This made me want to stop and swim, and have an ice cream break, and do a rest day, and generally stall as long as possible.
We all camped at Leo Carrillo State Park, where the hiker-biker site was in an unfortunately marked, but pretty decent spot. Kalyana and Sarah, who I had first met in Leggett, showed up soon after we arrived. According to Facebook updates, they were close by, but I didn't realize how close. Four women to one man at the H-B site; usually that ratio is reversed! After dinner we took a moonlit stroll to the beach where we watched surfers play on the waves under a nearly full moon. Then we returned to camp, Kalyana's ukelele came out and it was just a sweet night under the stars with my friends.
The next morning we returned to the beach to watch some surf in the daylight and I met a family driving up the coast to Ferndale, Washington—a few miles from where I had started my trip! I sent the kids off with some PCH route stickers and encouraged them all to get out there on their bikes.
The LA coast is gorgeous. I can see why so many people live here … and I think we saw most of them in their cars. Carrie pointed out that as we get closer to LA, our speed gets closer to car speed.
It was fun to ride some more with Carrie and to have it captured by the Blackburn film crew. Near Malibu, we met three other women on a training ride who were very curious about our trip, and super encouraging. Carrie and I stayed with a friend in Santa Monica—still excited for a real bed, a normal towel and a clean shower. I decided to take a rest day but Carrie needed to keep going and make her flight out of San Diego in a few days. I was so sorry to see her go, but I know we'll be connecting again soon.
Billy lives in LA, is similarly "funemployed" and matches me indulgence for indulgence. He drove me out to pretty Griffith Park on my rest day. We saw a show narrated by an aspiring actor, and then … I made lightning. They have a Tesla Coil and give a demonstration hourly. Midway through the spiel, I spotted the switch used to activate the coil and create a bolt thousands of times stronger than the usual 12 volts that we have in electrical sockets. When the presentation was over I was the first (or at least the most enthusiastic) volunteer to push the button. I promise that all the kids in the audience also got a turn … eventually.
One of the many things I've learned is that sometimes lightning—or other cool things—happen naturally. And sometimes we need to make them happen.
- Pacific Coast Milestones -
- FROM: Seattle, WA
- DOB: 1974-09-20
- OCCUPATION: Regional Team Leader and Tour Guide at Bicycle Adventures
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?
I'm going to blame my fellow Ranger J.D. Pauls for this one. He told me about a new Trans-Am Race that's happening this June, and hopefully annually thereafter. After seeing 2013 Ranger footage of Nick and J.D. racing their hearts out while Carrie and I cruised down the coast eating ice cream (ok, Carrie rode a damn strong tour and I'm the one who cruised along from ice cream shop to ice cream shop)... and while I know I'm not a front-of the pack race contender, I kind of feel like maybe there's something I missed out on.
I'm looking for a different challenge this year. One that still involves ice cream, but something that pushes further toward being the strongest version of myself. I learned that phrase at Seattle's Bike to Work Breakfast, listening to a high school senior talk about his recent experiences in Seattle's Major Taylor Project. Before he joined Major Taylor, Brook had never biked out of his neighborhood. He thought that their first organized 10-mile ride around SeaTac airport would surely result in broken bones or some other major injury. But he did it. And then he rode his first century. Then did his first 200 mile ride. Brook talked about how cycling has been a means to becoming the strongest version of himself.
At the end of last year's tour I was the strongest I have ever been in my life. Physically, mentally, etc. – hands down, I was the strongest in every way. This year it's time to tap into that again, crank it up a notch... and see what happens.
Have you travelled by bike in the past?
Last year's PCH tour was my first real bike tour. I hope to add to that resume during the summer of 2014 with my new job leading tours at Bicycle Adventures! I understand I’m being made to spend three weeks in the Glacier-Banff-Jasper area… and I’m bragging about that to anyone who will listen.
What is your goal for the route?
I'm starting in Astoria, Oregon and will go as far as I can in 2 weeks on the Trans-Am route. However far I get, at the end of 2 weeks I'll go to the nearest train station and buy a ticket home.
Someday I want to do a cross-country tour, and this trip will help me decide if this is the right route for me, and if an event like the Trans-Am Race is right for me. Will I get lonely on a less-traveled route than the PCH? What will it be like with fewer amenities along the way? (Will there be enough ice cream shops!?) I'm most curious about what will it be like to race the clock a little bit.
During my tour last summer, I set out having just had a lateral appendectomy 6 weeks prior. While I got clearance from my surgeon to do the tour, I still rode conservatively, just wanting to avoid any possible problems. And then mid-way through the trip, I found out a friend would be in the Bay Area for a very limited time, and if I wanted to meet up I would need to ride several very challenging days - 70 to 80 miles over sections of highway with the word "Pass" in the name. I hemmed and hawed and ultimately decided to go for it. It was the biggest challenge thus far on the trip. It was tougher than I imagined - one day after bragging to some fisherman at the foot of Jenner Pass that not only was I going to make it another ~25 miles to Bodega Bay State Park that day, I was going to complete all 5 miles of climbing Jenner Pass without stopping.
I stopped twice, ostensibly to pee, less ostensibly to catch my breath. But I made it to Bodega Bay. And then the next day, I made the meeting.
I wouldn't have pushed myself if not for this meeting, this race against time. And if not for the meeting, I wouldn't have realized this new strength. And I wouldn't have gotten to that stronger version of myself -- the one who was shrugging off 80-mile days like they were nothing by the end of her tour.
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
I took a leadership course with the Adventure Cycling Association last fall, in their office in Missoula, MT. On the wall near the entrance is a photo and essay about an ACA member who has cycled across the country 7 times. His goal in life is to "make every second count." Whenever he feels that slipping away, he gets on his bike and rides across the country.
There has been a lot of transition in my life recently - going from a corporate desk job to an outdoors lifestyle company was huge. I'm still adjusting. I still spend a lot of time in front of the computer, and at times I still catch myself hunched over the keyboard like a vulture. Some days I struggle to find time to ride my bike. There are still too many "should's" in my mind - how I should (working!) or shouldn't spend my time (goofing off), what I should or shouldn't say, eat or do. I hope to get closer to finding my passion or purpose or true north or whatever you want to call it, that is "making every second count."
- Pacific Coast Milestones -