It’s taken me a while, but I finally got all my journals and pictures posted from my bike tour around the perimeter of the United States.
Thu, 09 Jun 2005
Mon, 06 Mar 2000
I have a good breakfast and a liesurely morning ride through Eureka to my starting point, Arcata. Time seems to slow down as the finish line approaches. I ride into town at noon, when they sound their warning siren. It rises and falls slowly as I ride by. When I reach the town square it has stopped, and I see a small throng of people waiting for me.
There are ballons, flowers, and ribbon finish line for me to crash through – all the doings of Mom and Dad. I drop the bike and receive a round of hugs, gifts, and then interviews from the Arcata Eye and a couple of local TV stations. Marty, the guy I rode with way back in Oregon who makes his own trailers, congradulates me. The whole time I feel like I’m watching this happen, unable yet to acknowledge it.
We eat a sushi lunch in the Arcata Hotel where I assembled my recumbent in the wee hours of the morning over eight months ago. As I ponder it I realize my adventure isn’t really over. The journey back to Wyoming with Dad is in front of me, a rendevous with Ann is in the works, a trip to Ireland and Europe with Nathan, and I suppose I’ll be starting a career at some point. The sadness I feel about ending my ride clings to me, but I know it will pass.
Sun, 05 Mar 2000
My new tire holds up well this morning. When I reach Humbolt Redwoods State Park I exit 101 for the much more peaceful Avenue of the Giants highway.
I ride slowly between the toes of the of the giant redwoods for most of the day, swathed in their mighty shadows. At one point a guy on a scooter with a big bag hanging off it passes me. He’s pushing himself from Arcata to San Francisco on that thing. He doesn’t talk long – his work is cut out for him to make the next campground by dark.
Once out of the redwoods I ride quickly to Fortuna, then follow directions to my Mom’s friend Maryann’s house where I am greeted by my parents.
Sat, 04 Mar 2000
In the morning I bid farewell to the ocean and start cranking up Legett Hill. Mossy oaks provide good shade for the work. I get so absorbed in the cranking that I don’t investigate the periodic noise that has developed in the back wheel. Half a mile short of the top of the hill I hear a sound like a cannon going off and leap off the bike. When I return I see I’ve blown the back tire, thorn-proof tube and the tire itself, way beyond repair. The brake must have been digging into it all the way up.
There aren’t many cars on Highway 1 up here, and the few there are won’t stop to help me. I’m forced to walk six miles down what would certainly be one of the most thrilling hills of California. I show up in Leggett feeling dejected. There’s a hardware store here, but it carries no 26-inch tires for me.
Dejected again, I roll the bike out to highway 101 and stick out my thumb. Again no one stops, until at last a hippie girl in a big explorer pulls over. We take the seat off the recument, wrestle it in the back, and head north for Piercy. It reminds me of the time a hippie girl in a beetle rescued Pete and I outside Anza and took us back to the Pacific Crest Trail.
She drops me off in Piercy, where I find a room for the night and a tire for the bike that will hopefully take me through the last stretch.
Fri, 03 Mar 2000
My last day of riding on the coast. I explore Fort Bragg a bit – it has a strange sort of old west look to it. Lots of wooden storefronts. Maybe it’s to go with the logging trucks that roll through on highway 1. I find break fast and coffee before moving on.
The wind picks up in the afternoon, and I decide to make camp at an empty campground along the highway before the road turns inland and up 2000-ft Leggett Hill.
Thu, 02 Mar 2000
I start the day with a nice ride along the Russian River out to Bodega Bay. When I was 12 my mom and Bruce took me on a group trip called the CoastWalk where we walked the coast through Sonoma and Mendicino counties. These distant memories emerge again as I pedal the same miles on highway 1, especially as I pass Fort Ross, where we spent a night on that trip.
Wed, 01 Mar 2000
Forestville provides an excellent respite from the road. I eat and help cook marvelous meals with Bruce and his wife Mary. I spend a very full day riding backroads south past Sebastapol, Rohnert Park and Petaluma. I was hoping to make it back to the Golden Gate, but it proves too far for a day ride and I swing out to the coast on the Point Reyes road and back up highway 1. I stop for a meal on Tomales Bay and show up back in Forestville after dark, totally pooped.
Mom joins us while making her own way north to meet me at the end of my ride. I feel loathe to return to the road again, knowing that when I do it will all soon be over.
Sat, 19 Feb 2000
I ride the BART over the bay to San Francisco in the morning. I call Bruce to plan a meeting, and he proposes coming down to pick me up today. I have a few hours to hang out, so I munch on calamari on the wharf and talk with a guy who claims he’s built the shortest wheel-based recumbent in the world, about 28 inches. The thing is fun to ride – instead of reclining it props you up into a standing position.
Eventually I make my way across the bridge, trying to envision what this bay must have looked like before being dominated by this mammoth red conveyance. I must admit, the bridge makes for an incredible view.
Bruce meets me on the north side and takes me to his house tucked away in the woods of Forestville. I plan to take a rest here, meet up with my mom, and make a day excursion back south to the Golden Gate Bridge on the bike at some point.
Fri, 18 Feb 2000
Starting early, I head toward the bay with no idea what I’ll find there. I’m soon riding through the mirred towers of the headquarters of Oracle, Inc. The buildings themselves look like giant flowchart databases. No one is around this early, and the morning sun reflects blue off the tinted glass.
Entering a neighborhood of carbon-copy million-dollar homes, I realize that there will be no road that even pretends to hug the jagged coastline of the bay. This neighborhood bike path swings out onto a peninsula and back again. From there I find my way over a ditch on an old bridge, along a dirt path, and through a trailer court. This all takes a lot of time, and feeling my goal of riding around the entire bay slipping away, I pedal hard wherever I can. Eventually I’m forced onto highway 101 for a stretch, until I can duck off onto a frontage road on another dirt path. Soon enough I’m back on a busy road again. It’s nearly noon already, and I resign myself to crossing the Dunbarton bridge and falling short of my goal. On either side of the bridge I peer at the sunny campus of Sun Microsystems, and I wonder if I will find work at a place like this when my ride is over.
The east side of the bay presents many challenges. There is a flat, muddy, barren plain between the bay and most roads. Some parks have paths that lead enticingly toward the water and back again. I navigate through warehouse districts, marinas, parks, and railyards. It’s as easy to get lost in a park as a neighborhood. At one point I’m forced to complete an entire loop of bike path, but I’m rewarded by the recurring sight of a busty jogger with the word ‘Yummy’ stretched across her chest on a skin-tight purple shirt.
I can’t even remember how I got around the Oakland airport, but I crossed at least one more bridge before plunging into endless neighborhood streets. I just head north whenever I can, and miraculously find myself in the slightly familiar neighborhood of Annemarie Sudermann before dark. She welcomes me in, feeds me a glorious, colorful, fresh salad, and talks to me while I’m able. It isn’t hard at all to fall asleep on her floor.
Thu, 17 Feb 2000
I’m not exactly sure what the cause was, but my trip changed at this point. You may have noticed that a while back I stopped keeping the detailed statistics on my daily riding time, milage, and spending. Often during the trip I would go a few days without writing in my journal, then catch up when I had chance. At this point I let a few days go by, then a few more, and I never wrote the remaining journal entries. It was partially due to writing fatigue, but I think the major factor was the fast-approaching end of my journey. I really didn’t feel ready for it to end, and I believe I was in denial about how close I was coming to the finish line. Writing journal entries would be a reminder of the truth, and so I avoided it. Now, years later, I face the task of writing the missing journals from memory. It won’t be the same. I won’t even try to fake a sense of continuity. It may, though, be a form of relief and renewed interest for both the writer and readers. If you’ve followed me this far, you’re probably ready for a change too! Let’s see how it goes.
Riding into San Francisco from the coast was both harrowing and blissful. Highway 1 became busier here, with some tight turns, narrow shoulders, and road construction. It was when I turned to climb to a ridge above the city that things got better. The air was warm and moist, and the work hard. At the top of the ridge I was stunned by the sight of alabaster San Francisco spread out below me.
I had agreed to visit Maxine, the writer I met at Shirleyanne’s place, at her house in San Mateo, so I turned south. There are some really pleasant parks and bike paths that descend from the hills here, and I didn’t have to confront true urban riding for some time. When it came I was ready, and found my way to Maxine’s without much trouble.
I recall Maxine’s house as very comfortable, just up the hill from a busy streetscape full of restaurants and offices. I felt welcome there, but I don’t remember much of what we did. I thought Maxine lived an attractive life.
I think it was during my stay at Maxine’s that I had the idea of attempting a ride around the bay. I thought I might be able to get all the way around to Annemarie Sudermann’s house in Berkeley via Menlo Park in one long day of exploration.