I am home from my Epic Bike Ride. I didn’t come home exactly in the fashion that I had imagined it, in that I didn’t ride triumphantly up to my front door, lean my road-weary bike against my house, and yell up into the heavens “I did it!” thus breaking my vow of silence. I instead broke my vow of silence by saying “Yes, please” to the person who pulled over on the side of the road where I lay, my bike in a tangle, after I wiped out while riding through Salt Point State Park, after she had asked “Do you want me to call 9-1-1?” I was (safely) riding on the right side of the white painted line, in an almost non-existent shoulder, and my mind wandered a bit. (How the hell couldn’t it? I was on my 5th day of biking all day.) I drifted too close to the 6in ledge that divided the road the turnout, and the next thing I know I lost control of the bike, and went down on my right side…hard. I knew then that the ride was over, my silence was over.
There is clearly a sense of defeat in ending the ride this way, but I do no stray away from being proud of my accomplishment. I rode just shy of 380 miles over 4 full days of riding, and two partial days (I’ll explain that in a bit.) I stayed silent the entire time, never breaking the vow once. In fact, as I laid on my back waiting for a car to come by to flag them down and ask for help, I was trying to figure if there was a way I could keep the silence through the upcoming hospital ordeal, and figured there was pretty much no way in hell to do that, so I spoke.
While on the trip I emailed my family once a day, I took one photo with my iPhone a day, and I wrote a brief description of the day’s ride in a notebook I brought with me before I went to bed. Now that I’m back, I have a lot to say. I’m planning on going in-depth into a discussion of the ride itself and the things I saw, for anyone who might be interested in exploring the Northern California coast or what it’s like to spend 6-8 hours a day on a bicycle. And I also plan on waxing philosophically about the silence, because (ironically) I have quite a bit to say about that as well.
But to get things started, a quick little teaser: a verbatim reproduction of my daily log from the road. It’s brief, and I’ll admit that I just updated the last entry because I spent most of the day in the hospital and wanted to bring the circle full by updating on this last day. The irony is that yesterday and this morning I harbored an ambitious goal of busting out about 130 miles today to actually get home on August 4, and to do this exact thing on my first night at home: share my daily log. Well I’m home, in a different way, but I’m not letting that get in the way of my original goal.
So here’s the first of the bike ride blog posts.
[Editorial note: I flew to to Crescent City with my friend Thomas on Friday, July 30. We met another friend Dave when we got there, landing at around 3pm. We had burritos and then I started the ride, around 5. I had spent the whole time anticipating that I would go south, but on the spur of the moment I actually biked north on the first day in order to officially touch the border between Oregon and California.]
Miles – 23.14
Maximum speed – 24.3mph
Total – 23.1
Hours – about 2
Camp – Clifford Kempf Memorial Park in Smith River, right on the dunes of a beach.
Terrain – mostly flat, warm-up ride to Oregon Border.
July 31 “For every uphill, there is a downhill”
Miles – 65.14
Max Speed – 34.0mph
Total – 88.2
Hours – about 5
Camp – Stone Lagoon Campground, 5 miles south of Orick
Terrain – hilly. 3rd highest peak that I’ll hit. Serious redwood, split between quiet backroads and busy 101
August 1 “Tomkins Hill Century”
Miles – 90.80 to campsite, 100.14 including the roundtrip to town for diner
Max – 34.0mph
Total – 188.4
Hours – about 7.5
Camp – Burlington Camp in the Avenue of the Giants
Terrain – Flat and bumpy around the three cities (McKinleyville, Arcata, Eureka) Gorgeous start to Trinidad, loved Avenue of the Giants. Tomkins Hill from miles 56-62 was my wake-up call.
August 2 “Leggett Challenge, aka Call The Play”
Miles – 71.47
Max – 36.3mph
Total – 259.9
Hours – about 6
Camp – Westport Union Landing State Beach, just north of Westport
Terrain – gorgeous 45 miles along the Eel River to Leggett. Wished I stop to swim. Climb on Leggett Hill was BRUTAL, feeling exhausted.
—Side note on the day: a hippie in Garberville started talking to me and loved my sign about my journey in silence. She left me, saying “Peace be to you and to me, and let the music be with everybody.”
August 3 “Cold”
Miles – 79.05
Max – 37.4mph
Total – 338.9
Hours – hard to say, waste a few hours looking for a swimming hole that I never found
Camp – Motel. Too damn cold and damp to sleep outside. Needed a warm shower, badly.
Terrain – Coastal highway 1 all the way. Lots of rolling ups and downs. 90% of the time in dense fog with major tailwind. Chilly.
August 4 “Eat Shit”
Miles – 34.49
Max – 38.6mph
Total – 378.4
Hours – about 3
Terrain – all cold and coastal. Wiped out and broke my collarbone at Salt Point State Park.