Published: August 27th 2012August 23rd 2012
- This blog was written in two parts. First in a library in Santa Monica and then finished in our place to stay in Vegas -
It is hot in LA. We just cycled in through Malibu Beach at 11am with the thermometers reading 32 degrees (or 90 degrees as it likes to be called over here). After a couple of days hoping for warmer weather the hangover we had from last night made the rise in temperature slightly less welcome, but I guess sweating alcohol out is one way to deal with it. The blight caused by said hangover was tempered by the fact that we didn't spend a penny on it. Last night pulling into Sycamore Cove/Canyon campground after a 90 mile day (our longest so far) we were greeted by actual cheers and clapping from a couple and their son who, after we jumped in the sea, insisted on feeding us steak and potatos accompanied by several G&T's and a few margherita's for good measure. We talked for a few hours until sometime late enough to make it pitch black then stumbled across the road to our campsite as they drove off back home. It transpired that the motivation for their open arms was to return good hospitality they had encountered from tube workers on holiday in London last month, a story I instinctively treated with suspicion as tube workers have never been nice to me. Rather unfortunately I forgot my shoes back at the beach and on return to the campsite had completely forgotten where we had decided to pitch. Cue me bumbling around the campsite in the wee hours shouting George's name but trying not to be too loud as to wake everyone or draw attention to the fact that we had skipped on paying the fee. I found the site, managed to get my tent up with only a few pole fixing mishaps and passed out. It wasn't until morning that I noticed I'd also left my cycling gloves at the beach, and by the time we'd popped back over they were long gone. I hope they are making someone else's hands smell weird now.
In the fashion of this trip though, as one hand takes my gloves away, another dealt me up a nice free pair.
On the cycle in this morning a man on a road bike passed us and explained that he and 25 other riders were cycling down from San Francisco to San Diego to raise money for charities battling haemophilia. They had done the same ride for the last 11 years and were hoping to raise over $100,000 this year alone. Not bad for quite a mismatch bunch of fatties and old men. Anyway, he told us to stop at their rest station (they have a support vehicle with them carrying food and drink) and not only gave us cold water and pizza, but also let me have this guy's spare gloves. So i was back to smelly hands, but could finally stop fretting about hard skin.
(Rest written 27/8)
2 of our temporary band of 4 left us in San Francisco. Michael got himself a lift share and Brian boarded his plane on the day we left the city. So George and I were back on the road as a duo. Luckily we remembered reasonably well how to converse just the two of us, and we both looked forward to some reprieve from beers every night that had come from travelling with an aspiring brewer. By this time we were also casting weary glances at our bank balance. Ahead of us we had around a week of cycling to LA with stops in Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur/San Simeon and (though not planned) San Luis Obispo, the happiest town in the states.
San Francisco wouldn't let us take off quite that smoothly though. We had reserved a campsite in the Marin Headlands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marin_Headlands
) for our final 2 nights in SF on a recommendation that it's a beautiful spot just north of Golden Gate Bridge and (importantly) because it was free. Whilst we didnt pay financially, we definitely tested our resources in other ways. Admittedly we left it until late to go up each night (approx 1am arrival in camp), but even in the light loose gravel paths winding around unprotected cliffs and a devilish gradient would have made for a treacherous ascent. The fact that it was pitch black, our lights were substandard and my chain broke on one of the small sections you could actually get your arse on the saddle made it pretty trying. This was definitely the most challenging part of the trip so far and I was so tired upon arrival at camp I genuinely considered sleeping in the bear box so I didn't have to put up my tent. On the bright side, we got to cross Golden Gate Bridge a couple more times.
In Santa Cruz we had sorted out a host on the UCSC campus. We understood it to be on some sort of student trailer park, but the community we found there surpassed expectations. If you fancy reading about it, have a look here http://itsacoop.blogspot.com/2012/02/ucsc-trailercamper-park-santa-cruz.html
. The co-operative living was heartening. Our host Forest was going dancing when we got there so we tagged along. It wasn't clear what type of night we were heading to but after going to an ecstatic dance experience to a live funk show via a circle for everyone to share their experience at the sacred dance show as whales and a drunk in an alley singing us his own genre of music (a country hip hop fusion), i'm not really sure it was any clearer. The night ended in one of the trailers at 5am after a few hours of Irish folk singalongs. If you think it sounds odd i'm fairly sure it was even weirder. But, all in all, a really good night. The following morning we barely had time to wish our host happy birthday and bid farewell to fellow hostees Sophie and Tasha before making tracks to Monterey.
The cycle to Monterey was plaguyes with the first real headwind we have experienced. The flat terrain belied the difficulty we faced as we essentially climbed uphill through the whole day. Our first impressions of Monterey were one of a fairly moneyed town, so these ccould have been distorted by the fact that the Monterey Classic Car Week was in town http://www.sportscardigest.com/monterey-classic-car-week-2012-preview/
. Cars were being auctioned off for millions of dollars and the normal parking spaces around the vity were taken up by luxurious cars. There is a certain irony that people bring all these fast cars together for a week and end up just creating very expensive traffic and not being able to explore the big engines. On the ride out of Monterey, we actually got bored of seeing bloody ferrari's.
After sleeping at the top of a hill at a campground that played The Last Bugle three times a day we left Monterey unsure whether the famous aquarium there was worth the $30 admission fee. The swanky cars continued on the ride around the spectacular Big Sur and San Simeon, and the natural beauty dwarved the manufactured vehicle beauty 99 times out of 100. It was just the odd vintage Bentley of Jag that caught my eye and impressed.
Along Big Sur the final hills of the journey were climbed (total climbed now went over the 90,000ft mark) and the redwoods returned. Camping back in them an illusion I first noticed in the Avenue of the Giants was rekindled. The covering of trees is such that if you lie back and look up at the canopy, rather than seeing it as the night sky behind the trees it is as if the snippets of sky are clouds breaking up the sky, whcih in reality was just the pitch black trees. A nice part of this illusion was that the stars appeared within the clouds; a suitably subtle variant on the real scene.
Following on from Big Sur and approaching San Luis Obispo the small inconveniences that you find started to stack up....
• We both had a decent amount of washing to do
• We were short on food
• We needed to do some housekeeping on the internet and the public library was shut
• By the time we got to San Luis Obispo (SLO) we still had 14 miles to go to camp and it was already 9pm and dark.
• My front tyre kept puncturing (about 15 times in a week)
However, true to our seeming good fortune this journey within the space of a couple hours our luck changed.
• We found a Launderette
• The shop across the way from the Launderette had a great reducded section and plenty of cheap fruit
• We found an Apple store and used their internet
• A nice guy called Oren ('a man of the people' in the Launderette offered us a place to stay for the night at his house.
• My front tyre was still puncturing.
We had a great time with Oren, who invited us to stay another night there and go for some beers. When he got back from work the next day we cycled round the city harvesting fruit from otherwise neglected orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit trees and made an inordinate amount of incredible juice to supplment our vitamins in good preparation for the night out. Thanks to Oren and his bunch of mates we felt right at home. Tuesday nights are cheap ones in SLO so we flitted around various bars meeting various friends of Oren's and getting cheap drinks by virtue of being out with him. We danced, saw some music and chatted to cap off a hearteningly enjoyable day. SLO is one of my favourite places we've been.
Following that night out in SLO you'll understand that the following morning leaving was a slow process, despite having a day to catch up after staying longer than expected at Oren's. Nonetheless, we covered over 170 miles in the next 2 days to reach LA on the 3rd.
ok sorry the bastard computer i'm on just deleted basically the rest of the blog and we need to go to the strip so the rest is heavily summarised. Probably not a bad thing looking at the word count.
LA - stayed with biker gang called Los Angelopes. Lots of money here but also poverty. Went to party that was busted by cops including a helipcopter. Bikes are a fashion here, which is a bit weird. Not as unfriendly to bikes as we were told. Sorted some burning man tickets http://burningman.com/
Bus to Vegas.
Vegas - got picked up at midnight after 6 hour bus. Fantastical place. Went for a hike and ('when in Vegas' flipped) swam in a waterfall in ice box canyon http://www.friendsofredrockcanyon.org/ice_box.php
. About 40 degrees in the day, and still 30 in the evening/night. Got taken to Hustler Strip Joint yesterday evening. Bizarre, more strippers than customers and comfirmed for me that I just don't like/ get those places. That said, the girls acrobatic ability was good. Are strip joints even reallly meant to be sexy?
We are going back to LA on bus this evening then straight out for night drive to burning man in nevada desert where we will spend the next week. We decided to do this instead of cycling the Baja peninsula, Mexico so there are only 2 days of proper cycling left from LA to San Diego. So we will be removed from reality for the next week.
I've got well into this book - http://simonsingh.net/books/fermats-last-theorem/
There was a poster for Mountain lion sightings next to '2missing pigs' and 'missing man' poster. Oh dear.
Will probably blog again from San Diego. Feel free to comment.
Lots of love.