I was up early and ready for my sea to summit ride. I packed water and a few snacks in my light day pack. Adding a sweat shirt while sweltering in the tropical stink seemed un natural but I knew all to well that it snows in Hawaii and was unsure of what weather I would get. As long as I kept moving my body heat would keep me safe. Of corse every journey I’ve ever taken has thrown me for a loop and freezing rain was one of today’s many lessons learned. I didn’t make the summit of Mt Haleakala but the ride in general was a success. My little Brompton, was straight out of the box and pure riding perfection.
A year later I had learned quite a bit about touring on these marvelous bikes. That’s the thing about bicycle touring, you have all day to contemplate things. I consider my stock Brompty to be the best of the best but the titanium model keeps calling to me. With this upgrade and if I lose the rack I can drop almost 5 lbs. nothing else will change, the six speed with 12% gear reduction is perfect for my body. I love the fit and feel of my two 16″ wheels and love the people I meet on my “clown bike” as it’s often referred to.
My tent order has failed twice and I’m beginning to think this is the universes was of telling me to cowboy camp, with a small emergency tarp and ground cloth. My end game is fully self supported touring with just my Brompton T bag but for now the Relevate Designs Pika will be joining me. It’s absolute perfection on the trail but in transitioning from bike to public transportation it’s one too many things to carry.
Today I’m taking a break from Sookie to give Brompty a little loving and lashing care, after a bombing ride that is. I have to mentally prepare for tomorrow, were drilling 8 holes in Sookies deck, the $10,000.00 piece of string continues.
I stepped off the plane expecting to ride my bike to the campground for the night. Mother Nature had other plans, the warm humid air was inviting but the near hurricane force winds and torrential rains had me second guessing trying to find and set up a stealth camp in the dark. A short cab ride and nearly a hundred bucks out of my tiny stash found me reclining in a nice comfy couch chilling with travelers from all over the world sipping on red wine.
Each new trip is a learning experience and I get a little better at packing and more importantly leaving things behind. It’s easy to let the mind run wild with all the things you will need on bike tour but in reality there are very few. We live in a new world and bike parts can be overnighted virtually anywhere if you can find Internet which is almost everywhere these days and this is the genious of touring on a folding bike. If catastrophe does strike just fold it up and hitch to the next town which is a new adventure in itself. I meet people on the road touring in America and they carry enough spares to almost build a new bike. I carry a scant few extras and in 3000 miles haven’t had to use a single one. Someday I might but Im trying to leave someday for when it actually arrives.
Sure bringing the ukulele was a bit idiotic and I won’t do that again nor will I carry so much food or all of the little things that never got used. My micro Swiss Army knife was one of my most used items and carelessly lost somewhere, next time it will have a little string to hang around my neck. I didn’t use my uber expensive titanium cooker either, preferring fresh food and snacks all day long over cooking in camp. I carried just a bit too much of everything but ounces add up to pounds.
The big killer was my iPad and dslr but I love those things as I like to blog for my family as often as I can so they know all is well. As a photographer it’s hard to leave these things behind but I’m pretty sure the next trip will be with an iPhone. My old POS iPhone 4 did ok in Hawaii but it’s heavy and the battery sucks so maybe I’ll update to an iPhone 5. Phones are an issue with keeping the battery charged but also easily fit into my accessory pouch for more photo ops.
Less gear, lighter gear and more reliable gear make for more fun on the bike which is what the tour is all about which brings me to bikes. When I committed to a folding bike it wasn’t to tour with, it was for the boat and small trips. I had from the beginning of time thought that I wanted a Bike Friday but that all changed once I went to the factory and checked them out.
The Bike Friday rides very nice and every wheel upsize adds to the quality of the ride but they are also heavy, extremely complex and in my opinion would be fragile on tour, they also are difficult or maybe awkward to fold is a better description. It’s more of a take apart bike than a folding bike. For the price I could buy a Norco and tour in a full size folding bike which brings me back to the whole boat bike… the little Brompton turned out to be the Swiss Army knife of folding bikes, it does everything perfectly for my needs and is unbelievably reliable, comfy to ride, cute and dorky which makes every journey a social expedition. When it comes to boating and biking all I can say is choose your battles wisely. I have so much more to share on this but the sun is out and I’d rather be out riding my bike than sitting in Sookie writing about it.
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
― Albert Einstein
The late winter sun hangs lazily to the west, we’re trapped on a mountain palteau, it’s beautiful. We are stuck surrounded by wet crumbly sheer cliffs, the sun will set soon, there is no way out of here. We pull out our cameras and start shooting pictures of each other, they may be our last. We tease and giggle poke fun at our situation, we lost the trail an hour ago and kept pushing through, higher and higher, the million dollar view may just cost us everything.
I glance at my watch, we have two hours of light on our side. I’ve carried a few beers to drink at the top, decisions, decisions. We could drink them at the bottom in celebration of surviving the ordeal or drink them now, a possible catilist to our death by a speedy gravity assisted trip down. We slip and slide making fun of each other, always one arm extended making a human chain to stretch the distance to elusive hand holds.
Sitting safely on the beach we have our victory beers, walking back to the road a slippery tree I’m scaling takes me down hard, a reminder of how quickly our situation can change. The gods have been good to us today.
Up and down and round and round our Bromptons carry us through quiet country roads. Muddy fields with lazy cows paint our scenery, lambs, goats and even a free boat are just the tip of our island forey.
The air feels warmer than it looks, spring has taken hold, daylight savings has generously given us more time in the saddle. The south end store provides us with cheesy poofs and more cold beers…
Pink noses and brightly colored bikes shine like our smiles, we ride and endless island loop, this could go on forever, I hope it does.
From surf to turf and back again, I’ve explored all these places before but today they are all very different, the island light is magical.
Back at the boat for warm soup, cheese quesadillas and a well earned nap, life is good in the islands.
From the log of Sookie, Sookie looks like a bomb has gone off inside of her. Neatly folded bikes, warmies piled high and tasty snacks lining every inch of available space…
Not a single hour of any day has passed without me second guessing pulling the plug on my bike trip to Mexico. In many ways that journey was the beginning of a much larger voyage, and possibly was the most relevant undertaking I have sought out to achieve in my life. Sure Mexico was on the tip of my tongue but it was a test to see if I just wanted to continue on all the way around the world. In short the answer was revealed almost instantly and a resounding yes.
Three weeks have slipped through my fingertips since that bitter sweet day. While I had no plans of returning north for the winter here I am and my world is getting larger every day. An invitation to stay at the bat cave turned into a miricle on wheels, ending at an estate in the sky overlooking the islands , I honestly didn’t ever want to leave.
Three weeks out of the saddle has made me fat and lazy, out of shape and one mile into my ride the answers to all my questions were answered, my knee is still blown. I should have called the trip and turned around but it felt so good to be back in the saddle, so free and so exciting to roam off the map and find myself. I had very little idea where I was going but wasn’t worried, I know just about everybody in the islands, I knew I would find my way. The hills were big and hurt, I was overdressed at times and underdressed at others, fall is exploding sending my senses into overload.
My first stop was Deer Harbor, sipping a cold Anchor Steam with tourists in the light drissle was delightful, I found a friends new boat but he wasn’t around so I continued my tour down quiet county roads meandering a crooked course, the pace as lazy as I am. A closed farm stand was calling my name so I stopped to hide from the rain and smoke a ciggie, I was soaking up what is called the Gold Coast and enjoying every ounce of the view when I heard my named called. I was literally in the middle of nowhere but there was my friend, the one I was here to visit, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
We picked juicy fire red apples that matched the maple leaves surrounding us, then moved on to ones that matched the fall aspens, munching on the sweet nectar nature had provided for us. Meandering through the woods, by a nice pond while the dog chased everything with the same enthusiasm I have for Brompty and finally we were at the garden to pick fresh carrots for the cake. A birthday extravaganza and a dinner party was in the making at the steel fortress perched high over the pass. The view was endless across the many islands Sookie has carried me to. I’m moving Sookie to this island as soon as I can find a safe spot to hang her hook.
A giant fire, flickered and danced with the laughter that filled our grand celebration, good food and great company marked yet one more impossibly perfect journey like the many that start and finish from the saddle of my faithful Brompton. Travel insoired by Natural power is an addictive way to explore, I can go as far as I’m willing and able . I’m not ready to leave this magical paradise but I’ll be back on those quiet country roads again, sooner rather than later. It’s good to be home in my little island paradise, the tourists are gone, I see more deer on the back roads than cars, the slow lane is my chosen way of travel.
“Asa kid I had a dream – I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bike in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it in my bed.” John Lennon
My day started out like any other day on the trip. Eat, stretch, break camp, one more cup of coffee and visits to all the other cyclists for morning banter. Once saddled up for a long day I would slowly turn the pedals an settle in for the ride. Rain, head winds and hills always seemed to start my day, cold fingers and a bit of a shiver while I slowly warmed up watching the world unfold in front of my eyes
Im convinced that while never intended for such silly things that my Brompton was the best choice for the trip, I would choose her again and will on my next ride. Her cockpit was the most comefortable I’ve ever experienced and I’ve been fortunate to own many very fine bicycles, she fit me like a glove.
The Brompton has turned out to be so economical and such a great investment even on my pathetic annual budget that I’m contemplating upgrading to the titanium version with a few minor tweaks including losing the rack and making my own fenders.
Ruining bikes by leaving them tied onto Sookies deck had me shopping for a good folding bike although I have to admit I did fear it would be the end of my long days in the saddle and once and for all out an end to my days of touring, I simply can’t afford two bikes financially or spatially. I couldn’t have been more wrong, Brompty as it turns out is a world class touring bike. She also fits anywhere and is just as fun for a quick bop to the store or a day trip to the top of Mt Constellaion on Orcas. She is alway free on the ferry as am I because I rode her instead of driving a car.
For me it’s all fun and games but I can’t help but to wonder what if everybody got a trusty folder and started parking their cars in the garage or getting rid of them all together. Not only does ownership of a good folding bike breed financial success by saving all the money thrown away by car ownership but it stops or at least extremely slows your aging process, keeps you healthy, fit and strong which equates to mental bliss. I can’t remember the last time my body was this tight, a quick 50 mikes is a walk in the park and experiencing the elements from the saddle makes winter so much more enjoyable.
i live my bike so much I’m I’m actually contemplating opening a small shop just for folders, new and used. I hear talk of this and that, save the planet, global warming… if you care about the world you live in and the body you occupy isn’t time you make a small investment in your health and happiness and buy a Brompton. The US uses an average of 20 million barrels of oil a day at this pace wars will never end, think about that little fact next time you jump,into your car or fill the belly of that beast with fuel. It’s already started, bicycle ownership is up ten fold, people are dumping their cars or at least using them a lot less. Every time you jump on your bike an adventure is at hand, the crisp cold air on your checks and that alive feeling you have whooshing down the road on nothing but your own power. With all the money you save you can eat higher quality food and in general have a higher standard of living.
Take the money you save on car payments, maintenence and stress and invest it in your future, life is too short, every peddle stroke on your bike makes the world bigger, slowes the progression of time and one last little tidbit. Second only to a puppy at the end of a string, nothing in the world is better than a folder for making new friends. These curious looking bikes arent just the future of a cleaner world, they are the revolution. I have so much more I want to write about this but it’s Monday and I have a date with Brompty to ride down to the south end for a piping hot latte and a bit of flirting with an island girl I met the other day when I was combing the beach for agates. I know what your thinking, but it’s Monday, shouldn’t you be off to work? If I had a car I would be sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on my way to some hateful job to pay for it but my Brompton is free and so am I…
On my hands and knees perched on the side of the 101 I had never before experienced changing a flat on the side of a fwy. Cars zoomed by at 80mph only a few feet from me, the wind was blowing 30 on the nose and the driving rain stung as I tried to patch my flat. I was covered in mud the noise from traffic too loud to listen for air escaping and my vision wouldn’t let me just look. I would pump the tube lick a few inches and hold the tube by my cheek attempting to feel the hiss of air escaping the tube. This would happen 5 times in two hours, the road debris were atrocious.
Bears, elk, bat shit crazy drivers, tunnels, bridges, bad or no shoulders and the weather, I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to try and pedal up hill in the head winds i met on the pacific coast. More often than not I was lost but my bad navigation was by design, i wanted to discover the world I live in, I had nothing but time and my days were spent in overload of exploration. Of all the challenges I met out there my trusty Brompton never once let me down. She was a joy ride and made friends everywhere we went.
I’ve had many folding bikes over the years and ridden everyone of them into the ground. Ive long since lost track of how many miles my faithful Brompton has carried me but I’ve put her through some serious hell when it comes road conditions although many of the places I have taken her had no road.
The Brompton is not a touring bike, it was designed as a city commuter and while it leads the world in quality and design in the folding bike arena mine has become an urban assault vehicle. one of the biggest surprises on this journey was truly realizing how lazy I had become. There are just times when ten miles seems like a chore. After riding 50 miles day in and day out with a few passes in between now bouncing on Brompty for a quick 20 miles to Roche Harbor for a latte seems like a walk in the park.
My body was transformed into a 48 year old machine. I have zero body fat, six pack abs and blown quads, just one of the many joys that riding a bike 512 miles for a free glass of wine will deliver. I honestly haven’t felt this tight since my days as an ultra runner. Now laying on my ass in Sookie sipping on a cool beer I have to make sure I heal fast and stay in my groove because I will finish this journey with Brompty come hell or high water, it’s in my blood now.
Once I dialed in my load I didn’t even notice that I was on an unsupported fully loaded bike tour. She rode so nicely and handled so well my journey was more like a summer ramble to the park. She also happens to be a pretty damn fine grocery getter and the perfect bike for those few times I actually use her for her intended purpose but I have a cycling date in Seattle so she will carry me to the ferry the bus and the train, with each new destination I will take the requisite 10 seconds to fold her and carry her right on without a word from anyone and no Exra fee but what else would you expect from the worlds best folding bike. If you think there is a better folder out there I have only two words for you; wanna race?!
Never quit, EVER because if you quit on Thursday, Friday will never come and Friday just may have been the day you made it.
My tent blows up in a windstorm, water slowly infiltrates my down bag on the coldest night so far. With the suddenness of a broken shoe lace I am transformed into a cold, wet soggy mess of a man and now homeless. I pack up my camp by headlamp and make my way to a long free warm shower till the sun comes up.
My goal today is a simple one, ride 27 miles to the J.Scott Cellars tasting room in Newport for a thick and meaty blood red Cab. Today will be my greatest test of mental endurance. It starts out with a painfully slow pace, my knee is past done. In Depot Bay I get a flat just before my last big climb and then the headwinds arrive over Cape Foulweather, they beat me backwards but I won’t be thwarted, I will, even if I have to crawl on my hands and knees have my glass of wine today.
Im now a hardened cyclist, nothing can thwart me. I make it to Newport and just to piss off the wind, I take the long hilly Seneca route. I arrive and after 512 miles of pedaling through everything under the sun I have my glass of wine with a huge smile. I defy the no smoking sign and light a ciggi, I’m in heaven. I spend a good hour sitting in the afternoon sun contemplating.
My knee is blown, my tent is blown, my budget is blown. It’s time to take a serious look at my situation. Two hours later I’m on a bus heading to Eugene. I arrive at sunset, my iPad battery is dead, I have no phone, I’m lost, my blood sugar dangerously low and I can’t find my way around. I check into a very expensive hotel. I will take 4 hot showers and don’t check out till the exact second they make me. Two days have passed, I’m still crippled. I find the awesome guys at Arriving by bike, they helped me get Brompty ready for my Hawaii trip. I blow my wad on new tires, they help me dial in Brompty and give lots of good advice, I love these guys, they have always taken care of me.
Id rather have a dialed in system and no money than a few bucks and a bike that won’t get me there. My new Marathon tires by Schwalbe ride like a dream, I can’t believe how nice they feel and they are much more puncture resistant, Brompty is ready to go but I’m not.
At this point I don’t know where to go or what to do, I won’t winter on Sookie so for now I am a man without a country so to speak. No matter, this journey isn’t done, I just need to heal up, work a bit and in the spring I will pick up exactly where I left off. The road has given me a new direction in life, convinced me that I will ride all over the world and write about my journey. Change is a good thing and my new path will be a land based one with big mountians to climb, storms to fight and many quiet roads to slowly linger on as I ride through life on the path less pedaled searching for a glass of wine and a happy ending…
i wake early due to being under constant attack by raccoons. I’m almost out of food, I have 2 cliff bars and a hand full of peanuts, I will run out long before my ride is half way over, I must leave now. Limping around my camp I break early and start a long lonely ride up a dark and foggy road that is so creepy the hairs on my spine are standing at the huge crashing sounds in the bushes, I’m being stalked.
today I will climb three capes, ride most of my ride on lonely quiet rides and be lost more than once which is half as many bears as I would encounter and twice as many cars that would pass me on two lonely sections totaling around 18 miles. I’m learning to control the pain I’m feeling. I know this isn’t a good thing but I promised that I would fully commit to quitting before I quit, for me that will end up being 192 miles of pain and torture. Why? Because I’ve never found more joy or purpose in anything in my life, I seriously want to ride around the world or at least all over it, not on crowded roads like I am but still I want to travel by bike, sleep under the stars and deal with the elements as they set each new challange for me. Of all the days I pray for no flats today it is more than ever.
The riding is easy now, there are no hills, no mountians, I am a road warrior and my legs turn the pedals like two well worn Pistons flattening even the steepest sections. The road has made me strong and now wise, I’ve learned my pace and even janked it’s a respectable one. I have become one with Brompty and we crank out miles of memories like a kid jacked on a whole bag of Halloween candies, we are bezerk with enthusiasm and take many side roads just to see where they go. I power up the mountians and bomb down them, I say hi to every person I pass and stop often to chat about nothing and have a swig of water from a trail side river we skinny dipped in while talking about all the things we wished we had for lunch, we are in a food mood and can’t break it and who is this we? Just a solo cyclist I met along the way. I ride solo but it doesn’t mean I want to be alone, I just prefer to set my own pace while on the road but down time is a who different thing…
I knew my ride was over the second I opened my eyes, not only was my knee killing me but now so was my back that had been on the mend since day one. I can’t say the feelings going through my mind but I was in a very bad place, A place I rarely visit. I made a cup of coffee using the microwave at the hostile and something clicked in my brain.
How far have I fallen from my pre dawn shivering coffee routine. Screw on the stove fuel, assemble the who unit, pour and icy stream of water pulled from the memory of the previous day and light a match. With a proof that little bit of pre dawn light and heat would get my core going. I would stretch and take deep breaths while I waited for my dark and thick morning brew, now I’m using a fucking microwave. In disgust I took my lazy cup of coffee and found my little Tin topped perch, just like my tin shed in Hawaii. I smoked a ciggi and had a deep conversation with my other half, Stormy.
I wondered if I went really slow if I couldn’t just make it to the end of town, maybe I could walk up the big hills steepest parts and coast to Canon beach, there is a bus there if it proved to be too much, I would ride slower than I ever have and stop and stretch every mile if I had to, it was only 27 miles with three progressively bigger hill climbs. Would it work, even one more day would make the pain worth it but reality chimed in, your body is talking to you, quit now or you will suffer this injury again for years to come.
And just like that I threw in the towel and quit my tour. The only question is what to do next, where to go and how to get there. One thing I knew for sure is that the only way I could afford to get out of here was to hitchhike. I packed my things and decided to ride the bus to Canon beach where it would be easier to hitch out of town. All packed up I I mounted my trusty steed, shifted into second gear and slowly pushed my way to defeat. I was miles past the bus stop before I realized it and heading south, my legs gently turning nursing my wound.
Two hours and 15 miles later I found myself sitting at the edge of a long uphill tunnel with a left hand bend. There was no way I could ride this between the heavy Saturday traffic. I was rested as I had just spend a bit of time on the side of the road fixing a flat, the biggest tragedy was that I had just aired up to 100 psi at a service station so now I would be riding on under pressured tires with a headwind. I took off my helmet and turned on my little flashing light. When there was a break in traffic I hit the flasher button and rode as hard as my knee would let me, smack dab in the middle of that mother fucking tunnel I got another flat, cars bearing down on me horns honking and the roar of engines revving all echoing through the tunnel and my brain. I got off the bike and did the only thing I could, I walked the rest of the way with my heart in my throat.
27 miles later and a very sore knee I had successfully finished the hardest and easiest day of this journey. I popped a few Advil, slammed a bunch of water and ate like I had never eaten before, I’m so fucking hungry and I can’t satisfy the pangs. I made the first day of my new journey, sitting in my tent listening to the dirt bag diary I can’t help but wonder if I can make the next 48 miles, there is no place between here and there…
I may not be able to live as a cycle tourist any more but that doesn’t mean I can’t lollygag around on my Brompton for a bit and see where she takes me. I know my knee won’t push up the steepest hills and my hunger pangs will chase me like the devil but none of this matters, I’m out here following a simple dream, one fueled by Todds blog at Clever cycles and his journey down the coast, his knee is fucked also. By chance I met a young girl, Lucy; when I was perving on her bike, she is good friends with Leal Wilcox one of my favorite cyclists she is part of the dynamic dou that create gypsy by trade, the single best blog on the planet and one I devour on the odd occasion I have the time.
In the morning I will ride if my body permits it and if it doesn’t I’ll grab my Nikon and play tourist, snap pictures make sand castles and take a long hot free shower and an even longer nap. I’m craving beef flavored cup of noodles, it’s my weekly hot meal but the grocery store that’s holds my treasure is 38 miles down the road this morsel will have to be earned and I have plenty to keep me alive until I can ride again and that I’m learning is what this journey is about, riding my bike, the thing I did as a child that geve me my first sense of freedom and mobility, the thing I have done my whole life and the part I’ve played as role model for eight years since I started my boycott of cars.
The mileage has been hard earned a few of them easy but there is a simple joy and the freedom of knowing there are no shackles in my life, I’m not moving backwards my destiny is that way and that’s the way I’m headed, at least for today because that’s all my body can guarantee me, tomorrow may be an entirely different journey but a journey none the less.
Through the narrow gap of my tunnel vision I feel like a loser, a failure and perhaps in the very near future a quitter. Talking to my bunk mate I’m told my journey is amazing a dream come true and also to frightening to ever partake on their own terms. Perception is something that has always intrigued me beyond words. Grab a bunch of shit and see what happens, that’s what it do.
Well, at least that’s my perception of what I do but the reality of my perception is that I always have too much which means on some level I am prepared, or at least I on some level attempted to prepare. My new friend admits dreams of doing what I doing but also needs specific dates, locations, and all the answers up front to all things potentially encountered. We live at exact opposite ends of the spectrum but we are not really that different…
My comfort factor is found being in a full blown fucking typhoon with a death grip on the tent I’m trying to set up. One slip and it’s gone as is my small safety net. Their comfort level is a reservation through the Internet that may not book correctly leaving them in a strange new place needing to find a suitable hotel to sleep for the night. Both equal adventures and mis adventures depending on the perspective of the person living it.
I remember when in was sixteen, we had stolen my friends parents car and driven to La Misssion in Mexico coming back across the border and hell yes we were smuggling all sorts of contraband there was some hold up in the customs car lane, we just sat there for like 10’minutes going nowhere, then there were a bunch of strange dudes around the car, I was pulled through the window smashed against the car while all sorts of confusion whet on in Spanish, they had confused us for smugglers which in fact we may have been on a pathetic high school level. They let us go apologized and then for good measure pulled out the inspection cone banged it on our hood and told us to pull into border inspections. I drove foreward. Climbed out the window and grabbed the cone and sped off into America, no big deal, that’s how my brain is programmed. My friend was freaking the hell out the whole time and did all the way home. We were both doing the exact same thing but while my brain was in nuclear reactor fun zone his fun meter had been pegged from the first moment.
I’m still sitting here in my big rocker in front of the wood stove, my knee is killing me and I’m faced with making a decision. I’m guessing that not unlike all the decisions I make there will be a bit of pain, lots of fun and somewhere in between sunrise and sunset I’ll be there second guessing my logic or complete lack of it when it comes to my decision process. One thing I know for sure is that there will be no morning alarm, commute or itinerarary. This journey still is about less which will always in one form or another grant more which is what I want these days, more or less that is.
Who makes the rules? I was up as usual an hour before dawn and feeling like a million bucks. Shity cup of instant coffee in hand, soaking wet tent rolled up Brompty packed up and on the road before 8:00am. My knee has been giving me indicators but I couldn’t exactly locate the pain, today that is no longer an issue. My IT band is jacked, this is the reason I gave up ultra running but it’s never been an issue on the bike.
By 10:00am I was crippled to the point I could barely walk and even standing was an issue. I’m taking a lay day but miss the road already, it’s my routine and as routine as it is I love it, always seeing new things and never knowing where I will be sleeping, a new dawn every day, living a good life is quite addicting. I’m sitting In a rocker overlooking some River and in mucho paino, yes I am fluent in Spanish. Sipping on a nice tin cup of whiskey I’m bummed at what my future may hold for me, I want to ride on.
today will be a day to go through all my gear and scrutinize every gram. I have two full days of snacks with the next very hilly hundred miles showing one camp ground, I’m not even sure I can make it to Canon Beach but I won’t know if I don’t try. If the trip is off I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll do but Fish Bay is too stormy for my comefort and Bellingham has no slip for me so Sookie sits and waits, as far as winter goes so who knows where I’ll hang my helmet.
My gear is already a bare minimum, I don’t have any street clothing, just bare bones riding clothing, I find it really funny when every girl I talk too can’t help but to sneak in flustered peeks at Mr Winky. Riding clothes are the greatest till you dismount. My Vouri cycling tights have not come off since the sun went away and in conjunction with my Terry skirt keep my lower half happy at all times. My helmet is so comfy I rarely take it off and while I have one too may upper layers I can’t bear to drop any of them. Two synthetic tee shirts, a Patagonia R1, my fleece wind stopper vest and an old super cushy, squishy and light fleece jacket, all very old. My new Precip rain jacket works well but is always clammy.
My biggest tragedy was losing my tiny Swiss Army knife, it was a Greatful Dead rainbow edition and I loved it beyond compare, it weighed less than an ounce and I used it daily. I’m not using my tItanium cook kit as I’ve failed at every meal but can’t bear to let it go as it robbed me of many fun nuggets. I have regretfully sent my uke off to be cared for till I can manage it, the road is just too nasty to bring such a fine instrument and it was a nightmare to carry across the state of Washington but a goldmine in the evenings. I’m still holding onto my 4 lb Nikon mostly because my iPad is dying but if I find a way into an iPhone 5 or 6 I’m jettisoning both the camera and I pad which will put me in a much better place, God I love Craig’s list. I can shop and browse items a few days down the trail and actually have been trying to sell my Nikon as I ride. I have an old iPhone 4 and I should have brought that and left the bug guns home, live and learn.
I am learning and finding out I’m living quite minimally compared to most cyclists but still have food in my bag from day one, I brought way too much stuff. My big delema is to dump my unused long undies, they are medium weight and so far just a what if worst cast senery thing, more fear but it’s been really cold and getting colder and 8 wet hours in the saddle begs for warmth but so far I’ve been keeping my Terry skirt cleanish and dry for those emergencys and it’s great for roadside or laundry mat quick changes, a real game changer in the adventure travel realm for me. At some point I plan on writing about all my gear and how it’s working but so far I’ve had bigger fish to fry.
I’m not sure what day it is but it’s cold and blustery, a few snow flakes actually found me this morning. I’m still in my rocking chair but ready for another hot shower and some gear shifting. You never know what you will find out here but it’s all good, even the bad has good in it if you can stop take a deep breath and find it. My next post may be from Hawaii but that decision will be made from the other side of the tunnel and there are many more to navigate on my trusty Brompton…
life is little more than a series of snapshots in time surrounded by all the planning and preparing that is more or less how we choose to spend our life’s units, say a waster of our valuable time here while we wait for the next big moment in time. Birth, turning 16 then 18 then 21, we retire sometime after 65 and then wait to die, hopefully in a warm comfy space. It’s those brief moments and how we experience them that dictate our life’s worth when measured by our own standards.
living in the present is the hardest thing for most of us as the miles of life pedal on by. I’ve been so fucking scared of this bridge and for good reason. I literally got vertigo straight into the 4.2 miles ride. I tired to breath deeply sit upright and relax And find love in the sheer terror I was experiencing but who are we fucking kidding, my first logging truck hit before I was 100′ into the journey, I was purely and truly scared fucking shitless the whole time. To ad insult to injury there is a giant fucking steep incline at the end and then a tight crazy bombing downhill. For the entire portion of this bridge I was in the middle of the biggest panic attack I’ve ever had, my heart hurt and I was dizzy, I was also smiling from ear to ear and screaming at the top of my lungs every time a car or truck almost clipped me. My biggest fear was being hit and flying over the edge where I would break every bone on impact with the water and then die a bitter death by drowning while the giant sharks tore me from limb to limb. If you think I’m being mello dramatic it’s because you have haven’t ridden across this bridge and certainly not with double vision. This ride would be a big enough challange without fucked up vision but the way I see just makes it that much more difficult.
So I survived the bridge and I’m sitting in a coffee shop in a big comfy chair and taking the rest of the day off, my camp is 5 or 10 miles from here, I’m out of food, fuel and I’m getting two fucking beers to celebrate tonight. My success hasn’t come without pain and my left IT band is starting to nag me out of nowhere. I’ve been doing everything I can to nurse it today but it’s getting worse… Had I known there was a second bridge I wouldn’t have wasted half the day screwing around in Astoria looking for a good tattoo parlor. Fucking cross wind on that second bridge really got my goat.
I arrive at camp and for the first time since leaving on this journey Im surrounded by cyclists, some riding all the way to lands end others spanning the country. Two girls from Quebec and another guy also from Quebec, i try and decipher thier broken French while they talk of sailing the St Laurence on a steel schooner. A couple from England, many from Canada and two Brazilian girls. I’m the only American we make a huge fire and laugh and talk about this and that. Starting the fire with gas, one of the cyclists literally caught his entire body on fire, I put him out with minor burns and it was worth laughing about later but at the time quite a scene. For the first time in my journey I feel like a real touring cyclist, I’ve found my tribe, we smoke the peace pipe and each person, each and every one of us now hardened cyclists tells our best scare story of the journey.
Never in my life have I felt more in place, surrounded by my people and wondering if I can’t just ride forever. Of course with victory there is defeat and I wake up crippled, my IT band is fucked and so is my journey. It takes two hours to ride 18 miles to where I find refuge, hand over most of my cash and throw a latte in for good measure, my ride may be over, I can barely walk a single step :(…
Salvation comes in many forms, for me today it was in the form of a McDonals and a bike shop, although we all know that salvation comes at a price. Pedaling away with fully loaded tires, a Can of fosters beer and more instant coffee so I can drink cold coffee in the mornings until I find a fuel replacement life was good.
Ive grown bored with the senery here in Washington which is good because tomorrow I will cross into Oregon and that’s where the trail really begins. WA was was a walk in the park compared to the challange of Oregon and it pretty much crushed me, I’m curious to see how I adapt in my new state. I’m only nine days into this journey and the road has sucked up half my budget so with a little creative financing and hopefully ten days to get as far south as I can and then I will pack up Brompty and hitchhike to wherever seems like a good place to regroup, save few bucks and get back to wherever I leave off so I can make my way south again. As short of a span as ten days may seem, I can’t even remember the person or place I left just 9’days ago, so much has happened I could never write about any of it but eventually my story will find its way to words. Today was as easy as it was difficult, my legs are tired as am I of carrying my extra burden which I hope to dump,off somewhere soon. The Oregon coast is one of many challanges and big hills constantly.
i finished my ride in Long Beach, a wonderful town with everything but a coffee shop. I’ve been tearing out the pages of my very old guide book and it’s close to half the weight and thickness I left with. When my chance comes I going to become a gram weenie and dump everything I can to lighten my load for the next ten days. Not sure why I brought a passport and the titanium pot is light but I don’t use it as I’ve failed at every cooked meal other than coffee so that was more wasted money.
its funny how I get by in life with so little but every year when I make a bone headed trip like this one, I bring every thing but the kitchen sponge even though I fresh off the last trip where I used little to nothing. I guess I’m just like the guys pulling the 50′ motor homes thinking they can’t leave anything behind. I saw my first bear just after dawn, some elk but still no Sasquach. It gets eerie on some of the quiet stretches listening to all the bump in the woods and wondering what is out there watching you.
my Vouri ramming tights and Terry skirt are still at the top of my hero list as are many other things but keeping my iPad charged is a challange so I will save my gear reviews for another time and place.
money spent over 50 bucks and worth every penny, who knew that there was a thing called chocolate milk? Haven’t had a hot meal yet but that’s about to change
Not much to write about, the day started with cold coffee and lots of rain. A relatively easy 54 ish miles and now I just dropped 35 bucks for a chocolate milk and commercial camp site as the state one was closed and way too creepy to poach. Raymond was freakish as in every girl and there were many was young and beautiful beyond words, I had to drag my self out of the coffee shop as all the girls kept wanting one more story, it’s not easy being Stormy 😉
Sammy the stonner tried her her best to get this all in one shot and gave me my first good luck kiss of the day, it wouldn’t be my last, not by a long shot…for some reason I have been getting good luck kisses everywhere I go. I guess my smile tells a story my tired soul can’t.
im trying to slow down and it’s making the riding much easier but I have to say at mile 50 and my last hill climb with a warm beer and ciggi on my mind I was in 5th gear standing hammering the pedals like lance Armstrong only I wasn’t jacked on roids…
Twin harbors was a great camp ground and the rangers are all cyclists and had lots of good info I would suggest starting this ride from here and heading south.
The Brompton is an absolute touring machine, she has never let me down and each day it keeps getting better. I do or may need to sidetrack to Portland for new tires or I may just trust that the one I have will hold. I do need a pump but that just may turn up at a local bike shop and my seat??? Yep, not so much love for it. All and all this has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
notes, I’m stinky a bit sore, really stinky and happy as hell. I’m bummed it’s costing so much but so is the nature of the world and if I have to side track to work for a few chain links so be it. I’m starting to relax a bit but today a truck pulling a trailer tried to pass as car and came within 9″ of hitting me head on, what a complete fucking asshole, I don’t even think he saw me but why would he, I was on the side of the road he shouldn’t have been. I’m glad I started from where I did but I wouldn’t do it again, Washington is a bad state for cyclists and that’s the way it is. I have to cross that 4.2 mile bridge in a few days, no shoulder and I’m as scared as I am excited. If you only had one week and about 250 bucks I can’t imagine a better way than a blue collar bicycle tour.
By 5:00am everything I possess in the world is soaking wet, im talking it couldn’t be wetter if it was underwater. Im not sure what to do, I’ve never tried to break camp that is underwater. Not sure what I expected sleeping in a rainforest but I have honestly never seen it rain that hard in my life and I lived in the wettest spot on the planet earth. It would rain even harder later in the day. But not until just after I made camp and did my best to clean and dry the tent a bit
i packed up my muddy soaking wet tent and all my belongings heading for the sanctuary of the closest coffee shop I could find. My Vouri running tights are amazing, just call me Dr spandex but I’m never taking these things off, in part with my Terry thermal skirt they are amazing, warm and I can cycle in them all day, the comefort factor is through the roof and I love the camo print.
this day would start on a freeway in the driving rain, torrent winds and five fucking flat tires. I should stop right now and try and explain what this is like but it’s unexplainable. I’m on the side of the Fwy, cars flying by and many of them honking at me, I’m covered in mud as the driving rain blinds me, everything is so muddy I can’t function, it’s so loud I can’t listen for the second hole I missed after the first one was patched and all put back together. I would get 4 of these, I’m almost out of patches and then the 5th riding into Aberdeen, some of the punctures were huge, in Aberdeen in a last ditch effort to save patches I replaced the tube, the rain and mud are giving me some issues and I may side track into Portland for my first real service in over 2000 miles and newer stronger tires, it’s amazingly crippling when you flat out on a fully loaded bike, you can’t even walk the thing. So to make a short story longit took me 11 hours to make 32 miles.
im way over my budget, my world is soaked and I’m at my breaking point, it wasn’t until I was in the shower this morning trying to warm my fridigid bones that I realized I forgot my towel in the tent, my shoes were too close as was my front bag and so my my shoes squeak with water as I walk and even my food is wet. I put soaking wet clothing back on for a very fridigid ride to find a laundry mat and food. It’s day 7 and I’m taking the day off to rest, eat and regroup.
so far the first week has been very challanging, amazing and beautiful and more than I ever could have imagined both good and bad. Money is going way too fast so the trip will be cut short but either way I’m out here today and have been able to meet each challange with a smile, even when I’m having a super rough time of it I’m reminded of the mind numbing alternative that I would be facing if I wasn’t out here getting my ass handed to me around every corner. I’m super excited to get to Portland were I wouldn’t mind spending the winter although I’m not sure we’re the best place to bus in from is, I’ll cross that bridge once I’ve crossed the bridge, unless I can hitchhike across that is, I fucking hate bridges and the one at Astoria has zero shoulder and is 2 fucking miles long.
Notes, I’m warm and dry but more rain is on the way, I’m still starving as I haven’t found good fatty food I can afford in this town but I’m headed to the store soon. Finding a laundry mat could be made into a good scene from the Big Lebowski with a John Goodman character who treated me like a three year old continually insulting my intelligence and reprimanding me to read a fucking sign until I explained that I didn’t have a phone, the directions on the locked door clearly said to cal… I rang the bell not having a phone. Once he realized I didn’t have a phone and was doing things in the direct military protocol he was very nice till it asked the code to the shit infested restrooms, he told me if I saw the code he would have to kill me and harder the punch pad with his life. I’m still weak, tired and hungry but at least I’m dry, baby steps…
I’ve spent the last two hours singing songs about my vagina, I used to be a man but 150 miles of this miserable seat have ground me down from a rooster to a hen, I’m convinced I’ll never have sex again, not even with myself 🙁 Riding along side of the freeway I’m in pure heaven as traffic whizzes by me at 80 plus miles an hour. The lanes are wide and littered with tire poppers, the on and off ramps are tough and scary to negotiate but I’m almost relaxed for the first time since leaving Lopez. I meet my first two southbound cyclists on the road, there have been a few in camp but very few and not a single cycle tourist since leaving. They are cute and bubbly and delightful. I also learn that there is a thing called a map and most cyclists are following it, it’s made by adventure cycling and I don’t have it. I just have a guide book that was last printed in 2005.
i wake up on a bed of nails, literally, my camp is all rocks and I didn’t sleep a wink, listening to the huge trucks driving by the hwy side campground. Honestly I’m scared, more scared than I have ever been, I’m rattled by yesterday’s riding and have much more of it today. Cranky and sleepy I break camp and hit the road. Once you start pedaling it’s go time, my first logging truck arrives at the exact second the shoulder vanishes. Today will be up hill all day. A flat on the side of the freeway has me walking Brompty with a ciggi hanging out of my mouth looking for a place that isn’t deadly to change a flat.
My Brompton tool fits inside my frame and is a work of art, my flat is fixed in 10 munutes but my legs have cramped with 17 miles left to go. I won’t be making the 74 miles to Westport today. Hopelessly lost I struggle into strong head winds, I’m sore everywhere and all I want is the coffee shop I’m now sitting in resting my tired bones.
notes, today was without a doubt the second most dangerous day of my life but it opened into a beautiful ramble through slow time forgotten valleys, a now defunct nuclear reactor caught my interest as did all of the small towns where every single store was out of buisiness. Still no bike shop but lots of gun stores, this is trump county. Looks like rain tomorrow and I will finally reach the coast.
Current, I’m sitting in a coffee shop soaked to the bone, I’m near my breaking point, today will be a rest day while I regroup…
Heroes and villains, my Nikon is seriously starting to piss me off. It’s so heavy and bulky, I had a chance to drop it off in port Townsend and I wish I did. The uke is also a hero and a villain, it’s hard to carry and dangerously swings around. I’m not sure what to do but both may get jettisoned soon, I hate the thought of not having the uke as it has brought much joy but it’s dangerous and when the rain comes and it will it will be difficult to care for.
I’m sitting just passed the pass of mount walker, I’m crushed after 30 miles, mostly up hill. I pull off on to the side of the road to rest my body and my brain. The logging trucks showed up with a vengeance and they are frightening as hell as are the Q-tips in thier 40′ motor homes dragging a car behind. The shoulder all but disappeared in many places and the the bridges have none, my load is still to heavy and it makes the Brompton unsafe at speeds.
I start singing to the traffic as it hurtles by at break neck spends on the windy mountian top, a cyclist rides by and I admire her well earned spandex covered tush and keep playing. A few minutes later and she is riding back up the other side of the road, I put the uke down, we call across a freeway of traffic, I have a new riding partner for the rest of the day but she is not on tour and continues where I leave off with an invitation and a place to stay in the opposite direction I am headed.
Today started late last night when I got a text from my brother, he was in Port Townsend, I was with a friend and it was late so I caught up before dawn and tracked him down. I called from the front desk phone, wake up you lazy so and so Hog Waaloop. We have breakfast in the lobby lots of coffee and he sends me off with a bag of Fritos and three bananas.
I don’t know why every day starts with a huge fucking hill but it does and I would spend today completly lost battling big hills and contemplating why I’m doing this. I’ve been asked so many times and still don’t have an answer. I’m not sure why everybody feels the need to tell me I’m going to die out here but it’s well over 50 people now who have sent me pre maturely off to the grave. I don’t want to die, that’s why I’m doing this, to live. The freedom and time with no clocks, no schedules and nothing but my eyes and ears and all my senses on full overload.
The days are mine and they are hard earned as they should be, there are very few cyclists on this stretch and I understand why, the traffic is crazy scary. I live in each moment and think about everything in the world from my pink socks to red necks and wonder why they all drive such shitty trucks, I’ve never seen a red neck in a banging new ford and I wonder why?
My day starts at 8:15 and by 100pm my ass announces that the days is done, cold beer in hand and lots of good no cook food I’m pretty happy and already stinky again. I’m headed south but not committed to continuing south, east sounds fun also and when I ditch my my extra cargo I think the riding will be that much better and faster. I still am learning to climb out of the saddle with the new front bag and while I’m sore and very tired I feel good, no I feel great.
im the only person in this creepy campground roadside and the constant barrage of traffic irritates me. This is a rest stop thT locals use as a sex pit, get me out of here
today has been the day from Hellas the single most dangerous of my life. I woke up to a soaking wet world, uphill straight off the bat and the most dangerous road of my life, if today had been day one I would have quit this journey sold Brompty and gotten a job at McDonalds, although I’m still desperately searching for one for breakfast.
The guide book scared the shit out of me as I read it’s words. It said 16 miles of dangerous roads, that was total bs. 24 miles of hell on wheels and again I’m questioning why I am here and what I’m doing. Today was not fun in any manner as huge logging truck, dump,trucks and crazy driver whizzed by litteraly inches from me.
Im going to take this moment to pull out the cripple card, with my double vision and dyslexia this journey is just plain fucking stupid. I see two of everything but the one on the right is what’s really on the left and obviously the one on the other side doesn’t belong there either.
There was almost no shoulder with a three foot trench at the edge, I had vertigo the whloe time and with my overstuffed load the bike is still awkward in these very challenging situations. I wanted to take a picture but was too fucking scared to stop. Also way too many bridges and crowned roads on blind curves that are one of the most dangerous parts of cycling. For twenty straight hilly miles I pedaled like is was being chased by the devil. I have never in my life been this scared or shaken up, this shit sucks but I’m hoping it’s well behind me.
Its cold as fuck today, my hands and toes numb the whole day riding in the wet pacific north west mist. Pulling out of my hell ride , chilled to the bone I spotted a small shop. I walked in shivering and trembling and had to beg the guy to brew me a cup of coffee. Stretching outside, the smell of burning wood, the cry of many eagles me the low overhanging mist was as beautiful as anything in the world. You can’t just drive up and witness this kind of emotion. What I experienced was heaven on earth, thousands of memories flooded me from a lifetime of road trips. This is what I live for, this brief moment in time.
The next four miles are very emotional, tears of joy stream down my cheeks, I find a post office, my front bag is 24.12 still to much. I hate to do it but I commit to sending away my still unused Nikon and my uke, it’s just not safe. A big iPhone would be perfect but with my iPad it takes too much effort to unpack and tke snap shots so I don’t.
Im sitting In a warm, no hot coffee shop. My fingers and toes are burning, the girl that helps me is cute and sweet and a joy to be around. My comfy leather chair squeaks as I squirm around trying to find the right angle for my road weary ass, I’m spent but there are many more miles today, I want to live right here in this chair, I’m never leaving this spot. Somewhere on some un named traffic infested hill I crossed my first hundred miles, this trip just started and I’m already past ten percent of the journey. I need to learn to slow down, we all do.
Heros and villains, my bike grips are for sure the heroes as is my Terry mankilt. The big villain is my bike seat which was replaced with a newer Brompton seat and now I’m desperate to replace this seat again with something not Brompton. Imagine being reamed and tortured analy, this is what this seat is like as was its predecessor. I’m in no small amount of pain but unlike yesterday where I was crushed, I feel good and could drop another 20 or more miles if I didn’t have dinner plans in Port Townsend.
The thing about your first day is it will never be the same after that. The freedom and exileration of finally being free, the pain of finally being out on the road and the sheer beauty of your new surrounds. Everything will continue to change and with each new experience so will you.
Day one ended with a complet meal fail, that heavy shit I brought was rotten and I was too crushed to to anything other than go to bet stinky, sweaty and tired. A little girl on tour brought me a chocolate chip cookie, it was the best cookie I have ever had.
I have six speeds, by 8:00 am I had used all of them. The dry crackle of rubber and dirt fiollow me down a lonely patch of single track and I make my way around a hill it’s way too early to climb. Deception Pass camp ground is a shit hole with fighter jets blasting overhead well into the night. Everytime I fall asleep I’m woken by the sound of afterburners. I can’t get out early enough. One cup of coffee and I’m on the road, it’s up hill the whole fucking way, quads burning, granny gear churning, I’m so sick of being so worn out. I figure it will take at least a week for my body to recover from the summer and another to build back up into cycling shape. I didn’t spend one second training or preparing in any way shape or form for this ride.
I make it to oak harbor, I shouldn’t be this tired but I am, all I want is coffee and Mc donalds, I want it on this side of the street because I’m too tired to cross to the other. It’s way too early in the trip to be fantasizing about spandex but my balls really hurt. I see an Arby’s then Taco hell then lots of fast food stores and another Arby’s, are there really two or am I actually riding this slow. I see a sign for a Starbucks but it’s out of buisiness, the whole strip mall is. On the edge of town I pay 7 bucks for a cup of coffee and some form of strawerry fruit thing. There is a plastic cup separating the gornola from the yogurt but I’m too stupid or tired or both to figure this out its 9:54 am
The barrage of high speed traffic is a constant assault on the mind, huge trucks blast by at 50 mph, not only do they not winded the gap but they cross the little white line into my already too small of space, I hate cars and thier selfish drivers, after 8 years of being careless I make a vow that I will never again own one.
ive been climbing for over half an hour, this hill seems endless but I find myself shifting out of granny into my second gear, then my third and 4th, I’m finding my legs. Then smell of rancid fruit and horse shit make me smile, this is really real and I’m here, after yesterday I was very afraid of today but by 11:40 I’m on the ferry to Port Towmsend. I’ve crushed this day and even though it was only a short 30 miles, that’s pretty close to what I’m hoping for the whole trip, I’m trying to go slow and really take it all in.
i stink like fuck and need a good shower and to do a bit of laundry, I’m digging riding in my running shorts but spent half of the day fantasizing about spandex, or a new seat or both, neither are in the budget but the fantasies keep me going, spirits are very high but I’m tired and want a cold beer and slice of pizza, first a shower is in order.
After a glorious shower I shared laundry with a cute sailorette I met, out unmentionables did unmentionable things in the dryer while she played the flute as I plucked my uke in the lazy afternoon sun. My day continued to awesome on every front but the rest is private.
By 9:00 am I’m in my granny gear and my quads are burning, I’m totally unprepared and loving every second of it. I had stopped by the post office to weigh my front bag, it has a max load of 22 pounds. After a late light of trimming, shaving and jettisoning everything I could I’m down to 26 pounds and the bike is a bit unwieldy but all and all rides like a dream. My fucking ukulele on my back is driving me nuts and I know I’ll need to find a better way but I only 15 minutes into my journey.
The culprits are my full size Nikon and zoom lense, I had hoped to sell it an find a sweet little micro 4/3 with 35mm primary and that is still my goal but selling a camera on the road is not going to be easy. I also have way too much food, even though I jettisoned quite a bit and three cans of beer. I set off with exactly $750’bucks so every penny counts as does every ounce. My medium wight long underwear are too heavy and occupy oso much space but it’s what I had. I also had 4 now 3 little bottles of whiskey. I had also planned on cycling the lost coast so brought a pile of spares but it’s closed due to a landslide so more shit and less money. Then there is the bike chain. It’s a long story but it’s in my bag and a hate to replace the one I’m using till it needs it, yes another budget thing but it’s also one more culprit.
The waves are smashing the ferry, I should have folded and brought Brompty up with me but another sign I have too much stuff to wrangle. This is going to be a very experience with a huge learning curve of how smile I can make my cargo and my journey. I weigh a buck sixty soaking wet, ad 35 pounds or so of gear and that puts my riding weight at damn near 200 pounds. My goal was and is sub 180, I’ll get there for sure but not today.
My goal was for an easy first day, a chance to unwind and gilet used to having to clock, I look at my wrist a thousand times a day for no reason other than there used to be a watch there, I never realized how often I did this or how unhealthy it is. The sun is my clock now. Unlike just about every person who strives to have more in this world, my goal is to have less. Just the right amount of this and that, my mind trails off to the homeless guys on rusty old beach cruisers I’d meet all over Hawaii, thier tiny day packs and the freedom it gave them.
Notes I’m crushed, the hills killed me. I stopped to take off a layer and climbed a huge hill. At the top a girl in her car was yelling at, you dropped something, I looked back at my seat bag and oh fuck, I left my ukulele sitting on the side of the curb at the bottom of the hill, all my money and passport were in it. I rode like the devil and thank god it was still there. Day one the uke has been a huge fail, it’s hard to wear on my back, constantly shifting and strangles me, the things we do for love. Steiger off the ferry I was smacked with reality, big trucks spewing smog, narrow shoulders and many hills, the guide book says this is easy, I’m screwed. It was a good and very hard day, tomorow I will see triple the mileage. The front bag is way too heavy and dangerous, I’ve lightened again today and that damn camera is now heavier than ever, it’s a burden but also important till I can find a lighter one, I’ve already had many thoughts of mailing it away but I’m not ready for that yet. Deception pass camp ground is a shit hole with never ending fighter jets over head and no close water or restrooms. I’m really tired, spirits are high but energy is very low and I’m a bit worried about tomorrow, where I’ll find the energy to cook and why I brought the things I did, much wasted money that could have been used on better no cook food, warmer clothes and the such…
I had forgotten how magnificent Sookies v-Berth is. I sprawled out in every direction, the way Chloe used to do and had the best nights sleep of my life. I’ve never been more torn about leaving Sookie before but if I don’t quit smoking, having the best sailboat in the world won’t matter and that’s what this journey is. A desperate attempt to quit smoking, it will be done by riding myself into submission every day and working it out of my system.
Although as I sit here pecking these words I’m so worn out I can barely walk, I hobble about dizzy and tired from my long summer. It will be a very slow start while I try and regain my strength. My last effort as dock master was wheeling a drunken power boater to his boat, he literally couldn’t walk. An hour later I got an emergency call and came screaming down the dock on my bike ” out of the way”. This dipshit tried to leave the marina and literally almost ran himself over after falling overboard. Lifting his dead weight out of the water was difficult, a marina full of people and only one person came to help. Not even the guys that called would assist, fucking humans are a waste.
Sitting in my big plush bed with soft white sheets, snuggly socks and my warmies I’m as good as I’m going to get. I packed and repacked a hundred times. My front bag has a 22lb max load, I’m sure I’m 10 pounds over that but the road will straighten that all out.
At the very last moment I ditched one Mac and cheese meal and my down vest, this may come back to haunt me but I’m just way over my target weight. A pound saved may seem insignificant but I’m reminded of a conversation I was having with a millionaire and a billionaire. The millionaire told me that he counts every dollar when the billionaire chimed in that he counts every cent. Ounces equal pounds when it comes to packing light.
Im in a delicious place right now, retired for month at least and feeling very pampered in my clean clothes and soft bed. A long hot bath may have been the last for some time as was a good shave. All I have to do now is pick a direction and turn the pedals. But that’s will come soon enough. Tonight I will bounce around my clean space, it’s the last bit of safety and security I will know for My journey has already begun.
PS there is no way I can describe how close I came today to saying screw it with this trip and launching Sookie fr a bitter cold winter or just grabbing my uke and jumping the first plane to Hawaii. As of this point my packing and luggage proved to be a complete failure on my first short fully packed journey. It’s going to be a long night if I want to make this work, I have way too much
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” ― Christopher McCandless
My great grandmother was a physic, she told me many things about my coming life the one and only time I met her. She was on her death bed but her eyes were clear as the blue water I love sailing the most. She told me things I would later learn about my self but at the time I thought she was crazy.
One of the things I’ve always carried with me is that she told me to surround myself in a pink cloud and would always be safe. I’ve done this from that day foreward, sometimes it’s a self induced cloud, others it’s a pink tee or some other article of clothing. I’ll never forget when my mom brought home a pink pair of Sperry topsiders for me, I was like, why the hell would she get me these but I loved them and to date I have always been safe, even in some of the most dangerous conditions in the world.
I was really hoping for some soft of high visibility pink kilt to wear on the cycling journey that I still have yet to commit to. But have given up as I simply couldn’t find a good fit. I did find a great Terry thermal kilt for the cold days to go over my camo mangings but it’s a very disappointing grey, although it’s super warm and will let me change my clothes modestly right in the side of the highway. Man kilts are functional as hell when used right and the fit is perfect.
So I found these awesome pink socks to keep me safe on my journey although I’m sure the redneck idiots will have a few words but I have no issues with telling them where they can stick it. So that’s that I have officially busted my budget and obtained everything I need except basic riding clothing tops and bottoms but for now a pair of runners and my old backpacking shirts will do. My contract ends in two weeks and that’s when the adventure will begin, I can hardly wait to see where my journey goes.
As for me, I will follow the path of the pink bunnies.”
A quick glance at my bank account confirms that I have exactly the same amount of money that I had before I started working, a big ZERO!, but it isn’t money im after today. Sure I’m alive and kicking, I’ve done a bit of good for the world and the yachters daughters have been keeping me in very good company. I’m building an arsenal of fun and while on this day I’m too broke to use the freedom it affords me I have a solid three weeks before 9/11
Serveral thousand nights in my shit freezing sleeping bag has prompted me to invest in the best sleeping bag known to man, it is so plush I can’t even use it as the day it arrived so did summer, isn’t that how it always works. My self inflating camp pad is pretty kewl as is the tent that so far has kept me warm and dry. On Sunday 9/11 I’ll drink my last bottle of wine, have a a good steak and when I wake up it will be decision time, splash Sookie and seek winter employment or load up Brompty and hit the road in search of winter employment, I won’t think about it till that Monday the 12th but by 9:00 I’ll be on my way.
Being single has its advantages, not that I’ve ever been the type of person to seek out singledom but on the plus side being minus one means I don’t have some nagging bitch squawking at me to cut my hair, have a shave and get a job. If I wasn’t single I’m guessing that rather than sitting in the hotel bar getting free drinks from the uber cute girl I met today I would be at Sears picking out a new shirt for Sunday services. But my god isn’t a statue and she doesn’t exist in a church.
She’s out there everywhere and I always find her, on the water, in the mountians, on the road and every drop she bleeds from the sky leads from her throne on the highest montian top through the valley of Eden and into the sea which sea has created for me. I hang out with the uber rich everyday, it’s the life I know best, they are not free, they are slaves to everything that makes the brief snapshot of thier life look like a dream but come Monday thier get out of jail free card expires and back to work they go till they are 75 and free to live the rest of thier lives as they choose.
Where ever my future takes me I know there will be times when I am super afraid. Times when I am cold and times when I am hungry. Freedom comes with a price and I’m willing to pay for it with a little bit of discomfort here and there. I spent he afternoon cleaning and decking out Brompty, admiring her lines in the late glow of the setting sun and once again i wonder how I am so fortunate to be blessed with everything I need in this world and nothing I don’t….
“My life changed the day I moved beyond just wishing for things and I started earning them. That is the day I learned that we don’t get what we wish for, we get what we work for.”
Perfect bike, perfect ass, what more could you ask for. I was chatting about my current life with some boaters when I was reminded of my youth and how at my age it’s one thing to bonk around but my new friends had responsibilities at thier age.
I asked how old they thought I was and she said 25, I laughed as her jaw dropped, we were the same age. When asked my secret to my youth I simply replied, “good wine and organic ciggis” the truth isn’t that simple but if you want that perfect 2% body fat, muscular physique and ripping strong cardio you had when you were in your teens, find a bike you love and ride it like you stole it.
My vacation from the web has been a nice break while the digital mechanics were sorted out but I missed writing. Not much to talk about but I have a feeling that’s all going to change right about now…
“The Little Boy and the Old Man
Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.” Said the old man, “I do that too.” The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.” I do that too,” laughed the little old man. Said the little boy, “I often cry.” The old man nodded, “So do I.” But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.” And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand. I know what you mean,” said the little old man.” ― Shel Silverstein
I screwed myself again, or should I say I’ve been overly optimistic about my athletic abilities. I’ve been banking on a smaller chain ring to give me the extra oomf to get up the big hills on my fully loaded Brompty. It wasn’t until I took the chain off that imactually looked at my chain ring and discovered that it was a 44 already and not the 50. Nowhere on the sales receipt did it say anything about the gearing so I just figured it was standard.
I was in optimal shape in Hawaii and still got my ass kicked, now I’m doomed. Sure I could size down to a 39 ring buts that’s way too girly for me so I’m going to tough it out in my pink riding skirt. The big question is do I replace my chain, carry the extra weight for when I will need to replace it, or just return it and get the kewl tool, that fits in the frame and can fix just about everything on the bike, ok not everything but it’s sweet.
I’m a bit miffed at the size of my new t bag, first of all in thier optimal brilliance Brompton decided to switch the awesome exterior storage pocket that is huge to the right side putting the water bottle holder on the left. Aren’t um like 99% of humans right handed and the one percent that are left ambidexterous??? Fringing boneheads, it’s virtually deadly to get a sip of water now while on the fly.
My new Ergon GP3 grips are the bomb, the shit foam ones left my wrists as numb as the Brompton seat leaves my manhood on the longer rides. If it sounds like I’m complaining I’m not, I don’t expect good grips, pedals or saddle on any new bike at any price. Ok I’m totally bitching about the T bag and I’m sure it will be replaced with something that is not dumber than a sack of hammers but damn she rides nice fully loaded.
The Relevate seat bag is kick ass and you don’t know it’s there but there is a big snafu, my fault. You can’t lower the seat low enough to lock the frame so when transporting from bike to train, ferry or what ever it has to come off. No big deal but not ideal for me.
That’s it and a bunch of spare parts just in case I decide to ride all the way to Panama, I’m covered. I don’t have any days off and mornings and nights are devoted to Sookie so my first real ride will be the day I leave, if I leave and I really think I’m going to leave, unless I stay which I won’t, I don’t think, unless i do.
From the log of Sookie, bonking in Hawaii, the only easy day so far on this trip was yesterday. I wrote these words in my journal everyday until I checked into the west wing.
I’ve been afraid to say the words out loud because in my current condition I won’t even be able to pedal to the mainland but still, it’s all I can think about. My back is fucked, my budget is shit and my gear is seriously lacking. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting diffent results. My one way ticket to Maui and 500 bucks was a lunatic endeavor, a journey fit for a mad man.
Touring one Brompton
Well I’m much more settled now and it looks like I will be setting off for the ferry with a cool, 750 smackers. My goal is to make it to the ferry on Lopez island. If I make it that far I will continue one mile at a time, one day at a time for as long as my back hangs in there. If I survive the first three days I’ll figure out a way to get a sleeping bag and cook set.
I have a pile of bike shit, new gears, new grips, a front bag for Brompty and a bunch of spare parts that I will never need now that I have them. I’ll still need a new set of tires but the ones I have will get me to Oregon at least. I can’t be bothered to replace them now because I might not make it that far. Brompton makes a sweet in frame tool kit and that will find its way in my frame as well. It’s all about baby steps on this one.
I’ve met a ton of touring cyclists this summer and I’m jacked to get out on the coast and do some exploring by bike. My seven year anniversary with living car-less is in October so I hope my body holds out long enough.to celebrate that one on the road. My contract ends in 35 days, holly shit that’s not enough time to finish my projects on sookie and get my ride together.
I will literally walk off one of the most physically demanding jobs I have ever had and 12 hours later be on the bike heading south with no rest or transition. If I don’t beat the cool of fall I will freeze to death long before I run out of money and succumb to starvation. My biggest point of contention is my miserable as hell bike seat. It’s fine for up to two hours but after that it becomes a torture chamber.
If I actually do this it will be a battle of riding as slow as humanly possible so I can explore the coast to the fullest but also a race against winter and my budget. It’s all comming together, all I have to do is commit to the insanity and take the path less pedaled. Maybe at the end I will finally find my bit of land and build my tiny home although in this chilly morning a tent cabin in Hawaii is sounding much more appealing, I really love my simple life…
“Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls” ~ Bob Weir, Grateful Dead
$6661.95, that’s the best quote I have so far for shipping Sookie from Annacortez to L.A., the first three numbers spell it all clearly and Ive completly abandoned hope of shipping the boat somewhere warm for the winter. Plan B, I hit the pay button for bike parts and watch my meager life’s savings dissapear, I might be broke but my bug out bike is coming along slowly but surely.
I still haven’t figured out what I want to cook with or what I’m going to sleep in but I bit the bullet and purchased a small self inflating therma rest. My back is jacked beyond recognition from sleeping on the hard cold ground. I haven’t had any sort of pad until a few days ago when I purchased some thin foam from the local Hardwear store, it isnt helping so I guess I’ll have to live my life hunched over form here on out.
My clothing debate is the biggest, it’s sac religious to wear spandex on a Brompton, or any time or place for that matter so Im still drawing a blank. If my cotton man kilt wasn’t cotton it would be ideal but it’s cotton. I have a few old shirts I can use and some rotting synthetic backpacking shit so if I can beat winter I may be ok. It’s funny how much effort I’m putting into a trip I’m not committed to taking and a platform I at this point have no use for but its the direction my fucked up mind is going in and keeps me occupied before and after my 7 days a week of resort living.
My new gearing is in the mail as is the first waterproof jacket other than my five pound foulies that I’ve had in over five years. It will be nice to have a shell for at least half my body. I continue to shop discount air fare but don’t know where from or where too. The thick fog persists but when it clears I know I will have Sookie ready and waiting and Brompty ready and waiting. Everything from the bike can slip into my tiny mountian pack so now I have three solid platforms that I don’t have any use for.
Warm weather is all I can think about, it’s August and I spent the morning shivering… Warm, warm, warm, that’s my plan B, warm.
From the log of Sookie, I look at my olive tanned bare feet and they make me smile, this is a sign of success, bare feet. The iron fist of winter is coming but not for me, my mistress is clear blue water, the golden rays of sunlight warming my back and a balmy wind to carry the plume of coconut that bathes my skin. A tropical stormy is a brewing…
Riding around the island I got into a chat with a girl about my bike and why the hell would I want a folding bike over a full size touring bike for cycling let alone for touring. I didn’t really know how to answer other than this is the bike I have but also why wouldn’t I want to tour on a Brompton. When I purchased Brompty it had nothing to do with touring, I just wanted a nice bike that was fun to ride.
Years of watching my beautiful bikes rusting In the rain tied to the side of the boat was more than I can take. I’ve gone though an average of a bike a year every year since giving up my car for a better life and cleaner earth, that was at least 7 years ago so I would count seven bikes.
Americans have a funny way about them, Be-it sailing or backpacking or cycle touring or just going on vacation they just have to match thier home life of excess to make themselfs think they are happy. If I wanted to match my home life I would just stay home. For what ever reason I do the things I do it’s because I want to learn about myself and have fun in the process. Touring on a 35lb road bike with 45 lbs of gear sucks ass, I tried it and quit on the fist day. I resized down to a small load and switched out my heavy hitter and had the best tour of my life although I stayed in hotels many of the nights I was also pulling hundred milers on my fixed gear in really challanging terrain.
Im done with all that shit now and want an upright riding position so I can see the scenery. A bike that is light and agile and fun as hell to ride and a minimalist load making my days in the saddle fun. I find it hilarious when people say they want to be comefortabke so they bring tons of heavy shit. Your whole day is spent in the saddle so that’s where you want to be comefortabke. I’ve had days that I was so tired i literally fell over hard asleep with a beer in my hand after a grueling ride. The Brompty promotes light simple fun riding and is super easy to maintain. My total load capacity is 43 liters which is a lot plus my tent on the back rack and hopefully a little camp pad strapped to my pika. By the end of the trip I hope to be able to find a way to fit the tent in the T-bag and even loose the pika but that’s pretty ambitious.
Having a good small bike and good small luggage is key, you can’t take it if it won’t fit. I’m not one of those ultrlight techno geeks, my motto is that less is more so while I keep an eye on my weight I also pretty much just leave most of the just in case items at home. I live in the United States and can get just about anything I need in less than 24 hours but honestly when you live an ultrlight lifestyle you learn pretty quickly how little you need. I’ve long given up on trying to cinvince people I don’t need things, now I just graciously decline everytime somebody tries to give me thier ten man tent for my cycle tour or a sleeping bag that weighs more than my bike. Why did I choose a Brompton? I didn’t Brompty chose me…
You can’t fit a ten pound parcel into my two pound sack.
The only thing better than a puppy for meeting people is a Brompton. I’m stopped everywhere I go, the grocery store is where I get the most questions about my funky, cute little folding bike neatly stashed in my shopping cart. I can’t even imagine how many thousands of smiles and hellos this quirky little folder has made.
The first question I’m always asked is how does she ride, she rides like a bike with 16″ tires, exactly like she was meant to. The owners manual clearly says that Brompton is not meant for touring or aggressive riding. Barreling down the side of a volcano from eight thousand feet to sea level and I’m sure topping 40mph was only one of the many infractions I have made on this bike. Within a month of finding this little gem I had voided every single warrany Brompton has. Touring Hawaii was brutal in many ways but it had some the smoothest roads and widest bike lanes in America as long as I was actually on the main Hwy which was a rarity, “some day I may publish the real Hawaii story” heading to either end of the island was a different story with rutted roads, zero shoulder and more wind and water than is imaginable. My free advice is always ride the island clockwise so when, not if you are run off the road you will be pile driven into a cliff or roadside ditch as opposed to being hurtled off of a cliff. I stopped counting car bike infractions after the first few days when I learned it’s all part of cycling in the islands.
Eight months and serveral sets of tires down the road and my gearing is still perfectly tuned. Should it ever need adjustment it’s easy and takes about 3 seconds and your on your way again. Changing flats on the other hand can be a major project although a good set of tires will all but eliminate this issue. It took me at least fifty miles to really dial in my ride on this bike but now I can’t see ever owning any other bike again for any reason. Ive done the whole hucking myself off a cliff on my MTB thing for half my life and that part of cycling is behind me. Now I ride for fun or to get places which is also fun. I can easily see riding this bike around the world over a few years and that’s where her foldability comes in. The Brompton is bar none the best riding, easiest and most compact folding and highest quality folding bike on the planet. I’ve ridden many other brands into the ground but I must say I ride quite a lot, the average person could find a lower end folder on Craig’s list for a few hundred bucks and with basic maintenance it will last them a lifetime.
I’ve never been a fan of panniers, Infact I gave up cycle touring in favor of credit card touring on my fixed gear because I was so sick of riding a bike with panniers on it. The Brompton has many luggage options and all are centered and low, the front bag attaches to the frame and not the fork so the load never shifts although these bikes are not meant to tour with. While you pay a bit in comefort for small high pressure tires, climbing is a dream as is jumping a shuttle when you’ve hit your wall and hitching with a Brompton is as easy as it gets. My longest ride to date is a relative whimpy 83 miles although I could have easily ridden further on that day had I not found a nice little shore side park with lots of coconuts and no sign of the man so I called it a day.
Living on my little 22′ boat my Brompton is easy to store, I have also carried her onto a train, ferry, in a cab, a helicopter and float plane, hitchhiked, and she fits perfectly in the over head on larger commercial jets. Mainetnece is easy with a full list of how to videos on youtube and Brompton has the highest quality paint of any bicycle company on the planet. These bikes hold thier value very well. When I started shopping I was hoping to find a nice used S model in pink but I fell into a MR6 in orange and am very glad I did, I love the upright riding position and the little wheels are good on my wrecked knees, Infact since finding this bike all my cycling induced knee pain is gone.
What else can I say about a bike that while might seem a bit pricey upfront is worth every penny in fun. It will add 25 healthy years to your life, firm and tone your body, make you smile everytime you ride and generally is the planets fountain of youth and viagra all rolled into one, if you want mine you will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.
If it sounds like I love my bike I do, 7 years ago when I decided to try and live car free for one year I never could have imagined how much of a better quality of life I could have on my bike. The upfront cost at 2k might send you into sticker shock but compared to automobile ownership this bike will pay for itself very quickly and not just in monatary ways.
There is a slow life out there waiting for you. My morning ride is heaven on earth. A quick trip to the farmers market on a sunny Saturday morning affords me a pile of locally grown veggies and if I’m really lucky a scoop of the best Icecream on the planet. I can eat as much as I want as often as I want and never have to stoop to stupid exercise videos or going to a skanky gym. My Brompty is my health insurance, psychologist and amusement park all rolled into one, it also happens to be the most romantic form of transportation known to man.
Disclaimer, I have no affiliation with the Brompton bicycle company in any way shape or form.
I freaking love my Brompton, I cant believe we’ve already been together for 8 months. She’s been on trains, planes, buses and a trolley, boats and planes that float, cars, ferries and even in a baby carrier.I will never forget my first day with mine, amazing these bikes are.
Sookie spent her first and last night as floating boarding house when I met two adorable young girls in desperate need of a bed. I spent the afternoon cleaning and getting her all ready and then moved aboard a friends boat next door for the night. I have to say hearing the giggling voices of this amazing mother daughter dou made me a bit jealous of them and thier beautiful home for the evening. It was good to have an arms distance view of what others see when they walk by Sookie.
When I moved back aboard Sookie now two friends richer in this world she was spotless and had fresh herbs hanging everythwere, it smells so good in here and I love the look . So backtracking, with a pile of things to do I sent the girls off to play, while they were out I signed them up for sailboat race to give me time to make Sookie perfect. As usual I was able to sneak in an amazing ride on Brompty, my legs are finally in full recovery mode and hopefully my lungs are soon to follow.
Dragging Brompty through 6 inches of horrible Hawaiin clay and a full load I cursed the weather, her small tires and every turn in the road that revealed yet another emty stretch and no relief in sight. Looking at her after a complete detail I could plop her on the shelf in any bike store and you would think she is new.
I did a massive amount of research and riding of all folding bikes and now well over a thousand miles into my second set of tires I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Brompton is the highest quality folding bike in the world. My map is stretched out in front of me, the only question is where shall we ride for the winter
“I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”
~ Albert Einstein in reference to the Theory of Relativity.
You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Know when to ride away and know when to thumb. You never count your mileage, when your riding down the hwy there will be time enough for counting, when the pedalings done.
I’ve taken a much needed breather from Sookies annual maintenance to get Brompty ready for her next adventure. Now on her second set of tires I feel she has more than proven her ability as a long distance touring bike as well as a grocery getter and all around urban assault vehicle.
I did an OCD amount of research and test riding when I was on the hunt for a good folding bike and it’s of my opionion that the Brompton is far and away the highest quality build, best riding and fastest, easiest and most compact fold. This bike is a work of art although dragging it through 6 inches of Hawaiin mud I cursed my bad fortune the whole 10 miles. It was completely useless in those conditions as I suspect any bike would be.
I have unfinished business in those islands and now that Sherrif John Brown has been dealt with I’m thinking about a short trip to finish the forbidden Hwy, this time I think I’ll remove my fenders and rack and opt for a front bag and seat bag with a small day pack for extra water and stores on the long haul.
I haven’t done any upgrades and while her pedals, seat and grips are adequate to get the job done I think I will find a suitable replacement for all three. I’m one of the fortunate few who knows exactly what saddle was built for my body and it can picked up in and LBS in America.
My preferred cycling shoes are still my Chacos and this year I’ll splurge for a real tent. The one man tent was like sleeping in a coffin but nice to carry size wise even if it was the most useless tent on the planet when it came to keeping water out. This year I hope to opt for a one man, one woman tent which will be cramped in a good way.
My long term sailing plans are slipping through my fingers as winter is rapidly approaching but I have a long shot at a job with a dock so there will be pleanty of time to get Sookie ready to ship east before the first flakes of winter settle on her decks. If your not on the water right now you better get going because fall is just a few short weeks away..
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. ”
I’ve developed a very irrational relationship with my still yet to be named Brompton, I refer to her as Brompty but she deserves a real name. I literally don’t go anywhere without her, spend way too many hours keeping her shiny and perfectly cleaned. I should say maintaining her but after a thousand miles she still is in perfect tune. A bit awkward and dorky looking she is a work of art, if I had a wall I would hang her on it like fine art.
I learned quite a bit about this little gem rolling 750 miles through the Hawaiin islands and my departure date for Cuba is rolling up fast. She climbs well and descends frighteningly fast, I’m sure I have topped 50 on her. Braking on the long descents is unacceptable on her 16″ wheels so I just scream as the heroin of adrenalin surges through by body. She can carry a good load but I’m working on a very minimalist cargo focusing on the experience rather than the gear. Speaking of gear little Sookie makes for the best bike rack and is loaded to the brim, her lockers are all topped off and ready for our move.
To date I have had her on both commercial airlines and puddle jumper float planes, buses, a taxi, train, car, and with a little bit of luck she will get her first helicopter ride this week when my dinner date lands in front of the boat to pick me up. I’ve used her for commuting, touring, and just plain riding around for no reason whatsoever. She fits perfectly in my boat, under a hostel bunk bed, in my one man tent and at the foot of a bed with really soft white sheets I found the luxury of sleeping in while on tour.
The Brompton is the smallest and easiest folding bike on the market and was dirt cheap to purchase considering that today is about day 2074 in my boycott of cars. At 27.2 lbs she isn’t light or heavy. I always say that she isn’t small, she is fun size. My plan is to start riding south from the Arctic Circle on the solstice right back to Sookie. I ordered a map today but can’t imagine it will take more than 6 weeks giving me a good spring sailing season and a month of summer sailing. September 15th it’s down the coast to LAX to the Caribbean with a little hopper to Cuba. The beauty. Of the Brompton is that I can go from touring mode to tourist mode in about one minute.
So there you have it, from polar bears to communists, the last pieces of the puzzle are being sorted. Come join me if you dare or sit back and have a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride through my little journal. My little Brompty isn’t a bicycle. She is the fountain of youth, expedition SUV, urban assault vehicle, psychologist, stormy nanny,and with out a doubt the most fun you can have with your cloths on. Not that endorse doing anything with your clothes on.
Disclaimer, continued reading of this blog may result in wanderlust, day dreaming and A.D.D. Induced A.D.D. Proceed with caution.
Why is it so effing cold in here. On a full belly of chicken stew my mind almost feels clear. I have to take another one of those damn pills soon and back into the fog I will slide. Another cold stormy night, the tropical days of riding my little Brompty through islands of Hawaii are but a distant memory.
im exhausted from yesterday’s storm, boats… A good home for sure but my attention is being pulled in every direction, Sookie, Rainbow and Brompty all competing for our painfully short spring days. I’m still torn between the islands, Bellingham and Port Townsend but I have till the end of the month to figure it out. I’m spazimg toward riding my little Brompton from the Artic circle, starting on the solstice and heading south. I need movement badly.
All of this being cooped up feels so claustrophobic, my muscles atrophying and my mind numb with boredom. Everything is so easy on the bike, ride, eat, sleep, repeat as necessary. In my blindness I’m finding the boat to be more of a master than a servant but the bike has no bounds. Far too many hours spent in my quarter berth studying the very beautiful interior of Sookie. Aboard her I feel like I’m living inside a ukulele, I don’t want to give up my little home but the cold is too much, It taxes my days, my journal is a jumble of madness pictures of long winding roads, doodles of Brompty and upgrades, there are always upgrades. A polar shift is happening, I can only imagine where it will find me. “To bike, or not to bike: that is not a question”
I can’t imagine anything better in life than a day on my little Brompty. I had all sorts of errands to run and while I have a big new SUV at my disposal the Brompton was calling my name. I rode the path along the rivers edge into town. Two bike shops a cup of coffee, a little mingling and showing of my folding steed and lots of window shopping at my local REI.
I stopped at the university for a cold beer and more show and tell, I love Eugene and all of its hippie weirdness. Back on the trail I worked my way back to the winery to end my day with a bit of live music and a glass of my favorite Cab. Riding my little Brompty is just about the most fun I can imagine, smiling from ear to ear, the wind on my face and a nice beer from the local microbrew set the weekend buzz into motion. I swear there are days when I just want to mount this little girl and Ride her forever. I wonder how long it would take to ride her around the world, not that I would be in a hurry.
Little Sookie is only half the package, she gets me there and provides a roof over my head but once I arrive my two wheeled chariot shows me the sights, makes new friends and adds one more memory to the bank. I’m excited to explore every inch of the islands but for now this quirky little town always has something new to offer. Winter riding is a far cry from the lazy summer days I spent exploring this town by bike in the hundred degree balmy winds but winter in the PNW isn’t really winter.
She’s all cleaned up and ready for a weekend at the coast. I envision fresh eggs and bacon, a hot latte and a fire place to warm my frozen bones between rides to here, there and everyehere. I’ve got good tunes in the iPhone, my tiny bag is packed and I don’t have anywhere to be till Tuesday. Life is good when you have a bike…
As a kid I had a dream – I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bike in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it in my bed. ~ John Lennon, The
I’ve always had a bike on my boat, usually a folder . I have never once rowed it to shore, but from the dock dwelling prospective they are awesome. I’ve been a dock queen out in the islands all summer as the most I can get away with right now is short day sails. It always makes me smile to see people walking their bikes down the dock as they are the best tools for exploration, provisioning or just a ride to a new pub.
A couple of years ago an a snowy Christmas Eve I strapped my panniers on my Dahon and rode up to the local co-op, only a few miles away but too far to walk. All bundled up with pink cheeks and a pink nose it felt great peddling through the brisk evening.
I saw a friend driving in circles in the impossibly crowded parking lot when I arrived. I locked my dog and bike to a pole and did my shopping. I found everything I wanted and everything fit in nice and snug with a french roll strapped on top. My friend was still driving around looking for a spot to park in when I unlocked the bike and treated Chloe to a snack. Next was the chocolatier for a good bar of chocolate and then the video store for a christmas movie. It was down hill all the way and I rode right to my boat. I unclipped the saddle bags and put them in the boat folded the bike and stowed it in the aft locker and put everything away. This took about 5 minutes.
When my then wife got home I had hot buttered rum, fresh rolls and home made cream of mushroom soup waiting. I’m guessing by this time my friend had done her shopping and was fighting traffic to get home.
Like boats bikes come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. If you don’t own a bike but you have the means I highly suggest you go out and find a perfect match, it just may save your life. In a few short weeks I will celebrate my five year anniversary with going car-less.
“When you’re turning the crankset, you’re riding the bike. When you’re coasting, you’re just along for the ride.” ~ Ned Overend