the art of deciding to go on a bike tour
I dislike being alone. It isn't the loneliness that gets me, it is my constant presence that I do not enjoy. I can't get away from me - like a twin attached at birth, with the sole purpose to irritate and embarrass the real me. Regrettably, the twin is there, and will remain there in spite of my best efforts to drown, choke, or abandon it.
I've been aware of this twin since the first time I stole from a friend and lied about it. Or, when the twin speaks up to act tough, and then disappears when it's time to fight. It's my jealously, my selfishness, my greed.
So, off we went together, on a 10 day bike tour up the coast of California. I had decided to spend some quality time with my evil twin, and see if we couldn't hash some things out.
Actually, it was my evil twin that had decided we do this. She had it in her mind that this trip would make her better than me. She was sick of being weak, and unaccomplished. It was time we did something great, or at least something of note. My twin saw others accomplishing so much, and I agreed with her. It was about time that we get recognized, and praised.
Make it hard, she said. People like hard, they want to see you suffer.
Agreeing, I decided to ride the first two weeks of March from Portland to San Francisco. It would surely be wet, and cold - perfect conditions for proving you're worth a damn. I bought a one way flight from San Jose back to Portland on March 17. $70, so I was committed.
As the days draw closer, the rain continued to fall. Fuck. It will be very cold and wet, which was the plan, but what a terrible plan! Strength abandoned me in my time of need, and I changed directions. Instead of North to South, as all who ride the Pacific Coast do, I will fly down to LA and ride North, ending with the flight back that I already had.
Perfect. I will get some sunshine, and finding camping along the coast will be easy. I will also have plenty of time as I have paced the 500 total miles out to about 50 a day. Pfft, any slob can do it, including this one - mutters my twin, as she slaps me crudely on the back. As if the first route wasn't already easy enough!
It is then that I realize what I've done. 10 days of bitter, inescapable cruelty as I chug along alone up the California coast with my internal monologue and a couple of audiobooks. But, we've needed this bonding time. My twin has been running things a little too long, and I have been putting it off.
Are you excited for your trip? My co-workers kindly asked. Can't wait! I courteously replied, as we wait the 45 more seconds until their lunch is ready. You're so lucky to be getting out into the sunshine! They continue. Mmhmm, I nodded. Faking in agreement that luck has anything to do with it.
Another week or so goes by, and I decide to turn a video camera on myself. It would be great if everyone got to see how awesome I am! I'll film getting my bike ready, and the preparations, and the whole thing! And I'll make a small film, and it'll be fun!
It'll be something.
I sat down and started getting used to the camera on my face. I brought it around as I practiced packing and loading my bike, making sure I had everything I needed. I replaced my chain, swapped to thinner tires, and put on flaired bars for extra room. Then took it all apart. My flight was scheduled for March 6th at 11:45am. I boxed my bike the night before, and planned to take the train to the airport. Cody made me pancakes, as I had my coffee. He was going to help me carry everything to the check-in counter. I pride myself on packing light, but the box weighed in at about 70 lbs. 5 stone.
I thought about swimming in the ocean. That was all I looked forward to. Not that I didn't want to ride my bike, I did. But, the ocean is what I was excited about as we sat on the train. I also wanted a skateboard. But, packing that on the bike wasn't practical, Cody reminded me. I arrived in Burbank a celebrity, though no one around me knew. My bike had arrived early and was tucked in the corner of the single carousel baggage claim. I envisioned Tom Hanks walking out of the gate, peaking his interest, and engaging him in a unassuming chat about my ride. Us elites arriving back home.
I was on the bike by 2:30pm, needing to find a campsite in Malibu by sundown. I stopped in the nearest shop to air up my tires and ask for directions. The salesman was a kind and enthusiastic local, but had no ability to give me a heading. He said he could visualize it, but did not have the names. Like a mute that can only talk about bullshit. Thanking him for the air, I cruised around the corner to google it, so as to be out of his sight. 30 some miles through Hollywood and Beverly Hills, down onto highway 1. Easy. I connected my solar panel, gathering what energy I could for the night and turned into the bike lane.