This is it.  The last post on my tour.  I’m really sorry it took so long.  I just kept putting it off.  I should probably kick that habit before school starts again.  Anyways…

Day 17, March 19, San Rafael – San Francisco, 20ish miles

 

The weather this morning was probably the most temperamental I’d had all trip.  I had a great breakfast with Steve and Darcy and Steve had offered to lead me out of town.  However, we didn’t get too early of a start as it was raining off and on for a good long while.  We’d just talk while it was raining and as soon as we realized it had stopped raining, we’d pack up and get ready to go… and then it would start raining again.  This went on for a little while.  Eventually we just decided to go despite the rain.  I quickly found that it really looked worse out than it was and it was a pretty nice day out, even if it was a bit cloudy.  Steve led me through San Rafael’s extensive bike paths which were really nice just really confusingly connected.  Steve led me through Fairfax county until it was simply a straight shot to San Francisco

 

I

Steve was also nice enough to take some pictures for me

 

I was able to follow the directions Steve had given me all the way to Sausalito and when I caught sight of the Golden Gate Bridge I figured that if I just headed in that general direction, I’d be fine.  This was however not a such a good plan.  Following this logic, I went through a tunnel and downhill quite a ways and found myself by the Golden Gate Bridge, I was just under it.  I spent a good long time looking at my map trying to figure out where I was  At this point, the rain started to pick up and I realized that I had to climb back up the hill I had just descended.  My brakes were also not in the best working order at this time.  I was not terribly happy about this but found where I was and was able to get back up the hill and to a point that I felt was in the right direction.  At this time, I would have been pretty whiny had anyone else been around and I was feeling a little down.  That’s when I noticed a bunch of people running on some trails that was crisscrossing the road I was on.  I then found what looked like a SAG station under a canopy where these runners were eating M&Ms and other instant energy forms of food.  I asked the guy helping out with SAG how far everyone was running.  He told me they were doing a 50k (31 miles, 5 miles more than a marathon).  Suddenly I didn’t feel all that tired.

Perspective, here to save the day!

 

I went on my way, and after nearly getting on the road that would lead me across the bridge with cars, I was able to find the bike path.  It was raining pretty hard at this point.

This was the only picture I took of the bridge before booking to the other side.

 

When I got to the other side, a passing cyclist helped me find a non-hilly route to the place I was staying that night.  I made it to where I was going after nearly crashing into a few buses.  I met my hosts, Evan and Valkerie, and Valkerie’s sister, Venus, who was visiting for spring break.  Soon after arriving, they asked if I wanted to join them on a trip to a hackerspace called Noisebridge to help work on an art project.  They were making a map made out of wine corks so that bike tourist or other travelers that they hosted could put a pin in it from where they were from.  This sounded really cool, so I went with them to Noisebridge and helped with their cork map.  After many fingers were burnt from the glue gun, we finished the major continents (sorry Antarctica).

 

You see little Australia down there, all me.

 

We carried the continents back to the apartment, ate dinner, and watched a movie (In Bruges) before going to bed.

 

Day 18, March 20, San Francisco, Rest Day

 

The next morning, we went for a bike ride by the pier before saying goodbye to Venus as she was going back to LA.  For the rest of the day, Evan and Valkerie gave me a tour of the city.  We visited the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate State Park:

 

walked through the Haight district:

A cool sculture in the Haight

they showed me the coolest statue in San Francisco:

Evan, Valkerie, and YODA!!

saw some cool (greek-like?) architecture,

 

 

went down Lumbard St.,

and ate at Ghiradelli Square.

To be more specific: Ate ice cream at Ghiradelli Square. MMmmm!

 

Just being able to ride around San Francisco was great too.  With the exception of having to weave around buses near downtown, San Francisco was an awesome city to bike around despite all the hills.  After exploring the city, the rain forced us back to the apartment and Evan and Valkerie told me about and showed me photos of their six-month bike tour around Europe which looked like is was just totally awesome.

 

Day 19, March 21, San Francisco, Another Rest Day

 

Today, I explored San Francisco by myself as Evan and Valkerie had to go to work.  With some suggestions from them, I was off.

 

I first went off to Buena Vista park, walked around and snapped some pictures.

 

 

and then headed towards the coast by way of Golden Gate Park.

California Acadamy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park

A giant windmill that I passed

The San Francisco coast

And then it was a little bit after this that I got a bit lost and just started roaming around the city.

 

 

I eventually found my way over to Twin Peaks.

 

Then I just continued to roam around the city.

A neat little plaza by the Castro

 

Later on, I met up with a woman named Sachi, who I’d been in contact with trying to set up a presentation about El Grupo.  The presentation never materialized but Sachi was still interested in hearing about El Grupo.  She took me around to a couple bike shops around town.

 

Afterwards I met back up with Evan and Valkerie.  We hung out at their apartment for the rest of the night and watched Memento (awesome movie) and Death Race (awesome but not so intelligent movie).

 

Day 20, March 22, San Francisco – Belmont, 24 miles

 

I woke up that morning, packed up and rode out with Valkerie as far as the train station. Then I was on my way out of the city.  Once I was out of San Francisco and past Daly City, I got on the historic El Camino Real and figured I could take that all the way to Belmont.

A pretty cool archway to a cemetary just outside Daly City

This wasn’t the case.  Just before going through San Mateo, I got of El Camino because the bike lane disappeared.  I just headed south and tried to stay close to El Camino.  Somehow this brought me into the San Francisco International Airport.  Thankfully, there’s bike lanes on nearly all the roads at the airport, so getting through wasn’t to hard.  After getting out the the airport, I found myself on a bike path that followed the bay.

 

I was able to ride this most of the way to Belmont.  There, I met up with some family friends, Pedro and his son Iker, who were giving me a place to stay that night.  They took me out to dinner and hung out with me at their house.  It was a pretty relaxed day.

 

Day 21, March 23, Belmont – Santa Cruz, 55 miles
The next morning was another one of those mornings where the rain kept me from getting back out on the road at the time I had wanted to.  I don’t think I left until 10 am and even then it was still raining and I had just left because I couldn’t wait any longer if I wanted to get to Santa Cruz safely before dark.  I made it out of Belmont, without incident and headed towards Palo Alto to check out Stanford.

I spent a bit of time just roaming around campus before working my way to the Palo Alto hills.  I decided not to get lunch at Stanford as it was kind of pricey and I figured that there would be a place somewhere down the road where I would be able to eat.  This was not such a good idea it turns out.  I started going through the Palo Alto hills and quickly realized that there wouldn’t be a place to eat for a good long while.  It was at this time that I broke out some Guiridelli chocolate (pure energy!!) that Evan and Valkerie had gotten me in San Francisco.  It helped me get over all those hills and the ascents that never seemed to end.  I was in my granny gear for a good long time.  It was also sometime during these climbs that my phone bounced out of my jersey pocket and… well, I lost it.  (I’ll come back to that later)

 

Thankfully, after a few hours of climbing, I was rewarded with a long down hill that took me right into Santa Cruz.  I stopped in at a coffee shop and borrowed someones phone to contact Siobhan, my WarmShowers host for the night.  I still had some time to kill before she got home so I decide to go check out the Bike Churh, the local bike cooperative.  I hadn’t been able to set up a presentation about El Grupo there but I was still interested in checking it out.  I rolled into the little courtyard and parked my bike when a woman walked out and asked me, “Are you Marcos?”  I said yeah, very confused that someone there would know who I was.  She gave me a high five for being on bike tour and told me that my dad had called them a little earlier.  A little less confused now, I called my dad on the phone they had there and found out that someone had picked up my phone near Stanford and dropped it off at a phone store where they called my parents and told them I had lost my phone and now Pedro (our family friend from Belmont) had picked it up from the store and was on his way to Santa Cruz to give it to me. (pretty awesome, right) Realizing how lucky I was to be getting my phone back, I headed over to Siobhan’s house to make sure I got there before Pedro.  I got there, met Siobhan and her roommates and shortly after Pedro arrived with my phone.  The stress of doing the rest of this trip without a phone disappeared.

 

Also, at this point, I had found out that part of Highway 1 had collapsed into the ocean due to the storm and erosion.  I had seen pictures of the washout and saw that there was still a lane that was relatively unharmed and figured I’d be able to walk across whenever I got to that stretch of road. Luckily, Siobhan works for CalTran and told me they weren’t letting anybody go through, even if they’re on foot.  If she hadn’t told me this, I would have had to backtrack from the washout when I got there.  She helped me find an alternate route that wouldn’t take me that far out of the way.

 

Day 22, March 24, Santa Cruz to Monterey, 45 miles

 

I woke up the next morning that it was storming with no chance of stopping.  I hit the road that morning with every single bit useful rain gear on and a strong wind going against me.  I had trouble getting over 10 mph most of the time and got lost going through some farm land.  I was eventually able to get back on the highway.  The whole way, I was searching for a bike path I had heard paralleled the highway.  It wasn’t until I was about 15 miles away from Monterey that I finally spotted it.  Unfortunately, I had to drag my bike through some pretty rough sand that got on my rims.  I forgot to clean it off and the next time I tried to stop, the sand ripped through my rear brake pads.  I tried to clean the rims off after this but it had stopped raining and I didn’t have that much water left.  I did what I could with the water I had and continued on the bike path.

 

I got into Monterey (it was raining again), got in touch with Lauren, my WarmShowers host, and took a bike path almost all the way to her house.  When, I got there, she and her roommate were having a get together and making curry.  I think I timed my stay in Monterey pretty well.  I hung out with them the rest of the night, at curry, and talked to Lauren and her roommate about the Iron Man triathlon they were planning on doing.  Later, Lauren helped me solidify my route for the next day as the Highway 1 washout had trashed my original route.

Day 23, March 25, Monterey – King City

 

The next morning, I was able to leave with a bit of sun in the sky.  I made my way out of Monterey and past a bunch of powerlines that had been downed during the storm the day before. (yeah it had been pretty bad)  It started raining pretty bad again when I got back on the highway, but almost as soon as I turn off, going towards my new route through Carmel Valley, the sun came back out and it stopped raining.  By bi-passing the Highway 1 washout, I was skipping the Big Sur beach area that I had heard people raving about when I talked to them about the route.  However, I think the trade-off to to Carmel Valley was pretty good.

The rain kept away for the rest of the day even though it was pretty cloudy.  Overall it was a pretty relaxing day (relatively at least).  I rolled into a small town called King City, got a celebratory Snickers for having such an awesome ride, and biked over to a small campground where I set up my tent and spent the rest of the evening.

 

Day 24, March 26, King City Paso Robles, 64 miles

 

So as far as weather goes, as you can tell by all the rain, a series of crazy storms had been rolling along the California coast for the past couple weeks.  However, everyone I’d talked to said that it was supposed to be over on March 27.  So I only had one more day of rain before it cleared up.  This gave me a lot of motivation to get on the road as soon as I could and get to Paso Robles so I could be done with this awful weather.  The day had other plans for me I guess.

 

I was able to get a pretty early start and headed out before it started to rain.  I was on the road for a good couple hours before arriving  at a town called San Ardo.  Following the directions I had gotten from the now untrustworthy Google maps, I headed down a road that I thought was taking me down a road that would keep me off the highway.  Well, it kept me off the highway.  It also led me through some very not-so-scenic oil fields.  I spent a good 2 hours trying to find a way through those oil fields before going back to San Ardo and  getting on the highway.  It also had started to rain at this point.  On the highway, I had a huge shoulder, but it was so cracked that I had to adjust my front panniers every few yards because of all the bumps.  After another couple hours of biking, I also got pulled over by a cop who told me I couldn’t be on the highway (which I guess was a freeway) despite the bicycle-specific signage, lack of a frontage road, and bicycle lane leading out of all the exits.  He escorted me (drove right behind me while I biked in the rain) to the next exit, which fortunately was the one I was supposed to take.  He left after I was off the freeway.

 

I passed through the town of San Miguel and found a country road that would take me straight to Paso Robles.  Even though it was still raining pretty hard, things were looking pretty good.  I knew exactly where I was and where I was going and I was no more than an hour away from Paso Robles.  Then I came across this:

 

After everything I'd gone through in the past 3 weeks, this really didn't phase me.

Well, I “forded the river” since I was totally soaked already and fared better than that car.  I pedaled into Paso Robles a little bit afterwards.  I arrived at Diane’s, my host, house really tired.  She and her family live in a cohousing community (like Stone Curves), where they set me up in the guest room.  It was kind of nice to have a room all to and when the rain stopped I was able to give my bike a good cleaning.

My bike just chillin

 

Day 25, March 27, Paso Robles – San Luis Obispo, 34 miles

When I started out the day, the sun was shining and there was no sign of any chance of rain in the sky.  I was done with the storms.  Diane helped me out with some directions that would lead me out of town and I was on my way.  Not only was it not raining, but I had a tailwind, FOR THE FIRST TIME!!!  I was so happy.  The day was a piece of cake.  I made a quick stop in a town for Atascadero for lunch and made it to San Luis Obispo in the early afternoon.

One of the roads leading out of Paso Robles

Before arriving in San Luis Obispo, I had to go down the longest, straightest, and steepest descent which was super fun and made all the more interesting by my destroyed rear brake pads.  Once I got into San Luis Obispo, I stopped in a cool coffee shop called the Kreuzberg and figured out where I was staying and where the Bike Kitchen (local bike co-op was).  I went over to the Bike Kitchen and was able to pick up some new brake pads.

A not so steep portion of the descent

I then headed over to the Dwyer residence where I was staying.  I met Nancy Dwyer and her friend (whose name I can’t remember).  I never met her husband Tom as he had been called unexpectedly into work earlier that day.  However, it just so happened that I was staying with them on a night they were having a dinner party with a friend.  It was nice to be able to talk with a bunch of people after being on the bike by myself for a while.  It was also nice to be eating so much delicious food (I guess this goes for all the people who hosted me).  I really felt like I was on the “downhill” portion of the trip and could relax a little more and not worry about being blown off the road by some crazy storm.

 

Day 26, March 28, San Luis Obispo – Orcutt, 40 miles
I woke up the next morning to find I had yet another sunny day and crazy awesome tailwind.  I was covering ground faster than I had any day before.  My route took me past the coast again and it was nice to see it without a bunch of clouds over head for once.

It finally looks like spring!

It took me a little over 2 hours to cover the forty miles to Orcutt, which was quite an accomplishment compared to the speed I’d been averaging a few weeks before.  I arrived at the residence of Bill Korn and his family, where I had lunch and talked for a bit.  I also had the opportunity to take a crazy long nap.  That day wasn’t all that tiring but I think the last couple weeks were just catching up with me.

 

Day 27, March 29, Orcutt – Carpenteria, 96 miles

 

In the morning, Bill biked with me out of town and talked with me about bikes the whole way (pretty much everyone I’ve stayed with talked with me about bikes, I never ever got tired of it).  I had a slight uphill for awhile to start my day but after that, the wind pretty much carried me the whole way.

Biking out of Orcutt (I chose not to go over those mountains)

 

I made it to Santa Barbara around 5 o’clock only to find there weren’t any campgrounds around.  Instead of just plopping my tent and stuff wherever, I biked the extra 10 miles to Carpinteria where I found a really nice campground.

 

Day 28, March 30, Carpineria -Leo Carrillo State Beach, 50 miles

 

Well, the started off pretty good when some woman came over when I was packing up my gear and gave me an orange because the thought I was homeless.  I’m guess that I was looking pretty grody at that point.  I got on the road at a reasonable time and was able to follow the coast for almost the whole day.

My route took me through Ventura which was a very touristy town and looked like the neighborhood from the old show The Beverly Hill Billies.

 

What everyone thought California looked like in the 50's.

 

A bit after this, I got a little lost going through and trying to get out of Oxnard.  There was a part of the way where I had reached an intersection where I could either left or right and I had no idea which I should take.  I don’t think I had any food and my water was pretty low as it was a really hot day.  Thankfully, another cyclist came along and gave me some directions and a banana.

The cyclist told me that I would be going the right way if I saw this.

After this, it was pretty much a straight shot to Leo Carrillo state park.  I got there and realized that throughout my trip, I hadn’t gone swimming in the ocean.  I set up camp really quickly, changed into my swimsuit and biked over to the shore.  It was pretty cold.  I didn’t stay in there for long.  I made my way back to my campsite and cooked my last bag of pasta as this was my last planned night of camping (woo hoo).

I also took this picture:

Mustache! (kind of)

 

Day 29, March 31, Leo Carrillo State Park- Santa Monica, 30 miles

I woke up that morning, my last real day of riding, only to find I had a flat.   And the a couple days before I had also gotten a flat, so my spare also had a hole in it.  I decided just to patch both tubes but when I put the old one in, the tire was still flat.  I found another hole, patched it, and put the other tube in just in case.  That one came up flat too.  I put in the tube I had just patched and it seemed to be holding air.  I swear I could hear a leak though.  I decided my brain was just playing games with me and started on the road.  I stopped at the first bike shop I passed to grab a new spare tube.  Just in case.

 

Within about 7 miles I reached Malibu, which was a super scenic stretch of road.  Traffic was pretty heavy though.

 

After about twenty miles of this…

 

I MADE IT!!

I was in Santa Monica at this point and got off the highway onto a bike path that went through the beach (that’s the best way to put it).

I was so excited by this bike path that I rode a few more miles down the coast than I needed to.

The Santa Monica Pier

I was made my way into downtown Santa Monica and got a hold of Ken and Liya, my WarmShowers hosts.  I arrived at their house and after lunch, they took me to go check out Venice Beach.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures except for the the skate park and the graffiti wall.

There was a seven year old kid here making everyone else look bad.

I think that this wall is more paint than concrete.

Afterwards, they took me to the most amazing Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in one sitting.  I think I was just so happy to pretty much be done.  I think we all struggled on the way back to there house because of how much we had eaten.  Once we got to there place, Ken lent me the book of XKCD comics he had.  I think I stayed up for another hour and a half to read through the whole thing.

 

Day 30, April 1, Santa Monica, Rest Day

I had this day to go be touristy and I was trying to figure out what to do.  First, I headed over to the Third Street Promenade which is pretty much a full street that is open only to pedestrians.

Afterwards I’d figured I’d bike over to Hollywood and check out the walk of fame.  Earlier that morning I had told Liya this and she kind of advised against it as it was pretty sketchy traffic-wise and not all that exciting.  For some reason I just thought: that can’t be true, it’s Hollywood.

 

I really wish I had taken her advice.  It took me about 2 hours to make the 10 miles to Hollywood and it was the most stressful 10 miles I have every ridden.  After leaving Santa Monica, I never had a bike lane and the roads were just awful.  When I finally got to Hollywood I really just had the feeling of: well, I made it, now what?

 

I took this picture and quickly headed back to Santa Monica

I took my time getting back to Santa Monica and roamed around for a bit before going back to Ken and Liya’s place.  I ended up really liking Santa Monica, Hollywood not so much.

Day 31, April 2, Santa Monica – USC, 12 miles

Although I was planning to stay in the Los Angeles area for another night, Ken and Liya couldn’t host for that particular night.  Fortunately, I had gotten into contact with Venus, Valkerie’s sister who I had met in San Francisco.  She was at school at USC and had offered me a place to stay once I was down in LA.  So, that’s where I was off to.  I spent the morning on the Third Street Promenade listening to some bands that were playing at the time. I took off towards USC around noon and made a quick stop at the Bikerowave, another local coop, just to check it out.

 

Afterwards, I started biking away and just as I was a mile away, I had a pretty annoying mechanical.

yup, that spoke isn't supposed to look like that.

So, I had broken a spoke and I was a mile away from the Bikerowave so I could have taken it there and used the tools they had there.  However, having broken a good many spokes in my time, I knew that I could do it right there on the sidewalk.

I fixed the spoke, and was on my way again when I ran into another obstacle.

This was starting to just get ridiculous

I got off my bike and walked it through the ten blocks that was this fair and road the rest of the way to USC without incident.  I got there, met up with Venus, and then we tried to figure out what to do.  We went over to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and got free admission as they were closing in 20 minutes.  We went back to her apartment, had dinner, and I think I crashed out on the couch soon after.

 

Day 32, April 3rd, USC – Griffiths Park, 10 miles (LAST DAY!)

So, my dad was picking me up this morning somewhere in LA and Venus had a meeting she had to go to most of the day.  I decided that it be better to find a place for my dad to pick me up that would give me an opportunity to ride through more of LA.  I figured Griffiths park would be a good choice since downtown LA was placed right between USC and Griffiths park.  So I set and and rode to Griffiths Park, going through downtown LA.  On any other day this would probably have been a terrible day, but this was a Sunday and there was absolutely no traffic at all.  I took my time getting there a took some cool pictures:

Staples Center

Walt Disney Concert Hall

 

I arrived at Griffiths Park well before my dad was going to get there.  Before I got there, I figured that I’d bike around the park, check out the observatory there and some other neat stuff it supposedly had.  I got there and found out that Griffiths Park was really just one big really steep hill.  I decided that I just needed to relax, so I got some lunch and read a magazine that I had picked up at USC until my dad came and picked me up.

 

 

Thanks everyone for reading (if you made it to this point) and thanks to all those who supported me on my trip.  This is most definitely not something I would have been able to do on my own.   I’d like to also thank everyone who gave me a place to stay on my trip.  This was one of the (if not the) most amazing experiences I’ve ever had a chance to have and I couldn’t recommend a trip like this more highly to anyone thinking about it.

Anyways, off to Luna Lake…

2 Responses to “Last tour post by Marcos (its a long one), San Rafael – Los Angeles”

  1. adkisson

    Wow, Marcos! A trip of a lifetime. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. kathleendreier

    Loved reading of your adventures, Marcos….the rain, the mustache, the phone…..it was a great read that made me crack up several times…thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us.