The Bike is the Donkey
A few days ago I rode my bike home from Goleta. I now know why I didn’t really blog when I rode from Davis earlier this summer. There is just too damn much to write about. I broke down the entries into multiple parts. For those who lack confidence in their riding ability this is a great intro to bike touring. The Southern California route is flat and close to many amenities. There are some spots where you are riding with traffic, but this is America. You will always be riding with automobile traffic.
Dear Master(s) of the Universe,
Why does Laguna Beach hate me so much?
Why is bike riding so fun and so much exercise, but make my ass get bigger, not smaller?
These are two of the many questions I pondered whilst riding my bicycle through Southern California. No suitable answers were provided so I am left with no choice, but to move forward. This is the beauty of bicycle touring. Questions, concerns, fears, and anxieties arise, but are stymied with each successive stroke of the pedal. Bicycle touring is a catalyst to living in the now and freeing oneself from the prison of thoughts. Right before I kicked off my farewell to bum life bike tour with a nighttime ride from Goleta to Carpinteria, I ran into someone I used to casually see. Ironically, he told me I think and philosophize too much. If I sit still maybe I do, but when I’m on the move the mind is toned down. I had to go on another multiday ride before I am bound by responsibilities. Since doing my first tour in June I’ve been obsessed with going on another ride. Without much time or money I decided I should just stick with riding back down south from Santa Barbara. I went up for a bon voyage fete and thought why not? With bike touring the nowness is usually achieved. Sometimes I think too much, but in the end all is well.
The nighttime ride from Goleta to Carpinteria is a peaceful one, and I luckily manage to get into the state beach campsite late enough to avoid a ranger. You could easily bum camp in many places along the way. I chose to stay at the campsite so I could meet other tourists. Bike tourists got swag for days. Because it is labor day weekend the hike and bike is packed although there is no one to talk to. Everyone is peacefully tucked away in their tents. I find a couple trees, set up my hammock, and pass out.
Anyone who doesn’t have their head up their ass knows that when you go camping, precautions should be taken to protect food from critters. I thought about this for two seconds, but had too many Tecates to feel like doing anything. In the middle of the night I was woken up by movement under my ass. In my sleepy haze I just wiggled my butt to make it move away. I heard some rustling noise very close to me, but didn’t want to get up to deal with it. In the morning I assessed the damage. Rocky Raccoon must’ve stuck his grimy little claws into my pannier and massacred my package of tortillas. Luckily my broccoli obscured my brick of cheese and both remained unscathed. Respect and fear the raccoon. I’ve heard tales of raccoons learning how to flip latches, open zippers, detonate bombs. They are an advanced breed of being.
By the time I am up, most of the travelers are gone. From what I’ve observed bicycle tourists are a diligent group. Quick to go to bed, early to rise and ride. I haven’t gotten into this groove yet. After wiping the ample accretion of crust from my tear ducts I say hello to a middle aged fellow with a solid pair of legs. His name is JP Comstock. He is a certified badass. Turns out his work allows him to ride between SF and Ventura, A LOT. I did not ask Mr. Comstock how many times he had ridden this route, but turns out he has written a very detailed guide titled “Bicycling and Touring the Big Sur Coast” available here. He knows the route like the back of his hand. We discuss why my bicycle sucks for touring. He gives me a copy of another book he has written, a beginner’s guide to bicycle touring. He gives me a couple hot tips on good bikes I could find insanely cheap on craigslist because people don’t know what they have sitting in their garage. I swore to him I wouldn’t share the secret. He got his own on CL for $60, threw some nice components on there, and then uglified it so no one would steal it. He also reaffirmed Ortlieb bags are the way to go. Someday I too will have Ortliebs either when I get a sugar daddy or a real paycheck. Mr. Comstock and I discuss the national state of affairs, advises me to contact a bankruptcy lawyer, and then states he needs to ride after getting worked up discussing the political apathy of the nation’s young voters. Much valuable information was gleaned from Mr. Comstock. Play your cards right you too may meet JP Comstock on the road. Sounds like he’s a Cali coast fixture.
Mellow is the only word I can think of to describe the near 50 mile ride from Carp to Leo Carrillo SB. Like most of the SoCal route it is a flat ride. There is a small section of the 101 you have to ride between the 150 and the Seaside exit. The shoulder is fairly wide, and is a good intro to what it feels like to ride on the side of a highway. Feel free to stop between Carp and Ventura and laze at the beach. If you wake up in the morning there is plenty of time. It’s a good idea to stock up on food somewhere in Ventura or Oxnard. There are several Vons, Ralph’s, restaurants, crap food on the route or near the route. At Leo Carrillo there’s a beach store, but it expect to pay more. I personally don’t mind riding with a few extra pounds if it means I spend less. Nutrition on tour has always been a mystery to me. I always end up eating what is cheap and tastes good. I stopped at a Vons to try to write a check for cash back (misplaced my bankcard in a drunken snafu in santa barbara) because I suddenly craved Indian lunch buffet. This did not work. There were no check cashing places anywhere along the way. It was cheese, broccoli, mayonnaise, and canned salmon for me. The ride is pretty uninteresting between Ventura and Point Mugu. You do get to see some ag land and ride on government property!
Going into Malibu is a big farewell to the Central Coast. There’s the familiar vista of rocky cliffs against ocean. Then suddenly there are beachfront houses on stilts. Yuck. Right before you get to Leo Carrillo there is one last restaurant if you don’t feel like cooking. It’s called Neptune’s Net. I’m making a habit of stopping here, peeing, getting ice in my water bottle, and taking soy sauce packets. They also have a dispenser with tartar sauce. If you have money, they offer a wide selection of fried sea animals to give you diarrhea. Click on the link to see some shit that will make you nauseated.
Off to Leo Carrillo.