Wanderlust Remedy

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Category: bicycles

Mid-Spring Update

I watched the sunrise today. In the company of three wild and free souls, my wasted body laid in the sand bundled up in a found Mexican blanket and a thrifted parka from Joshua Tree.  I was the only one not holding onto a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon because my mind was caught up in the future.  Caught up in the “what I have to do later”, making the now irrelevant.  The goons in suits had pinned me down. There was the 75% empty bottle of Hornitos I had absorbed (with a little help from my friends, of course) that I was giving up for adoption.

Everyone’s face looked perfect in the light of dawn.  We are in the chrysalis together.  Our wings sticky, not yet ready for flight.  There’s so much uncertainty, but fuck it.  I sure sipped on that tequila a few hours before.

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What could possibly be lost? I’m already in the maze.  If there are some dead ends, I can turn around.  Who even says you need to be bound by the walls of the maze.  That’s what they want you to think. Climb over those walls! Go beyond the edges of the universe.

Yesterday is today and tomorrow was a week ago.

The Uber drivers thick foreign accent was amplified by humid Southern air. “You sure you want here?”

The cab idled in front of the Clermont Motor Hotel. It looked abandoned.  I just wanted to be somewhere else.  A few minutes before I was at the pub crawl put on by the conference. It proved to be the dullest of dulls.  Sitting in the bar, noshing on chicken wings, talking about careers, so on and on and on, felt like a bludgeoning. dull. dull.  I’m frantically am trying to make the puzzle pieces fit. My fist is smashing the cardboard bits. Eventually I give up. I ask the event photographer where a girl like me can find a more entertaining venue.  He tells me the Clermont Lounge. “You will love the Clermont Lounge.  There’s nowhere else like it.”

A Brazilian fellow attending the pub crawl starts a conversation with me as I finish my cocktail.  Everyone looks like a satirical skit of a conference pub crawl. Button up shirts letting loose by unbuttoning the top button.  I think I see what could be a chest hair. I tell him I am going to the Clermont Lounge.  His face goes from sexual interest into one of shock. With a furrowed brow he says, “Why would you want to go there?!” I ask what he’s talking about.  He won’t really divulge anymore information, but agrees to go with me. I ask if he’ll ask some of his cohorts if they’ll join. I envisioned a merry pack of people going somewhere more exotic. Usually introverted my drunken self took pride in my ability to corral and move packs of people. Or so I thought. I excuse myself to the bathroom, and when I come out I see the Brazilian already deep in conversation with two new women.  I reckon this will be another solo mission and step outside to smoke a cigarette and wait for my Uber.

The uber drivers thick foreign accent was amplified by humid Southern air. “You sure you want here?”

Fuck it. I could be in the middle of the most dangerous neighborhood in Atlanta for all I know, but I want something sharp to cut into me. A quick cut or a slow bludgeoning death? Stab away. I see a red staircase on the side of the abandoned motel leading down down down to somewhere unknown.  A descent to hell? As I walk down I hear voices and music and a sense of relief.  I made it.  A billy goat gruff sat on a stool next to the entrance.  I turn my head to the left.  The sign slapped me in the face.

Clermont Lounge

Atlanta’s Most Popular Adult Club

Reasonably Priced Drinks

A small additional sign said, “NO CAMERAS.” I hand Billy Goat Gruff my identification card and in I go.

photo 4

I’m on autopilot.

I get cash out of the ATM.  A drunk girl in a peasant skirt and long hippy hair runs into me.  She grabs on my arm and tells me I’m pretty.  A blond girl peaks her head out of the bathroom and grabs the hippy girl violently saying come on. I find a non-threatening space at the bar and order my spring of ’14 standard, a gin and soda with lime and a shot of tequila.  Alcohol slips through my system too easily these days. A quite rotund middle-aged white woman with short skunk hair, a tank top, and a skirt gets up on a stage in the middle of the bar. She slowly wiggles her hips and begins to take her clothes off.  Oddly enough none of this makes me feel uneasy. Watching this conventionally overweight and unattractive older woman get naked and dance made me feel relaxed.  I start talking to the guy next to me. He and his five friends next to him were there for a fun weekend away from Savannah.  They went to a music festival headlined by Outkast, and caught a Braves game.  This was their last night out; the Clermont Lounge was the cherry on the top of their outing.  The trip would not be complete without it. I notice most of the people in the bar are nonthreatening twenty-something hipsters. Is that me? Jump back jump forward.  I’m in the back of a truck riding through light rain.

Into an unknown situation.

Another day, another night, another day.

I rent a bicycle after the conclusion of the conference. My destination is Atlantic Station.  I had written a paper about this place at school.  It was my case study.  Retrofitting Inner-Ring Suburbs.  The place was awful.  A bad case study. Another Southern California mall export.  Where do you want to be escaping to?  Disney will make it for you whilst you sport some H&M for your S&M later on tonight.

I rode back to the bike shop to return the rental, an older man in tight cuffed pants, with a small u-lock in his back pocket, and a purple single speed and I talk about bicycles and planning.  He offers to give me a guided tour of Atlanta.  For the next three hours we go through the Freedom Parkway, Little Five Points, Candler Park, Druid Hills, skim the Emory campus, drink a double gin and soda in the Virginia Highlands, back through Piedmont Park and Midtown, to his house on the edge of the Buckhead area.

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Somewhere in my gin and soda in the Virginia Highlands I decide I want to watch some live music. He opens the free weekly to the section listing all the shows.  I struggle between wanting to see Avey Tare’s slasher flicks or Bombino.  I pick the latter for no special reason.  We drop the bicycles off at his house and he gives me my first ever convertible ride in his swanky BMW.  I was tempted to ask him to drive me around all night long, but the fried chicken accumulating in my lower intestine told me to dance.  And dance I did. The mistakes we learn from.

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The green numbers on the LED clock cause me to yell a hearty fuck.  7:32.  My plane had departed approximately 35 minutes before that.  I wake the stranger next to me.  The blinds are drawn and all is dark.  My fingernails dig into my scalp.  Exhale.  Move the fuck foward. I make it back to California albeit 12 hours later than I wanted to.  My body was wasted.  The mistakes we learn from.

So many mantras are gained when you are on the move.  7:32 I had to be at work at 8, but it was her last night in town and everyone looked so perfect in the sunrise.  A common thread tied me to everyone and everything by the ocean this morning.  I smelled of stale cigarettes, booze, and B.O.  Then I recognize that I am the ocean and my friend and the sand.  We are little bundles of atoms shifting from one form of energy to the next.  I give my friend a long hug goodbye and she tells me my hair smells good.  I’m wearing a long parka I got from a thrift store in Joshua Tree, sunglasses, and a hat that says cock; they are all me too.

Everywhere all the time.  Never alone, but never together.  We are each in our own chrysalis dangling from a blooming flower.  And when it wilts it will feed my bloom.  Sticky wings flap.  They dry.  Off I go to one day become more food for all the flowers about to bloom in the light of dawn.

An Open Letter to My Bicycle

My Beloved Bicycle,

I pulled up next to you this morning in my beat up van, exhausted, alone, lost.  Really I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I saw you still there, intact, undisturbed after what I’m sure was a pretty raucous Halloween weekend.  You are locked in front of some of the lamest, yet most frequented dance establishments in this little college town.  I had not seen you since Wednesday night when I went to get a drink after my class was over at 10 PM.

I’m sorry I left you.  I took a cab home.  It wasn’t for the usual reasons of why I leave you abandoned on a main street, vulnerable to any passerby with a destructive mind.  I know in the past I’ve left you locked up in front of bars while I am too wasted to use you to get me home.  Yes I’ve been a bad drunk to you.  I’ll never forget that evening when I left you locked up in front of the Sportsman after a nice holiday Midnight Ridazz ride when I couldn’t stop taking tequila shots.  Not only did I throw up all over myself and the back of my friend’s car, I lost the key to the lock I put around you to keep you safe.   I made sure to come back as soon as I could to make a public spectacle on Figueroa Street with a Sawsall to get back in your saddle.  Or how could I forget the time after a long drug and booze filled Cinco de Mayo where I lost another key.  I had the SB Fire Department cut you loose.  I never thought about your safety while I partied.  This time I left you not to have  drunken fun.

I was just tired, weak, and full of sadness.  It’s been a couple months of feeling despondent.  I’m despondent for a variety of reasons, but partly because I haven’t gotten to enjoy you like I typically do.  Really bici, you have defined me more than anything, anyone else.  I remember when I first met you as an adult.  It was out of irresponsibility that we ended up together.  I totaled a car and was shit out of money, but I’m glad I was.  You showed me a better way to live.  You showed me to slow down and smell the world.  You’ve introduced me to some of my closest friends.  We enjoy days and nights of moving through space and being present in it.  We don’t cut ourselves off from the elements.  You’ve also taught me to think about how I treat my world and reconsider what progress and growth really mean.

You are beautiful and incredible.  This is not to say we have had our tough times.  There are times I am too physically or emotionally vulnerable to push my body through the hot or the cold to get to where I need to be.  I want someone else to come help me, or to hold my hand.  It is when I use you to commute that we have our greatest dysfunctions.  I just want to be with you for fun, but I have to work and go to school.  My responsibilities keep me from spending quality time with you.  It’s always rushed, and somewhat bitter times.  This is especially true if I’m having a difficult time with a lover or overloaded with work.  Lately I’ve been emotionally spent.  I know you can’t come in and give me a warm embrace.  I have to warmly embrace you.

Perhaps this is the biggest lesson you have taught me my bici.  Inner strength and inner peace.  When I spent a month with you traveling down the coast I never felt more empowered.  Day and night we just existed without anyone to rely on emotionally or physically.  We just were.  Sometimes you would give me trouble, but I would make sure to slow down and see what was wrong.  I breathed and knew all I had was myself.  You were the first thing I thought of when my boyfriend and I of five years parted ways.  I grabbed you, and put you on the train with me when I ran away.  I rode you around when I did not know what I was going to do with my life.  You helped me just exist in the moment.  This lesson rings true in my recent tough times.  Only difference is I have not had that free time to just be with you and the ocean.  I know we will have our time again soon and it will be sweet.

Until then I will look at you from afar and wipe a tear from my eye.  Thanks for all the memories and helping me to take care of myself.  You are not just a political statement, a symbol of a subculture, a mode of transportation, you are an expression of myself and how I can truly love myself when no one else can.

With much love,

Juana del oeste

From Hard Liquor Drinker to Wine Sipper in 3 Steps

The consumption of legal stimulants cause my slow human specimen of a self to be whipped into a frenzy.  On a warm, yet lonesome Monday night I ride my yellow 1980s Specialized Rock Hopper around San Luis Obispo.  The air is kept comfortable by the cloud cover.  A trip to deposit some loose change into my checking account becomes something greater.

Summertime is special in San Luis Obispo.  Actually it is something special in any college town.  With the onset of summer there isn’t much sexual energy pooling on the streets.  As I get older, the highly sexual parade of bar scenes seems awkward like teenaged girls heavily made up in their prom dresses trying to play the part of a glamorous, sophisticated, affluent starlet.  I never dared to play that role.

During my ride I feel the need to write in my little black moleskine.  I stop at a late-night eatery.  Trying to fool myself into thinking I’m better than sitting on the sidewalk late at night, I scrounge together a dollar and seven cents to loiter in a private space through the purchase of a cookie.  I sit down at a metal table outside which faces Higuera Street, SLO’s main drag.  A man with a five o’clock shadow and a weathered face is smoking a cigarette.  I can’t tell if he’s homeless or a just some barfly taking a break from the fun of kareoke night next door.  I offer him the cookie.  He playfully asks me if I put anything on it.  Not in the mood for much conversation I dryly tell him the true purpose of my cookie purchase.  “I just want to sit out here without issues with the management.”  He hesitantly takes the cookie and says thanks.

For a Monday night there is sufficient activity to meet my voyeuristic needs.  MoTav has kareoke, Frog and Peach has an open jam night.  Tourists and townies stroll up and down the street.  I had just drank a 2/3’s of a small coffee, a rare indulgence for me, and can’t keep still. The pennies in my coffers funded these little purchases.  I am confused as to why I have not been able to save money for the past 27 years of my life.  I hypothesize it might have to do with my equal inability to master sobriety.  I’m caught betwixt the fond memories of crazy nights and painful realities of the consequences of too much fun.  Mistakes don’t come cheap.  Tonight though, I keep my mirror clean and reflect because I’m on the flip side of a metamorphosis.

About two weeks before, I sat inebriated at the same eatery, in the same chair.  Many mistakes had been made up to that point.  Everything had reached critical mass.  Sometimes letting the crust accrete in one’s eyes is what causes all the crust to come out in one big chunk.  Suddenly you can see with some clarity.  Without going into much detail of specific events, I was left feeling unlike myself.  My moral compass was thrown off.  I was behaving against my ethical framework.  This caused my eye crust to rip from my tear ducts.  I can see clearly.  Lately I’ve been a beer and wine sipping kind of girl.

I scribble in my moleskine.  A soiled vagrant wobbles into the eatery’s patio and sits behind me.  He has a similar idea.  Legal loitering through a purchase of a food item while consuming a caffeinated beverage.  My shabby poncho from Tijuana, hiking sandals, dirtied yoga pants, messy hair, and journal writing doesn’t help separate us very much aesthetically.  An outsider looking in would assume we are both in the same situation.  A few minutes earlier I saw the same man spanging for some change.  Maybe he wanted to join me for some passive Monday night voyeurism.  After a few minutes of writing I look back at him.  He is reading the New York Times.  What is he looking for?  Guess I might not be that far from him?  What does he want to create, see, or destroy?  Create, see, or destroy conventions, negative memories, or his body?  Will I reinvent myself whilst destroying ill pasts?  What type of hillbilly tucks his shirt in?  Can I pay it forward through voyeuristic behavior on the streets?

We must work hard to get what was once easy.  It is all part of getting older.  Enjoy the pain.  Get super fucking high from the pain.

Give your cookie away to someone you don’t know is homeless or not.  Assure him of the truth.  There is nothing on the cookie.  Lose the pounds permanently.  Make lists and get off on the feeling of drawing definitive lines through tasks and goals.  Do not settle for less and fight to get more.  Move the fuck around.

You are scared of getting your hair cut too short.  I want to get my hair long again.

You didn’t know much about the benefits of trims.

There are no ends of eras.  Just a continuous line infinitely looping into itself.

Up in the sky.  The town in question is below.

Up in the sky. The town in question is below.

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!

Government property never looked so good!

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.

I like spandex now.

With each stroke of my pedal the endorphins surge from my stinky feet up through my frizzy hair.  Riding my bicycle is better than popping a milligram of Xanax.

Tomorrow I take off for my next little jaunt, cruising down the coast of California.  Although this isn’t nearly as adventurous as embarking to an exotic locale solo or as physically rigorous as the cross country rides some of my friends have taken, I am damn tickled pink to experience the next month of my life.  I plan on meeting many other folks who are playing the same game.

I fucking love riding my bicycle.  This isn’t a secret.  This isn’t anything new.

My friends are fucking awesome.

Chamois padding ballz shaft

Beals Point, Folsom Lake

County Road 32A leaving Davis for Sacramento.

Travel Purgatory

It’s 4am. I can’t sleep. Too much is on my mind and weighing on my heart.

Changes can be painful. I’m not necessarily saying this Is bad. Currently I am in a transition point. I didn’t recognize how much my little time abroad changed me. Coming back hasn’t been easy. Many lofty goals had been assembled in my head. Many of these dreams will have to be deferred.

My heart tells me to move. Part of me has stayed with my travels. What doesn’t translate well is living daily life like I’m traveling. I’m caught in a transitory period of my life. I know where I will be settling in a few months (SLO), but for now I am poor and stuck at home waiting for the next bit of money to come into my pocket. There are many projects I’ve undertaken at home namely gardening and junk removal but both have been slow moving because of opposition from my parents. Emotionally taxed I have decided to move forward and take care of my heart.

In high school I read Jack Kerouac’s seminal mescaline (edit: was it amphetamines?) driven piece of work “On the Road” for a book report. This changed me forever. It took me 26 years to finally really travel. I can’t stop. Until I can buy my next plane ticket, hopefully after I start school and work in the fall, I need to heed the call within. I need to just fucking go.

Poor and without a car my options to travel are limited. This is where my bicycle comes in. I’ve had my bicycle for almost 7 years. I’ve been commuting by bike for 8. Before I left for CostaNicaRicagua, I did a 45 mile loop with friends in the Santa Ynez Valley which involved climbing. With a little guidance and help from my friends I learned I am capable of riding up hills, something I had feared and not been able to do successfully.

I’m not sure where or when the idea was birthed but I am riding my bicycle from Sacramento to SF and back down the coast. Simple enough. I just said it and now I’m just going to do it. Time to be fucking proactive.

Live the life you love. Love the life you live. If your life is bringing you down, do something to change it!

Training rides fill my days at my parents house. Since I decided to take this trip many of my friends in the bicycle community have donated time, parts, and support to help me get on my way. I can’t even begin to say how much a rack and panniers have revolutionized my life and back. I am an idiot for not putting that shit on sooner!

So I’ve been logging miles and fixing bike problems (or having awesome friends fix problems) along the way. Just like getting ready for Central America, I don’t know what to bring with me. What is necessary?

Bringing the hammock again. Cross my fingers for no rain.

This bike touring idea is also rad because it’ll give me an opportunity to visit friends all over Cali. Im starting to see this trip as my love letter to California. I am a proud Californian. We have the sexiest people and the most beautiful landscapes. It’s time to take in both.

So I’ll be taking off on June 3 or 4th depending on how hungover I am from my friends wedding. I hope to get some good mileage in my first day and get to SF or the bay area from Sac. After that the only timeline restrictions are Monterey Beer Fest and catching my friend in Santa Barbara before he leaves for Indonesia.

Next week I’m going to do a couple test rides before I head out. I’m thinking my parents house to Oceanside. I miss the ocean. The developed inland empire is an armpit. Going to get my festie on in Joshua Tree this weekend.

Love you friends. Can’t wait to give everyone big sweaty hugs.