Wanderlust Remedy

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Category: touring

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

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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.