Day 57: Sunset

Waking was a little rough this morning after the night filled with sprinklers. As we were packing up the park rangers approached us and we arranged to pay for the night. For the first time we were treated pretty poorly by someone, the rangers were rude, condescending, and just kind of dicks. Oh well, with the last day in front of us it was impossible to really hurt my mood.

Josh, Jake, and I met up with Christopher and Steven a few miles down the path. Our day was slow because we had to change about 8 tubes on two bikes all morning. It was a combination of rough roads, bad luck, and patched tubes not performing. Eventually we found a shop and picked up some brand new tubes eliminating future problems.

Despite the slow and often frustrating start the ride was wonderful. With a mostly flat terrain and amazing scenery along the beach it was impossible to remove the smile from my face. It ended with a very poetic arrival right as the sun set on Santa Monica beach. Waiting for our arrival were several friends with whom we chatted and took pictures.

Afterward we went over to Peter and Emily’s house to have a nice relaxing celebration. While my body was tired my spirit was very much alive and I had a great time. I can’t imagine life without the friends I have in my life, the support I’ve received has blown my mind and I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life.

Day 56: Final Exam #3 – Blind Corners, No Shoulders, and Unaware Drivers

The morning was a relaxed one as Josh, Jake, and I made breakfast and chatted. We expected an easy day with smooth elevation and moderate temperatures… We were correct about elevation and temps but the day was not as care free as intended.

It was Sunday and Sunday is the worst day for riding on back roads. The drivers are awful. In the morning you have churchgoers who rarely yield and seem to be perpetually running late on the way to worship. I can’t even count how many times I was nearly hit by a family in nice clothes darting around the back roads. In addition to churchgoers there are weekend vacationers driving RVs the size of a small country. People who can’t even park a Prius in a handicapped parking spot somehow feel competent to drive monstrosities that look more like a Mack truck than a motor home. They don’t give any room, rarely brake, and are just an accident waiting to happen. Both churchgoers and vacationers seem to have a special hatred for cyclists, these same people will slam on the brakes if a squirrel crosses the road but will gladly crowd out a fellow human.

We survived though and made it through Temecula to Corona where a county park is located. It was smooth riding but I did have some tube problems. The campground was closed when we arrived so we just settled into a spot and had some dinner. Unfortunately we setup in an RV spot and enjoyed a sprinkler attack at about 1am that soaked everything. Still, we woke optimistic knowing that we would be meeting two more friends soon and finishing that’s day of the journey.

I do plan on blogging about the final day (Monday) but it is very likely that will be delayed.

Day 55: Final Exam #2 – Mountains

After a rough night sleep on the highway I woke up around 4:30. We ate some breakfast bars and hit the road without the normal big breakfast or coffee. The plan was to get to a fire station 15 miles down the road that we contacted yesterday and restock/rest. The ride to the station was pretty nice in the cool air of the morning but my body felt drained.

When we arrived at the firehouse the place was quiet and we couldn’t find anyone. We just kind of started cooking breakfast outside and prepping for the rough mountain ride ahead of us. The firefighters arrived (and those sleeping woke up) in the middle of our prep and spent some time chatting with us. One named Mario in particular hung out and we ended up telling stories until about 8:30am. We left with full water, some gatorade powder, and some advice on how to make it through the mountain pass.

The next five hours were spent on twisty highways navigating the valleys and hills of the mountains. There were some major climbs and exhausting moments but being in the final days has energized my body, spirit, and mind. When we reached Warner Springs we were disappointed to find out that there was not any stores in town because it is the “off season”. We set down at a park and just kind of waited for Josh, Peter, and Emily to arrive so we could figure out why to do.

While waiting the park managers arrived to do something (I’m still not sure what) and invited us in to hang out in the AC. they ended up cooking us dinner and resupplying us with water and snacks. When my friends arrived we all just hung out and talked for a while. Jake, Josh, and I took off on our bikes for a campground about 15 miles up the road while Peter and Emily drove ahead stopping occasionally for some photo opportunities.

We arrived at camp and had a great night around the fire. It was a huge highlight to catch up with my dear friends after such a long day of riding and I couldn’t be happier to have Josh ride with me to the coast. He’s been my best friend for over 20 years and it feels right to have him here for the end of my journey.

Day 54: Final Exam #1 – Heat and Sparse Population

The night at the campground was pretty uneventful except for waking up to a dog sniffing my face. The dog was on a leash and the owner just stood there staring at me. I looked at him, then the dog, then him… He looked at me, then the dog, then me… It was odd.

We got on the road around 6ish and knew there was a hot day ahead. The temp forecast for our destination city of Brawley was 110 degrees. We went through a lot of wasteland with moderate hills and even passed a military bombing facility that warned against trespassing. After about 30 miles we came to the sand dunes and a last chance for rest. We grabbed some water, rechecked supplies, and prepped for the next 25 miles of rough heat. We got some strange looks from the few people that passed by but I guess two men in spandex stretching while listening to techno music is an oddity out in the desert of southeast California.

The dunes and remaining wasteland went fairly easily but the heat took its toll. We had to stop at a small ranch on the side of the road to get some shade and rest. The owner came home while we were resting and brought us some ice water. It was a lovely and carried us into Brawley where we got out of the sun for a bit. We decided to try to get a few more miles in, there was a lot of wind but we managed to get 20 miles down.

We camped out on the side of the highway just past a Border Control Gestapo-esque “show me your papers” check point. Tomorrow we face the mountains but get to meet up with Peter, Emily, and Josh in the evening. josh will be riding with us for the rest of the trip, an addition I am truly thrilled about.

Relationship Evolution

Due to some recent email discussions with the blogger at “Lanes Of Love” I’ve been thinking a lot about how my own views on love, sex, and monogamy developed. I certainly didn’t come to my current views randomly or without thought, they have been shaped by my experiences and an uncountable number of nights of reflection.

As most things in life it really started with the way I was raised. Coming from a churchgoing home sex itself was viewed as a bit of a taboo subject. It was never really discussed beyond being told that it is for a man and wife only. I managed to maintain this belief until well into my early 20’s when I list my virginity to a woman I thought I was going to marry. Making sex taboo is a risky way to raise children, I can see how there can be value if it works but if it doesn’t there can be serious confusion, resentment, and ignorance about sex that can be damaging.

I justified premarital sex in my mind because I viewed engagement as the same as marriage. Even the. I didn’t see how a government piece of paper or some antiquated ceremony somehow justified my love more than my feelings. When my engagement broke up I became bitter towards both my ex and the emotions that made me vulnerable. My thought process at the time was that emotion was the enemy and better relationships could be formed with a Vulcan (Randian?) like approach of pure logic.

This system worked well for me for several years during college when I had no desire for any type of companionship. Most of the girls I interacted with regularly wanted relatively simple things from me like sex, a cuddle buddy, or just an honest male friend who wouldn’t play games. I’ve always been good at compartmentalizing so when I was with a girl I focused solely on her and she felt the connection desired. There was never any lying but often a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement existed when it came to other women in my life. As is often the case this was an unstable situation in most cases and feelings developed after a few months or the girl thought I was playing an elaborate game of hard-to-get.

After college however things got more complicated because simplistic relationships were both less available and less desirable by me. My belief in the “pure reason” approach to relationships was starting to feel empty and I realized that emotion is part of a healthy and full life (at least for me).

This revelation required a reworking of my thoughts on relationships and all the subcategories that are included. I still found sexually monogamous relationships outdated and the idea of cheating to be more complicated than a physical act. After some thought I started to believe (and currently believe) that real cheating is about betrayal and/or lying. The act may be a violation of trust but the act itself is not cheating, the betrayal is.

I look at it the same way I would cheating on a test in school. If a teacher allows you to use notes on a test then no cheating has taken place, but if a teacher does not allow notes but you use them you have cheated. The action is the same and therefore not the relevant part of cheating, it is the violation of agreed upon rules that is cheating. It is the same with sex, sex is only cheating when it violates rules.

So, with modern medical technology removing the other major concern of sex (pregnancy) I had to had to figure out what all this meant for me. With sex leading to emotion and sex not necessarily being cheating I realized that emotion can (and should) be involved in relationships but sexual monogamy doesn’t need to be. It is about open and honest discourse with your partners.

That is where I stand now, honest non-monogamy (also called polyamory or responsible non-monogamy) where physical and emotional interaction is the norm. Like all types of human interaction there are pros and cons to this type of relationship and it can certainly be more complicated than monogamous relationships. It certainly isn’t for everyone but I think great value can come from spreading love to many people and opening yourself to new experiences.

Day 53: Nearly Nude Bike Rider

We left our camp early again today in hopes of avoiding some of the heat. Overall we were successful, unfortunately the breakfast spots we mapped out were both closed. It may seem strange to map out multiple spots for one meal but most of the information online is wrong about a lot of these small towns. It works best to have several food/water spots mapped out.

The second spot did have some shade so Jake made some coffee while we relaxed a bit. By that time we had travelled about 15 miles before having a real meal. There was water and we had trail mix and other snacks so it wasn’t a big deal. We hit the road again and spent some time on the interstate to cross the California border. Unfortunately My phone fell out somewhere on the highway so I’m phoneless for a while.

The road today was pretty uneventful, we arrived at our camping spot fairly early and had time to relax a bit. Normally arriving this early would mean we would push on further but the next water spot is over 40 miles away. That’s too far to travel tonight so I stead we are resting up and hitting the road at first light with a full stock of water.

We ended up at a different campsite than originally planned thanks to a kind firefighter who saw us roll into town. She told us about a place where we could set up for free and had electricity and a shower. There was even a fire pit. We cooked up some brats and much to our surprise the firefighter brought us a six-pack of beer. Beer, brats, a river, and a campfire… Not a bad way to end a long day of riding.

As I come upon my last couple days on the road I find myself focusing (and worrying) about how things will work in LA. Finances, a job, an apartment, writing the book, school, my next adventure, and more long term goals are starting to cloud my mind and take away from the journey. The rational part of me knows that worry won’t help but it still happens. I’m glad I have a strong foundation of friends in LA to help me but I don’t want them to feel like I’m taking advantage. All in good time things will be taken care of, I just need to stay in the moment and enjoy that which is around me.

Day 52: Eating Like Hobbits

After a few hours of sleep on a real bed make and I hit the road fairly early in the morning. With the hot desert ahead it was important to knock out miles early on. The road was mostly flat with very light rolling terrain. The sites are a little monotonous but I find the desert beautiful so it hasn’t bothered me. We are being extra cautious with the heat and stopping pretty often when shade is available and keeping a lot of water on us. I’ve also reduced my coffee intake to one cup in the morning so that I can keep hydrated.

Towns are pretty regular though many businesses have some funky hours. Lots of them close around 2pm making it difficult to know when we will have shelter in an actual restaurant. So far water is easy to come by with most places having hoses on the outside of their buildings. Apparently it is also illegal not to provide someone with water in Arizona if they ask for it… We haven’t needed to really ask yet but I find that interesting. I also overheard someone talking who said that killing cattle is punishable by hanging in Arizona and he knows someone on death row for that… So, yeah… I’m not sure how accurate these legislative rumors I hear are.

Last night we spent some time talking with our CS host about our eating habits. While on the road I have been consuming massive amounts of food. My dining schedule basically looks like this:
– wake up and drink coffee and eat breakfast
– ride
– 2nd breakfast
– ride
– tea and snack
– ride
– elevensies
– ride
– lunch
– ride
– snack
– ride
– dinner
– ride
– snack before bed

I’ll need to change this when I get into LA…

Tentative Final Leg

Alrighty folks, as my journey comes to an end this is the tentative schedule. It looks like I’ll be jumping in that beautiful Pacific ocean this Monday afternoon but, as always, schedule is subject to change without any good reason.

– Wednesday, Salome AZ – 105 miles
– Thursday, Blythe CA – 63 miles
– Friday, Brawley CA – 89 miles
– Saturday, Warner Springs CA – 82 miles
– Sunday, Corona CA – 77 miles
– Monday, Santa Monica CA – 62 miles

Day 51: From The Ashes

After a rainy night that provided only wet clothes the morning was pretty rough. We didn’t have a lot of water so decided to just eat the fruit we had instead of cooking breakfast or coffee. The nearest food and water source was still 30 miles away do we hit the road early headed towards Phoenix. There were lots of climbs and descents coming out of the White Mountains but I felt no joy in riding quick. My mind was unable to really focus or get out of the funk I was in due to my physical discomfort.

After about two hours we finally found some breakfast and water which helped turn my mood around. Our day was relatively short with only 60 miles of riding, we had a couchsurf lined up in the Phoenix area so most of the day was spent restocking, running errands, and planning the route to the beach. I started to remember how much I like this area and by time we met our host, Chris, I was in a good mood.

Chris is a great guy who took us out to a pub trivia at an Irish bar in Scottsdale. We had a lot of great talks, some beer, and just a good time. Chris also allowed us to use his washer and dryer for the nasty wet clothes. It was a welcome break from the road, probably the last one before we finish the ride next week. My time in Phoenix was great as always and I look forward to returning.

It’s kind of crazy to think I’m in my final week of the ride. It looks like I’ll be getting to Santa Monica on Monday and jumping in that big beautiful ocean sometime mid-afternoon. I find myself noticing “lasts”… Last couchsurf, etc. it is bittersweet but it’s been amazing and I know there is still a lot of reflection and adventures still ahead.

Thank you!

A big thanks to Peter, Amanda, and Tim for sending me some support as I finish out my ride. I addition the kind words you each have said have really touched my heart. Thank you all so much.