Dec 04

Settling in. Still going the wrong way.

On the Road.

I’m writing from the manicured opulence of Santa Barbara.  It’s the second time I’ve passed through this city, and I’m still amazed at beauty – and the money – of the place.  Every building has a clay tiled roof and sparkling white walls, the sidewalks are paved in brick, and palm trees line every boulevard.  Now, add in perfect californian sunshine and girls walking by with their hollywood sunglasses, wonderfully short shorts, and knee high designer leather boots, and you will start to get the picture.  They’ll probably boot me out any second now.

It’s day 6 for me on the road and with over 400km of tire marks behind me everything is starting to settle in.  The still-to-be-named bicycle is performing like the champ that he is – no more weird noises and running smooth.  The rider on the other hand is taking longer to adjust and has been making plenty of weird noises – grunts, squeals, whines, and yes, plenty of flatulence.  In short, I need a rest day, which I’ll give myself tomorrow.  Tonight, I’m planning to camp at El Refugio State beach (about 40km away from where I am now).  I’ve heard from other cyclists, police, and park rangers, that it’s is one of the nicest state beach campground in California.  After my day of rest, I start hitting the big hills on my way up to San Francisco

From Compton to Camping

The last few days have been great.  I’m loving the road.  Not in the cliche “the journey is more important than the destination” kind of way, I am simply, just loving the road.  What can I say?  I’m going places.

Typical campsite

The day I rode through Los Angeles was quite the experience, and a full spectrum of variety.  It started with the rich surf beaches of newport and huntington, then came the not so lush long beach and the ugly industrial feel of San Pedro.  After that, the bike path turned up the Los Angeles River: a dirty affair of riding under freeways, and past homeless camps tucked away in every hidden nook and cranny, before finally passing through Compton.

Never have I felt so white in North America.  School was getting out, and thousands of tough looking kids, almost all of african-american and latino backgrounds were prowling the crosswalks.  And there I was, on my bike, white as day.  I kind of felt like I was in a scene from American History X, waiting to get shot, but then feeling silly for thinking that.  Then I find out the next day that last year 8 cyclists got shot in Compton 4 of which were gang related.  The other four?  Nobody knows.

Snack and Map time

I survived though, I ended up staying in a hostel in Venice Beach after riding 120km that day, a personal record.  The next day after escaping the sprawl of LA, and passing through the let-down that is Malibu (no barbies, no pink convertibles, no cute beach community) I was back on some great roads.  The last couple of days I’ve been limping past beautiful coastlines, nice campgrounds, and sweet-smelling miles of strawberry fields.  It’s been fantastic.  The days are short though and that means I have to get going if I am to make my refuge tonight before dark.

"Strawberry fields forever..."


  1. Rich

    Hey Zack! You’re a long way from Brighton! Looks amazing what you’re doing! Wish I had the balls to do something similar! Have to say I wasn’t all that impressed with 120km being your personal record but then when I looked at your bike (estimate 30-40kg) in comparison to mine (about 8kg) I suddenly changed my mind!

    Keep well and don’t get shot!


    1. Zack

      Thanks Rich! I also overestimated how many miles i’d be able to put it, I thought 100km/day would be reasonable, but the 40kg set up makes a big difference, especially when you hit those hills! I’ll get there eventually, but got to ease into it.

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