Sunday, July 24, 2011


Well, I was able to ship my gear home, catch my flight and get home safely.  It feels great to finally be home.  This trip still hasn't sunken in yet, but hopefully it will when I re-read this blog weeks or months from now.

inches from Mexico
I feel extremely grateful for having the chance to take off on this journey.  It was everything I wanted it to be.  Years of dreaming, months of research, countless hours of bike work all came together.  I met more great people than I ever thought possible.  Saw some of the richest parts of America, and some of the poorest.  All in all, it was a success.  My only regret would be that I wish I would've done it sooner.

This was, however, the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.  By far.  I started with relatively no training, and ended up being able to easily do 60+ hilly miles a day.  This proves that literally anyone can do a trip like this, as long as you don't mind suffering for the first week or so.  But make no mistake, I wanted to quit numerous times.

a LONG way to go

I really enjoyed riding with the guys from Boston, Mark and Chip.  Just being able to visit with other people and share some of the suffering while climbing up hills helped me keep my sanity.  Traveling with others also splits the cost of things, like food, hotels or RV parks.  When I was riding with Mark and Chip we were able to make copious amounts of food since we could buy in bulk.  I was unable to eat like that when alone, which really sucked.  I'm not exactly a good cook, so practicing some one-pot meals before I left would have helped.  I literally got sick of canned chili and stew.

cooking up some tap-ramen type stuff, about the only thing I didn't get tired of

If I were to tour on the Pacific Coast again, I would probably start in Astoria and end in San Francisco.  The Oregon Coast is absolutely amazing, with (relatively) low traffic and good shoulders.  It had an endless amount of hills, but it was all worth it.  I felt much safer on the Oregon roads, and would recommend it to other first time tourers.  The camping in Oregon was amazing, too!  $5 hiker/biker sites with free showers, can't beat that.  The parks also where always clean and well staffed - one even had free coffee.  I did also luck out on the weather, I've heard stories of bikers getting rained on every day through Oregon.  Overall, I was sad to leave the state.

Some of my favorite photos from Oregon:

From Crescent City to San Francisco was my second favorite section, and was surprisingly almost all rural.  This was my first time seeing the majestic Redwoods, and it was an experience I'll never forget.  Maybe getting there by bike made it more special, who knows.

Eel River

Getting to the Golden Gate Bridge had to be the biggest highlight of the trip.  For so many weeks, it felt almost like I could have still been riding in Washington somewhere, a few minutes from home.  But when we rounded the corner in Sausalito and saw the Golden Gate, there is no mistaking where you are.  Making it there solidified the journey for me; at that point was the first time I really felt like I road my bike somewhere far away.  It was an amazing feeling, and was definitely worth all the effort.

The Big Sur coast was another favorite.  HWY 1 is literally carved right out of the cliffs, which made for some amazing views.  However, there was a lot of traffic, hardly any shoulders, lots of road construction and  intense climbing.  This might have been an area better explored by car, and with more time to explore.  I'll be back someday.

The route through Washington wasn't very enjoyable, and I had lots of headwinds and rain.  My muscles were also going through a brutal conditioning period, which made it 10x worse.  I also wished I did done more research before I left on the Olympic Discovery trail, from Port Townsend to Forks.  The old town of Elma was a surprise, though - I had a blast at the Grays Harbor Hostel playing disc golf all afternoon.

enjoying some of that Washington rain
My least favorite section of the trip was from Santa Barbara to the border, which passed through LA and the surrounding areas.  I was intent on getting this part of the trip done as quickly as possible.  Just too much urban riding, unfriendly people, traffic and sporadic camping.


distance traveled: 1991 miles
days from start to finish: 38 days, from June 10th to July 17th
days off: 3 (Hood Canal, Astoria, Gold Beach)
days with rain: 3 or 4
average daily mileage: 52.3 miles/day (with rest days included)
highest mileage day: 95 miles
lowest mileage day: 18 miles (a rainy day in WA)
flats: 2.5 (last one was a slow leak, that I just kept filling with air rather than changing)
injuries: none
mechanical problems:  Loose crank arm bolt, which took out crank arm (replaced in Astoria, OR).  Bent rear wheel (replaced with used wheel in Cambria, CA)

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