When Jim landed in Seattle and called the contact’s he’d made on Couchsurfing.com, they were so nice he wondered if it could even be true.
“Are they going to bury me?” he asked himself.
His hosts- Chris & Jaclynn- ended up showing him the film Inspired to Ride that evening. He enjoyed the fellowship of like minded folks, and knew his trip was off to a good start.
Jim had decided to set out on his 1600 mile ride over the course of 18 days some time earlier. He’d known a guy in college who’d made the trip, and decided the time had come to do it for himself.
He started out the next day, one foot in front of the other, stamping away miles south.
Jim saw no other cyclists on the road until day 3.
Until he ran into Megan from Vancouver. Megan was heading southbound as well, from Vancouver to the Mexican border, and Jim came upon her in a tunnel.
“You can tell a woman’s silhouette from a half mile away” said Jim.
Jim struck up conversation and the two managed to ride together for a couple days.
They enjoyed some miles together, meals, and camping in less than perfect weather. They rode until their paces didn’t match anymore, and went their separate ways. Jim later made some effort to meet up with Megan when she reached the Mexican border.
Day 4- Knee Pain
On day 4, knee pain struck. Not uncommon in long trips like this, joint pain hits a lot of cyclists in the knees or ankles.
Jim’s knee pain was severe enough to keep him from making forward progress. He ended taking a rest day in Brookings, Oregon, watching the Tour De France in a restaurant.
Sidelined, Jim watched Chris Froome make his big win on Mt Ventoux, sprinting on foot to the finish line.
“I can’t NOT do shit!” said Jim. Though he’d checked in for 2 days, Jim decided to leave after his first day. He set out on the bike, rode about 20 miles, knee hurting progressively worse, and met a couple with… Advil.
He took the Advil. Ibuprofen!
And the knee felt better. (go figure)
Jim pressed on, soft pedaling and riding with only one foot clipped in.
From then on, Jim took Advil every morning… when he thought of it. And sometimes in the afternoon, for about a week.
In time, Jim learned the routine: take Advil in the morning, suffer through some pain for 20 miles, then… the pain would go away. His average daily miles steadily increased from 50 miles, to 60…. and 80, 90, or even more miles per day.
By Santa Cruz, CA Jim was riding 120 mile days.
Keep on keepin’ on
Jim’s body hit its stride. He plugged away miles on his Scott carbon hardtail 29’er, decked out with bikepacking gear.
“I like seeing the world at 20 miles per hour” said Jim.
“It’s so much better than walking pace for me.
“Yeehah this is so much fun! I hope it never ends.”
By San Francisco, Jim was having a great time on the bike. He enjoyed high highs, and some low lows. He buzzed with a tailwind from Half Moon Bay all the way to Santa Cruz. He found NO COFFEE at all in the town of Oreck, CA, which he referred to as the “Capitol of Meth Capitols. Buzzing along, the miles came more easily and efficiently, and Jim saw the odd sign for “pie” and diligently stopped to treat himself to goodies along the way.
In Legget, CA, he met a young touring cyclist, loaded up with the standard complement of racks, panniers, etc. The young lad noted Jim’s bikepacking gear and asked how much his rig weighed:
“about 33 pounds without water” Jim reported.
The young guy, whose rig likely weighed an honest 75 lbs, had to feel Jim’s bike to be sure. He was shocked. This bikepacking stuff, we might be on to something.
Jim’s bike setup was pretty good, though he said to do it again he’d likely choose a road bike. Before the trip, Jim set up his Scott carbon 29er with 700 x 35c tires, a Revelate Designs Viscacha seat bag, Sweet Roll, and 1 Feed Bag. He didn’t carry a Spot tracker; and navigated using his iPhone and a Garmin unit.
“The further I get from it, the more enjoyable it was.” said Jim.
On the 18th day, Jim arrived back in the familiar territory of Southern California. He made some calls, had some logistical snafu’s, and ultimately made his way home.
To do it again, Jim said he’d carry a Jetboil, and a means to make coffee. He’d probably take the road bike, though there were times he was glad he was on a mountain bike. Most notably, Jim said if he were to set out on a trip like this again, he’d want to start the trip with somebody else. He’d want to share the experience with somebody else, he said.