I had a four day weekend coming up. It has been my longest break from work in the past 3 months, so I planned a trip through California. Ever since my cross country trip I’ve wanted to ride longer and farther so I got very greedy with my routing. I had tickets to a Jim Gaffigan show in Vegas on Saturday, so I had Thursday, Friday and half of Saturday to explore. After my trip to LA and seeing only a few miles of the coastal roads, I decided that this would be my next trip. So I would head up the coast to San Francisco from LA, swing by Google, might as well see the Golden Gate bridge, visit the Sequoia National Park, then zip over to Vegas for the show and head back to Phoenix. Planning routes are always effortless and the realization of the miles I have to travel never set in until the morning before the ride. So I aimed high, but plans changed as they inevitably do on my trips. 2000 miles in 4 days. not insane, but not easy either.
This is the GPS log of my actual route. Some areas are spotty where my battery ran out, or I just plain forgot to turn it on =\
Wednesday November 21st, 2007
Phoenix to the Coast
If I wanted to have my fun on the coast I would have to get the boring ride to it out of the way. I came to work that day with my luggage packed on my bike so that I could leave right after I got off. If I went back home it would have set me back and hour the majority of which would be me double checking that I have everything frantically and going over the list in my head. I couldn’t help but day dream about the upcoming days on the road and I was distracted from my work.
I was on the road at 5pm to pump out 500 miles. I forced myself to stay on the road until my low fuel light turned on. The light turns on after 150-170 miles. So it was roughly three gas tanks to the coast. I always use gas tanks as my unit of distance when I know I have to cover a lot of ground. “Three gas tanks” sounds a lot better than “500 miles”. Once one tank is down, I’m almost half way. After the second, I’m practically finished. All across the expressway there are signs that display the distance to LA. I could recognize the signs early enough to avert my eyes. It’s better not to know how much left you have to go. With signs every 20 miles my destination never seems to get closer, but after a couple of hours I give in to my curiosity and let myself take a peak. When I learn of my progress in terms of how many hundreds of miles I traveled rather than tens, it boosts my spirits.
For the past 400 miles I haven’t see a single rider going in my direction and only a handful in the opposite. A gas tank and a half away from LA and I see a Virago up ahead. I speed up and follow him for about 70 miles. My low fuel light flipped on and I was disappointed this time when I saw it. I had hopped that the Virago would need gas soon and could follow him into a gas station to chit chat. I pull up ahead of him and give him a wave that he returns quickly. I take an exit to a gas station, and he follows me. We chit chat about the ride while we fill up of tanks and warm up our hands. Darryl was visiting his Mom for the holidays in the San Fernando valley and he had come from Phoenix as well.
Just a gas tank away from the coast. This part of the ride is always the easiest. I got lost in LA after taking a wrong exit, but made it to the coast around 1am. The moon was full and the air was crisp. I had no idea where I was staying. I planned on camping, but did not make reservations. It is hard to find a place that will allow entry beyond 10pm, and I hate being held to the obligation of staying at that location since my plans can change. I found an RV campground 10 miles up the coast and tried to pursued the evening watch lady to let me in. She was concerned about the noise I was going to make…while people lay sleeping in their RVs. I told her that I could carry my gear into he grounds and pounding tent stakes in were not necessary for a single person tent, but she didn’t budge.
So rode up the coast for about 20 miles searching for some obscure road that I could explore to try and find a place to setup camp. I wanted to try out “stealth camping” anyways. I found an amazing spot to setup camp on a cliff facing the ocean. The full moon made setting up camp easier. The stars were stunning. Orion has never looked so large since I saw it two years ago in Yosemite. It was ten degrees cooler along the coast, so it was around 30-40 degrees but my camping gear performed very well. Occasionally I would roll off of my sleeping pad and I would wake up from the cold. You lose so much heat to the ground. I looked forward to the sight of the coast in the morning sun.