This post is for anyone who has driven down the coast or ridden via the 101. The 101 has gone through many different stages and this is one of them. The current road in California at this point goes through the valley. This more treacherous and scenic portion was closed the vehicles years ago and now used primary by Camp Pendleton near San Clemente to test tanks and as an emergency runway. When it’s not being used by the military the path is the perfect bike path on top of a large mountainous sand embankment along the shining bright blue ocean. Cycling the path, I saw some version of a futuristic looking helicopter take off and land several times. Before leaving the base, I stopped at the near to the barracks Micky Ds, eating among staff sergeants, corporals, majors and some very big and you don’t want to fuck with privates (tee hee).
My name is Ira Cooper and this is the first post, of many, for Each Mile, a blog and episodic travelogue about my experiences, trials and tribulations in inexperienced, world bike touring.
Why do I say inexperienced? Well, when I decided to bike from Vancouver to Mexico last year I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I hadn’t biked more than probably 30 km in a row. Down the coast wise, that wouldn’t even get me out of this country. But that was the plan, down the coast, for two months. The consequence of doing so, a mere after thought probably processed at the American border where I was greeted with the I 5 and 20 km headwind.
“Why” is what psychiatrists and court room drama show viewers are most interested in. But what they aren’t too keen on is “I don’t know” as the answer. As I look back on it, I make up a plethora of logical sounding reasons; I wanted to prove that I could do it, I was bored. But really, to be dreadfully honest even if it doesn’t give you that tantalizing soundbite to make you want to follow my writing discourse, I really don’t know why I did what I did. What I do know is that from day one, biking was shot carelessly into my blood and everyday I fiend for a fix.
In February I bought my then unnamed black stallion. She cost me $220 and a not for profit bike shop, Our Community Bikes (http://pedalpower.org/our-community-bikes/), which is a wonderful place that everyone should check out if they want to learn, fix, indulge in bike-y-goodness. I attached a flashlight to her, some paniers, a sleeping bag and towels, a tent that a borrowed from a friend and never returned, snug to the back with of my steed with bungee cord. Since I wanted film as I travelled, I also brought a ridiculously heavy backpack with additional supplies. I didn’t really understand what clipless was, so bike shoes were out and Lugz were in. By day two, my spandexy, bulge inducing biking shorts started their new residency on the side of Chucknut Drive, just outside of Bellingham.
I had a GPS that made sure I was going in the right direction and a few tools that I had no idea how to use. On March 16th I was off. Go Pro? Go Handheld (another thing I realized I probably shouldn’t have done). The first few episodes I tried to make the show kitsch with a “hilarious” intro. Hope you enjoy Episode 1 of Each Mile: