Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge was a huge confidence boost
Golden Gate Bridge, this was a long day
I could live off these things
Checking another surf spot
skeleton of a gray whale
Another beautiful day of riding
Another beautiful break spot
Not a good spot to dock a boat
Wet but happy to be in a new Toes on the Nose jacket
Big Sur, Here we go…
The fog was a nice break from the heat
Pfifer State Beach
I could spend days here
My dad riding strong
Just a part of the trip
Mom and Dad in Pismo Beach
Hanging at Gaviota about to cook up some Mountain House diner
Rincon a couple months too early
Looking for a faster way home, Point Magu
Caught this leopard shark the night after Lynard Skynard somewhere near home
San Diego Harbor
Mexico in the Background
2,226 miles and countless memories, I made it to the border of Mexico
Back on the road! After a three-day rest at my buddy’s home in Mendocino County I was getting anxious to trade in the roof and bed for the star filled nights and my trusty thermarest mattress. The detour took me 40 miles inland so my ride back to the coast put me on roads that I was unfamiliar with and it was soon obvious that the cars were unfamiliar with me. The shortest route to Fort Bragg from Laytonville was 42 miles away on highway 20, which looked like a straight shot. I quickly learned that I was in for a rough ride. Highway 20 has three big climbs at a 10 percent grade and absolutely no shoulder. To top it off there were three foot ditches on both sides of the road and very few turnoffs. After two broken spokes and a bent rim, I pulled my bike, trailer, and surfboard out of the ditch for the second time and hobbled my way into Fort Bragg just before dark. The next morning I woke up early and made it to the bike shop as it opened, eager to get my bike fixed and get back on the road. Unfortunately, the mechanic said he couldn’t fix it for two days so I was forced to tape up my spokes, undo my rear brakes, and push on to the next bike shop 170 miles away. Fortunately, my spirit was high and I wasn’t letting one grumpy mechanic ruin my day so I headed down the Mendocino Coast with confidence. The stretch between Fort Bragg and the Gualala Point Campground had miles of roads without shoulders as it wound through steep canyons with falling rocks and short but strenuous climbs. But honestly, I didn’t mind any of it. That area of the state was completely new to me and the beauty of the coastline was nothing short of spectacular. Everything about this region from the emerald green water to the waves exploding against the steep cliffs captured my full attention and the ride was a complete joy. The next day I rode to Bodega Bay and scored a playful three-foot right reeling into a deep-water bay. The wave was super fun and my 5’8 quad fin was working great, but I was a little nervous every time I kicked out into the bay full of swimming seals. After a quick 45 minutes session I figured I tempted fate enough and headed in for a warm fire. The swell died overnight so I pushed south to San Francisco to meet up with my riding buddy Ben who was waiting for me in the city. I was riding fast and jamming to my music and made the mistake of riding 11 miles past a very crucial turn before I realized I was somewhat lost. After checking the map I had figured out a route that was actually shorter and would have me into San Francisco by early that afternoon. I rode across farmlands and passed countless herds of livestock and strawberry fields before reaching the freeway just 20 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. Getting on the freeway with a ten-foot shoulder and smooth roads I thought I had it made. I soon learned otherwise. After just three miles of riding and endless honking and people shouting out of their cars at me I was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol and escorted off the freeway. Apparently this extremely busy section of roadway is closed to cyclist; who would have thought. My 20 mile cruise into San Fran had just been re-routed into a windy and hilly 41 mile push. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge just before dark was a very rewarding feeling and by 9:30 and 91 miles later I was at the International Hostel where Ben was waiting with pasta and a beer. After a good nights sleep Ben and I weaved our way out of San Francisco, past Ocean Beach and down the Pacific Coast. Just after passing Daly City we saw a small fishing boat with four passengers being smashed by 4-5 foot waves and heading towards an extremely rocky shoreline. Knowing that we were the only people around and having faith in Ben’s rescue skills, I left my bike on the side of the 1 and began the 400 yard run across a field of wheat, two fences, and slippery stretch of tide pools. Turning the corner exhausted I saw an empty boat slamming into the rocks and was expecting the worse. Fortunately, huddled behind a large rock were four very wet, very cut up, but very alive men. Ben and I were extremely relieved, as were these men, and we did everything we could to calm them down and help them up to the road. Being on vacation from Japan these men were clearly unfamiliar with the area and were well over their heads. After decking them out with some dry Toes on the Nose gear and Ben forfeiting his sandals the men made contact with authorities and we headed back on the road. With adrenaline still pumping and a strong tail wind we flew into Halfmoon Bay with enough time for an afternoon fish. From Halfmoon Bay to the beginning of Big Sur the ocean was teaming with wildlife. An unusual amount of whales were migrating extremely close to shore and watching them breach for days on end while dolphins, sea lions, and shorebirds followed tightly behind was a highlight of the trip I won’t soon forget. Passing a sign reading “Hills and Curves next 63 mile” I knew very well I was entering the Big Sur stretch of my ride. I started to think of my Dad and dozens of others who warned me about this section of the trip and anxiously started working my way up the first set of hills. By the top of the second hill I realized that this road was no worse than the previous 1600 miles and my worries faded as I settled in for the epic ride through some of North America’s most beautiful coastline. Just before the end of Big Sur, Ben and I set up camp on the rocks just feet from the water and spent the night fishing and eating artichoke we picked fresh from a farm just the day before. From Big Sur we pedaled south past Cambria and Cayucos and into the town of Morro Bay where my parents were waiting with a warm shower and a hot meal. It was really great to see my family after more than a month on the road and a big meal and soft mattress was greatly appreciated. From Morro Rock to Pismo Beach is not a ride that I will be forgetting anytime soon. The weather was nice, the wind was strong at our backs, and best of all my Mom and Dad rode with me! My mom is an avid cyclist and beat me up every hill the rode threw at us during our 37 mile ride. After lunch my Dad took over and finished the ride with me into camp before heading back home. Being able to look back on the road and see my Dad ridding right behind me and healthy after his extremely difficult battles with cancer was almost overwhelming and was a view that topped any other. From Pismo Beach, Ben and I road the 200 miles to Huntington as quickly as possible and just in time to meet up with my best friend Ashley who had scored us Lynard Skynard tickets at the OCC fair. Listening to Sweet Home Alabama, Freebird, and Simple Man with thousands of other fans was a complete 180 from what we were used to but was exactly what the doctor ordered. While we were fixing up our bikes in Huntington for a couple days a south swell was making its way up the coast and the last leg of the ride looked very promising. After a three day rest and the forecast looking good we headed straight to lowers and scored perfect 4-6 foot peaks. Getting out of the water at sunset and too tired to make a camp I crashed on the beach and was up at sunrise for another surf before the ride through the Camp Pendleton Marine base and into San Diego. Ridding past San Onofre and Camp Pendleton the temperatures rose above 90 and so when we got into San Diego we couldn’t wait to stop for a surf at Cardiff Reef to cool down. I grew up camping at this beach so when I’m in the area I always try to catch a couple waves while reminiscing about good times. My younger sister lives 30 miles away from the border in Pacific Beach so Ben and I stayed at her house and headed for Mexico early the next morning. Waking up I felt good and the ride to the border took us past the San Diego harbor and some very impressive naval ships. As I started to get closer to the border my mood began to change and I started feeling very anxious. Up every big hill and during every rainy day I would think of the moment I would reach the border and accomplish one of my biggest goals. This really helped push me through the hard times and was a thought I would turn to often. I expected this day to be filled with pure joy and satisfaction but in reality I was feeling a little depressed. For the past month and a half I had been living my life to the fullest and exploring some of the most amazing coastline I had ever seen and now that was all about to end. Ridding up a small hill Ben and I were greeted by the view of a gigantic Mexican Flag and the entrance to Mexico for pedestrians and cyclists. After riding more than a thousand miles together and sharing some awesome experiences it was time for Ben to continue his Journey south and head onto Chile. Standing at my finish line after 2,226 miles of riding I was overwhelmed with so many different emotions that it is hard for me to say exactly how I felt. I was sad my trip was over but after taking a few minutes, any feelings of disappointment I had vanished, and I began to realize I had just conquered one of my biggest challenges and I had the time of my life doing it. I was so happy to be safe and it felt so good to accomplish something I had worked so hard on, and meeting up with my two sister’s just minutes after reaching the border made the moment even more special. This ride had a new degree of difficulty for me that I was not yet familiar with and at times it pushed my limits, but I had so many moments of complete joy and had so many awesome experiences that I wouldn’t change a thing. I appreciate everything my family did for me and being my rock during this entire trip and want to thank Mountain House freeze dried foods for giving me some of the best meals on the market and keeping my body fueled up. And also a huge thanks to Richard at Toes on the Nose for the support and all the great gear! Until the next adventure, safe travels….
As of this post Ben is more than halfway to Cabo San Lucas and has ridden through deserts with 122 degrees heat, had a run in with two men with machine guns, and had a fall on a busy Mexican highway but as usual he is in high spirits and is pushing forward with confidence.
300 feet up on one of the many bridge crossings down the coast
The last ten days or so of my journey has taking me from the Rain Forests of Washington, past rolling sand dunes on the Oregon Coast and into the green hills of California. I feel like everyday down the coast the weather has been getting better and the hills are getting easier. After 72 miles of riding I came around a bend of the 101 south only to see Humbug Campground and the best waves I have seen in weeks. The wave was a 3-4 foot left wedge bouncing off a 300 foot cliff with pine trees and sea stacks in the background. My toes were numb, my legs were sore but after towing a surfboard through almost two full states and finally finding waves to surf I was more than stoked to paddle out. Campers and kids hooted and shouted when I got good ones and I felt like a total grom again. I surfed until my body wouldn’t let me anymore and I passed out early under the stars. Through Oregon I was able to spend time enjoying the local towns along the 101 and even stopped of at a wild animal park where I was able to play with baby lions and bears! After spending the first week around the Olympic Peninsula and Washington solo I finally started running into riders on the same path. I linked up with three kids from New York, and a real solid guy who spent 7 years in England’s Royal Navy before deciding to make the ride from Canada to Chile at 27 years old. We are all on our first bike tour so it has been great experiencing all this new adventure and adjustments with people in the same situation. The hiker/biker camp sites has been filled with laughs and tales of the road which has been a refreshing change from the loneliness of the Washington Coast. Riding into Arcata on a Saturday we were able to score a spot to set up our tents through warmcouches.com and decided to go out to diner and check out the local night life for a change. The next days 62 mile ride was not easy to say the least and with a late start we were greeted with a solid head wind for the last 20 miles into camp. Lesson learned. I later rode on the Avenue of the Giants and one of the most amazing parts of the ride. I rode through tree tunnel after tree tunnel surrounded my Redwoods taller than skyscrapers. I ended up camping in the heart of an old growth forest with trees more than 3,000 years old. The ambiance of the forest and my surrounding environment was moving in itself and truly spectacular. Being surrounded by nothing but trees and life was a much appreciated break from the logging trucks and traffic of the 101. 175 miles away from San Francisco and refreshed after a three day break catching up with an old high school buddy, I am ready to get back on the road and start searching for waves along one of California’s most beautiful and wave rich coastlines.
* Big thanks to Mountain House freeze dried foods, they have been saving me on this trip!
A view from the road that reminds you that you’re doing something special
First Fish, Lake Cresent
This is what I had in mind
Rainforest meets lake
View from my tent, Lake Cresent
Packed and ready to roll
doing laundry at Quintal Lake
I caught this trout 15 feet off the side of the 101 southbound in Souther Washington
Walk the open road
Cattle Ranch Making Cheese for Tillamook Cheese Factory
Rest Stop 101 South
This day was amazing
First Sign of an inviting coasr
I caught a few dungeness crabs off the jetty to the right
Cape Disappointment – I was feeling anything but…
Cape Disappointment – where Lewis and Clark ended their expedition
I Rode into the sunset this evening and was rewarded with this view turn after turn
Free ice cream and creese/ I ate myself sick
Its hard to keep your eyes on the rode
After months of preparation and a few interesting pre-trips that were priceless learning experiences I was finally ready to set off on my journey. I boarded the Amtrak Coastline in Santa Ana, Ca an settled in for the 38 hour ride to Seattle, Wa which passed through some beautiful places and really pumped me up for my ride. With more built up energy and excitement than a teenager about to be released for summer vacation I hoped off the Train in Seattle and began my adventure. I wanted to get as close to the border of Canada as possible so the next two days were spent figuring out my way from Seattle to Port Angeles, Wa. There is no way to sugar coat it, the first couple days were rough. I started out taking a ferry over the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island where I was met with 90 degree heat and the realization that I definitely packed to much. Pulling 60+ pounds of weight on the trailer, including a surfboard, wetsuits, fishing equipment, and enough Mountain House freeze dried food to feed a small army I pushed uphill and across the Hood Canal bridge and on my way to the Olympic Peninsula. After the bridge I took a wrong turn on to the 19 and was forced to fix a flat in a shoulder no wider than 16” on a log trucking road. Setting up camp behind an old high school in the small farm town of Chimacum I figured out my location and was in Heart of the Hills Campground in Port Angeles by the next evening. The next couple of days I spent adjusting to the weather, fixing flats and broken spokes, and the realization that I was most likely not going to score any good surf in Washington. Leaving Kalaloch campground one week after I got on the train I was still in bad weather and still hadn’t got a fish bigger than a pound; I was starting to feel discouraged but fortunately my body was beginning to feel stronger. I rode on and arrived at Lake Quinault to sunshine and no wind and spent the afternoon washing my clothes, swimming, and fishing. It was exactly what I need and I was starting to feel refreshed. Waking up less than two feet from the lake the next morning my spirits were high and I was ready to ride. I only made it 7 miles down the road before I passed a stream that looked to good to not fish. Within five minutes I had two keeper trout and celebrated by lighting off some fireworks I scored at the Indian Reservation the previous day. I continued winding my way down the 101 South and through the Olympic National Forest, Countless historical sites and Indian Reservations, as well as some of the most enchanting rainforests I have ever seen. While taking a break in the middle of a rainforest you can almost feel the life growing around you. Everything is so green and it is truly amazing. I crossed over the Astoria Bridge and into Oregon on July 11th and have been greeted with nothing but good weather and great riding for the last couple of days. Averaging 70 miles a day I feel strong and I had an emotional moment in the Siuslaw National Forest after summiting a 5 mile climb realizing that I’m living one of my dreams and that I am really going to make it. The first week threw some curveballs at me and was challenging but I grew from it and I am now halfway into Oregon and feeling stronger than ever. I have settled into life on the road and am starting to feel like I am truly in my element. Onward to Mexico!
**Big Thanks To Mountain House Freeze Dried products for supplying me with great food for the trip!
I have been married for 5 1/2 years but have yet to actually change my last name to Engle. I get lost every time I have to venture off the 5 fwy. I attended UCSB on a soccer scholarship … Continue reading →
Little Harbor Campground to the left, Shark Harbor to the right
Brought over in 1924 for a Zane Grey Western Film the buffalo play a unique role in the Catalina scenery
Cross roads at the airport, happy to be going down hill
Routes 1, 4 , and 6 to the backside, routes 6, 4, and 1, to Avalon…Enjoy
With a bigger trip planned for the future and a little spring break time off, I figured the seemingly endless hills of Catalina would be a great place to explore and put in some tough miles. Starting Tuesday, I hopped on the Flyer to cross the channel with my fuji clyclecross, two fishing poles, and enough supplies for three days of backside exploring. The elevation changes from 0 to 1602 ft from Avalon to Catalina’s Airport in the sky, and I learned first hand that it is a ride that will make your legs cramp, your lungs scream, and your heart smile. You pedal up a 2.4 mile, 10+ grade hill, cursing last nights decision to have that final beer only to be greeted by the salty yet cooling breeze and the view of the Pacific Ocean to your left and your right when you reach your the tallest peak of the trip. That’s when you remember you’re on one of California’s most pristine Channel Islands and only a couple miles away from a famous buffalo burger. From the airport to the backside of the island and Little Harbor, where I planned to stay for the night, was a six-mile gravel road ride that was filled with herds of buffalo and some downhill speeds that can really push your comfort level. Once on the backside, I locked my bike up and dedicated my time to hiking and fishing the most productive spots in my vicinity. I decided to wake up early Wednesday morning and make the trek East to Cottonwood Beach where I knew there was some decent rocks to fish of off. When I arrived, the tide was dropping, the wind was picking up, and the ocean was looking mean. Time for battle! I had high hopes and low expectations but taking a minute to assess my situation, I started thinking like a fish in this rough environment and came out strong. Finding a special bait in the rocks, I let the artificial lures take a break and started hooking up on some great coastal fish. I spent the day fishing and arrived back to camp at sunset with just enough time to sashimi up some sheapshead and enjoy it with some freeze-dried pad thai with a truly sunburnt smile on my face. Thursday’s sunrise woke me up and I couldn’t help casting out a couple more lines in front of Little Harbor. With a few calico bass and a surprise 3 lb. opal eye on the lure, I had just enough energy to make it up to the airport by mid morning. On the ten mile, relatively downhill ride to Avalon, I had enough time to take in the views of the deer and California sage brush that cover the interior of the island and finished with a Buffalo Milk at Descanso Beach to send me home on a great note and make me realize how special this Island really is to me.