Posted by Kiki | Uncategorized | Posted on October 28th, 2013
I’ll be heading to New Zealand in December 2013 / January 2014 to cycle the South Island. There’s no telling how great the internet access will be, and I am not taking a laptop/netbook or such on this trip, so it’ll probably not see much in terms of updates until after the trip and then get some photos posted then. However, the page for the New Zealand trip is: http://www.transamericancyclist.com/nz/
Posted by Kiki | Uncategorized | Posted on December 29th, 2011
I’ll be presenting at REI Denver on April 17, 2012 at 6:30pm.
Why work, when adventure beckons? In the summer of 2009, Kiki Holl began the trip of a lifetime – a bike ride to see America and raise money for a cause, Multiple Sclerosis. Along the way, Kiki encountered gaping potholes, snakes, stifling desert heat, broken bike parts, severe intestinal illness, and local gendarmes threatening to derail things. Fortunately, the kindness of strangers, the camaraderie of friends, and spectacular scenery made 4,263 miles from Yorktown, VA to Portland, OR, then down the coast to San Francisco, CA all worth the effort.
Register online to snag a spot.
The trip was a success! I completed over 4,263 miles from Yorktown, VA to Portland, OR and then down the coast to San Francisco, CA between May 26, 2009 and August 19, 2009 (86 days). I met many amazing people along the way, pedaled through 13 states, and saw a lot of spectacular scenery. I feel like I’ve now seen some of the United States, but there is still a lot remaining to explore.
The first few states were rather ‘familiar’ as far as scenery goes – I hadn’t been to Kentucky before, but western Kentucky was quite similar to Virginia with a lot of horse farms and open fields. Eastern Kentucky was a little more poverty-stricken and was cluttered with trash on the sides of the roads. The roads were in poor condition with potholes (we had to be very careful to pay attention and not hit one)! I picked up a staple from the road in eastern Kentucky and got my first flat tire. We only briefly saw Illinois (I think we spent 2 days biking through southern Illinois), but we met some really fun people, namely two motorcyclists who invited us to their home to camp outside, grill, and play in the lake. Also, we saw Superman in Metropolis, Illinois, which was off-route and not planned. As it happened, we had bike problems that day and had to hitch-hike 70 miles to a bike shop to get a new chain for George’s bike. Missouri was very humid and the Ozarks were filled with hills.
About 40 miles outside of Springfield, Missouri, my shifter cable broke and I wound up hitching a ride with to a bike shop. For the first time since we left on May 26th, I was in civilization again. Springfield was a large city (from what I could tell), and they had a Chipotle and Starbucks. That was exciting! We pedaled through Missouri in six days and then when we reached Kansas, we switched our sleeping and biking habits. Instead of riding during the day, we rode at night and slept indoors at fire stations, libraries, and churches during the day to avoid the 115-degree heat and humidity. It worked fairly well, except that I biked the entire state of Kansas carrying a viral infection, only to realize it when I entered Colorado.
Just 70 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado in the hamlet of Arlington, I found myself extremely sick and unable to continue pedaling. I stopped and told the guys I couldn’t go any further. This was my last opportunity to find someone who could help me – there were approximately three houses and a few shady trees. I stopped, rested, and when I wasn’t feeling any better, I walked to a house to see if anyone was home who could drive me to a doctor. A nice man, by the name of C.D. Anderson said he’d give me a ride to Ordway, CO (25 miles west). We rode there and the clinic said I needed to get to a hospital, but the next closest one was in Pueblo. He gave me a ride all the way to Pueblo, another 45 miles down the road. There, I admitted myself to the Emergency Room and spent the next five and a half hours receiving saline and anti-nausea medicine. I slept on and off until 6:30 that evening when I was released. Lucky to have distant relatives in the area, they came and picked me up and they took me to their home in Westcliffe, Colorado.
A few days later, thanks to the generosity of a complete stranger, Cindi from Westcliffe, I had a car to borrow and was on my way to visit a friend from college. Unfortunately, I got sick again and at this point was very frustrated, as I didn’t know what was wrong with me. This was the only point in my trip where I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to continue if the virus didn’t get out of my system. I slept and rested for another day or two and then went whitewater rafting (already had reservations made) and then drove to Estes Park to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains and take photos.
I finally got on my bike again almost two weeks after getting sick and was now solo pedaling to meet Chase, my new riding companion, who was a few days ahead of me now. Unexpectedly, I spent a few nights in Salida, Colorado when I met Mike. He showed me around town and then guided me up my first 14er, Mt. Elbert. It was an incredible experience to be on the highest mountain in Colorado and one of the highest in the lower 48 states! After a day of recuperation, I climbed 26 miles up and over the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet! There, at the top of the pass, Chase found me and I rode down the other side of the mountain and then hitched a ride back to Pitkin where he and his family had rented a cabin for a few days. We spent a couple days in Pitkin and Ohio City with Chase’s family before we hit the road again on July 14th.
The adventures really picked up once Chase and I met and started riding together – we found ourselves first taking a short-cut from Telluride, CO to Moab, UT in two days and meeting a really nice woman by the name of Lauren. As it turns out, she invited us to have dinner with her (grilled steak and peppers along with pickled asparagus) and sleep in her camper van just outside of Paradox, CO. Then we met Wayne, who gave us a lift from La Sal Junction to Moab and then into Arches National Park, where we toured the park in the afternoon together. It was a great time and nice since Wayne hadn’t had an opportunity to see the park before! After Moab, we rode down to Monticello (I had to pick up mail) and then onward to Hite, UT (Lake Powell). This was one of the worst days (from Blanding to Hite) as the heat was cranked up and the 88-mile stretch without services was brutal. We each carried 1.5 gallons of water and pedaled all day to get to Hite campground.
What would have been a long journey across the deserts of Utah and Nevada turned into a spontaneous adventure where we found ourselves 700 miles north getting dropped off in Yellowstone National Park. We caught a ride with Jack and his 7-year old who were on their family vacation. We were like family for 3 days and it was amazing. We had such a great time! Once we parted from Jack and David, we left to go to West Yellowstone where we ran into five cyclists that Chase last saw and rode with in Missouri! Who knew we’d end up back on the Transamerican Route in Montana weeks later and run into them!
A few more mile of pedaling as we rode through Montana to Missoula where I bumped into my best friend’s ex-husband in a bike shop, saw my last chiropractor of the trip (6th one), got my second (and last) flat tire, and did my last long uphill climb (before reaching the coast) of 46 miles over Lolo Pass into Idaho! Just into Idaho, we met a great family from Frederick, Maryland who invited us to eat dinner and camp with them. Thanks again to nice people, we camped with a couple from British Columbia at a campground in Washington, camped on someone’s front porch in Walla Walla, Washington, and found ourselves chased out of a campground after we spotted three large snakes within five minutes. Needless to say, we camped on the side of the road that night only six miles from the campground, as we were exhausted from riding 106 miles in the blazing heat with headwinds!
Finally into Oregon, we were excited to reach Portland. However, it wasn’t over yet! We hit horrible headwinds in Columbia River Gorge (apparently the windsurfing capital of the world), yet no one gave us a heads up about this! We battled the headwinds for about 100 miles or so (on and off with the intensity), but once we were within 150 miles of Portland, the winds picked up even more! Chase wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I. We agreed to hitch a ride the last 90 miles into Portland so we wouldn’t pedal away for two more days to get there. Instead, we wanted to enjoy seeing Portland before having to continue down the coast (or in Chase’s case, before he had to fly home).
On August 9th, we reached the Pacific Coast at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I had 3,570 miles at this point. Our last evening of the ride (coast to coast), we camped in a city park as all the campgrounds were full and the motels/hotels were all booked. To make our story more fun, we camped illegally (in a city park, as there was nowhere else to go) and the next morning the police came at 5:55am asking us to leave.
The last leg of the trip, I rode solo down the coast from Nescowin, OR to San Francisco, CA. I met a lot of really nice people along the way and rode with several groups of riders as well. I met four motorcyclists from Victoria, British Columbia in Bandon, OR and then we reunited again in Brookings, OR the next day, 100 miles later. It was fun to see the same faces again on several occasions and we really had a great time exchanging stories and hanging out at the campsites together.
At last, I reached San Francisco on August 19th at six o’clock in the evening after riding my final 72 miles. From August 19th until August 25th, I spent the time in San Francisco sampling some of the most delicious ethnic food while hanging out with one of my best friends — Iman, who flew from the east coast to meet me! On August 25th, we departed on a train back across the country. Again we met many interesting people, including Thane and Brenda of Sioux Falls and the friendly Amtrak staff. My arrival into DC was mixed – the trip was officially over and I would have to re-acclimate to life back home and return to my full-time desk job.
Posted by Kiki | California | Posted on August 28th, 2009
- Total miles: 4,263
- States biked through: 13
- States traveled through (including train): 18
- Total average speed: 11.74 mph
- Maximum speed: July 26th, going into Virginia City, Montana (55.00 mph)
- Total riding time: 355 hours and 58 minutes
- Average miles per day: 64.75
- Total days from start to finish: 86
- Total riding days: 65
- Total rest days: 21
- Total centuries: 4
- Longest day: July 27th – Virginia City, MT – Jackson, MT (106.64 miles)
- Shortest day: July 23rd – Hite, UT – Flaming Gorge, WY (11.51 miles)
- Highest average speed: July 29th – Darby, MT – Missoula, MT (14.70 mph)
- Lowest average speed: July 23rd – Hite, UT – Flaming Gorge, WY (7.50 mph)
- Cold/Warm Showers: 59 between May 26th – Aug. 19th
- Nights in a tent: 42 nights
- Snake count: 69
- Dog chases: 24
- Armadillo sightings: 8 (only in Missouri!)
- Flat tires: 2
Posted by Kiki | California | Posted on August 28th, 2009
Tuesday, August 25th
Bedtime night before: 3:45am
Wake up time: 6am
Monday night, Iman conked out on me early in the evening, around 10:30 or so and I stayed up for a good while afterwards working on the computer and reinstalling the image I used previously in the trip so I could install Open Office and some other programs.
But anyway, we got up early on Tuesday morning to get down to the Ferry Building to catch our bus over to Emeryville’s Amtrak station. We had about 30 minutes to wait around for the bus to show up and first met another couple at the benches waiting to catch the train.
We got over to Emeryville via bus without any problems and had about 40-50 minutes to wait for our train to arrive and for departure. I went in search of postcard stamps to shoot off a couple more cards before I left California. Turns out I found a post office just a block and a half from the train station, only to later find out that I had postcard stamps all along. I looked at my stamps the night before quickly and thought they were just the 44 cent stamps, but turns out they were the 28 cent stamps instead. Oh well! I mailed off a couple postcards and then the I noticed my bike box outside didn’t have a transfer ticket on it so I went and asked inside what the deal was – the Amtrak ticket guy said he’d put a ticket on it, so hopefully my bike will make it on the train without any problems along with the two other boxes.
The train arrived and we gathered our things and went to board train number 0632 in a sleeping car, thanks to Iman’s company covering the costs for her to come out and back with me on the train. We got settled into our sleeping car which is 3.5 feet by 6.5 feet or so and turns into two beds. Our train attendant, Nathan, came by a few minutes after we got to our room to explain things about the train and so we were set. We were even served breakfast, and who did I get seated with? None other than the two we were chatting with at the bus stop to ride over to Emeryville – a couple from South Dakota. So I sat down and had breakfast with them while we guessed each other’s names – as it turns out, their names are Thane and Brenda, who we later became train buddies with and apparently (according to another passenger), Brenda was one of Iman and my “peeps” – that was rather funny. Iman didn’t eat breakfast with me as she was fasting, but afterwards we hung out for a little bit in the observation car where there are slightly larger windows and swivel chairs as well as some booth-like seating.
For lunch, I was seated with Donna and Dave, a mother and son duo that were on a trip from Vermont (but they boarded the train in Chicago instead) and they were on a little cross-country trip out to Glacier and down around California as well and now were heading back towards Chicago. They’d be getting off in Grand Junction and then again in Denver to do some sight-seeing. Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 26th they’ll be hopping off in Grand Junction, Colorado and renting a car to drive down to Arches National Park and Colorado Monument in Moab, Utah. Then they’ll get back on the train again and ride to Denver and hop off again and either do Rocky Mountain National Park (I was trying to convince them on that one), or they’ll possibly do Pike’s Peak near Colorado Springs.
So the train ride is already really interesting and fun – we’ve met lots of really fun people and I’ve become known for my bike trip across the country. Everyone’s seemed to have heard about it by now and Nathan, our train attendant, likes to introduce me as “meet my friend Kiki. She biked across the country this summer.” Nathan’s really cool and a fun, friendly guy, but then again so are all the rest of our train attendants and kitchen staff – lots of fun, they joke around with us a lot. One of the kitchen staff, Tom, saw me the first time and said I’d be “trouble” so I’ve gotten that name now as being the “trouble-maker” – of course, just for fun. It’s because I have fun with all the attendants/staff and we all joke around. I took a nap at one point and had taken my hair down and then went back upstairs thru the dining car to get to the observation car and Tom saw me and said, “you won’t fool me – I still recognize you even though you took your hair down” – haha… not that I was trying to fool anyone, just hadn’t put it back up yet.
So dinner time was served at 7pm – we have an option on the train to eat at either 5:30 or 7pm for dinner and they do dinner by reservation only, meaning we have to pick a time to eat. Tom comes around the train after lunch and gathers reservations to mark us all off as to when we’d like to eat and then gives us a slip. So Iman joined me for dinner tonight as it was near enough to sunset and by the time we ate, it was sunset, so that worked out well. We were sat with an older man, Richard, who went to Lebanon Valley College and taught at the University of Connecticut. He was on the train from Pittsburg to San Francisco, via the Southwestern Chief through New Mexico, Arizona, and to California that way. In San Francisco, he met up with his co-author for a text book he was revising for a new edition (topic was Math). Just before he caught the train, he had one family reunion in Pittsburgh and then he hopped the train to the west coast and on his way home to Connecticut, he’s planning to go to the second family reunion. He strategically planned his meeting with his co-author around the two family reunions because he wanted to go to both, but didn’t want to drive down two weeks apart, and he also didn’t want to spend 2 weeks in Pittsburg with the family. So Richard was a prety neat guy who was very into college basketball and asked us to have wine with him at dinner. So he ordered a couple half bottles of Chardonnay and Iman and I had dinner with him. Iman ordered the flat iron steak, I had half a roasted chicken, and Richard had salmon. Everything was really yummy – the chicken was excellent and the dessert was also really tasty. Iman and I had raspberry cheesecake, Richard had chocolate peanut butter torte.
Later in the evening, Iman and I just hung out in our roomette and I started reading some of “The Ridiculous Race” – a book that was just published recently about two friends who raced around the world (one eastward, one westward) without the use of airplanes for transportation. The first to return to the start location in Los Angeles would win 40-year old scotch. So far the book’s pretty interesting but I just got started into it.
We hit the sack about 10pm and Iman slept on the upper sleeper, me on the lower.
Wednesday, August 26th
Bedtime night before: 10pm
Wake up time: 7am
We slept until about 5am when we reached Salt Lake City, Utah. I fell back asleep for another hour and a half or so. I got up about 7am and Iman was still sleeping (or so I thought) and I wasn’t sure if she was going to come to breakfast or not, as she had been fasting for Ramadan. I went up to breakfast by myself and wound up sitting with Dave and Donna again (son and mother that I met earlier). A short bit later, Iman showed up and joined us at the table for breakfast. I got a breakfast burrito which was pretty good and then we went and hung out in the Observation car for awhile snapping photos as we rode through Utah and into Colorado.
The scenery throughout the day was really nice – we rode through several scenic canyons and saw lots of neat rock formations and colorings, similar to what I’d seen already on my bike trip. Iman took lots of pictures, so hopefully we’ll have some good ones to show what our train ride was like. I didn’t take as many as I seemed to have a lot more glare and reflections with my camera, so just put it away and let her do the photography with her fancy Leica camera.
For lunch, we sat with Kathleen and Lauren (her six year old). They were from Lancaster, PA and were heading home from having spent the summer in Reno, Nevada. We both ordered chicken and mushroom over wild rice and had chocolate peanut butter torte! It was really tasty – probably the best dessert that Amtrak serves on its trains! After lunch, we came back to our roomette and took some time for napping. Unfortunately, I got really tired and couldn’t keep my eyes awake for the canyons through Colorado – I was awake for some of it, but also missed a good bit too. We rode through the Moffat Tunnel which was 6.2 miles long and went under the Continental Divide where we reached our highest point of the Zephyr at 9,200 or so odd feet. When the Moffat Tunnel was built, two crews started drilling from opposite sides and when they reached the middle, they were only 3 inches off! The tunnel was built in the late 1800s (I think). So it’s pretty incredible that they were so close with the drilling back then. We napped on/off until about 5pm and then got up and started to work on different things and listen to music, watch Amazing Race, and such.
Before Denver and the dinner calls, Iman decided to try out the fancy Amtrak train showers – it was an experience. She came back and said it was good, except everything was so wet. She had the last towel and I couldn’t find Nathan to get more towels, so I waited a while and no response. Eventually, I just dug out my camp towel and went and used that and had Iman coordinate with me to get my clothes and bring back my clean ones, as there was no place to put them down in the shower without them getting wet. I didn’t want nasty wet clothes from yucky water in the shower. I showered and felt better, so that was nice!
We arrived to Denver on time (we’d made up for 1.5 hours of delays earlier in the trip) and actually got to Denver as scheduled at 7:38pm. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really go hang outside on the platform while we were there, as our dinner reservations were for the 7pm dinner, but they got pushed back a little and we were stuck in the dining car for dinner when others were outside on the platform enjoying some fresh air. We sat with Grace and Lex for dinner. They’re from California and Canada and have houses in both places, since they live in each part-time. I got the flat iron steak tonight and Iman got the salmon. Both were pretty good. We took our raspberry cheesecake dessert with us to go.
On our way back to the roomette, we stopped by Thane and Brenda’s roomette to see if they wanted to meet in the Observation car in a bit and play cards and chat. So we went down and grabbed snacks and beverages and headed back upstairs to the Observation car where we met up with Brenda and Thane. We played a few card games and sat around chatting until about 11pm or so and then split and went back to our roomettes to crash for the night.
Thursday, August 27th
Bedtime night before: 11pm
Wake up time: 7:30am
Had another pretty good night of sleep, despite it being a bit warm in our roomette, but it wasn’t too bad. We slept both nights with the door open and just the curtain pulled shut. We both woke up at Omaha, NE when we arrived there around 6am – we’d wanted to say bye to Brenda and Thane, but I couldn’t get up when the alarm went off, instead I only had enough energy to turn the GPS alarm off and hit snooze! We both fell back asleep – too tired to even go outside for a photo of the Omaha, NE sign on the platform.
We went up for breakfast with Roy, our buddy across the way from our roomette. He’s really a neat guy and totally impresses me with his knowledge and memory. He claims that he’s turning 91 this December and he was born in 1918. He says the dates with such confidence, I know he’s telling the truth, but I still find it incredibly hard to believe that he’s really 90 years old! He looks like he’s maybe 70 years old – his memory of dates and events is amazing and he told us about when he worked for General Motors (for some 40 years or so he worked for them). He was a test engineer and then later moved up into different positions. So we had breakfast with Roy – he’s off to Wisconsin to visit his daughter and other friends and family in the Chicago area, since he lived there for 39 years or so. Also at our table was Tom, another guy we met yesterday on the train. He’s currently living in Charlottesville, VA and is just on a cross-country trip by himself and seems to be enjoying himself quite well. So we had good conversation and another good meal on board. Both Iman and I got french toast for breakfast and I had bacon and sausage.
After breakfast, we came down and hung out in the roomette and I started to write my journal entries for the time we’ve been on the train, so I hopefully am not forgetting anyone we met on the train. I chatted briefly with our other neighbors in the roomettes downstairs in car 0632. They are Ellie and her italian mother Gia and are heading to Chicago as well. They’ve been doing a bit of train travel as well – I believe Ellie said she drove out to the west coast with her daughter and then her mom, Gia, flew out to meet her and take the train back together.
We went up around 11am and sat in the kitchen car talking to John and Tom (kitchen staff) before lunch. They’re pretty fun guys and really like to joke around a bit, so we just hung out there prior to lunch. For lunch, we did a repeat of yesterday’s chicken and mushroom over wild rice followed by raspberry cheesecake. We sat with another couple who were from Iowa and just taking the train to Chicago for a Cub’s game. Our train got delayed again (we had made up most of the time we were delayed from the fatality 60 miles from San Francisco), from the flooded areas in Iowa. We were stuck on the tracks for more than an hour while we waited for a crew of the Burlington Northern rail line to clear the tracks due to a fallen tree. And then a freight train clipped part of a tree as well and they had to clear that up as well and inspect the track prior to giving us the green light to continue.
Throughout the morning and later in the afternoon, we progressively seemed to get later and later and are currently, as of Thursday, August 27th at 3:30pm, we are 3 hours and 40 minutes delayed to reaching Chicago.
We arrived to Chicago around 6:30, just in time to transfer trains and get on Train 30, the Capitol Limited to Washington, DC. I saw Richard briefly as we changed trains and then he was off to Pittsburgh where he’d change trains to go to Lancaster, PA. We boarded the Coach car and found our seats, 13 and 14, and we both conked out for about an hour or so. We woke up and then were up for a good while and walked down to the Dining car to see if we could get cups with ice to drink something and we snacked for a little bit. We chatted with a woman and her 7-month old daughter and then were interrupted by an older man who butted into our conversations.
The man decided to tell us how difficult his job was being a stay at home parent with his two daughters who are 2 and 4 years of age. He kept going on and on about them and his wife and how difficult it is being a stay at home parent. He was drunk and had been drinking who knows how much during the evening, but he decided to splurge everything to us, including details we didn’t need or want to know. Regardless, we listened to him for a good two hours or so as he vented to us and then come to find he was making some comment and implied that we were partners with one another. We were like, “huh, how did you get that idea?” and then he tries to explain to us why he thought we were a couple. He said he thought so because we were really “close” and “that we weren’t afraid to have a guy sitting in between us, as he wasn’t a threat to our relationship with one another” and such crap – it was really amusing especially since he completely embarrassed himself by making the assumption and comment about Iman and I being a couple.
After about 2 hours of discussions and listening to this drunk guy (Ron) on the train, we find the opportunity to leave as he was looking for more to drink, I think. The conductor saw him and was following him and I think realized we were tired of listening to him and his crude language and descriptions of things he told us. We went back to our seats and I watched some more Amazing Race and then conked out around 3am or so.
Friday, August 28th
Bedtime night before: 3am
Wake up time: 8:30am
After a night of pretty uncomfortable sleep in the coach car, I woke up several times in the morning and eventually got up for good around 8:30am and then went and changed clothes just to feel a little cleaner and brushed my teeth. I came back and Iman had claimed my seat to sleep, so I went up to the Observation car to hang out and what not. I wound up talking to another guy from Deluth, Minnesota (same place as where Ron said he was from) and this other man was taking his daughter to Georgetown for her second year of school there. So we chatted for a bit and then eventually I came back to the seats to see if Iman had woken up and sure enough, she had. So now we’re about an hour away from DC – almost home!
Posted by Kiki | California | Posted on August 24th, 2009
Thursday, August 20th – Tuesday, August 25th, Rest/Tourist days in San Francisco
Wow, what a nice break from riding and all! I’ve been able to sit back, relax, and see a bit of San Francisco and not really feel like a tourist, all at the same time! It’s been really nice, especially since Iman was able to fly out and meet me and work during the time I’m laying over here before finishing down the coast to Los Angeles.
We’ve been having a lot of fun just checking out the city, eating good food and relaxing too. Thursday was really nice because I slept in as long as I could (9:30am or so) and then just was lazy trying to get some stuff done with my website and blog catching up, photos, etc. I then met Iman for lunch and then rode around on my bike in the city. In the evening, we went out with Iman’s cousin for crepes for dinner – amazing, along with drinks and dessert crepes! Can’t beat that – amazing amazing crepes though!
Friday, I took my bike to REI for a tune-up – they were really nice and fit me right in without any issues. I love REI! That evening, we met up with another friend of Iman’s – Neal, from GW days and had dessert with him, his girlfriend Amy, and their friend Nelson (also visiting from the east – also went to GW). So we went to this little Italian place for dessert and had tiramisu which was so yummy! Earlier in the evening, Iman and I went for what we thought would be cheap chinese food, but turned out to be over-priced nasty tea in a greasy cup and ‘reasonably cheap’ chinese food. Our bill came to $30 for two people. Our entrees were $5.95/each, the tea was $2/cup (we didn’t ask for it, or drink it), and another entree of Iman’s was $7.95 or something. Go figure that out…. nasty tea!
Saturday was a little lazy – we just walked around the touristy areas of San Francisco down near Embarcadero and did something we never thought we’d do… gamble on the street. Yes, it was impulse because it looked so easy and sure. I lost $60 on the street, so Iman went to an ATM and got money out to win my $60 back… come to find out, I actually lost $80, but we re-won $60 of it. So my grand total loss was $20, thankfully not $60 or $80. There’s a first for everything – my first time ever gambling… it was fun, but I don’t like losing money… I probably won’t be doing it again. Luckily, the guy was nice and made it an easy win for us because I think he wanted to get rid of us – we were smart enough to win it all, but he was eager to see us go, so he just gave us the money back with easy bets. I later realized that I actually was down $20 overall, but oh well. Learning experience – never bet on the streets. I wouldn’t mind trying a slot machine someday – a penny slot machine though with a $10-$20 cap on my gambling money.
In the evening, we did a little Safeway run to pick up some goodies, including our microwaveable dinners (mac and cheese, ravioli)… and went back to our hotel and hung out there to eat dinner and snacks and have a few drinks (rum and pepsi, and some tequila)… it was cheaper than going out for pricey drinks, plus we were feeling lazy and wanted to say in and hang out. At 1am, we got hungry again and found this cool italian pizza place open still who would deliver (we used foodler.com) and they brought us some yummy panini, pasta, salad, and tiramisu of course! We pigged out, but felt satisfied afterwards which was what mattered.
Sunday, we had more of a lazy day – just walked around downtown for a bit and browsed through this market area. I grabbed a bite to eat while Iman watched me eat (she’s celebrating Ramadan for the next month, so is fasting between sunrise and sunset). After walking around downtown, we came back to the area where our hotel is and checked out a few stores there. Iman wanted to get a perm done, but no hair salons were/are open in San Francisco on Sundays. We called numerous places and looked online to find zero places open! It was crazy… a huge city with no where to get a hair cut on a Sunday!
In the evening, we walked up a couple blocks from the hotel and went to an Indian restaurant where they had a buffet for $10/all you can eat. So we stuffed ourselves there and it was really yummy, then went back to the hotel to hang out and do laundry and what not. A pretty lazy weekend, but nice indeed.
Monday – I’m just going to go test my bike out a bit more and make sure it’s running smoothly. I had to buy new tires, a new chair, get everything lubed up, the derailleur needed adjusting, and my brake pads were shot – so the grand total wasn’t cheap, but at least I have a safe bike to ride for the rest of the trip. So I’m going to ride around the city more today and make sure everything’s going smoothly with the bike.
Tomorrow will be my last day in the city before I head out towards L.A. on Wednesday. I think I’m going to catch the BART train system from downtown to Daly City, CA and then work my way back to the Hwy 1 along the coast. My first day, if all goes well will end up with me reaching Santa Cruz almost – I found a state park just north where I can camp and it’ll be a 70ish mile day for me, which should be pretty average. It looks like it’ll be another 500 or so odd miles, perhaps a little less to get to L.A., so I’m estimating I’ll arrive there on Wednesday, September 2nd and will then meet up with my cousin, Rob and hang out with him while staying with an old friend from college who moved to L.A. to pursue acting. I’m planning to then stay the weekend in L.A. before catching a train home the following Monday or Tuesday, so hopefully that’ll give me enough time!
Posted by Kiki | California | Posted on August 19th, 2009
Wednesday, August 19th – Bodega Dunes Campground, CA to San Francisco, CA
I woke up really early, before my alarm – got up at 5:45am to find out that my tent was wet and so was my sleeping bag and my pants. The rain/fog droplets had come in underneath the tent because of setting up on the slope to try and avoid getting lots of sand in/on the tent. Oh well, so I was soaked and so was everything else pretty much. Luckily, even though I’d let my laptop out of the dry bag, it didn’t get wet! Phew, close call though!
I packed up and got things in order within 45 minutes or so and then Dwayne and I took turns holding each other’s bikes while the other sprayed down the wheels and rims to get the sand off. We later discovered it was easier if we laid the bikes down on their sides on the pavement and poured water on the rims to really remove all the sand so it wouldn’t grind in when braking. About two hours after waking up, finally we were ready to roll and get on the bikes.
Dwyane and I rode the entire way practically to San Francisco together – we stopped at Valley Ford at the Hwy 1 Diner where he treated me to a good breakfast of eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast, and hot chocolate. It was yummy and definitely full of calories. We continued on riding passing the other cyclists that all stayed at the campground the night before (4 others were there – a couple and then two cyclists that I rode with from Jenner).
The riding was much better than the previous day – as traffic wasn’t as bad and the roads weren’t quite as bad either. Also, there wasn’t all the fog like there had been the previous days. So the riding was more pleasant, even though we still had quite a few hills and rolling hills which weren’t too bad. I wound up riding back to Dwayne’s house in Larkspur with him (it was right on route) so there I could unpack my tent, sleeping bag, pad, tarp, etc. and dry it all out before packing it up while I stay in San Francisco for a few days resting and checking the city out. So that was really nice, since I was worried about how I’d get it all dried out at a hotel!
After leaving Larkspur, the ride into the city was about another 15-20 miles to go. The weather was pretty crumby with wind, fog, and fog droplets. Just before crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge, I had to climb a few nice hills as well as fight some fierce headwinds – maybe the strongest I’d felt. Luckily, the portion that I had to ride into headwinds wasn’t too long, maybe a mile or two.
I reached the Golden Gate Bridge around 6pm or so and of course got a couple mandatory photos and then crossed it and snapped a few more photos and found myself a nice, long way to get to the hotel – probably not the best way at all. I climbed several pretty steep hills and felt like I must be taking the long route, but I didn’t really know exactly what my best route would/should be. I just followed my GPS and let it guide me. I got to the hotel (Spaulding Hotel) just before 7pm and rolled in with my bike, checked in, and then unpacked and hopped in the tub for a good 20 minute soak. I was pretty grundy, especially after packing up the tent and all in the wet sand this morning. I soaked for a bit and then showered … it was great!
I decided to venture out to Borders to kill some time before Iman flew in on her flight from DC -> Vegas -> San Francisco. I also picked up some take-out chinese food which was decent for what it was and then just hung out at the hotel until she arrived around 11:30 or so. We stayed up late chatting and goofing around and then hit the sack as she had to get to work early in the morning.
07:04 moving time
43.2 max speed
10.7 avg speed
07:04:12 moving time
44.0 max speed
10.9 avg speed
Snake count: 1
Posted by Kiki | California | Posted on August 18th, 2009
Tuesday, August 18th – KOA in Manchester, CA to Bodega Dunes Campground, CA
I woke up about 7:30 this morning and packed up and ate a bagel with peanut butter before hitting the road. The morning wasn’t too bad – not that foggy which was nice for a change and the sun was coming out so I could use my solar panel again! I chatted a bit with some other people in the campground that I’d talked to the night before and then I hit the road about 8:45 or so, I think.
The riding was fairly decent for the first half of the day, but the last 30-40 miles were pretty treacherous and awful. I also did the entire day without any services and was just lucky enough to find a lodge to refill on water at one place and a grocery store to refill just 10 miles after I started in the morning. Otherwise, there was no place to get lunch or anything really, with the exception of a convenience store in Jenner, but that was 10 miles from Bodega Dunes Campground, so it didn’t really matter.
But the riding in the afternoon was the most hellish, painful and awful riding of the entire trip (I think). I don’t remember another time where I was so frustrated and annoyed at how bad the roads were – extremely narrow, windy, steep, curvy, and the traffic was awful. I felt like I was riding to have a death wish – I never felt that unsafe with the riding conditions of the ride until Hwy 1 in California for approximately 130 miles (or the past two days). One truck almost caused a nasty accident on a narrow, windy, downhill where he passed me and had on-coming trafffic in the other lane. Luckily, there wasn’t an accident, but it was still nerve-wracking to ride on that road. It was so bad that I contemplated hitch-hiking the last 20 miles to the campground to get off the roads as a cyclist and be safer, but I really didn’t want to hitch and instead wanted to finish out my last 630 or so miles to San Francisco with minimal hitch-hiking (I only hitched 65 miles or so after I left Portland and before I hit San Francisco)…but I biked something like 630 miles since I left Cannon Beach.
In Jenner, I ran into two other cyclists who were doing the coast ride and I rode with them for 10 miles to Bodega Dunes Campground. Another cyclist, Dwayne, was at the hiker/biker site already and then we rolled in and set up. It was a bit frustrating though because the campground was all sandy – so our bikes got all sandy and tents and gear and all a bit sandy too.
I pitched the tent on a slope with leaves to try to avoid getting it all sandy and what not – well it turned out to be a pretty bad idea. I wound up drenched because the fog dropped all night and came in under the tent and on top of the tarp – sleeping bag, inside of tent, everything just sopping wet from the fog dropping.
06:17 moving time
35.5 max speed
10.9 avg speed
11.1 avg speed
Snake count: 2
Posted by Kiki | California | Posted on August 17th, 2009
Monday, August 17th – Westport Union Landing State Park, CA – KOA Campground in Manchester, CA
Another very cold morning indeed – I had a hard time waking up this morning and getting myself dressed because it was so cold. I figured, who cares – I’ll get up and dressed when I feel like it. My alarm went off at 6:30 and I slept till about 7 on and off since the alarm. I got up and left the campground around 8:30 but had to pack the tent up wet again because of all the dew which was a little frustrating. I hit the road and about 8 miles into my ride, I met another cyclist, Adam. He claims he started in Tennessee. He didn’t seem like a normal touring cyclist though, so I’m not sure whether or not I believe what he told me. He said his BOB Trailer with all his gear, digital camera, etc. was stolen from him in Arcata, CA. I’m not sure if that really happened – he didn’t seem to know the lingo for touring or cycling at all, so I think he was just telling me that. His style looked more homeless, but a cleaned up homeless kind of looking guy. He rode behind me for a short bit – he had bike issues with his derailleur so I helped him get the chain going again and then I took off ahead and tried to lose him. I did. I had a slight feeling he might not be the type of person I wanted to bike with or be near him, so I just listened to my gut and took off and got far enough ahead that he was no longer in sight.
Once in Fort Bragg (20 miles from the start this morning), I found a nice and warm place to hang out – Starbucks. I figured I’d just wait there for a bit and hope he didn’t see my bike and find me. I really didn’t want to explain why I took off, other than I’m a faster rider. But I hung out there and updated my journal entries from the past days and talked with a lady who was just potentially diagnosed with leukemia. Her report is a bit confusing, but she’s going to another doctor at Stanford for another opinion. While sitting and trying to update my blog, this guy with a beard comes in and asks if I’ll watch his backpack – I said sure if he wanted to put it next to my bike. So while blogging, I watched over my bike and his backpack and eventually he came back and sat down right next to me and wouldn’t shut up. He kept talking non-stop and it was obvious that I was trying to do something. It was so incredibly annoying – I tried to not show any interest in him or his conversation, but he didn’t get the hint. As I was trying to do work, I told Farrah about this crazy guy who wouldn’t be quiet – she said to put earbuds in and listen to music online. I tried that and he still kept asking me questions and talking to me. This guy didn’t know how to get a hint at all and it was pretty obvious I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. I was at Starbucks for 3+ hours and barely got my stuff done in that time because of him.
Finally, around 2:45pm I left Starbucks in Fort Bragg to set out for the rest of the day’s ride to Manchester, CA where there would be a state park with showers (hopefully). The ride sucked as the fog never lifted and it was pretty dense in areas. I didn’t enjoy riding on Hwy 1 because it was narrow, windy, and there were no shoulders in some areas and traffic was at times heavy, especially the first 15 miles out of Fort Bragg. Finally, traffic lessened but the fog was still there. I just hoped that all the cars would see me. I was freezing cold all day because I had to wear my bright orange shirt for visibility and only had my long sleeve shirt underneath and was wearing my biking shorts of course. I even had two pairs of socks on and long-fingered gloves to try to stay warm. I looked hideous – it amused me to say the least. I felt kind of like a hippie with the hiking socks way up, the long-fingered gloves, and the goose bumps on my legs. It must have been around 50 degrees and just really damp and wet with the fog, therefore really cold.
At last, around 7pm I reach Manchester and the campgrounds. It turns out the KOA and the state park campground are on the same road, so I go to the state park to see if they have showers. Of course not… so I talk to the host and he said to try the KOA campground to see if they’d let me pay to shower there and camp at the state park. While I was standing and talking to him, a woman that was with him gave me a sweater and told me to keep it. It was ugly, but who cares..it was warm. I went over to the KOA to find out what their hiker/biker rate was and was pleasantly surprised to find that they charged only $9 and that included showers. I set up camp and then one of the nice ladies here brought me some clothes to change into so I could wash all of mine – all my stuff was so damp and wet, I figured I’d just wash my clothes and all, even though I’m only two days away from San Francisco. I now am washing everything and wearing so hot blue stretch pants and a funky fleece sweater thing – but who cares? It’s warm at least.. now if I only had a hair dryer to dry my hair.
I just made dinner – penne with alfredo and it was pretty good. I was able to cook outside in the kitchen area and use a stove, so I didn’t get to try my rubbing alcohol tonight either… haha. Bummer.
Now to finish up laundry and maybe hit the sack early or upload this update via my first 30 free minutes of internet.