PCH Tour: Index for My 2014 Pacific Coast Tour

Humbug Mountain Beach

This is the index for all of my reblogged Instagram posts from my 2014 Pacific Coast Bicycle Tour. Starting at the end of July, I rode solo from Vancouver, Canada to Ensenada, Mexico with nothing but a bicycle loaded with camping gear. It’s hard to say it was a solo ride though. I met so many amazing people along the way, and made a couple of lifelong friends. These posts are more of a log of my day to day activities and encounters. Some are very basic. Some really dive into the way I was feeling at the time. There are no mile logs or specific tips and tactics outside of the surprises that I had along the way.

At the start of this tour I was anxious and unsure if I could make it out there on my own. By the end, I just wanted to keep going. I do not think this will be my last tour. I hope it’s the first of many. Enjoy the posts and photos, and leave me any questions or comments that you have. I’ll make sure to get back to you. Maybe these can even help you on your tour. Just get out there and start pedaling. Everything will come together from there.

Blog Posts:
Test Run – Leo Carrillo State Beach
Day 1: LA to Oregon
Day 2: Oregon to Vancouver
Day 3: Downtown Vancouver & Stanley Park
Day 4: Vancouver Art Gallery & Burrard St. Bridge
Day 5: Vancouver to Victoria via Ferry
Day 6: Victoria & B.C. Day Celebrations
Day 7: Victoria’s China Town
Day 8: Back in the USA – Port Angeles
Day 9: Blow to Ego and Kitsap State Park
Day 10: Bainbridge Ferry to Seattle
Day 11: Downtown Seattle and Karaoke Bar
Day 12: The EMP and Drinks with Friends
Day 13: Seattle to Dash Point State Park
Day 14: Tacoma to Millersylvania State Park
Day 15: Detours and Lewis & Clark State Park
Day 16: Dodging Rain & a Travelodge in Longview
Day 17: Hello Portland, Oregon
Day 18: Walking, Talking, Food & More Food
Day 19: Drinking Deschutes on Volcanoes
Day 20: Goodbye Portland & Hello Porkchops
Day 21: Meeting Russ & Birdbath in Astoria
Day 22: Getting My Goonies on in Astoria
Day 23: Misty Cannon Beach to Barview Jetty
Day 24: New Friends in Devil’s Lake State Park
Day 25: Devil’s Lake to Beachside State Park
Day 26: Amazing Coastline to Umpqua Lighthouse
Day 27: Aunt Cindy Blocks My Game in North Bend
Day 28: Foggy Bandon to Humbug Mountain Sunset
Day 29: Oregon Coastline to Harris Beach
Day 30: Welcome to California’s Trees of Mystery
Day 31: Lost Aunt Cindy in Klamath
Day 32: Arcata to RiverWalk RV Campground
Day 33: Into the Avenue of Giants
Day 34: Tired Legs and New Friends
Day 35: Up and Over Leggett Mountain
Day 36: Lost Tom at Anchor Bay
Day 37: Apple Fritters and Zombie Rescue
Day 38: And Finally an Off Day in Petaluma
Day 39: Sonoma Valley Bicycle Wine Tasting
Day 40: Goodbye to the Hammock Guys
Day 41: Another Off Day with some Lagunitas
Day 42: Last Day with the McCoys
Day 43: Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
Day 44: Exploring San Francisco and Twin Peaks
Day 45: Visiting Google and GitHub
Day 46: San Francisco to Half Moon Bay
Day 47: New Friend at New Brighton State Beach
Day 48: Jeepers Creepers – Veterans Memorial Park
Day 49: Through Carmel and into Big Sur
Day 50: Endless Stars, but no Water at Kirk Creek
Day 51: Big Climbs in Big Sur with the California Coastal Classic
Day 52: Encounter with Dom and Flat #2
Day 53: Big Push from Oceano to Refugio
Day 54: REI Tent Return & Santa Barbara Sunset
Day 55: Full Circle Back in the ‘Bu
Day 56: Easy Day on L.A. Beaches
Day 57: The Port of Los Angels & Down to Doheny
Day 58: Riding Through Camp Pendleton
Day 59: Hello La Jolla and San Diego
Day 60: Drinks on 5th & Planning for Mexico
Day 61: A Day of Recovery Before the Mexico Push
Day 62: The Finishline in MEXICO!
Day 63: Hitchhiking Waves in Ensenada
Day 64: Train Ride Home and My Reflections

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PCH Tour: Train Ride Home and My Reflections

Astoria-Megler Bridge


My final day on the tour we all jumped on the ABC bus in Ensenada and took it to the border. They didn’t give us any trouble with our bikes, and entering the States was easy enough. (They did check our passports unlike the Mexicans.) I told Liam and Michael goodbye and good luck with their flights home. We parted ways and I jumped on the trolly back to San Diego.

After grabbing my panniers from the hostel and racing to the train station, I jumped on the Pacific Surfliner with my bike, Trixie. It was a relaxing ride back to LA. I told my family about my excursion into Mexico. They were slightly upset, but amazed that I’d gone so far and that the adventure had come to an end. I hopped off the train in Van Nuys and pedaled the 6 miles to my door. I was home, but I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to stay in one place. I was changed forever.

Since then I’ve had a little time to process this big adventure. When I started out I had no idea if I’d be able to pedal myself from Vancouver to my home in Los Angeles. I was not a cyclist. I had never done any longterm world traveling. I would be completely on my own. I figured it would be a great experiment in letting go and trusting that things would work out.

At the beginning I was full of anxiety. How would I get to Vancouver? What was staying in a hostel like? How would I find my way on the bike without a data plan in Canada? The questions were endless. But I just went and did it and hoped for the best. There were plenty of lonely nights on the road, and I had to relearn how to ride a bike with a full load over long distances. I even wrecked on my 3rd day of biking and bruised up my shoulder pretty well. It was tough, and there were many thoughts of quitting. Just rent a car and haul it back to Los Angeles.

But I couldn’t go back. I rented my apartment out to someone else. I told everyone I was going to do this. Day by day things got better. I got stronger physically and mentally. I started meeting amazing people. I biked with an awesome group of people halfway down the coast. And then I met more people. Once my fitness level caught up, I was able to enjoy the climbs. I could take in my surroundings, sing songs to myself or have thoughts about life and what would come after my adventure.

The biggest lesson I learned was that, for me at least, experience is more important than material objects. I knew this at some level, but living on $30 or less a day and sleeping in a tent made me realize that you don’t need much to live a full life. In fact, most of the stuff that we fill our homes with make it harder to have great experiences and tie us down to one location.

My move to Los Angeles two years ago has brought me into a poor financial situation. I knew I was heading there, but I was overly optimistic and blind to the expenses I was paying out every month for living and film related gear. This trip made me realize that this is not the way I want to continue living. I want to get rid of the debt I’ve taken on over the last two years, to save money to have more adventures like this one, and to have the time to work on projects that I really care about. I don’t want to spend my life as someone else’s cog, barely getting by financially, to maintain the illusion that I fit in with the rest of the crowd.

The big changes to come are to lower my expenses by moving. Either finding roommates in LA or moving back to Ohio for a time to regroup. Some lessons are only learned the hard way. But I never want to be in this financial situation again. Along with that, I want to put together a book about my adventure and it’s effects on me. I want to finish the documentary that I’ve been working on for 6 years. And I want to prepare for my next big adventure around the world. I’m so thankful for all of the people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had over the last 2 months. Everyone and every day taught me something new. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My camera stopped working before I got to Mexico, so I did not get any fancy photos with my 7D. So here is a picture of the Astoria-Megler Bridge that connects Washington State to Oregon. I didn’t get to cross it on my particular journey, but I met a guy that was repainting it and many cyclists that went up and over it. It represents a turning point in my adventure, where days were long and tough and lonesome to days of amazing scenery and campsites full of new friends.

I’m fascinated by bridges. The way they connect places and float majestically over glistening bodies of water. I didn’t only make it back to Los Angeles, but I went even further than I imagined I could go. And with the push of some new friends, I found myself all the way in Ensenada, Mexico. This adventure has become a bridge from one chapter of my life to another. And I can’t wait for what is to come.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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PCH Tour: Hitchhiking Waves in Ensenada

Humbug Mountain Beach Rock

Day 63 – We all slept in a bit, taking our time to get up and get ready. There was a hostel breakfast of toast, muffins and coffee. We met a group of young college guys and girls that drove down from LA for a day. They said they were going to go explore the beach before heading back north. I had a little food and then relaxed on the couch in the common room. The guy running the hostel suggested that we take the bus to San Miguel to rent some surf boards and try out the waves. We looked up the wave forecast and it looked like they’d be about 5 ft waves, which seemed perfect for us newbies.

Michael decided to go for a long bike ride around town. Tim, Liam and I made our way to the local McDonalds to wait for the bus. We were all pretty hungry at that point, so we decided to try some Mexican McDs and Coke. I ordered the AngusDeluxe. It was a double cheeseburger smothered in mayo. I won’t lie. It tasted pretty great for something so bad for me. The Mexican Coke wasn’t as sweet as American Coke. They used cane sugar instead of corn syrup. The bathrooms were free to customers, but there was no soap. I hoped that the employees had some soap of their own. We finished our food and went out to the curb.

We waved down bus after bus and as they open the door we would ask, “San Miguel?” Each bus said, “No.” Then they would point behind them. “Venti Minutos.” “Cinco Minutos.” “Uno Momento.” We must have asked 10 bus drivers if they went to San Miguel. Finally, a bus with a sign for San Miguel showed up. They waived us in and we took a nice ride several miles north. It appeared that there were no official bus stops. You just stood somewhere in the buses route and waived your hands when they got close. Then they would swerve off the road and pick you up.

We got to the edge of San Miguel and they dropped us off. It didn’t look like anything was going on. We couldn’t find any surfers and the waves were barely visible. It was all residential, no surf shops in sight. We found an American couple sitting on their back porch and we asked them if they had any suggestions. They told us that San Miguel was not safe for beginners. They said we should go a couple of miles down the road and ask the surf shop there. We thanked them and made our way back up the road.

Liam suggested we hitchhike back. He held his thumb out to the first truck that came our way. It was a rickety old blue pickup. It pulled over and the man stuck his head out the window. Liam asked for Ensenada. The man shook his head. Then he asked for 2 miles down the road. The guy waived us in. We all piled into the back of the tiny pickup and next thing we knew we were cruising down the road at 50 miles per hour. We got to our destination and the man pulled over. We said, “gracias.” The guy waived and rode away. It was as simple as that. It seemed like hitchhiking was much more a part of the culture in Mexico.

We found a surf shop and went inside asking for board rentals. The kid working there said that they only sold boards. He suggested that we go to the municipal beach back in Ensenada, only a mile from where we started. We thanked him and made our way out to the road. The first bus we saw took us back to the center of downtown Ensenada. We strolled around town and checked out a little Sunday market. It was more like a flea market. There was nothing worth buying. We saw some taxi drivers and they agreed to take us to the beach for 60 pesos.

It was a quick ride over. The driver dropped us off and we finally got to walk out onto the sand. The beach was pretty packed. We found a nice spot to lay out and then we all took turns swimming in the water. The waves were strong, and the ocean had a bit of a funny smell. But the water was the perfect temperature and quite refreshing. After our swim we all laid out on the sand, allowing the sun and wind to dry us off.

The air started to get cold, so we packed up and got ready to leave. Just then, Michael rolled up on his bicycle. We watched his bike while he took a swim and then we took a bunch of photos in the setting sun. We all agreed to meet for dinner later and waived Michael off as he went for a ride down the beach. We grabbed snacks at the Oxxo and then made the mile hike back to the hostel. There we just relaxed on the beds and took naps.

Michael showed up just as we were getting hungry. We all loved the restaurant from the night before so much that we decided to go back. This time I ordered a big combo plate that included an enchilada, a taco, soap, and flauta. I was stuffed when I finished. We went to bed early. I knew I would have to get going early in the morning to catch my noon train in San Diego. Tomorrow would be the long journey home. Gracias Mexico.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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PCH Tour: The Finishline in MEXICO!

San Simeon Beach

Day 62 – I woke up early, right at 6am. I jumped up and got ready for the big ride. I sucked down some coffee and ate a couple bagels smothered in peanut butter, hoping that would hold me off for a good while. Michael, Liam and I all met in front of the hostel at 8am. We were all leaving most of our gear in San Diego, just taking the necessities into Mexico. That way we could move a little faster and have a better chance of beating the sunset. We didn’t want to be riding around Mexico in the dark.

It was an easy morning ride to the border. We went past a large naval base near Coronado Island. Even as we got close to Mexico the neighborhoods were relatively nice. We took a bathroom break at a McDonald’s and then pushed through the last 5 miles to the border. As we got close to the crossing we could see the massive wall stretching across the horizon. It looked like an endless prison, or a demilitarization zone from an old Vietnam movie.

We located the path to the pedestrian entrance. There was a ramp that led to a large wall with Mexico engraved in metal and stone above a turnstile. We stopped and took photos in front of the border. It was about to be my first time in Mexico. We had to stand our bikes on their rear wheels and push them through the rotating gate. One, two, three, and we were all inside. After wheeling down a ramp we walked past some Mexican border guards. They looked at us, but no one said a thing. Soon we were down and out the other side, standing in the streets of Tijuana.

No one checked our passports or asked any questions. It was strange to pass into another country with such ease. It took us a while to get our bearings, but with the help of a taxi driver we found our way through the city. It was pretty beat up looking, full of homeless folks. But no one gave us any trouble. We found our way to the main road and got on route 1 heading toward Rosarito.

The city traffic was dense and loud. The biggest change from the States that I noticed was the strong smell of exhaust. There was definitely a difference in emissions standards. We made our way out of town as fast as we could. I pushed myself pretty hard up the slow ascent away from Tijuana. I stopped to let Michael and Liam catch up a bit. I was actually feeling nauseous from breathing in all of the carbon monoxide. I hoped that the coastline wouldn’t be so bad.

It was a good 15 miles before we made it to Rosarito and the coast. We only had one incident where our confusion with what exit to take almost got us run over by a row of angry Mexican drivers. Once in town, we rode right up to the starting line to the 35th Annual Rosarito to Ensenada bike ride. We were excited for the chance to have a motor vehicle free ride the rest of the way to Ensenada. But first we needed to get something to eat. We all were starving. We looked on the beach for a nice place, but it was empty. I’m not sure if it was too early in the day, or if the tourism industry was just doing that bad from all of the negative publicity about cartels and kidnappings.

We ended up finding a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We all got a taco and a burrito. I was the only one to try chicken. It was terrible. There were tons of tiny little bones in my taco. I was starting to wonder if it was even chicken. We realized that we landed ourselves in a place that must feed off of dumb tourists. It was overpriced and low quality. We washed it down with beer, and then made our way south.

The race started 2 hours earlier, so the roads were now open. We stayed on the 1 and rode along the coast. It was a mix of nice homes and resorts next to unfinished cement shells of homes. Trash seemed to be everywhere, but the mountains and coastline were beautiful. It was an interesting contrast of beautiful nature and squalid living conditions.

We eventually all had to pee, so we stopped at a little convenient store to see if they had a baño. They didn’t, but they told us there was one in the building behind them. Sure enough there was a sign that read $5 Baño. I went in and they pointed to the back. I relieved myself and came out. I said, “Gracias,” and the woman held out her hand and said, “Cinco Pesos.” I pulled out the 5 pesos and handed it over. We learned that it was standard procedure to pay for restrooms in Mexico. Especially in public areas. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

As we were leaving we realized that there was an onramp to the 1D. It was a toll road that ran the coast line. We saw some cyclists go by and realized that this was the route for the big bike ride. We jumped on the newly paved road and found ourselves at the very tail end of the pack. A truck rode behind us and let us know we had to get moving because they would be opening the road soon. It was a 4 lane highway. No place to get caught in the middle of traffic.

The road soon turned into an unpaved under construction zone. The dirt was packed solid and we were able to keep a good pace. Another truck rode up next to us and asked if we wanted some gatorade. They had a bunch of extra bottles left over from the last rest stop. I said, “Si,” and ran over and grabbed a bottle for each of us. The cold sugary drink hit the spot. Another truck drove up and warned us that we only had 15 minutes before they would open the road. They even offered to throw our bikes in the pickup and give us a ride. But we were feeling good, so we just started pedaling faster.

It took some effort, but we made it past the freeway exit that was about to open. After that we started coming across a bunch of cyclists at the end of the pack. We started passing people and soon we were 20 or more bikes into the group. We felt a little safer, knowing that the trucks wouldn’t be bothering us to get off the road. We hit a rest stop with fresh bottled water laid out on a table.They filled up our bottles and let us chug down some extra water.

There was an open-top semi truck parked in the road loading tired cyclists into the back. It was a strange site to see. Dozens of cyclists decided to call it quits and take the free ride. Not us. We kept pushing. There were some big climbs, but they weren’t difficult with our light loads. This section of the coast was completely secluded. There were no homes and no trash. It was just mountains and ocean. It reminded me of Big Sur. We stopped for some great photos, then made a huge descent. We lucked out with this bike run. We would not have been allowed on this stretch of road if it weren’t closed specifically for this event.

The first town we came across was San Miguel. We were getting close to Ensenada. Our closed lane continued into the cities along the coast. Trucks full of cyclist and their bikes were heading the other way. They had completed the run and were making their way back to Rosarito. They honked their horns and cheered us on. Soon we worked our way to the edge of Ensenada. The bike lane took the main drag into town and we came upon the finish line in no time. It was an awesome experience. Over 2200 miles of biking through 3 countries, and it all ended with a finish line just for us. We crossed the line and turned into a big lot where a celebration party was going strong.

We all bought shirts from the Ensenada to Rosarito bike run, took some photos, and grabbed some food and beer. We sat and relaxed in the setting sun while live rock music blasted in the background. After some downtime, we made our way to the hostel, about a mile away. We checked in, put our stuff away and took showers. The guys running the hostel were super friendly. They gave us a suggestion for a good Mexican restaurant.

We made our way through the dark streets and found the place. It was packed full of people, a good sign of good food. I ordered enchiladas and a cerveza. It was some really amazing food. It definitely made up for those terrible tacos earlier in the day. We grabbed some cookies and beer on the way back to the hostel. Then we sat up and talked with our new friend Tim, another German that had been city hopping all the way down the coast for the last couple of months.

It was hard to believe that we had come so far. We had one more day in Ensenada, and then we would all be parting ways

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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PCH Tour: A Day of Recovery Before the Mexico Push

Leo Carillo Beach Sunset

Day 61 – I was groggy when I woke up. It was around 8am. Late for me on this trip. I drank a little more than I should have the night before. I shook it off and got some breakfast in the dining area. I was feeling a bit better so I got some typing done. I took some breaths and went for a walk around town.

I bought a new tube for my bike, so I’d have a spare in Mexico. I wandered around a bit more, and decided I was still hungry. I found a great cafe and a seat outside. I ordered a chicken sandwich that turned out to be amazing. I devoured it and drank a load of water. The late night was starting to catch up with me. I made my way back to the hostel and crashed on my bed. I dozed off and on for the next 2 hours. The sun and wind came through the open window and brushed over my body. It was completely relaxing.

After, passing out I woke up feeling nauseous. Without getting too graphic, let’s say I had to sit in the bathroom for a while. I started to feel better, so I went back outside and grabbed a giant Gatorade from CVS. I chugged it down and came back to life. The weather was perfect so I walked over to the harbor and found a nice grassy knoll in the shade. I sat down and took in the ocean breeze. I gave my friend Dustin a call and chatted for a while about what was going on back in Ohio.

Later that night I met Liam and Michael up for some Mexican food. We decided to try some in San Diego, before heading down to Mexico. That way we could get a good comparison. I had some amazing tacos and a glass of XX Lager. We found out that there would be a big bike run from Rosarito to Ensenada the same day we were riding down. It was pure luck. 50 miles of our ride would be closed off to motor traffic. All signs gave us a go for Mexico. We turned in early and prepared for a long 85 mile day of riding. The final ride of all of our tours.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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