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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