Monday, May 27, 2013

Making Progress North, Slowly

I left LA yesterday early, and it's a good thing I did. I had to replace a rear spoke, the scourge of my Africa ride, soon after embarking. After the repair, I made it ten minutes before puncturing a tire. It was one of those cycling mornings that fails to really launch.
I cycled slowly, in very low gears. My knee pain seems to be sticking to my bad left knee, sparing the right for now. 
The BBQ at Pacific Palisades was amazing. Good food and fun people. They seemed a bit stunned by my appearance, but I cleaned up well after a shower. I ate like a king, gave about 20 pounds of gear to my friend to drive to Fresno, and I was off toward Santa Monica.
The entire Venice-Santa Monica area was beautiful, but landslides on the Pacific Coast Highway left me with little or no shoulder to keep me out of traffic. The setting sun was shining into everyone's eyes, so I turned on my rear red strobe to hopefully be seen. For once, my awkward bike's fat booty came in handy, as my wide profile was hard to miss.
I stopped for the night in Leo Carillo State Park. I paid ten dollars for a 'Bike and Hike' site, where no cars are permitted and us self-propelled types can sleep on the cheap. I shared the site with three southbound cyclists from Canada and Greece. They started in Vancouver and were headed to San Diego. Almost done!
Today was painfully slow. I left camp at 7am, but only made it as far as Oxnard by 10. My knee pain was becoming unbearable and the winds were working against me. I stopped at a Starbucks and ended up chatting with a man named Arthur for almost an hour. He told me about the ten years he spent in prison because he was being setup by the local government after attempting to blow the whistle on a corrupt judge. Quite a story. His paranoia dominated his demeanor, but I nonetheless felt sorry for the guy.
After buying a knee brace and ibuprofen, I set off. I was making better time, but rolled into Carpenteria after 2pm. The next campground is another 30 miles away, so I called it quits. My energy is low and my knee is zapping my already waning motivation.
There are three other cyclists in camp tonight, one heading south and the other two north. It's fun to swap stories and give advice as we pass each other. Thankfully, the egos are at a minimum. Everyone just seems to be enjoying themselves.
I'm off to pop some Vitamin I and go to sleep. I want to ride a long distance tomorrow to offset these last two short days. My knee is in charge, though. If pain persists, I'm going to have to hitch a ride. I'll be working outside all summer, so I need solid joints when I get to Sequoia.

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