Well it is off on the long-road yet again for Buff3y the Hardcore Adventure Cyclist. I’ll be winging my way to Colorado on Sunday to resume the ride southwards through the Rockies. Will then be heading south-west into Arizona and then swinging south-eastwards along the Mexican border then on through the southern part of USA to Florida.
For the army of followers out there, will start the blog updates from Sunday after my arrival in Denver. Cannot guarantee that the Spanish pop music will not re-emerge nor that fatigue-induced delirium will not lead to more dodgy postings. You have been warned.
The Co-Motion is having a break and I’m taking the Hilite titanium Pinion 18 speed bike out for a little 3,000km spin. Have reduced the pack size and am now trialing a semi-bike-packing set-up, dispensing with the front panniers, hanging smaller light-weight packs from the rear rack and sporting the Ortleib frame pack, handlebar roll and handlebar bag.
Vegas and five days to eat, drink, gamble and be merry (and not ride a bicycle)! Yep, there are pokies/slots at the airport lounge. Yes, you can go and shoot a machine gun. Yes, there are no clocks in casinos.
There is, of course, an incongruity at the core of Vegas in that there is so much superficiality yet the core is indeed very hard. Hard Cash! It is a healthy assumption to take along with you that pretty well everything and everyone here is specifically focused/designed and honed through years of practice to liberate you from your hard-earned. Pretty well every punter loses and the longer you play the more likely you are to lose. Having got that out of the way you can then get stuck in and joyously waste some money, suck on a plastic guitar full of some god-awful concoction of fluorescent alcohol and have a rollicking good time.
I spent a good amount of time playing roulette at Ceasars where the dealers are classy ‘old school’ wags and have nick names like ‘Lightening Eddie’. The atmosphere is great with good banter over the tables as you consume gallons of free drinks, passive smoke a few packs of cigarettes each day and pretend to know what the hell you are doing while you make increasingly flamboyant and irrational donations to the casino. In just a few short days I must have heard every febrile and misguided theory as to why one number or another should or should not appear soon, all equally ridiculous and well founded. Small stakes gambling should, of course, be fun and it certainly is great fun there (unlike some of the more faded places along the strip). As an added bonus Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra actually stroll through occasionally which is just great. Went to see Mystère Cirque du Soleil (The original format show) which was just marvelous stuff and wonderful athleticism and costumes etc.
We do our level best each posting to bring you the very latest in hard-hitting social commentary; something for which this blog is becoming rightly renowned. Therefore since hitting town I have conducted some field research over at Hooters Casino to test the contention in the recent academic literature that the proximity of large breasts is a contributing factor in punters losing more money when gambling*. The RAAck n Roll Dancers are the latest sensational disrobing act to hit the Vegas strip and with the addition of your delusional correspondent, we became Buff3y & the Buff3ettes for the night (refer photo below). Regrettably we had to let the Robert De Niro impersonator into the shot as he is the slightly retarded brother-in-law of my girlfriend (second from right**). ( * it does) (**if only it were half true)
The National Rodeo Finals are on in town so of course it behooves your correspondent to go and spend some time rubbing chaparejos with the good ol’ boys and gals. Buff3ysbicyclingblog is always poised to perform all manner of daring stunt (refer photo) to keep my readership entertained so here is the latest offering; mechanical bull riding. Now don’t do this at home kids. You need years of preparation for this kind of stunt and at least a few days to recover. I think I may have put my hip out and then un- and re-strangulated a hernia or two. Don’t do this unless you are seriously hardcore! Please note the graceful back-flip on dismount. As students of the work of Tom Lehrer are no doubt aware, “There is surely nothing more beautiful in this world than the sight of a lone man facing single-handedly a half a tonne of (stuffed) angry pot roast!” He actually wrote this in relation to bullfighting but climbing onto one of these things must qualify as a feat of courage and stupidity equal to (stuffed) bullfighting. Square dancing (below) without your own matching black knickers and chaparejos is never a good look so this is best approached as a spectator sport.
At least I didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of the chap (in photo) who bravely attempted to mount the beast while clearly being too fat to do so thus requiring a shunt.
Off for some culture. It has to be noted here for the record what people have known for a long time but have just been too scared to put into print; until now. ‘David’ has a tiny todger and very large hands (refer photo) (Paul, its still true). Foreshortening – shmortening!, he just got the willy and hands wrong. This is the original statue here in Vegas, there being two copies in Florence. In his defense, it is cold in Vegas at the moment with the blowing in of the Santa-Anna winds might have had an impact.
Have taken a few days in San Diego to absorb the enormity of the achievement to date, eat lashings of $3 pizza slices and explore the plethora of Irish pubs in the downtown area.
A big thank you goes out to all those who have been offering encouragement and sending lovely messages. There does, however, still seem to be some lingering confusion regarding comments that could in anyway be construed (by a reasonable person, or me), as critical or negative. This needs to be cleared up right here and now. The previous advice regarding where to post your comments remains in place. To assist further we’ve set up another feedback portal so please forward all negative, idiotic or just boring comments to the link provided below, www.goblowitoutyourarse.com. The team will then do its utmost to respond appropriately and as quickly as possible. As you would no doubt appreciate there is a huge back log of such comments for us to get through so we beg for your understanding in this matter. For those who have left return mailing addresses, please appreciate that it takes time to individually pack the freshest and moistest of dog turds and post them off to you. Therefore please remain patient.
San Diego offered the opportunity to attend a football game (Thanks for the ticket Ian). A great day out was had by all. The temptation is, of course, to follow in the well-trod hoof prints of any number of critics of American football and rabbit on inanely about the steroid fueled gladiatorial machismo of the game. That is along side the temptation to dredge the harbour of banality and go on about the undeniable fact that not a great deal of the playing time appears to be spent actually footing a ball. Yes, of course ‘hand ball’ is more appropriate yet to go down that track would be puerile in the extreme. It is also very true that only skirt-wearing school girls wear helmets and that amount of padding to play a game but that need not be gone into right now. Yes, the boofy lads had the opportunity to express themselves by slamming into each other and the girls similarly through high-stepping ad infinitum. All great stuff.
We at buff3ysbicyclingblog feel that it is far more important to celebrate the game and the theatre of it for what it is; a great opportunity to get out into the car park of a large stadium and ‘tail gate’ up some wieners. The local team is, of course, the San Diego Bustards. Odd they should name their team after the flightless Bustard yet there it is. Quickly inducted in the Denver fan hall of fame, we (the away side) taunted the hometown team as the game went into overtime and the mighty Denver Ducks inevitably exerted their authority. Oddly for a quarterback (the chap charged with the responsibility of throwing the ball), Mr Tebow, the Denver Ducks quarter back is best known for his reluctance and/or inability to throw the ball, preferring to run at the opposition (and sometimes towards his own goal line, much to the chagrin of his team mates). The very enthusiastic and charmingly attired cheer leaders (The San Diego Scrubbers) high-stepped and shook their pom-poms bravely right up until their defeat was secured. Admittedly some points were deducted from San Diego, cruelly many maintain, for having a coach called ‘Norv’ (short for ‘Norv’). To their credit the Bustards fans took the defeat in good humour, the local crowd choosing to take out their justified frustration on Coach Norv through the media at their leisure.
There are more Irish Pubs here in San Diego Gaslamp district per square foot than anywhere else in the world, including Ireland. The Welsh, Irish and Australian contingent spent the bulk of the short stay here in Gastown, sucking on yet more rounds of IPAs at one of the innumerable Irish Pubs.
The Irish, Welsh, Australian triumvirate of pan-continental cycling dominance dissolves here in this city into the annals of pan-American bicycling and IPA drinking folk law (see photo) and we go our separate ways. The Irish continent now takes the easy option of crossing the border into Mexico; The Welsh is return home to clamber up trees while the Australian is left to somehow struggle on through the USA and endure the relative hardship of a side trip to Las Vegas. The good people at San Diego Bike Shop have been kind enough to fit a new set of Continental Travel Contact tires to the beast and look after her for two weeks while I am away.
The comments, cards and letters just keep on flooding in to buff3ysbicycling blog and this blog now runs the serious risk of eclipsing the bulk of those purported ‘adventure’ cycling blogs out there in cyberland. I fear that the narcissistic pleasure that goes along with my new found notoriety as a hardcore cycling adventurer may get the better of me on occasion but I here declare that I will do all that I can to contain my ever-expanding ego as the miles rack up and my global reputation for cycling daring-do balloons correspondingly.
Its been a busy time on the hardcore adventure cycling road since San Francisco and this posting finds your weary yet satisfied correspondent on the southern border of The US of A and at the end of the Canada/USA road. San Diego at last! It’s a long way South still to go till this cyclin’s done but it soothes the soul to stop, reassess and savour the moment of a minor victory along the way. It is now four months and 7,400 km since my first tentative pedal out of Deadhorse Alaska in late July yet it is sobering to think that San Diego is about a quarter of the total journey to the bottom of South America.
I have to note here for the record that the good people of the west coast states of the USA have been nothing but kind, helpful, polite and cool. The coastline has been a dramatic and magnificent backdrop to my incredible exploits and feats of daring-do and although it is satisfying to be finished with Alaska, Canada and the lower 48, I will miss this place and no doubt be back before too long. On-on to Mexico [after a brief respite, including a cultural study trip to Vegas! (by plane this time)].
22nd November (Santa Barbara – North of Zuma Beach) (60 miles)
Managed to get out of bed after the Blue Man Group night and on the road out of Santa Barbara. Met cycling Andy (UK) on the road and we camped just north of Zuma Beach in the state Camp site there. A quick hit of bourbon for breakfast and am on the road again.
23rd November (Zuma – Hermosa) (40 miles)
The boys in the buff3ysbicyclingblog lab have come up with yet another incredible innovation. This time it is the technique for ensuring that you don’t get your bike stolen during the ride through LA. Take the thing into the public toilet with you. So simple yet so very effective! Might raise an eyebrow or two but this is much preferable to having some low-life scamper off with your bike. Zipped through Malibu (which only has septic tanks I’m told!) and Santa Monica (which has very nice plumbing). Its warmer south of SB so can show off the increasingly sexy cycling legs.
Venice Beach had all of the mandatory professional freaks. Great beach services where you can stock up on your medical grade pot and get botoxed on the beach in one hit (so to speak).
There. This is for all those happy snappers frantically clicking away at the Californian coast line. We here at Buff3ysbicyclingblog can give it a bit of silhouette action as well. I spent the night at Hermosa Beach, a bit south of Venice Beach. None of the nightmare scenarios of LA traffic have eventuated, mostly due to the Thanksgiving weekend.
24th November (Hermosa Beach LA – San Clemente (60 miles)
Hard to know where to start with ‘Navajo Dave’. It would be too easy to fob him off as another cycling space cadet on the road in southern California. He did have a very passable patter in new age cycling stoned philosophy and an interesting theory that we could somehow travel back in time by pedaling backwards. Fascinating. In his defense he gave me a bottle of water.
25th November (San Clemente – San Diego) (70 miles)
Arrival in San Diego:
San Diego marks the end of the USA ride and in a way the end of the first chunk of the journey. Next will be Mexico, Central America with South American thereafter.
Just north of SD I met Irish Ian once more and we cycled the last leg into town together. It has to be noted that on arrival in San Diego we did ask a guy to take our photo to record the moment of USA cycling victory for posterity …..and he refused. It was clear that this was because he felt that Ian looked more than a little bit tatty and bum-like and rightly suspected that Ian might be after money. Happily he then focused on your more classically attired humble correspondent, the mistake appreciated and the photo taken.
Welcome to another thrilling chapter in the travel, life and times of Buff3y the Hardcore Solo Adventure Cyclist. There has been a lot of activity on the blog of late with subscriptions way up on the previous quarter (up by 1.3 people) and comments becoming 23.7% less abusive (Paul didn’t comment this quarter). This blogging thing is threatening to go completely viral so please don’t tell your friends, family or corporate sponsors about this site as I just get inundated with emails, cards, donations and letters of support that I simply have to ignore.
I am now blasting down the California coast with Oregon a mere distant memory and LA now firmly in the sights. It is therefore with a skip in my pedal stroke that I offer the latest posting which covers in and around San Francisco.
2nd November (64 miles) (Miranda – Westport):
3rd November (55 miles) (Westport – Manchester)
4th November (68 Miles) (Manchester – Bodega Bay)
There have been a lot of requests recently in the comments portal for recipes of the food that I have been preparing along the way. In anticipation of the forthcoming travel cook book I’ll be sharing a few tasters with you on the blog.
1. Noodles & Spam: Instant Noodles – Open pack and put contents in hot water. Heat Water more. Add Spam. Mulch up a bit. Eat.
2. Noodles & Chili: Heat the noodles (as per above) and drain the salty stuff. Add canned chili con carne (p.s. ensure that the noodles do not stick to the pan).
3. Gravy and Biscuit Do not eat this. It’s rubbish.
There has been some stunning scenery all along the coastline north of San Francisco. I have joined the army of people snapping away at the California coast looking for that perfect shot of the roacks and headlands.
One of the great disadvantages of hard-core solo adventure travel is that you do not enjoy the luxury of duty division at the campsite that others enjoy. Couples I’ve camped with can have the tent pitched and the noodles on the boil long before your long-suffering solo correspondent has had the chance to scratch himself. Am tempted therefore to look for a woman who can share some of the load and duties. The task that is easily the most onerous (for me at least) is getting the sleeping bag stuffed back in the sack each morning: A song therefore (after Cat Stevens):
I’m lookin’ for a bag-stuffin’ woman,
One to stuff my sleepin’ bag-a-a-ag….
When I find that bag-stuffin’ woman,
I won’t be stuffin’ my own ba–hag -ag, no, no. no-o-o
I’m lookin’ for a bag-stuffin’ woman, [- stuffin’ woman]
I can cook and do the rest, -est -est,
When I find that bag-stuffin’ woman,
I’m goin’ ta watch her get undressed – yes, yes, yes….yes I will…
I know a lot of fancy campers,
people claiming they’re hardcore –ore, -ore.
They move so smooth but aren’t good sleeping bag stuffers
When you ask “Why’d you come here for?”
“I don’t know” “Why?” ……
5th November (75 Miles) (Bodega Bay – San Francisco)
The ride into town was complicated by two hours of rain and the delay of stopping at an oyster bar 30 miles up the cost (Hog Island Oysters – highly recommended). It was therefore a very sodden cyclist that hit town via the Golden Gate Bridge.
What a wonderful wonderful city. This is a seriously beautiful city with scale and class and great eateries, drinkeries and gritty bits. OK, I’ll grant that it is full of a lot of odd people and there are some parts that smell a bit of wee, particularly in the inner suburb of Tenderloin where your correspondent is now ensconced. But this is all part of SF’s charm and coming over the Golden Gate Bridge (see video) I’m elated just to arrive here and very much looking forward to spending time here exploring the place.
Downtown in The ‘Loin’ there are loads of people talking to themselves – gibbering away in a meth-induced haze. A cop car is chasing some guy who is riding a bicycle and my money is on the cyclist escaping as he has some clever cut-back maneuvers that are frustrating his pursuer who needs to reverse and start after him again as he darts up another side street. The veterans Day (Armistice Day) parade is on with people dropping their wooden twirling rifles and batons with under-practiced aplomb to great hilarity. Its all happening. China Town, Alcatraz, North Beach and The Loin – have done some serious tourist work this week.
Tucking into huge fry up hash brown and sausage breakfasts each morning and exploring the entertainment districts each night. I tried grits but am disappointed in the sloppy (not very ‘gritty’ at all!) nature of the stuff. My hotel here (The Abigail) is regrettably falling to pieces. At one point the receptionist chap has the temerity to knock on my door and announce that, “No bicycles are allowed in the hotel rooms after 9pm”. I’ve heard some truly idiotic things in my time but this ranks right up there. Was compelled to politely request he go and get knotted: (and pen the below in honour of this hotel):
‘Ohhhh Theee… Abigail Hotel is a load of shit
Be very thankful if you’re not in it,
Heating doesn’t work so get a blankit
Toilet’s stuffed and its not fixed yit…’
It’s amazing but the word-smithing just seems to reach new heights with every mile I pedal. So much so that Buff3ysbicyclingblog has been approached to provide an entry in the ‘Song for San Francisco Competition for 2011′. We have therefore toiled for some hours to come up with an ‘Ode to Tenderloin’, the downtown slumish area of central San Francisco in which my (monumentally average and rapidly disintegrating) hotel is located. Tenderloin’s odd name reportedly is due to the high quality of steak that the police who had this lucrative beat could afford because of rampant corruption here (I didn’t make this one up). It’s now a pretty shoddy example of urban decay and a haven for drug dealers, drunks, addicts, the disenfranchised and people who just mumble to themselves a lot; a place to score or just while away the afternoon gibbering incomprehensibly to ones self. In amongst all of the human tragedy there is, however, something here that’s got real soul (The Maltese Falcon was set and filmed here!) and which is an oozing, throbbing part of San Francisco. We’ve set the words here with a bit of a jazz feel, free style spewin’ the words onto the page, which seems somehow appropriate to the setting (jazz the Ricky May way – forget about that beat yeah!):
[Blues: piano, bass, guitar, harmonica, kazoo]
You’re tough but you engender….
in me such feelings of delight,…
The boys trans-gendering,
Its very lovely in the Spring
In good ol’ Tenderloin.
Despite the odor of urine
It’s back to you that I do pine…..
to beee, if only fleetinglyyy….
and mumble incessantly
in good ol’ Tenderloin.
Your lollies metholated
stir feelings constipated…
of psychosis, schitzophenia
in me,… or him,
in good ol’ Tenderloin.
Ideas rarely sensible
to me,…it’s great to be
so very very fleetingly,
in good ol’ Tenderloin.
12th November (25 Miles) (San Francisco – Montara) .
It wasn’t easy to leave San Francisco. The Irish and Welsh contingent have been great pub surfing companions in the past few days and I miss The Loin already. I did, however, manage to get through the city streets and west to the beach then turn left for LA cruising south along the coastal road for a few miles today. It was good to clear the city limits and get back int the cycling after a week of beer and hashbrowns.
The equipment feels good and the bike is now proudly sporting a new set of lovely mud guards and it is even more of a touring weapon.
Dramatic vision of Buff3y’s entry to San Francisco. The first time in recorded history that a hardcore touring cyclist has completed the journey from Deadhorse to San Francisco [*with a belt drive and Rohloff Speed Hub bike] – [maybe].
(Will provide the San Francisco posting in all of its glory, exaggerated tales of daring-do including those rare insights into the human condition that visitors to buff3ysbicyclingblog have come to expect when I could be arsed writing it.)
There has been an overwhelming response to my song writing efforts of the last posting. all requests for a recording of same will be addressed as soon as we can find a banjo player. No further comments on my poetry will be entertained.
23rd October (40 miles) (Corvallis – Eugene)
24th October (Eugene)
The good people at Co-Motion Cycles have been looking after me very nicely. The bike has had some serious love and attention from Teryk and an overhaul including a new rear pulley and carbon belt. I’ve been instructed in the art of belt tension checking and adjustment as the previous pulley and belt had suffered from my neglect and both had worn prematurely. It is, however, worth noting that the new rear pulley is steel rather than aluminum, so it should last the distance. With drive train, brakes and other minor adjustments, the bike now feels like a new beast. It is actually the first time that both the bike and I have been in good condition at the same time (as on the Dalton Highway in Alaska I was in anything but good condition). Man and beast are therefore now morphing into the one being capable of astounding feats of mile devouring daring-do (see man-and-bike photos).
25th October (61 miles) (Eugene – Florence)
The cities of Washington State and Oregon have been very cool places and it has lead to some speculation on this blog as to where the not-so-cool places are – as some there surely had to be. Alas in one or two of the little towns along the coastal strip of southern Oregon into northern California it has become apparent where the Oregonians dump a lot of their somewhat-less-than-cool people, some of whom appear to have developed very enthusiastic affection for their siblings. On-on.
26th October (58 miles) (Florence – Sunset Beach Bay)
Did the wheel dipping in the Pacific here (Ocean to Ocean – Arctic to Pacific). Camping can be a chore on occasion and when you have the combination of overly officious camp rangers and raccoons fighting and trying to get into the packs, it is just a complete pain in the arse. I had to move my tent to be in the ‘hiker/biker’ section even though this section was closed. I’ll write them nasty letter: that’ll show ‘em. A raccoon managed to make off with the salami!
27th October (55 miles) (Sunset Beach – Port Orford)
At Port Orford the road at the end of the main street leads up to a magical panorama across the bay. I decided to take a room at the motel at the top of the ridge and stroll down to the wharf for a seafood dinner and was very glad I did. Other oysters around the world will hold their oyster-hoods cheap for not being on my plate in Port Orford this night. After a few bad experiences with piddling little grotty oysters up the coast, ‘Griffs on the Bay’ out on the wharf came through with six huge pump jobbies.
Earlier that day I again met John and Kate who are cycling across USA and down the west coast for FarmAID (foodcyclists.org) visiting farms along the way. We shared the Seven Devils coastal road out of Sunset Bay beach. At lunch we also met a couple of guys doing the speed biking trip heading down the coast of USA in 11 days which is 150 miles per day! (see photo).
28th October (50 miles) (Port Orford – Brookings)
29th October (58 miles) (Brookings – Orick)
There are a number of statues around the USA of Paul Bunyan the giant woodsman and his side-kick ‘Babe’ the blue bull. The Wiki entry casts some doubt on the origin of the tales of Mr Bunyan and Babe and doesn’t really tell you what they did so here I will fill in the blanks. Paul was a popular chap because he was very large. Just why he befriended a bull and called it Babe is not clear but suffice to say that life on the frontier could be pretty lonely. This bull ‘Babe’ had rather large testicles whereas Paul, despite his large size, had small testicles. This infuriated Paul for people would come from far and wide to marvel at the size of Babe’s testicles. They were less and less interested in a giant man who cut down trees – who had meager testicles. Paul was, of course, very jealous of both the attention that Babe and his large testicles were getting and that he too did not have big testicles. He locked Babe away from sight. Being locked up, Babe was not able to date any cows and he became sexually frustrated. Having only hooves he was not able to masturbate (bulls not having thumbs of course). After a while of being without sex, Babe began to turn blue. This is where we get the term, ‘to have blue balls’ i.e. a male being deprived of sex. One version of the tale has it that Paul chopped Babe’s huge balls off in a jealous rage and some statues around the country reflect this in that Babe appears sackless.
30th October (55 miles) (Orick – Eureka):
31st October (45 miles) (Eureka – Weott):
The ‘Avenue of the Giants’ south of Eureka is a wonderful stretch of road running alongside the main 101 Highway that takes you through some breathtaking forest with majestic tree trunks on either side of the road in many sections (see photos). Chance had it that a good bunch of cyclists congregated at the camp site near Weott and being Halloween we had a campfire and your correspondent took the opportunity to get completely ratted on cheap whiskey. In the campsite there were a good few of us who are doing the pan-American ride (see photo).
1st November (10 miles) (Weott – Miranda):
Left camp with Rob the Welsh biker (twatonabike) who is traveling south from Alaska alone after his colleague abandoned the trip very early on (after 30 miles!). After the excessive drinking of last night it was a minor miracle that we made it even the 10 miles we somehow managed, sweating whiskey all the way. Best call this one a rest day.
2nd November (64 miles) (Miranda – Westport):
A hard but lovely climb and plummet over the Coastal Range west to the coast and onto Route 1 which hugs the coastline for the 200 mile run south into San Francisco. Legs pumped along like over-sized steam powered pistons mercilessly battering the hills into submission. A long climb through the woods in the afternoon and then swoop to the coast and a magnificent view up and down the rugged coast line. Rob managed to get himself bitten by a spider by the road side so he repaired to the hospital for a patch up.