This post is written by my brother, and is a hilarious story of his last-minute decision to ride his bike home from Santa Cruz to Orange County. Accompanied by his heterosexual life partner, the adventurers battle fatigue, hunger, the irritation that is inevitably caused by other bikers in spandex, and donuts.
A bicycle odyssey
By: Bryan Schatz
I glanced back and there was my long haired friend Dan, just behind me, pedaling like a madman up yet another endless hill. His face was red with fury, sweat dripping onto the handle bars and his eyes fixated on the white painted shoulder line that separated us from the speeding maniacs that frequented this road: Pacific Coast Highway. The false summits had become the source of too much agony over the past few days and now he didn’t dare look more than five feet ahead of him. Our legs were constantly cramped, our bodies sun burnt and sore, and we’d forgotten to apply the Chamey Butter to our punished asses almost every morning.
Before this little bike expedition of ours, neither one of us had ever pedaled more than twenty miles in a single ride. After careful contemplation and diligent research, we figured that riding the 420 miles down the coast from Santa Cruz California, to the small surf town of Sunset Beach, would be a piece of cake.
Our preparation was arduous and extensive. Dan bought a $10 bike and put some Tri-Flow on the rusting chain. I got a tune up on my single speed heap and we rode an entire three times the week before we left. The last couple of evenings before setting off we trained the hardest, drinking several beers and a touch of whiskey to harden our hearts and toughen up our grit. We feasted on what all athletes know as the ultra-performance-enhancing health-food: pizza and donuts. If nothing else, these preparations would help turn us into real adventurers, and of course, real adventurers can easily ride a couple of bikes on a nice jaunt down the coast.
Our plan: Wake up with the sun, eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, sleep where we fall, ride all day, repeat. We figured we could get there within four or five days. It would be easy. And that’s exactly what our bike riding friends all said too, assuring us that four or five days would be plenty of time. They all forgot, however, that they were avid cyclists, with bikes that ran smooth and had gears that worked. They had clipless pedals and aerodynamic helmets, huge calves and thighs, they had tights and padded shorts. They actually applied their Chamey Butter.
We, on the other hand, were not avid cyclists. I had but one gear. Dan technically had more, but that would be ignoring the fact that they never worked, and the poor bastard was riding in Chacos sandals on plastic pedals. I at least had cages on my pedals, but not a whole lot more. We did have something else however, something far more important than the luxuries of Cadillac-type bicycles; we had our black hearts and our grit, our mental soundtrack of AC/DC and Led Zep, which of course would be shrieked and screamed and never calmly hummed. We were going to ride our bikes 420 miles even if it killed us.
On the first day we awoke to an early morning sun rise, a kick in our giddy up, a smile on our faces, and about as much experience as a toddler has defecating into a toilet bowl not inside its own pants. We were on our way, the open road beckoning us to carry on with our adventuring aspirations and to let the miles fly by.
Within about 40 minutes on the first day we were winded, sitting at the counter of a donut shop mawing down a dozen donut holes and a cheap cup of coffee.
“I’d say we’re doing pretty well so far, wouldn’t you?” Dan commented in between bites of his chocolate old-fashioned and sips of the Italian dark roast.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “we’re already in Aptos… Or at least really close.” Aptos was the very next town south, but it seemed like a great distance when considering how long it always took to get there on my morning commute to work. “If we keep up like this we’ll get there in no time.”
“We might not even need the full five days,” Dan said.
“Maybe not.” We were impressed, feeling good, ready to go to war with the pavement. Our bicycles: the charging horses. Ourselves: the screaming soldiers, war paint and all, fists pumping, everything else terrified and running. We would show no mercy; our finely honed skills wouldn’t allow for it, our dominance of life couldn’t even imagine it. We scarfed the last bites of our Champion Breakfast, hopped on our bikes and got back on the road. We were lost before we even got out of Aptos.
Dan tossed a frown in my direction, “You sure this is where we’re supposed to go Bryan?” He was looking up the road a ways, where it jutted up with a fierce hill, an iron gate near the top blocking the way while the road itself turned into dirt and then bushes and trees just a little further on.
“No.” I shook my head. “I wouldn’t think we’d have to hop a fence for this thing. Of course,” I mused, “…could be wrong.”
“What does the book say?”
“I thought it said to stay on this road until it goes back over the highway.” My eyes looked over an invisible bridge.
“Well it doesn’t go back over the highway.”
“Yes. I can see that. Thanks.” So we took out this handy dandy guidebook of ours, full of detailed maps and explanations of the route we were to take. Apparently you’re supposed to read those things. With a bit of backtracking and a few more clarifying reads we were back on our journey. We reminded each other that it would do us good to keep that book close at hand and to look at it frequently. Lesson learned.
Well, lesson not learned. We were lost again in Watsonville and again between Watsonville and the next town south. Such stupid mistakes added several extra miles to our trip. It didn’t really matter. We were too hopped up on caffeine and the thrust gusto that expeditions invoke to care too much. The scenery speckled reds with berries and fields of green, the deep blue ocean the backdrop, full with the feeding frenzies of great beasts and war games that we couldn’t see, but appreciated nonetheless.
We started checking our mileage once we sailed out of Watsonville, thrilled with our victory. We’d already pedaled more miles than either of us ever had before. Our legs, despite their appearance, felt strong, and the further we went the more cocky we got. We stopped looking at our guidebook, thinking we could memorize the stretches ahead of us. We rocked out to “Hell’s Bells” and “Immigrant Song.” All full of amateur arrogance, air punches and idiocy. We were kicking the hell out of everything.
Until we got to Monterrey.
Part 2 coming soon