I am planning a combination bike-tour & vacation that starts with biking the perimeter of the Big Island of Hawaii, then transition to a vacation with Virginia while we visit with our best friend Lyz in Hilo.
Admittedly, I'm not a thorough planner and prefer to "wing it" with bike trips after the general planning has been laid out.
But with the logistics of airline travel with a bike & bike bags, riding logistics, then coordinating the meeting up with Virginia and Lyz later is starting to seem rather complicated.
Yeah, talk about a first-world-problem.
"Oh, listen to the affluent white-guy bitch and moan about how it's so much trouble to plan a Hawaiian vacation, whaaa, whaaa, whaaa!"
Guilty as charged. But, the planning has given me a headache. As the launch date creeps up, so does my angst.
I have done so many simple bike tours that start (and end) in our driveway. There isn't much more to it than packing the bike with the all the regular stuff, kisses and hugs to Virginia, then roll on down the road. See you in a week!
Anything left undone, I will figure it out along the way. That's how I roll. I like that it adds some adventure to the adventure.
The upcoming tour wasn't going to be that easy.
However, one of the more pleasant items on the prep list for Hawaii is to take a short shakedown trip to make sure the bike, rider, the packed stuff and all the gear is in working order.
So, off I went. Up the coast by train, then down by bike, happy to have an excuse to get away for a weekend and perhaps get centered.
Not surprisingly, a weekend of riding did the trick. I returned feeling great about the work needed in preparation for my trip to the Big Island.
Mostly due to meeting a fellow cyclist (Matt) at the bike & hike* section of Carpinteria Beach campground.
*For those unfamiliar, these special sections of car/RV campgrounds are just for bikers & hikers - no cars allowed. You either walk in or bike in. It's a communal area, everyone shares the picnic tables, food storage bins, and flat spots for tents.
A huge benefit is low cost and no reservations required. A big win for cyclists!
They often harbor the kindred spirits of like-minded adventurers. Cyclists roll in and out. Some are on wild journeys, some on a weekend jaunt.
There are conversations of routes, weather, re-supplies, bike tech and stories from the road. Those that are coincidentally heading in the same direction will often meetup or leapfrog numerous times further down the road if they haven't already.
In the dark, I noticed a cyclist had pulled up to one of the empty picnic tables and was settling in.
His bike was outfitted with a double set of large panniers and a cockpit jammed with all the hard-core touring essentials: navigation, communication, illumination and hydration.
Just finishing a very nice phone call with wife while having dinner, I had downed yet another large can of beer and decided there was no way I could handle the final can.
"Uh, hey there - I assume you've been riding all day and could use a cold beer. I have an extra if you'd like."
I put the can down on the corner of his table.
Well, that broke the ice for sure. I had just made this tired cyclist very happy.
Over the course of our conversation, I learned that Matt is from a London suburb. He flew his bike to Canada - to the northern most village on the Arctic Ocean and is biking all the way to Argentina.
As we sat at that shared picnic table on the central coast of California, he'd already done ~6000 miles through all of Canada, then blasting through Montana, Washington, Oregon, most of California with thousands more to go.
[Matt's oddessy, on Day 1]
I can already tell what most of you are thinking: "That's crazy" or "Insane!" or "No way".
But I am thinking something else. That he looks like just a guy on a bike.
Sure, his bike looks different (a fully loaded touring bike), but considering the adventure Matt is living, it's refreshing to see that this intrepid traveler has arrived in one piece, looking quite sharp & respectable, and not too worse for wear.
At least on the outside, he didn't seem too road weary at all - after all those miles!
As for the internal spirit I know it often ebbs and flows. But Matt was smiling while enjoying his beer.
Also, there was no hint of panic or desperation. I admired the ease in which he dealt with the complexities of his daily existence.
Contacting his next host for a place to stay, changing his route due to some new information, keeping up with his website, and emails.
He made it look easy. And fun.
That night in my tent I thought that it was time to push my limits and try such a trip. Granted, biking an entire hemisphere is somewhat daunting, but perhaps something more manageable?
[Late Sept in Carpinteria]
Matt's story had inspired me to seriously consider the idea of my own epic bike journey. All while embracing the long miles and logistics as just part of the experience. Moving through the landscape un-frayed.
The idea seemed more and more like a must-try than some overly huge bucket-list aspiration.
In reality, it will be a while before I can pull off such a bike tour. I realized that such a long trip would require some shakedown rides - and duh - my ring-around-Hawaii could be exactly that.
Suddenly, this upcoming trip took on an additional intent- a steppingstone to my next epic journey.
The next morning, after a brisk ocean swim, I rolled out of Carpinteria State Beach heading south.
[My weekend included experimenting with a new waterproof camera.]
Pacific Ocean on my right, sun to my left, wind at my back, a crisp breeze on my face. I felt great as I ticked off the many familiar miles that took me down the line.
[Rosalita all "bagged up" in her Big Island configuration.]
I was actually starting to look forward to getting back to the Hawaii preparations. Head down, click into a higher gear, pick up speed, let's go.
I was lucky to tap into Matt's energy. It helped me turn in a new direction to see things differently.
As long as you're paying attention, every trip is training for the next big thing. I sort of knew that but got a nice reminder at the bike & hike. Over a tall can of Coors Lite.
To Matt, I wish him the very best in his ongoing push southbound. May he continue to inspire others along the way.
Good luck, sir!
Join me in following Matt Pepperdine on his Arctic to Argentina ride here:
Read about our encounter here:
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