I regret to say that I keep going no longer. I’m out. I’ve thrown in the chamois shorts. Headed back to the States. After a few weeks of various illnesses (one brazen self-diagnoses of swine flu, one vintage and unsubstantiated diagnosis of Typhoid by a doctor) my body is now as thin and weak as my wallet. My bike ride has come to an end.
It’s been an amazing adventure. 7 months of new friendships and introspection on the road. Thank you so much to all the amazing people we met along the way, and to everyone who donated to our adventure. Truly humbling and inspiring.
So, now it’s down to Juaquin. Stay tuned and keep him going!
Well, a very lucky boy got a new bike for Christmas! Congratulations to Patrick Wilson on winning our Christmas SOMA frame and fork raffle.
Patrick is pretty stoked and is looking through all the great SOMA frames to pick his prize. We’ll let you know what he selects.I’m suggesting the SOMA Stanyan for Pat, built up as a townie. It looks absolutely beautiful here, and I think it might be a good fit for his riding needs.
Pat just got back from service in Iraq. What a great way to support the troops.
Lucia picking the winning number at midnight at our hostel in San Cristobal.
Thanks to everyone who entered. You’re support was the best Christmas Present ever.
Sitting outside of a Haagen-dazs ice cream shop in Acapulco, using their wi-fi connection and having our eardrums drilled out by a blaring, looping track of Scissor Sisters and various other techno and house music. Surreal. Enormous speakers must be cheap in Mexico. They are everywhere. Everywhere.
Going to plug my ears and take advantage of the strong and free signal to upload some photos.
Thanks to everybody who made donations! Good luck in the raffle. I hope you win.
Cheers from the road!
Click on the images to make ‘em bigger.
Brother John and Bryan in Puerto Vallarta.
All 6 cyclists that crossed the Sea of Cortez on the ferry rode to get breakfast together in Mazatlan
Our stinky bike gang from the ferry riding in Mazatlan
Joaquin riding in Mazatlan
Near La Paz
Headed to the ferry outside La Paz, Baja
This was one of the weird paintings at the hotel we stayed at in La Paz, Baja. I’m not entirely sure, but I think this is the story of the founding of Mexico. From what I can deduct, Mexico is what happens when a giant turkey vulture and a man love each other very much.
The Playa del Ciclista Chistmas card. That’s British Chris on the right.
Our first glimpse of the Bay of Conception on the sea of Cortez. Our hidden beach is just around the corner there. Hidden though, so you can’t see it.
When we first met British Chris on the road in Baja.
This is a sandy road we tried to push our bikes through for 4 kilometers in an attempt to get to a beach. We gave up and later heard from a local that we took a wrong turn and the beach is beautiful. We didn’t go back.
Bryan on a rock in the Baja desert.
The Pesion California in Baja. Sweet relief from the desert while waiting for our ferry to take us to the mainland.
Everything is more festive in Mexico. Even the pens at the post office.
Get your god on. Gift shop in La Paz, Baja
Joaquin on the Malecon in La Paz, Baja South
One of the things you can’t do on the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan
Holy crap! A bed! In La Paz, Baja South
Theresa and Kyler made us the best breakfast we’d had in ages near Mulege, Baja South. Thanks guys! Great meeting you.
Looking a little road ragged in Mexico.
Some of the little cactus land mines that destroyed our tubes at a roadside campsite.
Sunrise near Mulege, Baja South
They do the kilometer markings on the road from town to town, not the entire stretch of the road. Kind of confusing.
Stopping at an internet cafe on the road in Manzanillo, Mexico to write a little Thanksgiving note. So much to be thankful for on this ride. Have met so many gracious and nice people so far. Special thanks go out to John, Jessica, and Jessica’s family for sharing their holiday digs in Puerto Vallarta for a couple of days. So amazing to see family for the holiday. The gravy on the turkey was the extra bed that they let us have for a couple of nights. So luxurious. We contemplated taking the bed with us, but every little bit of extra weight adds up…
Jessica, John, and Bryan in Puerto Vallarta
On Thanksgiving day we rode from the Malaque beach full of friendly Canadians (they said they had their thanksgiving already) to Santiago, just north of Manzanillo. A guy spraying weeds near one of our rest stops said we should camp at the beach there called La Boquita. I’m glad we ran into him, because what we found when we got there was our own little stretch of beach and a nice restaurant that gave us some delicious tacos and a few Coronas for our Thanksgiving feast. A tuba band played as the sun went down and we went to bed full and thankful for everything and everybody we have.
We’re living the simple cycle-touring lifestyle, but still need funds for boat passages, visa costs, vaccinations, innertubes and patches, and of course, lots and lots of rice and beans.
This is our first fundraiser and it’s an awesome one indeed. For every $10 US donation to WeKeepGoing we will enter your name for the frame and fork raffle. The winner can choose any frame and fork, in any size, produced by SOMA Fabrications.THE MORE DONATIONS YOU MAKE, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES!
Help propel us southbound on our adventure of a lifetime. The more donations we receive the more amazing places we can visit which will make WeKeepGoing.com that much more exciting to follow.
We’re riding Soma’s Saga frames and have put a lot of tough miles on them so far. We can definitely attest to SOMA’s high-quality heat treated CrMo steel frames and excellent designs. SOMA makes bikes for everybody so, chances are, there’s a bike for you or somebody you would like to give a bike to for Christmas. Find the frame for you at SOMA’s website and view their full line atwww.somafab.com
Details: ANY $10 DONATION BETWEEN NOW AND DECEMBER 24th WILL BE ENTERED IN THE RAFFLE. The winner will be notified via email on Christmas Day. Shipping is including for the winner. For fairness, a third party will be doing the actual drawing of the winner. Make sure to provide the best email address for receiving your notice on Christmas Day. Soma Fabrications/The Merry Sales Co. is not affiliated, nor do they endorse this raffle.
Thanks so much for your support. We can’t do this without you.
Those are Modest Mouse lyrics that have been going through my head lately. The tiny cities made of ashes line applies to our travels here. The towns are usually pretty small and covered in Baja dust. I don´t normally drink soda but I´ve adopted the local custom. There cold and quite refreshing. Nice after a day of sweaty riding. Supposedly Mexico drinks more Coke per capita than any other country.
In a horse stable in Chalapa
Haven´t posted a blog entry since Ensenada. Joaquin has been going first when we get to an internet cafe, and he does such a good job, that I haven´t contributed. We just rolled up to Mulege, the collest Mexican city we´ve seen so far. Palm trees, narrow streets, beautiful old buildings. Joaquin is sitting next to me making sighing sounds of frustration at the speed and or difficulty of uploading pictures to the blog. Slow interwebs in Mexico. We fond a place we can bring our bikes into and are both able to work at the same time as opposed to one person sitting outside with the bikes and bags.
Joaquin in the shade of a giant cactus.
We´ve ridden everyday since Ensenada. Almost two weeks. Starting to ride longer days. We made it from Guerrero Negro to Santa Rosalito in two days. Over 100 kilometers each day. The first day was hot and long and hard. We were about to camp in the desert brush on the side of the road when we happened to spot a farming plantation. Joaquin asked them if there was a place to camp near by. The guard said we could sleep outside by the security post. That would be pretty safe. Then our savior Steve drove up and asked Joaquin if we needed anything. 5 minutes later we had a place to put our tents near the farm´s employeee housing, a shower, a bathroom, a company store, tables to eat on. Amazing. He even gave us some samples of the grape tomatoes they grow. So delicious. We´ve been eating them since. Good travel snack. Also, it was the best shower we´ve had since the old U.S. It was pretty surreal when everybody got off work and came to their housing quarters and we´re there eating rice and bean burritos. There´s is such a contained world on the farm, that we stood out. One of these things does not belong. Hmmm… perhaps the gigantic gringo over there. Other than the curious looks, nobody bothered us. We stayed silent and tried not to attract any attention to ourselves we were in these peoples homes and were very grateful for what we had been given.
Camping on the beach before El Rosario
That has been the most interesting place we´ve stayed at so far. A close second was the horse stable we slept in in Chapala up in the high Baja desert. Other than that we´ve paid to camp at three places, and slept next to motels and hotels the rest of the time. Sometimes paying to use the showers, sometimes buying rice or beans from the restaurant if there is one. After yesterdays ride of 127 kilometers, we had some trouble finding a hotel that would let us pitch our tents, until we found an amazing hotel called el Morro just south of Santa Rosalia. Their pool was dry and we camped on the patio cliff side to the Sea of Cortez. We watched the sun rise this morning over the sea, after having seen it set over the Pacific to the west for so long. We´re surrounded by water.
Lying under a cactus on one of our rest stops. Not a lot of shade in the desert.
The desert has transformed into greener pastures. The mesas are all a little greener, palm trees make appearances, and the air is not so arid. All welcome changes. We´ve ridden about 1000 kilometers since Tijuana and have a ways to go until we get to La Paz and start hunting for boats to stowaway on and cross the Sea of Cortez to the mainland and ontinue heading south to Guatemala, where we assume we´ll be for Christmas. Feliz Navidad.
Time on the saddle is spent thinking of story ideas, drawing in my head, looking at and asorbing the surrounding scenery, concentrating on my cadence, cursing uphills, cherishing decsents (there´s been some nice curvy ones), giving the Mexican customary peace signs to oncoming trucks, and wetting my chamois shorts getting passed (barely) by trucks coming from behind.
Hotel cow in Catavena
So far we´ve met 5 other cyclists all headed to Argentina. Just in Baja alone. Nicholas and Emmy we met in Ensenada, Parker and Seth (from San Francisco) in the middle of nowhere in the desert heading to Guerrero Negro, and today Chris from England. It´s a packed road on the Pan American right now. Hide your food.
Joaquin in the desert.
The Soma Saga is smooth and strong. I could wear the Keen Commuters night and day (and do). The Action Wipes are indespensible. The wool gear from Rivendell is treating us fantastic. Off to the beach for a day off. My legs are throbbing.
Joaquin and I have been pleasantly holed up in Ensenada for a number of days while waiting for some new Keen Commuter sandals for Joaquin to make their way south of the border. As we spend our days reading, writing, relaxing, and prepairing for our eventual departure we take pleasure in listnening to the sounds of the outside world drifting in through the metal grates of the Casa del Ciclista. So many sounds. Music from cars and neighbors. Children playing. Dogs. So many dogs. Chihuahua squeals that sound like screeching brakes. (There´s a wide variety of dog breeds here, but they’re all half chihuahua.) The most interesting sounds, to me, are the sounds of commerce:
The water delivery truck at 7:30 in the morning. Blows its air horn as it turns down every street announcing its presence. It’s blasting horn approaching closer and closer like a train fronted by a Mexican trumpet player.
The cucumber sales truck announcing its goods with a used car salesman’s zeal. Lots of exclamation points, sentences rising in volume towards the end, fast rhythms, and a lot of hyperbole.
Avocado truck utilizes the cucumber method. (Avocados are the only thing we´ve purchased from the vendors. Perhaps their pitch was the best. Perhaps we really like avocados.)
The bread salesman with his looping tape of droll sales pitch delivery. Prerecorded as well. Blaring out of similar PA speakers attached to a truck. However, the bread delivery pitch is delivered in a flat monotonous drone, as if to stand out against the other hyperactive pitchmen with their music blazing and carnival squawker announcements. No exclamation points. “Senoritas, we have the most amazing bread for only 20 pesos. Si, Senoritas, only 20 pesos will buy you this fantastic bread.”
The doughnut delivery guy has the most exciting product, in my opinion, but the saddest delivery. He carries around a plastic tub of donuts and wails like a drunk man crying the name of the love he has wronged “Dohnaaaas!” Dohnaaaas!” He knows she’s gone.
Then there’s the ice cream delivery guy. My favorite. He rides a tricycle around with a huge penguiin on the front of it. No internal combustion. No blaring muisc. Just a bike, bell, a sweet custom track-suit uniform, and a giant penguin. No beating the customers into submission with an audio assault. No pity sales for sad sellers. I’m sold.
After almost two weeks of WeKeepHangingOutInLA.com we’re finally on the move again.
The Los Angeles stay was extended in length while we waited for some final items to be shipped to us at the Aglago house. It’s been mentioned before, but we really couldn’t have done this trip without the support, and tolerance, of the wonderful residents of this fantastic community. Once we had everything in our possession, we decided to depart early Monday morning with a ride along the ocean and then over to Long Beach. We left at 2:30 in the afternoon. I knew I had to repack all my panniers and edit some of my contents that I had brought down from San Francisco before we left, but I had no idea it would take me almost five hours. Once I had everything packed it was launch time. We rolled off the Aglago grounds stopping for photos, tire pumpings, and equipment adjustments. By the time we crossed the driveway to the street, people were yelling at us from the Aglago windows to “get the fuck out of here already!” We made it about 15 feet before somebody across the street stopped us to ask us where we were coming from and going. Shouts continued from the house. “Keep going already! Go!”
This was our first fully loaded ride. Giggles and snickers and holy shits escaped our lips as we reacted to the shear weight of our loaded rigs. It didn’t take long to get used to the feel though. This speaks mostly to the rigid build and geometry of the Soma Saga frames. By the time we got to venice beach the bikes felt like normal extensions. Jo required a bit more time to get used to the “fat suit effect”, as Allison calls it, of riding with panniers. Side swiping me and then clipping a red vintage Ford mustang with his bags (the second incident causing a fall) probably will help him remember his new girth.
The ride to Long Beach went without hitches, besides the second half being in the dark due to our late departure (my fault.) Scenic along the coast, just enough up and down hills, our first loaded ride was deemed “epic” by Joaquin. Our total mileage for the day was around 50 miles. Only when we arrived in Long Beach did Crystal and Allison mention the more direct 25 mile river route from LA, but I don’t think we would have passed up riding along the coast anyhow.
We stayed with fellow 42rider, Allison, in Long Beach. She provided us with supremely comfortable arrangements, a delicious dinner, great conversation, and shocking news of a possible move to Arkansas. Apparently the Southern Route of the 42ride was shown a sufficiently good time in Arkansas. I believe she’s visiting there now. Hope everything’s going well. It is a beautiful state.
Allison escorted us out of Long Beach on bike (we probably would have gotten rather lost otherwise) and it was good to be on a little group ride again. We went our separate ways after an hour or so an Joaquin and I continued south towards San Clemente State beach where we would camp for the night. The ride along the PCH was spotted with beautiful coastal views, well-to-do little towns, a bit of road construction, and bike lanes every once in a while. Altogether, a great sixty mile ride. In San Clemente we were fortunate enough for a local cyclist, and experienced tandem tourer, Susan, to happen upon us and sherpa us through the winding bike route through town to the State Beach. Thanks Susan! Good luck on your upcoming tour and future cross country ride (West to East to avoid headwinds).
Our first night camping was great. We arrived at about 5pm and had about an hour and a half of daylight to set up tents and cook a pasta dinner using the stove that Mikey Wally provided us. Delicious. Still had some of the Food Not Bombs leftover stew from Aglago that we mixed in the sauce. Ashira from Aglago was coming to join us for an evening of camping by the beach, and she and her friend Theresa arrived about 10pm or so, beer in tow. The evening turned awesome after their arrival. We enjoyed the nearly full moon on the beach, walking through some bizarre land formations to get there. Our beach time was split between watching the stars and watching the trains go by (or overhead from under a tunnel).
We woke up late the next morning, packed, said our goodbyes, and headed off for San Diego. This was a good ride. The towns were laid back and the coast was fantastic. Before San Diego, outside of La Joya, a cyclist asked us where we were going. “Just one more hill!” he exclaimed. Being told of an upcoming hill by a fellow cyclist is both a welcome bit of information, and an instant way to dread the remaining miles until said hill. Even the smallest of hills are made mountainous by carrying pounds and pounds of baggage. This was no small hill. We made it up, took a break, and looking around, I had the feeling that we might be close to the Salk Institute. Quick check on the phone confirmed this and a few minutes later we were walking around the Louis Kahn temple of science and research overlooking the ocean. Something I’d always wanted to see since my brother, John, told me about it.
Rolling into San Diego was a breeze. Good bike lanes and roads. Another mountain of a hill in Sand Diego, that we probably could have avoided, but was good training nonetheless. We stayed with a Couch Surfer named Katie in San Diego. She and her roommate were amazingly welcoming, helpful, and hospitable. They were both involved in some pretty awe inspiring work in Africa that really kind of blew me away. Katie also had the unfortunate experience of having been down Baja before. Unfortunate in that Jo and I then peppered her with an endless stream of questions. Thank you so, so much Katie and Noelle!
San Diego was the end of the American road for us. We had the jitters. So excited to really start our international trip, kind of nervous not knowing what we could and couldn’t get in Mexico if we needed anything. Eventually we couldn’t think of anything else keeping us in the states, so we took off. Rode the San Diego tram/trolley all the way to the border. Crossing wasn’t too difficult. We had to get a tourist card and visa. $20 US gave us 90 days ride through the country. It was suggested by someone to take a cheap bus through Tijuana down to Rosarito, and while we don’t really want to not ride our bikes and want even less to spend money, we were glad we followed this advice once we were riding out of town. Huge hills, lots of traffic, and the fact that you’re not even supposed to be riding your bike on the toll road would have all made for a not so great ride.
We got off the bus in Playa de Rosarito and rode along the coast to a campground called Saldamando about 20 miles out of Ensenada. The camping fee was a bit much, but it was right on the beach and had showers (cold but wet). Crossing the border from US to Mexico was the most drastic border change I’ve ever made. It’s crazy to think that in such little distance you can have such drastic change. Never thought much about politics and culture affecting landscapes so drastically before.
So far Baja has been a string of older little resorts that don’t look too crowded and huge half-built newer resorts that aren’t occupied and the construction on which appears to have stopped. It´s this damned economy. The coast is beautiful though and the ocean is neverending. Life is good.
Los Angeles is chock full o’ goodness. I had been previously exposed to bits and pieces of positive LA character and experiences, however, on this trip, the city has offered up to us all neat and pretty and on a silver platter, a couple of the best days ever. Most of the credit and thanks for this go to a certain Mister Mikey Walley who did a fantastic job of showing us around his adopted home town.
Wednesday morning. We had arrived the previous evening. We’re at the City College Cafe in the Bicycle District weazing the wi-fi and computing on the interwebs when lo and behold, in walks Mikey Wally. The man. The myth. The legend. Jo and I had met Mikey on the 42ride which, crazy as it seems, ended a month ago. It was great to see the trademark grin on this impossibly pumped person. He just happened to be at Orange 20 bikes across the street from the cafe and noticed two identical Soma Sagas parked next to each other (they are quite eye catching). It had to be us.
“What are you up to today?” We asked. “Nothin’” He responded. I knew at this moment it was going to be a good day. It was. The following events proceeded like dominoes, set up by the hands of unseen beings at just the right places, falling at just the right times.
Here’s the rundown: ice cream at Scoops; back to the Aglago house (where we’re staying) to hang with Ashira for a bit; try to find an open bike shop; fail (every bike shop in the world seems to be closed right now for the Interbike convention in Las Vegas; in Echo Park we purchase and consume a four dollar bag of spiced fruit-cart deliciousness (except the mystery fruit that tasted rather poo like); downtown to check out Mikey’s sweet new pad in the Million Dollar Hotel; sneak attack swim at the Standard Hotel (it is friggin’ hot in LA right now); cup cake perfection and free coffee at The Lark where we ran into Kyle from Orange 20 bikes who seemed to be in town just long enough to walk his dog between his getting back from the Cycle Messenger World Championships in Japan and leaving for Interbike in Las Vegas. Kyle tells us about free pizza with beer purchase over in Los Feliz; we go to Los Feliz for beer and pizza; ride up to the Griffith Park Observatory as the sun is going down; look at all the greater LA area twinkling lights below; think about the vastness of humanity and the world; think about wasted resources and pollution; think about fish tacos; awesome descent in the dark back down from the observatory to eat fish tacos; take part in the philanthropic burrito by bike distribution that is the Burrito Project (every week for the past four years these guys have made and distributed burritos by bicycle to LA’s hungry); after-burrito beer at Club 170 downtown; and finally, Dada (Mikey’s feminine side and all around awesome person) drove us out to a wicked dubstep concert which firmly placed the icing on the cake that was a perfect LA day.
Thanks LA, and thanks Mikey Wally! Especially thanks to Mikey for the much needed water filter and stove!
We’ll miss you both.
Bryan and Jo
P.S. – Daggering!
P.P.S. – This is the third time I’m writing this. Damn you Wordpress for iPhone! (right arm extended up with fist clenched).