Back on the East Coast – Ben’s Wrap Up

dsc_0714.jpg
After 3 weeks on the west coast, 36+ hours on a bus, two transcontinental flights, and over 450 miles of biking… I am back in Atlanta. I am not quite the same person I was when I left. I have met more people in the past few weeks than I can even imagine, and have become friends with some that will last forever.

Biking the coast with Jason was an incredible way to finish up the summer, and even though it cost more than I had planned, it is something I would do again in a second. I got to know him better then ever, and after starting off college with him as my roommate, this was the perfect end.

We both hit our lows and realized that we could keep going, even if it meant eating Raman and beans for dinner. The highs were the most natural, endorphin powered highs I have ever felt. After struggling uphill for hours, the feeling of cresting the top with an endless view of the Pacific Ocean rimmed by jagged cliffs covered in rolling fog is one that I will never forget. The silent pause at the top was always followed by a rush as we tipped our bikes forward and pointed the front wheel down, racing towards the bottom at up to 50 mph.

Once we made it out of the mountains, we had a few days of nice, flat, country biking before we hit the cities. City biking is dangerous, stressful, and bumpy. But it is also interesting because of how many people you run into. (Literally, only once, and he hit me.)

Right now I am struggling to acclimate back into real life. I am only in town for a month, so it is a strange feeling. Until yesterday I had not driven a car in almost a month, and had only ridden in one twice. I can go to the store and buy whatever I want right now, which is a strange feeling. I have to make a decent amount of money soon, and I am trying to sell my car. All of which take time, and a different kind of energy than I am used to. I have found that I began regulating my time to living in the most basic sense. When biking, it was all about water, food, energy, and where are we staying, how do we get there. In the middle of the desert at Burningman, it was water, shade, water, food. Don’t move to much during the day or you will get heat stroke. My body went from 8,000+ calories a day while biking to less than 1500 in the heat. Now that I am back, I slept for 13 hours last night, and woke up feeling a little lost, as if I should have something to physically occupy my time all day. Downtime is not something I am used to.

Other than the physical changes (I am tan, lean, and very bearded) I now find myself to be more outgoing than I ever have been before. People are simply people, they all have their problems, concerns, and joys. They all also want to interact with others, they just don’t know how to do it all the time. If you can make their life interesting for a second, they appreciate it. it also makes your day worthwhile. Traveling is not about places, it is about the people that make those places unique. You can find these people everywhere, even at home.

My next trip is a simple one up the East coast to see my friends again before I head to Asia.

Still on the way to the middle of nowhere.

We are now close to reno, and the bus has wireless internet via Verizon cell card, so I am typing this on on Alan’s MacBook. We have gotten to know each other a little more now, so here is a brief rundown of some of the crew. There is a couple from Israel, about 25 years old, who backpacked California and are here for a while. They are really aid back, and have some cool stories. He works for Grey Advertising. One guy is wearing a star wars shirt, and jeans covered in colored paint. He is currently finishing his last year of Harvard Law. Two people are from Germany, but never met each other before the trip started. One guy works for an ad agency in San Fran, and this is his second burn. Ethan runs the whole program, and is a really unique individual, he and his friend Alan both went to UMass and have been doing this for a year. There are about 10 others on board, but i have yet to get their stories, as we are constantly moving around and getting to know each other.
Again, More later…

On the bus to Burningman



On the bus to Burningman

Originally uploaded by hannaimage


So here is the crew on the bus to burningman. We are heading out and it the coolest bus I have ever seen. Hippy to the max. These are some cool people, some are a little quiet, but the others make up for it. More later!

The View



The View

Originally uploaded by hannaimage


This is the view out the window of the house I am staying in tonight in San Francisco. You know that really twisty road you always see pictures of? It is smack in the middle of it. How sweet is that?

The guy next to me



The guy next to me

Originally uploaded by hannaimage


Now posts about Burning man!

This is the guy next to me. All he talks about is the girls who are on the bus and movies. But, we have been hitting it off and laughing pretty much the whole time and I just put my earplugs in and went to sleep for a few hours. 3 more til San Francisco.

Jason’s Wrap Up

Jason: Well after 12 days and over 450 miles covered the biking has officially concluded in LA. We could have pushed on through the city to complete an 80 mile day yesterday and then really pushed it today to make up the 150 we lacked to the border (HA!) but this felt like a good time to finish. The rest of the coast would have been endless city biking, which as you all know generally only affords us significant problems. In short, city biking (with a loading down bike at least) is miserable. So we coasted the final 30 miles into Santa Monica yesterday to Eliz’s place and felt good about how far we had come. The song of the day was “Xxplosive” by Dr. Dre, in light of rollin down the PCH through LA. Veronica, you might have to explain to the others about Dre’s hood!

We just dropped our bikes off at REI to be shipped back to the east coast and Ben will be leaving tomorrow to go to burning man. Now we can relax a little and think back on the whole trip. A few things that I will take away from it.

You let go of the little things that usually drive you crazy. For one, I currently have a beard. A really nappy one with a half grown mustache. Gross, but I decided to just see how long I could stand it.

I have come to realize that getting lost is inevitable so you can either let it annoy you or just make the best of things. Often you will find a cool restaurant, shop, or bum to talk to.

When you travel on a bike (or travel in an uncommon way, removing most of the luxuries) you meet a much more diverse array of people. “Pretty cool, and a little crazy” is the easiest way to put it. That’s the kind of people we met. People in cars thought we were nuts, grown men who had done our trip before practically shed a tear sharing the experience with us, and the bums that we often camped with usually had good advice for us. A very real perspective that common travelers didn’t have. We met very few people our same age, as we figured that most either were now at work, looking for work, or back at school. We were fortunate enough to be at option D. None of the above.

I appreciate all of you taking an interest in our little adventure, your thoughts and prayers got us through some sketchy times. Thanks mom and dad for understanding, even though you probably though it was crazy to do this. In 5 years maybe we can get a group to do the east coast tour!?!? To close, as Confucius say, “Man who bike in front of car may get tired, but man who bike behind car get exhausted.”

-Ben’s wrap up to come…

Last Campfire



Last Campfire

Originally uploaded by hannaimage


Last campfire. Hotdogs for dinner, and the day on the beach. We are in Los angeles county, and will get to santa monica tomorrow.

And again with the flat tires



And again with the flat tires

Originally uploaded by hannaimage


This time I had two spares, but they were short stem, and I need long stem.. When I bought them, I told the guy I needed long stem, and he gave me one long stem and one short stem. I didn’t even think to check that both boxes were the same. We are in a city though, and there is a bike shop a mile back that Jason has gone off to get two more spare tubes…

Retro Song-of-the-day

Posted by mobile phone:
Jason: its day, I don’t know but we have been at this for awhile. The past few days have been trying and slow goin due to unexpected issues. Today we will finally be putting in a full day’s ride of 50 miles. I know I haven’t been keeping up with the song of the day very well so I’m gonna retro song of the day things, if that even makes sense. In honor of two days ago, so now in memory of, when we were cruising through middle of nowhere towns with Spanish names, I was humming “Hotel California,” not the original though, the version from The Big Lebowski.

The song for yesterday would have been “New Shoes” by Paolo Nutini, inlight of Ben’s bike being fixed and us getting back on the road (although this song could have been for the numerous times we came across problems and then got back on track). I whole-heartedly regret not having a song in mind to honor Fred, our shorter friend of yesterday who was awesome. I also regret not getting a picture taken with him so you all could believe how unbelievable he was.

For today I’m breakin the rules again and making the whole Bob Marley “Legends” album the song(s) for today because we will be cruisin through beach town after beach town now and its just swell.

Santa Barbara and on

Posted by mobile phone:
This morning we woke up at 5:30 am and high tailed it out of our campsite. We made it to the bus with about 5 min to spare and were able to put our bikes on the bottom of the bus.

An hour later we were in Santa Barbara. It was beautiful. While we were stopped outside of a bike shop, which didn’t open for another two hours, we saw the crazyest thing yet. I heard Jason say “Look at this guy…oh no… Oh no, he saw us” then from across the intersection “HEY! HEY! WHERE ARE YOU GUYS COMING FROM?” I turned and saw a midget with a huge pot belly wearing only tiny, tiny bike shorts on a midget sized bike pulling a child trailer with nothing in it. He pulled up to us, and we realized he was missing all eight front teeth. He was nice, and when he found out we were from the south, we had a new best friend. He was originaly from New Orleans and that made us practically kin. Well we struck it up with Fred, and he ended up taking us on a tour of the city. He knew every bum, and many of the attractive women as well. Everyone knew, and liked him too. He works in a bike shop, and his side business is called “Leprakon Bike Shine.” I don’t know if that is how it is spelled, but that is how he spelled it. He let us know that we could get a free meal at the homeless shelter at 11:30 because we kind of look -well- homeless…

Side note: We saw Faye Dunaway… She knew Fred. I had no idea who she was.

Anyway, got the bike fixed for $150 and three hours of work and we were on the way out of Santa Barbara. We got to Carpinteria and spent the afternoon on the beach and doing laundry at the laundry mat.

Tomorrow we ride for 40 miles, then get to LA and santa monica to stay with Eliz until saturday when we will head back to san fran.

Jason says he will post later, he is about to shower.