Saturday, April 28, 2007

Kick Me

I still love the dream we follow, but sometimes the physical reality kicks my butt. Somehow, I'd built a vision in my head of Highway 25 cutting through between the hills of Central California, but what we found instead was a hot, dry area with killer hills - good practice, when you consider where we're going, but grueling. The day before yesterday, we got down to a couple of bottles of water between us before we found a ranch with a stock tank. From there we had one more muscle testing hill before a gorgeous fourteen mile downhill into King City, where we found a relatively cheap motel and a badly needed laundromat.

Yesterday was not as tough as we followed the 101, even riding legally on the shoulder for one stretch. It was still hot, but the hills weren't much. We got a couple more water bottles and found more opportunities to refill them. After a brief heated discussion about why an 11-yr-old opinion doesn't carry the weight of an adult in the decision making process, Tala was being more cheerful and cooperative.

Then I did something dumb. Caught up in conversation, I let my front wheel get too close to Michele's trailer and my right pannier hooked. I over-steered to compensate and when it broke free, the wheel went ninety degrees to the road. Somehow, I kicked out of the clips and did a perfect somersault over the handlebar, landing without a scratch or bruise. We took a while to adjust and access, determining that my front wheel had taken on the shape of a potato chip, but the tire was retaining air.

I rode my injured machine tentatively, looking intently to see where it was rubbing. Almost immediately I slammed into the rear of Michele's trailer. She had stopped to see if she could determine my problem. The rubbing issue was an easy adjustment, but the pedal bite on Michele's ankle will take some healing. Luckily the rest of the day's ride, a total of about 45 miles, was relatively easy, except for some very rough road surfaces, especially tough on a warped wheel.

The last hill to the only motel in San Miguel is a 16% grade. Somehow, as she transitioned to push it up the hill, Michele's rear wheel slid in the dropouts, locking her brakes. I struggled my over-length rig to the crest, sighted the motel, and fell back to help Michele and Tala with her rig. Even with the brakes disconnected, the wheel wasn't rolling well. It was hard to access anything on the hillside fully loaded. I thought it might be a broken axle. We unhitched the trailer with the babies and limped the last block as three units.

As I climbed onto the motel driveway, I looked up at a big red pickup. A man in full camo climbed off the back bumper as the back-up lights came on. I called out to find out if I was impeding his intended path. As I backed out of the way he hollered, "We're going that way." Since I couldn't see him, I couldn't tell which way 'that way' was until he narrowly missed me. Disaster averted, I went on to discover that the only motel in town cost more than twice what the one the night before had cost. But "it is what it is."

We are where we are, inadequate planning and all. We've been frequently blessed but unexpected kindness. Marty, diagnosed with terminal cancer, invited us into his home with spontaneous generosity. His sharing gave us much needed respite, and his wife was delighted with the change in his character in the presence of the babies. Guess we really are catalysts of hope.

The community discussion in San Jose was worthwhile, even though it was a community of agreement, rather than one of proximity. We're continuing to get closer to the envisioned journey, even though the physical reality sometimes kicks my butt.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Camping in the City

Ironically, one of the most primitive campsites we've used on this trip is located inside the city limits of San Francisco. The traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge sounds like a river from our tents at Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio. Just a quick bike ride away are markets, laundromat, and an Internet Cafe. Life is sweet!

It's a gorgeous sunny day in Central California. The babies are running nearly naked and enjoying Michele & Tala's attention, while I catch up with plans for a discussion in San Jose. The city goes about its business, barely aware of our presence. We've talked with some local cyclists, but have not yet heard a commitment from any to organize a convergence ride to DC. At least we've sown some seeds...

Our gratitude goes out to all the wonderful people who've made this ride possible. You are the Catalysts of HOPE! We are delighted with this opportunity to weave a network between you and hopeful that our collaborations will help to heal the planet and bring sustainable peace.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Learning as we go

The hills of the California Coastal Range are teaching us a few things about packing light and trusting the inherent goodness of people. It's been very tough to pedal our heavily laden bicycles up the steep inclines, but we've made it over some tall ones. We've been repeatedly delighted by the graciousness of strangers.

We're spending today reassessing our projected route, considering our behind projection progress of the days since we parted ways with our support vehicle in Arcata. We've decided to avoid Highway 1 entirely, because we've heard it is treacherous. We've also extended down to Santa Barbara, because we've met marvelous hosts there. The new route is posted (

Another goal is to reduce our load. It's challenging to let go of things we think we need, but after a few hills it will be easier. Heavy clothes for northern climes can go, as can paper copies of electronic documents. We wish we could compress our sleeping gear more, but we can't afford the really light equipment.

We also want to learn to leave earlier and ride more intently, so that we can spend more time with hosts. I suspect we'll get better at this as we go, but the children aren't likely to become disciplined cyclists soon. Perhaps the lesson is about planning and projection...