“Auf dem weg zu mir“ were the words Randalf used to describe his trip. Literal translation: “on the way to me“, or in his words: “the journey to find oneself“. I had met the German cyclist at Carpineria the first night of my trip. The year was 1987. I had just finished with my second year of graduate school at Cornell, presenting at the IEEE conference at UC Santa Barbara. My advisors were threatening to pull my funding because I wanted to take a few weeks off for a bike trip. I couldn‘t explain it to them, but I badly needed an escape. My addictive romantic relationship was currently “off“ but still a huge source of confusion and stress, only heightened by the extreme amounts of espresso and wine I was consuming. Emotionally, I was a trainwreck.
Fast forward 23 years, I am cruising the same coastline I haven‘t seen since then. Uncanny how these memories are popping into my head – the aching manipulative phone calls, the pit of the stomach anxiety, the exhileration of flying over hills powered only by two strong legs and a spirit desperate to be free of all the baggage.
I pondered for miles today how my memories were preceded by pure emotion – the past several days of anxiety, isolation, hopelessness – all feelings I hadn‘t felt with such intensity since my college days. I knew I needed to take this tour alone, to go “solo“, but I didn‘t know just how powerful the emotions would be. And now to breathe a deep sigh, whew! I am glad those years and miles are behind me!
Today‘s ride was a bittersweet end to a long tour, beautiful and complete, with perfect conditions: 70 degrees, strong tailwind, clear sunny skies. The miles flew as I cruised towards Santa Barbara, stopping first in Goleta to visit my new friend Matt at his shop, Island Seed and Feed. He cued me on to a great mexican restaurant in SB, so I had to try it out. Wow, the best guacamole I‘d had in years, and perfectly grilled snapper with mango lime salsa. Five stars for Los Arroyos!
After lunch I headed out on a tour of Santa Barbara, visiting the Mission. As beautiful as the architecture is, I was also reminded of how the Spanish colonized the lands of California and subjugated the native population. The Mission looks more like a fort than a church, doesn‘t it?
I swung into a local bike shop for a quick tune up of my squeaky deraileur by the friendly owner who I‘d just met earlier spinning around town on an awesome fixed gear bike. Everyone: visit this guy‘s shop – the Bike Stand in Santa Barbara – he‘s the real thing, fair reliable service.
I headed south on a lovely meander along Santa Barbara‘s beach front bike path. Check out the video to see what bike touring in Southern California is really about:
Onward to Carpinteria for my last night camping on the trip. A nice hiker biker site, though the showers could be warmer. But who am I to complain? I met up again with the British tourists again, along with an Irish biker – all three are headed south to Argentina or “until the money runs out.“ And I kept running into a Canadian biker I met yesterday, as though we were playing leapfrog all day – he would pass me, then I passed him. Funny how that is, but I guess we were both headed to the same destination, and traveling about the same speed. Does that make our meetings along the path “destiny?“ Is this another metaphor for life?