At sunset beach, a campsite about ten miles south of Santa Cruz, I met Eddie and Eric. We went through the typical cyclist introductory questions: Where are you from? Where did you start? Where are you going?
Eddie and Eric were college students from the Bay Area. They were biking to L.A. The night I met them was the end of their first day.
When I told them that I started in Canada and had been biking for thirty-something days, they freaked out. They thought I was the shit. Whenever normal campers walked by our site (at nearly every campsite there are “normal campers” who arrive in cars or RVs and then there are the hiker/bikers), they would stop and ask us about our trips. Eddie and Erick would say, “We started in the Bay Area. Today is our first day… But you should talk to this girl over here. SHE STARTED IN CANADA.”
And I would laugh and tell them, “Just wait. You guys think I’m awesome for starting in Canada. It’s only your first day. You haven’t seen anything yet. You’ll meet people who are going to Argentina, people who brought their dogs, people who simply live on their bikes.”
Eddie and Eric asked for advice about camping, biking, and navigating. They reminded me a lot of myself on my first day when I gleaned as much advice as I could from cyclist Jenny and her family. Funny how things come full circle.
So in honor of advice-giving and for the sake of story-telling, here are some tidbits that I collected from the road:
“Connect with people through WarmShowers.” –Jenny, touring cyclist.
“Don’t trust people. Keep everyone at an arms length.” –Pete, a guy that I met on a ferry in Canada.
“If there’s a food box at the campsite, it’s there for a reason. Keep your food in there.” –a guy I met on the street in Vancouver.
“Stay at Standish-Hickey campsite just north of Leggett. In the morning go to the Peg House restaurant across the street and get two breakfast burritos. Eat one for breakfast and save the other for when you get to the top of Leggett hill later that day.” –employee in Astoria’s bike shop.
“Put on sunscreen twice a day or more when you’re in California.” –a woman on the street in Astoria.
“When you’re riding over the Golden Gate bridge just stop for a second and think about how small you are.” –a Canadian guy who biked from Vancouver to San Francisco in the 1960s.
“Watch out for the raccoons. They are shameless.” –park ranger in the Redwoods, California.
“Go slow.” –Chris from Tacoma, Washington.
“Bring ear plugs. Mostly for Vets Memorial campground in Monterey.” –Teesha, touring cyclist.
“Don’t leave your bike at the Fruitvale BART stop in the Bay Area. It might get stolen.” –Sam, touring cyclist.