I arrived in Santa Barbara today after Brian and I rode 43 miles from Buellton (where the film “Sideways” was filmed 🙂 ) We’re staying at Brian’s friends, Joe and Laurie Sullivan, for a couple of days. I’m excited to see Santa Barbara!
One thing I haven’t written about during this trip, because I didn’t want to increase anyone’s concern for me, is the level of risk I feel. There have been many narrow, steep, windy roads with little or no shoulders. The great majority of drivers are considerate; some aren’t. Logging trucks, chip trucks, Dodge Ram pickup trucks and RV’s are unnerving.
I’ve thought a lot about the roads and what I can do to make myself as safe as possible. I wear flashing lights on my bike and helmet, wear bright clothes and constantly check my mirror to see what’s coming.
In Mendocino, CA I had a brief conversation during lunch with a touring couple. Two hours later I came upon an ambulance loading the woman. She hadn’t been hit, but had fallen by going off the eight inch shoulder of the very narrow road and had broken her collarbone. She is going to be fine, but it was unsettling.
I have heard many stories of close calls and of cyclists being hit by cars and trucks-on the Pacific Coast Route and in Missoula, Tucson, Colorado, etc. I feel a lot of tension on the roads with lots of traffic and inadequate shoulders.
Sometimes I look in the mirror attached to the bow of my glasses and see that there are no cars coming for a quarter mile. I then move left into the traffic lane and cruise along with no concern about cars getting close to me or of going off the edge of the road. I relax.
When cyclists part, the common farewell is “Be safe.” After more and more time on narrow roads, I started hearing “Be safe” as “Be lucky.” There’s not a lot a cyclist can do to to be safe; it is mostly in the hands of the drivers.
Cycling on these roads for hours in a day, being passed by hundreds or thousands of cars, feels more dangerous than I expected, and I have decided that the risk is greater than the gain.
About a week ago I talked to my wonderful girlfriend, Jenny Wayman, about what I’m feeling. She was understanding and suggested a “Plan B.”
As part of “Plan B,” Jenny is going to drive my car to Phoenix when I meet her on Oct. 21. This is an annual cycling trip for her, this year throughout Arizona with seven or eight friends. Since February I’ve planned to join them.
After our 10 days together in Arizona, Jenny will fly home and I’ll continue my trip- with a car, my bike and Jenny’s bike. I’ll drive my car, and sometimes ride my bicycle on safe, intriguing roads. I’ll continue the loop I had planned- Arizona, Texas, Florida, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Glacier… and Coeur d’Alene. Or something like that. I hope friends and family will meet me along the way.
Jenny will fly to meet me in places so we can play together. I’ve missed her a lot, and realize I’m way more interested in nurturing the relationships I have with friends and family than in meeting new people. My least favorite part of the trip has been the two weeks I’ve been alone.
Traveling by bicycle has also limited what I’m able to do and see. After riding all day, I don’t feel like riding my bike very far. I’m reluctant to ride even two miles into town from a campsite, to attend an event, explore or have a beverage with the locals.
Do I feel bad about this change? No. I’m listening to what’s really going on for me. “Plan B” could enable me to see and experience more places, to see more friends and family, to have a wonderful adventure, and to be safe. I also hope I’ll get to see Jenny more.
I will continue to share my adventures through this blog…and we’ll see what that looks like. 🙂
Finally, thank you to all who have been checking on me on this adventure, have sent encouraging notes, suggested places to see and things to do, read what I write. That has meant a lot.
Here’s to “Plan B!” And 217 miles to San Diego!