Allow me introduce you to Dave. Dave has been riding his “Iron Buffalo” since 2002. He left Boston after having been diagnosed with a degenerative disease that is destroying the myelin in his nerves and cartilage in his joints and has found himself cycling mostly up and down the west coast ever since. He speaks in a voluminous voice and lets out a hearty laugh after most sentences. His bicycle currently weighs 210lbs including the deer antlers he has attached to the handlebars and will weigh at least 12lbs more after he adds a front bumper as well as an animal pelt covering the frame. I would imagine that many who has ventured up or down the coast more than once have had a conversation with him and once the conversation starts, a fellow cyclist has no choice but to hear his story.
After slowing down our pace considerably in order not to slam our breaks in San Francisco too early, we have enjoyed not only the coastal scenery, but spent many hours in small towns – Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Fort Ross, small rivers (for reasons I cannot disclose due to local barbless fishing regulations) and camping with a welcome break (The McBurney family in their 100 year old home and sugary popcorn in Eureka! Meeting mom in Bodega Bay!). We stopped in the town of Marshall which barely makes its way on to maps with its population of 50 and has the best freshly caught and schucked oysters – even Manna enjoyed (!) one.
Not even 2 hours in SF and we have transformed into city people once again, having showered, laundered, eaten burritos and even watched a movie in our half dazed state.
I arrive here under circumstances that leave me not being certain what will happen next. Not a week ago, my third and longest-term cycling partner, Robert, had to sadly cancel his ride with me from SF to Panama due to health reasons. Although I had not yet met him in person, we had corresponded in several hundred emails, had a fair share of phone conversations and he had become a good friend. He, in his experienced touring resume, had helped me more than I could have ever imagined to prepare for this trip and we are both very, very sad that he cannot ride. This, as it is, leaves me looking for a new plan and a new partner. There are a few ideas brewing. To soothe the concerns of you out there, I will not be riding across the border alone and will figure out one way or another what will happen next. In the mean time, there are many welcoming friends in the Bay Area along with family who have said I can cycle in circles around Santa Cruz for as long as my heart desires until I find another partner.
The first 1,163 miles were fabulous. Bring on the next 2,000, but not before a nice rest in this foggy city.