Bikes and Hikes! http://bikewitheg.com Join Erick on a bike ride across North America Fri, 04 Aug 2017 19:38:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Update http://bikewitheg.com/update/ http://bikewitheg.com/update/#respond Fri, 04 Aug 2017 19:38:44 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=178 Continue reading "Update"

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August 4, 2017

Yesterday I shipped off my laptop and some other stuff (about 6 lbs). Hopefully this will help me get through the Rockies–i already feel the difference. Anyway, what this means for those of you following my trip is that I will probably not be posting until I reunite with my stuff in Seattle in about 3 weeks. If you’d like to keep up with my adventures, I post at least 3 times a week to fb (pictures and tidbits about my day). You can add me at https://www.facebook.com/erickg213

Cheers

E

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The Roberts http://bikewitheg.com/the-roberts/ http://bikewitheg.com/the-roberts/#respond Wed, 26 Jul 2017 22:04:20 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=168 Continue reading "The Roberts"

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July 26, 2017

I don’t come across too many touring cyclists doing significantly long trips, maybe once every couple of weeks. And the times that I stop and chat with them are maybe 1 in 2 because of the circumstances (e.g. they’re going the opposite direction and are across a busy highway). But every time that I have gotten the chance to talk another touring cyclist has been really nice. And on 2 occasions, I ended up joining up with a rider for several days.

Robert (from Germany)

When I was still riding with Clara in Ontario, Canada, we began to split up during the day and meet up at rendez-vous points. On one of those days, I started my morning off slow and relaxed. I chased a dead-end trail that took me to a lake where I sat and reveled in the natural beauty.

Lake in Ontario, CA

After filling my spirit with good vibes, I backtracked a mile on the trail and hit the road again. I was warmed up at this point and was cruising up and down hills. In the distance I saw another cyclist in front of me. He was towing a yellow trailer with a yellow flag sticking out of it. I, naturally, assumed he was a delivery boy (honestly, that idea somehow made sense to me at the time). I must admit that something that may have contributed to this assumption was that from behind he looked brown (skin tone), and well you know..

I took several pictures of delivery boy Robert’s wagon without his knowledge. His set up brought me many giggles throughout the day.

So I caught up to him on a climb and to my surprise he was a white dude and probably not a delivery boy. I nodded to him and kept riding. As I continued on, it began to sink in that maybe he was also on a crazy bicycle journey and not on a delivery run. I slowed down and waited for him to catch up: “Hey! Where you comin’ from?” He was coming from Halifax, Nova Scotia–the eastern coast of Canada–but he originally flew out from Germany a month prior. He was also headed out to the west coast! We chatted and rode together as we did. Next thing I knew, we had ridden together the entire day. He admitted to me that when I had run into him in the morning, he really wasn’t feeling like being on a bike (a feeling I can totally relate to at least once a day) and was feeling pretty miserable climbing up hills with headwinds. But once we had joined forces, the day just flew by and the physical challenges were overshadowed by good company. We had a great rhythm together and made quite the power team; when I would slow down he would keep me motivated to keep his pace and vice versa. At the end of the day, Clara, delivery boy Robert, and I wound down together and started up again the next day. We became a team and rode three days into Toronto together, where we parted ways.

Left to right: Robert’s bike, Robert, me, Clara

Meeting and traveling with Robert was a real turning-point in my journey. Robert had one day set out from Germany with the intention of traveling Australia for 4 months. When I met him, he was on year three of his travels and had lived throughout Australia, Asia, and now Canada. He hitch hiked throughout the first two continents and then decided he wanted to do something more challenging in Canada. Whenever Robert was low on money, he’d settle down for a bit and get a job, save up some money, and hit the road again. He had worked jobs in recreational outdoor sports, skii resorts, construction, and warehouse packaging, amongst others. He was a true nomad and had the purest travel spirit and ideology I had ever been lucky enough to partake in.

As I sat down with Robert and Clara for dinner our first night as a team, Clara vocalized the realization I was having. Clara said out loud, “I think Erick has just realized that this is his life. Meeting you has made him realize that, Robert.” She was totally on point. Robert’s attitude towards life and towards this bike trip put things into perspective for me: it’s not about going from Boston to L.A.; the bike is just a form of transportation but my life is wherever I happen to be. Many cyclists doing this sort of coast to coast trip are very focused on the riding aspect of it and covering distance and getting to the next place. And that’s totally fine–especially if you have a time limit. However, Robert’s carpe diem philosophy changed something in me and inspired me to fully embrace the nomadic lifestyle. Since then, I’ve started staying in places longer and am not hung up on getting back on my bike. I’ve met great people in Port Stanley, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis and have decided to slow down and stick around longer to really immerse myself in the serendipitous experiences that come about from spending time in a place.

Robert and I continue to keep in touch and think we might meet up somewhere on the west coast (he’s decided he’s riding all the way to Argentina since he has “[his] whole life to work”). Thank you for the inspiration, brother. Looking forward to a reunion and exchanging all our crazy stories, and maybe even crashing a wedding together.

When we parted I told Robert about how funny his set up looked and so I asked for his permission to take a picture of it (Location: park in Toronto)

Robert (from Milwaukee)

On my way from Madison, WI to St. Paul, MN, I stopped to use the restroom on a trail. While stopped, I struck up a conversation with a dude also on a bike with a pannier loaded on it. It turned out he was headed the same direction I was but was doing a shorter day than I; he was shooting for about 55 miles and I was shooting for about 120. We hopped back on the trail together and chatted while riding. He was a 30-year old social worker and father from Wisconsin who loved riding his bike. He was out for a weekend ride and his situation was the following: He had driven his car out from Milwaukee to the start of the trail we were on (about a 2-hour drive). His plan was to bike 55 miles that first day and grab a hotel in town for the night, then head out another 35 miles to LaCrosse, WI the following day and get a hotel there. His third day, he was going to chill out in LaCrosse and his girlfriend, who would be driving back from a conference in Minneapolis, would swing by for him in the afternoon and take him back to his car.

Here’s what ended up happening: That first day, Robert #2 and I ended up riding together all the way to LaCrosse, WI–about 90 miles. We had a great day of adventure and got in around 6 pm. There was still plenty of daylight left so I wanted to cover more distance but I got a flat getting into LaCrosse. My tire had a piece of glass stuck in it. I fixed it up with the good ol’ dollar bill trick (look it up, good to know) and was up and running again. However, this was only a very temporary fix and I didn’t want to put more miles on it than I had to. Robert offered me to crash with him at the hotel since he was getting a room anyway. All the bike shops in town were closed now and it didn’t make sense to get back on a gravel trail again with a bad tire so I took him up on his offer and bought him dinner and drinks. The next morning, I went to Smith’s bike shop down the street to see if I could get the tire patched. They didn’t do tire patching but the store owner, Erik, gave me a free tire!

Robert and I set out again. He had made it to his destination a day early so he didn’t really know where he was shooting for next. We decided to just stick together and see where we got. That day, we biked up the Mississippi River and got caught in the worst rainstorm I have ever been in. It poured with fury and winds that threatened to knock me off my bike. Not to mention, we were in the middle of climbing some big bluffs when the skies dumped on us. The shoulders were not fully useable since they became streams, little rivers. However, it had been a hot day and at this point I had gotten so used to the rain, so my reaction to the torrential rains? I started cracking up and screaming “WOOOOO!!!” at the top of my lungs. Yeah I’ve definitely reached a certain level of madness–I don’t know how I’ll go back to functioning in normal society. Robert probably thought I was insane but he was also really happy to have some water cool us down so we happily trekked on (or at least I was happy and having the time of my life!) After about an hour of climbing these bluffs in God’s fury piss, we reached the top of the bluffs and rain stopped. As the winds changed to tailwinds and the climbing became a beautiful downhill, we overlooked the Mississippi with a pink-orange backdrop. It was almost comical. It was as if we had just been crapped on and then got this as a reward for putting up with it. These are the moments I live for.

Drenched, we walked into a restaurant pub in the ghost town of Wabasha, MN. We were quite the sight. My plan this night was to get picked up by my cousin from Wabasha and driven to St. Paul. This would save me a day’s ride and I’d get to spend more time with my family in Minnesota. I plugged my phone in at the restaurant to check in with my cousin and let her know where I was only to find out that there were some car complications and the ride wasn’t happening. It was already pretty late at this point and there were going to be storms all night, so I split a room with Robert again at the AmericInn–the only night so far that I’ve payed for a place to stay. It was really nice having a warm bed to sleep in.

The next day Robert decided he was going to stop in Red Wing, MN and get picked up from a brewery there. He had originally intended to do 90 miles in two days and ended up joining me for 200+ miles over the course of those days. I was happy to have gotten to travel with him and he was glad he got to experience a snippet of the crazy long-distance touring life. I told him about Robert #1 because I found it (and still find it) fricken hilarious! I mean what are the odds? I’ve joined up with two cyclists on the road and they were both named Robert and shared similar life philosophies. They both agree that the other Robert sounds pretty cool. Robert #2 is also convinced that there will be a third.

– E

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What did you do in Milwaukee? http://bikewitheg.com/what-did-you-do-in-milwaukee/ http://bikewitheg.com/what-did-you-do-in-milwaukee/#respond Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:41:39 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=162 Continue reading "What did you do in Milwaukee?"

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Hey all!

I apologize for not posting for a few weeks. I’m taking the time now to write several posts that I’ve been meaning to write; currently sitting in a library in St. Paul, MN.

A couple weeks ago I was in Milwaukee, WI. I arrived on a Wednesday and stayed with Isabella–a delightfully charming grad student from NYC–through the WarmShowers website (a community for cyclists). It was her day off and she wanted to build a farmhouse-style dining table for her apartment. However, with my visit and her other plans, she ended up not having the time to do so. I got the idea to offer her my handy services: “I can build you a table tomorrow if I can crash another night.” She accepted and we started planning out what we wanted her table to look like.

The next morning I finalized my list of materials and rode my bicycle to the local hardware store 2 miles away and ordered all my cuts of pinewood (since she didn’t have a saw at home). Now came the first (and hardest) challenge: transporting all the lumber home on my bike. I ended up converting my bike into a wagon and tied all the lumber on top with utility cord. It took two trips back and forth. The pictures below show my ghetto wagon.

Trip 1 – lumber on sexy bike

Trip 2 – lumber on sexy bike

Once I had all the wood at Isabella’s place, I started building the table. Slapped some screws here, slapped some there. Smeared some glue there. And BAM I had the base built:

Then I secured some good-lookin 2 by 10’s to the apron and voila, a farmhouse dining table. Yes I did sand it, but no I didn’t varnish it; I left that for Isabella to do to her liking.

Front: Farmhouse dining table, Back: Couch I crashed on

So that’s what I did in Milwaukee, apart from checking out the Bastille Days celebration and making another really rad friend that I ended up crashing with for 2 nights.

Milwaukee is a really cool city, highly recommend in the summertime! As always, you can contact me for any recommendations of places to go/people to meet if you’re swinging by somewhere I have been on my travels.

– E

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Rough Night http://bikewitheg.com/rough-night/ http://bikewitheg.com/rough-night/#comments Tue, 04 Jul 2017 10:40:34 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=159 Continue reading "Rough Night"

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July 4, 2017

There have been several bumps in the road during my journey, but the last 8 hours have been the most stressful hours I have experienced since I set out. Here’s the story:

Yesterday (July 3), I woke up in Port Stanley, ON. My new friends there had convinced me to stay through the weekend and Jason offered to drive me to the Detroit-Windsor border yesterday so that I could make it to Ann Arbor by the 4th of July. The plan was solid, except that I wasn’t too sure how I was going to cross the bridge to get to Detroit on my bike. I had heard that it was impassible by bicycle and so I called the Port Authority yesterday morning to inquire; they said they couldn’t help and that I’d have to disassemble my bike, put it in a bag, and take a bus.

Jason dropped me off as close as he could to the border without crossing over the bridge and risking dealing with customs (for personal reasons). He left me at a McDonald’s and we parted ways around 9 pm. Here was my situation: I had checked out the bridge and it was absolutely impassable by bicycle, there were huge semis going on it every second at 60 MPH and no lane for pedestrians or bicycles. The bridge once had a pedestrian/cyclist path but it was removed years ago. It is also the busiest truck route between the U.S. and Canada. I was told that I could take a tunnel bus between downtown Windsor (in Canada) and Detroit. However, it turned out that in order to bring the bike on the bus I had to disassemble it and put it in a bike bag and they were very strict about this. I also found out that there was a Greyhound bus that went across but their bike policies were just as stringent. The other option was to bike to another border crossing but that would add another 4 days. Nonetheless, it was about 10 pm now and all of these options wouldn’t be available until at least 5:30 am the next day (today).

I sat there at the McDonald’s sorting out my game plan as I snacked on a loaf of bread. I started calling Uber drivers and seeing if anyone would take me across—I was turned down 5 times because the drivers either didn’t want to do it, or because they simply couldn’t due to their legal status. I began talking to strangers to see if maybe anyone was headed that way and could give me a ride—no luck.

I should also mention: last week, Clara lost her entire wallet so I gave her my credit card so that she could function; since then we’ve split and I don’t have that card anymore, but she definitely needed it. I had two other debit cards though, except for that I noticed that one of my cards was being charged hundreds of dollars by some sketchy website so I called my bank and had to freeze the account. So now I was down to one debit card, my emergency account, and it had $48 USD left in it, at least until my transfer that I put in 5 days ago finally goes through tomorrow (July 5).

So here I am: dangerously low on cash, no way to get my bike across, in a sketchy border city, and it’s now 11:00 pm. I start talking to this guy on a bike outside McDonald’s and he feels sorry for me so he gives me some loonies (Canadian dollars). I wasn’t begging and it totally caught me off guard when he did that, but then I realized I might actually need it so I thanked him for it and took it. I asked him if he knew where I could pitch a tent until it was morning and I could start sorting things out. He told me to follow him so I did. We biked across some railroad tracks and he brought me through one of the sketchiest neighborhoods I have ever seen—and I’m from L.A. It was a neighborhood that was completely abandoned; there were blocks of houses and not a single person lived in any of them. All the windows were nailed shut with wooden boards and marked with “NO TRESPASSING,” with graffiti here and there. It was straight out of a zombie apocalypse movie. He showed me an opening in a fence to the backyard of some of the homes and told me to be careful and pitch a tent out of sight. I did just that.

I took my chances and pitched a tent in an abandoned house next to the highway. I slept with my knife. I set my alarm for 3 am but my body woke me up at 2:55 am. I packed up and went back to the McDonald’s to charge my phone and bike lights. The lady there didn’t let me take my bike inside and I told her that it was my entire life and that I couldn’t leave the bike outside. She was really afraid of getting in trouble but she did me a favor and asked me to go around and opened a back door where I stored my bike. I went into the bathroom, filled up on water, brushed my teeth, and charged my electronics. I walked out of the McDonald’s at 4 am and was going to head over to the Greyhound to see if maybe I could convince somebody to let me smuggle the bike on the 5:30 am bus. As I exited the McDonald’s, a young guy approached me and told me he heard my story earlier. I told him, “yeah, I’m in a really shitty situation right now man.” He brainstormed some possibilities with me but nothing I hadn’t tried or could try until the morning. As we stood there talking, he pointed over to a large cab pulling over across the street. “Hey, what about that guy?” he said. I asked him to watch my bike as I ran over to the cab driver. I asked the driver how much he would charge to take me across the bridge. He began to add up numbers, “Well it’s a $25 fee for crossing the bridge, and then there’s the meter, and if they have a lot of questions for us then that’s a lot of time on the meter, and I’m about to go home. . . ” I cut him off, “I’ll give you $40. That’s all the money I have left.” He hesitated but seemed to take pity on me and replied, “OK. I do you this favor this one time.” He drove me to an ATM and I took out $40, leaving me with $8 now. He wanted me to hand over the cash right away but I told him that I couldn’t do that since this was all the money I had left. I wanted to at least be on the bridge. He said he needed the money and we argued but I realized that I just had to trust him since I had no leverage. I gave in and handed him the cash. Luckily, he didn’t screw me over. He drove me across the bridge and we were interrogated by U.S. Customs.

The border patrol officer first asked the driver what he was doing; the driver explained. He looked at me and then asked me where I was coming from. I gave him the shpeel—biking from Boston, came through Canada, trying to get back into the States. These guys are notorious for being able to keep a poker face but when I said that his eyes went wide and he cracked a smile that said, “no way buddy, are you crazy?” The slew of questions began and he asked me everything from where I was sleeping, to what I ate, to where I used the bathroom. This went on for about 5 minutes and then he asked to search the vehicle. He saw the bike, inspected my bags, and decided that I indeed was doing what I claimed to be doing. I told him how much of a headache crossing this bridge had been for me and he took pity. He approved my entrance and forced the cab driver to drive me to the safest place nearby, the Michigan Welcome Center. Never have I been so glad to be an American.

There was a Warm Showers host just on the other side of the bridge, Margo, who was out of town but had offered me her backyard a few days ago so I took her up on it and arrived at her home at 5 am. Holy crap was I relieved. I’m sitting in her house now writing this as the sun is rising. I can’t sleep, my survival instincts have kicked in pretty hard and I’m not tired.

I’m going to try and catch a snooze now, then bike over to my buddy’s place in Ann Arbor and celebrate the holiday with them. I’m going to buy as much bread as I can with my few bucks and that should get me to Ann Arbor without starving.

It’s been a stressful night but I know things always work out, because they just have to. If things don’t work out then that means I’m dead or seriously injured. But I’m not. Good thing I didn’t attempt to bike over that bridge because then I very well might have been. Anyways, I’m just ranting now. Thanks a lot to Jason, the lady at the McDonald’s, the young guy who saw the cab, the cab driver, the border patrol officer, and my friends who offered me help in any way they could.

– E

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A Day in the Life http://bikewitheg.com/a-day-in-the-life/ Fri, 30 Jun 2017 20:36:35 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=137 Continue reading "A Day in the Life"

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(June 30, 2017)

I’ve realized from talking to friends that I haven’t really done a good job of describing what my day to day activities and schedule are like. I thought I’d take this downtime to explain what a day in my life looks like.

Morning

I usually wake up for the first time around 6am, probably because of the day light. I then convince myself to go back to sleep and am up by 8am. Within 10 minutes (max) of being up, my body demands that I take care of morning business. If I’ve slept over at somebody’s home then usually the bathroom is part of the offer. But if I’ve slept outdoors, then I have to find a nice patch of wilderness somewhere to take care of things; I try to have this spot picked out before going to sleep the night before so that I don’t have to frantically find a place in the morning, I’ve had some close calls. Once that’s taken care of and my mind is at ease, I begin to pack up all my stuff: clothes, electronics, sleeping bag and tent (if I’ve used them that night, which is actually not too common). Once packed, I have breakfast. If I’ve slept outdoors then this is usually oatmeal and any other snacks I may have left. If I’ve slept over at somebody’s place, I often get offered breakfast–I’m spoiled very often. After that, I begin to plan my route for the day: choosing some goal destinations and studying the route there so as to minimize stopping to look at a map throughout the day. Oh I also make sure to have my gallon of water filled up for the day; this consists of a 750mL water bottle and a 3L camelbak.

Heading Out

Once packed and with a belly full of food, it’s time to say my goodbyes to anyone I may have to say bye to. Goodbyes are interesting; you always feel like you’ve taken a little bit of somebody else into the world and left behind a little of yourself. I then make my way to the closest grocery store (usually no more than an hour away) and stock up on food to snack on throughout the day. I usually buy a loaf of bread, some hummus, fruit (typically bananas and apples), deli items, and granola bars. At first, I was eating quite a bit of meat (if you know me, I’m a huge meat eater), but as time has passed I’ve actually grown to dislike the taste of meat more and more. I’m beginning to enjoy wheats, fruits, and vegetables a lot more. I feel more in touch with my body this way as well, being more aware of what is going into it.

Riding

After having stocked up on food for the day, it’s time to really start riding. I’m usually at full speed by 11 am, since waking up, packing up, saying goodbye, and grocery shopping takes up a lot of time. I’ll usually ride non-stop for about 2 hour intervals. Every 2 hours or so, I get massively hungry again and choose a nice spot to stop and eat and fill up water. However, I try to stop as little as possible and have gotten quite good at eating all sorts of food on my bicycle. I’ll often stuff a whole baguette, 10 bars, and bananas and apples in my jersey pockets so I can eat while I ride. I get funny looks from drivers passing by as they see me sitting on my bike with no hands on the handlebars peeling a banana and holding a baguette. I’m seriously considering getting a handlebar bag, though, to maximize my food carrying capacity and so that I can ride shirtless without having to worry about not having the jersey pockets.

Riding is a significant part of the journey. I usually don’t call it a day until about 6 or 7 pm. Most of the time on my bike is spent staring at things that go by–farms, animals, roadkill (I have a section in my journal dedicated to all the roadkill I see–it continues to break my heart), landscapes, signs, my legs, towns, trees, and CLOUDS. I spend so much of my day mesmerized by clouds! Since I was a wee kid I’ve been zoning out for hours looking at the clouds and now I get to do this all day without looking like a total airhead. I often remember places by the awesome clouds it had. Enjoy some pictures of clouds below:

Farm country in Ontario, Canada. As we were riding, to the right there were storm clouds and thunderstorms, and to the left there were clear blue skies. We were riding just on the edge of the storm and didn’t get rained on!

Troop of clouds storms Toronto

Riding into Toronto

These clouds didn’t move for days. Good memory of riding with Robert for a couple days, a German guy who I’ve yet to write about on this blog but who was a great part of my journey.

Swamp land outside of Ottawa

Clouds over Montreal

Sunset at Scott’s place in Vermont. The picture really doesn’t do it justice.

Hi there mr. cloud(:

Sunrise in Tinmouth, VT. Miss your house, Izzy–catch me in Mexico

Clouds over Elaine’s beautiful home in Saxtons River, VT

Saxtons River, VT

People sometimes ask me if I get bored on my bike. I don’t. I don’t get bored ever. Sometimes what keeps me distracted for hours is the mere sensation of feeling my muscles go. I get into this rhythm and I just keep pumping away until I realize I’m at my next destination. I think that’s why I started cycling in the first place–I love the consistent pain of my muscles and the feeling of pushing myself, and the speed. I especially love climbing hills. It keeps things interesting–the next challenge. Sounds masochistic but . . . well, I won’t excuse myself, maybe it is.

I usually cover about 60 miles/day. However, this varies a lot day by day depending on so many factors: how much food I’ve been eating, how hot it is out, how windy it is, what the road conditions are like, my mood, if I stopped to enjoy a swim or talk to people or take a nap, how widely available water is (which determines whether I carry a full water load or not), elevation change, etc. Once I get back on the road next week though I think I’ll be working towards an average of 80-100 miles/day, my legs want me to and I can’t deny them that.

Determining Where to Sleep

Once I decide that I’m pooped and don’t want to keep going anymore, I stop somewhere and have a meal. Sometimes I have a place to stay planned but most of the time I don’t. When I don’t, I often luck into a place to stay via conversation with strangers, but if not then I just knock on a door and ask to pitch a tent. You can read more about this in a previous post on this site so I won’t say more.

Settling In

The next thing on my priority list after a day of riding is a shower. If I’m offered a shower, great! If not, sometimes I get access to a hose and so I drench myself with that and use my biodegradable soap. I then wash my clothes and hang it up to dry if possible. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t make sense to shower or wash my clothes, such as if it is raining out and I have to pitch a tent, but this has only happened once or twice.

Actually, what takes priority over the shower is taking care of my bike. Before I shower, I’ll clean my chain and adjust any problems my bike may be having. It’s been holding up really well–I’ve only had one broken chain and one broken bolt on my back rack–things I’ve been able to MacGyver with my tools and supplies.

Having reentered civilization with a shower, I then start winding down and having yet another meal. By this time it’s usually around 9 pm and I’m pretty tired. And if I’m staying with somebody, I want to talk to the person and so this usually keeps me up until I express that it is past my bedtime. I think it’s rude to be taken into someone’s home and be given a shower and then not converse with them, not to mention that it’s also great talking to people, but this can also make it difficult to have time for myself to wind down. Ideally, before going to sleep I’d like to reflect in my journal or message/call people that I want to check in with but I often don’t have time for this and am fast asleep before I know it. This is also why I don’t post often to this blog. Once a week is good enough. It’s hard to find an hour of free time where I can have my laptop out and be connected to wifi.

I often think of posts I want to make in my head as I’m riding but can’t write simultaneously. A lovely friend suggested that I try recording or something of that sort, so maybe you’ll start seeing more vlogging from me in the future.

Random

What I’ve described above has been my typical schedule so far on days that I’m riding, but more and more, especially since Clara and I split, I’ve began to mix things up a lot more. For example, being in Port Stanley now, I’m just going with the flow and hanging with my new buds until it’s time to move on. The next big stop is Ann Arbor where I hope to reconnect with old friends or kindle friendships that never really bloomed. My plan is to make it there averaging about 80-100 miles a day. And then after that I’ll be heading to Chicago, then Milwaukee, then St. Paul/Minneapolis.

My only real deadline is that I hope to make it to the Rockies before they become impassable. Ideally, I will get to Washington state around mid to late August.

What I really enjoy about this lifestyle is how raw it is. I’m living life one day at a time and my concerns are pretty darn basic. I feel very in tune with my mind, my body, and my environment. This is a form of meditation for me.

Much love to all of you reading this. I’m glad I get to share these experiences with all of you and I hope that you won’t hesitate to reach out if you want to connect.

Much love

-E

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Canada Day Weekend http://bikewitheg.com/canada-day-weekend/ Fri, 30 Jun 2017 18:50:32 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=130 Continue reading "Canada Day Weekend"

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(June 30, 2017)

I’m currently in Port Stanley, Ontario–a small beach town right on the northern shore of Lake Erie.

Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada. I’ve sat on this bench a couple of times now and reveled in the beauty of the day.

Today marks my first month on the road, and holy cow has it been amazing. I’m feeling inspired to reflect today and so will probably write up a couple of posts.

Two days ago, I rode from Port Dover to Port Stanley, Ontario. I had no reason to come to Port Stanley other than that it was along my route and seemed like a good point on the map, in terms of how much mileage I wanted to cover that day. I got into town around 7 pm and was HUNGRY–an intense feeling I experience on average every 2 hours. I sat down at this bench (pictured above) to eat my sandwich, but across the street a pizza restaurant caught my attention. I wandered over there and ordered a whole pizza for myself. I got one of those looks from the waitress that I’ve grown accustomed to–the kind of look that says, “Are you serious? Is there somebody else coming? You’re not actually going to eat all this food.”

As I sat there peacefully devouring a great pizza, a guy sitting next to me asked me for, “Fuego. Amigo, tienes fuego?” Classic–a white guy assumingly practicing his Spanish with me. I replied to him in English and he continued to speak to me in Spanish, so then I switched to French. He was pretty drunk and I was pretty tired so it was a bit of a sloppy interaction but we got to talking. We exchanged travel stories and next thing I know, Chris Brown is offering me to crash on his couch. I turned the offer down initially since Clara had also found a place to stay in Port Stanley, but after hanging out with him and his buddies I felt right at home. Chris set me up with food, a shower, a place to sleep, and new friends.

Left: Chris Brown, Right: me

Left: Jason, Right: me, Background: Natasha

Since then, Chris and Jason have convinced me to stay in town for Canada Day weekend to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadia. It was a hard decision to make since I’ve gotten so used to moving along every day, but they’ve made me feel right at home and have shown me their home town through their lens. Clara (my biking buddy) has kept moving and is now back in the States but I’ve decided to stay back and experience how people live life around here.

Yesterday, Jason took us out for a nice drive and we stopped at his uncle’s property to go fishing. I had never tried it but was down for the experience. I ended up catching three fish and took the classic fish pictures:

Full jungle mode

 

Fish boy

We then went back to Chris’ place and grilled up some mean ribs and corn. The local corn here is so good! I also got to hang out with Mitch (Chris’ old time friend) and his friend Krista and her kids. Hanging out with Krista’s boys, Lucas (age 10) and Gavin (age 13), was so much fun. They got some new scooters yesterday and were hopping stairs with them. It reminded me so much of my childhood in L.A., skating around looking for new stairs and curbs to tackle with the boys. I hopped on their scooters and booked it down the hill–never too old for that. Jason also took the hill (a funny sight). Gavin then rolled his ankle trying some new stairs but he walked it off like a champ. We exchanged stories about broken bones and crazy tricks we’ve attempted. Gavin told me that he wants to start working but he can’t get a job because he’s too young. Krista, his mom, also agrees that he’s mature enough to work. Maybe he can start mowing some lawns or something.

I meandered over to the library today (where I’m currently writing this from) to reflect before the festivities tonight. I’m excited to see what new adventures will come about this weekend. I think I’ll spend some time now writing about what my schedule looks like most days, since I get asked about that a lot.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers!

-E

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Touring Magic http://bikewitheg.com/touring-magic/ Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:20:51 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=116 Continue reading "Touring Magic"

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(06/22/17) It is now midnight in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada as I write this. I just got back from seeing my favorite band live—the Red Hot Chili Peppers—FOR FREE. Now, in order to tell the story of how the orchestra of coincidence played out to make this possible, I have to backtrack a week.

Last Friday, Clara and I were riding from Ottawa to Tweed, Ontario—a 65-mile ride . . . or so we had planned. Heading out of Ottawa, we got on the TransCanada trail. At first, the ride was great: clear skies, car-free path, and nice pavement. But as we got further into the trail, it began to pour and the path became composed of either large rocks or no-traction sand. This trail was no longer for biking, not even mountain bikes, it was for ATVs and snowmobiles. However, our alternative was to be on a very busy highway running parallel that had large semis, no shoulder, and awful visibility due to the rain. We decided that this was still the safer option. We trekked through the almost unbikeable path, having to walk our fully loaded bikes across a few segments—the last thing a cyclist wants to have to do. Although, don’t get me wrong, it was a crazy beautiful trail.

Having only ridden about 30 miles and already being exhausted, we came across a sign that signaled an inn up ahead. We decided that it was worth calling it a day, especially since we had walked through poison ivy and really needed to wash ourselves and our clothes. We made it to Sharbot Lake Inn and settled in with a beer, hot food, and a beautiful lakeside view. As we chilled on our sweet deck looking out onto the lake, a couple some rooms down walked over and introduced themselves to us—Cindy and James. They had some great energy and we hit it off right away. We sat there talking about nothing and everything. In the conversation, it came up that James worked for Live Nation—a company that organizes large concerts in major cities throughout the world. James had met and driven around everyone from Elton John to ACDC to any major band/artist you can think of. And this one time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers spontaneously stopped at his house while one of their touring buses was being repaired and jumped around on his trampoline and shot the shit with him. James said, “They were great guys. No trouble with those guys. Super down to Earth.”

View from our room in Sharbot Lake Inn

I told James that they were my favorite band and jokingly asked him if he could get me tickets to their show. He pulled out his phone and said, “Let me see if they’re coming by any time soon . . . They just played a show in Ottawa.” Shit, we had just missed the show! James continued, “Wait a minute, they’re playing in Hamilton next week.” Me: “Isn’t that on the way to Niagara Falls? That’s exactly where we’ll be in a week!” James: “Yeah let me just text the Vice President of Live Nation Canada, I’m close with him . . . Yeah he says it’s alright. You have two tickets waiting for you in Hamilton.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck! James had just hooked it up! We exchanged information and parted ways. It was too good to be true, so I actually didn’t want to believe it. There were no ticket confirmations sent to me or any of that, all I had was James’ word that there were two tickets waiting for me under my name at the Hamilton box office. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

Fast forward a week later and we’re in Hamilton. The day before, I had messaged a bunch of WarmShowers hosts in Hamilton and all of them had shut me down. Except for one: Claudia. She later told me that she had also been turning everyone away because she is so busy but that she made an exception for me because I seemed to be so excited about this concert. And the best part was, she lived less than a 10-minute walk from the venue. We arrived in the city and walked over to the First Ontario Centre and stopped at a great Indian restaurant on the way (SHAMELESS PLUG: if you’re ever in Hamilton, Ontario, go to the Hamilton Hakka Indian Restaurant on York St.—this guy is a fantastic cook and such a fricken sweetheart, and such a good price!). We arrived at the venue and I still didn’t want to believe that there were actually tickets waiting for me. I went up to the box office and told them my name and they said, “one second.” They walked back and, sure enough, they had two tickets waiting for me. But maybe they were crappy seats—nope! We were in an area that the band gets to reserve for their guests so it was elevated above GA and we had a great view!

The concert was such a blast! I sang and danced my heart out—I have no voice left so you know it was good. And afterwards, I wanted to try to tell the band that I had biked all the way from Boston to make it to their show but I didn’t succeed in telling them personally. However, one of the crew members said they’d find the story amusing and gave me a guitar pick.

Free pick I got at the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert for trying to tell the band my story

I still can’t really believe that all of that happened but I attribute this not-so-uncommon luck to something I’ve taken to calling “Touring Magic.” It seems to be that people who are bike touring long distances end up in really bizarre and awesome situations. Who knows where Touring Magic will take me next.

– EG

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Challenges – Finding a Place to Sleep http://bikewitheg.com/challenges-finding-a-place-to-sleep/ Mon, 19 Jun 2017 02:18:29 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=103 Continue reading "Challenges – Finding a Place to Sleep"

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Every day brings about new challenges. Some of them are unforeseen, some are expected, and others we’re learning to expect. This post is the first in a series that elaborates on some of the challenges that we’ve faced and that are a consistent part of our trip.

Finding a Place to Sleep

This can be hard but is also one of the most fun parts of this adventure. Every single day we have to sleep, and most days we don’t really know where that will be. The first 10 days of the trip were pretty well planned and we had more or less a set place to shower, eat, and sleep each of those nights so we were really quite pampered. We managed to make it all the way to Montreal without having to use our tents once. Once we left Montreal and began heading to Toronto (the leg of the trip that we’re currently on), we left our radius of comfort where we knew people and had known homes to stay in. This is when finding a place to sleep became a challenge for the first time.

Our first night out of Montreal we made it to a town called Oka, in Ontario, Canada. It was not where we were trying to end up but we didn’t have anywhere to stay that night anyway so we stopped when we got tired. We found a nice little patch of grass right next to the Ottawa river–it was a gorgeous night and this would make a lovely spot to pitch a tent. Clara and I sat down on a bench in silence, admiring our find and reveling in the beauty of the oncoming sunset. As we sat there, I noticed three people walking towards us. They finally reached us and a man spoke to us, “Hey! Where are you coming from?” “Boston,” we replied. “Oh wow! Need a place to stay?” . . . That was the fastest we’ve secured a stay for the night. Danny, Loewis, Bryan, and their children Glorianna and Dennett turned out to be such sweet people. They gave us a room to sleep in and made us a delicious breakfast in the morning. (Glorianna, in case you read this: follow your gut, hop on your bike and ride! You won’t regret it.)

The following night we made it to our next destination: Montebello, Ontario. This town was more of a summer stay for tourist vacationers so there were really only hotels around. We had no idea where we were going to sleep but we were told it was a cool town to check out–I would say maybe that’s true if you’re looking for a nice riverside getaway and willing to pay too much for a hotel. OR, you can do what we did and pitch a tent in their public park! It was a great park with solid bathroom facilities with potable water–practically a free campsite. This was our first and only night of stealth camping so far.

First night of stealth camping in a public park (Montebello, Ontario, Canada)

After leaving Montebello, we headed for Ottawa, the capital of Canada. We were told that here we could find an old jail turned into a haunted hostel, and that if you managed to stay the night in the spooky room at the top it was free. This turned out to not be true, and they were entirely booked for the night. But they did have a sweet BBQ going so we stayed for hot dogs, burgers, live music, and some good times. Meanwhile, we also messaged people on Warm Showers, a platform that connects touring cyclists with other cyclists who are willing to host them while they travel … for free! We’ve used this a handful of times but it’s not always reliable since it’s so last minute. To be honest, this was the most concerned I’ve been so far about our sleeping situation. We were in a big city with nowhere to sleep and the sun was setting. Cities are rough. Even though I’m from central LA, this is something I’m really just beginning to learn firsthand as I am now technically homeless. I much prefer the countryside. After washing my clothes (and myself) in the bathroom of a mall in downtown Ottawa, I sat outside and watched the sun go down while writing in my journal. There was some fear present but I also knew things would work out, since they had to. As I calmed myself down mentally, we got a message from some Warm Showers hosts we had messaged–Jenn and Houston wanted to host us! We booked it to their place and they hosted us so kindly. A warm shower, a nice bed to sleep in, and breakfast in the morning.

Last night was pretty spectacular. We arrived in Kingston, Ontario (“the city of limestone”) in the late afternoon and checked our phones expecting to see that at least one of the 15 Warm Showers hosts we had messaged that morning had replied–not one had. We were in a crappy city situation yet again. We weren’t too worried though. We went over to a bike shop right before they closed to get some stuff done on Clara’s bike. As Clara talked to the mechanics, a woman approached me and asked us about our trip. We spoke and I mentioned to her that we were looking for a place to pitch our tents but it didn’t seem that there were any campgrounds nearby. She said, “let me make some calls” and walked away. She came back a few minutes later and very innocently said, “would you like to pitch a tent in our backyard?” I was totally caught off guard and I think Clara was too! We were so happy so we followed her to her house and met her husband Dan and their tenant/friend Julia. They invited us right in and we talked the night away and played games and music. Being with them truly felt like being with family. They had a very special family and you could just feel their loving vibes exuding from their being. It was truly a special stay and I’m excited to keep in touch with them. Thanks so much Dan, Sue, Julia, and Zach!

Left to right: Erick, Julia, Sue, Dan, Clara

Tonight, I’m writing this post from a barn in a town whose name I don’t know the name of. We didn’t make it as far as we had intended today–a consistent theme, and the topic for a coming post–but again, we didn’t really have a place to stay anyway, just a campground that we were aiming for. There was talk today about a storm that’s coming and we began to catch the first glimpses of it when we got to this town in the late afternoon, where we stopped for a pizza dinner. Considering how beat we were and the conditions that seemed to be a-brewing, we decided it would not be wise to continue forward. So after eating our pizza, we biked around and knocked on the first door we saw. We asked if we could pitch a tent and Lionel offered us the barn. At first he was was skeptical, as most people understandably are when we first knock, but then he warmed up to us. In fact, he warmed up to us so much that he left his own Father’s Day celebration to come talk to us. His daughter Jodie had to come get him and remind him that he had guests over who were waiting for him to open his presents. Lionel kind of just stared at her and we told him that he should go be with his friends and family. He continued staring at Jodie and then grunted and reluctantly agreed to resume his celebration.

Finding a place to sleep is something that we have to figure out every day but all in all hasn’t really proven to be very difficult. And that’s largely due to the fact that people are just so nice! We’ve yet to be turned away–though we have decided to decline an offer for a place to sleep because of a sketchy situation. Figuring out where to lay our heads to rest is probably the most exciting part of every day and so often brings us to some really wonderful people. I’m sure we’ll have to face some not so ideal situations at some points in the future but man is it an adventure!

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Wonderful People http://bikewitheg.com/wonderful-people/ Wed, 07 Jun 2017 04:56:13 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=87 Continue reading "Wonderful People"

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Today marks the seventh day of our trip (we are in Willsboro Point, NY). It’s been filled with ups and downs (literally and metaphorically), but all experiences nonetheless part of an amazing journey. A big part of what has made every day so incredible has been the people that we have had the good fortune of crossing paths with. This post is dedicated to elaborating on some of those interactions and remembering the people that have shown us love and support–we couldn’t have made it through the first week without you. Thank you.

Steve and “Oz”

On the second day of our journey, Clara and I were aiming to reach a small town in southern New Hampshire. However, for different reasons, it seemed that we were not going to make it. Tired and hungry, we stopped to eat our leftover pancakes and trail mix next to a beautiful little pond, Ward Pond, in northern central Mass. As we settled down, we saw two men sitting at the pond having some beers. We greeted them and they invited us over to sit by them and enjoy the scenery. They were both belligerently drunk but charming in a way that I imagine it would be meeting a well-intentioned version of the Duke and the King from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Some highlights from our conversation:

Auto-timer photo of us and Steve, the timing wasn’t quite right

Oz (40) is sitting down smoking a cigarette next to us, and Steve (64) is standing in front of him facing all of us, while trying from time to time to steal a cigarette from Oz’s hand. For some context, Oz and Steve had just met that day at a nearby town and had drunkenly stumbled 8 miles to Ward Pond. 

Steve (to Oz): “You know what the ONE THING I like about you is?”

Oz: “Shut up.”

Steve: “Hey Oz, you know what the ONE THING I like about you is?”

Oz is silent

Steve: “You know what it is?”

Clara: “He gives you beer?”

Steve (with a huge smile on his face): “EVERYTHING. The one thing I like about you is EVERYTHING”

Steve: “I can’t believe you’re gonna ride your bikes everywhere! You INSPIRE ME! … You know what? I’m gonna tell one of my girlfriends, ‘You need to get a backpack and some trail mix! We’re going!’ Tomorrow, I’m gonna buy a bike! Wow! You’ve INSPIRED ME”

Shortly thereafter, Oz walked away to his house nearby(where he graciously offered us a place to stay) and beckoned to Steve, who stayed chatting with us. A little time after, a patrol car rolled up to Oz’s house, and then a fire department vehicle. We didn’t know what was happening but it was getting late and it did not seem like a smart idea to stick around, so we packed up and kept moving. This brings me to Bill and Melinda…

Bill and Linda

It was too late to make it to our destination so we decided we wanted to camp out by the pond. We scouted the area and everything was private property, so we knocked on the door of a friendly looking house. A man in his 50s, perhaps, walked out:

Bill: “What’s up”

Me: “We’re biking across the country and were wondering if we could pitch a tent on your lawn.”

Bill: “Uhhh… that’s a weird request. Uhh hold up”

Goes inside and comes back outside with his girlfriend, Linda, then proceeds to have a conversation with her in front of us:

Bill: “What’ya think?”

Linda: “Uhh I don’t know. What do they want?”

Bill: “He says they wanna pitch a tent here.”

Linda: “I don’t know. I guess.”

Bill turns to us:

Bill: “What a weird request. Yeah I guess it’s alright. You wanna check it out? Go down and check it out”

We walk down and are faced with a patch of grass that sits facing the beautiful pond. We agree that this is definitely the place to stay.

Bill and Melinda’s backyard facing Ward Pond, where we stayed our second night

As we’re pitching our tents and settling in, Bill comes down and lets us know that there’s a sink downstairs that we could use if we want to fill up our water bottles. He then comes back a few minutes later and says, “There’s also a shower down there if you guys wanna use that to wash up and stuff.” A few minutes later, “If you guys get cold, you can also just put your sleeping bags inside and sleep on the floor.” Over the course of the evening, Bill continued to come down and offer us more and more, to the point where he had offered us the entire downstairs portion of his house, extension cords, extra lamps, the remote to his TV,  a ziploc bag well stocked with toiletries, and coffee in the morning. It was hard saying bye to Bill and Linda the next morning–we had become so comfortable with them and had shared a strangely quiet but deep connection. They shared their stories with us and welcomed us, strangers, into their home with the utmost sincerity.

This experience was a moving example of the sincere generosity that people can summon when faced with such a situation, such as a stranger asking for a shelter. And this is the kind of generosity that I continue to see every day from people, whether it’s to this extreme or people stopping to ask us if we need a warm place to stay and wait the rain out. I’m continually impressed by the beauty in people and how ubiquitous this kindness is, regardless of the type of town that we’re in.

From left to right: Linda, Bill, Clara, Erick

I wish to share more about the other wonderful people we have met along the way but it is far too late for me to be  up so I will have to continue this post tomorrow. Thanks for sharing these reflections with me. Goodnight from me.

-EG

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Setting Out http://bikewitheg.com/setting-out-day-2/ Thu, 01 Jun 2017 14:28:54 +0000 http://bikewitheg.com/?p=49 Continue reading "Setting Out"

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Proposed route

Yesterday (5/31/2017) marked the beginning of Clara and Erick’s bike trip around the U.S. (the map on the right more or less shows our planned route). Day 1 was supposed to be full of thunderstorms and rain throughout Massachusetts–but it wasn’t! We somehow managed to avoid rain the entirety of the day–a good omen.

 

Here’s a little bit about our day:

We planned on setting out at 9am and covering about 30 miles to Littleton, MA (from which I am currently writing this). In reality, we were out the door by 9:30am and then spent the next 2 hours figuring out how to best rig all our stuff onto our bikes then getting hungry and finding breakfast. After a little bit of fumbling we were ready and on the road!

Ready to ride!

We took the Minuteman Bike Path out of Somerville into Belmont and then hopped onto the Bay Circuit from Belmont to Concord. The Bay Circuit was a really cool dirt path in the middle of the woods (see images below) that was so much fun to ride! I very much recommend if you’re a cyclist in the Mass area.

Minuteman Bike Path, Massachusetts

Bay Circuit, Massachusetts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few other notable encounters from my ride included running into KILLER TREES and slow turtles crossing the road!

Beware the killer trees

There are slow turtles crossing here ..but not as slow as Clara and I

Once we arrived in Littleton, MA, I met Austin and Phoebe (with whom we stayed last night). We were so pumped to have arrived at our destination only to be asked by our hosts if we wanted to go back to Boston to ring some big ol’ church bells…. Hell yeah we wanted to! So we hopped in the car and drove back to the city that I had just said my sentimental goodbyes to. We climbed up to the top of the Advent Church on Beacon Hill to meet the historic North American Guild of Church Ringers and ring some fat bells (see video below)! We might be visiting some more churches along the way to continue ringing–stay tuned.

Lastly, I would like to apologize for my crappy blogging. I’m new to this but am confident that I will get better along the way if you bear with me(: Thanks for reading and feel free to message me to say hi!

– EG

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