OC to SF with One Gear and No Fear
Greetings my name is Kumar. I just turned 22, but the story I’m about to tell goes back to when I was 13 years old living in Southern California.
In 2008 I discovered what I call a passion, but what others might call an obsession. I was at a friend’s house watching skate videos with the crew. We stumbled onto a video call “Macaframa Sf Track Bike Promo”, and “Mash SF intro 2007” on Youtube. This is a moment where my life changed. We got into cycling after watching the video over and over again at least 30 times. Our first builds were these ratty swap meet road bike conversions with Weinmann dp18, and chopped drop bars. We rode the piss out of these bikes. We were part of a local fixed gear forum where they held nightly group rides. Organ Donors on Monday nights used to be our regular ride putting down 20-30 miles a night with a solid group of 20+ people. While in high school we always talked about riding up to the bay area to ride the same hills as Macaframa and Mash folks. After we started driving most of the bikes got sold to pay for cars, and we rode less or stopped completely. I rode on and off for years after getting my license. I eventually sold out and bought into the whole work and school thing with no time for myself. I got a degree and quite my job as an EMT weeks before my 22nd birthday, so I decided for my birthday I wanted to check off cycling from so-cal to the bay area as my birthday present.
Messenger Bag Contents-12lbs
I left my house in Huntington Beach at 4am Sunday March 5th. I rode in the dark for about 2 hours cutting through Long Beach and Manhattan Beach before sunrise. My first break was at mile 50 at the Santa Monica Pier. The ride through Malibu on PCH was pleasant until it started raining around 10am. Malibu has one of the most beautiful coastal scenes in California. I had to pull over into a restaurant know as Neptune’s Net to put on my windbreaker and wrap my luggage in plastic. This restaurant may be familiar to some people as the restaurant from the first Fast and furious after Brian Walker races the Ferrari in the Supra. I stopped in a field by Point Mugu to pick some fresh strawberries for lunch. By this point it was 1pm and the wind was picking up. The rest of the day I rode against a North/West head wind from Ventura to Isla Vista my first stop. I have a friend going to school here, so they let me borrow their couch for a night. I got there around 6:30. Isla Vista is this crazy little town with UCSB at the center. Most of the residents are college students. Literally students littered the streets with bikes and skateboards. I thought I would have cramped up from the first day, but those gels and chews really help.
140 miles 14 hours
I left the smokey little college dorm around 5am Monday March 6th. I stayed coastal for about 20 miles until I had to cut onto the 101. I originally wanted to take the 1 all the way up through Big Sur, but the road was closed due to mudslides and extensive road damage by this season's winter storms. While on the 101 I experienced by first set of the rolling hills through Central California. I experienced a gain of 900ft in 14 miles from the coast to Solvang. I stopped in Solvang a Dutch themed town for a little snack and break. This little town is a trip. All the buildings look like they belong in a little village somewhere in Europe. I rode 36 miles of rolling hills on the 101 freeway north to Santa Maria my halfway point for day 2. I decided I would try to stick to the highway as much as possible so people could see me If anything were to happen to me. Google maps wanted me to cut through these small paved access roads through desolate farmland. I hated these roads because I went hours without seeing another person. It was kind of creepy. I made it to Santa Maria around 12pm. I had my lunch of Starkist tuna in a parking lot of a grocery store in the center of the city. I rode on the 101 til Arroyo Grande where I got on the 227 north towards San Luis Obispo my last stop for the day. I got there around 6:00pm. I had another friend of mine at the school that offered me a couch to crash one.
100 miles 11 hours
I left around 3am Tuesday March 7th in the dark to take a detour through Morro Bay. Morro bay is a peaceful little beach town with a huge rock in the middle of the bay that is amazing to look at. I cruised around the town for an hour before taking off. I got on the 41 heading back onto the 101. The rest of the scenery from this point on is extremely boring. It was a lot of farmland. I never need to see a farm again after riding this day. I rode about 50 miles to Bradley my halfway point. I had my usual jerky and tuna meal in a parking lot of a gas station until taking off to Greenfield which was another 50 miles away. Greenfield is a small town and I didn’t know anyone there. I decided to grab a little room here over nights for $40. I arrived around 2pm, and the little roach motel did the job providing shelter.
100 miles 11 hours
I departed at 5am Wednesday March 8th, before the crack of dawn. The air was cool and moist when I left the motel. I rode with a bandana over my face to help fend off the smell of manure. This was probably the worst day of the trip. It was all farm land, and cows as far as the eye could see. I didn’t enjoy this day at all. Gilroy was my mid way point. I didn’t stay in the city longer than 45min, because I just wanted to get the hell out of central California. I made it to my friends house in Newark around 9pm. I was really starting to feel the fatigue this day. What should have been a 12 hour ride turned into a 16 hour ride. I was moving at a snail’s pace.
130 miles 16 hours
I left Newark around 5:30am Thursday March 9th. Hooray It’s my birthday!!! I would of left later because it’s about 40 miles from Newark to San Francisco, but I had to catch a ferry across the SF bay at 7:30. I arrived at the Harbor Bay ferry with time to spare. I rode through the San Leandro/ Oakland Airport area with another cyclist for a few miles. Malvin Chua was the first person to wish me a happy birthday. We rode until he got to work, and I was at the ferry. I can’t explain the feeling I had on the ferry in the middle of the SF bay. It was something amazing. It was one of those feelings that only comes around a few times a lifetime. I landed at the Ferry Building in SF around 8:15. I was in the middle of the financial district. I headed west to the Outer Sunset neighborhood to meet up with my last friend. I got coffee with my friend, and hung out for a few hours until it was time to go time chasing the same hills in the old Mash and Macaframa videos.
O yea and I was featured on Mash SF's instagram.
I was extremely nervous leaving my first day, so nervous I vomited before reaching my first stop. I’m my line of work it’s called the feeling of impending doom. Normally when you have this feeling it means game over. That is how I started my ride. While riding the first few days the knots in my stomach disappeared. By the mid way point in Greenfield is where I started to feel confident in my decision to make the ride. The rest of the ride after that was history. I had my doubts and moments of fear during the ride, but these feelings were also accompanied by joy and amazement. I’ve never rode solo this far before, so this was the scariest part for me. This was not an easy ride by any means, but I was thinking the entire ride nothing worth having in life comes easy.