“Hey Mitch, what if we cycled from LA to Vancouver?” I said to Mitch. All of about three weeks ago, I pitched to Mitch this wild idea. Neither of us has any history cycling. We have never bike packed and I have a very vague understanding of bike mechanics. We are flying along on a whim and making this all up as we go. I wanted to document the journey to keep track of the stories, the miles, and the learnings along the way.

Day One: LA (Culver City) to Oxnard.

Date: Sunday, March 1st
Distance cycled: 93.7km
Moving time: 4 hours 40 minutes
1%er: At our lunch break, a local restaurant gave us some fries

Four days ago we arrived in Los Angeles with no bikes and a backpack each. I had a helmet and some pedals my friend lent me, and Mitch had nothing but two outfits and a passport. We packed light, very light. On our first day in LA, we arrived off the red-eye flight from Honolulu at 5:35 am and caught two buses to the valley of Topanga to a bike shop that had a respectable rating on google. Unfortunately, that bike shop was shut… on a Wednesday! We hitchhiked out of the valley and were dropped to another bike shop. It was at that bike shop that we both bought our bikes and from there, we spent the next 4 days gearing up and getting them ready to go.

Today, I started off a little on edge. I couldn’t find my headphones before the ride, wasn’t in the right headspace and was a little shaky with my clip-in shoes. As the kilometers ticked over, I found my way on the bike and started to take it all in. The coastal scenery was wonderful but we battled a huge headwind today. By the end of the ride, Mitch was battling from lack of nutrition. After lunch, I was feeling wonderful and was powering along well.

Tomorrow we ride to Santa Barbara.

Day Two: Oxnard to Isla Vista.

Date: Monday, March 2nd.
Distance cycled: 90.07km
Moving time: 4 hours
1%er: Meeting Zach Levet. Zach drove down from San Francisco to meet up with us, have a smoothie bowl and record a vlog for his running channel. (I’ll link the vlog here when it goes live.

The weather blessed us with blue skies and no wind today. We didn’t realise the impact the wind has until it wasn’t there. Riding into it non-stop yesterday was an absolute grind. We cruised through the first 70km with ease until we made it to Santa Barbara. Once again, we made stops every 10-mile (16km) or so to make sure we were hydrating adequately and eating well. We stuck along the coast for most of the ride today. My favorite parts of today were riding through Ventura and Santa Barbara. There were numerous soft spots that we spotted with dozens of surfers out competing to catch waves. With so many places to surf, I can see why surfing is such a big part of the Californian culture/identity.

In Santa Barbara, we made a quick stop into Fastrack cycles where we met store owner and ex-US Olympian Pursuit Cyclist Dave Lettieri. He was a wealth of knowledge and was wonderful to chat with. We bought some chain lube and tightened our pannier bolts which had already come loose.

After this, we had a smoothie bowl with Zach Levet. Zach was driving down from SF and put aside time to come and have a smoothie bowl with us. He also runs a youtube channel focused on running and travel. Zach lives out of his van and fills his days with running, adventures and creating content. It was awesome to hear about his running and creative endeavors. Meeting people on the road is one of my favorite things about traveling.

We finished the day in Isla Vista. We have accommodation tonight with a friend of Shelby who we stayed with at night one. It looks like we might be riding more than 100km tomorrow. I’m a little nervous because I’m not sure where we are going to stay tomorrow night. My legs are a little heavy, especially in the quads. My head is heaviest of them all. I’m looking forward to a good sleep tonight, hopefully, they have a comfortable couch.

Day Three: Isla Vista to Arroyo Grande.

Date: Tuesday, March 3rd.
Distance cycled: 146.83km
Moving time: 6 hours 40 minutes
1%er: We had our first puncture and were struggling to replace the tube. After an hour on the road two cyclists passing by, Ron and Amy, came to our rescue. We called them the ‘bike angels’.

Today was our biggest day yet. We set out with a lofty goal of riding a touch over 90 mile/145km. Looking briefly at the map last night, we decided there weren’t a huge amount of places to stay or refuel. Alas, it was time to go big.

We encountered the first flat tire of the trip. Along the H1, there are endless pieces of miscellaneous scrap that cover the shoulder of the road (or the lane that we ride in.) Unfortunately, Mitch rode over an extremely fine piece of steel and it went straight through his tube. Our bike repair skills are terribly amateur and we were struggling to replace the tube.
Our one-percenter of the day was when Amy & Ron, two local cyclists came to the rescue. Both being well versed in bike repair, cycling and replacing tubes, they were able to help us and get Mitch back rolling again in no time. After this, we pushed on for another 100km. Today was noticeably undulating compared to the first two days. Big hills had our legs burning. Over the next two days, we will close in on Big Sur.

Apart from the tube, we followed H1 and 101 for most of the day. I enjoyed the early part of the ride when were could still the ocean on our left side. As we ventured inland, the scenery was ‘less exciting’ turning into more industrial and farming landscapes.

Physically, my whole body felt heavy today. Riding further than I ever have and with my heaviest pack weight, it was destined to be a challenging day. I’ve found that I can get through about 4 hours of riding quite well. After that, it was noticeably tougher on my legs, particularly my quads. Taking the heavy pack up the hills killed me today.

Mentally, the kilometers didn’t seem to go that fast today. It’s funny how some times they fly by and other days they tick over so slowly. We booked an Airbnb in Arroyo Grande, we figured camping might be a bit tough after nearly 7 hours of sitting on the bike seat.

A moment I appreciated, was the downhill section 140km into the bike ride. I really felt like I earned the rest and could enjoy the brief moment of not having to pedal. It’s the little wins, you have to celebrate them.

If you haven’t yet, check out our podcast by searching WHYNOT LYNOTT on spotify, apple and all the others. What a day. Let’s hope the body pulls up well tomorrow. I think we’ll reel it in and aim for 90-100km tomorrow.

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