Jan 21, 2011

One year anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of my arrival to California. Actually, it may have been yesterday, but let’s just say it’s today, and even if it was yesterday, then today would be the anniversary of the first time I woke up in California as its resident. So either way, I have an excuse to have a beer or two tonight. The drive to California was certainly an adventure in and of itself. Considering it was in the middle of January, I couldn’t wait to get out of Chicago and the cold, which is probably why I ended up driving almost 20 hours, non-stop (other than for gas). I don’t recall exactly where I stopped the first night, but do recall driving through the Texan panhandle. You might be wondering why I took that route as opposed to taking a straight shot on 80. Well, that was because that week saw epic snow all over the place, and I really didn’t feel like being snowed over in Wyoming. 

I recall stopping in New Mexico for lunch, at a Subway, it was in the mid 40s and the lady behind the counter asking me, “Is it cold enough for ya?” My response was, “Is THIS as cold as it gets here?” She said it was, in response to which I chuckled and told her I just drove from Chicago. 

Of course, only a few are so lucky as to have a 2500-mile drive be completely without incident. My VW GTI was bursting at the seams with stuff I had packed into it, and was also supporting two bikes and a pair of skis on the roof. About 1500 miles into my trip, I heard a creak in one of my Thule rails.

I think this pack job should qualify me for the title of Tetris grandmaster.
I promptly pulled over at the next gas station and examined the weird noise. Old Thule rails attached via one bold to a rail. The part onto which the bolt is tightened is welded into the rail and is about a size of a quarter. The increased creaking was due to a crack that had developed half way around that bolt – another good pull, and my MTB would have been suspended on the side of my car only by its rear tire, not good. So the first order of business was to swap my MTB and my TT bike as there is some significant weight differences and thus, less torque on the rail. The next challenge was figuring out how to secure it. Wal-Mart to the rescue! The lesson I learned that day is that duct tape and zip ties can hold pretty much anything in place. After a quick patchwork, I was ready to hit the road. (In case you are curious, the broken rail was returned to REI after two years of use with no questions asked and replaced with its newer, stronger counterpart).

Then, after some more driving, and another night in a hotel, I hit California and its beautiful desert, the rolling green hills (the few months out of the year they are not yellow) and the woods. It made me giddy with joy to think that I would soon be riding my bike all over this wonderful state. However, my first order of business was to take advantage of the epic snow in the Sierras and hit the slopes in Tahoe. In four years of skiing, itwas the first time I skied true, waist-deep powder and learned that I have still a lot to learn about skiing. 

I took my first ride in California on January 27, 2010. I was staying with friends in Mountain View for a bit before moving up to San Francisco, so chances are I hit something like Old La Honda, or Page Mill, but whatever it was, I was just happy to be on a bike in the middle of winter. Six thousand miles and five hundred thousand vertical feet later, I still feel very fortunate to be living and riding here and can honestly say that there was not a single day where I’ve regretted moving out this wonderful state.


  1. wow thats what a pack rat's car looks like.

  2. Good reason to celebrate! Cheers!