The End (for now)

I’ve been in Los Angeles now for over a week. If you didn’t catch my last post on here, COVID hit me hard at the last campsite before arriving in the city, and I’ve been doing a quarantine ever since.

I lucked out big time with places to crash. My little sister lives in the city, so she let me take over her studio apartment for a few days while I got through the thick of fever, chills, and body aches. She got some groceries and made some crazy healing teas for me. I was really thankful for that.

Come Thursday, however, I wouldn’t be able to stay at her place any longer. I was really worried about finding a new spot to recover in, as I needed to quarantine for at least another week before thinking about getting on a plane.

I sent out some messages in a panic and found another wonderful person in the Warm Showers community named Danny. He happened to be house-sitting for his partner, so his apartment in Koreatown was completely vacant and free. He’s letting me stay in his apartment, no questions asked, for a little over a week until my flight home so that I can get COVID-free before flying. Another Warm Showers host rescuing me from disaster!

During one of several days of doing nothing in the apartment, I booked a flight “home” to Florida. Well, by no means do I consider Florida my home, but that is where my converted van that I live out of is currently parked… at my other sister’s house.

I had wrestled with the decision to end the trip in Los Angeles or continue on to Mexico for a few days. Part of me really wanted to at least “finish” the first leg until San Diego, but the riding from here to there is reportedly very unenjoyable, industrial, and without good camping options. LA would be an easy spot to stop at, box up my bike, and get on a plane. Riding to San Diego just to say I did it was not appealing.

This entire trip has been an experience that I am glad I undertook, full of chance meetings with great people, beautiful landscapes, and the ups and downs that come with taking on the physical and mental challenges of cycling self-supported for such a long distance. I spent 42 days on the bike from Vancouver to Los Angeles, covering 1,798 miles (2,895 kilometers), and climbing 91,531 feet (27,898 meters) in elevation. This amounted to a grand total of 6.5 days of moving time on the bike at an average speed of 11 mph (about 18 km/h). Nuts!

I made lots of new friends and got to reconnect with old friends from high school and college as I passed through the cities they now live in. While the trip was extremely rewarding in many ways, I also don’t want to over-romanticize it.

There were more days than not where the cycling was really uninspiring, surrounded by constant traffic in places that are very accessible by vehicle. While I appreciate that my body was able to physically carry me such a long distance by my own power on a bike, it wasn’t the type of daily adventure that I truly crave.

Being around cars and constantly on asphalt left me in a constant state of being hyper-aware. I rarely got lost in my thoughts and entered a meditative state like when hiking, backpacking, kitesurfing… whenever I am out in nature really surrounded by unadulterated beauty, away from the distractions of the man-made world. This trip was a little too artificial for my tastes… but I am 100% happy I did it.

Getting ready to ship the bike.

Even though I have around 150 miles to go before completing the actual route, I know in my heart it is time to stop. COVID gave me a good excuse to call it, funnily enough, and I felt a sense of relief once I booked my flight back to Florida and had officially made my decision.

You can’t know how something will be until you try it. While I didn’t love road cycling as much as many of the other people I met along the journey did, I’m happy I embarked on the adventure. It was never about “finishing” the route for me. I even wrote in my journal before leaving Vancouver the following: “Cycling South 2022: Vancouver to Baja (or wherever I end up).” This was a reminder to not get stuck on getting to a specific spot… just to cycle and see where the world takes me, not to over-plan any part of the trip.

Now, it’s time to get thinking about and organizing the next adventures. The ideas are plentiful in my head!

I want to extend a sincere THANK YOU to everyone that hosted me and helped me along the way. This trip couldn’t have been possible without you all! And it certainly wouldn’t have been as fun. I’m excited to return and visit all the Warm Showers hosts-turned-friends when I have my van and am driving down the west coast in the near future.

Maybe I’ll come finish the LA to San Diego leg before tackling the Baja Divide in the future… who knows!