I am currently hosting touring cyclist, Greg Valenzuela, of www.thestarvingcyclist.org who is here recovering from being a little under the weather before he heads out for a year of cycle touring in Thailand and Southeast Asia on March 24. I picked him up in Marina Del Rey on March 6, and he will stay here the 18 days. Didn't know my first hosting gig would be more than one night, but I honestly asked him to stay as long as he needed to rest and recuperate, and I am delighted with him being here. I have known a little of Greg from his Facebook page as I follow many touring cyclists, and so when he indicated a need to hunker down and rest, I offered my apartment and went to get him. After cycling 22,000 miles since April 2012, he needs some R&R in a safe place not hopping from hostel to hostel hoping for rest and decent meals.
It has now been a week that he has been here, and good food and rest have made a lot of difference. I am still so happy to have him here. He gives me any information I need about touring, equipment, what to take and what not to take. I have the dog trailer that I thought I would take as just a regular trailer, but he thinks I should try to go without any trailer and just have panniers. Wow, really have to wrap my brain around that although I totally understand what he is saying. You see, I was thinking I was going to tour for several months and then settle down, but really, I don't want to settle down again. Would prefer to just travel by bike. I don't think I have much longer on this Earth anyhow before the Lord calls us home. Nevertheless I am planning for my journey as if He will tarry for a long time.
I've hitched the trailer to the bike twice and taken it out. The first time I took it to the beach on a round trip of 25 miles with no real issues. Then on March 9, Greg and I rode to my church about 6.5 miles away and I towed it again. Greg was hoping to ride to the beach but getting to church nearly did him in. The trouble was, it nearly did me in too. I couldn't figure out what was going on with the trailer, but I felt like I was slogging home. It didn't feel right. I pulled over wondering if I had a flat. Really couldn't put it together. I got back and was completely spent in a way that i wasn't even spent after riding nearly 100k. The next day at work when I was walking the bike down the hallway, I felt that same slogging, and I knew the brakes were rubbing. When I got home, Greg took a look at it and discovered I had a broken spoke and the wheel was out of true, which is why I slogged home from church (took me a couple of days to recover from that). Greg also said the wheels of the trailer needed to have the bearings greased, but he just doesn't think I should take that trailer at all so he didn't want me to put any money into any repairs on it. So we tallked about a Bob Yak trailer, which he thought was a better idea, but he still wants me to try to get away from the trailer idea at all.
But I've made a couple of missteps in buying stuff, like the sleeping bag and maybe the tent, but especially the sleeping bag which is just too dang bulky. Need something lighter and smaller.
We also talked about food. His feeling is to have a breakfast and dinner handy at all times for emergencies, maybe one other meal, but not much more than that. Here I was planning to take 7 days worth of food with me in case of emergency. But there is so much good will towards touring cyclists on the road that it is unnecessary.
One good thing is that he said my current bike would be fine for touring - with some modifications. When I said it was only aluminum, he said his Cannondale is aluminum and that it's a myth that touring bikes should be steel. In fact, he's put over 22,000 miles alone on his current bike. So while he is here I have ordered a new handlebar - butterfly, and a new Surly front fork to replace the mountain bike fork. Then I will get a Surly front rack and begin to build my Ortlieb pannier sets, including a handlebar bag. Oh, and fenders. Need those too, plus Schwalbe marathon tires. And then I will see if I still want a trailer. At least I am moving forward on the bike. Before he came I really wasn't sure what my next step was.
So I have about 10 more days to pick Greg's brain. Tomorrow we are going to REI in Santa Monica so he can get some parts and doodads. I'll have him take me to the sleeping bag section and show me what he thinks I should take. Maybe look at the tents too.
We were thinking of riding up to Leo Carillo State Beach this weekend to go bike camping because he wants me to test out all my gear and to know what it's like to ride a day and have to set up, then turn around the next day and do it again, but I don't think he's up to it, and now neither does he. We are going to try to go to the beach again this weekend. We'll see how he does. I won't be towing the trailer!! In the meantime I will be planning a time to go to Leo Carillo now that I know where camping is. I really didn't know where any Los Angeles camping was. I guess Point Mugu is another camping spot. Wish I had someone to walk me through it the first time, but perhaps going alone and figuring out stuff the hard way is the best way for me.