Pat Walker and Bryan Novelo Adventure Time!!!
Pat Walker & Bryan Novelo Adventure Time!!! Ride Down The Coast: Hermosa Beach to San Diego.
A few years ago, when I first got the taste of “just maybe we can” in my world of cycling, my friends and I rode from LA to San Diego. We went along the 605 bike path to Seal Beach, turned left and followed a map street after street. We had never done it before and we were way younger. Most of it was totally ego based, a bunch of dudes riding slowly down the coast unwilling to give up because we cared so much, too much really, about what we looked like to the other dudes in the ride. Thinking back, the only really great thing about it was the fact that together we did something that the day before we thought impossible. We suffered together and were brought closer together. The ride? That sucked. We were way out of shape, we brought GU and electrolytes instead of food, on and on, it was all bad. But we did it and from that point on it was no longer an impossibility.
For some reason, I was still driven to push my distances on my track bike. I craved the destruction of what I thought was impossible. Most of the early group I went with didn’t follow in my pursuit so I just rode and rode and rode farther and farther. I eventually started meeting cyclists that followed the same motivation as I. People like Pat Flores and Bryan Novelo. Pat, I could write up a whole book on that dude, he’s the gnarliest dude I know on 2 wheels, hands down. I’ll post about him soon for sure. This one is about Bryan and me.
I met Bryan a few months ago at the SWRVE / Velo Love swap meet. He just moved into town and we decided to start riding together. Eventually he asked me if I had done the LA to SD ride before. I said I had and as I reflected back on how many times I thought I was going to either barf or faint last time, I came up with as many crappy excuses as to why I can’t go. Then I thought, things are different now, I’m in way better shape than I was before, Bryan is strong enough so we would both be close to even, and this time would be different. I had learned my lessons last time and could use that experience to make this ride super rad. So I hit up Bryan, looked at my work schedule, and we said “Fuck yes, let’s do this.”
This birthed a new idea…
We thought it would be super fun to start going on these epic rides, photographing them, and writing about them. We want to share about our experiences and show people that we are not pro cyclists. We have normal jobs, go to school, have a ton of outside responsibilities, basically we are just normal dudes with an unquenchable thirst for 2 wheeled adventures and we want to share this. More importantly, we want to share it in a way that it is approachable to anyone who wants to go on adventures but doesn’t think they can because they think with their full lives there’s no way to do it. To these people, I’m sorry but you are wrong. These adventures are open to anyone and everyone who has a bike and a passion to explore and experience. Go for it! Then let us know how it was, sharing is caring.
The ride started like every great adventure should, with a last minute disaster. One of our wheels stopped working. At 10:30pm. We were going to wake up at 4:30 to make the ride an early one. After going over all the possibilities, we realized we needed to do exactly what we didn’t want to and drive the beefy Cadence Truck from the shop in Hermosa Beach to my house in Pasadena to get one of my wheels. Sometimes you just gotta get out of the idea of what should happen and roll with what is happening. As soon as we got back to the shop, we crashed out dreading the 4:30am wake up. Luckily we started the ride with the less militant idea and more realistic idea of lets chill and sleep in a bit. We ended up leaving the shop at around 7:30. It’s important that we did because the openness to rolling with the punches that are delivered is the vibe that carried us down the coast as we decided to have a general idea of where we were going but more so followed the rule of “keep the ocean to the right, stay on PCH as much as possible, and just go”.
PCH from Hermosa Beach kinda sucks until you hit the Seal Beach-ish area. It’s just business and docks. It’s super industrial and normal city-ish. We took some cool photos of the giant towers of shipping containers as I remembered the last scenes of the movie I, Robot.
After stopping for a photo-op in front of 3 of the most beautiful cars I can imagine, we stopped in Seal Beach at a classic cyclist coffee shop stop point, Bogart’s Coffee House. We refueled and rode basically all the way to Laguna Beach for some epic tacos and delicious re-fueling health food.
The taco spot we stopped at was Taco Loco. It was so amazing. It turns out I had been there years ago and totally forgot about it. I wasn’t into healthy food back then so I couldn’t appreciate it. That just made me extra grateful that we stopped there this time. Food as fuel, the healthier the better. After the meal we did some exploring and ended up walking along a path to a beautiful beach called Sleepy Hollow.
We then rode along PCH stopping when we saw something amazing for a quick pic, like the dirt bicycle path along the beach and that raised to a walking bridge above the train tracks. This was the theme of the ride, as I was explaining before. Ride, relax, go fast, stop to shoot pics, and above all just have a whole lot of fun.
After a few more stops along the way we got to Camp Pendleton and the old 101. This was my favorite part. The old 101 is the highway that everyone used to travel south to San Diego before the I5 was built. The highway is still there but only as a bike path. It’s not well maintained, but it’s not too wrecked. There are super tall weeds and shrubs growing up out of what was the center divider and along the sides. As we were riding along, I realized that it was exactly what all our freeways would look like were the zombie apocalypse to come. Duh, right? It’s an abandoned highway, I should have expected that, but for some reason when I was on it, that idea was more real than if I were in chilling at home thinking about it. Super creepy to think about it like that.
Along the old 101 we stopped at a set of out houses to refuel and empty ourselves for the ride through the base because remembering the last time I did this ride, I know it’s just boring and shitty for 15 or so miles. We noticed that there was an open road west off of the main drag that lead to a giant concrete slab. I mean GIANT. I’m assuming it was for some military thing, like helicopter landing practices or something like that. This being a ride of fun and explorations we both thought we had a great photo-op / exploration potential there.
What we found other than a crazy giant spance of concrete in the middle of basically nowhere, were some of the most beautiful cliff formations I have ever seen. The cliffs led all the way down to the water. We sat, recollected, refocused and carried on. That break, that beauty, that surprise, was exactly what we needed. Focus, recollection, onward.
We continued riding along the coast mile after mile and I though about how much easier it was this time that last. I don’t ride every day, I have a car and I love my car. I ride when I can and try to push myself when I do it. That’s about the extent of my training. I was worried about the possibility that riding as little as I do wasn’t enough for a ride like this but apparently I was wrong. It wasn’t that big of a deal rally. Yah, my gooch hurt but after 120 miles on a track bike I don’t know how it wouldn’t.
The ride was epic, relaxing, and beautiful, until the end. This is the problem with this ride. Once you get in to SD you are faced with the Torry Pines climb. Fuck that climb. All day fuck that climb. Not only is it that climb, it the fact that after that, all though most of SD the route we were on was just huge down hill followed by a bigger uphill, then flat, wait, no, jus kidding, here another downhill and why not an uphill too! BLAH! The last 12 or 15 miles was the most exhausting part. It was unreal. At least at that point our bodies were so primed with adrenaline from the prior 100 or so miles that it was easier that just riding them. And hell yes I walked up a few. I was so tired at that point.
We finally got to Bryan’s friend’s house. We ate like fat-asses, as most cyclists are fat-asses on the inside, we relaxed a bit, and passed the hell out. In the morning we were woken by the daughter and high ruler of the household, Penelope. We played with her, ate some breakfast, hung out for a bit then departed to ride around down town San Diego before we got to the train, passed out, and arrived in LA.
The ride was exactly what I needed. I am so grateful for cycling because it brings people together like Bryan and I as we chase the pursuit of what we once though was impossible. I don’t know where I would be with out it but I do know that that place would be filled with far more insecurities and fears all based on the fact that I had not yet tried to face things that scare me. Now that I face them, now that I ride toward them, and now that I don’t do it alone, all I can think about is where are we going next. I know, Bryan knows, and you? Well you need to just wait and find out.
Until next time.