By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano and Dale Coker
The last week before actually leaving for my bike tour was a blur. I had to vacate my dorm room at the college because all summer students were required to leave campus in preparation for the new fall semester. I ended up camping out on my landscape supervisor's couch for almost a week before leaving.
I also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in a small ceremony that part of my family attended. My dad had rented a small U-haul trailer to transport all my stuff that wasn't coming with me on the bike. I had to pack all that stuff and did a lousy job of it. I heard about that from my mom for quite awhile after my return home.
I'd already done two dress rehearsals for the first day of riding. I knew the route by heart. I had a planned campsite. Everything I needed along the route, I knew exactly where to get it. What could possibly go wrong?
Well for starters I could start later than I planned. I left the South Marengo apartments where Dale my supervisor lived on time and rolled over to the college student centre to say goodbye to a few friends. Saying goodbye ain't easy especially since we were from all over the world and I might never see some of them again. I talked to Darryl one of my best friends at college for a bit before making myself leave.
Riding conditions were not bad at all and some of the time got made up. I elected to walk up part of the Santa Susanna Pass because I didn't want to exhaust myself on the first day out. In spite of the head wind, I figured to make my goal a little after dark. Not ideal but not major problem.
The route started in Pasadena, California and basically cut straight west to the Pacific Ocean. La Canada, La Crescenta, Sun Valley, San Fernando, Simi Valley, Saticoy and Ventura would all be along my route. My objective for the day was a rest area part way between Ventura and Carpenteria. I didn't make it.
Just as it got dark I got a flat tire three or four miles short of my goal. This was unexpected because I had installed Mr. Tuffy tube protectors in the spring and hadn't had a flat since. I had no light (didn't plan to do anything in the dark) and as a result I couldn't repair it. I walked my load until I found a secluded corner I could sack out for the night.
Not a good campsite. The ground was too hard to put stakes in so my pup tent ended up being used as a ground sheet for me and my sleeping bag. My campsite was also on or near a large ant colony. Fortunately these were not biting ants. One of the first ones I discover though crawled into my ear. I slapped the side of my head stupidly trying to encourage him to leave. I just confused the little guy and I was asleep before he scrabbled his way back out. I had a miserable night's sleep.
First thing I did at the crack of dawn was repair my tire. A big thorn had holed the tube just beside the puncture resistant barrier. I thought those were a terrific idea because it reduced flats to almost zero. Part of me does understand the redneck urge to throw glass bottles out of fast moving cars hoping to see them explode into a million shards against something hard. The cyclist in me fumes about that idiocy. Some places I've toured I got flats at a rate of three a day. It gets old really fast.
From there I cycled to that original objective and ate my breakfast. I survived the first day on the road.