The LA Trip...

 my brother Dylan is now home and building strength.


The Trip was an experience.  I sat at Cedars-Sinai with Dylan for a number of days, i pretty much have lost track.

Once Dylan was home, and his initial follow up visit completed, I opted out of LA.  Loaded up the dummy and rode to Leo Carillo State Park Beach. 

From Malibu I rode to Ventura to visit with my dad and grandparents, give them the "LA Update".  I'm happy to say that 3 months since I've left Ventura, my family and I are on good terms.  

The next morning I rode from Ventura to Oxnard, and hopped on the AmTrak to Santa Barbara, then had to transfer from the train to an AmTrak Bus, which took me to Salinas, then as luck had it, i managed to get a shuttle ride to Monterey.  

Salinas to Union Station was $46

camping at Leo Carillo was $3

Oxnard to Salinas was $40

Salinas to Monterey was luck.

thats the short version.

The Story goes like this... (if you have the time)

    Dylan's trip into the hospital was unexpected, and coincided exactly with the finish of the Big Dummy, and good weather.  I choose to take the opportunity to do a shake down run with the Big Dummy, packing, and a trial run with "the whole kit"; that is, 4 man tipi, wood burning stove, liquid white gas stove, a small ultralight backpacking butane/alcohol stove, about a week's worth of foods, extra clothing, including rain gear, lights, batteries, laptop, iPod, digi cam, battery chargers, and support items for the bike, like tyres, tools, innertubes, etc.

    The bicycle/camping mode, I purposefully over packed.  Over packed I was, and to my elation's the mega load was not overtly objectionable.  Would I care to haul the approx 100lbs of cargo up into the hills on fire road, etc?  well... I think I'd think twice about it, and reduce.  But for a trip to SoCal, on the pavement, i never found an incline too step to climb comfortably.  Over all, I'm very pleased with the technical aspects of the trip.  there was little to no adjusting with the packing and strapping methods, things stayed secure, and the whole rig was a very effective method of travel.  this rig rocks!

    Now that I've been home for a day or two, I've sifted thru what i used and did not. the slimed down version, is what i think to be very much a dirt capable set up.

    I've been in Monterey now for 20 years, and my mind has come to pretty much always envision the out of doors.  things like The City of Angels is still an awkward environ for me.  With the Big Dummy, the big change being going to LA.  With that comes the use of infrastructure.  Suddenly now, my cognitive process has to deal with things like transferring from train to bus, going thru transit plazas, up and down concrete ramps, making my way thru a set of doors, and riding the loaded Dummy in LA traffic.  Suddenly infrastructure has become the most significant challenge with my choice lifestyle.

    To help make my way thru the infrastructure a few skills come to the forefront.  

1.  How to secure your bike and cargo.  img_9727_textmedium

PacSafe also cables to a fixed object.  in this case i cable the net to the bicycle.

IMG_9728I choose to use a big long cable lock and a PacSafe 120 stainless steel wire mesh net with brass lock.


with the cable and padlock, i've chosen a brass combo Masterlock with a long shackle.  this way i run the cable thru the front wheel, around/thru a fixed object, thru the frame of the bike, and lock the cable ends and pedal all together.

locked this way the rig is pretty secure.  its about 100lbs of cargo and totally cabled down.  however I do need to order a 2nd PacSafe 120 for the other duffel back, or backpack.

another skill is

2.  How to get your rig on and off a train in a quick manner.


this comes down to learning a method of lashing your duffels down.  you need to practice this over and over, and get a method down that is easy and fast.  I use 1" wide nylon strap, and use "trucker's knots" to tie/adjust the load.

whatever process you choose, it needs to be strong, dependable, and easy.  its modular nature needs to accommodate quick change.  from one thing to the next.  Loaded, riding down the road, to unloaded on the train, and stacked, then into the hold of a bus.


all the while

3.  Keeping track of important items, like laptop, cell phone, lights, paperwork, I.D., money, etc.  these things you cannot loose, or leave vulnerable to theft.  these things are what we used to call in the Army "Sensitive items", like your rifle, night vision devices, etc.  

the primary method, is to pack in a system of stuff sacks, duffle bags, and/or backpacks/messenger bags.  you need to be systematic.  a small hygiene bag needs to be quick access and able to toss into various larger bags, for different modes, like, on the road, riding the bike, or in camp, at the campgrounds in the tipi, or at home and having access to a shower, etc.

you have to keep things organized, and accounted for at all times.  you cannot afford to set down your bag and have your iPod get lost.  or how about a 4GB memory card?  can't loose things.  so pack accordingly.  packing alone is an Art.

4.  The Art of being friendly and thankful.

in The City I have discovered the value of "The Art of being friendly and thankful".  that is by large the most valuable tool you will ever learn.  obviously on the bicycle you are close, person to person, and sometimes riding along a sidewalk, making your way into a plaza to the bike racks.  on the bike we encounter people much more.  

Security is your friend!  I've come to vastly appreciate Security.  They are typically friendly, and helpful.  Be courteous and try to be in their eye.  that is to say, its safer to be near security, and with any luck, maybe there is a bike rack next to a kiosk or office.  choose these things.  choose to make friends.  that alone is probably gonna be the best method of prevention.  prevention of getting hurt, things stolen, or anything else that we'd like to avoid.

IMG_9819this is the bike rack right in front of the Security Office at The Beverly Connection in LA on Beverly Blvd & La Cienega.  it was perfect.  

    The trip from Salinas to Union Station was pretty easy.  I found the bus ride to San Luis Obispo to be almost empty, the staff very nice, and we didn't have to be on the road for too long without a break.  SLO to Union Station was easy.IMG_9757

    In SLO the conductor let my put the rig in the Baggage Car.  I lashed the bike to the cargo rails along the inside wall, and tossed in the duffel bags.  The train was pretty much empty going South.  The car i was in, maybe we had 6 people to the whole car. Entering SoCal more and more people piled in.   By 8pm the train was at Union Station.


    Around 9pm the rear tyre finally gave up a Slime clot that had been holding since sometime in Salinas.  My theory is that the weight of the payload kept flexing the tyre, and the clot kept breaking loose, until finally the tyre just blew green Slime all over the place.  9pm there i was, somewhere around Korea Town, along Wilshire Blvd, fixing a flat on a loaded rig.  To top it all off, the kickstand broke, and i learned how and when to use the kick stand.  so it goes that now, when the rig is loaded, I simply lay the bike on its side, onto the cargo.IMG_0026

along the way to my siblings house, this row of lights at the LA County Museum of Arts caught my attention.IMG_9806

right away Security showed up.

IMG_9804 their curiosity peaked by the Big Dummy and all the gear I was carrying.

    Once settled at my sister's house the days melted by, as I spent the time at the hospital visiting my brother until he was finally discharged about a week later.  Cedars-Sinai is a huge hospital. IMG_9814 everything in LA trips me out.  the sheer enormity, the sheer finance blows my mind, and of course the millions of people, their interactions, the general hustle bustle of city life is something so strange to me.  often i feel as if its an "Altered Reality", concrete jungles, and all the goings on of a life within that context..IMG_9831

seems like as soon as i got to Cedars Dylan was discharged from ICU, went to a step down unit, still on telemetry, another 24hrs past, then he was sent to a Med-Surg floor, where he stayed for a few days, then discharged home.  With Dylan's initial follow up visit with his MD after discharge.. once that was finished, i loaded up The Dummy and rolled out.  I had, had my fill of city life, and the ramble was calling me.

that afternoon i rode straight out Beverly Blvd to Santa Monica Blvd where i rode it right down to Santa Monica.IMG_9946

at PCH i turned right, and started North.  IMG_9949the bike path in Santa Monica, making my way under the Santa Monica Pier, is pure luxury.  the day was warm, the path clean level concrete for some distance.  Easy rollin.  

somewhere early into the city of Malibu i found a place to grab a bite to eat.  a mid way stop, and then it was to Leo Carillo State Park Beach. IMG_9958 Here I pitched the tipi made a fire in the stove, heated up tea, cleaned up, rummaged around thru all the stuff I brought.  massive amounts.  way too much.  but then again, that was the point to this trip and packing.  to experience what its like to "pack too much" and see how it is to actually move with it, get it thru doorways, on and off of busses and trains, etc.

I always like tipi time.  its one of my favorite places to be.  Leo Carillo State Park is nice, as far as car camping type campgrounds go.  the typical campground ruckus came to a stop exactly at 10pm.  my night was pleasant, as the frogs sang a chorus from the creek less than 50 feet away.

IMG_0008tipi time is great.  the fireplace really makes the experience.  WARMTH!  in this pic, notice the flame coming out the top of the chimney.  PURE HEAT!  

in the morning I found myself with a mind that was clear with the nights download complete, as the dreams would unfold, and i process the occurrences of my life.  A cup of coffee some breakfast, and i was wondering why i needed to even leave.  if i should stay another day, or what the deal was.  Suddenly that familiar feeling of no obligations, and the sense of being "On The Road" settled upon a surface layer of my mind.  

however truly being "On The Road" was not reality.  I was in Malibu, in SoCal, surrounded by masses, and my life in Monterey was beckoning.

Malibu to Ventura it was.  Ventura to visit Dad, Nana and Grandpa.  the stay was long enough and short enough to produce a pleasant visit.

Along PCH i passed the Malibu Rock.IMG_0025

coming into Pt. Mugu, a marshy area between the ocean and PCH, I caught sight of a Peregrine falcon in a dive, and narrowly missing a Sand Piper. 

soon i was at Missile Park 

IMG_0030as a kid i always loved to go to the Air Show, and to this day, I still enjoy visiting this little park.IMG_0033


Once in Ventura i found their Hallmark of massive road debris to still be a threat to safe bicycle passage.  the roads are full of glass, nails, screws, etc.  I suppose Ventura will never escape its destiny of being a bedroom community to LA.  Therefore the masses drive.  the infrastructure used mostly by motorists.

after my stay at my grandparent's house, I rode to Oxnard to catch the train back. along the way, more yet yet of the road debris.IMG_0045

this section is the bike path along the HWY 101 bridge spanning the Santa Clara River from Ventura to Oxnard.  its a beautiful piece of engineering, a huge amount of money was put into it.  Dad says it was something like $50M.  Here is the bike path portion of it.  its awesome!  its full of trash!  full of glass, gravel, etc.  signs of illicit activity string its length.  as the cars zoom by, it shows me what the community chooses.  my hunch is that the people that do use this bike path, simply don't have the privilege to speak up to their government(s).  So there it is.  a whole society confined to the fast pace life of SoCal Economy.

At the AmTrak station in Oxnard I was hoping to catch the Coast Starlight going to Seattle, but the train was full.  that was at 9:47am.  my next chance was 2pm on the Pacific Surfliner up to Santa Barbara, where I'd have to transfer to AmTrak Bus service.

a 4hr wait for the train, gave me a chance to ride around Oxnard a bit.  I found a Farmer's Market close by, where i ate pastries, drank coffee and talked to what seemed like a million people about bicycles, the Big Dummy, et al.  the hours flew by, next thing i knew it was about 1pm, and i needed to make my way back to the station to prep for boarding the train.


the train comes into the station, giving you only a few minutes to get everything aboard.  The Big Dummy does not fit into any AmTrak policy.  its length is awkward, and the two large duffel bags are an added concern. 

 Luckily the conductor let me put the BD aboard.IMG_0052

as you can see, it didn't exactly fit into the accommodations, and the duffel bags simply got tossed to the side.  

In Santa Barbara the AmTrak Bus was already there waiting, loaded with passengers.  it was a dash from the train to the bus.  get everything off the train, remove the WideLoaders from the rig, toss them in the FreeLoaders, put both panniers on the front rack, and place the 2 duffel bags sideways against each other on the SnapDeck and walk across the Train Station to the bus.


the bike goes under the bus in the cargo hold.  then it was from Santa Barbara to Salinas on bus.  Around 8pm the bus finally arrived in Salinas.  It was late, and I was preparing to ride back to Monterey.  About a 2hr ride that I had planned for.  At the station, I started reconfiguring the rig when someone calls out, "Last call to Monterey".  somehow an AmTrak shuttle was still there, that happened to be waiting for a late train.  I caught the shuttle and it dropped me off about 2 miles from home.

    All in all, the trip was a success.  I stayed with my family, Dylan went home, i visited family in Ventura, things seem to be somewhat smoothed over, and I'm living just far enough away to be healthy.  As to the technical aspects of the whole kit, everything worked as planned.  i broke a kickstand, and had 1 flat tyre.  The tipi was awesome, i love having a fireplace, i got good sleep, and the experience of using infrastructure was another successful mission chalked up to experience.

   $86 round trip to and from LA.  $3 for bicycle camping at Leo Carillo State Park Beach.