Sunday, 1 November 2009

The New Gang - Day 50 – 44 miles

I awoke to a thick wet fog and was amazed to see a guy sleeping without a tent. He was lying asleep in his sleeping bag on his thin inflatable mattress. It was pretty cold but when I asked him about it he'd had a good night's sleep and was perfectly happy with his minimal camping setup.

I spoke with an English guy who had been camped next to me. He was the first English person I'd met so far. It was good to experience dry cynicism again. His name was Dave and he was riding from Alaska to Argentina.

My hand was still swollen and painful but I was pleased to find it didn't hurt too much once on the bike. I altered my hand position to minimise further problems.

The ride started well, taking deserted, poorly maintained back-roads through farmland. Farming happens on a different scale in California to the way in which we do things back in England. It was interesting to see the endless fields of Brussel sprouts and artichoke extending to the horizon. Huge teams of Mexican farm workers tended the fields.

Later on I met with Dave again. We biked together and talked about Mexico. Dave had previously ridden through Africa so had a great deal of experience of riding through poorer countries with few amenities. I asked about how much water I should carry and various other concerns I had about biking through the desert.

My camera had been broken for a couple of days. It hasn't been quite right since I took it on the log flume at Thorpe Park just before my trip began. One of things I've really enjoyed on this trip is photographing some of the amazing things I see everyday. I noticed a Walmart near the bike path we were riding on so stopped by to look for a camera. I found a decent camera, it was a fair bit cheaper than I'd be able to get it for in England so I didn't feel too bad about having to spend all that money.

I entered Monterey and began a very steep climb to Vets Memorial State Park where I would be staying the night. Dave had already set up camp and so had the couple I'd met a couple of nights before at Half Moon Bay. A dirty, drunk old man walked into camp noisily talking at anybody who would listen. Dave bore the brunt of his monologue about the cyclists he'd met. He talked about the many nationalities of bikers and wide selection of bikes he'd come across. It was as if he thought his experience was unique. We have all of course met many different bikers throughout the course of our journey but he had no interest in anybody else's views or experiences. Obnoxious alcoholics like this can really ruin the usually friendly and safe feeling experienced in hiker/biker campgrounds. My tolerance for California's many outspoken transients was beginning to wear thin.

The best thing about my home for tonight was a long picnic table at the centre of the campground. This provided a good social place to gather for dinner. I started to get to know the couple I'd spoken to briefly a couple of days before. Their names were Chris and Brooke. They were on their honeymoon just like Beth and Brian. Also at the table were Luke and Jenna. I'd seen these 2 a few weeks back in Oregon but had never really spoken with them before. Everybody was in good spirits and we all had plenty of shared experiences to laugh about. We started to jokingly discuss forming a biker gang and agreed to meet up at a campground the next night.

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