Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Quick Detour to Patagonia - Day 56 – 55 miles

We all woke early, a little bleary-eyed from the cocktails the night before. We packed away our tents, restoring Doug and Marian's immaculate lawn to its former glory. Marian very kindly made us a wonderful breakfast of porridge, bacon and hash browns. Having our breakfast cooked for us meant we were ready to be on the road an hour earlier than normal. We said our thanks and goodbyes to Doug and Marian and headed out.

Before long Luke got a puncture. We all stopped to lend our moral support while he patched his tube. The ride continued through some fairly complicated city riding. Jenna and Brooke had taken on the job of navigation so us boys just had to follow their lead without worrying about looking at maps.

I was riding much better today. My right knee was still a little uncomfortable but the hot tub and great food at Doug and Marian's had worked wonders on my physical and mental state.

Marian had previously worked for Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company. Last night she had suggested we drop in at her old workplace for lunch and a tour. We found Patagonia headquarters in Ventura and the 5 of us were met by Marian's friend Terri. After some introductions we were shown around the different parts of the company. We were led into a room filled with sewing machines and fabric where the team who put together prototypes of the new clothing work. The next part was my favourite. We talked to the guy who tests all the different products for water-resistance, breathability and just about anything else you could think of. He showed us all the different machines he uses for his tests. There was a sort of giant hoover that sucks air through fabric to test for wind-resistance. My favourite machine was the zip tester. It was a large machine with 4 pistons and a number of springs. Its sole purpose was to zip and unzip different zips. The machine would pull the zip up and down thousands of times to test for durability. I was amazed that anybody would make such a machine. Later we talked to one of the guys who work on environmental projects Patagonia is involved with. 1% of the company's profits are used to benefit environmental causes. I was interested to hear about the work they were doing to help animals follow their natural migration routes by creating safe pathways over and under roads and removing obstacles like barbed wire. As a migrating cyclist I could empathise with this cause. After the tour we ate lunch with Terri in the Patagonia cafe. She had done a very similar bike tour to the one we were doing back in 1981. It was interesting to hear about her experiences back then. We had a great time meeting all the guys at Patagonia and learning how the products we wear our designed and tested. Everybody who works there is passionate about outdoor activities so I think they were all pretty excited to hear about our trip.

The ride continued through city streets and bike paths alongside freeways. It was great that we were all riding together as it's so much safer and more fun for this kind of riding.

10 miles down the road we stopped for a toilet break at the side of the road. Everybody else apart from me (including the girls) was happy to go at the side of the road. I prefer more privacy so I rode my bike a way up a dirt road and found a private spot between a couple of Eucalyptus trees. Before I could get going I noticed a truck speeding towards me in the distance. I jumped back on the bike and sped back down the dirt track to the road and the laughter of my bike gang. I then spent an uncomfortable 30 minutes or so looking for another suitable spot to pee. One of the problems I have with the wide open spaces of Southern California is that I like to find a nice spot amongst some trees. The worry as I carefully tread into these more overgrown areas is that I will be bitten by a Rattlesnake.

Just before Leo Carrillo campground we stopped off at a grocery store for some beers. The campground was almost empty which was nice. Recently we have been avoiding the hiker/biker areas of the campgrounds and using the regular larger campsites. This is due to California's large population of bums and hobos that tend to frequent the hiker/biker areas at state parks.

We made dinner and had a campfire. It was Luke's last night before his trip ends tomorrow in LA. We will miss him of course, he's a really charming, fun guy. It is however only a couple of days before the gang will split up entirely in San Diego. This last section of the US since San Francisco has flown by. I still find it hard to believe that I am close to having cycled down the entire length of the country.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed your tour 'd patagonia. I really enjoyed hanging with you guys and living vicariously through your adventures. Brought back many good memories. Keep in touch!