This trip from Vancouver to San Diego is one big trail connected by roads, bridges, tunnels, and ferries. Along this long trail are at least hundreds of bikers doing different parts of the route. During this journey, I’m lucky enough to meet maybe 50 of these people and spend around 5% of the time I bike with others. While this is only a small fraction of the people cycling, and I only see each person in small spurts, the interactions make a huge difference in how the journey feels.
These people make every difficult patch feel easier and every beautiful spot seem more breathtaking. We’re all bonded together by the trail. I almost never stick with someone for more than a day. Sometimes we’ll catch up with each other and other times that’s all we get. But even if people pass and I know I won’t likely see them for the rest of the trip, I feel very connected to them. They’ve become sort of like a family.
I’ve been meeting people from all over the world on this trip. Some are very intense and focused on speed. Others are stoked to get to the next campground so they can drink. I’d like to highlight some of the fellow bikers I’ve met so far so you can see how very different, and yet the same, they’ve been. I’m definitely going to forget somebody and/or misspell someone’s name. Hopefully they realize that even if they aren’t on this list, I appreciate the trail bond between us.
Sean: I’ve bumped into this British guy the most over the last few weeks. I try to get rid of him, but he keeps coming back. He’s definitely a more fit cyclist than me, but somehow I keep catching up to him. Maybe he’s lazy or his terrible coffee isn’t giving him much energy. All jokes aside, I love his sense of humor and he’s a lot of fun. We laugh until my bones hurt. If we read the blog post from a couple weeks ago about my broken spokes, this is the guy that warned me of my wobbly wheel.
Joschka: This guy from Germany, whether he realizes it or not, is a huge motivator for me. When I’m riding uphill with people, I like to keep up. I’m competitive. A few weeks ago we were going up this really big hill. Joschka was cruising up it pretty fast so I busted my butt to keep up with him. It made me feel like the whole ride up to that point I had only been using 60% of my energy. It was clear that if I pushed harder I could do much more. He got injured (drive safely, people) and it really solidified how connected we all are to each other. All of the bike riders felt for him and hope for his speedy recovery.
Biological family: I met a cool family that had a husband, wife, and son. They’re touring from Canada. This family is taking the year off for adventures and spending a month of that biking.
Touring family: There is this one group that has adopted other tourers into a great pack that has been riding together for some time. We went to dinner together and they really operated in a family style. One of these people is Cole. We mesh really well together. He had an instrument with him and ever since I met him I’ve been going into music stores looking for a little instrument I could buy. I was pretty close to buying a full-size banjo, but thought better of it.
Couples: Major shoutout to couples who tour together. I’ve seen two types. Sometimes it seems like one person is super into touring and the other is there just to make their partner happy. Other times both people are really into the trip. Ali and Jarney are the type who are clearly awesome at traveling together. They’re professional tree planters who have planted countless trees in Canada. Since it isn’t tree planting season, they’re biking. This pair gave off the most wonderful aura and a really great vibe.
Melanie & Michele: These Swiss girls are hilarious. Nothing felt too serious with them. It’s super easy to be goofy with them. They are a great example of why people matter on this trip. On a really rough day I met up with them and a few other people at a campsite and we all went to a great grill and pub. It’s great to be social with people and look forward to hanging out with them.
At the beginning of this trip, I used to be really excited to stay in hotels. My experience now is starkly different. A bit back I went to a motel in Monterey, CA and instead feeling excited, I missed all my biking friends. When you get to campsites and see bikers you’ve met, it doesn’t feel like you’re on an isolated journey. It just feels like you’re going camping with friends. As much as my trip’s trail is joined by roads and bridges, the people are what really connects everything.