Reflections on My Cycling Adventures So Far, Part I

Partially torn tibialis anterior tendon. Yes, I’ve torn the one on the inside of my right ankle, from riding my bike frequently on long distances. Surgery to repair the tendon is scheduled for Jan 5, 2023, so no cycling for me until March 2023, which has given me time to reflect. With the end of 2022 in sight, I’ve decided to chronicle my cycling adventures so far.

I’m not sure what first inspired me to travel by bike. Like many, the COVID lockdown forced me to find a way to get some exercise. In 2005, I had purchased a Diamondback Edgewood hybrid commuter bike. At the time I was just looking for basic cycling transportation. The Edgewood had plenty of gears, riser handlebars, suspension fork, dropper seat post and index shifting. It was easy to ride and handled hills and climbs fairly easily.

Prior to COVID, I had done a little bit of long-distance riding. In 2006 cyclists were allowed to bike the LA Marathon route, which I did, and a few years later did the same at the Pasadena Marathon.

2020, the first full year of COVID lockdown, I got serious about riding, starting with 10-mile rides and building up to 20-plus mile rides. Nothing fancy, just rides around the Palos Verdes Peninsula where I live. I could pedal down my driveway and in a minute be cycling along the Pacific Ocean.

Once I got more serious about cycling, I began to peruse the Internet to learn more about it. Which ultimately led me to websites dedicated to travel by bike, like the Adventure Cycling Association, which I consider the Rand McNally of bike mapping. I was amazed at the number of bike tours offered by the ACA. The thought of traveling by bike had never crossed my mind. Bike touring was a real thing!

Googling “bike touring” took me to YouTube channels on bike travel, where I discovered Ryan Van Duzer, riding his bike from Honduras to his home in Boulder CO, pulling his worldly belongings in a trailer behind his used Trek. So now bike touring has become bike packing, since he carried camping gear as well. But my takeaway was his message: you don’t need a fancy bike, just ride the one you’re with. “Get out there!” In other words, my Edgewood would have to do for any bike travel I might undertake. So be it.

Around the same time, I discovered Shift Bicycle, which at the time consisted of a mobile bike repair van operated by its owner, Jason Morin. Riding my bike around Malaga Cover, I spotted the Shift Bicycle van, looked up the contact info on the Internet, and made an appointment for a tune-up on my Edgewood, done right at my house. Jason advised me that my rear cassette was pretty worn, and the small cog was pretty much non-functional. I managed to hunt down a new wheelset and Jason installed a new cassette along with new brake and derailleur cables.

Then I began shopping for accessories on Amazon, purchasing a new rechargeable headlight and taillight combo, pannier racks front and rear, pannier bags, and a seat bag. New saddle? Check. New helmet? Check. I added fenders and new tires. Watching Ryan Van Duzer’s videos inspired me to buy an action camera. I found a cheap GoPro knock-off on eBay. Now I was ready to go someplace on my bike.

But where? I decided my first bike travel trip would start in Santa Barbara and wind its way down the Pacific Coast, eventually right to my front door in Palos Verdes Estates. My trip would coincide with Adventure Cycling’s Bike Travel Weekend. Let the adventure begin!

Author: brianbartleyberlin

Adventure cyclist. No spandex, carbon fiber or cleats. My ride is a 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker, made of steel, built to last.

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