The 2600-mile Journey Comes to a Finish

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Hello hello! First, let me apologize for writing this post so late. As you know, we did our best to publish a blog post every Monday. I know you’ve probably been expecting a final blog post to recap our experiences of the final week and reflections on the trip. Unfortunately, it fell on me (Joe) the same week I started graduate school in a new city- Long Beach. So I haven’t had time to get around to it for obvious reasons but I finally found the time to work on it and sum everything up for you all!

Well,we did it! We successfully completed our trek from Seattle to San Diego by bicycle and finished August 20th, this past Sunday. Here’s a recap of the week leading up to it and after, you’ll find some of the main lessons we learned from being on the road.

DAY 70: Monday – August 15th, 2016

Santa Monica, CA

We woke up and waited for our friends from high school, Rob and Riley, to show up.To give some background, Rob moved to LA two years ago to pursue a career as an actor and Riley graduated from Azusa Pacific this year. Both are extremely close friends who belong to our immediate friend group growing up.  They hugged us then we hopped in Riley’s car and headed up for a “day in the city” in LA.

Not knowing where to go, Jordan suggested LACMA so we headed there. We took some fun photos next to the “picturesque” light post exhibit and then sat in the grass nearby and played Egyptian Ratscrew while reminiscing on life together.

Later, Riley asked to take us to Grand Central Market. I had never been there before and thought it was fascinating seeing all these little restaurants of different foods. We all purchased food and drinks and ate together. It was a cool atmosphere and a fun place to see in the city.

After, Riley invited us to her house to hang out and play Settlers of Catan-Jordan’s new favorite board game. We ate Little Caesar’s, hung out with her roommates and then decided to go to the movies and see Sausage Party.

The best part was that we had 20 minutes to get to the theater before the movie started. Riley said, “Don’t worry, it’s right down the street!” We hopped in the car, sped over and went to the window to purchase the tickets.

Riley went first. “I’d like one ticket for the 8:30 showing of Sausage Party”

“I’m sorry. There is no showing at 8:30 for that movie.” Confused, we looked at the screen as if the woman behind the counter was mistaken. It wasn’t up there.

Riley then looked to Rob and said, “Didn’t you say it was at 8:30?”

“Yeah, but it’s at this theater” showing her the address. Oops… We were at the wrong theater. We all laughed then quickly jogged back to the car and drove to the correct theater.

The movie was hilarious! It was definitely raunchy humor but didn’t fail to make us all cackle at the crude jokes Seth Rogen wrote. After the movie, Riley brought us back to the place we were staying at and we passed out.

 

DAY 71: Tuesday – August 16th, 2016

Santa Monica, CA to Long Beach, CA

We hugged Kendra goodbye and set out to the Apple Store in Santa Monica to fix Jordan’s iPhone. While Jordan was at the genius bar, I chatted with one of the security guards there. He was a super cool guy and even offered to keep an eye on our bikes which were right outside the store.

We rode to a Habit Burger about 10 miles down the road, ate lunch and then headed towards Long Beach.

Luckily, we found a place to stay last minute. My friend Sarah from U of A had messaged me telling me her older brother lived and worked in Long Beach. I messaged Zack and he offered to host us for two nights while I had my orientation for grad school.

That evening, Jordan’s other roommates from SDSU, Kyle and Conor picked us up and took us to Belmont Brewing Company in Long Beach to grab beers and burgers. Both of them are awesome guys. It was cool for me to meet almost all of Jordan’s roommates during our ride.

 

DAY 72: Wednesday – August 17th, 2016

Long Beach, CA

BEEP BEEP BEPP. 5am. Our wakeup time because Zack has to be at work at 6am and doesn’t have an extra key to the apartment. We woke up, got ready and then set out around 5:50am- our earliest start of the entire summer. The best part though was being up before the sun rises. It’s a beautiful thing. You feel like there is sooo much time in the world. We headed to a cafe called Fantastic Cafe that was close to CSULB’s campus. Then towards 8:30am, we head to the room where my grad school orientation was being held.

Jordan thought it was necessary to walk me in since someone on the trip asked if he were my father. I asked him not to but he did anyway, but luckily no one noticed him say, “Have a good day at school, Joey!”

I spent the majority of my orientation listening to different offices and groups come speak such as the Health Center, the Disabilities Resource Center, etc.

Around 4pm, I headed to Nordstrom’s Rack with Jordan to pick up a new shirt for the second day of orientation. Jordan and I ate dinner at In n’ Out and then went back to Zack’s and called it a day.

 

DAY 73: Thursday – August 18th, 2016

Long Beach, CA to Laguna, CA

Another early start for the day, we headed back to the same little cafe and I ordered in Spanish.

I attended my second day of orientation, which was more enjoyable because we had more opportunities to talk to each other. Since my degree is within the Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures department, most everyone teaches a language for their TAship. For one of the presentations, we had a professor simulate a first-day in a new language to remind us what it’s like. She taught us Armenian. It was so fascinating because I haven’t been in a situation like that since I first learned Spanish when I was in middle school. I felt scared and intimidated because she would say something in this unfamiliar language and then ask you to answer back. It was a wonderful reminder of what one experiences the first day in a new language class.

After lunch, I headed out early and met Jordan at a small coffee shop in Seal Beach. We headed out to Laguna! After about 30-40 miles, we stopped at my family’s favorite taco shop- Papa’s Tacos and waited for my family to pick us up from Highway 1 to take us to my mom and stepdad’s house in Laguna Niguel.

It was so nice to see my family after such a long period of time and to be in a familiar environment. We did laundry, showered and had comfortable beds to sleep in that night.

 

DAY 74: Friday – August 19th, 2016

Laguna, CA to Pacific Beach, CA

My mom fed us breakfast then dropped us off at Papa’s Tacos, the same exact place she picked us up from. I told her it was important to us that we don’t “cheat” any of the miles and that we HAD to be dropped off at the same place.

We rode hard and passed a lot of cool places likes Trestles and Oceanside. Jordan said he knew of a good place to eat lunch- Board and Brew in Carlsbad. We ate delicious sandwiches and chatted with a cool young couple over lunch.

After 60+ miles, we hit Pacific Beach. Riding on the boardwalk on a Friday afternoon, it was packed! Jordan ran into a few friends from SDSU and we stopped to chat. Then, we rode to the place we were staying- his friend Sarah, Alexa and Brooke’s- all girls he met freshman year. His friend Nick, who he also met freshman year and whose parents treated us near Bodega Bay in northern California, was also there to see us.

They took us to dinner at a cool joint down the street and we all had a great time eating and talking.

That evening, Jordan wanted to check out the Friday night scene so Nick, him and I walked around and went into a bar Jordan hadn’t seen before. We didn’t order anything but Jordan did say hi to a few friends from his fraternity. We walked back and headed to bed before our final day’s ride.

 

DAY 75: Saturday – August 20th, 2016

Pacific Beach, CA to Coronado Island, CA

The final day. The 75th day of our summer-long adventure. 75 days of living off nothing but our bikes and what we packed in our four panniers. It felt unreal waking up knowing just how quickly time had passed by.

Nick joined us for our last breakfast/diner experience. We ate a big breakfast down the street at a little restaurant and reminded ourselves that we were now 15 miles from the end of our trip. We said bye to Nick then cycled down the boardwalk.

Jordan ran into another friend whom he had met at SDSU named Cole. We said bye to her then cycled down the boardwalk a little longer before making a left to head to downtown San Diego. As soon as we made that left, serendipity found us yet again.

“Tanner?” Jordan said with a puzzled voice looking at a guy getting out of a car. I looked and couldn’t believe my eyes. Tanner Birt, a friend who Jordan and I grew up with since 8th grade was stepping out of an Uber.

We all laughed and hugged each other. What are the chances of us running into a friend from high school on the last day of our trip, here, in San Diego? Tanner didn’t have anything to do that weekend and decided to escape the Phoenix heat and head to San Diego.

The craziest part is that if we hadn’t run into Jordan’s friend Cole and chatted with her for a few minutes, we would have completely missed the window for running into Tanner. I still can’t believe it happened as I’m writing it now.

We said bye and headed back on the road towards downtown San Diego and eventually Coronado Island.

Close to the ferry port, I saw a truck for Perfect Bar, a company that Brooke, who we stayed with the night before, works for. Then, we noticed a food fair happening on a big grassy field to our left. Jordan said Brooke was probably there so we went by to say hello. We stopped and chatted with her for a while and they hooked us up with a good amount of Perfect Bars. They even said Perfect Bar would have sponsored us had we asked them before our trip! Oops! Guess we’ll have to reach out to them next trip 😉

We hopped on the ferry and headed to Coronado Island. Jordan and I couldn’t wipe big grins off our faces knowing this was it. We were coming to a close on our trip and soon, we’d begin new chapters in life.

On Coronado, we had to hurry because it was 11:15am and Google said it would take 40 minutes to get to the cove where Outdoor Outreach was holding activities with kids and wanted us to speak at noon. We booked it!

When we were almost there, we double checked the maps to make sure we didn’t pass it. Of course, we did anyway. We turned around and headed back where I noticed a bike path to go towards the water where a big group with kids in kayaks and on paddleboards. I couldn’t see my girlfriend or any family but we figured it had to be them. We came in a woman started cheering for us but then said, “Oh no! Your parents were expecting you on the other side! Go up this way and through the tunnel and you see them.”

Jordan and I looked at each other thinking, “Wait, what? How did they think we’d arrive?” We looked at each other, laughed, and thought, “Uh oh…They’re not going to expect us from this side.”

From the tunnel, we went left and soon after, saw a group from Outdoor Outreach and our parents holding big signs with their backs towards us. When we were about 15 feet away, we both yelled, “WOOOO!! YEAH” They all turned around unexpectedly and laughed.

“Oh no! You came from that side instead of the other side!” Cuyla said to us.

“Well, just go down there and act like you didn’t come from this side!”

We laughed and said, “Okay okay, we’ll act like this never happened!”

We went down about 50 feet, laughing and started to turn around when CRASH.

 

I fell. Joe down. Bicycle down. I was so excited to finish that I couldn’t contain all my energy and turned to widely and fell because I turned in sand. Luckily, I was okay but everyone witnessed my goof and all I could do was lay there and laugh. 2,700 miles and I couldn’t even keep myself together for the last 50 feet. It was a wonderful moment and a moment I will never ever forget. I got up and then we raced in with everyone cheering- exactly how we pictured us finishing in the first place. We hugged everyone and walked over to the Outdoor Outreach group on the other side.

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They were grilling burgers and dogs and we all ate together with the staff and the kids. Around 12, they asked Jordan and I to talk about ourselves, our trip and why we decided to ride for Outdoor Outreach.

This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The audience consisted of kids from the inner-city who attended a charter school in a low-income neighborhood in San Diego. There’s just like me and you- but a little younger and from a different background. We told them about the trip and told a few stories to give them a sense of what it was like riding from Seattle to San Diego. A few of them asked questions and really engaged with our stories.

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My favorite part was that Haley, Cuyla and Mallory from OO all commented on how attentive all the kids were when we were speaking. They said that usually doesn’t happen so it made Jordan and I feel like we sincerely connected with them about our journey.

We took a few pictures, hung out for a little longer and then said bye to everyone. Jordan and I hugged each other as he headed back to Phoenix and I headed to Laguna Niguel. It was weird for us to see bye. After being with each other for 75 days, it was sad to depart. Sure, we had a few arguments and didn’t always see eye to eye but we both grew a lot as individuals and learned from each other. Luckily, we will always have this incredible experience that will be with us for the rest of lives. We also agreed to plan a trip together every 4 years since we did this trip and a backpacking trip in Europe 4 years prior.

It’s extremely difficult to put my feelings into words for you to understand how Jordan and I felt at the end of this journey. Although I wrote this final post, Jordan worked with me and made sure I included anything that he felt he learned during this trip. The last part we want to share is the lessons we take away from this trip. Although there were several, here are the ones that stuck out the most:

 

Trust in others and ask for help

The world may seem like a dangerous place if you only judge it based on the news headlines, but it really isn’t. Most people are good-hearted. During our 75 days on the world, the majority of people who let us camp in their yard or shared a meal with us were strangers. They opened up their lives and helped us when we needed it. All you have to do is ask.

 

People like company

Yes, you’ll see people on their phones, computers or busy with another person but don’t let that stop you from striking up a conversation. Most people we met on the road were curious when they saw us with all our gear. A lot of them were afraid to ask what we were doing so we took the initiative. We asked strangers the small questions like, “What’s this town known for? Is it busy in the summer? What’s the best way to get to X city?” Yes, it was mostly small talk but those conversations made people light up with joy. People either love to talk or love to listen, and when you start talking to them, they get to do both! Always always go out of your way to say hello to a stranger- even if it’s only a few sentences. You’ll make someone’s day. I guarantee it.

 

Challenge yourself- you’re capable of more than you think

Neither Jordan nor myself had done much touring to prepare for our trip. Both of us did some cycling beforehand but never anything super serious. Heck, Jordan didn’t start riding on a regular basis until January 2016. He went out, bought a touring bike and then rode a few days a week. He never even rode more than 40 miles in one day before we left. It shows that you don’t need a lot of training to complete a long distance bicycling tour. Anyone can do it! Even on the road, we met people traveling with kids and people older than us. Don’t ever let age be the limiting factor in something you want to do. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you.

 

Last, please reach out to either Jordan or myself if you find yourself even slightly considering doing a similar trip! We are so happy to share the knowledge and experience we gained. You can reach out to us here, on Facebook, Instagram or on our contact page of this blog or by email thebendableroad at gmail.

 

Thank you to everyone for following along with our journey and supporting us! We hope you’ve enjoyed living vicariously through our blog posts and that you’ve felt inspired to go outside and find your own adventure 🙂

Written by Joe Previte

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