Totally should… Be a good sport

Who’s this guy?

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That’s Jeff, and he just hustled me out of a few bucks. I’ve been living and working in San Francisco and Oakland for over eight years now- how’d that happen??

Well, I guess it started a few weeks ago as I was getting used to riding down the coast, living life at a slower pace and interacting with people in a different way. On the road you might be alone for hours at a time, except for the occasional car whizzing by, and only run into people outside of cars in small groups. Usually you’ve all been traveling, either on a bike or at least on vacation, and you have some common ground to talk about. Folks say hello, and they really do ask how you’re doing and check to make sure you’re OK, make sure you’re not out of water or anything, and it’s really pretty odd not to make a little small talk. It wasn’t just me, it’s really a thing as you get away from the metropolis.

I was used to taking a little time to chat, and not being rude to people because sometimes those little interactions made a big difference between a free (or cheap and delicious) meal, and wasting time pushing on to the next town to eat dehydrated food in a KOA. It’s amazing how much a little communication can benefit everybody, and how we really don’t connect with anybody in the big city.

I hadn’t really been reminded to put the walls back up yet when Jeff said hello. He was shining shoes, and realized that he couldn’t shine my sneakers. He started to ask me a question about them, and I did what I’ve been doing for the last month- I stopped to talk to a stranger. He launched a well practiced hustle, and before I knew it the dude was washing my sneakers.

So there I was, Jeff’s scrubbing away, an obviously I didn’t agree to a service or a price. Deep down I had known before breaking my stride that nothing good could come of stopping to talk to a guy shining shoes in downtown San Francisco on a Saturday afternoon, and even after he squirted some cleaner on some toes I knew that I wouldn’t have been out of bounds to just walk away. I could have gotten pissed off and argued about what he was doing. I could have been upset and felt like a dummy about falling for such a simple trick. I could have probably threatened to call the cops, or walked over to Occupy SF to see one in person.

Instead, I decided I’d go ahead and pay him. Rather than get bent out of shape over a couple of bucks or somebody being leas than neighborly to me, I considered it a lesson, bought and aid for.

Planning another ride… for BORP!

While I have your attention, I’d like to get a little publicity for something I’m doing this October. Since about 2007 I’ve been volunteering for BORP, the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program. BORP provides sports and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities, and runs programs for wheelchair basketball, power soccer, goalball, adaptive cycling- they have a great website if you want to check out what else they do!

I am the team equipment manager for the three power soccer teams, and the equipment specification committee chairman for the national organization. I helped with the US national team in their journey to win the 2011 FIPFA world cup in Paris, France. Power Soccer is a sport played by athletes who use electric wheelchairs to strike a 13 inch soccer ball with cage-like guards around their feet in the front of the chair. The sport is played on in an indoor basketball court with four players per team.

I am trying to raise at least $750 for BORP as I ride 65 miles in October. The page to donate is here:

http://borp.kintera.org/joecarrow

If you want to ride with me let me know! If you want to help more, you can send my donation page to your friends, corporate philanthropy contacts, or your family. That would be great! Even if you donate you should totally do that!

As an added incentive to donate, I am offering something special this year. If you liked the pictures from my bike tour, then or the rest of my Flickr photo stream, then I will send you a print for your donation! I hope it’s something that will make people more likely to donate (not less!), so here it goes!

  • For a $25 donation I will send you a post card sized print from the bike tour set.
  • For a $50 donation I will send an 8×10 print from any of my Flickr galleries.
  • For a $100 donation I will send three 8×10 print from any of my Flickr galleries.
  • For a $250 donation I will send three 8×10 prints, and one mounted print up to 14″ on a side.
  • For a $750 donation I will send the above, plus a mounted print up to 24″ on a side.
  • For a $5,000 donation, I will fly anywhere in the USA to do a photo shoot, and give you the above prints plus a framed print up to 24×36.

After you make a donation, just email me at joe@totallyshould.com to let me know which picture(s) you want. Prints will go out approximately a week after the ride. If you want to donate but don’t want a print, that’s OK too.

Another story from the road

I’ve kept in touch with a couple of new friends from the road, and I just heard from my Dutch friend, Ferdinand, and he told me another story that I’m happy didn’t happen to me (but easily could have).

If you recall, I had a hard time finding my way to the proper route across the Golden Gate bridge. In Sausalito people were less friendly than they had been for the rest of the trip, and I had trouble getting directions. It’s not that the people are different, it’s just a different environment. It was a transition from a rural countryside to the halo of a bustling city of a million people. There were signs, and advertisements, separate bike paths and bike lanes, and numbered streets going in every direction. If you were paying close attention, you’d notice that my picture in front of the golden gate was at least a hundred feet above the bridge. Did I really chose to climb a huge hill at the end of my journey for a photo? No I did not! I followed what I thought was the route, and ended up on top of the Marin Headlands looking down at the bridge I wanted to cross. It’s OK though, it was a nice view.

What happened to Ferdinand was worse. He continued on highway 101, and missed the sign that said “no bicycles!”. The traffic became very dense, and the shoulder disappeared completely. There was no safe way to continue across the bridge, so he called 911 from his cell phone. The police shut down traffic across that section of the bridge and a motorcycle cop came and towed him off of the bridge! If anybody reading this has a picture or video, please email me! He didn’t get one because he was holding onto a police motorcycle and a touring bike.

Done riding??

It’s strange being back!

For the last month I have experienced things differently. Whether these count as leaving my comfort zone, or they are just a symptom of changing scenery, some changes from the norm include:

  • Maintaining an average velocity of 1.8 mph for 27 days.
  • Consuming over 3,000 calories daily (including bacon, beer, donuts, and pasta) and losing ten pounds
  • Blogging two and a half times daily.
  • Taking an average of 35 pictures per day without days off.
  • Talking to strangers every day.
  • Making new friends. (Should this be on the list? Why is it harder to make new friends at 30 than at 20?)
  • Flirting.
  • Receiving unsolicited hot food from strangers.
  • Reading food containers trying to maximize calories per dollar and per pound.
  • Finding fruit by the road and eating it.

So what do I do now? I had to mentally shift gears as I walked into the grocery store tonight. I was able to buy things that require refrigeration, and I had to think about meals that are appropriate to my reduced level of activity. I lost some weight on this trip, and although that wasn’t the point of any of this it would be cool to keep it off or continue to lose a few more pounds. If I go back to how I’ve been eating for the last month, I’ll outgrow my pants in no time! I also found that it didn’t feel right to just sit around all day, and I needed to go climb the Lake Chabot hill on my bike just to get the blood moving. If this trip turned me on to regular exercise, how weird is that?!?

The “plan” now is to find a job as an engineer, and to move into my own apartment. In the meanwhile, I am aiming to get rid of some of my physical possessions and to work on a couple of projects that will get their own pages here. Keep an eye out, and I’ll have more here soon.

 

Day 27 (2)

I’m sitting in Sausalito having a sandwich, drinking a coke, and looking at the bay bridge. I made it!

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It was such a culture shock when I made it into Marin/Saualito. I was suddenly surrounded by traffic, and had a choice of bike paths, bike lanes, and signs, and I needed to know which way to ride to make it to the bridge. I was at an intersection and tried to stop about ten cyclists to ask this simple thing, but they were all headphones and heart rate monitors, and I couldn’t get a glint of recognition through their silvered wraparound sunglasses. It’s totally different from the way people were just 30 miles ago.

Day 27 (1)

I’m almost done!! You can expect one “I am really done!” post when I get there, then a couple days of silence as I get situated, washed, computer reassembled, and pictures off my camera. Probably some hanging out with local friends and huge stretches of sleep in my own bed, too.

Last night I was told that the Samuel P Taylor campground was way over capacity, and I’d have to share a regular sized campground with four other bikers. No big deal, right? Anyway, I walked into the site and said “Hi, neighbors!”, and they all smiled back (what looked like a family of four) and said “Hi! Are you familiar with the Book of Mormon?”

A few seconds of awkward smiling occurred, then they offered me a beer and we hit it off. I have heard rumors of a proselytizing Mormon family out on the touring circuit, but these folks weren’t them. We had a nice campfire, ate marshmallows, and talked for a while. That’s always a good time on these trips.

As they went off to bed I stayed up for meteors, but unfortunately a fog rolled in over the trees about 9, so I couldn’t see any stars at all. I sat by the coals of the fire and read for a while, and a raccoon snuck up on me. I guess I had been sitting very still, because I never saw it- I just heard it skittering away when I reached for my flashlight. It sounded terrified.

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This is the kind of road I spent most of yesterday riding.

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Also this.

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And I thought this was especially cool looking, at least in person. Yesterday afternoon I spent about three and a half hours in Pt Reyes Station eating burritos, drinking beer, reading, and listening to a band warm up. I’d have loved to stay and listen to them, they sounded quite good, but you can see from this picture that I was running out of daylight.

This morning I saw a fish viewing area:

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Ok…. A designated spot to look at fish.

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Apparently the Lagunitas Creek is one of the last and best places for central Californian coho salmon to spawn. I didn’t see any fish.

What may be the last food picture of my trip-

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That is a generous helping of cream cheese!

Day 26 (2)

I made it to Point Reyes Station by 3:00, and I seriously considered pushing onward for the last 30 miles to San Francisco to sleep in my own bed, but I think it will be nicer to stay up here where I will have a dark sky for the meteor shower, and not end this trip with two grueling days in a row. I’m aiming for the Samuel P Taylor state park tonight, about 10 miles from here and well under 30 from the golden gate.

This town is full of people who sent the day doing a ‘century’- 100 miles on some lightweight expensive bike with tight clothes and no camping gear. It’s interesting to see all of the carbon fiber and titanium, but it’s a different world from where I’ve been traveling for the last month.

Day 26 (1)

I just updated day 25, sitting in the Coffee Cove coffee shop in Bodega Bay, and the scones here were awesome. The coffee was good too, and the photos on the walls are really good. It’s now 9:30, and the fog hasn’t dissipated much yet. I am aiming for Point Reyes to tonight, and San Francisco tomorrow. That should wrap it all up in just under four weeks!

Day 25 (2)

Morning of 26, here are the promised pictures from yesterday:

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When I got to the Manchester Beach campground I thought it was likely the last night that I would see the folks I have been traveling in sync with for the last few days, so I thought a camp fire would be a good time. Brandon and I walked out to the beach to collect driftwood, and the sunset was so impressive that I had to snap a few shots. Look for more in the Flickr gallery!

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The whole area was nice to look at, and everything was inconvenient and remote enough that it didn’t seem heavily trafficked at all. There were signs warning us to stay on marked paths, so as not to disturb the rare mountain beavers.

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I was surprised, this driftwood fire was roaring hot!

And now that I think of it- those pictures were all from the night of day 24! Here are the others from day 25:

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This is where I ate breakfast. How about that sign! I had the biscuits and gravy, and the portions were so large that I wasn’t hungry again until about 4 PM. Good price, too!

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First of a couple really eccentric houses I saw today. I also saw Sea Ranch, which I heard about in a class somewhere with regards to design, but it seemed thoroughly boring to me.

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There are so many sweet rocks sticking out of the water getting hit by waves. I really can’t overstate that, or how cool they are.

So as I am looking through my pictures, I remember that there is a story from yesterday, why I ended up doing 65 miles and rolling into camp at 8:30. I had intended to stay at a park about 45 miles from my start, but it was closed. The next was closed too, so I rolled through, and decided to press on. As the sun started to go down I realized that I had some fairly noteworthy altitude changes ahead of me.

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If I was driving a car on these, I’d be super nervous.

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And of course there were many many sections where the shoulder was just a sheer drop off a 200 foot cliff into the ocean. A cockier cyclist might have done this route in half the time, but I rode the brakes on the way down 90% of these. After that broken arm in March I started paying more attention to maintaining control.

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I think this may have possibly been Goat Rock. Geez, it turns into such a blur so quickly! It was totally beautiful though, thoroughly enjoyable even though my legs were protesting a bit by then.

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I don’t know what this is, it looked like some sort of a pink rock with a bird or two on it. Traffic was happening, and the shoulder was tiny, so I didn’t dig out the Nikon or switch it to the telephoto. This is the best we get of this particular mystery.

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Here’s the other house I felt like taking a picture of. I just want to say- that’s how you do it! All these folks building McMansions in grid like developments, what are they thinking? If I ever have the means and desire to spend a ton of money building a place, I’d want it to look like it should be in someone’s portfolio.

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I finally got to cook my meal at 9ish, in the dark. Garlic fettuccine noodles with some Tapatio and peanuts, I bet whoever came up with that box didn’t expect it to take a Thai-like twist! It was good, then the bike tourers showed up with beer. Late night, fun stories, good time!