Cycling the West Coast: California! [Day 17]

Luke Guilford | CycleCycle
Made it to California.
State #3, California!! Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 17

I woke up feeling not much better than the day before, but I had just under 30 miles to get into town to meet my father. Luckily, the road was very flat, and I could cruise into California. The weather called for non-stop rain, which, honestly, I enjoyed. At this point, I have been on the road long enough for my inner dirtbag to come out, so I can embrace the discomforts of living on a bike.

The plan will be that my father will ride with me until I reach San Francisco, which is about a week away. It feels like bad timing, meeting my father as I am battling an illness, but maybe it will allow us to take a day or two to figure out our route and get everything ready for the road ahead of us. I met my father in town, and as we took off riding, we made it about 50 feet before he lost a gear off his front rack. It made me a little nervous that he hadn’t loaded up the bike fully until he arrived, but it should make for an interesting trip.

After cruising around town, we decided to grab lunch at a Mexican restaurant and chat a little about our plan. I had a Warmshowers host lined up in town at a local church, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be spending a night inside during this rain. We planned to take a rest day tomorrow and let the rain pass through while I attempt to recover from my illness.

The proposed route for the section I will ride with my father.
The proposed route for the section I will ride with my father.

After catching up and doing some route planning, we went to the church we’d be staying at. We set up our sleeping pads and bags in a commons area and were the only cyclists there briefly. No more than 30 minutes go by, and I hear a knock on the door. I look outside, and there is an entire family of four on bicycles standing outside the door.

I knew immediately that we were going to have a lot to talk about, as I needed to learn about their story. I quickly learned that only the father spoke decent English, and they had flown to Vancouver from France earlier in the Spring. The two brave parents also brought along their three-year-old and twelve-year-old daughters on the journey.

After chatting with the father, I learned that the family was involved in a serious car accident that functioned as a wake-up call for them a few years back. The parents quickly realized that life is too short and that they must live their lives to the fullest. The parents worked opposite schedules, rarely spending time together, especially with their children. This eventually led them to quit their jobs and sell nearly all their possessions. They decided they wanted to explore the world and found the best way to be on a bike, so they created an insane route. Over the next three years, they hope to bike from Vancouver to Chile, then fly to Asia and bike through countries like Mongolia and Japan.

Newly made friends
Only just the beginning of their incredible journey.

I was stunned by their trust and optimism, and I felt an incredible sense of disbelief and inspiration. I couldn’t imagine doing that route, let alone with my family and children on board. Their pace down the coast was much slower than a typical cyclist, often spending multiple days in one location to allow for homeschooling and time to explore the area. This church was an excellent spot for their kids to hang out, play, read, and enjoy a roof over their heads for a while.

After talking with the family, I realized we stayed with the same host in Port Ludlow, WA (my first day on the road). It was so lovely talking to the family, and I could see their passion for life and the kindness they carried with them.

Update May 2023: The French family is still on the road cycling. They have been on the road for about 14 months and are cycling around Europe after traveling through Mexico. Also, if you were wondering, the father pulls the three-year-old in a stroller/trailer attached to his bike, but the mother and twelve-year-old daughter ride their own bikes.

Stats from today:

  • 28 miles biked
  • 300 vertical feet climbed
  • 3rd state
day 17
Day 17, A very short one.

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