I made the decision about two weeks ago to pedal to Californi. Since then, my daily activities have been altered by an unending list of tasks to tackle, pre June 18th, the day of departure…
As I prepare, there is much to consider, sorting through my collection of “stuff” becomes daunting. I sold what I could, gave away what I couldn’t and then stored what items I should keep safe. My belongings now amount to about five boxes. Shoes, clothes, backpacking gear, a guitar and an amplifier, these are now my prized possessions. Surplus toys, I shuttle to Wall Street Storage from my home, the owner Ruth Mallon generously donating space for Operation Elf Box.
My car is nicknamed the “Landshark”. The dated Beemer I’ve been cruising in and its pink slip backed out of my driveway two days ago. Somehow I feel liberated. What remains of my belongings confines me to a near camping experience in the house I’ll vacate shortly. I couldn’t be any happier.
The saddle I straddle, it’s a Bianchi mountain bike. Behold the Italian steel framed tank I bargained for last summer after a feeble arm wrestling attempt with a craigslister. It’s a decade old, a sturdy steed having provided me many (s)miles of trail riding with Jo frothing, tongue dangling like a rabid dog he always gives chase eagerly behind me. Hobby riders, we’ve explored through most of the popular Bend Oregon single track.
Prior to investing my digits, I eliminate the possibility of purchasing perhaps a more worthy two wheeled titanic to sail the extended sea line. I tour the town’s bike shops, receiving a wealth of knowledge. Eventually I make a call. Jeffrey Shumaker operates Bicycle Re-Source Center of Bend, a nonprofit bike shop. Last season they offered to supply Operation Elf Box, with bikes for under served children. I’m hopeful he can offer me some advice.
He introduced me to Co-Founder Michael Martin, an expert wrench who volunteers his time for the betterment fo the community, outside of working full-time at Hutchs Bicycle’s on Bend’s popular Westside. Michael once commuted solely by bicycle …for seven years and at times was averaging 350 miles per week. I’ve learned a lot from him Through getting to know each other he shares his website, Hand Built Wheel with me. He’s an artist too! His creations are honed of recycled bike parts, some of his one off master pieces, capable of shedding light into a room.
Michael is setting me in motion, helping me prepare the bike each step of the way. We make several lists, parts and gear I need for the trip. Rigid front fork, handlebars, stem, grips, helmet, helmet mirror, chain, road tires, spare tubes, panniers, rack, headlight, taillights, bearings, chain, trailer, handle bar mounted computer and the list goes on…
Then the wrenching lessons begin. I’m talked through a three hour rebuilt of my rear wheel. Michael is patient. It saved me from laying out my cash for a new one, keeping a hold of my Benjamin’s for now.
In two weeks time, I have witnessed the cycle transform from a mountain bike best suited for recreational eye watering downhill’s via Phil’s Trail, to what almost appears to be a road worthy touring machine….almost.
I’ve been on a scavenger hunt since, searching consignment shops in hopes to save a buck. At one store, I nearly handed over cash for a set water proof panniers, when my friend Vic walks in and offers me a FREE set. Talk about an Angel, Vic is a kind man who is living vicariously through me, he says. He’s done big sections of the highway himself in years past, offering me a 1990 edition of Bicycling the Pacific Coast, a “how to guide”, he once followed. It will serve as my biking bible as I pedal forward.
Tomorrow, I’m invited to Hutch’s Bicycle’s, Michael and I will put the finishing touches on the “Land Shark II”!
Soon the highway will be our home….