From San Francisco I went via Santa Cruz, where I spent 10 days with David, a former brain tumor patient. With David I undertook a special adventure.
During the time I spent with David, I got to know his whole family. They all welcomed me warmly and introduced me to inspiring family friends. David’s younger brothers live in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, where I visited them as I continued my journey and was able to stay for a few days.
Already in San Francisco I was raved about the coastal landscape of the Big Sur State Park. So I was happy to drive along this over 200 km long picturesque steep coast section of California. Several viaducts stretch here over the steep canyons and in the morning, as well as in the evening, a mystical fog formed at sea level.
My sleeping place this evening, which is one of the absolute highlight campsites on my trip, I found by chance just above the famous Mc Way Falls. This place, which is only accessible on foot via a steep, narrow path, was so absolutely magical and full of energy that I can hardly describe it. I think the photo speaks for itself.
I felt, as I had before at the Redwoods, incredibly alive and full of energy. At the same time, this place also radiated a calm and peaceful energy. At first I thought I was the only person in this place that day, but in the evening a young family came by.
During our conversation, the father of the family, Todd, told me that this place was very significant, as this is where the original hippie movement that later gathered in San Francisco had its roots. This feeling of spending the night in such a historic and special place was unique and gave me goosebumps.
The next morning, the family invited me to visit them as I continued my journey in San Diego, which I did three weeks later.
That day I also met Joanna Davis, or Jo for short, from England, who had biked to the West Coast from Boston and was now also on her way to Ushuaia, the southernmost mainland point in South America. As we said our goodbyes, we joked around that we would probably run into each other a time or two and exchanged numbers. In fact, we were right.
In the next two days I saw sea otters and elephant seals along the coast for the first time. The elephant seals were much smaller than their relatives in South America, which I probably or hopefully still get to see in Patagonia, but with a length of three to four meters still quite impressive animals.
Impressive were the perpetual fights of the males, while the females lay on the beach and relaxed.
My further way led through San Luis Obispo where I could stay with three guys who together run a successful Kombucha brewery with a great team.
Whalebird Kombucha, has meanwhile made a name for itself in Southern California with its diverse flavors, fancy logo and cool designs, and is becoming more and more of a trendy drink at festivals or livestyle cafes and bars.
The three guys, Mike, Lee and Jake are very good friends since their student days and live for several years to third in a shared apartment. The guys have something of a surfer mentality and are absolutely warm people who welcomed me immediately and from whom I was able to learn quite a bit. On the first evening I went with the guys to a storytelling evening, which made a lasting impression on me. Mike is a member of a men’s group where men from all different age groups meet and talk about their feelings and problems, exchange and share your thoughts to get new perspectives and to be able to deal with problems better, or just to talk things out. I liked that very much, because I have been doing that for a long time with friends from Germany.
Through the men’s group came this storytelling evening in the backcountry of San Luis Obispo.
We drove in the dark to a remote ranch in the mountains of the California coast. A beautiful property with special people I probably would never have met otherwise.
The stories of the storytellers were totally captivating and stayed in my head until today, so I feel absolutely inspired to do something like that with friends in Germany, too. At the end, we sat around the campfire and philosophized about life.
Another highlight with the three guys was the SLO Little 500 bike race, which is a totally crazy bike race where countless teams in the wildest costumes meet on one of the hills above San Luis Obispo. This race was not about winning, but rather about having the most fun, drinking the most beer, and definitely not arriving at the finish line first.
Even for me, without alcohol, it was an absolutely fun day. Our team had by far the worst bike of the whole race.
Even for the other participants, who were much smaller than me, it was hard because the bike was more like a child’s bike than a normal vehicle.
When it was my turn, it was impossible for me to keep my balance and go fast because my knees were above the handlebars every time I pedaled. If you imagine a giant on a child’s bike, you have the right picture in your head. This race was absolutely fun and showed me that the Yanks can have some pretty wild parties and don’t take themselves too seriously.
Especially nice were also the jam sessions with Jake and friends of the three guys, which we held again and again in the evenings. Overall, it was like the three guys’ house was always open and guests were welcome.
Visiting the three guys from Whalebird Kombucha also got me into their brewery and gave me insight into the life of a startup and business. Mike, who explained everything to me as the CEO and showed me the ups and downs of his work, inspired me a lot. He showed me that it takes innovation and a lot of courage to start a company like this, but also to bring new projects to life and how important it is to always think ahead and not stop in one spot or give up.
As a CEO, he is absolutely consistent but also fair and loving with his employees. Jake is the financial genius behind the company and Lee is the engineer who has developed everything around the brewing process with his expertise.
As I continued on my way towards Los Angeles, in the middle of nowhere, 20 km from the nearest town, a man stopped in his car and asked me if I wanted a drink and what I was doing with my bike. When I told what I was doing and what I planned to do with my tour, the man got out of the car and started crying. He told me that he had lost his son and his stepdaughter survived a serious accident and had also fought her way back into life. At my story he had to think of his son and at that he beamed again and said that I was a role model and very inspiring. He thought it was great that I hadn’t given up and was now telling my story to other people to show that it’s worth persevering.
On my way to Santa Barbara I had my first flat tire in the USA. A huge nail punctured both sides of my tire and deformed my rim a bit. After putting in the new tube, I rode the last 20 km to Santa Barbara at a snail’s pace with a wave-like motion.
Another encounter that stuck in my memory, and is a positive example for me, was meeting Dennis, my Warmshowers host for two days, in Ventura. Dennis is now 72 years old, but seems incredibly young and has an extreme amount of life experience. He has spent decades helping people, teaching and building settlements for Peace Courts around the world in crisis areas. Dennis has an absolutely calm manner but nevertheless a sovereign and great appearance with a strong charismatic charisma. On the second evening we went stand up paddling together in Ventura harbor.
This evening was beautiful. While comfortably paddling, a group of sea lions came towards us and suddenly we heard a loud bang. In the evening sky we saw the glowing tail of a rocket moving into the increasingly dark night sky. When we arrived back at the Doc, a passerby told us that this was the new rocket from Elon Musk’s Space X program.
The most dangerous day of my route up to here I had definitely not in the Rocky Mountains with any grizzly bears, but on the way from Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica. The actual bike lane was used by cars as a parking lane along the entire Malibu area, which stretches over 30 km, so there is no room for cyclists. Around Los Angeles, traffic has increased so extremely and has also become much faster than the rest of California traffic. Cars have been moving at breakneck speeds along the highway with no regard at all for me as a cyclist. When I arrived in Santa Monica after more than two and a half hours, I was God glad to have survived this ordeal. Partly it was totally close with the cars, which overtook me only by centimeters.
In Santa Monica, of course, I visited the Santa Monica Pier, as well as Venice Beach. As mentioned above, David’s brother Nate lives in Beverly Hills, so I could stay there for a few days. Los Angeles, the city of angels, was on the one hand impressive because of its extreme dimensions. Almost 20 million people live in this metropolitan area.
In Germany, Los Angeles is considered one of the most glamorous cities, so it was extremely frightening for me to see how many homeless people live in this city. The Hollywood Boulevard with its stars on the ground was beautifully decorated around the famous Dolby Theater, where the Oscars are held, but only a few meters away were already homeless people sitting and there was an incredible amount of garbage on the street.
The visit of the Hollywood Sign was for me, however, a highlight in Los Angeles. The road that winds its way up to the Hollywood Sign is extremely steep and thus a real challenge with the bike.
Another highlight in Los Angeles was definitely meeting my sister Kim and her fiancé Mark.
The two are currently on a multi-year trip around the world and had a layover in Los Angeles on their flight from Santiago de Chile to Sydney. The layover lasted seven hours, so we were able to meet for a few hours at a nearby “restaurant”. For me, it was so nice to meet Kim and Marc again, who are incredibly close to me and with whom I lived for half a year before we said goodbye for an extended period of time.
From Los Angeles, I headed to San Diego. To avoid the traffic in the metropolitan area, I took the metro to Long Beach, but I have rarely felt so uncomfortable as during this ride. There were homeless people everywhere, some of whom had urinated in the subway and slept on top of each other on the floor. Behind me sat members of a gang that could be recognized by their countless tattoos. All had several tears tattooed under their eyes, apparently representing the murdered friends they had lost in their gang days.
We continued on from Long Beach on the bike path to San Diego. Long Beach got its name not by chance. A perfect several hundred meters wide sandy beach stretches along for 40 km.
The closer I got to San Diego, the more surfers were to be seen. The southern Californian life, as one imagines it with us in Germany, I could observe here.
In San Diego I met again the English cyclist Jo, with whom I had agreed to cross the border to Mexico together, because we both thought it would make sense not to spend the initial time in Mexico alone for security reasons.
On our last night in the U.S., we visited a pub and participated in a pub quiz over fish and chips with Will, a friend of Jo’s who we were staying with.
In conclusion, I can say that the USA is an incredibly diverse and beautiful country in terms of nature. Especially the west coast offers so much diversity and is not for nothing one of the most popular cycling routes in the world. I have met many great people and am extremely grateful for the great encounters. However, what shocked me a lot in the U.S. were the many prejudices some people had towards Mexicans. Many called me crazy and tired of life to ride a bike through Mexico and warned me about the people there.
The frightening thing for me, however, were rather the people who like to point fingers at others, but do not perceive the frightening images in their own country, such as the gigantic number of homeless people and thus also close their eyes to the poverty in their own country.
After two and a half months in the U.S., I am now looking forward to a new culture, a new adventure and the unpredictable.