Punching Malibu in the Face by Adam Thomas

I remember wanting to cry at some point and I really needed food and water." -Adam Thomas

My good friend Adam from back home lives in L.A. now and decided to ride his bike to Santa Barbara last weekend.  Here is his story…

MONDAY AUGUST 16th Sometime during this night I showed up at Rush Street in Culver city to have a few cocktails and converse with some of my friends.  I told them about an idea that I had about  riding my bike from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara CA (about 110 miles).  David, the Bartender Wayne, and another guy thought I was crazy and there was no way that I was going to make it.  They, especially David, insisted that it was impossible and I knew that it wasn’t.  They jokingly made comments that I was going to give up/get lost before I even left Los Angeles. After the jokes and comments I was set on making the trip.  I told David that I was going to do it on Sunday August 22 which was going to be my next day off.  He said “yeah, right…  if you do it in less than 12 hours, I will wear a dress to the bar.”  We shook on it.  I agreed that I would wear a dress if I didn’t make it.  There was no way I was wearing a dress.  Before we even left Rush Street, I knew I was going to do it.

The rest of the week I rode my bike around 60 miles, between riding into Santa Monica for work around 6 a.m. and then riding back to Venice after work at night.  Just to get a little bit of training in.

SATURDAY AUGUST 21 All that I can remember was James Beach was insanely crazy busy that night.  Roughly 250 covers with myself and one MexiCAN.  Rough night.  I was covering a guy that was on Vacation, so I had worked the next five days straight, one man down.  I finally got home around 12:30 a.m. pumped for the trip the following day.  In fact so pumped that I probably only slept around two hours, my chest was pounding all night.

SUNDAY AUGUST 22 My alarm went off this morning at 4:45 am exactly.  I did not hit the snooze button one time, which is something I normally do three times every morning.  I showered up and grabbed my packed bag. I had way too much weight in my bag to bike 110 miles (2 t-shirts, pair of shorts, sweatshirt, 3 extra bike tubes, bike pump, bike lock, cell and ipod charger, cameras, sunglasses, and eventually waters and snacks).  I left the house at 5:15 am and headed to the 7 11 on Venice and Motor.  After some energy food and some stretching, I headed towards Venice.  Got to the boardwalk around 5:55 am.  It was still dark and kind of erie looking.  The sun started to rise and I took some “magic hour” photos in Venice, while passing through Santa Monica and heading towards Malibu.  I first saw the signs that I had entered Malibu around 6:40 a.m.  Malibu was a *****  passing through.  Everything was fine in the beginning.  It was very flat and I was still rolling. I hit the first major hill/mountain after I passed Pepperdine University on the right hand side.  Wow, this hill sucked.  Looking back, that was the first and only hill of the entire trip I had to stop and walk up.  Half way up the hill, I got off the bike and walked for a few minutes.  I got back on my bike a few minutes from the top and hauled ass to the top.

As I approached the top, I noticed an older man beeping the horn going wild and giving me Patrick Swayze thrusts from the other side of the street.  My first accomplished hill and I already had people cheering me on.  At that point, a lil’ inspiration was all I needed because I really didn’t think I was going to make it.  I was only about 20 miles into the trip and almost ready to give up after the first hill.  I had no clue what Malibu was all about.  This first hill was very important because I realized what was in store for me.

  • I realized that hill sloped downward just as it did upward.  No good because I don’t have breaks and there is no gliding going down the hill to reward yourself.  Instead fighting speed.
  • I was wearing converse and the bottom of my feet were killing me from the metal  foot straps on already started wearing holes in the bottom.
  • In the distance I could see another hill exactly like the one I just came up, ****.
  • A few minutes later the same man who was cheering me on, pulled up beside me on a nice ride bike wearing spandex and a helmet.  He told me that I was more of a bad ass than anyone else on the road.  I asked him why and he said.  ”Well, you gotta one speed bike, no brakes, a giant bag with you, and no helmet.  I said “huh.”  He asked me where I was going and I told him.  ”Your out of your ******* mind,” he said.  He gave me some pointers on how to pick up more speed and he tore off.  By the way I got passed by spandex bikers all day wearing helmets.  I began thinking that I needed to buy a helmet because of the law but, later realized it was because of how the dangerous the ride was.  Like he pointed out, I did only have one gear and I am not a trained biker.  I wore skinny jeans, a beany, and no t-shirt a majority of the ride.  Hill after hill in Malibu for 27 miles.  Man I was going slow.  I wanted to punch Malibu in the face.

    I passed Morning View Rd (where Incubus lived) in Malibu around 8:00 am.  I slowly took the PCH (Pacific Coastal Highway) past Zuma Beach, numerous other beaches, campgrounds, and unbelievable scenery which resembled the Big Sur. Still plenty of rolling hills which were very difficult.  My legs were feeling pretty weak for this early in the trip.  PCH goes off to the right nearing Point Mugu Naval base in Ventura County, I took it.  I noticed that many of the bikers had turned around when the PCH headed east. I hit a road after the PCH called Hueneme Rd. By far the flattest part of the trip, but windiest as well.  It reminded of very flat areas down near the Eastern Shore in MD.  All vegetable farming.   I think I was going walking speed for about an hour.

    This part of the trip was miserable.  I remember wanting to cry at some point and I really needed food and water.  I kept passing vacant barns and closed factories.  I really wanted to give up at this point.  I stopped at a fruit stand and bought a Powerade and found out I was approaching a small town soon.  I first approached three shopping centers that resembled Tijuana.  Wild dogs, cracked sidewalks, and un-maintained streets… no visible hookers though.   Got two tacos del pastor, some water, watched a few minutes a Mexican soccer, and rolled out.

    Somewhere close to the naval base the google maps app got me lost.  Apparently, the maps weren’t updated and I was guided into the naval base several times because it told me that I would be able to pass through.  I chatted with a girl biker who guided me towards Harbor freeway a pretty ugly long stretch away from the coast.  I had a second wind here and started making some good timing.  My legs weren’t hurting as bad.  I followed that until I had an option of riding along the beach.  It was a pretty cool windy ride.  A path that went through woods, trails, and along the water.  Lots of families and slow bikers were on the path.  Lots of lazy fat families were renting golf cart-looking machines that all four of them had to pedal.  After that stretch, I took the PCH for a while again until I hit a road that dead ended.  I had to jump on the 101 for a few miles which was not cool or legal.  Cars were going about 90 and I was riding the shoulder.  I took an exit , found the bike path, which took me all over the place… through neighborhoods, down the street, everywhere.  Then I finally saw it…. the Santa Barbara county line.  I felt like I had made it and wanted to cry one more time, but in reality I was still two hours away.  After another difficult 45 minutes of climbing hills, on-ramps, and exits to the PCH, I veered on the coastal side of the 101.  I asked a couple taking a break if I could take this road and how far to Santa Barbara.  They said I could and that I still had about 20 miles left.  I took off and made some great time.  I pedaled hard and wild going down blind turns without brakes.  I was so ready for this trip to be over.  I hit Carpinteria, a really cool town where I followed the bike path- trails through the woods, along Wineries, wooded paths, and through little towns.  I stopped at 7 11 and did one last check of how much longer I had to go- 9 miles.  I thought how easy it would be with fresh legs, 50 minutes tops.  Now, who knows.  I took off one last time as fast as I could.

    I don’t really know when I actually arrives because I came in through Mexican ghetto neighborhoods which turned into a school zone: Santa Barbara High.  A few streets later I hit State St.  College was back!  What a street.  I found a spot in the shade and just laid there exhausted in shock.  110 miles.  I got there around 4:15 pm Extremely sun burnt.  Never realized I was getting fried from the sun till I was nearing the town. I rewarded myself with a cheese steak and a pina colada at a bar down the street called Sharky’s.  Next trip San Diego….maybe with brakes and more gears.


    leaving Venice 5:20 am

    Leo Carrillo State Park 10 am

    Filed under: Cali, Contributors, Deep, Life, People, Scenic Route, Travel

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