Riding About California

A short story of a photographer on a bicycle trip of a lifetime. Part of my core likes to be uncomfortable. As a kid I always preferred to be outside exploring, making forts and running or biking as far as I could get just so I could see more. I will always want to see more. This year I embraced that inner explorer and packed my bicycle for a road trip of a lifetime, specifically my lifetime. I grew up throughout California and love this state and it’s pioneering spirit. I feel lucky to be able to call this diverse state my home. Being a photographer I wanted to capture it with my perspective and retrace my past in the process. Partly inspired by Steinbeck stories and Ed Ruscha’s 26 gasoline stations. I started in my current home in Los Angeles and plotted an unconventional route northbound back in time to end where it began for me in my birthplace Gold Beach, Oregon.

I mention the unconventional approach because of a few reasons; 1. I was asked multiple times by other road trippers “why are you cycling south to north, isn’t that against the wind? 2. I packed my carbon, aero racing Cervelo p3 and made it my bikepacking, tour bike. Who does that? 3. A good slice of my route zig zagged up the Central Valley, let’s just say I was the only bike camper I saw for days. But for me the unconventional path made complete logical sense. I follow my gut even if it is against the flow.

The image I snapped of me lying down in the middle of railroad tracks that are long past use and being swallowed by weeds reminded me of how photography has changed in the past 25 years since I started shooting. I saw the tracks running parallel to the road I was cycling down and was drawn to this decommissioned path. So here I was on this journey, physically moving back in time, looking at this relic. I wanted to be present in that moment but I also knew that once I shot the photo, it too would just be like the railroad tracks automatically becoming the past. My awareness of time and how one can’t go back or hold it still was real and sublime.

An important aspect of this project was the physicality of using only my body to move myself. There is something about the pace of a bicycle that is amazing. It is fast enough for me to travel 100 miles in a day yet not so fast that I speed past the details of the landscape and life. My whole trip was much more immediate and outside of the automobile bubble I live in my everyday LA life. Riding about California encapsulates my love of cycling and photography driven by my fascination with memory and time. Everyday I walk past a large map of California posted to my office wall with my route marked from Los Angeles to Gold Beach, Oregon. Before my trip I had moments of fear and doubt, how can I do this? It’s too far. The trick was to stay present. What was I doing today, what about this morning, what am I doing right this minute? When I pulled my head out of the big picture looking at the massive road ahead and focused on the moment each pedal pressed a purpose. Experience life; respect time. The following story shares some of those moments along the road along with images that illustrate the experiences and love of adventure in the true spirit of California.