San Francisco resident, Jordan Dersch wanted to do something epic to celebrate his 25th birthday, so he decided to go on a 6-day, 500-mile bike tour – traveling from his home in San Francisco to the Los Padres National Forest and back. This is what Jordan had to say about his bicycle tour:
What was your biggest fear when planning or preparing for your trip by bike? And how exactly did you overcome that fear?
My biggest fear was the my bike would break down to the point that I could not fix it. This happened to me once before when I cycled from Portland to Ashland carrying a bike trailer. When I got my bike fixed it took all my of my money I had set aside to finish my tour, so I bused it home. This time around I brought extra parts and budgeted to spend more money. That fear (of a breakdown) is always stuck in my head, but I learned to over come it by learning how to fix my bike and making sure my tools work properly.
What was the thing you liked MOST about your bicycle tour?
This was my first bicycle tour where I stayed in hike and bike campgrounds. I had never done that before. At one of these campgrounds I met and rode with two guys from Los Angeles that were heading home. They were great guys to ride with. One of the guys did the San Francisco to Los Angeles ride before, but this was his first time doing it with a friend and during warmer months. Anyway, he said he knew of a really awesome hamburger shop somewhere between Big Sur and San Simenon State Park and we all wanted to stop and eat there, but we were never able to find the place. All three of us we craving a hamburger at this point, so we eventually stopped in a restaurant and got an over-priced burger. Even though it wasn’t the burger we had been looking for, it tasted really good.
What was the thing you liked LEAST about your bicycle touring experience… and how did you think that aspect of your travels could be improved upon in the future?
The worst part was my bike tour was the first day of riding. The day before the tour was to begin I worked a 10-hour shift at work, then packed up everything after work and stayed up until about 2 AM. Needless to say, I was really tired on the first day of the tour. Waking up early the following morning was nothing though, in comparison to the weather that day. I had a headwind of about 15 to 20 miles per hour and gusts up to 30 to 35 mph. It was very hard to bike through, but I did 80 miles that first day. It took me all day and all of my strength to get through it. Sometimes the wind would come from the west and blow me into traffic. Or if I was biking close to the beaches, sand would blow in my face and it really sucked. It was cold, windy and foggy. I wore gloves, a hat, jacket, and had my pants rolled down just to stay warm and to keep the sand from scratching me.
Next time I would look at weather to see if it is safe for me ride that day. Doing 80 miles on the first day was my easily my biggest mistake.
Name three things you learned from your bicycle tour:
- Don’t bike on really bad windy days next to the ocean.
- Listen to your body about pain.
Do you think you’ll conduct more bicycle tours in the future? If so, where do you want to go? And why do you want to go there?
I have already planned my next bike tour. It will be from San Francisco to Tijuana, Mexico. I have never left the country and I have always wanted to leave the country by bike, so now that is what I am planning to do. I am going to be going at the end of October and taking two weeks off from work to do it. It’s about 650 to 700 miles depending on the route I take. This will also be the first bicycle tour I will be doing with another person.
What two pieces of advice would you give to someone planning his or her first bicycle tour?
Stretch regularly and learn how to fix everything on your bike.