Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Big Bicycle Tour...1974.

While earning a degree at Cal State Fresno I fell deeply in love with the Sierra Nevada and everything that was entailed with "mountain living". I had only visited various locations in the Sierra, east of Fresno, Yosemite, The John Muir Wilderness, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on backpacking trips and weekend campouts with fellow students....but, I knew. I wanted to invest the bulk of my life in "mountain living".
Upon graduation I moved to Florida for six months of student teaching and guiding high schoolers on "outdoor recreation therapy" adventures. These outings only increased my burning desire to live in the mountains. A handful of my Fresno friends had relocated to the Kern River/ Bodfish region at the southern end 0f the Sierra Nevada...sounded good to me.
After a brief visit to hug family and acquire a bicycle, my new Florida girlfriend, Franny, and I, headed for the South Fork of the Kern where we rented a rough cabin in the berg of Bodfish. Franny did not share my love of cycling, or wandering aimlessly in the California "high country". I would set out with a sleeping bag, wrapped in a small tent, on my bicycle's backrack and see how far I could wander on backroads for three or four days...until hungry, or lonely, or in need of resupply of inner tubes. I wrote about my adventures in a rag called The Kern River Valley Review, for very small payment, before returning to the trails and remote dirt roads that led up from the Lake Isabella basin.
Franny, in the meantime, found real work with the USFS. Her work season started at the first of May, it was late February. She was ready to try a bicycle tour, but made me promise..."No dirt". March of 1974 was one of the rainiest on record, in California, and we were busily pedaling up the California coast...mostly with a tailwind, mostly soaked as we crawled in our tent every night. We rode from Bodfish to San Luis Obispo to Sonoma County. We cranked inland to Santa Rosa and Davis, before surfing tailwinds and sunny skies down California's Big Valley, all the way to Bakersfield. It took the entire month of March. Franny was surley and tired, saying something like, "If I never get on a bicycle saddle again, it'll be too soon."
Needless to say, after that, Franny and I were never "on the same page" concerning outdoor adventures, or anything else, for that matter...she went to work, I packed my one duffel and hitch-hiked eastward to Michigan, for more hugs, and a new bike....a Motobecane Grand Jubilee. My sister and her boyfriend owned a bicycle shop in Battle Creek, they helped me experience what it was like to straddle a quality bicycle...which, of course, caused me to fantasize about the mountains I would explore, under my own power, all over western North America.

1 comment:

  1. What a story. I got a folding bike last summer, and did some travelling with it, but nothing cross country, and nothing really backwoods yet either. Sounds great though - I can't wait to give it a try. Maybe I'll head out to California too.