How he rides
Traveling by vehicle is a lifestyle many Sacramentans indulge in on a daily basis. But while zipping through California’s intricately woven freeway systems, do you appreciate the journey? Bicycle enthusiast Alex Robinson recently returned from a do-it-yourself, 1,200-mile bike tour, starting in Sacramento and pedaling to Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and even traveling as far south as San Bernardino. Experiences on his trusty bicycle led him to camping on cliffs, being suspected as one of America’s most wanted and even some free tacos. Averaging around 90 miles a day, Robinson just wanted to make it to Arizona. And whatever happened, good or bad, he embraced it with open arms.
Tell me how this 1,200-mile bike ride started?
I left Sacramento on March 12, and rode from here to Concord with my friend Manny. … We picked the worst day to ride. … It was all stormy and we got soaking wet. We took BART into Oakland and left probably on the 15th to Berkeley. From Berkeley on, I was by myself. From Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo was three days of riding, and I camped a few nights. I had a map for that section that Caltrans put out. It was cool riding down the coast. I went through Santa Barbara to Ventura. From there, I turned east on Highway 126. I rode the California Aqueduct for a little bit, which totally sucked. From there, I dropped elevation quite a bit through San Bernardino. [The tour] was about a month. I think I was doing 50 to 90 miles in a day. From San Luis to Santa Barbara is like 115 [miles]; I did that in a day.
What did you bring along on your trip?
Five or six pairs of socks. … I brought three sweaters. … Some patches and a nylon top and bottom. I had a sleeping bag and a tarp; that was my camping gear. I was pretty much doing what people call guerrilla camping or stealth camping. I had panniers. One side was food and the other side was reading material, tools and pumps. I tried to bring the minimal amount possible.
Describe your diet.
Some guy bought me tacos in the desert. I pretty much stocked with me Clif bars or Luna bars. For breakfast every day, I would have handfuls of granola and make a peanut-butter-banana sandwich, or if I didn’t have bananas, I would eat apples. For lunch, I always had carrot; avocado; some sort of bread source like pitas, tortillas, or just bread; nutritional yeast; sometimes lettuce, sometimes tomatoes.
Any interesting experiences on your trip?
I camped on this beach area on a cliff one night on [Highway 1]; I was cruising one day and I saw this little trail and I was like, “Oh, redwoods, that looks cool.” I walked back a little farther and there was this stream and a fucking waterfall and this clearing. I took a little bath in the stream and did laundry in the stream; I was trying to check Banning out to see if there were places to camp. …
I look up and there was a cop, and he walks up asking me if I’ve ever been arrested, if I have a warrant out for my arrest, if I’m wanted. … Once he runs my ID, I asked him to help me figure out how to get to Highway 62. … He gave me a ride, driving like a dick. I woke up the next day and it was fucking windy, blowing west, and I was about to ride east, so I didn’t want to go to Arizona anymore; I didn’t want to be in the desert anymore.
Are you glad you rode alone?
I’m glad I did it. It was pretty amazing that I was able to ride that much. I was pretty stoked that I was able to do it by myself. That was a big part of it for me. I was like, I really need to get this independence thing down; I’m going to push it to the extreme and be extreme by myself. It was fun. I don’t know if I’m going to do it again for a while, though. Riding to the Bay fucked my knee up.
So, how do you feel about cars?
I think it’s just how you kind of orient your life. I really had no ties to anywhere, to anyone or anything. I had no obligation to be anywhere, so I could take as much time as I wanted to just like bike from here to there. I can bike anywhere I want, and it’s going to be cool. It’ll take a little bit, but I’m OK with that. I guess my butt hurt riding on my bike all day, but you see things from a different pace. You don’t have to pull off to the vista point, because the whole time you’re looking at shit. I appreciate the journey to places a lot more now; that’s part of it. It’s not just jumping from place to place; the in-between is more the journey.