New Friends & a Toilet – Like a Boss!

From ghost town Bodie I headed north on 395 toward the Sonora Junction, from where I continued west on the beautiful 108 through hours of nothing but absolutely perfect mountain topography. Thick green forests shot up over the two lane serpentine hiding the titanic mountains behind them, melting snow feeding into the raging rivers bellow the steep Sonora Pass which allows no room for error. This perfect slither of asphalt remains one of my most favorite and memorable riding experiences. It took me hours to get through it due to my urge to stop often to take pictures and enjoy the sights. Those were some amazing curves that would have been incredibly enjoyable to race through but their awesome beauty made me want to take it in slowly. Stopping to snap a quick photo at a gravel pullout I lost my footing and laid the bike down, but the picture was worth the annoying inconvenience. There are primitive campgrounds every few miles so if ever you need an idea for a camping trip, just hit highway 108 (but don’t forget that this is bear country).

My destination was a small place called Jackson, an old mining town settled originaly by immigrant workers, a large portion of whom came form the former Yugoslavia. They lived, worked and died in these mines, filling the Read the rest of this entry »

Ghost Town Bodie

The air was fresh and the sun just began to burn the morning dew from the top of my tent. I woke up slowly, naturally, as the temperatures started to rise. Fully rested, I took a deep breath; it was immediately obvious that the day was going to be beautiful. My destination was Bodie State Historical Park, once a booming city that dug a fortune of gold from its earth, today one of America’s best preserved ghost towns.

As we packed up camp, I bid my two cycling friends farewell and off I went. Bodie was another hour drive away but first I made a stop at the Mono City Park to fill my water bottles and prepare breakfast.

There are a few ways to get to Bodie which is located north of Mono lake and just west of the Nevada boarder. I took the 167 to Cottonwood Canyon Road which turns into a windy but manageable dirt road. About 30 lonely minutes later I arrived at the gates of the state park where a ranger took seven of my hard earned dollars. The town is nestled in a valley among rolling hills that showed obvious signs of mining activity. Dark brown buildings barely standing on their rotting, wooden skeletons littered the barren valley, an eerie reminder of a once booming settlement. The main street had the tallest buildings, the hotel and the recreation building, the Read the rest of this entry »

Yosemite National Park

The ride to Yosemite National Park was through the Stanislaus national forest via some of the most beautiful roads I have yet experienced. In fact the few days I spent riding through this part of California remains one of my favorite parts of the trip. Riding up to higher altitudes meant cool, fresh mountain air, the snow still melting on the sides of the road, creating beautiful streams and pristine lakes every few hundred meters. The forests were thick and green however and the sun was out, and I was on my way to one of Americas most beautiful and visited national parks.

It took me longer then expected to reach the park so I was forced to spend a night about 30 miles east which ended up being a great night under the stars. I managed to find a superb spot to pitch my tent, on a hill overlooking Don Pedro Reservoir. If you take highway 120, once you reach this lake, pull in the second vista point. There, if you look close enough, you will see a narrow overgrown trail that leads to the top of the hill. I was actually able to maneuver the bike up the trail to find a patch of perfect flat grass up top, far way from anyone and with an incredible view of the lake; and the sunset.

Next morning the lady at the expensive campsite down the road let me wash up which was a great treat. I managed to lose an hour however, looking for my keys which I had absentmindedly stuck in a wooden post while on the phone with Kawasaki. Some people doodle over stuff while on the phone, I Read the rest of this entry »

San Francisco

I am writing from under an outdoor patio of a Dairy Queen somewhere east of Phoenix Arizona, where I am cowering from the unbelievably strong rain and lightning that has been assaulting the surrounding hills for the past few hours.

Del Puerto Canyon Road

It reminds me of my experience in the San Francisco bay area about a month ago. I rode up the coast from beautiful Big Sur with high expectations of the city that everyone had been praising so strongly. I planed to devote it a day or two to explore and see what all the talk is about. But as ill fortune would have it, the bay area fell victim to a heavy thunderstorm, fog and low temperatures; an all around miserable, gloomy day. It was soon clear that there was going to be no exploring and San Fran had for the second time poorly received me. So I grabbed lunch at the famed Taqueria Cancun and decided to continue to push on towards Yosemite National Park.

Riding from north to south past the Golden Gate bridge barely visible in the fog, I first visited a few companies I though might be interested in partnering with the Pegasus Project. The North Face, Cliff Bar and Mountain Hardwear all proved fruitless, the only pleasant experience being at Sandisk. As I waited to speak to the receptionist who was busy on the phone, a woman who works there stormed in the lobby from the parking lot, frustrated for spilling Read the rest of this entry »

Big Sur

If you ever decide to drive between Los Angeles and the bay area around San Francisco, you would be wise to choose the coastal highway 1. Going north after San Luis Obispo the narrow road turns to the Pacific, hugging the coast as it climbs up the steep cliffs above the wide blue ocean. Home of the beautiful Hearst Castle, it winds and curves endlessly allowing for incredible sights every turn of the way.

This is my second time doing the stretch of pavement known as Big Sur but experiencing it by motorbike is the way it should be done. There are very few houses every few miles and even fewer roads that lead inland, forcing you selfishly to take only it’s beauty in, without other options, without distractions.

My goal was to find a hidden spot somewhere above the ocean, to fall asleep and wake up to the sounds of the vast blue horizon. So I spent the whole day searching for the perfect spot knowing my options were very limited. And so the daylight slowly started to fade and I eventually felt it necessary to take a dirt road inland a few miles which I hoped would provide something adequate. And as my search continued, frustration set in and after a few miles of following the road up the hill in vain I turned the bike around and started to head back. The Pegasus with all my gear is a poor off-roading machine Read the rest of this entry »

Santa Barbara

I couldn’t have chosen a worse time of day to leave Los Angeles due to the ridiculously stressful traffic congestion. I suppose it would be fair to say that in LA there is no good time for avoiding traffic but nonetheless people, the ordeal is horrendous I tell you!

Deeeelish!

I spent a few hours bouncing from corporate headquarters of various companies I thought would be interested in sponsoring The Pegasus Project. Since 100% of donations go to the American Cancer Society for Cancer research funding, I am in need of a sponsor to actually help with the costs of the project. So I paid a visit to Monster Energy Drink, which didn’t even give me a chance to introduce myself, RedBull which did have a guy meet me on a few minutes and offered no less than a 24-pack, Cycle World magazine which took some pictures and promised to put it on their Facebook page, Shoe Helmets which offered me the chance to come back when the right marketing guy returned from vacation in a month and GoPro which offered nothing at all.

The least painful experience was at the Kawasaki North American headquarters which, at my good fortune, sent two cute girls to hear me out and later offered me extra parts for the bike such as levers and brackets which I was politely reminded that I was certainly going to break somewhere along the way. So it isn’t exactly what I had hoped for but at least they called me back with some good news. So thank you, Kawasaki.

Finally being released from the grips of LA traffic, I headed north following the coastal highway 1. The plan was to spend a day or two with my good friend Amy Silva whom I met while living in Brazil last year. Amy is a super fun girl with a smile that could get her Read the rest of this entry »

City of Angels

Riding north on beautiful Coastal Highway 1 I continued to Los Angeles where I was to spend a few days with Armando, a University of California student and a friend whom with I shared a bad host-family experience for a short while during our few months in Rio. Armando’s family welcomed me in the hospitable manner Mexicans are known for.

Alternative to being stuck in traffic - lane splitting

In the morning my friend suggested a pleasant bicycle stroll through the neighborhood and I innocently accepted not expecting the butt-busting 60+ mile tour of greater Los Angeles. But by now it should be clear to everyone even besides the side effects, sightseeing on two wheels, weather it be a country or a planet, is simply the best way to go about it.

In LA I also had a chance to reconnect with other dear friends I made while in Brazil and I am very grateful for that. One night we went out to see Armando’s brother Pedro perform live at a joint in Hollywood with his band, “Them Howling Bones” The show was killer, and the performance matched the screaming rock and blues that ripped through the speakers and everyone’s bodies in that place. These guys really know how to show a good time so check them out.

My last evening in LA Armando and I visited the first and only gym constructed Read the rest of this entry »

SoCal stands for Southern California

Here is very easy way to put a smile on your face and brighten up your day; Drive along the coastal highway 1 that hugs one of the most beautiful stretches of coast for a few hundred miles of nonstop all-sensical pleasure. True, I did just come up with that word but until I find a better substitute for the experience that is the CA Highway 1 this will have to suffice.

Laguna Beach

And if you were of such good fortune to hit this pavement on two wheels one day, you would commence at the beautiful La Jolla beach in San Diego, following north slowly for hours, passing through scenes like the famous Orange County, home of one of my favorite representations of the western version of “the good life”. Continuing north you would pass through Newport and then Huntington beach where in fact I had a chance to reunite with a lovely Brazilian friend who has been there for a few months now studying as an exchange student. Her name is a name that I have loved from the very first day we met in Rio more than a year ago, the terrible day Brazil lost the world cup to Holland. In any case I fell in love with this girls name which I suppose would be appropriate for me to reveal now. Her name is Lua, with an accent on the “a”, an indigenous name given by her wonderful mother Sonali which I also had the pleasure to meet that sunny day in Huntington. It is very interestimg I think how small the world actualy is.

Then off to the City of Angels I went where more adventures awaited.

San Diego, Tijuana Mexico and a Close Call

Riding down to San Diego was “hecka” fun. Highway 78 from the Salton Sea begins as a hilly desert with some great opportunities for off-roading. Then the landscape turns greener and greener by the mile and finally by the time I reached Highway 79 I was up in the hills, racing through the lonely curves of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Is that a Zebra? In Mexico?

I always try to avoid the interstate express ways because they are not interesting, they are full of police (I wanted to say “littered” or “plagued” but that is a bit offensive) they are considerably more dangerous due to the other drivers and they simply offer no benefits compared to the alternative roads. But I had no choice then to connect to I8 which is where I had my first serious close encounter. As I was taking a split exit another motorist suddenly swerved into my lane not to miss the exit himself forcing me to hit the curb splitting the two exits head on. The mili-seconds I had were utterly useless to slow the machine down and I prepared for a fall at 50+MPH. Somehow, the bike bounced over the nine inch wall and danced frighteningly from side to side as I struggled to get the heavy thing under control. And I did, somehow manage to keep the rubber down and bring the bike to a safe stop. Turning to view the situation behind me I could see the terrified faces on the drivers of the cars who themselves, avoiding to run me over, drove off into the sloping grass to the sides of the exit. But The Pegasus took the beating with no apparent ill-effect which was to me amazing. I was Read the rest of this entry »

When a Man Finds God

A great man lived on the Balkans once, a ruler of the Montenegrin state, a prince-bishop at the time when the Ottoman empire threatened from all sides, a poet, and a father figure to the Montenegrin people.

In his most famous piece, translated as “The Mountains Wrath” Petar Petrovic Njegos II writes;

“A woman’s mood is a funny business!
A woman cares not about a man’s faith.
A hundred times she would change religion
to accomplish what her heart desires”.

 

Similarly, incredible things can happen when a man finds religion. Or looses it for that matter. This is a story of Leonard Knight, a man that at almost 40 years old found god. Over a period of a few years he started working toward constructing a massive hot air balloon dedicated to his love for God but the balloon never got to soar. He then decided to turn a desert mountain side in Slab City near the Salton Sea in southern California into a colorful shrine and museum with a simple message that ” God is Love”.

Featured in the film “Into the Wild” I had to make a journey to Salvation Mountain to meet the quiet, smiling old man and share in the positive energy of that wonderful place.

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