Thursday, 23 October 2014

California - 400 miles on my bike

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Back in March over an impromptu dinner my friend Oscar announced that he was planning on cycling down Route One in Californian. He casually asked if anyone was interested in joining him and I said: “Why the hell not?”. June seemed a long time away and the first few weeks after that dinner I gave the plan little attention. The closer Oscar’s departure loomed the more I realised I had a fundamental problem: I had no bike. Well, I had a mountain bike but that would be of no use for the 400 mile tour we were embarking on. I also had no tent, no gear and no clue about cycle touring (see the mountain bike from sentence above). Fast-forward a few weeks of frantic email exchanges between my friend and I, many trips to many cycles shops plus much last minute research and I found myself arguing my passenger rights with United Airlines (whose bike travel policy is hugely unfair and I would recommend you looked at other providers if you are planning a cross-Atlantic bike transport).

The one thing I did have a clue about straight away was that I had to travel with my camera. I was keeping equipment to the essentials to save weight, but that was most definitely essential. You may have already seen my Portrait of California but on top of taking pictures of people we met, I also photographed this strange land. California is a place of contradictions: we started in San Francisco, a wonderful city that is surrounded by miles of suburbia that would have tired even the most curious of eyes. Then followed the impressive redwood forests - trees bigger than I have ever seen and forests so lush us Brits can only be jealous of them. And then there was the Big Sur with its dramatic coastline, amazing wildlife and pristine beaches (when not full of sea lions). I think we also saw what is probably all of the world’s strawberries and cycled through the artichoke capital of the world (yes, it is a thing) before hitting LA, which blows your mind with its size. We got off the train and still had a 20 mile cycle ride to our hostel.

Trying to capture the whole 400 miles is an impossible task, but luckily California is a photographer’s dream. The light is dramatic and the views are never boring. And on top of that almost all of the people we bumped into were friendly. One thing is for sure, I will certainly be back to the Golden State.


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See what I mean by all of the strawberries?

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Look carefully here.

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And finally here we are after 400 miles of cycling at 7am in the morning. Thanks Oscar for the amazing trip!

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