California Coastal Tour - The Experience

So before we jump into the experience, I'd like share a bit about the cast of characters that participated in this crazy little tour.     Each of us came to this trip for different reasons and with different experiences.  In the end, I think the trip ended up exceeding our expectations and at the same time did not quite fullfill our dreams as we had to reroute mid ride.   One note here is that we all came together at one point or another by means of the internet because of the Salsa Fargo.   Fitting we'd all be doing this trip now together and on Fargos.   Here is the cast of characters.   

Eric Benjamin, Erik Mathy & Joe Mesier horsing around oustside of Templeton, California

Erik Mathy of   Erik really was the impetus for this event and it all started with a little email and a link to some photos from a route that Rick Hunter and a few friends had done.   He put it out there that we should ride to the Ride the Divide fundraiser in Los Angeles.    Why not right?    Erik is also training for the 2011 Great Divide Mountain Bike Race where he plans to ride a single speed Salsa Fargo.    Yeah, he's crazy but in my mind, this trip would not have happened without him simply putting it out there.   For Erik this was a tune up trip to work through some gear selection and to also train for such an event.

Eric Benjamin of The Adventure Monkey.   Eric flew in from Kansas for this little ride.   He needed to "Feed the Monkey".   Eric came into this trip with no experience either with traditional touring or bikepacking.   However, just as Eric committed to doing and finishing the Dirty Kanza 200 not more than a year after he started cycling, he came to this trip with an iron will, a willingness to learn and spirit of "you can do anything".     He left the trip with a new nickname, "The Goat" for his ability to sit in the drops and pound out cliimb after climb.   

Joe Meiser of Salsa Cycles.   Joe's the youngest, strongest and most veteren in terms of bikepacking experience on this trip.   He's a Great Divide Mountain Bike finisher, a Trans Iowa champion, routes & mapping junkie and all around great guy.  He's also the deisel engine that guided us throughout the experience.   He's the rabbit of the group, always ending up at the front.   Always waiting for us patiently and with encouragement.   

Myself.  I'm the old guy of the group.    A former bicycle tourist with a knack for carrying too much gear.    I'm the turtle.   Slow and steady is my mantra.   Not sure what I brought to the trip other than sheer stubborness and a passion for documenting the experience. 

Errin grinding up the final pitch while out on the Topanga Creek Bicycle shop ride.

Errin Vasquez of
.   Errin was supposed to be on this trip but unfortunately at last minute needed to rearrange and deal with things more important.  However, he was instrumental in this trip in that he helped with logistics, picked us up in Santa Barbara, and protected us from traffic on a wicked final & foggy descent into Santa Barbara.  Rumor has it that he too will be at the starting line of the 2011 Great Divide Mountain Bike Race.   

So...With that out of the way, here are some thoughts, words and experiences from this trip.  Over the next week or so Joe Meiser and I, we'll be delving into some specific experiences and gear selection.  We also may have a guest blogger sharing his experience of a first time bikepacker.   But today is about the experience so the rest of this post is simply dedicated to capturing the experience of our trip.  

We rolled out of Greenfield, California in the late afternoon.   It was a beautiful day.  

This little guy was guarding one of the cattle gates.   He let us through but from the looks of the skull, he doesn't let cattle through.

Paved road quickly turned to gravel.   Gravel turned to path.   Beauty was everywhere.

A quick stop at the Mission for water before heading into the Hunter Ligget.

A bombed out relic of times past now used for live fire target practice.

Beautiful light & rock somewhere near Salmon Creek.

We were informed by this guy that it was tarantula mating season.   We saw lots of them.  Made sleeping difficult...At least for me!

Evening light just before camp on day 1.

Meiser crossing my viewfinder on a saddle before climbing up and away on day two.

Which way?   Is this really our route?  

Looks like I needed some rest.


Lunch stop.

A look back at 35 Canyon - A beautiful and unbelievably fun playground.

Our final gravel descent before hitting pavement for the last day of the trip.

Our campsite on day 3 - Yeah it was sweet! 

Our final pass of the trip just outside Santa Barbara.

Completion - 282 miles in 3 days.   

Truly an amazing experience.   I already miss it.   Thanks again to Erik, Erik, Joe, & Errin for making this trip possible.  

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Fargo

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Jason Boucher

Jason Boucher

Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.


Elvis | October 25th, 2010

too much fun.

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Tom | October 25th, 2010

Great pictures, looking forward to the other reports

pk | October 25th, 2010

OK, I’m gonna wait for a new line of Salsas based on the tarantula them.  Yipes!

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Rico | October 25th, 2010

SLO & SB county—truly some stellar riding.  Great images, thanks for the effort.  Y’all can find some outstanding SLO routes (for ‘next time’) at, the SLO bike club site. 

Whenever the soggy OR Winter gets us down, we head to SLO county for some riding…now, if I could only find a way to make a living, there.

Fonk | October 25th, 2010

Oh man, I’m jealous.  Looks like a fantastic trip!  So when’s next year’s ride? ;-)

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Linda | October 25th, 2010

Looks like an amazingly good time was had by all. Incredible riding and what an experience. Happiness is not a memory it is an experience and it appears that there were many experiences therefore clearly much happiness to go around. Thanks for sharing.

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justanoldhobo | October 25th, 2010

What a sweet ride!

Erik Mathy | October 25th, 2010

Hey Rico…are any of those fully off pavement, as in gravel or dirt roads and trails? Ya’all have ALOT of rides listed on that site. Nicely done!

It was an amazing trip for me, personally. I am having a heck of a time putting it into words.

Jon | October 25th, 2010

Wow, this looks awesome. What was the route? Living in L.A., I totally want to give this a spin.

Glenn Charles | October 25th, 2010

Awesome, thanks for the great pics and for sharing the story.  All I can say is I want my Fargo and I want it now!!

MG | October 25th, 2010

Looks like it was a great trip… Congrats.

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Jim | October 26th, 2010

Great photo’s and comments.  Keep ‘em coming.

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Tim Ek | October 26th, 2010

Really makes me want to go to Cali.  Great pictures Jason!

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Rico | October 26th, 2010

@ Erik: for “off-tarmac” routes in SLO, try  and

When you need a break from SLO cycling, the hiking, trail running, and kayaking is off-the-latch, as well. 

Meanwhile, back in Western OR, I cycle-commuted in sleet, yesterday.  Sigh…

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DC | October 26th, 2010

Holy moly.  Beautiful views and great looking riding.  Looking forward to hearing more about your gear, food, etc., selection for this excursion.

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Alex | October 26th, 2010

Very cool!  Thanks for sharing.

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John Foley | October 26th, 2010

loved seeing the photos and hearing a little more of the ride.  I think turtles are studly - you go Jason.

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Jim Guss | October 26th, 2010

Jason, It was great meeting you and the guys at Topanga Creek. I think a Fargo is in my near future. I’m going to give your’s a spin this Saturday!

Dan O'Connell | October 27th, 2010

Wow - cool trip.  Interesting folks, nice pictures.  Great adventure.

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