If there was one person who inspired this blog and my addiction to bicycle touring, it would be a woman by the name of Victoria Merriman. In 2009, Victoria rode her bike from Boston, MA to Santa Monica, CA all by herself. The trip took her 6 months and 4,000 miles to cross 12 states. Did I mention she did this riding solo? Her blog has since been taken down as her domain, victoriasride.com, was not renewed. I had read her stories from her first blog entry to the last one when she traveled back home to Boston. She was a very good writer who captivated her audience as many people visited and commented on her blog entries. This was before Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, so she spent time crafting her story one post at a time as she ate up the miles going west.
Victoria did not start off as a cyclist. She had decided she just wanted to make this once-in-a-lifetime journey and closed her freelance business in Boston to make her decision reality. I remember reading how she paid for it while crossing the Appalachian mountains and battling headwinds in Texas and Arizona. She had stories of stealth camping and having to constantly fend off raccoons at her camp sites. She shared her ups and downs of her trips from being homesick to the exhilaration of completing what she began. My favorite story was when she had the opportunity to fly in a plane in Arizona without even planning for it. Her host also taught her how to skeet shoot at the same location.
What I learned from Victoria
Serendipitous encounters like this is why I’ve been drawn to bicycle touring. When things you think are bad or challenging, it’s only temporary because the next day can bring you hope and relief. When we toured to Joshua Tree last year, we arrived at the entrance an hour before sunset only to be told that there were no campsites available. We were stopped by a nice lady by name of Mary Ann Kelly who told us she had a bed and breakfast where we can spend the night. We graciously took advantage of her hospitality and slept in comfort that night.
A Post from the Past
I was part of the welcoming party on December 19, 2009 in Santa Monica. I actually blogged about this on my personal blog at the time, so I’ll just repost that entry here so you know how it all went down.
I had the privilege to be part of a conclusion to an incredible journey made by Victoria Merriman. About 4 months ago, Victoria set-out on a journey which began 4,000 miles away in Boston Harbor. Victoria’s adventure brought her through 12 states and multiple blog entries which she took the time to give us a play-by-play description of her journey. I should know because I’ve been reading her blog since she was traveling through Texas. I actually went back and read all her posts since the beginning or even before the trip so when I met her I felt like I already knew her. Of course, I was teased for being the “super fan” of the night, when in reality it was a privilege just to meet someone so courageous as herself. Yup, something that myself and many out there would be scared to death to do, she courageously accomplished.
I was invited to welcome her at 3:30 – 4PM on Sunday. The welcoming party consisted of friends of Victoria, as well as folks she had met when she was in LA 6 months ago. We were informed by text that she was 3 miles away and she would arrive by the bike path. We hustled down from the pier to the bike path and waited for 15 minutes. She arrived to a roar of cheers and applauds. Here’s a quick video I took of her approach.
She quickly got off her bike and greeted everyone. Her emotions then got hold of her and she was crying with much deserved tears of joy. She celebrated her arrival in similar fashion as her departure by dipping the “Supertour” and submerging into the Pacific Ocean. I remembered reading how she loved swimming and recalled from her recent posts that she hasn’t done much of that so it was nice seeing her getting in the water.
After a few minutes of soaking in all that is happening, we finally made our way to a public bathroom so she could “freshen up” for our celebratory meal and drinks. We decided to go to a restaurant in Santa Monica which was about a mile away called Library Alehouse. I had the pleasure of riding her bike over to the location for her. As predicted, I was the first one there since everyone still had to walk to their car, find parking, and walk to the restaurant. Isn’t bicycling great! I must digress.
While we waited to be seated she was interrogated by everyone about details of her journey. Something she must have done through-out her journey so I’m sure she was used to it by now. I confessed to her my favorite story was when she got to fly a plane without even planning for it. She obliged and entertained the crowd with the step-by-step account of that day. It was like I was reading her blog again.
We eventually got seated and ordered our food and drinks. More stories were told at the table and more questions were asked. It was great for me to hear a voice to the written words on her blog. It was even better to get a sneak peek of what had happened after her last blog post. At the time of this post, I didn’t know what happened to her from San Diego till now. We had mentioned to the waitress what we were celebrating and she congratulated the accomplishment by comping us 3 dessert plates for us to share. The manager also came by to chat with Victoria about her trip.
Our meal ended close to 10PM. We exited the establishment and took some group photos and got some solo shots with our heroine. Here is my shot.
Everyone said their goodbyes including myself. She is such an inspiration that I can’t wait to go on my camping trip next week. That’s right, I’m going on a 4 day excursion to Lake Cachuma up near Santa Barbara by bike. Even though the trip is only 200 miles, Victoria was excited for me which I know she’s taking pity on my meager mileage given the fact she just finished 4000 miles.
Read her blog to find out more about her journey at http://www.victoriasblog.com. She’s a great writer and you will be entertained as much as I was.
She was my inspiration to complete that first bicycle touring ride to Lake Cachuma a few weeks later and now fast forward 5 years later, I will be giving a presentation about Bicycle Touring on March 1, 2014 and have ridden a few thousand miles up and down the California coast.
Help Me Find Her
I want to say thank you to her, but I can’t seem to get a hold of her one way or another. Therefore, my favor is for those who read this story, please share this on your social network in hopes to reunite us and allow me to find out how she is doing. I would love to interview her now, 5 years after her trip. That would be an awesome story just to tell.
Here’s the last interaction I had with her on January 8th after I posted my Lake Cachuma ride report.
The Plot Thickens
I read the synopsis and found out that her reason for the bike ride was to escape from a bad year at work and heartbreak as she confesses her feelings to her business partner but the feeling was not mutual. This completely changes my whole perspective. Not in a bad way as I still would like to connect again but this is just different now. The back of the book also said she’s been touring other countries so now I’m even more interested in talking to her. Again, if you can help me find here, that would be fantastic.