Every single custom map we print has a story behind it. Your story. Whether it's a fundraising ride for charity or taking some time out of a hectic life to reconnect with nature; everyone's map is memorable and some stories are fascinating.
So let’s start at the beginning. What’s your name and where are you from?
Sam Walker. Barrow in Furness, Cumbria
How did you get into cycling and how long have you been turning cranks?
I always loved bikes growing up. I started road cycling to keep in shape about 15 years ago, but relatively shorter rides. It was about 8 years ago I started cranking up the miles when I entered my first Fred Whitton.
How many bikes have you got and what's your favourite?
I have 5 bikes. My favourite is my 1998 Orange P7, which i've had since I was 13 and restored a couple of years ago to look a bit more presentable.
Let’s talk about the map. What’s the story?
The ride was part of a holiday. I liked the idea of an active holiday, seeing a lot of the California coastline by bike, only booking the hotels in San Diego and San Francisco and leaving everything in-between open.
I chose to start in San Diego so I could go on a boat trip to Guadalupe to see Great White Sharks beforehand and I thought San Francisco would be a good endpoint with the time I'd given myself. Not a bad place to explore to finish!
I was supposed to be using a Genesis Tour de Fer, but my van got broken into at a 'secure' Heathrow hotel parking lot the night before my flight and the bike stolen. My first day in San Diego was spent bike shopping and settled on a Felt Breed 30 gravel bike. It wasn't as well set up as the Genesis for touring but with a rear rack and panniers did the job (and now has plenty of use back in the UK), just a bit rear heavy! Moment Bicycles in San Diego had the bike ready for me by the time I returned from the boat trip.
I travelled solo with my luggage and a tent, meeting a couple of friends from a previous holiday along the way (one put me up for 2 nights in Newport Beach). I learnt not to cycle too far in the heat after a night out in Newport Beach!
The national park camp sites were really well set up for cyclists and good value. You could just turn up and the pitches were really good value ($5-$10 per night). A lot of them are right by the beach so great for cooling down after cycling in the Californian sunshine!
It was a little challenging getting through LA and navigating around the military sites between San Diego and LA, but once you were further north the roads were pretty spectacular, particularly north of Morro Bay. Apparently I went in the wrong direction and North-South is the norm so you get a tailwind.
Riding solo meant I interacted with people I don't know a little more. One guy from Germany I met at the campsite and had dinner with was riding from the north of Canada to the tip of South America. He was telling me about spotting wolves, bears and mountain lions further north. I went for breakfast in Morro Bay with some more people I had met at the camp site. One rents his house out and spends his time cycling touring with his dog in one of the panniers!
I've never cycled in the America but this is making it look way better than I expected. Like Sam I love to tour solo and see what happens along the way and meet random folk. I hope you enjoyed Sam's writeup and find some inspiration to get a trip planned for yourself. It certainly has reminded me that I need to get something planned for 2022...