Laurence Supertramp. Think ‘Into the wild’, just that I didn’t do anything as stupid as burn all my money and go to Alaska without telling anybody and eventually starve to death…
SF is a beautiful city and a great place for a young skater. It could be too much fun though. After being productive in NY, it was all too easy to take advantage of the free parties and be completely immersed in the chaos. Beers in brown paper bags, hillbombs, lesbian lovers, hippies, homeless dudes, EMB, pier 7 and Halloween parties. The few friends I knew from Barcelona were perfect guides to all of this.
Things took a turn for the worse when I realised the place where I was staying in the crackhead district, Tenderloin, had bedbugs. Those little bastards ate me every night until I looked like I was covered in some kind of alien flesh eating disease. They are near impossible to get rid of and they can be carried on your clothing to other places. The comedowns and hung over flatground sessions were starting to get old anyway, so I hatched a plan to escape to Mexico.
Funds were running low at this point so I kept the plan simple – with a bicycle and a tent. I got a perfectly unsuitable used mountain bike from a charity shop for 30 dollars and borrowed a tent. Then I had to make sure to get rid of the bastard bugs by tumble-drying everything I had and throwing away the clothes I was wearing. Done! Start peddling.
Directions were easy – Just head south, with land on the left and sea on the right. The problem was covering the distance on the shitty bike with all my things bungeed on the back wearing jeans and a t-shirt with no training. I must have looked ridiculous.
I found myself stranded on the first night in the pouring rain in a forest where there was a middle aged couple in a campervan that told horror stories of the road ahead being plagued with man-eating bears, landslides, forest fires, windy cliff edges and hills too steep to cycle. Luckily I ignored them, endured one miserable wet day and enjoyed the next 10 days as a time in my life when I was really free. No home, no keys, no phone, no job, no schedule, no money, no girl, no problem… The bites slowly faded away and I realised that I’d made it.
An average day on the road – Wake up at sunrise next to a tiny beautiful private beach, cook oatmeal on a portable stove, pack up the tent, start cycling, speak to as many people as possible en-route, eat mountains of trail mix and wheat-thins, find somewhere to camp before dark, set up the tent, sink a few cold beers then pass out. If there was a skatepark or spot along the way I’d stop and skate or if I got a tip-off of something to see I’d check it out. There were beaches covered in seals, butterfly sanctuaries, deers in the woods and so many friendly people along the way (alongside plenty of insane psychos as well…). I was invited to BBQs at strangers’ houses and even spent a few nights sleeping on their sofas or camping in the odd garden. I think I slept in a shed one night and out in the open in a hammock in another. I got stuck somewhere along the way and made friends with a porn star that really helped me out. She had some really crazy stories, invited me to parties in Hollywood that blew my mind and let me stay in the porno mansion. All I can say is that she is a world record holder for doing something so disgusting that it will never be put into print. By the time I got to LA I must have looked pretty ragged. When I told one of the skaters at Venice beach how I got there, he shook my hand and shook his head in disbelief saying “I touched you…. You’re real!”.
In the end I never made it to Mexico… I got pretty close though, around Orange County where my Visa was about to expire and I had to get back to San Fran to catch my flight back to Europe. Also I though might have caught scabies haha. But anyway, as a stranger told me on the road “It’s all about the journey, not the destination”, which is a cheesy cliché to most but some really comforting words when you’re young, dumb, completely fucked and moving very quickly in no particular direction.