Category Archives: the trip

We Were Sailors. We Were Born Upon the Tide.

Santa Marta, Colombia (11,290 kilometers – 7,015 miles)

As previously stated in an earlier and equally irrelevant blog post, the Conbigotes gentleman embarked on a mini-adventure inside the adventure via the Caribbean Sea (that’s the Mar de Caribe for all of you more versed in Spanish than I).  After being slightly sedentary for a week in Panama City, we dusted off the water wings and white boat shoes, and headed for Portobelo, Panama.  En route, we hit a bit of a snag.  Unfortunately, the over-protective Panamanian private toll-road workers had nothing else to do than throw a fit upon witnessing two unsightly men passing by on their well kept tollway.  This situation would have called for the oft-used “I don’t speak Spanish” retort, but sure enough, they brought Police to drive the issue home.  Therefore, our horses were not so delicately lodged into a pickup truck and driven 30 kilometers to the end of the upper-class highway and left to join the common folk.  To be fair, they were chatty gents and seemed interested in our exploits, but it was a bummer as that it will most likely be the only non-leg powered advancement we have during this outing.

Once in Portobelo, Captain Jack and his self-titled hostel served as the rallying point and bartender for all of us heading out on the 64 foot Wild Card sailboat the next day.  The grizzled old vet loudly serenaded everyone late night, asleep or not, with his version of “Unchained Melody”, but made up for it the next day by serving up possibly the best wasabi (none of this horseradish bullshit) bloody mary I have ever been fortunate to suck on.

While we were at the dock, diligently WD-40’ing the bikes to prevent salt and sea monster damage, it was fairly obvious what kind of a trip this was going to be as the 10 deep Aussie crew strolled up with enough booze to fuel a Guns and Roses reunion tour.  While everybody else lugged a plastic bag of rum and beer to the dingy, these folks wheeled shopping carts.  Quite an impressive achievement and I probably would have done the same if I wasn’t already sweating in anticipation of the eminent seasickness that was sure to kick me in teeth.  Ryan took the high road with a positive train of thought by vocalizing that  he will not get sea sick.  I couldn’t be so confident as my last bout of deep sea travel/fishing ended with my Mother drugging me to sleep for 10 hours in an attempt to stop me from crying and/or vomiting continuously.

I have been sitting here for the last 38 minutes staring at a blinking cursor wondering how the hell to explain the following 5 days on Wild Card bound for Cartagena, Colombia.  I’ve got nothing.  Or too much.  Shit, I don’t know.  It’s borderline impossible to explain everything and the process of even doing so feels cheap and gross.  There is probably a better way to inform our reader(s), but we’re going to offer detailed bullet points and a shit-ton of pictures.  So here goes…

– 1 Kiwi (Captain), 1 Belgian (crew), 1 South African (crew), 11 Aussies, 2 Brits, 1 Swiss, 1 Portuguese, 1 American, 2 Conbigotes

– 2 days island hopping/snorkeling/plank jumping/sunrise and sunset watching in San Blas.  I’d venture a guess that Colombus didn’t come across islands more serene and picturesque than these.   (I just realized that maybe he did and that is why the country is named after him)

– About 847 pounds of fresh lobster, crab, octopus and fish.  This bordered on gluttonous, actually it was gluttonous.  Far and away the best seafood meal of my life.  And probably in the top meals of the trip, alongside the slabs of beef we were given early on in Washington.

– 10 push-ups for saying the word “mine”

– Spiking the gatorade cooler with rum and/or vodka on a daily basis.  Additionally, luke-warm Balboa beer.

– 36 hours of open ocean, highwater sailing.  There is something to be said about waking up as the sun comes up over 360 degrees of ocean horizon line.  Makes you feel quite insignificant.

– Watching dozens of curious pilot whales circle the boat as we idled in an endless sea.

– 3,609 cigarettes (probably more accurate than not)

– Being hand and foot with 20 new strangers on  a 4 square foot section of bow, sharing 6 bean bags, sweating on each other for 5 days.

– The intense and stale heat below deck mixed with the overriding stench of a backed up septic reservoir.  Really stung the nostrils and was quite enough to put you over the edge if you hadn’t yet lost the battle with sea sickness.

We sincerely hope that based on those bullets and the marginal photos below, that you can grasp 1/5th of how goddamn great this was.

The one thing that does need a bit of light shed on it was the feeling while slowly trolling into the port of Cartagena the final night.  With most of the team too exhausted to stay up for the South American welcome, the bow was left to a few willing enough to take it all in.  Selfishly, we will state that it was possibly a tad more special for us knowing we had just arrived on the last continent of the our sojourn and as the cool night breeze blew us in to the lights of town, we had an opportunity to reflect on where we had come and where we are going.  It was one of those moments where time seems to stop, a stillness fills the air and the memories feel so thick that it is hard to breathe.  At that moment, we both couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

Hugs and high-fives were given as we left captain, crew and the rest of the Wolf Pack.  I already miss everyone’s bullshit and would pay good money to be back.  We’ll see you when we see you bastards!

So after a couple of days wondering around Cartagena and its accompanying heat, we got back on the bikes and now find ourselves here in Santa Marta in the arms of an old friend, Katherine Wedler.  It’s damn good to see her again as we spend time seeping in the natural beauty of her bio reserve Caoba.

Next stop…..not sure.  Somewhere southward in Colombia.  We’ll keep you informed.

– Conbigotes



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Hasta el Proximo, USA…

Los Angeles, CA (1,950 miles)

We had to unglue ourselves from the city of San Francisco and get back on the bikes after three days of falling in love with the city and its orgasmic scenery. Fortunately, the Big Sur coast was there to cure such heartbreak. It was slowgoing down to Santa Cruz as rain and wind hammered against our sails and challenged the integrity of the tent poles and waterproofing. The first semi-major equipment snag added to the festivities as Ryan’s rear rack didn’t feel like making the journey any longer and snapped clean off. With two years and about 7,000 miles under its belt, the rack had lived a full life, and even stuck it out a few extra days thanks to a couple of hose clamps and zip ties. Luckily we were able to get a new, bomb-proof rack from our friends at Old Man Mountain in Santa Barbara.

Rolling into Monterey proved entertaining as the hiker-biker site at Vets Memorial Park was bustling with folks on their way north or south along the coast. Beverages, stories and a few healthy games of “telegraph” were exchanged. Strong tailwinds whisked us through Carmel into the north end of Big Sur as the sun and number of riders on Highway 1 seemed to increase exponentially. While barreling down towards the largest logistical challenge of the trip thus far, we still couldn’t get any relevant information on the extent of the massive landslide that had crippled the road just south of Gorda. Ryan and I pushed on as the sun went down and we persuaded the Caltrans workers to let us pass in exchange for a bottle of booze and a gentlemanly swap of hard hats for bike helmets. Fortunately, not a whole lot of convincing was necessary as we rode on and tried to find a place to rest before too much more climbing in the dark ensued. Some of the best riding of the trip came the day after due to the road closure and absolutely zero car traffic on one of the prettiest stretches of road in the country.

Ryan gave up the old wheels which also had two years and over 7,000 miles on them for a sweet new setup from Alan at Cambria Bike. Apparently it was clear we’re on a long sojourn and a hamstrung budget as we were given the significant touring discount barely having to ask. Bike shop experiences like that earn you a button on the blog side bar. After a long day into and out of San Luis Obispo, we bumped into the familiar faces of Vicky “vickshow” and Gwen “gwendo” who provided 2 days of laughs, strong riding and persuasion into the still freezing water of the Pacific instead of a $1.00 state park shower.

The ConBigotes squad crawled into Los Angeles Friday afternoon with mild hangovers and marginally sun drenched skin. We blame the LaVere’s in Ventura for a fully loaded liquor cabinet and the best goddamn home cooked meal of the trip. In any event, a celebratory Mike’s Hard Lemonade (that’s all that was in the fridge) was necessary as we’d made it Los Angeles and the old apartment on Glenville Drive.

I’m sitting here staring at that number. 1,950 miles. I remember when Johnny and I drove “Carol”, my 1990 Corolla, just over 2,200 miles back to Madison thinking “Jesus, we’re going to have to bike over 5 times this amount to get to Ushuaia.” Truth is, as much seemingly monotonous time as we spend peddling though the ups and downs of the passing road, it all goes by in a blink and it’s hard not to want to have it all back. To share a beer and a hug with all of the folks, riding or not, who have etched their own part into our memory banks and induced smiles along the way. It is hard to say goodbye to all of them along with the US coast, but we fully anticipate more to come as we head towards the Mexico border and the barren coastal desert inferno of Baja that we’re sure to encounter.

-ConBigotes (Longtime supporters of spf 50 sunblock and varied jam flavors)


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Industrial Logging Rainfestival to Portland

Portland, Oregon (556.55 miles)

Upon sheepishly leaving the Seattle area to more seemingly constant rain and realizing we’re way too close to Portland way too early, the ConBigotes team decided to set our sails west towards the Washington coast.  This was an exciting feat as we knew the route would bring forth even larger logging death trucks and a shit-ton more rain.  We left the shadows of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade foothills slightly discouraged that most of the vistas were covered by the rain clouds glued to the sky which I’ve started to yell at with fervor.

Highways 12 and 6 heading west across the state proved  interesting as we were enamored with tiny logging towns and locals alike in outposts such as Enumclaw, Morton and Mossyrock, Washington, where being gifted organic grass fed steaks is apparently a tasty perk to  purchasing 6 farm fresh eggs from the local veterinary clinic (thanks Timberland Pet Lodge).  Friendly bar and grocery store patrons seem to be just as surprised as we are sometimes at the fact that peddling southward towards the end of the Americas is indeed possible, and bullshitting over a few local IPA’s never left anything to be desired.

Hitting the coast and the 101 south was a breath of fresh sea air minus the fact that the wind seemed to now be punching us in the teeth more often than before, but Portland, and rest for our peanut butter and jelly overfed bodies, was near.  This wound us finally across the Oregon border into the bustling tourist and port town of Astoria after crossing the 4.5 mile roller coaster bridge just wider than dental floss over the mouth of the Colombia river.

Rolling into the Portland vicinity, slightly battered but not beaten, was a welcomed sight, and it was smooth sailing through beautiful Portland streets until a quick bathroom and apple stop in a park 4 miles from Ryan’s place proved to have driven a piece of glass into my rear wheel leaving the flat tire score at Brett: 2 Ryan: zero.  An hour later, a few cold porters in the fridge and a couch to flop on, we were excited to kick back and call Portland home for the next few days.  Next stop, San Fransisco and the McCalley residence.



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Slug Guts Highway


Woodinville, Washington (181.93 miles)

The ConBigotes team departed downtown Vancouver on Monday May 2nd to a bevy of rain.  This was of course absolutely no surprise as rain has been the only constant other than my growing fragrance over past two weeks.  Rain pounded the entire day and we finally fled the prison of Vancouver’s city streets and traffic.  Easing our legs and groin into the trip, we cut day 1 short just short of the border figuring “Umm, we have no clue” wouldn’t be a suitable answer to Canadian border control when asked, “Where will you be staying?”

A few simple smirks at the border from uptight agents had us on our way into the States mid-tuesday moring.  We’ve weaved our way through some of the most scenic areas of the Pacific Northwest and have been accompanied by a few more than welcomed days of unimpeeded sunshine.  Another constant along the way has been the blessing of goddamnfantstic campsites (see photos if you wish).  Though officially homeless, operating in general without any certainty at all, it is fabulous to have the opportunity to chose our place of dwelling each night.

This morning (Friday) we sit in the posh hotel of Mike and Becky Hughes’ home.  Friends of the McMahon family, they’ve graciously hosted and more importantly fed us a beer or two.  We reached here yesterday via the Centennial Trail (aka Slug Guts Highway) in which we slalomed oversized slugs and snails for a good part of 50 miles.  Though small in stature and generally insignificant to the world, we certainly felt bad for those little bastards as both front and rear tires of a 60 pound bike pummels through their midsection.

We’ll be sauntering slowly south towards Portland, arriving mid to late next week.  Stand by for more.



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Trampled By Turtles

Brett’s Birthday – The Ryan and Brett show will plan on making our way into Portland for this extravaganza on May 13th at the Wonder Ballroom. Anyone in attendance will be forced to buy me a beer. Thank you in advance.

Trampled by Turtles-Victory from Justin Gustavison on Vimeo.

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