On The Road: Second-year Cruises California

Muir College sophomore Perry Naughton wheeled up to UCSD on Sept. 19, 2009 reeking of sweat, saltwater and the accumulated grime of several showerless nights. It was 10 a.m., and he had four hours to kill until he could move into his Muir dorm. Naturally, he headed to Black’s beach to catch a wave.

Unlike the rest of his classmates, Naughton didn’t drive to UCSD from his hometown with his family to help him move in. Instead, he opted for an epic bike tour with his longtime friend and fellow Muir College sophomore Casey Owen. They traveled the 280-mile trip from Lompoc, California on borrowed G2 bikes, toting a small trailer packed with everything they would need for five nights of beach camping. Strapped on top of course, was Naughton’s six-foot-three-inch M10 epoxy surfboard.

The pair was inspired to embark on the six-day excursion after reading articles in surf magazines about similar trips others had taken across the country.

Naughton said he had recently begun biking and was looking for a challenge.

Owen and Naughton left Lompoc on Monday and planned to be at UCSD, ready for the new school year, no less than six days later. However, it didn’t take them long to realize their trip would be a lot tougher than they ever expected.

“Our first day was miserable,” Naughton said. “We didn’t know how long 70 miles would be, and we almost didn’t make it. We thought we were going to have to turn around.”

That evening, they arrived at Carpinteria State Beach and spent the night nursing sore limbs. But instead of heading back home, they decided to keep chugging along the coast, pumping through about 50 miles of riding per day. They spent their nights at state beaches in Carpinteria, Malibu, Dana Point, Cardiff by the Sea and one night at Owen’s brother’s house in El Segundo.

According to Naughton, the toughest part of the trip wasn’t navigating the seaside side streets, but maneuvering urban labyrinths like Los Angeles and Long Beach. As busses were often parked in bike lanes, the bikers were forced to veer into indifferent traffic on more than one occasion.

As could be expected, crotchety commuters stuck in rush-hour showed little sympathy — not even for two sun-burnt boys biking the California coast with surfboards and camping gear in tow.

“We definitely got honked at,” Naughton said.

The pair also had trouble building speed with the constant impediment of red lights. Their trailers — which, Naughton estimated, weighed about 30 pounds — made it noticeably harder to peddle, especially after being at a standstill. There were times when both would fall back despite their best efforts to endure the rigorous schedule.

Finally, after piloting their way out of the city, the two-man team happened upon the 2009 Hurley Pro surf contest in Trestles, where Naughton said they hit the beach with the professionals.

After a lay day in Trestles, the boys decided to round out the last leg of their expedition by heading south to San Diego — and Fall Quarter.

When it was finally 2 p.m. on move-in day and Naughton picked up the keys to his dorm, he said his parents showed up with all the things he couldn’t fit in his trailer.

It was a trip Naughton says he would definitely repeat. Turning move-in day into a memorable six-day journey along the California coast, Naughton and Owen conducted their own custom Wilderness Orientation and squeezed the most out of summer 2009 — right up to the bitter end.

Readers can contact Mike Studzinski at [email protected].

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