Riding About California
Cycling can provide a new beginning, as well as a memorable ride, as we find out from this Californian adventure
I am not sure I would categorize myself as a ‘cyclist’, but I have loved riding bikes since I was 4 years old. I learned on a yellow low rider with a banana seat. It was the first time I was able to venture out of my comfort zone, even if it was just a couple of blocks away. In the mid 1980’s, for my 13th birthday, I was stoked to get a Raleigh 10 speed. I was stylin’ and that was the turning point where my radius expanded to the small town city limits of Lemoore, California. No biggie, as this small, farming town only had 1 stoplight.
As I grew older and followed my love and education in photography, I found myself less on 2 wheels and more in the automobile bubble. Moving from the urban streets of San Francisco to the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, I found myself missing the rural streets that I grew up riding. In the last 10 years, I started racing triathlons, which helped fulfill my love for competition. I love being outdoors, pushing myself and seeing what my body can do. Going from smaller Olympic distances followed by Ironman races across the country I was digging the sport. This only helped fuel a quest I had rolling around in my head. How could I integrate my love of photography and art with my love of cycling and sport? I love doing both and they both fulfill me in different ways.
When I question my work, I like to go back to what my 4th grade teacher told us in class, “write about something you know.” Simple enough, but a bit like staring at a blank white canvas. At that time, I was thinking back on artwork that inspired me when the gears for my project started to come together. Ed Ruscha, an artist and photographer, made a simple but smart project back in 1963 titled “Twentysix Gasoline Stations”. It was simply photographs of gasoline stations shot roadside from Los Angeles to his parent’s house in Oklahoma City. It made me smile to think about how his work inspired me when I first picked up a camera and now how it helped ignite my own personal project.
I kept my idea simple. I would ride, write and photograph about where I grew up. My starting point would be where I call home now and my end would be my birthplace, Gold Beach Oregon. I feel lucky to have grown up throughout California. This landscape I know; everything from the urban Los Angeles to farming lands of the central valley to the giant redwoods in the north. I love to travel and see new things. This was my chance to revisit and show both the epic and the banal of this amazing state. My project –“Riding about California” sat in my head for some years always thinking to myself “maybe next year”.
Finally, on June 5, 2016, I went all in and started to pedal through my first day of this trek. With my unconventional south-north route through both cities and farmland, I made my way on my Cervelo. Packed solid and light in my Apidura packs, I made good time, allowing plenty of photo stops along the way. I visited family and friends, camped in beautiful state parks and crashed in the occasional random hotel completing 1,152 miles with 53,258 feet of climbing. I got out of my “car bubble”, got lost in my past and in the end found a new beginning.
To see more of Noah’s photography, visit noahwebb.com!