The joys of biking down the California coast for In-N-Out

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Sebastian Herics, Channels Staff

You haven’t seen California until you’ve seen it from the seat of a bicycle.

You also don’t know anything about California if In-N-Out doesn’t excite you. Though, I only know a few people willing to bike 12 miles to reach the West Coast’s mecca of fast food, where even the cooks are dressed in pious white.

Of course, cycling to In-N-Out doesn’t happen every day. If it did, on-sale avocadoes would be more exciting than those golden double-doubles. No, those 12 miles are only for Santa Barbara’s quirky tradition of First Thursday, where shops feel fancy by staying open longer for fancy people. Among the trombone quartets and wine-serving art galleries, another event transpires: Bike Moves.

Bike Moves is a themed local bicycle ride that cruises up and down State Street, ending on the compass of Stearns Wharf with a game of bike sumo. The winner leads a charge to a local restaurant or bar. It lasts late into the night for most, and the people there are just as diverse as the bicycles they ride.

That includes my two cycling buddies, part of the few who are willing to make the pilgrimage to the crossed palm trees. A lightly bearded Tomás Tedesco is a frank philosopher friend, and people lean in as he speaks to understand what he’s saying with his Argentinian accent. Sergio Garcia is the humble clean-shaven bicycle mechanic. He’s one of the helpful guys you see at SBCC’s Bike Shop by the bridge. With me, we’re the Three Musketeers on our noble steel steeds. We had quite a journey together, one that was a bit longer than 12 miles.

It’s a strange thing, arriving to a familiar place from an opposite direction, and the local paper thought so as well. For us Musketeers, we began roughly 300 miles (Alright, 278 to be exact) the opposite direction of our beloved In-N-Out during the recent summer. We pedaled through strange forests, dunes, cliffs, and rolling foreign lands of the California coast. Our In-N-Out was the finish line and became the constant butt of our jokes throughout our four-day tour from Salinas down to Santa Barbara. We would sight a crushed In-N-Out cup on the side of the road in Big Sur or Pismo along the highways and bike trails, and proclaim it as a sign from the burger-cycling gods. That’s when the shoulder disappeared. That allowed us to bomb hills at 30-40 miles per hour on the Pacific Coast Highway, blurting out “For In-N-Out!” and hollering loudly, madly ringing our bells. At night in camps, huddling around our little stove eating turkey and bananas; we would laugh at the mention of those golden double-doubles being the end-all and be-all of any cycling journey.

And it all started at our Mecca near ol’ Santa Barbara, munching on our burgers, inhaling our shakes, devouring our fries. It was at that In-N-Out where we finalized our cycling tour through humble philosophical bantering and jokes at 1 a.m., and it was there that we ended our roughly 300-mile trek.

And as normal, our ‘What ifs’ and ‘Can you imagine ifs’ began rolling out, just like any of our other first Thursday midnight In-N-Out runs. And maybe that’s all you need sometimes, to have crazy ideas among friends, who are crazy enough to actually do it. It sure makes double-doubles and an In-N-Out much more religious.