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Ripon Police supervisor on 1,500-mile bicycle ride

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Ripon Police supervisor on 1,500-mile bicycle ride

Linda Johnston

Photo contributed/

POSTED May 7, 2012 12:16 a.m.

RIPON - A 23-year veteran Ripon Police dispatch supervisor, Linda Johnston, is well into her 1,500 mile bicycle jaunt from near the Canadian border to somewhere in the vicinity of Santa Barbara and then back to Ripon.

Friday was her fourth day on the road, noting that she was eating oatmeal and a soda for breakfast before heading out to cycle along Highway 105.

The 49-year-old Johnston has taken 30 days off from the city to refresh her heart, mind and soul hoping to log up to 100 miles a day in her quest. The longest ride she has taken to date was the 100 miles she rode three years ago around Lake Tahoe.

Her mother is keeping tabs on her from her car. The two are spending their nights in motels with Johnston readily admitting how intensely she hates the alternative of camping out.

She is posting her daily adventures on Facebook for her friends to see and to be able to keep up with her day-to-day chronicles.

“I started out just driving around doing some sightseeing and resting my body. As I was driving south on 101, taking in the beauty of the area, I came to a new realization. This trip is not about 1,500 miles anymore. It is about exploring, seeing countryside that I would not have seen otherwise, taking a much needed break from the 23 years working at the PD, and about rediscovering who I am as a person. This trip is about going as far as my time and money will allow while riding on two wheels,” she posted online.

Johnston said she had stopped at a small country store in Queens, WA where she was greeted by “an old scraggly dog” that looked like a mutt begging for food outside a grocery store – sad and pitiful. The clerk ignored her questioning whether the dog lived there, so she bought two cans of chicken and opened them for the hungry animal. Chuckling, she said the dog picked up the first entire can and took it over to a grassy area – apparently its dining spot.

With her $2,000 Dolce bike needing service after three days, she located a bike shop in Aberdeen after fighting her share of rain and mud. The mechanic agreed to look at her bike so she could head out in the morning. She asked what time she could pick it up – he responded 6 p.m. adding that they closed at 5:30. The shop owner further explained he would work on it after closing time and have it ready for her.

He charged her only $10 and added a warning about riding on Highway 101, suggesting an alternate route for her safety, noting a couple riders had recently been killed by motorists veering over the fog line.

She rode into Aberdeen during the “Shorebird Festival” when thousands of birds flock into the harbor for their yearly migration.

Early on in her planning, Linda was aware of the possibility of torrential rain in the north state, saying she would take time off rather than battle the weather.

“I rode a lot in my 20s and I have been actively riding again since about 2005 with a specialized Dolce 2011 model. I have two bikes: my older bike I will take with me in case one breaks down. It is also a specialized Dolce, but it is a lower end 2007 model,” she said.

The terrain she has chosen has a little bit of everything, she said, from flats to 800 feet in elevation.

In addition to her ride around Lake Tahoe in 2009, she has ridden on small trips to Santa Cruz and from Tracy to Livermore and back. Another trip took her from home to Knights Ferry.

“Nothing major – just little stuff,” she says.

The maps of her adventure came from the Adventure Cycling Association. Her current route has five maps associated with it. The actual complete mapped ride goes all the way down to the border of Mexico.

“I’m not going to go that far, but somewhere south of San Francisco and then cut back taking both Highway 1 and 101 to a point – I’m guessing – to somewhere near Santa Barbara after starting at Blain, WA.”

Johnston said by “day 6” she should be hitting California near Crescent City, but the weather may be slowing her expectations. She hoped it would take her three days to get out of Washington and another three days to clear Oregon.

“California will take me whatever it takes me,” she quipped. “People have encouraged be to go down Highway 1 because there is much less traffic, but I’m making decisions as I go based on my mood.”

There are a couple of light houses on her planned route that have perked her interest that she wants to check out and just about anything else that strikes her interest. She and her mom with her two bikes drove up I-5 to Washington – an intentional route so they wouldn’t see the same countryside twice.

Johnston said she is not going to post her location as to when she is coming back home.

“So when I get to within the last two days of my trip, you are not going to see me on line, because I don’t want people in my driveway when I get home.”

She said she wants to be free to unwind and relax because she knows she’s going to be tired, saying it would be embarrassing – something she doesn’t need after such a long trip.

“This is just a personal goal. It’s on my bucket list. You know we all have bucket lists in our lives. This is my ‘before I become 50’ bucket list item. I don’t feel like I am going to be 50. I’m healthy. It’s not like the old days when people our age were old and decrepit and barely walking. What’s the purpose – that’s what life is all about!”


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