Coastal Ride: Days 34, 35, and 36 (Tour Complete)

Sometimes when I think back to living outside of the states, it just doesn't seem real. I have the memories, I have the pictures, and in a few cases, I still have the friendships. But it's not my current normality and so those years take on a sort of dreamlike quality. It's kind of disorienting and a little sci-fi. This trip is already starting to feel that way and it's a little bittersweet.

We're semi back to real life. The new school year will begin in just a couple weeks. We've already flown up to Washington to retrieve our pups and our car. We've managed to unpack and wash clothes. We've gone through 40 something days of mail and paid bills and deposited checks. Tyler has done some yard work and pool maintenance. I've tried, and am still trying, to salvage any survivors from my vegetable garden and citrus trees. We're back to walking the pups at 5 am to avoid the heat this area is capable of this time of year. Leah has already had a trip to the vet to check the status of her valley fever (results due back this week). Latimore is back to his lizard patrols, which he takes very seriously. The nutribullet is pleased to be employed again. We did have seven squatters attempt to gain residence while we were gone: 5 scorpions (3 comatosed and one crispy in the kitchen, and one fully functioning and energetic in the garage, as well as 2 bunnies in the backyard). They have all been asked to leave at this time no questions asked.

Day 34: Queen Mary to Carlsbad, CA

Total Miles: 78.01
Total Time: 8:02:42
Average Speed: 9.7 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 4,819 ft
Total Calories: 3,506
Start Time: 7 am

This ride happened to fall on the 4th of July. This means that throughout the entire ride (with the exception of the Camp Pendleton section) the beaches and roads were packed full of patriotic revelers adorned with their 'Merica flair. A bit ironic if you ask me. The ride was a little intense and a whole lot awesome. When we began our ride, at 7 am, people were already setting up their "reserved" spots all along Longbeach. The reality though is that these spots were probably staked out the day before and the people were just waking up from sleeping in their cars or something. The fourth is apparently serious business.

By the time we reached Huntington Beach, maybe 10-15 miles away, the party celebrating our independence was in full swing, at about 8:30 am. It was pretty crazy. I was shocked at the amount of people, as well as all the tents and cabanas and beach umbrellas and beach chairs that covered the beaches. I was shocked at all the people riding around on beach cruisers with American flags, and red, white, and blue wind spinners, and Uncle Sam hats, and wigs, and star sunglasses, and Born in the USA playing. I was shocked at the amount of drinking that was already taking place. It was a real party and we just happened to be riding our bikes right through the middle. So many people. So much drinking. So many patriots that were going to pass out require a nap before fireworks.

One standout older guy rode alongside us for a bit on his beach cruiser. He had so much 4th of July paraphernalia encompassing him, I wouldn't even know where to start in an attempt to describe him. Picture everything I already mentioned having seen and then exaggerate that image. He was a super nice guy who seemed equally excited for what we were doing as he was for the Fourth. We talked a bit before he mentioned how this was such a perfect day for one of our rides because of the Huntington Beach 4th of July Parade, the biggest parade for the Fourth this side of the Mississippi. Well, that sounded pretty substantial and I immediately responded with, "OH NO! When is that happening?" because all I could imagine was closed roads and mobs of people standing everywhere.

Turns out my premonitions were pretty spot on, but we still had over an hour until the parade was set to start. We rode past the parade participants readying themselves. There were marching bands practicing and coordinating last minute steps, and dancers, and floats, and cops everywhere. We reached the road that was going to house the parade. Naturally it was closed and naturally it was the route we were supposed to take. I asked a police woman if we could go through (since we still had an hour to parade time). She said no, but directed us back onto the beach path that would parallel the entire route. Tyler asked her about what we should expect heading down to Carlsbad. She looked at us like we were the stupidest people she'd ever met and said kindly and with a smile on her face, "It's going to be terrible. A nightmare. Aren't you from CA? Why would you ever choose this day for a ride to Carlsbad?" We told here we weren't from CA and that this was just how it worked out. She insisted we be careful. She reminded us of how many drinkers were going to be on the roads and repeated for us to have a safe ride. It was a little worrisome.

We managed to get through the parade route on the bike path fairly easily, even rode on some of the deserted route for a bit. We rode through the money areas of Laguna Beach, and Newport, and Dana Point. Laguna Beach didn't have any bike lanes which I thought was weird because I always picture the sport of cycling to be a spendy sport. Money = cyclists = road improvements like bike lanes. I guess I was wrong. Even if there was a road near the beach that may have had a bike lane, the bike lane was used as parking. It was kind of silly and extremely unsafe.

Around the Newport area we started seeing a lot of cyclists, not the beach cruisers, but serious riders. I almost thought we were part of a race. We met so many people excited for what we were doing. Many were complimentary and gave us some ideas of what to expect on our last couple days. One group of about 8 riders passed us off and on and made a big deal cheering for us as they went past. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

We spent about 15 miles in Camp Pendleton which covers a pretty good portion of land as well as beach access heading into the outskirts of San Diego. It was nice because it kept us off of I-5, the only other road close, which also happens to not allow bicycles. Like I said earlier though, this was probably the least "patriotic" section of our ride. I would have never known it even was the Fourth. It was weird, especially since those summers I had spent in other countries were spent on military bases that made a huge deal for the holiday.

We passed through Oceanside, another beach town heavy into the Fourth. At one point, Tyler and I were waiting in the bike lane for the light to change. Three other bicyclists were waiting at the same light. Someone behind us began pressing on their horn. I noticed two walking cops on the sidewalk next to me coincidentally. I turned around to see who was beeping. It was the car directly behind us that apparently wanted me to move so they could turn. I turned toward the cops to see if they saw this interaction. They had. I heard one of the cops say, "Are you kidding?" toward the honker. The guy kept beeping and was now kind of yelling out of his car for me to move and moving his hands like that would help me understand. I kind of shook my head like I couldn't believe this guy was being so belligerent, but guess I also started moving out of the way. That's when the cop making eye contact with me and the honker said, "you don't have to move." So I didn't. The light changed and I said thank you to the cop, and I never looked back at the douche honker.

We made it into Carlsbad, Natalie and Eric's house, in reasonable time for the long ride. Natalie, is a childhood friend of Tyler's and she was kind enough to randomly agree to let us crash, on the Fourth, when we couldn't find any openings anywhere. We went to her folks' place for some delicious pork tacos, and homemade cake and homemade icecream. It was sooooo good. We watched fireworks from the street and made it to bed around 12:00.

Day 35: Carlsbad, CA to Old Town, San Diego

Total Miles: 31.29
Total Time: 3:19:58
Average Speed: 9.39 mph
Total Elevation Gained:
Total Calories: 1,319
Start Time: 9 am

Our latest start time for the entire trip, and probably one of our warmer days. Natalie's dad, George, joined us for the ride into Old Town. The ride was fairly easy, 31 miles, but I was tired from late nights the last few days (relatively speaking). My knees were having a hard time. My thumb kind of had/has this weird thing going on, and my back felt like it was constantly in a state of contortion. It was.

The ride had one 450 ft climb heading into Torrey Pines. The hill wasn't anything crazy, but there was no shade and I was sweating so badly. It was just drip, drip, dripping into my eyeballs. My sunglasses were all foggy with perspiration. I could barely see. The nice thing was a handful of people (again, so many cyclists) were cheering me on up the hill. I think it's the luggage. I think they see it and understand the extra weight and the extra effort. One older guy made me laugh when I rode past him on the hill and he said, "oh, even you're passing me."  That's funny. At the top of the hill was a cabana tent set up like a bike station at a race. It had cold water, bananas, and a guy with a bike stand ready to fix any problem. I didn't really understand it. I mean it was cool, but like, who pays him?

We rode quite a bit around Mission Bay which was pretty cool, different from the shoreline of the ocean that we had followed for the last month. We reached the Old Town Inn in just a few hours. The area of Old Town holds historical relevance to the San Diego area but really seems to be just a tourist shitshow. I'm glad we checked out, but I would probably not go back. We ate at Fred's and some guy bought Tyler, George, and I tequila shots after hearing about our trip. As awful as some people can be, it is equally shocking how kind and generous others can be, people you don't even know.

We didn't make it back to the hotel until like 4:00 which was kind of a bummer because I had my heart set on spending the day at the beach once we finished the ride. We settled for some pool time at the hotel, which was extremely refreshing and then I took a quick nap before Denis picked us up. Val and Denis, the wonderful people that they are, sacrificed their weekend to come pick us up and spend their time lounging on the beaches. We spent the evening in the Gaslamp district of San Diego, most of which was in a cute jazz bar that was extremely HOT as the night progressed. We again called it a night around 12:00. We had our last ride in the morning.

Day 36: LAST DAY!! Old Town, San Diego to Border Field State Park

Total Miles: 22.02
Total Time: 2:24:16 + 45 minute wait for ferry to Coronado
Average Speed: 9.49 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 1,100 ft
Total Calories: 1,059
Start Time: 8 am

Our last ride was designed to be a short one. We rode a ferry into Coronado and then rode 12 miles or so along the bike route along the coast. We cut into a little bit of farmlands for our last 8 miles and then google, as a you're welcome gift, put us onto some deep, loose dirt trails that was as difficult as you might expect. About two miles away from the park we heard some honking, but it was the good kind. Val and Denis were driving alongside us cheering us on and taking pictures as we made our way to the park. We had actually heard the park might not be open, because it's usually not I guess, but it happened to be housing a special event that day just for us. The San Diego symphony was playing on the US side of the border in the park and a symphony from Mexico was playing on the other side. They were playing together. It was a really nice reception for us.

Tyler and I took a few pictures around the border park. Val and Denis had some ice cold celebratory beer coffee (shhh...we don't want them to get deported) for us and we headed down to the beach after the gents got the bike rack and bikes all set up.

And then Denis realized he must have dropped the key to the car at the beach. And Val thought he was joking. And Denis insisted he was not. And Val thought he was joking. And Denis insisted. And Val took off running for the beach. Denis and I followed and Tyler stayed with the car. The problem was, as you would expect, we didn't stay in just one spot and the tide was rising. We had been walking all over the beach: taking pictures, and trying to touch the fence, and getting beeped at by the border patrol for trying to touch the fence, and dipping in and out of the water. The chances of finding the key weren't looking to good.

Denis and I headed for the spot we started at. Val was already at the spot we more or less ended at. After five minutes, Val had found it. Even though I was optimistic at the time, I kind of still can't believe she found it.


  1. You guys are friggin' awesome!!!!
    I really loved hearing about your fantastic trip.


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