August 28, 2019
The RV couple gave me goodbye hugs and I rode back into the world of crazy drivers on the 1. Everyone had somewhere to be this morning, and I hopped in the center of a lane once the bike path disappeared so I was fully visible.
Since LA, drivers had been impatient with cyclists. When there are no bike paths, lanes, or shoulders, I take the middle of the road. Not the side of a lane. Smack in the middle. Being timid and to the side of the lane gives permission for drivers to pass me uncomfortably close, and that’s not safe. The middle of the lane is safest, and cars can pass in the left lane. Even though there’s another open lane to my left, drivers still show their tempers by tailgating, honking, or accelerating quickly once they pass. I blow kisses at the true assholes… that makes the situation considerably less frustrating for me.
I was pissing off a lot of drivers by existing this morning, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying my day. I found an itty bitty coffee shop with a friendly barista in Laguna Beach. Some middle-of-the-lane riding turned to wide bike lane past town, then a gorgeous bike path. I stopped in San Clemente to look up directions and a woman from a bike shop asked me how I was getting past the Marine Base Camp. Umm…? What? Apparently I needed a badge to get on a bike path there. She recommended I take a train to Oceanside, a town right past the base. I bought a train ticket and stopped for mid-morning crepes.
One station later, I was back on the bike and battling a headwind past beach towns. A bit of awesome bike lane here, a bit of no-bike-lane-and angry-cars there. I rolled into Del Mar, totally spent, and ordered a cervesa and sandwich. My Warmshowers host for the night got in touch and I rode up a big hill to a $2.3 million dollar house. The host, Scott, and his son were landscaping the yard and I lent a hand. They told me this was a rental property and I had it all to myself. I was pretty impressed with the generosity! I took a refreshing shower and walked back down the hill for an Italian dinner. Excellent, a whole bread basket for myself.
August 29, 2019
I stopped at Bird Rock Roasters in Del Mar for coffee and pastries this morning. The cortados were so tasty I had two. The coffee made me feel excited and energetic. A beautiful bike path took me up through Torrey Pines. The big hill was lined with taupe eroding sandstone cliffs, rusty colored wildflowers, and silvery blue sage. I climbed inland for a bit, then back down a big hill into La Jolla, where I hopped off the bike and explored tide pools. The ocean crashed around me and I gazed at the unusual sea life.
From the tide pools, I found my way to a dirt bike path that wove through backyards and colorful neighborhood streets in La Jolla. The vibrant town was sweet and adorable. More bike path took me to the harbor in San Diego, and I hopped on the ferry to Coronado Island.
From Coronado Island, I had a tailwind down a smooth bike path lined by ocean. This was the final stretch. I danced on my bike to music and savored the last 10 miles. Two turns into South San Diego, and the bike path disappeared into cracked road. I felt a bit nervous, being so close to the border. This area looked dilapidated, barren, and uninviting. I rode by ranches and horses, looking ahead toward hills and the border fence. All I had to do was turn right and keep riding for two more miles to Imperial Beach. I stopped, feeling scared and intimidated, and considered turning around. No. That’s not how I want to end this. The point of this trip was to push myself. I grappled with my choices on the side of the road, and decided to keep riding. I pedaled fast, legs shaking in anticipation for the end of it all. I reached a parking lot for Border State Park. There were three people coming out of a car, and I asked them to take a photo of me. They were so stoked about what I just did, took my photo, and invited me to join them at the beach.
We walked a mile to the ocean, and ran around in the water. I collected sand dollars and took a nap in the sun. My three new friends tossed my bike in the back of their car and we feasted on the best tacos of my life that afternoon.
They dropped me off at my Warmshowers in Golden Hill, at Victoria and Judd’s gorgeous historic home. I talked with Victoria for an hour and her giant Maine Coon cats lingered, seeking out cuddles. Victoria, Judd, and I went out to dinner and I felt totally happy to be there, in that moment. I wouldn’t change anything about it, all of it. The trip, the bear, the people, the volcanoes, the highest of highs, the fear, the lowest of lows, and all the croissants. This was the trip of a lifetime.