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Friday, 14 September 2012

Day 40: We've only gone an bloomin' done it - Carlsbad to the Mexican Border!

Up early and on the road by 7, we were both really excited and anxious to get finished. There was quite a heavy fog, but it was still pretty hot following one road pretty much to San Diego.

All of the towns along this stretch Enchinitas, Cardiff by the Sea, Solana Beach were really great little towns - all with surf shacks and java bars and spraling white sandy beaches. Even at 7am the towns were buzzing with people running and getting their surf in before work - total West Coast lifestyle.

A big climb into Del Mar definately got our blood pumping, but apart from the sweat dripping from my head it actually wasn't too bad - I must be getting good at this cycling lark... although after the descent I realised that I had a front puncture - noooo!

We stopped and changed it pretty quick, but realised after we had loaded the bike back up, that we had put the wheel in wrong... ah!! We finally got sorted again after about 30 mins and was back on the road with our fingers crossed it wouldn't happen again.

We took a scenic road through La Jolla entering San Diego city, the place was gorgeous. We stopped for a quick break to see a cove full of snorklers and seals. It was a pretty nice ride keeping to the coast. The bike path along Mission Beach was a similar, but more chilled out, ride to those boardwalks in LA.Taking the Mission Bay drive through Mission Bay Park and through Point Loma - we really wanted to power through, but were starving so stopped for a quick bite.

Past the US naval reservation, a bike path again took us into downtown where we met a couple of guys from Macclesfield who were also finishing at the boarder following the book route.

We had wanted to take the ferry to Coronado to take the scnic route along the strand, but we had just missed a boat and didn't fancy waiting 50 mins - we just wanted to finish. Now heading the same way as the guys, we followed the book route which took a less scenic route through the industrial section if town - not too pleasing on the eye but definitely a lot quicker. However, the road we needed was closed off for road works, but us and another cyclist decided to just go for it through the building site and nobody stopped us, thank goodness we didn't need a detour at this point!

The route took us into Chula Vista where Tijuana started to appear on the bike route signs. Reaching the summit of one hill we could see Mexico over the border - wow so close! Passing through the last small town San Ysidro which was full of money exchange shops and immigration "specialists". Turning the corner there it was... the San Ysido/Tijuana border!

Wow we made it!!! Can't believe we've gone and bloomin' done it.

There were so many times we thought we wouldn't but we're here, it hasn't really sunk in yet. It just goes to prove what you can do when you put your mind to something and have amazing people behind you.

Thank you so much to everyone from the bottom of our hearts for all of your support.

...you never know, maybe this time next year we'll be millionaires!

Miles today 59. Total miles 1840.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Day 39: Are we nearly there yet? - Huntington Beach to Carlsbad

The day began with a pleasant spin down the beach bicycle path, but that was only to last for a few miles, then we were on to the PCH and in this part of California the car is king so it was very busy.

As we were cycling through the next town, Newport Beach, which I believe was the setting of popular TV series 'The OC', we got talking to another cyclist who guided us off the highway for a while and took us on a tour of some if Newport's most salubrious neighbourhoods, the houses were amazing some right next to the water with luxury boats parked outside. So thanks for the tour Harver and for getting us away from the traffic for a while.

We then cycled on through the nice beach town of Laguna Beach where we stopped to look at the ocean and get some lunch and then it was onwards through more beach towns, Dana Point and Capistrano Beach then to San Clemente.
In San Clamente our route took us through another tour of town streets before heading out of town on a bike path. Then we were out of built up areas for a while.
First we went through some state beaches sandwiched between the train tracks and the freeway on one side and the ocean on the other, past a nuclear power plant and then headed inland for a rather unique section of the ride.

The area of the coast between San Clemente and Oceanside is dominated by Camp Pendleton Marine Reservation and the only road that disects it is the I5 freeway where bikes are not allowed, so our only route was through the camp. We had to show ID at the entry gate and then we were allowed to cycle through the camp for the next ten miles. We saw some signs for 'Tank Crossing' and a few military vehicles but other than that it was like cycling through a university in many ways.

After Camp Pendleton we headed back to the beaches at the town of Oceanside and then on to Carlsbad where we finished for the day.
Close to the end now.

Miles today 58. Total miles 1781.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Day 38: This ain't no disco, it ain't no country club either... Malibu to Huntington Beach

Our stay in the Malibu Motel was so relaxing, you could hear the ocean through our window in the night, so we both felt really rejuvenated in the morning. Setting off just before 9am along a really busy Highway 1, even though there was a shoulder there were cars parked so it made it quite unsafe to ride along, so reaching the bike path on the beach at Santa Monica was well received. We treated ourselves to a breakfast burrito on the beach.

The bike path was amazing, taking you right along the beach, even through the sand in some places along Santa Monica, Venice and Manhattan beach. The path was buzzing - yummy mummies running with Prams, cyclists of all shapes an sizes, I even saw a guy in his 80's roller blading - he was such a dude!

At Redondo beach the path took us through a hotel car park which was really strange, but out at the pier where we took to the LA roads. It wasn't too bad at first, with a bike path most if the time or a large shoulder. As we rode through Carson however, it was a different story. The road surface was awful, no shoulder and three lanes of really fast traffic heading for the freeway entrance. The worst thing was we thought we had gone the wrong way and went back on ourselves so ended up cycling the bridge over the railway lines twice.

Finally we made it to the bike path, which was nice to be off the road but it was pretty deralict - it was up high with one side the Los Angeles river, which looked like the bit where they filmed the race scene in Grease and industrial on the other. It was easy to get some speed up and we were in the marina and Shoreline village which reminded me a little of Vancouver. The bike path continued along Bluff Park with white sandy beach all the way along and filled with kite surfers.

Back onto the road on 2nd street over Alamitos bay which was full of swimmers and dragon boat racers - everyone in this city seems to be either at the beach or in a car! Turning onto the PCH towards Seal Beach we realised we had done it - LA - and still lived to tell the tale.

Another bike path at Sunset beach took us all the way to Huntington Beach where we called it a day and had our first fish taco - oh my god amazing!

Miles today 62. Total miles 1723.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Day 37: The Long Haul- Santa Barbara to Malibu

Up and out early into the sunshine.

The day started with a ride through Santa Barbara in the early morning sun, Santa Barbara is a lovely town, lots of nice Spanish architecture and you have the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other.

The ride continued on through the towns of Summerland, Carpintera & Ventura, where we cycled along bike paths and beaches full of surfers, this is SoCal as you would imagine it to be, except for the weather, upon leaving Santa Barbara a fog had rolled in and the day was to remain overcast, so none of the famous California sunshine today, ah well you can't have it all.

After Ventura we cycled through the towns of Oxnard & Port Hueneme then headed out down a mountainous rugged section of coastline that would probably be our last stretch of open country riding before we hit LA. The start of this section was met with a huge headwind that had me riding in my uphill gearing it was so strong, luckily it did not last.
As we stopped to look at the ocean we saw a school of dolphins swimming by which was a lovely sight, we have been so lucky to have seen so much amazing wildlife on this trip.
Following that we hit the sprawling community of Malibu. So many huge and amazing houses were gathered by the sea and dotted on the hillside, you can see that this area is the preserve of the rich and famous.
Got to a motel tired and hungry, out largest amount of miles covered today! LA tomorrow!
Miles today 80. Total miles 1,661.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Day 36: The last big climb - Lompoc to Santa Barbara

First pot of call for the day was, you guessed it, the bike shop - which never seem to open until 10am anywhere, so we had to wait around. The guy was really hekpful  and didn't actually have any wheels to fit Dave's bike, but managed to rebuild his wheel. Rebuilding a well isn't a quick job, so we had to wait around until lunch, which is just so frustrating when all you want to do is get on the road.

Finally by about 1pm we were back on the road with a new wheel and new front tyres. From leaving Lompoc it's a gradual climb for about 15 miles. It wasn't too bad, but the road surface was just really bad so hard to pick up speed. We finally made the summit of the hill, just under 1k feet and I was so excited to think this was the last big climb, and it was actually pretty easy.

The downhill was awesome about 2.5 miles of straight down, although I realised half way down that this would also be our last big descent - so I made the most of it ha! The road took us back onto the 101, onto a really busy section through massive rock, on the northbound side there is even a tunnel. I was really glad we were heading south and still downhill. Taking a break at the rest stop,I had a cuddle by three lively dogs which helped me relax.

We were pretty much on the 101 then until Goleta, which meant we could keep the speed up and make it to Santa Barbara before sunset.
Coming into Santa Barbara was awesome, we followed a bike path that took us all through the university - which looked more like a holiday complex than a uni - the how town had such a great vibe, wow such a great place!
We finally arrived at our motel just after 7pm, which was pretty good going.
Miles today 54. Total miles 1581.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Day 35: Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air - Santa Maria to Lompoc

With the wheel problem on my bike continuing we decided we needed to get a new one, two popped spokes in two days= broken wheel I think and there's no way I want to be changing spokes everyday until the finish line. It's annoying to have to get a new wheel so close to the end but what can you do?

The nearest bike shop was twenty miles down the road but unfortunately it was closed on Sunday and we couldn't risk another fifty miles to Santa Barbara with such a weak wheel. We decided to just do a short day to Lompoc where the shop is located and get the new wheel first thing on Monday.

The short day gave us chance to hit the breakfast buffet in the hotel, all this riding has made me an eating machine so I definitely got my monies worth!

We set off into the sunshine for a short but certainly not uneventful ride.

About two miles in Holly got a flat in her front tyre, then after another two miles she got another one then after another two miles I got one! Unbelievable! All three flats were in the front tyre which neither of us had previously had a flat in for the entire trip (our succession of earlier flats had all been in the back tyre) which made it even more unbelievable. On close inspection both tires are very worn so we may have to add new tyres to tomorrow's shopping list. I have to admit changing the third tyre in the bkazing heat by the side of a busy freeway was pretty frustrating and I needed to let a strongly worded shout to release the tension.

Luckily after this we didn't get any more flats for the rest of the day.
The ride progressed from the highway through some farmland and up a 900 foot climb where we got a nice view of the valley below us, then it was all downhill to Lompoc where we grabbed a motel for the night.

Miles today 20. Total miles 1527.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Day 34: Some people stand in the darkness - Morro Bay State Park to Santa Maria

The bike shop in San Luis didn't open until 10 so we took our time sorting out what weight we could lose. As after today there wasn't many places we wanted to camp again we decided to get rid of all our camping gea
Our pot, burner and bowls were all starting to break so they headed for the bin, but we didn't know what to do with the tent and mats as it wouldn't have been worth sending them home we decided to give it all to a young family from mexico who were camping in the next spot. They only had one tent between mum, dad, grandma and granddaughter. They were really appreciative and were really lovely people, we felt happy our tent would be going to a good home. Just as we were about to head off Ron from yesterday turned up on his bike to check we were OK and had got our spoke fixed! Amazing, what a great guy! People sure are nice and friendly around here!
Heading into farmland a little lighter on our way to San Luis Opisbo. With the glorious sunshine we stopped to apply sunscreen. As we were slathering the cold cream over us, a car pulled up and a guy wound down his window "I live just around the corner, do you need any help?" We all had a laugh when I said we were just creaming up. I think Morrow Bay is officially the nicest town!
After about 16 miles we reached San luis. Wow what a nice place (Matt and Leah you are so lucky it's your home town!) It had such a great vibe, friendly people, lots of independent cafes and bars we wish we could have stayed longer. When we were finished in the bike shop we took the 227 and Price Canyon Road into Pismo beach and couldn't help singing the Baywatch theme tune out loud as we road - So Cal, we have arrived!
The beach looked amazing and the houses were just so nice, if it wasn't for all the warning signs everywhere of what to do if you hear the nuclear warning signal I would be moving in! Who's bright idea was it to build a nuclear power plant on a fault line?!
Stopping for lunch in the centre of town, bustling with Saturday visitors, we had a wonder round the seaside town.
Following the Highway 1, now the Pacific Coast Highway was passed through Grover Beach and Ocean and up a fairly steep hill back into farm lands and terrible, terrible road surfaces. After quite a few miles I needed a bathroom break so we stopped at a garage in Guadalupe, but a guy got the key before me.... we wsited for a good 15 mins. I decided I didn't want to go in there after that amount of time so we headed onwards. Guadalupe was a bit scary, a real farm town, we actually felt like we were in Mexico, but no more bathrooms - ahh, so pushed forwards to the next town Orcutt.
The first few miles there was a terribly heavy head wind, but as it cleared we started powering quite fast along the roads, not a good idea.... yes you guessed it... spoke number 3 for Dave broke - that's 2 in 2 days! Damn. Dave made it most of the way to Orcutt, but had to push the last mile.
We were so tired and all we wanted was a motel, turns out there are no motels in Orcutt. An awesome old town with old styled shops and buildings but no motel, b&b nothing! I was really close to tears as we just didn't know what to do. Lots of people stopped to chst and tell us what a nice town it is and how nice and helpful everyone is, but funny thing was nobody really helped us! One lady directed us to a hotel 'only half a mile down the road' (it was 4). We had to mend the spoke there and then and cycle to try and find this hotel.
Finally the spoke was fixed and we were on the highway... heading north towards San Francisco - a little soul distroying. The sun had set and we were losing daylight, we finally found the hotel by the Santa Maria airport - a Radisson. I head to go in with my charity top on and pigtails and beg for a cheap room. We were so relieved they had a room spare, as there was a female pilot convention on! They gave us a special rate in the room - but was still way over budget - if only we had got Dave a new wheel when we got mine, you live and learn hey?
The room was amazing, the bed even had air control to adjust the firmness of the mattress, it was the nicest bed I can remember sleeping in. I never want to leave.
Miles today 61 (4 in the wrong direction - doh). Total miles 1507.