California Dreaming

Whatever you thought you knew, think again.
This is something we have been thinking about a lot already over the past few days of cycling – the fact that you think you’ve done the research, of the route, of the kit, and you think you know how to be a cyclist, but then you have to learn new things quickly, you realise you don’t know the answers,  and sometimes you make mistakes that you’ve made before, it’s an exersize in humility.
11th May – Orange to Doheny
12th May – Doheny to Carlsbad
13th May – Carlsbad to San Diego
view photos that belong with this post here

On our first day we set off in the early evening.  We rode past the place that Leah’s Mum step-Dad live so they waved us off, providing us with final provisions, we cycled along some busy fast roads, and after a failed attempt to camp on the beach we settled for the Doheny state park campsite, at home if it’s late you can usually just pitch your spot on the site and pay up in the morning, or sneak out before the office opens, here there was some official sheriff guy making us fill out the right forms, and then after we’d pitched out tent he even made us move our tent to the specific place were cyclists are allowed to camp.  We spent the next morning until mid day with our panniers spewed out over picnic benches reconfiguring our kit, compartmentalising everything.  We made some rules (always have you bike lights to hand and an extension of that being always know where all of your stuff is located, always have a realistic place to aim to before dark, never turn down the opportunity to shower.

 So, at midday on Sunday we set out again, mostly avoiding roads the whole day, instead we cycled along the beach, through a gigantic military base which was weirdly peaceful, and laid back coastal towns.  Leah grew up in San Clemente, her Dad still lives there, and he came to meet us, he sorted out a problem we’d had with the campstove fuel, and then he took us to his favourite Mexican place for lunch.  Del Sol was something to behold,  a simple sort of fast food looking place, but it served the most amazing food, for $2 I got a gigantic breakfast burrito, eggs, re-beans, guac everything. Leah’s dad then drove on ahead, he got his bike out of his van and rode with us for a few miles, this was his stomping ground, he’d lived in this town for 50 years, he surfed that beach almost every day, now he was pulling tricks on his bike, cycling non-handed before he waved his daughter off on her way to Argentina, what a legend.
This is California –  it’s like I finally what the beach boys were singing about all the time, and I’ve had that weezer song, going surfing buzzing through my head.  People ride their bikes with surf boards attached to the side, there are road signs to make you aware of surfers crossing the road, the sun is hot and it’s not even summer, the streets are lined with palm trees, avocados and oranges grow in peoples gardens;  life is good.
We cycled through the military base, and then along to a place called Ocean Side and along to the campground at Calsbad.  We set up camp and thought about cooking, instead opting to eat cake for dinner and get into our tents, I think it was 8.30 when I turned my light out – this is the life on the open road that I am excited about, the ability to do whatever you like.
Today, we started out late again, Leah had some important phone calls to make, once we set out the route to San Diego along the Pacific Coast Highway was a delight, classic southern Californian beach towns, with the ocean constantly on our right side.  There were some good hills in this part of the route, so we got our first taste of what it feels like to climb hills in 30degree Celsius, practice for when we do serious hills in serious heat.  Cooling our feet off in the ocean was pure bliss.  We then hit the campus for San Diego University, it was a total maze, but once we worked out our route and were on our way down the street, a cyclist blazed past us asking where we were going.  We got chatting and it turned out he’s done loads of touring across the USA and Europe, he really knew his stuff.  Chris was keen for us to see the best bits of San Diego so he took us along the traffic free paths and along the beach.  We took up the offer to camp our tent in his mom’s backyard for the night, which is at the top if a hill.  Tonight we are sleeping beside a lemon tree with amazing views of San Diego city, the mountains of Mexico in view, and I am very happy.  Tomorrow morning we cross the border to Mexico.
In the words of my Dad- it’s a long road behind you, but an even longer road ahead.

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