Paige and I had a great time in San Diego visiting my old time college friend Jason Yim and his main squeeze. We rode our bikes everyday we were there trying to soak up as much So Cal sun as we could. The weather was incredible and there was something about riding your bike in the morning then heading back to home base changing into some board shorts and going into the beautiful warm ocean to wash off the gunk that was drawing both Paige and I to think of living in San Diego.
Our bike rides were pretty mellow and more of a exploratory ride than a hammer ride. I was pretty much spent and was not feeling a ride on Monday but Paige promised me she WOULD LET me ride back to Newport on my own so I could pin it. I had not thought of riding back at the time but now that she mentioned it, it sounded like a good idea. So I agreed to go on the Monday ride to La Jolla with her in exchange for LETTING me ride to Newport the next morning. The ride to La Jolla was very pleasant. I pushed Paige to the limit and she was riding fast. We cruised up the Torrey Pines hill at a great clip and even passed a triathlete (he was not happy about it). We rode through some neighborhoods eventually snaking into the downtown village area. What a scene that was, such a contrast from our Nor Cal living. Flashy shops with people wearing bling in their expensive cars. We spent some time checking out the beach and then made our way back to Solana Beach via the same route as we arrived. Check out this pic of Paige in La Jolla cove and you can also take a look at our route via Strava.
It is Tuesday morning and I have the permission to ride to Newport from Solana Beach. I am drinking my to water and had a really nice breakfast with Jason. Jason and I get back to his place and I prepare for battle. I get my kit on and put tons of sunscreen on preparing for what I thought was going to be a breeze of a ride crushing it all the way to Newport. I kiss Paige goodbye and I make my way North.
The first part of the ride was incredible, the views are the coast were unmatched and my playlist is playing happy sun songs that make me glide right through Encinitas and Carlsbad. We had already gone this far on Sunday so the views and terrain were familiar to me. Then I head into Oceanside and the bike route takes me through some the neighborhoods that were a lot of fun to ride. I wanted to hold a high MPH average but there were too many stop signs so I knew I had to pick it up on the long stretches. The only problem was after riding 9 of the last 12 days my legs were definitely feeling fatigued. But of course, I was not going to let that stop me. Finishing up in Oceanside I reach a bike route dead end. There was a gate with a military guard so I decided to go and ask the young chap. “You can go through the camp but you need to go via the main gate” he says, great I thought no big deal everything is still going as planned. I get to the other gate and its huge, I have reached the Camp Pendleton main gate. To be honest it was quite intimidating and I didn’t know what to do. I saw two military guys in a car and I asked if this was the way to continue on to the bike route up North. They had no idea, so being intimidated I decide to backtrack and see if there is an alternative route. I ride around a bit and I get frustrated that I am wasting time (everybody that rides with me knows I hate waiting and wasting time). I enter a surf shop in search of guidance. The surf dude is watching a surf video (of course) and seems very surprised to have someone come in his shop during the week in the middle of the day. So I ask him how I get North to Newport and he says “Oh, you have to go through camp Pendleton but you need a valid ID”. SHIT. Shit number 1: I have to suck it up and go talk to the scary military guys. Shit number 2: I remember looking at my ID that morning and saying, “eh, I don’t think I will need that today”. I ask surf dude if “there is any other way?”. “Well”, he says, “I have heard of people riding on the 5”. Hell no I thought, so I say thanks to surf dude and make my way back to Camp Pendleton’s main gate. I talk to one of the guards and he tells me I can go through but I need a valid ID. I don’t have it and there is no way of sweet talking this guy into letting me through without it. My ID is in the car with Paige probably already in Newport beach by this point. I give her a call and without hesitation she agrees to turn around and bring it to me. Paige was pretty much at her parents house by that point. I ask the guard if I can wait in the parking lot by the gate while my ID is being delivered to me. He says that is fine so I sit and take a few sips of my blue gatorade. I can’t help but feel a bit defeated, I was on such a high and really enjoying my ride. Everything was going as planned and this wrench was just not in the plan. Then, I caught myself, this is exactly what can happen and I should embrace it and adapt. Our travels in Tasmania will not always go as planned, and if I let a little snafu crush me then I am missing the point. My attitude soon changes and I start stretching and thinking about the last few incredible days.
Paige arrives in what I thought was a pretty short period of time. I say hi give her a thank you kiss and grab my ID. I go to my new friend (who was really cool about the whole thing) and he waves me to the front of the line making all the cars wait. I give him my ID he scans it (this process takes all of 10 seconds) and sends me on my way with a “Have a great day and ride carefully”. Alright, the ride is back on. At this point its about 2.5 hours into the whole thing and I was hoping I would be done in about 3.5, being that there was still around 45 miles to go. That was not going to happen. I start my strava and music again and I make my way through Camp Pendleton. As I ride through the Camp I am really amazed to see that it is like a little city, there was track homes and schools. Soon after the city part it becomes more desolate and almost scary. It was very empty and there was not much to see. I was able to see some troops training on the obstacle course, which was pretty neat. Now the wind is starting to pick up and it is really dragging me down. As Dave (Paige’s dad) put it, “Nobody every goes South to North, too much headwind”, thanks Dave. I am working real hard to get my legs back into motion as every pedal stroke feels like I am pushing down on thick thick mud. This is pretty much how I felt all the way through Camp Pendleton, it was painful and if it wasn’t for my music I would have gone crazy.
I finish Camp Pendleton and exit via the Las Pulgas gate. After you exit Camp Pendleton you end up on the bike route through the old pacific highway, it was really wide and almost looked like a landing strip. I continue on this for a long time it seemed, it was very lonesome and the headwind was as strong as ever. Being by yourself in a headwind is never a good time, if you stop concentrating you can really slow down almost to a complete stop sub-consciously. I ride through the lonely San Onofre state park where there must have been hundreds of RV’s on labor day weekend. The San Onofre park seemed to go on for miles and finally I reach the nuclear power plant that looks like two big robotic So Cal boobs. Shortly after I enter San Clemente which was a huge relief because now there are people and I am riding through the neighborhoods. The only negative was this was the beginning of the rollers. There were tons of these little rollers that snaked me through the neighborhoods of San Clemente. It was tough trying to follow the bike route signs and I was being very trusting of them to lead me towards PCH. Eventually I reach the highway 1 entrance (PCH) but it looks more like a highway and not safe for cyclists so I debate for a few minutes getting on it. I said screw it, I will be fine. Now my legs are starting to feel tight from the long flat stretch fighting the headwind and the roller sprints that got me through San Clemente. I get a flat stretch through Capistrano and that helps me out a bit. I was running low on water and gatorade but I just had my energy gu so I was feeling pretty good. Until I got to Dana Point. Dana Point was the start of the long rollers that continued onto Laguna. To be honest there isn’t much to day about this segment, I was really tired, there was no shoulder on the road, I couldn’t even pay attention to the music playing on my iphone. I just rode.
I finally see the sign for Newport Beach and I cannot be more excited but, there is a catch. There is always a catch. I still had a few miles of pain to go. Suddenly I though of all the people that ride with me and how pissed they are when I say “We are almost there” when there is still quite a ways to go. I am really faiding at this point and I never got a refill of water. I know, stupid. I can be really stubborn. I knew I should have stopped at one of the many 7-11’s but I kept saying I am almost there, just ride it through. Biggest mistake. I reach the Crystal Cove mall so I know I am really close now. As I slow down to a stop at one of the lights I look to my left and there is a older gentlemen talking to me. I almost think I am hallucinating but I take my headphones off and he begins to lecture me about wearing both headphones while riding. Nice. I am pretty weak and his talking sounds like the adult voices on the Charlie Brown movies. I finally am able to tune in and he starts to share with me how happy he is now that we got his bike fitted and shows my his pedal stroke so I can verify. I find this comical but also am relieved he started talking to me. Most riders have reached this point of pain, where you are just out of it. Pretty much a bonk. My “guardian angel” helped me push through those last couple miles. There was one last little hill to climb and I made it to Paige’s parents house in Newport. Mission accomplished. The ride was WAY harder than I thought it was going to be. But nonetheless and great adventure to give me a taste to what is to come in Tasmania. Here is a pic to prove the carnage. Check out the Strava route.
This was written by Carlos Valle.