Tuesday, 3 November 2009

End of Part Two - Day 59 – 50 miles

We started the day with an excellent cooked breakfast made by Olivia. Before leaving I fixed my punctured rear tyre. We said our goodbyes to Jenna and thanked Olivia and her housemates for putting us up for the night.

It was Halloween so Chris, Brooke and I stopped off at a thrift store (a sort of giant charity shop) to try and find some costumes to ride in. Sadly all the costumes had been taken already. We tried on a few ridiculous items of clothing before getting back on the road without costumes.

A few miles later we were passed by a gang of bikers wearing some really excellent costumes. It was a hot day so I was impressed to see some of them riding at speed with large wigs and heavy suits. Later on we saw them stopped at the side of the road so pulled over to get our pictures taken with them. They were a lovely bunch of guys and it was fun chatting with them for a few minutes.

It was Saturday and there were lots of bikers out, they were all really friendly and supportive. It was Chris and Brooke's last day and they received lots of congratulations from the bikers we chatted to. Just before entering San Diego we climbed a big hill. As all the unladen racing bikers passed us they cheered us on.

On the other side of the hill we entered the city of San Diego and navigation started to get tricky again. Chris and Brooke were getting picked up by their uncle on the outskirts of San Diego so we said our goodbyes. We were all staying in San Diego for a while so made plans to meet up in a few days time.

I was on my own for the first time in about a week. It felt strange and took me a while to get the hang of navigating by myself again. Beth and Brian who I'd ridden with as part of my first gang before San Francisco had kindly invited me to stay with them at their new apartment in San Diego. It took me 2 hours to navigate the 10 miles of complex city bike paths before nearing their house. Leading up to their neighbourhood was the steepest hill I'd encountered since San Francisco. On the approach it looked near-vertical. It was only just possible to climb the hill on my heavily loaded bike.

It was a big relief to finally make it Beth and Brian's place. I was so pleased to see them both again. When I'd said goodbye to them back in San Francisco I wasn't sure whether I'd ever see them again. They made me feel very welcome and said I could stay until I was ready to head into Mexico.

In the evening we headed out into their neighbourhood to have a look at the craziness of an American Halloween. Amongst the Michael Jacksons, drag queens and Roman centurions I was amused to see a few people dressed as cyclists.

It was time for a rest. My knee was not in great shape and my bum could use a few days off the saddle. I also had a ton of preparation to do before entering Mexico. I was now only 15 miles from the border. I'd almost made it across the entire length of the United States of America. This was certainly something to pleased about. Setting out on this journey I expected the highlights to be the mountains, forests and scenery. These have all exceeded my expectations. What has surprised me most in becoming the highlight of my trip are the wonderful friends I've made along the way. I'd never expected to meet people who I would ride, camp and eat with every day. These people have made me laugh, taught me a great deal and looked after me when I was in trouble. Friendships are compressed on a trip like this. You can go from meeting someone to feeling like you have known them all your life in a matter of days.

As I prepare for Mexico I'm excited and frightened by the unknown that awaits me down there. I'm expecting a huge culture shock, far fewer cyclists and some concerns for my safety. I know that great things await me as I attempt to reach the bottom of the 1,000 mile long Baja Peninsula. I also know that huge challenges are down there too. I'll need to carry lots of heavy water, find safe places to sleep and learn a language I can hardly speak.

No comments:

Post a Comment