Today Jenna needed to get to her friends house in Oceanside. This was at least 85 miles south. Myself, Chris and Brooke all thought this was too far for us to ride so we planned to find a camping spot at a more manageable 60 miles. Jenna was unconcerned by the long ride. She is a machine and can ride faster and further than almost anyone I know.
It was a fun ride. Everybody was in good spirits having spent a night in the comfortable motel beds. We were also glad to have passed the miserable riding of LA.
We started to experience love again from other cyclists. Chris got talking to an older guy who was an experienced tourer. He recommended a place further south that made great pizza and sold a wide selection of great micro-brewery beers. We all set our sights on visiting this place later for dinner.
By the time we reached our proposed campground I was tired and experiencing pretty constant knee pain. I was ready to stop. Jenna was keen for us all to stick together and stay the night at her friends place. She suggested we stop for lunch and then make the decision whether or not to carry on. We ate PBJs by the beach and discussed whether we should carry on or stay put for the night. In the end we all decided to stay together and aim for Jenna's friend's place. I was happy with the decision, it would be great to keep the gang together for another night.
The next part of the ride took us off the road and onto a disused runway. We had great fun racing each other along the wide deserted stretch of tarmac. The route was then supposed to take us through Camp Pendleton, a military base. I was a little nervous as we approached the gun-wielding soldiers guarding the entrance to the base. I wondered whether they wouldn't let British citizens through or perhaps my beard would give them the wrong idea. As we reached the soldiers they told us the road was closed to bikes because of construction work. Our alternative route was to take the extremely busy interstate freeway I-5. The soldier didn't seem at all bothered that he was sending us out onto the dangerous freeway.
All 4 of us entered the freeway and rode along the shoulder. I couldn't keep up with the pack and soon lost the others. I passed an exit to a rest stop. I didn't realise at the time that cyclists were required by law to take this exit, ride through the rest stop and then rejoin the freeway. I continued along the shoulder of the freeway. The others had all taken the exit and were waiting for me. They apparently watched with concern as I missed the exit. I passed a sign informing me that bicycles were not allowed on this part of the freeway. I expected to be pulled over by the highway patrol at any moment. Before long the others caught up with me and asked me what the hell I was doing staying on the freeway. I felt myself getting slower and slower. I asked Brooke how my rear tyre was looking. She confirmed that I had a puncture. This was my first puncture since starting the journey more than 2,000 miles ago. I was 50 miles short of making across the entire US without a single puncture. This was really a terrible place to get a puncture. The freeway had 4 lanes of traffic moving at greater than 70MPH. It was not the kind of place you want to have to stop for any length of time. I hopped off the bike to inspect the tyre. Luckily it wasn't completely flat, it had a little air still remaining in the tube so I decided to try and pump it up and hope I would make it to the freeway exit. I pumped up the tyre as quickly as I could. Chris and Brooke kindly stayed with my the whole time. It's amazing to think that these guys who I'd only known for a week would put themselves in danger to make sure I got out of this situation safely.
I rode on with my slightly flat tyre. I tried to keep a good pace as I wanted to get off the freeway as quickly as possible without having to stop again. I could feel the tyre slowly deflating as each mile passed. It was such a relief when we finally made it to the off ramp without having to stop again. We only had 30 minutes before dark so for the rest of the journey I stopped every now and then to top up the air in the tyre rather than take the time to fix the puncture.
By the time we reached Jenna's friend's house it was dark. I was really pleased with myself for having made it 88 miles. We met Jenna's friend Olivia and her housemates. The house was a beautiful old farmhouse and everybody was really welcoming.
After showering and changing into our normal clothes Olivia drove us in her truck to Pizza Port, the place recommended to us earlier. It was a fun place with some great pizza and beer. We were having a great time and getting a little merry. It was the day before Halloween so many of the people in the restaurant were in fancy dress. There were men dressed as women and most amusingly of all there was an old woman sitting on her own at the bar reading a book dressed as a cat. It was all this dressing up that led me to make a rather embarrassing gaff. We were all sat at our table chatting when I noticed a rather lavishly dressed and heavily made-up blonde woman walking through the restaurant. I asked the group, 'Is that a dude or a girl?'. I then watched this very same blonde woman walk up to our table, sit down and introduce herself to us all. As I shook her hand I realised this was a friend of our kind host Olivia. I felt terrible and cringed for next 30 minutes. Olivia's friend was in fact a very attractive woman but having seen quite a few lavishly dressed, heavily made-up men in drag throughout the night I'd just gotten myself a little confused.
Back at the house we had another beer but were all very tired after our long ride so it wasn't long before we headed to bed.