09.29.2002-10.27.2002       San Francisco, CA to San Diego, CA
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On a trip of this duration I wanted to be careful not to burn out nor lose touch with friends and family. My two weeks in San Francisco helped me to ensure neither would occur. My younger sister kindly housed me for two weeks. My mother, older sister, brother-in-law and niece all flew in from Minnesota to visit me. I had ample time to spend with them as well as others. I also had time to prepare for the next major section of journey, that which would commence at the U.S.-Mexico border. The fact that there was a sizable piece of real estate(and therefore cycling) between San Francisco and the border did little to diminish my excitement at the thought of once again cycling in a country where the language and culture were foreign. While I was San Francisco I also had to make what I hoped would be my final visit to the x-ray table. Despite my leg's accomplishments on The Road South I was looking forward to confirmation that after 2+ years my leg was finally back in one piece. The x-rays did indeed confirm this and with those parting pictures the saga of my broken leg finally came to an end.

By the end of my break my body was sending signals it was time to move on. Nature was also sending signals. Fall was upon me and I needed to reach warmer climes before the weather turned. Despite these, my return to the bike was not an easy transition. On the first day joints creaked and muscles ached. On the second day my legs just didn't work. Had they forgotten the thousands of miles they had already cycled? Or perhaps the shock of pushing a loaded bike again had convinced them a more sedentary existence was not so bad after all. Prior to San Francisco I had never stayed off the bike for more than two days. I vowed never again to stay off it for two weeks. I had an ambitious schedule for arriving in L.A. so I did my best(aided in no small part by healthy doses of Ibuprofen) to ignore the aches and pains.

This was my third cycling trip down the coast but the ride never dulls. The stretch of highway between Carmel and San Simeon is a true gem of coastal riding. I always enjoy this stretch of highway but I was also struck by the beauty of the route further south. My previous trips had been during the spring and the landscape now seemed almost unrecognizable and desirably so. During spring the hillsides are green but the fields lie fallow. In the fall the hillsides turn golden brown and the fields a verdant green, providing a stunning contrast. Sections of the ride I had dreaded I was thankful to find quite enjoyable. However, the approach into L.A. is never enjoyable. From Malibu the traffic increases both in density and velocity. The beaches of Santa Monica and their adjoining bike paths are therefore a welcomed sight. And for me the end of my travels by bicycle for the day.

My friend Christina kindly picked me up at the coast and whisked me away to her home in the Inland Empire. There I was once again spoiled with a roof, a nice bed and good food. I had planned a short stay but the re-shipment of some new tires necessitated a longer stay. My gracious host professed not to mind. However, a few days later after she “accidentally” set her house alarm while I was away for a walk I began to wonder. Perhaps it was just for the amusement of her neighbors, who all came out to watch the bewildered transient emerge from a sirening house. The arrival of the police provided more entertainment for them and little comfort for me, my host unavailable to resolve the situation. Eventually my host brought the impasse to an end. A conciliatory loaf of homemade banana bread assured me no malice was intended.

I caught a train to Irvine and re-commenced cycling there. That night at the campground in San Clemente I met up with Dominique and Marian, a Swiss couple I had first met in Valdez, AK who also intended to cycle to Tierra del Fuego. Valdez seemed so far away, both in distance and in time, and we had many experiences to share. We had stayed in touch electronically since that first meeting and our separate routes/schedules/objectives had failed to converge again until San Clemente. This was a fairly common theme on the trip. I had met several cyclists in the Yukon, just several days apart, who had cycled all the way up from Tierra del Fuego and yet had never met each other. While I was in San Francisco I learned from another cyclist that another Pan-American cyclist had been chasing me down the coast in attempt to catch and join me. He was just a few days behind me when I arrived in San Francisco but probably nearly in Mexico by the time I departed. Before entering Mexico I would meet up with yet another past acquaintance, Blair, a Canadian cyclist headed to Brazil and one of the many cyclists I had ridden with in Oregon and Northern California. Baja might not be so lonely after all.
DistanceElevation GainFlat Tires
Leg573 mi/922 km27070 ft/8881 m
Trip5800 mi/9334 km54 mi/87 km4
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