Day One…and Sore!


Alex at Ocean Beach Park

I rode about seven miles to this official starting point of the Southern Tier route at Ocean Beach Park. Click on image to enlarge.

March 24, 2011. After posting the last blog (and struggling a bit with photos in my hotel room), getting breakfast around-the-corner from the Hotel La Pensione (a great place—and reasonably priced—in the Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego), and walking a lot farther than I expected to buy some sunscreen, I wheeled my laden bike (with at least 50 pounds of gear and water) to the elevator and down to the first floor. By the time I finished chatting with the proprietor and got on my bike, it was around 10:30 am.

My plan was to start my journey at the Pacific ocean—Ocean Beach Park, which is the western terminus of Adventure Cycling’s Southern Tier bicycle route across the country. I don’t have any expectations of biking all the way across the country, but I wanted to enjoy the first five or six miles of that route, which is on a bicycle trail. So I biked the roughly seven miles there from the hotel—testing out the loaded bike for the first time. Quite the different performance with a lot of weight on the front!

The above photo with me in it was taken by an obliging guy who was running his dog at Dog Beach (Adventure Cycling’s map instructions warn you about dogs here, but I didn’t have any trouble).

Loaded bike at Ocean Beach Park

About to "start" on the route up to Alpine, my day-one destination. Click on image to enlarge.

Maybe ten or twelve miles from that starting point, I ran into a mountain biker, Mark. We rode together and chatted. He used to race bicycles twenty years ago and 40 pounds lighter. After five serious run-ins with cars (two of which landed him in intensive care), he decided he was pushing his luck and gave up road racing. Today, retired from his career at the State Penitentiary, he contents himself with mountain biking

I was lucky to happen upon Mark, as he took me on a shortcut through Mission Trails Regional Park. I had planned on sticking to the marked route, which would apparently have taken my up (and down) about 800 feet—instead of going around. (I now see that the route description on the map takes you through the park; I’m beginning to understand these maps!)

We parted ways and I continued to my day’s end destination of Alpine, California, Where I’m comfortably sitting in my hotel bed. Legs outstretched as I wait for the Ibuprofen to kick in. The climb up to Alpine was 2,000 feet—a steady, but (thankfully) fairly gradual climb. Tomorrow, I will climb another 2,000-plus feet to a high-point for this section, just east of Pine Valley. After a few 500- to 1,000-foot dips and climbs, I’ll start a long steady descent to sea level—actually a little below sea level.

As I’ve gotten farther and farther from San Diego (I’ve come about 45 miles), the traffic has thinned out, but this is still, clearly, a car-centric area. How nice it would be to be on fewer highways and more bike trails. The number of “rails to trails” projects keeps growing which, on the one hand, is great, but I’d also like to see some of them be rails to rails projects—ushering in a new generation of rail travel. I guess turning them into trails at least keeps the land from being developed—so maybe they could become railroad routes again someday. Meanwhile, I’d like to bike some of the longer of those trails.

Well, it’s past 9:30 pm and time for this guy to turn in.