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Day 234-241, 2-9March 09. Back on the bike, LA to San Diego. Jai Ho!

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Trip reports

2nd March 2009: LA – Lomita via Santa Monica, 50km

The Sarraseca family, LAWe spent one more day and night with Claudia and Diego, watched our new favourite movie, Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire (Jai Ho! became our new motto :)) and then we headed out again. We wanted to start again, where we had been picked up by Diego, so we actually first went North-west, back to Santa Monica.

It took us about 20km right through Los Angeles, which simply confirmed itself to be a rather ugly place.

Felix and Ivana, LANot that we ever felt any danger (besides from ridiculously oversized trucks and SUV’s of course), most of the people on the streets were very friendly. But the roads are a mess (especially for such a car-centred society), trees and parks missing, and houses and streets dirty.

It reminded us more of something we had seen in developing countries than one of the most important cities of the USA.

Only when approaching the coast, the houses got cleaner again and the areas greener. We enjoyed the Sushi buffet one more time and headed down the coastline.

The weather was great again and we walked down the Venice Beach boulevard, receiving some small gifts and encouragements from the street vendors, the homeless and the neo-hippies. The route stayed nice, following the nearly deserted beaches all the time.

Venice Beach boulevardThe spirit of Venice Beach

5 March: Lomita – Newport Beach, 60km

We had stayed two nights in Lomita, with a special host. Nepalese-born Shamu is the father of Japhy (Jeff), who is also cycling down from the US to Argentina. Just this same week, he had stayed with Ivana’s father and with her mother, both living close to each other in the San Juan province of Argentina, on the other side of the planet.

So while Jeff’s father was taking care of us, Ivana’s family was taking care of his son even though none of us had ever met before. That is the great thing about the hospitality of the CouchSurfing and WarmShowers hosts.  Shamu also introduced us to one of his friends, who not only took us for a nice walk on the Redondo beach, but also taught us a lot about hydro culture and natural foods. Oh, and we watched Slumdog Millionaire again :)

Captain Bueno and son Jake, Newport BeachThe section through Lomita and Long Beach was one of the most horrible so far, traffic wise, with no shoulders and thousands of trucks, but soon enough we were along the beach again, where the wind blew us swiftly past kite-surfers towards Newport Beach.

We had contacted Harry Barton through CouchSurfing but when we told him that we would stay for one night only, he stressed that he did not live near the beach, but on the beach :)

We ended up staying a few nights with ‘Captain Bueno’ (his LA radio alter ego from the 70’s) and his kids and enjoyed talking about politics, technology, travel and life in general, while catching up with work and blogs.

8th March, Newport Beach – Carlsbad, 80km

Ghost Bike memorialWe kept cycling close to the beach on another hot winter day. Just before entering the Military Zone (where cyclist can pass through as long as they have ID and a helmet and arrive before about 1500 hrs), we passed a strange sight: dozens of drinking bottles and a bike frame and –jersey were hung on the side of the road, a tragic memorial to a killed cyclist.

(edit: Steve Stuart send me the following correction/addition: “To clarify – it was a memorial but the the cyclist was the owner of a bike shop in San Clemente just north of there. He wasn’t “killed” but had a heart attack and passed away when riding at that spot.  Your description sounded like a car hit him and I thought this was a little less depressing. At least he passed doing what he loved.”)

A bit further down the road we met a German biketraveller. Kris had just gone up from South America.

German biketraveller heading NorthHe had his camera robbed in Colombia, when some girl pretended she was interested in him. It caused such an outrage and shame when the local TV and radio found out that he got donated a new camera and he got new lenses almost free as well…

Somehow we managed to miss the right entrance of the military zone and suddenly found ourselves on the broad shoulder of the busy Interstate 5. Cycling was actually allowed here as besides the army zone, there is no other road.

At least it got us into Oceanside quickly, where we found ourselves arriving in Redneck Heaven; what had happened to all the nice little beach towns? It was a mess on the street and every car seemed to have extra exhaust pipes for extra noise, oversized tires, loud paintings, darkened windows and even louder music. I wanted to ask the drivers if they were born stupid or raised that way, but probably none of them never even saw me (or anything else with those windows), so I had to let them off the hook.

Maybe it was just the influence of the military bases nearby, as fortunately the atmosphere improved considerably when approaching Carlsbad and that evening we found ourselves in a nice house behind a huge plate of delicious lasagne and salad, prepared by bike advocate Steve and his wife.

9 March 2009: Carlsbad – San Diego, 60km

My knee was doing the same as before: quite ok during cycling, but afterwards it was hard to walk and only ice and NSAIDS (anti inflammatories) relieved. Before reaching San Diego, we had a few hills to climb, but they did not pose too many problems. The many small towns on the way looked nice, we were really getting into the surf-and-relax area.

Our guidebook managed to show us the way through the busier suburbs like La Jolla. On one very busy uphill road, a car was parked on the bike lane, with the driver still sitting inside. I honked my horn several times, but he just waved in the direction of the busy road where cars were passing non-stop at 50miles per hour. As I was barely going 10% of that, overtaking would mean suicide…

So I had no choice but to climb up the sidewalk. Normally I let things like these go, but I felt angry and tapped his window, which he lowered after a while.

“Excuse me, but what part of ‘No Parking, Bike Lane’ you don’t understand?” I asked him, pointing at the signs.

“Eh, I, I am not from around here..” he stumbled, which made me angrier.

“So you also do not stop for STOP or other signs here?”. He did not know what to say and just looked straight ahead.

“I am sorry, I am not from around here…” is all that he could utter, at which point I thought it would be wiser for both of us to just go and continue the climb…

Finally, San Diego

Ivana, San DiegoAfter more than 8000km/5000miles of cycling (of which 3000km in the Lower 48), we entered San Diego.

We arrived from the North West, first alongside nice beaches of Mission Bay, then along a busy road and finally a long shared walking/biking path alongside Harbour Drive. SD is situated nicely along some pretty bays and peninsulas, the weird thing is that the airport is exactly in the middle of several popular (and populous) neighbourhoods and every 2-3 minutes a jet would fly over the hills of Balboa Park, drop down quickly and land between a few highways. An accident waiting to happen and definitely not good for anybody’s health.

We worked our way up the steep hills of Broadway until we found the house of Daniel Wolf. We only stayed with him for a night, but he was the first of a few interesting hosts that would help make San Diego feel like home, a last stop before heading into the great unknown called Mexico…