1424 ft of Climbing
Sorry folks. After leaving Long Beach, it’s been hard to keep my head in the blog. My mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of Kok and Steve and the other people I have spent time with on this journey. I know it’s a bike ride, but the best memories have been those with people I know and love along the way. But my head is back. I swear.
Today, I entered and rode through Orange County on yet another Memorial Highway. I rode past beaches, piers, on highways, bike paths, and sandy beach trails (my least favorite riding), and met more fun people who went out of their way to show me around.
In Surf City, aka Huntington Beach, Don Wonderful (that’s his Strava name) sought me out, when he saw I was on a loaded touring bike. He wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the cool Surf City sights, such as the Surfing Walk of Fame, which is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, except the names here were surfing legends. Don was working on his own goal–winning a one-month Strava challenge to see who could ride the most miles in a month. He had ridden over 3000, and still had a few days to go.
Don made sure I didn’t miss out on any of the public art, for which I am glad. I love public art, especially when it is jazzy and cool, which this was.
On to Newport Beach, I passed over into a different Memorial Highway. In Arizona, I have a hard time remembering which highway is the 101 and which is the 202. I can’t imagine having to keep track of all they memorial roadways they have in California. Seems a little silly to me, actually.
The cycling conditions were amazing, throughout the day, with dedicated bike paths or large curb lanes for cyclists…..until I reached Laguna Beach. All that joy came to a sudden halt, when the roads turned steep, and all cycling space disappeared.
The sculpture and murals outside of this gallery took my mind off the road and drivers. They were all created by Robert Wyland, a world renowned marine artist, who happens to be my age. He has art installations everywhere from Beijing to Midway Island, four US Postal Service stamps, California and Arizona license plates, and even a Norwegian cruise ship. Pretty impressive, eh?
On to Dana Point, I found a Vietnam War Memorial and yet another art gallery, this one featuring elephant sculptures from the community’s efforts to raise funds to save the Asian Elephants. I guess that lacking poverty or other types of need, in their community, they had to put their resources behind caring for wild animals on another continent. Can’t hold that against the elephants, through, and the sculptures were really cute.
Once out of Dana Point, a lovely bike path appeared with a couple of my favorite cycling companions–a train track and an adjacent body of water, which, as you know, ensure a nice easy ride. Well, usually they do. In this case a hard packed dirt path, turned to soft gravely dirt, and then to sand. Why did I keep going? I think it was the whole idea of riding along the ocean when sunset is approaching.
After stopping to watch the su’nset, I found myself riding on straight sand, which is pretty tough on a slick tire bike.
At one point, I was pushing my 100 pound beast of a bike through sand, when I noticed Google Maps indicating that my campground at San Clemente State Beach was just to the left. Huh? All I could see was the below rock formation. A couple of young boys who came sailing down a super steep asphalt path verified that the campground was indeed on top of that rock formation. Nice. It took all the strength I had to push my bike up a sandy embankment to even get to that asphalt path, then it took all the courage I had to attempt getting on my pedals on a narrow path, with a sheer drop off on one side and a winding super steep grade ahead. Once I got going, there was no turning back. It’s one of those things where you either keep moving forward or fall over, so I kept jamming on the pedals till I got to the top of that path. Once there, the campground host gave me the bad news. No facilities for hikers and bikers–I was going to have to pay $40 to put up my tent in a site with no water or electricity. Seemed a little steep to me, so I told the campground host I’d find someone who would let me camp with them. On my first attempt, two ladies sharing a campsite said, “You’ve come to the right site.” One of them, a gal from New Zealand, had already finished the Canada to Mexico ride, and was on her way to LAX to catch a flight home. We sat and shared stories, then she headed to bed, and I headed for my last coin operated campground shower of the trip.