Back to San Diego - Looking Back With 2020 Vision, Part I - CycleBlaze

January 4, 2020

Back to San Diego

Today’s ride

Once again we have perfect weather for our final ride along the coast.  I think I’ve described each of the last three days as having perfect weather, but I was wrong.  They were all fine, but today’s really is perfect - even better because it comes with a healthy tailwind.  There’s nothing like getting blown down the coast on a fair day.  It’s hard to remember back to how chilly it was when we biked up the other direction, hoping to fit our ride into a small dry window on a rainy day.

It’s a warm, sunny Saturday morning in January, and the beaches are filling up fast.  The roadsides are lined with parked cars, surfers emerging from them to change clothes under towels and head for the breakers.

The first 20 miles go by quickly as we hug the coast, sharing the road with hundreds if not a thousand or more other cyclists racing past in both directions, many of them club riders out for a weekend ride.  As we ride we’re regularly overtaken by faster riders, many of whom slow down to briefly chat, ask us where we’re bound, and urge us on.

Didn’t we just see a scene like this? There are so many long piers jutting out into the sea down here.
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Aah, California. Beach volleyball!
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Beach yoga!
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And bicycles! We must have seen a thousand cyclists speeding up and down the highway today.
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And surfers! This is my first surfer crossing sign.
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And dogs! This is the Del Mar Dog Friendly Beach, at the mouth of the San Dieguito River.
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I give up. A political commentary maybe?
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Jen GrumbyThings that make you say, "Hmmm."
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7 months ago

Video sound track: Good Vibrations, by The Beach Boys

At the midway point of the ride we come to Torrey Pines and pause for our midday snack, sitting on a bench by the shore and looking down the incredible line of cliffs stretching south toward La Jolla.  Afterwards we climb the only real ascent of the day, the 400 foot ascent through Torrey Pines to the heights of La Jolla.

You’ll recall that we biked through La Jolla two weeks ago, on a day ride from San Diego.  We were astonished by the masses of brown pelicans crowding the rocks lining the cove there, and too late it occurred to me that I should be taking a video.  Ever since, we’ve planned to make up for this omission when we biked through at the end of this loop.

Surprise!  No pelicans, and no video!  Who knows where they all went, but we only saw one or two of them here today.  Maybe they’re driven off by the massive throng of weekenders crowding the coastline and jamming the roads; or maybe it’s just the time of day and they’re all a-soar.  

What we did find though was nearly as good - a colony of Brandt’s Cormorants nesting on the cliffs directly below us.  It’s obviously mating and nesting season, and birds are craning their necks backwards and flaring their tails, exposing their striking turquoise pouches in hopes of luring a mate.   Nest building is in full swing, and periodically a bird will swoop in for a landing, a large wad of nesting material in its beak.

Then, a last ride back to San Diego, past Mission Bay the San Diego River, and the airport.   It’s a confusing area with a lot of routing choices, and I think we’ve done something a bit different through here every time now.  I’ve a feeling I could be here for a month and still be figuring my way around.

So, Mission Accomplished, and Phase I comes to a close.  We celebrate with a fine Italian meal at Osteria Panevino, a place we ate at when we stayed in the Gaslamp District two weeks ago. 

Incredible cliffs, Torrey Pines State Beach.
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Eroded roadside cliffs line the climb through Torrey Pines.
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The courtship display of the Brandt’s Cormorant. Irresistable, don’t you think? And look at that cozy nest, just the thing for a young family.
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Jen GrumbyIrresistible? I don't know about that. There's something about that exaggerated neck bend that hits my gag reflex.

Definitely fascinating, though!
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7 months ago
A happy couple.
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Another black and white portrait: Little Egret and Brandt’s Cormorant.
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I think this makes the fourth time we biked along the bank of the San Diego River on our way back to town. Every time it’s been interesting. Today there’s this huge flock of peeps feeding in the mud flats that suddenly takes flight and eddies above the river in a blurry cloud.
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A few peeps (sanderlings, I think).
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By special request, for a friend. Aren’t coot feet amazing though? They’re surprisingly difficult to take a photo of - coots are fast moving little critters, and their feet sink out of sight into the mud as soon as they plant them down.
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Jen GrumbyWell done! This makes my day. 🙂

I was worried that you may soon be leaving coot territory without a good look at their feet.

Have you seen any bird feet more interesting than these?
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7 months ago
Some commentary on the state of the world greets us when we return to San Diego.
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Moving on

From San Diego we’re moving on tomorrow morning to our next base, Tucson.  We’re going to take our time getting there though, in sort of a fox trot rhythm: quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow. The quick steps will be taken speeding along in a rental car that we’re going to pick up tomorrow morning, and the slow steps will be layovers for day rides along the way to Tucson.  

We could just bike the whole way to Tucson of course, if we weren’t intimidated by the great distances between towns in some of this country and the extreme mid-winter conditions we might encounter crossing the mountains and deserts in between here and there.  But we are, so we aren’t. 

We have a general road map in mind, with the first part locked in.  Tomorrow we drive to Borrego Springs for a three night stay, and from there we’ll drive up to Death Valley for a five night stand in Stovepipe Wells.  After that, we’re not sure.  We’ll have another eight days left before we’re due at our Tucson Airbnb, but we’ll wait to see where to spend them until it gets closer and we can see which way the wind blows.  Likely candidates are Boulder City, Kingman, Wickenburg, Globe, maybe Wilcox, maybe Duncan.  Lower elevation towns where we shouldn’t freeze and can maybe ride parts of the Southern Tier or Route 66.

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Ride stats today: 45 miles, 1,700’; for the tour: 638 miles, 27,100’

Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 638 miles (1,027 km)

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Jen GrumbySounds like a great few days ahead. Here's to continuing good weather and AFDs!
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7 months ago