Closing the gap: Riding to downtown San Diego and lessons learnt - SF to SDO 2012 - Coast Route - CycleBlaze

April 30, 2012

Closing the gap: Riding to downtown San Diego and lessons learnt

My brother took me to the Belly Up Tavern for a live benefit concert for Candye Kane. If you like live music, see what the Belly Up has on offer when you're in San Diego. I got to see Dave Alvin and the Guilty Ones and Rick Estrin and the Nightcats and the BeatFarmers (and a heap of others) for only $32.00. The Coaster train drops you off more or less at their front door. My ears are still recovering...

Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. One of the best blues harp players (Rick) and one of the best blues guitarists (Kid Anderson) and one of the tightest rhythm sections in the business - and oh so hip. They closed the doors around midnight and we left at 1:00 am and they were still going strong. I'm going to buy me a shiny sharkskin Zoot Suit and white patent leather shoes as soon as I get home.
Heart 0 Comment 0

After a couple of days in Leucadia visiting I had to ride the last bit into the city proper. It's 30 miles from Leucadia to the heart of the city. The ACA map has you detouring along the coast and I'm sure if you know the city you can cut at least 5 miles off the route. The ride into La Jolla has a good hill. There were a number of cyclists going up and down it for exercise - once is enough for me thank you very much. Riding through downtown La Jolla was interesting, if only just to see how the top 2% of America lives & spends their money. It's an amazing contrast to the homeless you pass later as you approach the city. Kind of reminded me of a quote from Woodie Guthrie. He once played a set for high society with his eyes closed. When later asked why he said something about the glare from all those freshly shaved faces and white shirts. I rode with my sunglasses on....

The ride along Mission Beach was fun. I could have spent a day hanging around here, just watching and talking to people. It's a short ride through typical urban traffic from there to the city.

Met up with Scott for lunch (a real pleasure to reconnect and compare ride notes) and caught the train back to Leucadia. Rented a car to get Turtle and me back to the SF Bay Area. Amtrak or Greyhound bus would have been cheaper, but the door to door convenience of the rental car won out.

Wharf in downtown San Diego - rides end.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Things learnt:

1) Turtle is a champ. You can spend a lot of money on a new fancy heavy duty touring frame or you can keep your eyes open for an old mountain bike frame and give it a second life. I'd be very surprised if any new frame could out perform Turtle. I'm using a heavy duty Topeak rear rack for front and back panniers - they are not low riders. Yet, fully loaded Turtle is as solid as can be, even on 40 mph downhill runs.

2) Schwalbe XR tyres may be heavy and cumbersome, but they are fantastic touring tyres. Pumped them up once at the start and that was it. Good quality tubes helped. I carried Park glueless patches, only one spare tube and no spare tyre - and didn't need them.

3) Hand built wheels: My wheels are hand built by professionals - triple butted 36 spokes on Velocity Synergy rims. More than two years old and about 6000 miles (1200 fully loaded) and I've never had to touch them. If I had to do it again, I'd still get the pros to build my wheels.

4) Travel light: I could have travelled a bit lighter. After nearly 45 years of backpacking, hitchhiking, world travel and loaded touring I should know this: yet I still overload at the start. I think it takes about 6 to 8 weeks to finely hone the gear to the minimum required. Do I really need a laptop computer? An iPad or tablet would probably suffice. With a good smart phone I could probably do without the computer and camera.

5) Logistics for air travel with a fully loaded bike are not easy. Why don't they just allow us to "roll on - roll off?" The one time I was allowed to roll on - roll off, the bike came out without a scratch - can't say the same for how baggage handlers treat a bike in a box. I used a bike shop cardboard box for the trip over to the US and another for the trip back to OZ. It worked, just barely - both ways the boxes were destroyed by the time they finished the Pacific crossing. I had to transfer the bike into a Qantas bike box for the flight from Brisbane to Perth. The Qantas box was bigger, stronger and better constructed than either of the bike store boxes. Next time I will buy an airline box.

Any way you do it, make sure you pack that bike well as the baggage handlers can be brutal.

I'm seriously considering investing in a pair of S&S Couplers for Turtle.

6) Hills are hills and headwinds are headwinds. Even travelling without gear, the hills are still steep and the headwinds trying. They seem to get steeper and stronger as the years go by.

7) Road fitness takes time. I am slowly getting there, but proper road fitness, where I can do a 60 mile day without too much effort, takes time (and a couple pair of padded cycling shorts!!) - more as I grow older. I need to allow at least 8 weeks and not try to rush the process.... something about patience being a virtue.

8) California's natural environment is stunning. This state is simply magnificent - I even love the smell of the soil. The geography (variety and beauty) is impressive. North to South and East to West, it is always a pleasure to experience. I especially liked the coast from San Francisco to Santa Barbara.

Can't say the same for all the cities, though.

9) The people of California are very friendly. Everyone was friendly and accommodating, even the car drivers. Didn't expect that.

10) I am still susceptible to Poison Oak. If you are too and you do get it, try cleaning it with Zanfel and then covering/isolating any blisters with New Skin, a liquid spray bandage - that stops it from spreading. It works.

11) The Adventure Cycling Association Maps are worth the investment. Their shorthand guide notes take a bit of getting used to and might lead to temporary geographical displacement (getting lost), but that's part of the fun. They offer just enough guidance without hindering the potential serendipity of the ride.

12) I sure hope they keep the State Parks and the hiker/biker sites open. The lack of funding, poor maintenance and problems with homeless users are taking their toll on the parks - many are scheduled to close in June 2012: best to enquire if you are planning a tour of the coast after that date.

Today's ride: 30 miles (48 km)
Total: 462 miles (744 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0