Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Day #1: And We're Off

Today's Route: San Diego, CA to Jamul, CA (28 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 28 miles

I slept on the couch at Alex's house last night to make for an easier early morning departure. We woke just before 4am in order to make it in time for our 6:10am flight from Seattle to San Diego.

Alex decided to check his bags at the airport. As his bags weighed less than 50 pounds, we figured we might as well milk the 50-pound checked baggage weight limit for all it was worth. So, I added my tent, sleeping bag, and a few other small items to Alex's checked baggage.

We ran around Sunday evening looking for a box big enough for our gear, yet small enough to fit within the airline's checked baggage limits. We settled on some banana boxes and crafted this gorgeous check-in masterpiece.

Our checked baggage.

I have a tendency to instantly fall asleep as soon as airplanes fire up their engines. This morning was no exception. Fortunately, I awoke an hour later as the flight attendants were pushing the beverages down the aisle. Good timing, as I was thirsty!

I flipped through the "Alaska Airlines" magazine, and I was quite surprised to see the following article in the magazine:

Cycle touring is so mainstream nowadays!

The magazine featured a cycle touring article by Ellee Thalmeier! Cycle touring is, quite obviously, all the rage! Ellee is a great gal. I saw her give a talk on her new Oregon touring book in Portland last spring. She's created a great gig for herself; she tours around in search of new touring routes, she researches features along the routes (such as restaurants and campgrounds), and then she publishes the routes and information in touring guidebooks.

After the plane landed, we took a bus to the Amtrak station to pick up our bikes. (We had shipped our bikes via Amtrak Express at the end of last week.) We unpacked our bikes, and then we hogged two benches at the train station as we organized and repacked all our gear into our panniers.

Repacking in the Amtrak station.

We rolled the bikes out in front of the station, took our obligatory starting photo, and then we were off!

Big smiles, and the riding hasn't even begun.

The official beginning of the route is in Tecate, about 40 miles east of San Diego. We routed our connection to Tecate so that we would pass a grocery store about 15 miles away from the Amtrak station. We were quite hungry by the time we got on the road, so we decided to stop in the historic district to pick up a sandwich. We had biked a whopping two miles before this first stop.

Headed to lunch in the Historic District of San Diego.

We stopped a few times in the next ten miles to adjust Alex's disc brakes, which were sorely out of alignment. We later stopped to adjust my rear derailleur, which was also a little out of whack.

It appeared as though our bike boxes had been opened for inspection at the Amtrak station, and so we figured the bikes might have gotten out of whack in that process. 'Twas strange, as I've shipped my bike a few times using Amtrak and have never before noticed that the bike box had been opened. Despite the inspection, I'm still a fan on shipping bikes via Amtrak.

Alex adjusts his disc brakes.

We spotted our first roadkill. Actually, he was a bike path casualty.

The first roadkill.

We both commented how we were impressed by the presence of bike lanes getting out of San Diego. After about 20 miles of riding, we were definitely out of the city and in the desert. The riding suddenly became more enjoyable and more scenic.

We camped at an RV Resort. These are typically overpriced (for bikers, at least) and not very pleasant. But we figured that the "luxuries" of a formal campsite would be good for our first night on the road.

The Cutter-Upper man chops peppers for dinner with his newly acquired chopping knife.

Tonight's dinner was tortillas, red-pepper hummus, green peppers, and tomatoes. It's nice to have a vegetarian biking partner for meal sharing.

Demonstrating my dinner preparation technique.

As this morning started way before dawn, and as tomorrow's ride is 50 miles of uphill, we're calling it an early night. We're doing our best to ignore the neighbor's barking dogs and the music blaring from their radio (something about "take yo bitches down to the curb"). Although quiet hours are still a few hours away, I think we'll have no problem falling asleep.

It's good to be back on the road!


  1. I recognize all the food from trader joes. My favorite hummus and tomatoes. You guys should do some food art before taking some pictures. For example, you can make a smiley face with tomatoes and pepper on the hummus spread.

  2. Nice call on the Trader Joes! We made a special stop there -- I love TJ's Speculous and black bean dip, and Alex loves the garlic naan. We'll work on photographing some food art for you. But, to be honest, it's going to be difficult; after a long day of riding, all we're thinking about it shoveling as much food as possible into our mouths, as quickly as possible. :)

  3. That smile makes me happy. Glad you're finally on the road!

  4. Glad to see you underway at last. I recognized the arch over Old Town San Diego

    1. Indeed, Ocean, it's great to finally be underway!

  5. Hi Sarah! Just stumbled upon your blog after watching your YouTube montage of this trip. Very inspiring--and your blog looks quite wonderful. Planning my trip on this route from Everett WA to Big Bear Lake CA this July. Wondering if you chose South to North for any specific reason? I see more folks choosing this, but a little more convenient for me starting in WA (I'm taking the Amtrak from St. Paul and prefer just rolling my bike on the train vs. packing it up and dealing with odd mechanical issues on roll out). Anyway, thanks again for sharing your adventures! Looking forward to reading more. Cheers!

    1. Hi Ben. Thanks for reaching out! It's always great to hear from folks who somehow stumble across my humble home on the interwebs.

      The Sierra-Cascades ride is one of my favorites--you'll have a blast! To answer your question...we chose to ride south to north because of our schedules and snow. We wanted to leave in early May but also wanted to do our best to avoid snow in the passes up north. I was really excited about biking around Crater Lake, and we happened to arrive just in time for the road around the lake to be fully plowed and open to cyclists. Regardless of the direction you choose to cycle, have a most excellent trip!


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