I had finally made it through Mexico which seemed so huge when I arrived and yet here I was on the border of the USA having had the most incredible time and met the most amazing people. I had travelled so far west it was hard to feel I was making progress. To give you an idea Cusco in Peru is on the same latitude as NewYork meaning I had traveled west over 4000 miles. Since I reached the Baja I had been heading more northerly and I had really felt like I was making progress. Although I had been sick when I reached La Paz in Baja the peninsula had surprised me. I thought it was just a strip of desert to get through with nothing other then cacti and mining trucks but I discovered a beautiful land of blue warm water, stunning beaches and pretty towns. There were grey whales, blue whales, whale sharks, Marlin, orcas and sea lions to name just a few and then there was the people. Despite what is on the news and although news reporters try and give a balanced view, it is a balanced view of the bad new. Mexico has so so so many wonderful people with the biggest hearts and the kindest smiles. I will miss them all and love the country more.
It was now time to move north into my next country The USA which will be my 39th country with so much to see and I can’t wait.
Saturday 2nd April
With the plan to head out to the east to see the views and have breakfast, I was up early and joined Jorge and Selene then headed out. We drove around 40 miles climbing pretty much all the way until we reached a huge wooden building where we stopped and went in to eat.
It was amazing that the place was in the middle of nowhere and yet it was so busy due to the road. Once we’d had a nice breakfast we then headed out to see the views. First we went on an old sand road that was used in one of the stages of the Baja rally. It looked awesome and I just wanted a good down hill bike to have a play.
It dropped for ages vey steely down to a large dry lake that disappeared off into the distance. From here I was taken to another spot where a new Tarmac road had been cut through the giant rock field that weaved it’s way down.
Trucks slowly making its way through the rock fields
It was beautiful and I was so pleased they had brought me here to show me as I would never have seen it. Needing to cross the border and get into San Diego we headed back where I got my things together and I packed my stuff. I had felt so lucky I had meet Jorge and Selene and they had been so kind in having me stay and made the end of Mexico feel so special. Wanting to get back to the fuel station where I had turned off to get to the house, Jorge and Selene kindly took me back and we said our goodbyes. Hoping that we would meet again I set off and started to make my way to the border.
Another amazing couple who make Mexico just amazing
Crossing into the US was a border I was the most nervous about as I hadn’t brought a return flight ticket yet and heard they could be strict. I only just made it through the revolving gates with my bike and met the immigration officers.
Looking across at the high steel fence that separates the US from Mexico
They were very kind and with hardly anyone there I filled out a new form after being told my ESTA wasn’t valid as I hadn’t arrived in a US airport and was asked loads of questions. The guard said something which I didn’t understand so I asked him to repeat and so he did. Not sure what he said I asked again and was told it’s ok. After thinking a while I realised he had said something in Arabic which I thought was interesting. After a short while longer I was given my stamp and welcomed to the America and made my way through the gate.
We made it!!
It felt so amazing and a real relief to have made it this far. I messaged my host Julie that lived in San Diego and once I had a place to aim for I started the 40 mile ride into the city. Having two climbs over two small passes was fine but the wind that was now blowing hard made it tough going.
Although it was windy the scenery was great
I finally made it over them both and I started to descend heading to the border control check point. As I was getting close I was joined by a guy on a road bike called Mike who is a trainer and coach for the Paralympic cycle team. It was fascinating listing to him and I admired him for not just helping people with disabilities but to push them and give them the tools to excel.
Mike Durner a true star and an incredible person
We chatted constantly until it was his turn off and we said good bye. I had enjoyed the company and wished we had more time but it was now time to navigate the city and find Julie. It remained good going as I dropped towards the ocean and all the time slowly getting closer. Needing to head north a few miles I turned off the highway and started heading north. Reaching a junction I watched as a lady with two big dogs was about to cross the road when suddenly a car pulled out and a huge dog jumped out the car window and attacked the lady’s dogs. I dropped my bike and grabbed the lead of the attacking dog until they had calmed down. The owner soon appeared said sorry and disappeared before anything else happened. At this point her two dogs started to fight each other so I grabbed one of them to get them apart. They soon calmed down but the lady was really upset. Once they had all settled i set off and rode for another half an hour where I reached our meeting point and waited.
5 minutes later Julie arrived which was great timing and we set off north to her place. We rode through the city along the ocean front passing the new baseball stadium and the bar where the sleazy scene from Top gun was filmed.
I couldn’t believe I was here and it was just amazing riding through the streets. We headed to a bar after another half an hour and stopped for a beer. At $14 for two small beers I very soon realised it was going to be expensive from now on.
This was a garden portion a great spot
It was however a great spot and with the sun going down it looked beautiful. We finished up and continued north when I was stopped by Chris who was a warm showers host that had offered me to stay with him.
Great to meet Chris while heading back to Julies
He was a really nice guy and I was pleased I had got to meet him and thank him for the offer. We set off again and rode along the bourd walk that went along mission beach towards her house. It was Friday night and everyone was out walking or heading to a bar. It was so lovely to see the sights and hear the ocean.
We reached Julie’s place where I had time for a quick shower before heading out for food. We reached a really nice old bar and ordered food. I was so relaxed and to be here was awesome. I had finally made it and couldn’t wait to see what was to the north.
Sunday 3rd April
After a late night and managing to get a blog posted I woke with the sun around 7.30am and got a couple jobs done.
Julie getting the coffee on the go
I joined Julie for coffee before I finished packing and we headed out on our bikes. Choosing the more scenic but hilly route we headed north out of San Diego and through the streets.The scenery through the small towns that were now linked to each other and the sea views were just stunning. We chatted to various cyclists along the way as there were hundreds out was nice.
We reached the top of a big climb then started the amazing descent back to the sea front and on to another short climb to our last descent to have breakfast. It had been amazing to have Julie’s company and amazing I had made a new friend in the process.
With breakfast over we said our goodbyes and while Julie climbed back to the south I continued north along the Pacific highway. While I rode I got chatting to two old guys on bikes that showed me a couple houses that were designed like boats and then took me to see a vintage car rally which on arrival wasn’t today.
These were never boats but built to look like one
I headed back to the highway and having Sarah and Cristina to meet another 40 miles north I needed to get my head down.
I pushed on but with the head wind it was hard going. I eventually reached camp Pendleton airforce base and was told there was a cycle track going through. I stopped at the checkpoint where I was asked where I was going and once I gave my answer I was asked to wait. I waited 10 minutes and was then told if I didn’t have the right ID I couldn’t go through. Why the first guy couldn’t have told me that and so the only option was the freeway. I turned around and was soon on a busy road luckily with a wide hard shoulder. I rode for around 8 miles to the first exit and then got on to a quiet cycle way. This took me to within two miles of San Clemente where the trail stopped and once again it was either the freeway or the army base. I arrived at the army base. Told the guy where I was going and he asked me to wait. I then waited 15 minutes for two guys to arrive and tell me there wasn’t a road that went through the army base to San Clemente. Annoyed at why the guy at the checkpoint hadn’t told me that I returned to the freeway and rode another 3 miles before heading to the meeting point. I dropped down the hill and arrived at a beautiful sea front that was just stunning. Sarah arrived and which was so amazing seeing her after 6 months. After another half an hour Christina arrived and it was like old times.
I had seen them both on the sail boat from Colombia to Panama and it felt just like yesterday I had seen them. We sat chatting for a while before we went in for dinner where Sarah treated us. It was so kind of her and very generous.
Not having a response from any of the warm showers hosts I was now stuck with nowhere to sleep and with Sarah’s place just 25 miles to the north I decided to ride once we had eaten. With an ETA of 10 pm I set off around 7.45 and climbed out of the sea front. I got my head down and made good progress. By this point it was dark and although it was still tough going it was easier to read the traffic lights helping me keep my momentum. Stopping for a snack I pushed on and got closer to Newport Beach where Sarah lived. I saw a speed sign ahead that was indicating a 45mph limit. I watched the cars go through with the first being 43 then 48, 41,46 and as the last of the cars passed it I wondered if it would pick me up and at that point it said 10mph which made me laugh. I then thought if I knew it would measure me I might had tried a little harder. Arriving in Newport it was only a matter of time before I arrived at Sarah’s house and after a short climb I arrived and was welcomed in. She had not only brought me dinner again but snacks for tomorrow. I was also given Guinness which tasted incredible along with ice cream. I was so tired but I was so happy and once I’d had a shower I was relaxed and ready to sleep. It had been an amazing day with sun, sea, cyclists and friends.
Monday 4th April
I was so cosy under my blankets and I was woken by Sarah heading off to work. It was so kind of her to let me stay and letting me have a lay in before I had to go. Knowing the phone shop didn’t open until 10am I could relax and enjoy breakfast. It was nice to have the time but it was soon 10 and so made my way up to the shop. I headed to the cash point and once again my card wouldn’t work which was now annoying. Luckily I had another that did so got what I needed and went to buy a sim. At $65 for the month instead of the usual $16 I knew I couldn’t hang around to long in the states. I set off out of town and made my way to the seafront.
I then joined a cycle path that pretty much went for ten miles along the seafront. It was beautiful but all I wanted to do was go in for a surf. With nowhere to leave my bike and where there were boards to hire was miles away from the beach I just had to look at the beautiful waves that broke in perfect formation with no one on them.
These guys were good and I would have loved to have joined them
Once off the boardwalk the road went inland to long beach and I stopped to eat BBQ ribs to fill me up which was perfect and just what I needed.
It was great to ride along the sea front with beautiful houses right on the sea front
The cycle path went right along through the beach
I looked for a place to camp on my phone and with the only place being an RV park I headed along the waterfront again in front of beautiful houses and thousands of runners cyclists and walkers. It was so nice pottering along and now watching the planes fly in and out of LA airport. As I got closer I stopped at the traffic lights which I often had to due to the highway having what felt like a billion red lights and watched as a guy smashing his guitar around a lamppost. It was interesting to see as I thought about all these people all having a story to tell but almost all would never tell it.
I continued on and just before I reached the airport I arrived at the beachfront RV park and asked if I could camp. Even though it said camping no tents were allowed so I set off north to try and find a place to sleep. I felt tired but I had to keep going and arrived in Venice beach where I found two hostels that now wouldn’t take my bike which I couldn’t believe. I set off again this time on the highway with the sun getting low.
I reached Malibu and stopped for food as I knew if something came up I could camp and once I had eaten I set off to find a place. Spotting a fire station I went in to ask and after a long conversation I was then told I needed to continue but could camp on the beach but also told that due to the number of homeless I would have to keep an eye on my things as it would be stolen.
Getting darker and still couldn’t find a place to camp
Feeling a little bit annoyed I had been made to wait as the sunset then to be sent off I got my head down and kept my eyes open for anything. Being told there was another RV park further on I rode on and arrived a couple hours later which by now was well after dark. I went to check in and found that just to pitch my tent was $50 I couldn’t believe it. With it now totally dark and being told it wasn’t a safe area I gave in and pitched my tent on the site.
I was travelling up the coast much faster then I had hoped, wanting to stop and rest but with no where to stay and no replies from any of the warm showers hosts it was all I could do. I just hoped for a more successful day tomorrow but for now I was exhausted and a little disillusioned by my experiences.
Tuesday 5th April
Waking up around 8am and not needing to leave until midday I got up and put the kettle on. It was nice to lay there but I knew I couldn’t afford to stay there. I went and had a shower, sorted my things out and started to pack my panniers. Needing to have a look at my bike as it was now making some strange noises I got my tool kit out I started to investigate.
Finding it was just a loose wheel nut I checked everything else and started to pack. It wasn’t long before the golf buggy arrived to tell me I needed to go as it was past 12 and so I loaded my things and set off. On leaving the camp I spotted a couple I had spoken to the night before. we got chatting and they invited for a sandwich. They were a really lovely couple and I felt like I could have chatted for hours, Marc was a film maker and I watched a couple of short films he had made. They were very thought provoking and I enjoyed his style. If only the campsite wasn’t so expensive I might have stayed but I needed to find another place. We wished each other luck and I set off down the hill and back onto the highway. It was now 2.30pm and by this point the sun had burnt off the sea mist making it a hot day.
Following the road next to the ocean was just beautiful
I followed the highway for 18 miles and stopped at a beautiful spot right on the water to go for a swim. I pulled my bike onto the sand and headed into the cold water. It wasn’t as nice as the sea of Cortez but it was good to feel refreshed. I returned to my bike but did’t want to ride on. I was happy here and wanted to stay. I got a message from Chris who had been trying to help me and had found a place for me to stay the following night. It was amazing news and I could feel my whole body relax. I sat on the bench and started to read which was something I never seem to have time for. It was amazing getting lost in another world just for an hour as the sun steadily got lower.
This was a perfect spot but the sea was so cold
It wasn’t long before a cyclist called Steve arrived and we got chatting. He was on day 2 of his tour and was looking for a nice place to camp. Deciding to camp together at the end of the beach we headed along the carpark and tucked ourselves away. With the bikes covered and our Thermarests on sand we lay drinking tea and watching the sun set.
Our camp was just amazing
It was’t long before night came and we could watch the stars and the odd satellite pass overhead. I could feel it was going to be a cold night but I was toasty in my sleeping bag and felt settled by the sound of the waves and with high tide having just past I knew we weren’t going to get wet.
Wednesday 6th April
Waking up with the sound of the ocean lapping on the shore I looked up to see Steve getting ready to leave.
Steve getting ready to leave
It had been a cold and damp night but I had slept well until the sun rose. Steve soon set off so I got up cleared my things and made my way over to the benches to make a cup of coffee. It was nice place to sit while sorting through my things and thanks to Chris I now had a place to stay which felt comforting. I set off around 8am and followed the beautiful coast line along. It was typical that now I had a place to stay I would pass lots of parks and camp spots that were non existent further south.
This was a strawberry farm with a tractor trimming the plants
Spotting this beautiful church on the way into town
I reached Ventura and stopped at a garage to buy snacks but what I really needed was a supermarket. After a short time I found one and went in and got what I needed. I had forgotten how much groceries weigh and struggled to fit it all in my panniers.
It was great to see old cars that have been restored
Deciding not to eat out until I had eaten all the food I had brought I set off this time a little slower due to the weight and joined the coastal cycle path. It was beautiful riding and just couldn’t get my head around the size of some of the camper vans.
The line of campers went on for about 2 miles and cost $50 per space
As it got closer to 1pm I started to look for a good place to stop but with large rocks leading down to the beach it was almost impossible to find anywhere. After passing some very nice houses I finally came to a park that was right on the water.
Enjoying the view along the coast road
I saw so many perfect unsurfed waved
It was perfect and with a pannier loaded with food I was going to have a feast. Once I had taken out what I wanted I ended up having marmalade on buttered bread which wasn’t what I was first thinking of but it was just what I wanted. I set off once more and with 20 miles to go I continued along the many cycle paths towards Santa Barbara. Having an address to aim for I followed the directions and climbed high above the the city and into the hills.
After a bit of searching I found a huge beautiful house along with Robert the builder who was doing a few projects in the area. We chatted a while and he asked if I needed anything. Only wanting a coke he set off and came back a bit later with two big bags full of food and beer. It was incredible and I couldn’t believe it.
He set off once he had dropped off the groceries and I made myself at home. The house belonged to Tom Richey who was one of the creatures of the mountain bike and still produces some of the best top end bike parts. I couldn’t believe I was here but unfortunately Tom and Martha were away as I would have loved to have met him.
With a view like this it would be wrong not to get in
The house was incredible with breathtaking views down to the bay and for miles around complete with an infinity pool, a bbq and the use of the fridge, not forgetting the huge amount of food I had been given and the food I had brought I was in heaven.
This was exactly what I wanted and it tasted amazing
And what a view to have dinner
With a cold beer in my hand I could at last finally relax and have a day off and rest. Something I had been wanting to do for what felt like ages.
Thursday 7th April
It was incredible to watch the sun come up from behind the mountain and light the valley in front of the house but the sky looked different today. It was a nice day but it was on the change. Robert arrived to work next door so I went over to have a chat. He was an ultra marathon runner and very interesting to chat to. He gave me some coke to drink which was so kind of him and knowing I would be in the house working I wanted to offer my help if he needed it.
Not a bad place to take a couple days off
I headed in and as the day went on so it got cooler. It was good to work through my jobs and amazing to watch the scenery change as the clouds moved in.
Managing to speak to Jules was awesome as we could discuss him coming out in just under a week. It was great to see him so excited and I could’t wait to hang out with him. Still having time before he came out I decided to take another day off and try and get as much work done as I could. Getting to speak to Chris as well was great as he had been just amazing at trying to help me sort out places to stay in the US. I knew if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be where I was and wouldn’t be able to get so much work done.
Just the most amazing view
Having done as much as I wanted for the day it was time to put my feet up and watch a movie. I was in an incredible place where I could relax and rest and it felt amazing!!
Friday 8th April
After a restless night sweeting massively while I slept and needing to shower twice I was worried I was getting sick. pleased I was where I was and having the extra day was great. Seeing the clouds move in I was happy I had decided to stay and as the rain started to bounce off the ground it was a great place to be. With Tom being more then happy for me to be there I got up and had breakfast before I got back to work on my blog. Having calls to make I managed to speak to my parents and sister which was really lovely to speak to them and a great way to split up my daily chores. I was soon back to work when Robert arrived to drop off a set of clippers so I could cut my hair. It was so kind of him and I wish I had more time to chat but with him heading off to run an ultra marathon I made my way back into to the dry and continued to work. It was so good to get it done especially as the rain was getting heavier and the wind picking up. I broke up my day sorting through my things and fixing a couple bits on my bike but like any day when I try and do my work my time just evaporates. I was so pleased to have had the time and to have had such a beautiful place to stay but it was time to head north once more. My next stop was San Luis Obispo where I was being looked after by another one of Chris and heathers friends. I felt so lucky I had their help and couldn’t wait to meet them.
Saturday 9th April
Waking up feeling so cosy in the the house and needing to leave was hard but I knew I had to get going if I was going to make it to San Luis Obispo. Even though I had sorted my things I still seemed to have stuff everywhere and it took ages to tidy away my things and make sure I left the house as I found it. I turned my GPS on and faffed around before I put San Luis in to the GPS. It took a few seconds to come up but I was shocked at what I saw. 98 miles I thought that can’t be right as I had thought it was 70 miles and then realised that it was 70 miles to Santa Maria which was the town before. Being already late and feeling a little stressed at the distance I had to cover I dropped out of the hills in to Santa Barbara and turned onto the side roads that headed west.
Looking at the GPS it wanted me to traverse the mountains but knew if I went through the mountains I would never make it. I was making good progress as I followed the coast road after 20 miles it came to an end and I was put onto the freeway.
From here although I wasn’t meant to be on it I was now going a little faster. With a slight tail wind I was covering around 15 mph and judging by what I had done already If I could maintain my speed I should make it in good time. After 30 miles the road turn 90 degrees to the water and I started to climb.
It wasn’t a big pass but it was enough to slow me for the next hour. I knew however for every metre I go up I will also descend and once at the top I was back to my average. By 4 pm I had covered 70 miles and had 38 to go. Knowing I needed to eat and having milk and cereals on board I pulled off the road to eat. It was good to stop but it didn’t feel that way for my legs.
Once I reached the top of the climb I passed many vineyards that stretched for miles
Setting off I noticed the stop had seemed to turn them to lead but with some persistence they came back and I was back up to speed. As I got within 15 miles of town the dreaded head wind picked up and it started to rain. It wasn’t great but being so close I now knew I would make it. Once over a few hills I dropped into town and very quickly reached the house where I was staying.
Welcome to the house of fun
I had made it and after 108 miles and 1,500 metres of height gain I was pleased with my effort. I was set by Gizmo who showed me Kate’s room who was at a hen do and was then made to feel very much at home. With 19 residence in the house all keen on cycling I don’t think I have seen more bikes out side I bike shop then I did in the house. Each one different but all really cool. Gizmo very kindly made dinner for me and a few others and also brought some beers. It was so cool being here and they made me relax and wanting to stay another day. Having enough time before Jules arrived it was good to be taking it easy and enjoying the places and people around me.
Sunday 10th April
Having got the day off I joined some of the residence for breakfast and chatted to Tyler who worked in the bike kitchen set up to teach people how to fix their bikes. Being mainly run by volunteers I decided to give him a hand after I had got food for the journey north. It took a while for me to reach the supermarket I wanted but once back and had lunch I headed to the shop to find there were already a few people in the shop working. Tyler had several old bikes that were being done up to be sold and with an old Marin in the stand I set to work getting it up and running. It was great to chat with the others and bring an old bike that would have been great in its day back to life.
Happy with his new purchase
One of the other guys helping also lived with Tyler and was putting together an old bike in which he was going to buy. I could see how easy it was to become attached to a bike that was now nice and shiny again. Luckily for me I couldn’t buy another bike but knew if I could I would have brought this old Marin.
These guys were great and was great to help out
Having some time left I brought my bike in and gave the chain a clean which judging by the state of it, it was well over due. Dolly had treated me well and it was good to get her a bit cleaner but it would have taken a few hours to get her shiny again.
All ready for its next owner
Once I had finished I returned to the house to find my host Kate had arrived back. It was great to see her and thank her for letting me stay. Wanting to cook for them I prepared a cottage pie which I soon had ready and sat with them all. Their house and the people here were just the best and I could see why they all loved it.
Me and Kate who had kindly let me stay
With the plan to leave tomorrow I sorted through my things and joined the guys in a room to watch a film. It was great to relax but I soon realised just how tired I was. It was so good to have had the rest but It was time to head north and meet Jules.
I was so pleased to have made it to the USA but it had been hard to settle. It felt like I was always someone else’s problem and found it so hard to relax. Arriving in one of the most affluent areas with so many homeless didn’t help and spotting one guy that almost looked like me probably didn’t help. Chris Kelly had been my saviour and had found me friends that had been willing to help all of which had reaffirmed my faith in mankind. It wasn’t just them but the people that surrounded them had treated me well and feel like friends. With the road north becoming less populated it was only going to get easier to camp and I could enjoy my surroundings. The USA was expensive and a lot more then I had thought and I knew I just had to change the way I did things. Each country takes a little while to adjust and now rested I was excited about what lay ahead.
With Jules coming out in a few days and Avril, Lucy and Amanda coming to Alaska what wasn’t to look forward to. From here I had the Big Sur which I was told was a beautiful road around 130 miles long and famous for its scenery. Having the time before Jules arrived to take it easy I was going to just take it in and enjoy the road ahead and get excited about his arrival.
It was only going to get better
Thanks for reading xxx