SAN DIEGO — It’s not easy to push a heavily laden touring bicycle through the sand down to the surf. But certain rituals have to be performed before the start of a transcontinental bike journey.
The ritual baptism of the bike’s rear wheel in the waters of the Pacific Ocean was done with little fanfare Saturday morning at San Diego’s Ocean Beach amid surfer dudes, skateboarders, dog walkers and sunbathers. What they thought of 15 cyclists with bikes fully loaded dipping wheels into the ocean I can only guess.
But it was a good test for Sunday’s start of the cross-country trip to Florida. All went well for bike and rider, and it seems that all systems are go for a Sunday start at about 8:30 a.m. to the little town of Alpine, in the Laguna Mountains about 40 miles east of San Diego.
One of the most enjoyable parts of such a journey is talking to curious people who start asking questions when they see a group of strangely garbed cyclists with all their worldly possessions for the next nine weeks packed onto the bicycles.
Where are you going? How long will it take? Where’s the support vehicle? You mean you have to carry everything on the bike and camp in the desert?
The reactions range from heartfelt wishes of good luck, to looks that say, “You’ve got to be crazy,” to one woman — on a bike — at Cabrillo Point who just looked at me for about five seconds, mouth agape, before finally saying: “I’m wordless. I just can’t imagine that?” She seemed a bit emotional as she wished me well before she rode off on her own bike.
As I noted in the previous post, we all have to carry bits and pieces of the collective cooking gear. I grabbed a couple more fuel bottles that had gone unclaimed. So I’ll be carrying four bottles of fuel for the three cook stoves.
Cathy Blondeau, our representative for Canada, will be carrying a large cooking pot perched upright on her rear rack. On one side of the pot, the side that would be seen by passing motorists, she used a Sharpie to print the world “Florida,” with an arrow pointed forward. On the other side of the pot, she wrote “San Diego,” with an arrow pointing backward.
I hope I’ll sleep well tonight. Sunday’s ride, said to be steadily uphill, will give us a good taste of what’s in store down the road. I know for sure that I’ll be wide awake at 6:30 a.m. That’s when the red-eye flights from points east start landing at San Diego’s in-town airport, and they fly right over our hostel.
Onward to Florida!