Follow my journey through the southern tier of America on my bicycle through my blog.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 46 (41 riding): Total overall distance: 3002.28mi Total distance today: 28.05mi Total time: 2.23.09 Avg speed: 11.7mph Top speed: 32.5mph

Random thoughts of the day:
-Just one: I DID IT

Today started with a quick goodbye to Paul, Ricky, & Nadine knowing we were gonna have a ceremonial dinner either Saturday or Sunday night. I left the hotel at 9:15, which gave me plenty of time to find a donut shop for a Hirt breakfast and then head the 28 miles or so to Mission Beach where my brother would be waiting. I found a neat little donut shop in El Cajon where I had a donut in the shape of a fitting. I then went up a road to Santee, CA and turned west to head up one last long climb up a hill to begin my descent into San Diego. After riding along a busy road with on ramps and off ramps cutting through the bike lane for around 15 long miles, I turned onto Old Seaworld Dr. This road used to be the main drag but now there is a much nicer and busier one just a few hundred yards away. This old road is now essentially a bike/pedestrian path that runs along the San Diego River. I took a short break to eat a muffin and kill a few minutes for my brother to get to the end of the jetty road I would arrive on. I embarked on my final 2 miles at exactly noon. I went up and over a bridge with a nice view of Mission Bay and then turned parallel to the beach for the last mile of the journey. Upon turning onto North Jetty Road, I caught sight of my brother, future sister-in-law, and another gentleman towards the end of the dead end road. They had a streamer set up across the road and balloons tied to the car. The other fellow was filming my arrival. I rode the last 50 yards with my arms held high in celebration (somehow managing not to fall over). I cannot explain the feeling I got when I rode through the streamer and knew I had arrived at my final destination some 3,002 miles after beginning the trip of a lifetime. I could not have arrived to a better welcome put on by numerous people...the ones in attendance and some more that were not there in person. I can't thank my brother and his fiance enough for being there and helping me celebrate the completion. I also have to thank Renny Brown, the PGA Head Pro from Aviara Golf Club and a representative of the Southern California section of the PGA of America. He was the other person waiting for me and congratulating me on my ride and my successful fundraising. I also have to thank Tom Addis, a past PGA president who helped coordinate the southern Cali PGA section to be there to greet me and congratulate me. Thank you also goes out to Steve Napoli, the PGA Director of Golf who worked so diligently in setting up the greeting. One more thanks to Teri Carreiro, the Business Manager at Wannamoisett for overnight shipping a massive Wannamoisett flag for the ending "ceremony." I was also told it would have been better attended if I hadn't messed it up by arriving so quickly...whoops. I can't thank all of these people enough and everyone else who I forgot to mention who made the ending so very special. It truly shows the integrity of the PGA of America and its members to go through so much just to greet 1 of its over 25,000 members at the conclusion of a worthwhile journey. I am very fortunate to be a member of such a world class association.

I also want to throw a quick thank you out there to all of my warmshowers hosts along the way for making my trip much more bearable and a lot more memorable as well: Dave, Robert, Glen, Al & Sally, Linda, Phil & Goldie, Carol, Hilary, John & family, Mons & family, and the crew at B&B Bait & Tackle.

Thank you to everyone who cheered me on along the way and to everyone who followed me on this epic adventure.

The most thanks goes to everyone who donated to Executives Without Borders and their cause in Haiti. Also to everyone who donated to me to help offset my costs. I really can't express my thanks in words.

In conclusion, this was truly the trip of a lifetime and I would not have changed a single thing about it. From the places I saw to the incredible people I met, most notably Ricky, Paul, Nadine, Ed, & Katie. I hope and think that I have made friends for a lifetime and will do my best to keep in touch with all of them.

I am sad to have the adventure end but am also glad to have completed my quest and cannot wait to return home soon!

P.S. I know there are people I have forgotten to mention or to thank..please forgive me!

P.S.S. Keep your eyes opened in the coming weeks for a special surprise I will be working on. It may allow you to see some of my journey...firsthand (kind of).

Total overall distance: 3,002.28 miles
Total time: 232 hours, 17 min, 44sec
Average speed: 12.4mph
Top speed: 43mph
Average distance (riding days): 73.23m
Average time riding per day: 7.24.23 (I think)
Total flats: 8 (6 front, 2 back)
Tires worn through: 1
Spokes broken: 0 :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 45 (40 riding): Total overall distance: 2974.23mi Total distance today: 58.59mi Total time: 4.34.57 Avg speed: 12.8mph Top speed: 43.0mph

Random thoughts of the day:
-I haven't been cheered for this much since...ever I think
-This is the last climb of the trip...eventually I am going to say that and it is going to be true
-Goodbye mountains, it was nice doing business with you
-I rode away from the hotel 3 hours ago...and have gone .18 miles
-Tomorrow will be quite a sense of accomplishment
-Yes!!!! A new personal best for high speed...coulda gone higher...but I thought about my tube exploding again and that would end badly for me
-If a leprechaun caught the easter bunny...would it create a super Easter Patrick's Day?

Today was quite a day. Nadine and I got up and out of our "hotel" room by 8:30 and headed diagonally across the street to the only store in town to have a bite to eat and wait for Ricky and Paul to show up after they climbed the mountain that we climbed last night. They eventually showed up around 10:45 or so and we all had some snacks before heading out around 11:15 or so. They were planning on finishing in San Diego today and I was planning on ending about 20-25 miles short of the beach in order to have a nice easy short ride tomorrow as sort of a celebratory victory lap to the ocean where my brother would be waiting.

Over the next 3 hours, we rode through some neat little towns and were wven cheered for at one point by a bunch of kids on a school playground. It seems like everyone we pass knows we are almost done! We went up 4 separate 1000'-1200' climbs just to drop down the same distance just to go back up. Quite silly and tiring in the heat. Going down those descents was obviously quite fun, and on one of them I even set a new personal speed record of 43mph. I was about to pedal and try to get to at least 45mph and hopefully 50, but then the thought of my tube exploding or even just losing a little air crept into my head and I rode the breaks down to 35mph for the rest of the descent. Anyway, the ascents weren't too bad, mainly because I knew it was the last day of climbing! It was pretty hot which stunk but it wasn't as overbearingly hot as yesterday. We stopped to have lunch at a small diner in the town of Pine Valley which was just before the last major climb. We ate so much food that the waiter was so impressed, he gave us 2 free ice cream shakes as long as we finished them. They were gone 2 minutes later. Then we just hung around for a few minutes...not sure why, we just didn't want to leave. Ricky and Nadine fixed Nadine's back breaks before the long descent into the suburbs of San Diego and I called around looking for a campsite or cheap hotel to stay at. At that point, they still had 50 or so miles if they wanted to get to the beach and it was already 4:00. I had struck out on every level with finding respectable campsites or hotels before San Diego. The only good campsite was closed and the rest were outrageously expensive. The hotels on the route were as well. We left anyway with nobody really having a plan as to what to do after the descent from the mountains. We were so excited to leave the mountains behind us though, that we just went. The ride down was fun. It was very little pedaling and on good roads for the most part, including a small portion on Interstate 8 again. When we reached the bottom, it was just about sunset and we stopped to formulate a plan. The 3 of them decided not to go for the beach tonight but to stop early. Since that was my plan too, we then tried to find a decent hotel not too far away. We ended up finding a Motel 6 in El Cajon, about 30 miles from the beach but off the ACA route. So here we are, in a Motel 6 after eating at the Chinese Buffet across the street. We are watching the show "How it's made" on Ricky's phone that is attached to Paul's computer that is attached to Paul's projector which is set up to project the show on the wall of the room. We know how to travel. This show is really incredible by the way.

Nights like this make me really happy that I found these guys and was lucky enough to be accepted into their group. It makes me wonder how i even spent the majority of this trip by myself. I guess it's fitting though that I finish the trip by myself tomorrow. We will be leaving at separate times and to slightly different locations I believe. Anyway, it's fitting to finish the journey the same way I started it and spent most of myself. I'll meet up with these guys again tomorrow night I think for a "last supper." It will be tough to part ways as they have become good friends. We have spent a good bit off time together in the last few weeks.

Now a brief note about tomorrow. I cannot believe that my journey is 30 miles from being completed. I have no idea what I am going to do after I finish. I haven't gone 2 days in a row with riding my bike since Jan 9&10. I have no idea what emotions I will feel upon dipping my front tire in the Pacific Ocean but I know I will have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and for that I am excited.

So I will talk to you all on the other side of my journey...tomorrow night!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 44 (39 riding): Total overall distance: 2915.64mi Total distance today: 57.02mi Total time: 5.09.19 Avg speed: 11.0mph Top speed: 24.5mph

Random thoughts of the day:
-Oh great, I love waking up to a flat tire...especially on the rear wheel...especially after I already loaded up the bike
-At what point do phrases switch from yesterday to last? Example: yesterday afternoon but not yesterday evening, last evening and last night but not last afternoon
-My thoughts are complicated today
-Best shirt ever: "When I die, bury me at WalMart so my wife will visit me everyday
-Exploding tubes are fun
-This road might as well be made of nails
-I can officially say I've been called a drug baby...the guy's reasoning was that only drug babies would ride bicycles through the desert today
-I wish I had Sonic the Hedgehog with me so he could make a tunnel through the mountain by rolling
-It feels like I'm riding through an oven
-I sweated off at least 5 pounds today
-This has been the hardest/worst day of the whole trip
-Abandoned buildings are creepy to sleep in
-Thank goodness for the shade!

Today started off bad and just got worse as the riding went on. I loaded up my bike before doing the morning ritual of checking the tire pressure. Then I checked it and realized my back tire was flat. I had a pin-head sized hole in the tube from a tiny piece of wire that took 10 minutes to find and remove from the tire. The whole process took about 30 minutes. Then we set off on a path through the Yuha desert that consisted only of sand, small prickly shrubs, and 20 miles of the worst road in the country. It was literally like riding over railroad tracks the cracks in the pavement were so high. It was so frustrating! To top that off, about 5 miles before Plaster City, which was just a large factory of some sort in the middle of the desert, Ricky got a flat tire. As he was fixing his flat, I laid my bike on its side about 20 fet away and was talking to Paul right near it. Then all of a sudden we all hear a loud and sudden burst of a hiss come from my front tire. My tube literally exploded in the tire. The bad news was that the tube obviously isn't salvageable and I had to fix the flat. The good news is that I wasn't riding it when it happened and we were already stopped to fix a flat. I actually fixed mine just before Ricky was done with his since he had to patch his tube and I had a newly patched one ready to go. But boy was it hot while we did this. It was 86 degrees and in the desert on a black felt like 110. Anyway we finally made it the 40 miles from our hotel to the city of Octillo at the base of the mountain we had to climb and stopped for lunch. After a decent lunch, both in terms of food and time, we set off onto Interstate 8 to climb yet another mountain. Then the day got worse...but this time for Paul. After only a couple miles, he realized his gears weren't working properly and Ricky noticed that his frame was 2 places. No more riding on that thing. So Paul and Ricky turned around and coasted back down to the city in search of some welding tools so Ricky could try to fix the frame. Nadine and I continued up the mountain to go to the town of Jacumba Springs, CA hoping we wouldn't need to find help there but ready to ask around if needed. Paul and Ricky ended up finding a nice group of people that fed them burgers and Ricky was able to fix the frame! Good thing he caught up to us!

Nadine and I proceeded to climb 3200 feet in 13 miles at a constant grade of 6%. For those of you not familiar with grades of roads...that is steep. Climbing a mountain like that is hard but in the desert with the sun beating down on brutal! Luckily after the first 1200 feet, the sun dipped below the mountain and we climbed in the shade...otherwise we may have melted! I drank more water today than ever before and probably sweated it all out. Finally we reached the top of today's climb at 3200 feet and then coasted down about 300 feet to the town of Jacumba where there was supposed to be a nice hot springs resort and spa that allowed tent camping...key words: supposed to be. It turns out that that building went into foreclosure and was abandoned about 6 months ago...but after talking to the sheriff, we decided to camp there anyway. He said the owners were in Chicago and as long as we didn't cause a ruckus, we'd be fine. So after some searching and door pulling...we went from putting up our tents in the sleeping on the carpeted floor of room 103. It clearly has no electricity or water...but it's inside with a lock on the door. Perfect. After shopping for dinner and talking with a border patrol agent (the fence is 40 yards away from us), we found out that the locals here drilled a pipeline into the hot springs underground and have a constant flow running into a hot tub down a dirt path just off the side of the road. Sounded creepy but after our day, we decided to go for it. It was the perfect way to end a day like today. The water flowed into a legitimate hot tub in one corner and the tub was angled so it flowed out the other corner and is just always running since it's essentially coming from a stream, just a very hot one. So we spent about an hour sitting in the hot tub under the stars...fantastic.