Currently, we are in Santa Monica, just a stone’s throw from Los Angeles proper. A few days ago, as we rode through the upscale city of Santa Barbara, it really hit us how far we’ve come. Suddenly, there were palm trees everywhere! We started out in the stunted spruce trees of Alaska, and now we are riding through palm trees. This is amazing!
It’s been an interesting few days. Mostly, we’ve been doing a lot of urban riding as the towns get larger and much closer together. Last time we updated we were in the working town of Guadalupe, staying with a wonderful host. She was so much fun to chat with that we stayed up way too late and then got a slow start the next day. We didn’t leave before getting our picture with the president though:
The next couple of nights we spent at State Beach hiker-biker sites, and really enjoyed chatting with some of the other cyclists. We met two cyclists from Victoria, BC (a city we really enjoyed riding through), and just had a great time with them. They were so positive and excited about every part of their trip, from the roads to the wildlife to the people they met. We also met a German family traveling with a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old down the coast. They carried a giant, three room tent with them.
We also spent an afternoon playing on a perfect beach.
In Santa Barbara we ventured off-route to find a grocery store, and ended up getting really distracted in what appeared to be a giant downtown open-air mall. There were people shopping everywhere; it was like an ant nest of consumer activity. While we stopped to drink a cup of coffee I saw a distracted driver almost hit someone in the crosswalk, and then a distracted cyclist run into another cyclist. Their bicycles got caught on each other in some awkward configuration, but neither fell down.
Yesterday we rode nearly 80 miles to enter Santa Monica, at the edge of the Los Angeles metro area. It was quite a day. We woke up at 5:30 am to be on the road at first light, and we watched the sun rise behind the mountains as we pedaled along the ocean. It was wonderful, and calm. There were already surfers everywhere preparing for their day on the waves. As we got closer and closer to LA things got busier and busier. More towns, more people, more lanes on the highway. For the most part, we had sufficient room on the shoulder. As we approached Malibu, however, cars were parked in the shoulder to facilitate surfing access, so we increasingly had to claim an entire lane of the highway. Miraculously, nearly all the traffic was very courteous and politely changed lanes to accommodate us. One car honked and the driver yelled at us with colorful words and a single prominently displayed finger. You can guess which. He even pulled over in front of us to yell some more, which certainly took far more time than moving over in the lane would have! We just ignored him, and carried on.
Just as the traffic started to get really stressful, we had a stroke of fantastic luck. A power line was down on the main highway ahead, so they were not allowing any cars through… but bikes were ok! We had the entire 4-lane highway to ourselves for 3 blissful miles.
After the cars re-entered, traffic was still lighter and we had a stressful but safe ride to the Santa Monica bicycle path. It was a great path – sandy beach on both sides and row after row of volleyball nets.
We rolled through the busy and opulent streets of Santa Monica to our host house for the night. We are staying with Greg, my friend from college, and his two roommates for two nights to rest, recoup, and plan our next two weeks. Thanks guys!