Bruce and I achieved the goal — to ride from coast to coast — that we’d made up our minds to accomplish two years ago. It seems like the end arrived too soon.
The whole dynamics of the cross-country bike tour had changed. We set out as two riders and finished as a group of five, including the driver of the fully provisioned blue van. This morning that didn’t upset me anymore. We set out in the clear, dry mountain air as if it were just another day on the bikes.
Fittingly, this was one of the easiest days of the trip. From 2,727 feet, we were coasting down to sea level. Soon after leaving our pace quickened and we had to slow for switchbacks and suddenly we began passing orange groves. It was all so California. We passed a mission, but we didn’t stop to investigate. As Lazy Louie would say, all the hills went down and we had the wind to our backs.
Traffic increased as we hit residential areas, and James nearly had a head-on as he sped around us in the van. We were all riding together, and each tried to be the first to spot the ocean. Passing through suburban sprawl, we topped a low rise in the road and there ahead of us was the blue Pacific. Soon we were on the beach-front streets of Oceanside where Bruce’s girlfriend, Marie, met us on a bicycle festooned with balloons (she had worked the summer at a restaurant in nearby Carlsbad).
I raced to the beach, James helped me remove the panniers, and I ran to the surf with my bike held high over my head before dipping the tires in the Pacific Ocean. Coast to coast. The trip was complete.
We frolicked in the waves and drank some champagne, then all headed back to Marie’s apartment where we chilled before going out for dinner to celebrate.
And just like that the trip ended. By 1 o’clock I was doing my laundry, casting back to 68 days that are filled with memories. It all happened too fast.
Headline: July 19, 1984 — An unemployed security guard armed with three guns strode into a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, California, on the Mexican border today and killed 20 people and wounded 16 others before a police sharpshooter shot him dead. The dead included customers at the McDonald’s, several of them children…