Cycling Day 56 – San Diego to MEXICAN BORDER
Today was like the final stage of the Tour de France wearing the yellow jersey – all the hard work had been done and we were free to cruise into town amidst the throng of cheering people dying to get a glimpse of their heroes on their way to certain victory. OK, that might be a slight exaggeration but it’s not too far from what was going on in our heads 🙂 With only thirty miles remaining along relatively flat ground, we did plan to soak it up and enjoy it as much as we could. I woke up early and went to the nearby supermarket to buy a bottle of champagne. As it was fairly hot, I also had to get a ten pound bag of ice to go with it which made my bike a little heavier than usual, although this was offset by us leaving our tents at the campsite.
Having had breakfast, we headed off just after 9:30 with the intention of making it into downtown, picking up some champagne flutes and boarding the 11:00 ferry at approximately 10:59. Unsurprisingly, our delusions of German-like precision and efficiency were shattered not only by a moderate headwind (which plagued us all day) but also when we got to Macy’s and found out they have no glassware department. Having missed the 11:00 ferry, we then had the task of going between restaurants trying to find someone who might sell us two flutes at a reasonable price. Eventually some people at the Hard Rock Café gave us a tip that we should head to World Market, where we picked up the glasses and made our way back to the pier. After accidentally poking our head in on a corporate training exercise in the normal pier, we found the ticket office and sat down for 20 minutes waiting for the ferry to leave.
The ferry crossing took about 20 minutes and provided us with some great views of the San Diego harbour. We got off in Coronado and refreshed our supply of ice which had long since melted. Amusingly, it was only at this point that Andy realised he still had his somewhat heavy duty seat cover on. All that riding must have dulled the nerves somewhat.
From Coronado the route followed a bike path around a golf course before heading along a dedicated path all the way along the Silver Strand State Beach. This area was surrounded by military installations and much of this section was spent avoiding runners in camouflage gear. We could tell the end of the trip was nearing by the many choppers providing border surveillance overhead as we came into Imperial Beach. The five miles or so were not quite the Champs-Élysées that we had imagined, with only some fairly disinterested horses providing support. Nonetheless, we pushed on into the Border Field State Park which is the south-western most point of the United States.
The actual border arrival was punctuated with much of our own celebration, picture taking and of course the celebratory bubbles which tasted as good as any champagne I have ever had. It is hard to describe all of the emotions going on at this point – pride, satisfaction, sadness, anticipation etc. We did make a quick video blog to try and capture how we felt and it should be up soon.
After sitting there for a fair while soaking it in, we headed back to the nearest light rail station instead of trying to ride all the way back to San Diego. This provided probably the most difficult moment of the day as we had to lift our fully laden touring bikes (probably about 45 kilos without the tent) up to about shoulder height to get them onto the train, through a narrow doorway which would not accommodate the width of our panniers. To make things worse, only one bike would fit on each car so we couldn’t really help each other with the bikes. The first train was already full and the doors in front of me wouldn’t open on the second train, so we got separated for the ride back into San Diego. Eventually we were reunited in America Plaza in downtown San Diego.
We decided to have a celebratory dinner at the Karl Strauss Brewery and Restaurant before heading over to the nearby airport to pick up our rental car which we would use to get to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the rental car companies are all located a fair distance from the terminal, which means instead of customers filtering in as they come out of immigration, they all wait for a bus which drops them off at once. With typically perfect timing, we managed to arrive just after two busloads rocked up, so we decided to make the journey home by bicycle and come back in the morning. The ride home was quite nice – although it was dark, it allowed us to see quite a bit more of San Diego. I wish we had more time to spend here – it looks like quite a cool place to be.
From here we have a break before heading to Asia in about three weeks to resume cycling – this will probably be one of the last posts until then! Stay tuned 🙂