Day 20 – Laguna Beach to Solana Beach (85.2 Km)

**Before I forget**

Yesterday, whilst idling along the beach, I was left looking stationary by a chap on a two seater, electric, bike. Not happy, I upped my effort, drew along side and started up a conversation. The electric bike put out 500 Watts! 500 Watts! That may mean nothing to many, but that is as much consistent power as two reasonable and committed cyclists, outrageous. He gave me his sales spiel on how it helps less fit people to get on a bike etc, etc… Whatever, it’s cheating, the only thing worse than an electric bike is the current scurge of Southern California, the rentable, electric scooter. Those are truly the most dangerous and irritating invention I’ve ever encountered. Surely to make an appearance in London within the next 10 minutes. Be warned.

So, Day 20. After meeting a lovely couple from Bournemouth at breakfast, because it seems, only the English rise early, I got on my bike for the short trip to Carlsbad. Although on paper an easy day, I was apprehensive, as today’s route was taking me through the Naval Military Base, Camp Pendelton, which you need a pass to get through. Of course, being the forward thinking, experienced and organised cycle tourer that I am, I had no such pass in hand! To make getting a pass harder, the powers that be at Camp Pendelton are currently in the middle of switching systems. The old system was turned off in July and the new one gets turned on in September, brilliant. The only way to get access is by turning up at the gate with photo ID and getting a pass granted on site, which I attempted!

The cycle to Camp Pendleton was brilliant, starting along the beach and then switching on to the old route 1, for the 12 kilometers or so to the base, I essentially had a private road.

Through a couple of sketchy fenced off areas with big signs explaining I was entering a military base and only approved persons should continue. I ended up at the entrance to Camp Pendleton. What followed was a classic catch 22. The guard on the gate explained he couldn’t let me through without the pass, I explained the system was down, he agreed and said I had to go to the other gate, where they could manually give me the clearance required. Fine. Where is the other gate? Oceanside.

Oceanside is the other side of the base, it is where I needed to get to! The reason for going through the base in the first place is that the only other way to get to Oceanside is by taking Interstate 5. The guard waved his gun, indicating he had had enough of my chatter. I guess I’ll take the interstate then!

I had to take this photo whilst cycling like a bullet on I5. It was quite honestly the most frightening 30 minutes of riding I have ever done, I spent the entire time in fear of being wiped out by an articulated lorry or worse being arrested for being a complete pillock and being on the road in the first place!

Off the road and feeling slightly shaken, I racked up and had a much needed coffee. Assessing my day, I realised I only had about 30 minutes to go. Every cloud.

Once I got to Carlsbad I stopped the clock and had another coffee. Looking for accommodation I noticed 20 kilometers down the road had a really nice beach and cheap motels, so I booked one and restarted my journey, after all, 20 today is 20 less tomorrow and tomorrow is my last day!

Checked in, for the last time I threw my worldly belongings on to the spare bed. I haven’t been carrying much, but packing my bag every morning has become such a chore. It’s amazing how many different ways I’ve tried to stuff all the un needed stuff I’ve brought with me.

A short rest and then out to see the sights and another jog along another fantastic beach.

Another great day on and off the saddle. With my heart rate returned to normal and the fear of I5 behind me, tomorrow should bring my adventure to an end.

1 more day until I can have a shave, wear some clean clothes and have a few hours out of lycra! Only a few hours mind, wouldn’t want to go cold turkey.

Day 12 – Santa Rosa to Novato (52.9km)

Rest day and general R&R with The Fulchirons!

I really chose the wrong motel start my rest day in. Having been up and out early everyday of the trip so far, I’ve missed every breakfast. The one day I started late gave me the opportunity to take advantage of the second B in B&B. What culinary sensation did I receive? Microwave porridge! I actually quite like the Quaker Oats sachets and have them at work most mornings, but I was expecting a little more. Especially since I was given the sachet, milk and a coffee and sent back to my room to make it. A sad, lonely morning. I turned on CNN and thought of President Trump watching Fox and (his) Friends!

With only 50km or so to do, I wanted a late start, but 50 minutes of news put me on my bike before 8:30! I thought I’d get to Novato early, find a coffee shop and chill until an acceptable time to disturb the Fulchiron’s day. 10:30 and with 500m to go I found a Starbucks, perfect. Filter (rocket fuel) coffee ordered, I looked up to see none other than Peter Fulchiron, one half of The Fulchirons and my host for the day, walking out with coffees in hand. Running over and giving him quite the surprise I can’t tell you how happy I was to see him.

Bike in the back of Peter’s truck and up to the house, in not time I was showered, changed and chatting away. Cindy immediately offered to clean all my clothes, which I gladly and immediately accepted. What a fantastic start to the day! I suddenly found myself back in civilisation with a coffee and perhaps the best view of my trip so far – from Peter and Cindy’s garden!

A day of complete relaxation followed, lunch in Novato, two bike shops (just because) and then…

Vegetables! Yes, yes, yes. I munched my way through what seemed like my body weight in carrots and celery sticks, it was great.

Sitting in the California evening sun, book in hand and a week to go. I feel very privileged not just to be on this journey, but to have been welcomed and taken care of by such dear friends.

Landed

I have to say, the Gatwick/Norwegian Air combo really wasn’t that bad at all. In fact, it was pretty excellent. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the trip, a lift from Babs, no queue at check in, a white lie about whether I’d deflated my tyres, priority customs, 30 minutes in the lounge, priority boarding, a new(ish) plane, a comfy seat, average food, happy air stewards and a prompt arrival.

I decided to ride straight out of the airport, so a coffee shop and getting changed will have to wait. Managed to put the bike back together, and it seems ok. Success!

So far, with 0 miles ridden, all is OK on the world. Bike seems to be in working order, my luggage fits on it, the sun is high in the sky and I’ve got a fair few hours of sunlight left to make it to the motel.

Let the race adventure begin….