San Francisco to Indio – 2015

Brawley to Indio

Contrary to the previous night, I had good night’s sleep and a discussion with Basil that we should avoid another night in a strange bed and make for familiar surroundings in Indio.
So up at the crack of dawn, packed up we rode to the close-by McDonald’s for a big breakfast to suffice us until the stop some 60 kms north other than Westmoreland on the outskirts of Brawley. Highway 111 on the east side of the Salton Sea is a little flatter but a longer distance to Indio, so the decision was to continue on 86 which travels north on the west side of the Salton Sea.
In the saddle at 7:15 a.m. with a full load of fluids as today promised to be another hot one – by the way, it was 96 degrees when I arrived in Brawley yesterday.

Long Shadows in the Early Morning

Long Shadows in the Early Morning

After about 11 kms on 86 is the town of Westmoreland, last chance for supplies before the next one over 50 kms north.
86 heads west first, then swings north-west, basically a fairly flat road with gentle grades. Heading west I was making good time, but when the road turned north I was heading into a light headwind, which would annoy me for most of the time on 86.
Even with the headwind I arrived in Salton City at 10:30 a.m., by which time my breakfast had disappeared and I was hungry, so I fuelled up at the travel stop there and grabbed more fluids as it was getting pretty toasty by then.

Riding into Salton City

Riding into Salton City

Salton City is just a conglomeration of houses and some businesses centered on Highway 86. The desert community stretches down to the waterfront from the highway to the shores of the Salton Sea.
About 15 kms farther north is the town of Desert Shores, just a market there and a smaller collection of homes, but closer to the water than most of Salton City with some views of the Salton Sea readily available.

Salton Sea Views

Salton Sea Views

8 kms north of Desert Shores is the community of Oasis where I was able to leave 86 and continue on Harrison Street, a quiet local road that would take me to the community of Mecca. I must add that for the most part, 86 was very quiet on this Saturday morning, but that could be the case on most weekends?
I sure was getting hot though as the miles wore on – earlier on 86 I was sweating pretty good then when I had to stop at a Border Patrol road block. They had a drug dog that was sniffing around each vehicle. I pulled up and the dog wouldn’t even come near me! I told the guard that I probably smelt too bad, he laughed and told me to carry on… without getting any closer to me. Oh well, not much I can do about it, especially in very hot weather.

Riding on Quiet Harrison Street

Riding on Quiet Harrison Street

After quite a few more miles I was in familiar territory and anxious to get to my destination, but I had to cover 120 kms today before that happened.
I was tired after the ride today, but glad that I accomplished my goal.

The rest of my photos today are mostly of the desert landscape that one must cross to reach a destination here in Southern California.

So, more photos of today at THIS LINK.

It’s been a slice, but it’s all over now, as the song goes!

C’est finis – that’s all folks!

All this trip’s photos are at THIS LINK.

AdamK & (That was sure a picky drug dog – I don’t think we smell too bad either?) Basil.

Summary – San Francisco to Indio…

Basil's Happy!

Basil’s Happy!

Well, Basil’s happy to be off the saddle and constantly watching my rear, pardon the pun, but that’s his job isn’t it? And he did a good job! He does look a bit worse for wear, but I think his fur will grow back eventually – or maybe like me, he’s just losing it because of his age? He did want to be forefront in this photo as he told me he was sick of taking a back seat 😉 OK, enough of the beaver…

Here’s a short summary of this last tour…

I did enjoy riding down the California Coast immensely, but I don’t think that I’ve ever not enjoyed a coastal tour as they do seem to be my favourite venue over the years short of the International tours that I have undertaken. Someone asked me whether the Oregon Coast is better than the California Coast – more scenic for cyclists etc. I really couldn’t pick one over the other, as to me both coasts are fabulously scenic and have their own distinct attributes in certain areas. For example, the Cape Perpetua section of the Oregon Coast (south of Waldport) is amazing, but so is the Big Sur area of the California Coast. Either way, anyone intending to visit these areas whether by bicycle or other mode of transport will not be disappointed – did I say “fabulous?” Yes I did!

As I mentioned in my daily posts, all the sections of the coast that I rode south of Ventura were a new experience to me. I had been semi-dreading riding through Los Angeles as all the media ever reports is traffic mayhem! I actually found it very easy to negotiate my route through the city; yes it was on a Saturday, but the freeways that I saw were all choc-a-bloc with traffic whereas the city streets were no challenge and I didn’t feel threatened in any way. Actually, I’m wrong calling it all Los Angeles, as I rode through all the areas of Greater Los Angeles, which includes many communities that seem to get all bunched into the LA nomenclature – in all to ride through “LA” I rode through Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Carson, Lomita, Long Beach. Going past the actual city and LAX airport, I rode mostly on beach side paths or roads. The tricky part and street riding only came into being from Redondo Beach, Torrance area to Long Beach where I was back on the beachfront.

South of LA are all the beach areas that we are familiar with from what we see in the media, TV and movies. I think I wrote, “where the fat cats live,” and I could see that from some of the very lavish properties that were perched all down that area of the coast. These areas from Huntington Beach to Dana Point and especially around Newport Beach were very congested with beach goers of every variety and it seemed that surfers outnumbered the non-surfers!

The areas that I particularly liked were south of Camp Pendleton namely Oceanside and Carlsbad north of San Diego, very pleasant scenic ocean-side towns with friendly people.

Once through La Jolla, another nice area, I was riding into San Diego past vacation homes galore, San Diego Airport and then I was downtown! San Diego streets were very easy to negotiate and I found their public transport system, MTS, very easy to use on my day off there. I’ll have to go back to San Diego, off the bike, for at least a few days to see all the sights there – it’s a plan!

From San Diego I went inland, first via the MTS Trolley to Santee where I started riding again. Almost immediately, I was sorry to leave the coast behind. To be frank, I didn’t really enjoy this part of the ride, maybe the heat and humidity soured my mood? It was unusually humid for this region and coupled with higher than normal temperatures, made the ride a little more difficult of a grind than it should have been. Of course, I had lost the scenery and once through the high roads surrounding the Viejas and Laguna mountains the road was mostly into desert. Pine Valley was a nice small town and then there was Ocotillo, no comment there! Jacumba was a little nicer and then I hit El Centro and Brawley, both larger cities, where I was in the desert proper; at least I had lost the humidity in Ocotillo where it stormed quite vigorously that night. As crummy as the motel there was, I was glad of the shelter from the storm and flash floods.

Taking the train from Vancouver to Portland then Oakland (San Francisco) was a highlight of the trip for me as I have wanted to do that for many years and it was a much more civilized mode of transport when compared to the rigours of airports and airplanes.

I met lots of nice people, some cyclists but mostly not. The cyclists that I did get to meet were of all ages, friendly, good company when camping and a nice distraction from just cranking the pedals . I also had some good conversations on the train at meal times and while in the observation car which helped break up the length of the journey for that leg.

So nineteen riding days and 1400 kms ridden – about what I figured when I planned this trip as I didn’t want long riding days and wasn’t trying cover extensive mileage; some days were short and some were not. Perhaps my two hardest days were Santee to Pine Valley and Brawley to Indio. The road from Brawley to Indio wasn’t bad, it was just a long haul through the desert on a hot day with no shade for long distances.

I planned this trip as a “tour” not a “Death March” and it proved to be just so!

I’m staying south for a while and from the comfort of my bed this is my view most mornings…

Sunrise from my Bedroom Window

Sunrise from my Bedroom Window

Minus the Pool!!!

Until next time…

AdamK & (Going bald – he is, but not me!) Basil.

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