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This is the journal of my trip from San Luis Obispo to Solana Beach from May 11 through May 14. I wrote it because Persians have a saying: "Talking about a pleasure gives you half as much enjoyment."
Day one
Many times I am sure that you woke up after a beautiful dream and tried to go back to sleep and continue the same dream or go through it over again. Surely, on many occasions after an exceptionally pleasant event you have closed your eyes and tried to rewind the time, reconstruct and enjoy it again. That is why after my recent solo bike trip from San Luis Obispo, California to Solana Beach California-close to where I live - in early May I am writing this journal. At the same time the information in it, though brief, may be helpful to another biker who wishes to take a similar trip.
The planning started couple months before the trip. I searched the web for the best and safest route, talked to friends whom I considered seasoned bikers, and collected information on Amtrak stations, Kinko's, Bicycle shops, and hotels that would be on the route. After all was said and done the critical help came from my friends, a great route map from Adventure Cycling Association - - and helpful men and women along the way. At first I was concerned to do the trip solo. However, in San Onofre Park, on one of my solo bike rides I met a Knickerbiker's friend with her husband and she said: "Do it KR. It is so cool." That was all I needed to go ahead.
Tuesday May 10th was another beautiful sunny day in Southern California. I could have packed a lunch box and headed to the beaches and daydreamed all day. But, I did the final check of my inventories, loaded everything in the trunk of my old BMW, and headed toward the Solana Beach Amtrak station. From San Diego there is only one direct train (number 775) to San Luis Obispo which departs Solana Beach at 12:33 pm. and arrives at 8:30 pm not including the delays. There are other multi trains and train & bus combination which I did not care for.
I purchased a one way senior ticket for $29.75 and proceeded to track number 2. The security guard informed me that the elevator was out of order and I had to carry my 50 plus pound bike down the long stairway. That I did. Before boarding the train I found the prettiest woman and asked her to take my first picture with the bike. I believe that you look better in a picture when it is taken by a beautiful person. Look at my first picture if you don't believe me.
While on the train the magnificent coastline keeps you occupied during the 8 hour ride. The coast becomes more stunning once you arrive at Santa Barbara. The railroad bridge at Gaviota, the beach at this park and even the giant offshore oil platforms in the channel many miles away from the shoreline are breathtaking. Softly I told myself, "You are a lucky person." The rest of the ride is through an enormous stretch where the Santa Ynez Mountains meet the ocean and through Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The train arrived 30 minutes late. It was dark and I had no night bike ride capability. I picked Hostel Obispo online because it was the closest to the Amtrak station. I walked my bike in the darkened street for couple of hundred yards and there it was. The great Hostel Obispo. That is when I noticed my mistake. Online all along I read the word "hostel" as "hotel" and did not know what I was getting into. I should have been warned at the time of reservation when the manager asked me whether I would like a dorm for $26 per bunk bed or a private room for $45. Well, I thought I had a great bargain. A private room for $45 sounded great. The building showed its age. A long time ago it must have been a gorgeous love nest. The next morning the beautifully cared for outside garden and the flowering trees confirmed my belief.
The notice on the entrance door said, "The door is locked after 10 pm. Use the combination." I was lucky that I had a few minutes left. It is difficult to guide a heavy bike through two old wobbly doors. Somehow, I managed and met the receptionist lady. She was very nice. First she told me that there were no bunk beds available and I had to take a private room. I had no choice. Where could I find a place after 10 pm with a bike and in a city that I had never been to before? So, I decided to live it up and take a private room. Then, she said that only cash or travelers check are accepted. We counted all my cash and it came to $45. She did not want to clear me out and asked what I would do for food if she took all my cash. I shook my head in agreement. I must have looked pathetic because she made an exception and took my credit card. Next, in my utter amazement she gave me a pillow cover and a cocoon. With a beautiful smile which showed healthy white teeth she said to sleep in them when I asked what they were. I guess most men find women with healthy teeth very sexy. In awe and shock I followed her to my private room. It was a 10 by 12 room with two bunk beds and a small desk. The bathroom and the shower were across the narrow hallway which would be shared by half of the guests and me.

ß(the rented green towel is next to the cocoon)
Not to spoil my great appetite I did not eat in the train. I looked forward to a nice steak dinner in the cozy restaurant in Hotel (excuse me Hostel) Obispo. I dared not to ask where their restaurant was. In the huge kitchen and dinning room area a young man and a young woman were chopping vegetables and slicing roots to prepare a double dish of something unrecognizable to be baked in the oven. They could not have been older than twenty. They were carefully collecting all the refuse for the compost pile in the back of the building. He was doing all the work and she was talking non stop. The hunger pains were getting worse. Finally, I dared to ask where I could get food. She said you have to walk about one half mile to a fast food joint. Or she could see if she could find something for me. With that she left me to go toward the kitchen. Heartened by that bit of good news, I entered the bathroom to wash my hands before dinner. There were no towels to dry my hands. I thought surely it must have been an oversight and proceeded toward the desk. There was a sign on the window which said towels could be rented for 50 Cents each. I dried my hands with toilet paper.
In the kitchen she showed me the common and the private section of the refrigerator. The bread and vegetables for salad (all organic of course) were common and free. She only could find a can of Sardines for me that I had to pay for. Afterward, I was supposed to wash and dry my dishes. I managed to make a salad from organic vegetables, sardines in red sauce and ranch dressing. Don't ask me how it looked or tasted. You will eat almost anything when you are hungry. Several beer cans were the only drinkable stuff but they were private stock and not for sale. So water was for me. I washed the dishes and my fork and headed toward my private room. On the way to my room I stopped at the desk and sheepishly asked her what was the difference between a Hostel and a Room & Breakfast. With another big and sexy smile she said "Isn't that obvious." I paid $3 for the Sardines and a towel for a morning shower. A sexy smile of a middle age woman is overpowering. I had to leave the front desk quickly.
It was easy to cover the pillow with the provided pillow case. Using the cocoon was something else. It was a large linen sack with one end open similar to a sleeping bag. Your body would not touch the mattress, the blanket or the other part of the bed when you properly tucked yourself in--a creative solution to preventing cross contamination and cutting cost of laundry. To me it was a total body condom made of linen.
The next morning I got up early. I should say that I had a good sleep with the body condom and all. It was easy to cocoon yourself and enjoy a good sleep. The shower was great; plenty of pressure and hot water. I used my rental towel. I decided against waiting for the 8:00 am free pancakes and free coffee for breakfast. I put my gear on and took the bike out of the building and started my trip. It was a glorious cool early morning in San Luis Obispo. No fog. The garbage trucks were making their rounds. The city was coming to life. I had to go to Kinko's to read my e-mails and then I wanted a cup of coffee in Starbuck. I biked to Kinko's first because I knew where it was but had no idea on Starbucks. Reading my e-mails first thing in the morning brings my soul and my body to life. My cyberspace friends (some I have not met at all) are my soul's anchoring tethers. I had a few nice notes from my Knickerbiker's friends and many from others. Now, I felt connected to the outside world and could start functioning so I decided to get coffee on my way.

Finding the bike lane along the Higuera Street was easy. But finding a Starbucks turned out to be somewhat difficult particularly when you are riding a bike in an unfamiliar neighborhood. The traffic was sparse, the bike lane was clean, and I quickly reached the Southern section of the city. The fog was just lifting from the beautiful mountains. The bike lane continues along S. Higuera, then Ontario and finally Shell Beach Rd. Later on, Shell Beach Road becomes Price and then Dolliver.
The first part of Shell Beach gives you some of the prettiest scenery I have ever seen. Take your time along the Shell Beach area. Enter the side street and bike along the Ocean Blvd.

The Shell Beach shoreline has an out of this world north side which is lush green. The beautiful green glistening in the morning sun was studded with many gorgeous homes with dazzling color. Equally beautiful is the south side, except a portion is covered with a large sand dune. The low waves softly caressed the rocky shoreline in between. The people are nice and proud of their place. However, they quickly let you know that they are from Shell Beach and not from Pismo Beach. Well I forgave that little snobbery.

In a shopping mall which was not fully open yet I saw a man with a cup of coffee which was not a Starbuck's. I approached him and said, "You have a great location but no Starbucks." His manners exuded confidence and intellect. He warmly asked me "Do you like a good brew." I said yes. He said "Bike exactly one mile and you will find the Steamy Bean on your right. You won't miss it because the whole neighborhood is there. Tell the receptionist that Landen sent you and you want a Mexican Landen." There it was true to his description in exactly one mile.

Steamy Bean is the watering hole for the hip people of Shell Beach. Everything pointed to affluence without pretension. Sure all knew Landen. Apparently he is a great painter and one of the local Icons. The Mexican Landen was drinkable but a bit sweet for my taste. I still prefer the good old Starbuck's coffee in its bold variety.
Because the spigot on my front inner tube was broken, I could not add air to it. I had to change the tube and needed a bike shop with a good pump to get 130 pounds of pressure.
In Steamy Bean, I asked two young men across my table for directions to the closest bike shop. It seemed that they were waiting for an excuse to talk to me. Both were seasoned bikers and knew all the biking legends in the area. We quickly became good friends. Adam, the older fellow, told me that he used to bike for a living but now is doing only motor cycles. Adam, with the recommendations from the younger man, suggested that I cancel my original route and at Orcutt take a left on Clark Ave. and connect with Foxen Canyon. Road. In this fashion I would be biking through lovely rolling hills of vineyards and produce farms while I would be avoiding the congested highways (1), (135) and (101) which have mediocre scenery. Next, he said no need to go to a bike shop as he had an entire bike shop in his garage and his house was two hundred yards from the Steamy Bean.

I followed him to his house which was located on the corner of Ocean View and Montecito in the best part of Shell Beach. What a beautiful view. His house was modest and his garage was a clean and tidy bike shop. I took a picture. He quickly changed the inner tube and gave me pointers how to do it correctly and avoid pinching the inner tube. When it was over I didn't know what to do. I could not possibly offer him a $10. He could buy and sell me several times over. So I told him the two greatest words in English "Thank you." Later I took his address and I am going to send him a thank you card with his picture. Then, I got on my bike and headed toward Grover Beach. Later on I read: "Often times bicycle riding is about serendipity - remarkable, unexpected connections with people or places that leave you feeling energized and even traveling in a new direction." I am sure, however, that I was not the blind camel of Three Princes of Serendip.

After Grover Beach and Oceano I turned inland. Hwy (1) South of Arroyo Grande is called Cienaga. A mile after Pacific Union (Amtrak) railway, the road sharply turns right at the juncture of Valley Road. I had to climb a grade 7 before a plateau toward Cabrillo Highway. There are major road constructions which should be over soon. To avoid the grade, I could have turned right on Halcyon Road before Valley Road, connected with

Highway 1, and avoided the hill. However, the hard work was rewarded by a 270 degree magnificent view of farmland located on Arroyo Grande's south-west. It was an incredible sight. There were square miles of cauliflower, broccoli and other produce farms in different stages of growth. Some were being harvested and others were just burgeoning. I reached the top huffing and puffing but kept telling myself "O' God this is beautiful. This is a great country and I am so glad to be alive to experience all this natural opulence."

I could have sat there all day and enjoyed myself watching the beauties surrounding me. But it was only the first day and noon had not arrived yet. So I got back on the bike and headed south toward Guadalupe. I crossed the Santa Maria River and along the Cabrillo Highway headed toward Orcutt. Many times I wished someone else was pedaling for me so I could take my eyes from the road and watch the God's gift and man's great work around me. Soon I reached Clark Street. It was around one o'clock and I was hungry.
There it was, a no name hamburger store on the south side of the street. I knew the food must be good because the area's trade people were either there for the lunch or were picking it up. I had a King Burger with French Fries. They have QueenBurger if you cannot eat a large lunch. However, I wish I had ordered a double KingBurger which I am sure could fill Henry VIII. At the end of Clark I turned left on Dominion, right on Orcutt-Gary, and finally turned right on Foxen Canyon Road. Now, I was inland. This rolling road weaves between Sollomon Hills to the West and the San Rafael Mountains to the East. Sisquoc and many other creeks flow in the area and finally empty in the junction of the Santa Maria and Cuyama rivers. There are miles and miles of vineyards along the road. Byron Vineyard, Foxen Vineyard, Rancho Sisquoc Vineyard and Zaca Messa Vineyard are a few that I can remember. Yes, there is also the East Can Oil Field. It is a quiet road with a few farming and light pickup trucks here and there. They were very nice. They passed me as much to the left as possible. I am sure they thought if this guy is crazy enough to ride here we have to give him all the room we can. The area is not immune from big city plights either. To my amazement in the midst of all that natural beauty there was a forsaken junkyard. And I really mean forsaken.

An old abandoned Packard automobile was outside. Is anyone old enough to remember those beautiful cars? I guess when you get really old you are discarded. I felt sad. However, I was old but not ready to be forsaken. Halfway through the ride on Foxen Canyon. Road I picked up a partially crushed rattle snake four feet long at least. From then on I was very careful when walking in the bushes to get a good picture.

It was beautiful and serene. My cell phone had no reception and I was getting worried. I recalled a mountain lion attacking a biker in recent past. It concerned me a bit. Then, I saw many grazing cattle on the neighboring fields. Quickly I comforted myself that the mountain lions surely would prefer those chops to an old geezer's tough meat. To avoid getting lost I was told to follow the Foxen Canyon Road to the tee and stay to the right which I did. The scenery grew prettier as I moved south but the condition of the road was not. Shortly after the Zaca Messa Winery and a steep 1.5 mile climb I was so elated to see downhill road ahead of me that without knowing it at the time I luckily turned into Zaca Station Road. I said luckily because by then I had to worry more about getting lost in the place than enjoying the God's beauty. It was great ride downhill. Soon I entered Highway 101 toward Buellton which again was all downhill with a tail wind. I easily was doing 22 to 24 miles and could hear myself singing "Buellton here I come."
I exited Highway 101 at Avenue of the Flags and found a nice room in the Quality Inn Buellton. I would not recommend this place only because the noise from the freeway distracted my sleep at night. With a hot tub bath followed by an all you can eat pea soup dinner at PEA SOUP ANDERSEN'S BUELLTON I successfully completed my first day. The record for the day was 78.8 miles in 6.25 hours giving me a12.6 average. Not bad for an old man with a bike.

Second day
Thursday was a cool and foggy in Buellton. You hardly could see across the street. I am an early riser. After a healthy continental breakfast I biked south on Avenue of the Flags before entering Highway 101 at the Santa Rosa entrance ramp. This was Caltran's recommendation. Highway 101 snakes through the Santa Ynez Mountains. The lush vegetation and the trees all over the mountain were covered with a canopy of fog which was too lazy to lift. The sun was warming my old joints and I could feel the energy. I climbed a 2 mile stretch of grade seven. On the top I received my reward. The warm and comforting fingers of the morning sun rays were lovingly awakening the Santa Ynez Mountain peaks and valleys just as a mother does it in the morning to her sleeping child. This is a beautiful country I murmured to myself, again, while I enjoyed the downhill ride to Gaviota Tunnel.
In most parts, the bike lane along this patch of 101 was nice and adequate. However, bikers should be alert at all time because of the heavy traffic and their high speed.

I was not finished enjoying the beautiful downhill ride when I saw another heavenly sight in Gaviota State Park. Yes, you know it. It is the train trestle that bridges Canada de la Gaviota. The trestle connects two green hills. The ocean was violet blue in the morning sun. Away from the trestle, an the old wooden fishing pier defined the Western side. An Amtrak Surfliner was gently washing the fog off the rails over the trestle. The giant offshore oil platforms way out in the channel stroked my environmental consciousness a bit, though quickly I

accepted the need for them, too. This is vintage Southern California. I had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming.
When you bike along Highway 101 after Gaviota State Park you have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road. Going toward Goleta, on your left you have the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains which are now greener than usual due to recent record rainfall. On your right you have three south-facing beaches - Gaviota, Refugio and El Capitan. There appears to be a permanent rainbow starting with violet blue on the ocean side and finishing in gold on the mountain side.

You are instructed to leave Highway 101 at Hollister Ave. Climb the exit ramp and feast your eyes with knock them all views of Sandpiper Golf Course.
Then follow Hollister to Santa Barbara for more beautiful scenery. Here you have so many choices. You can spend the entire day exploring this jewel of Southern California. Whatever route you take please don't miss the State Street. Enter it from the North preferably after Las Positas Road. It gets nicer as you get closer to the ocean. I spent a couple hours there in midday.

Along the side of State Street the Jacaranda trees put on a breathtaking floral display. I had lunch (all you can eat for $7.95 of course) at Spice Avenue - an Indian restaurant. I sat on a chair facing the opening of the store. The temperature was in the low seventies. I feasted my taste buds on exotic Indian food, listened to exotic Indian music, and cherished the jacaranda with their vivid lilac-blue clusters of trumpet shaped blossoms next to other flowering trees and proud palm trees while having an eye on beautiful homosapiens of XX variety barely covering their heavenly sculptured body in low cut jeans and skimpy tops. That was when I had to confess that God was very nice to me.

With my pleasant experiences and full of confidence I biked toward the ocean and turned left on the marked bike path. The sun was warm and a thin haze was gently tapping her fingers over the low waves. The breeze was mild and carried a mixer of pleasing scents. The beach was crowded with men and women of all ages. You could hear children's innocent cackles all around you. I was cruising through Coast Route. I did not see any need for frequent road map checks because I have biked the route twice before. The invincibility aura vanished when I reached Romero Creek area. An inland detour with grade 7 zapped the life out of my legs. For the first time by the time I got back on Coast Route along Via Real I felt some doubt about the whole affair. There are times that adversity and fear make you stronger and give you a nudge forward. And that was one of those times for me. A serendipity may be. Taking frequent rests and drinking plenty of fluid were my basic rules during the bike trip. So, I rested ten minutes, had more fluid, and pushed the pedals. Before long, a road sign instructed me to enter Highway 101. Eureka, it was downhill. I got my energy and confidence back and started cruising again. I was enjoying the ride so much that I forgot to exit the highway after two miles. Suddenly I found out that I was on the shoulder of Highway 101. The beautiful and smooth bike path was several hundred feet down on my right side. To leave the highway and get to the bike path I had to climb down the several hundred feet bushy steep grade, cross the rail road track and climb a high fence. I decided against it and continued on the shoulder hoping that the next exit was close. The exit was approximately in 12 miles.
It was a late afternoon and the traffic on Highway 101 was very heavy. The huge trucks could barely avoid staying out of the highway shoulders. Their weight, coupled with their high speed, shook the ground as if it were an earthquake. Worse was the condition of the highway shoulders. Without exaggeration there were wide and deep ruts going from one side to the other with no particular pattern. The edges were higher with vegetation grown in between. All in all, the shoulders were a continuous corrugated surface which I had to bike on for over 12 miles. My bike and my body got a royal beating. Every part of my body and every part of the bike was continuously bobbing even at very low speed. The sight of a lone biker bobbing along the highway must have been amusing to the passing motorists. Having no other option, I pressed on while admiring the nice bike path which I should have taken to my right and the beautiful blue ocean beyond.
The freeways signs are not particularly pleasing. We usually don't even pay attention to them. But that day the highway sign with Front Street exit on it was the most beautiful sight. I was high again. My bike and my old frame held on and we managed to overcome whatever Highway 101 had to throw at us. I knew Ventura from previous trips. I quickly found the bike path along Harbor Boulevard and biked to the end of the path. It was around six p.m. and after six and one half hours being on the bike and traveling 77.5 grueling miles I decided to find a hotel. On East Harbor Boulevard first I saw a Motel 6 which looked like a county jail. I was not going to stay there. The next one was a Marriot which I knew charged over $200 for a night. So I settled on Seaward Inn. It was a remodeled inn with a large and comfortable bed. The room had a large bath tub with many towels and plenty of hot water. The shower had great pressure. After biking hard for a full day what I most cared for were the bath and shower conditions. After a hot tub bath and massaging shower I feasted on an oversized medium rare roast beef, baked potato with sour cream mixed with fresh onion, Caesar salad with blue cheese dressing and a bottle of expensive red wine. After all I deserved it. It was one of those moments when I wished I were not alone and could share all this with someone. More later on the wine.
Third day - Friday the thirteenth
I don't consider myself superstitious, but I have always minded Friday the thirteenth. Throughout my life I have avoided making major decisions and embarking on important missions on Friday the thirteenth. It was too late to change my plans when I found out that my trip's third day was a Friday on the thirteenth.
The third day of my trip was a partly sunny day in Ventura, California. Before leaving the hotel and because it was Friday the thirteenth I laid the rules for myself: to be extra careful, to rest often, to change to lower gears soon, not to confront careless drivers, and not to ogle at all. With that in mind I discarded all my notes and maps and decided to follow only the routes recommended by Adventure Cycling Association. I quickly biked through Harbor Drive, Channel Boulevard, and Hueneme Road and headed toward the California Air Force Reserve and the Pacific Missile Test Center before entering Highway 1.
The ride was easy and pleasant particularly early in the morning. At the Air Force Reserve Center, the display of all the air force equipment stopped me. I have always loved aviation. As a youngster I wished to become a pilot. Even now I cannot resist looking up when I hear the roar of a jet airplane. So I stopped and took several pictures and for a few minutes considered going off my track and touring Point Magu and the Pacific Missile Test Center. But, I decided against it and biked on.

Highway 1 here goes through Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The shoulder which is used as bike lane is narrow and uneven. The bike lane does not improve even in the Malibu area. The scenery and wealth of people living on the shoreline throughout are overwhelming. The shoreline gets the warm southern sun with bigger surf. I had a hard time to decide which part is prettier. However, I am now so glad that we have super rich people. In Malibu if it were not for the rich people building their glittering shoreline properties, the developers surely would have ruined the beautiful shoreline.
Soon the Pepperdine University campus attracted my gaze in the late morning sun. The beautifully sculptured buildings surrounded by a magnificent landscape make you wish you were young and could join the young students. The arrogant natural beauty of Point Dume State Beach grabs you soon after the Pepperdine University site. It is easy to enter the area. There is a nice bike path before the park. However, you have to make a sharp left and climb Highway 1 if you don't want to spend your entire day enjoying the beauty of the Point Dume Park. Unfortunately the bike lane does not get any better as you get closer to Santa Monica. Make sure that at Temescal Canyon Road you turn right and enter the Santa Monica Bike path. This bike path is the Northern part of a longer bike path which ends in Redondo State Beach. "Bikes only" signs are painted on the surface often. However, most people ignore the signs. Worse yet the non -bikers consider you a nuisance. As one rider commented and I quote:
" Santa Monica path north and south of Pier Place needs more signs that say, Bikes Only, and should be written in Spanish and Farsi because Mexicans and Iranians like to stand in the middle of path the most, without any clue that bikes are trying to get by. It helps to have a horn on your bike for this stretch of the path."
Along this path go around Marina Del Ray and make sure that you do not miss the Washington Boulevard., the Admiralty Way and Fiji Way turns. In Marina Del Ray particularly on Fiji Way the scenery is wonderful. In Fiji Way you can stop and count the jets taking off from the LA International Airport. The giant planes take off almost every minute.
The fun really begins when you finish the bike path and have to go to Long Beach. Here you have several options. Regardless of your choices you should finish at the junction of Anaheim Street and Normandie Ave. Then continue on Anaheim Street and in Long Beach make a right turn on Pine Ave. which takes you to Shoreline Drive and the beautiful Long Beach bike path. First choice is to take Harbor Dr. to Paseo De La Playa and Palos Verdes Dr. North. You reach Anaheim where it meets Normandie. The next choice is to take a left on either Pier Ave. or Ave.I toward Highway 1. Then in Long Beach, after crossing Highway 710, turn right on Pine. Finally you can make your own route to Anaheim Street. In any case you have to bike through an area of LA where everything is "industrial" particularly the drivers.
Around noon I reached the Santa Monica bike path. I decided to have lunch. At the beginning of the path I saw a small snack bar with one attendant. A bleached blond who was ahead of me ordered several hot dogs and hamburgers and other food for her brood. I knew it would take at least an hour before I could get my order. So quickly I purchased a banana, a pack of chips and a bottle of water. I dumped my tired body on a chair under an umbrella on the beach and proceeded with my grand lunch.
You may recall my bottle of expensive red wine from the night before. Well I could not or I decided not to finish it then. The bar tender kindly wrapped the leftover wine bottle in a brown bag and told me to drink it the next day. He said a jerk her and a jolt there would not hurt a good wine. I decided to accept his offer and carried the wine with me all the way from Ventura to Santa Monica without complaining about the noise it was making hitting the handle bar when I was biking on rough roads. So this great warrior and biking phenomenon had lunch made of a half ripe banana, a handful of chips and half bottle of leftover expensive red wine. It was a great way to break the Friday the thirteenth spell.
As soon as I could feel the zing I got on the bike and pedaled my way through the maze of people who probably were oblivious to their beautiful surrounding. Los Angeles, like other major metropolitan cities, is rather different from real America. Let me explain why. No one makes eye contact with you. They stay a safe distance from you and make sure that the distance stays safe at all time even if you get closer. Most don't speak English or pretend not to understand it. Many even don't know the name of the neighborhood they use for their entertainment. A few outright gave me erroneous information when they were asked for directions. Early on during my bike trip in smaller communities I stopped and asked many people for directions or to lead me to a good restaurant or to take my picture. All were very pleasant and accommodating. Here in Los Angeles things were different. The first few times when I got close to asking a question the person moved away from me and ignored me. Others responded with silly laughter in response to my inquiry to what was the name of the beach I was riding along. Probably they could not understand a word of what I was saying or they had no clue on the name. Another person gave a name for a city several miles away for the location he and I were standing on. I finally decided to give up on humanity in Los Angeles. I have always said give me Shell Beach, Lompoc and Buellton in California or Nome in Alaska or Grosse Ile in Michigan or any other small town and I will give you New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago and all other major cities. I believe that I would come ahead.

Not all was dull there. While biking fast in Manhattan Beach bike path I saw a beautiful nude body on roller blades gently gliding along the bike path in front of me. Everyone was watching in awe. From afar I could not make out whether it was a woman or a man. The closer I got the prettier the body appeared. I could see it only from the back side and there was only one G- string separating the buttocks. On closer inspection I noticed absolutely no hair on the body except on the head. Strange, I thought. The mid-section and the buttocks were well sculptured with a feminine pattern but the body was a bit large for a woman. But if it was a man then where was all the hair, I asked myself. A few yards closer I managed to take a picture while riding the bike. The figure was doing a graceful ballet dance on a roller blade. Gently the nude body was shifting the weight from one leg to the other while pushing buttocks gracefully to the opposite side. My amazement reached its peak when in passing I noticed that it was a man indeed without a single hair on his entire body or his face. In that beach he was more of a crowd stopper than any nude woman.
In Long Beach I was really tired but very happy because I had made it that far. So I decided to go for my first Century - one hundred miles. I yelled aloud when I entered the Bolsa Chica Beach State Park because my odometer read 100.85 mile. No one was around me to see the numbers. No cheering crowd, no band, and no champagne. I tried calling a few friends. No one answered. So I had a great experience on Friday the thirteenth.
I guessed that my Hotel, Ramada Newport Beach/Costa Mesa was about five or six miles away. According to an earlier plan I was supposed to stay there the next day on Saturday the fourteenth. No harm done I thought. They would gladly give me a room for tonight instead. After all I was now a Century man. So I biked along the bike path in Bolsa Chica Park. The bike path is very nice with great views on your right side. After six miles I was still on the bike path in Huntington Beach. The part of my body which meets the saddle had been burning very bad most of the afternoon though I did not notice it earlier because of Century excitement. The Century effect gone, now it was unbearable. The odometer passed 110 and still no sign of Superior Street where I had to turn left and go to the hotel. Initially I thought to forget about the Hotel Ramada and check in at one of the motels along the way and stay for the night. But I decided against it and pressed on. At last, I saw the sign for Superior Street when the odometer reaching 111. I was happy but panic stricken when I looked at the street; happy that I was finally close and panic stricken because the Superior Street was a grade 6 climb.
Too tired and having no night biking ability I decided to forget the Hotel Ramada late on this evening and headed back toward Huntington Beach to stay in one of the motels along Pacific Coast Highway. After one half mile or so I saw two motels. However, they were more of a Motel 6 type and again I decided to go back and to climb the Superior Street and go to the Hotel Ramada which I was sure was a good one. For 1.2 miles I braved the grade 6 of Superior St. and reached the hotel. It was all I thought it would be. They had a room but the price was $106 which was $22 more than they had quoted me for Saturday night. That Friday the weather was great and everybody was out for the weekend and the price shot up accordingly. I thought how they dare charge a Century man an extra $22. So assured that I could get a more reasonably priced room at one of those Motel 6 types refused to stay and bolted out. While backtracking again toward Huntington Beach a couple points were alarming to me. First those motels though Motel 6 types were in a high rent district and close to the beach. Second, I was very tired and it was getting dark.
The first motel looked too dumpy and I bypassed it. The next door one was a Best Western concrete structure on the opposite side of the beach and was my last choice. I walked in with all the aura of a Century man and in answer to how can I help you "I said I am a passing biker from San Luis Obispo to Solana Beach and needed a room for the night." A faint smile on his face gave me some assurance. "We have only two rooms left and the price is $280" he said. My helmet fell off my hand with my Century attitude. "Is it for one week or one night?" I asked. He smiled and said, "It has been a great day and people are coming in droves and we are raising our prices accordingly. We probably can sell the rooms for $350 each by tonight." By then I was as soft as a marshmallow and asked him for suggestions because as a frugal biker I did not wish to pay that price. He said, "The next door motel may have a room." I said, "That is a dump, but, please check it for me." After a few words on the phone he said "If you rush over they have only one room left for $180." I shook my head and repeated "$180 for a room in a dumpy place." "Yes we are along the beach. Inland Hotels may be cheaper." He said. To me it was a given. I could have a much better hotel room for less money in Hotel Ramada.
But I was very tired and it was really getting dark. The thought of climbing Superior Street, again, was not very pleasant. But Century men do what they must. I called the Hotel Ramada and humbly asked for them to keep the room for me as I was going back. Tired to my bones, with a burning seat, completely exhausted but proud of being a Century man, I got on the bike and attacked the1.20 mile grade six one more time. It did not take much after a hot tub bath and a hearty meal that I started to dream about my Century Plus status. You see I was not just a Century man. By that evening on Friday the thirteenth I biked over 116.23 miles. So I should be a Century Plus Man.
The morning of May the fourteenth was beautiful. I was well rested and full of confidence. It was the last day. I had already shaved off one day from my original five day plan. I was familiar with the remainder of the route because in the past I have biked through that section several times. After a great continental breakfast and taking many pictures of my bike's odometer showing 116.23 miles I climbed my bike. I was on Pacific Highway soon after a nice downhill on Superior Street.
It was early morning and traffic was light. The bike lane through Pacific Highway from Newport Beach to Laguna is very good. Further, in the Crystal Cove Park area you can bike along a beautiful bike path which is now mostly used by the northbound bikers due to construction along that stretch. The best part to see would be the harbor and a ferry side trip to the peninsula. Biking conditions deteriorate in Laguna Beach. There the bike lanes are very narrow or nonexistent. The traffic even in the morning hours was heavy. The automobiles entering the road on the right side were the biggest menaces. However, the condition improves dramatically as you get closer to Dana Point. Contrary to the last three days now I could see many bikers on the road. I guess most bikers are weekend warriors.
In Dana Point most southbound bikers follow Pacific Highway to Dana Point Harbor and enter Lantern Bay Park or the reverse for the northbound bikers. However, I suggest a more scenic route - and more challenging particularly for the northbound bikers. Southbound Pacific Coast Highway makes a ninety degree left turn after Selva Road. At that location turn right onto Green Lantern and explore the natural beauty along Scenic Drive and Marguerita Ave. Then turn back to the intersection of Scenic and Green Lantern and stop at the Chart House restaurant. From there the view of the Dana Point Harbor is stunning. Then, you can enjoy the thrill of a downhill ride on Cove Road which takes you to Dana Point Harbor Drive and beyond. Better yet, after Chart House you can first go back to Pacific Coast Highway turn right and quickly turn right again into the Blue Lantern and stop at the lookout at the end of the street. Next, from Blue Lantern bike into Santa Clara Ave. Check out the southern section of all the Lanterns until you get to Old Golden Lantern. Turn right and enjoy the beautiful view and Heritage Park. If you dare to go against the ordinance you can ride down on the path in the park. The view is worth all the work. On northbound, at the end of Dana Point Harbor Dr., turn right on Cove Road and enjoy the at least a grade eight climb to the Chart House restaurant and Scenic Dr. You can connect to Pacific highway after completing your sightseeing.
When I reached Dana Point it was late morning and the harbor was trying to push the fog off. The heavy fog was resisting. Even the warm sun rays could not completely remove the fog. In Dana Point that day the fog stayed for most of the morning. From several hundred feet high the beautiful blue water of the harbor was partially covered by the fog. The magnificent boats moored along the shore were still, the few small sail boats lazily negotiating the gentle waves and the graceful movements of the rowers in several single sculls were bold. At the look out from the engraving on a large stone I learned the connection between Dana Point and Richard Henry Dana. I wished that I had read the Two Years before the Mast by him. Then I met a young to middle aged couple. The wife was a beautiful redhead and the husband a handsome African -American. He used to bike. He was waiting for his son to grow old enough so they could go on the bike together. It was so easy to talk to people outside the big cities. We quickly got to know much about each other. We had similar views on the poor state of education and our young's lack of interest in physical activities. Unfortunately, a phone call interrupted our great chat. I saw them walking away holding hands lovingly.
In the Chart House they were getting ready for a morning wedding ceremony. I met a Scottish bag piper in full and original regalia. I asked to have a picture with him. I thought his regalia and my bike outfit would make great contrast. He obliged. Later, he told me about the origin of Marathon when he found out that I was from Iran. He knew the history, at least from that era, quite well.
There are so many choices for lunch in Dana Point. However, Proud Mary is the favorite for Knickerbiker's. So as I had plenty of time I explored the area and headed to Proud Mary for a breakfast burrito and iced tea. It was getting closer to the finish line. I could hear myself humming "Solana Beach here I come." I quickly passed through Park Lantern toward Beach Road, crossed the Amtrak rails at Palisades, turned South on Pacific Coast Highway toward San Clemente. As an interesting phenomenon we are not particularly struck by the beauty of what we are familiar with. Since I have been through the route from Dana Point to Solana beach many times I took everything for granted and I was rather more interested in getting to the finish line as soon as possible. However, the rolling, weaving, and well marked route from San Clemente to San Onofre Park and the Old Pacific Hwy and the quiet roads in Camp Pendleton offer bikers one of the best bike paths anywhere. You have everything that a biker could wish for. There you have the beautiful Southern California shoreline, the great inland mountains, the safety of a wide bike path with no automobiles in most parts and all the needed amenities. The routing is well published on the Internet and I outline them here briefly.
Biking in Camp Pendleton is a delight. On the other hand I never had much fun going through Oceanside. To me it is a rough ride from the moment that you get off Camp Pendleton to where you enter Carlsbad area. You have to watch the incoming and outgoing Highway 5 traffic. Then mind the SUVs and pickup trucks whose occupants are rushing to get to the beach and relax! Worse is the ear piercing roars of motorcycles everywhere. I don't know about you but I dislike their noise. The ride in Carlsbad is always fun except you have to watch for people who believe they own the entire bike lane. At La Costa in South Carlsbad I entered Vulcan Ave. And at Chesterfield Dr. I returned back onto Coast Highway. Soon I was in Solana Beach.
My dusty automobile in the Solana Beach Amtrak Parking lot was the lone greeting party. The warm driver's seat never felt so good. A 342.55 miles bike ride in 27.63 hours was over. All went well. I did not have any mechanical problems, not even a flat. The old man was lucky. Someone later asked me whether I would do it again. Without hesitation I said, "You bet you."