The scenic route: Mira Mesa to Normal Heights

1/8/22

I am tired right now! It was a beautiful but challenging day, with close to 30 miles and about 1200 feet of elevation to climb. I did indeed follow the route my Warmshowers hosts recommended last night—including UCSD, La Jolla, and Mission and Pacific beaches, before turning inland to get to my friend’s place in Normal Heights—and it took me about seven hours! I left at 10:30, and arrived as dusk fell, about 5:15. I continually marvel at how snail-like my pace is out there on the road, but I have to remind myself it’s not a race.

I’ll mostly let the pictures tell the story.

I did get lost for what felt like about an hour, but was probably less, on the beautiful campus of UCSD, in La Jolla. I was near tears of rage and helplessness as I kept going around in circles, always in the wrong direction, in this one particular spot. (I was using my newly downloaded/highly recommended app, Ride With GPS, and my hosts’ personally curated route was superimposed upon it, but the GPS didn’t seem to be tracking me exactly right, and meanwhile the pathway system was like an octopus in that forest. Good grief! But at least it was a pretty setting to be frazzled and losing my mind.)

Very shortly after I made my way out of that vortex, I found myself in front of some incredible views of the ocean. Unfortunately I couldn’t really get pictures of them, since it was a very busy road. But, it was another example of situations turning on a dime.

La Jolla itself was incredibly beautiful. The route took me along the beach, and also through the neighborhoods and business districts just a block or two away from it. The weather, the architecture, the ocean… wow.

Once again, the temperatures varied continually throughout the day from too warm to too cold to just right, and back again. I’m so grateful for my layers! Although I feel like I must look like such a weirdo to these Californians with their T-shirts and surfboards, when I’m wrapped up in my North Face fleece and REI rain shell!

The end of the route was probably the toughest: I had switched to Google Maps at that point, and it routed me onto the freeway! Like, literally, the Interstate 15, for about a mile or so. I turned skeptically into the on-ramp, which specified no bicycles. The shoulder was actually quite wide, but it was very unpleasant to be riding alongside all that speeding traffic. Meanwhile, I was keenly aware of the high cliff to my right, assuming I would need to climb a steep hill to get to the neighborhood up there. (Google had told me I would be climbing more than 300 feet in a mile.) Somehow, though, most of the climb felt very gradual.

But the daylight was waning, and the shoulder was thoroughly strewn with debris, including many pieces of steel-belted radial tires, which I had to keep carefully swerving to avoid. If there is one piece of warning advice I have heard emphatically from fellow bike tourers, it’s to avoid running over any shred of this material, at any cost. Apparently those little “hairy” fibers get into your tire and cause a flat, while being nearly impossible to detect and therefore remove. Ugh.

My tires did remain firm until I arrived, so I trust I did manage to avoid all the debris, but it was ubiquitous, and I didn’t want to swerve too dramatically on that freeway.

Yikes.

Glad I’m here! I was greeted by my friend’s housemate, as well as her two small elderly dogs, and I immediately set out on foot for the neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant for some eggplant-tofu curry, which I devoured with gusto.

I think tomorrow will be mostly a rest day. Balboa Park and Ocean Beach later in my stay.

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