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2011 Bike Across USA Main Page - Next Day #2

Day 1: Huntington Beach, CA to Riverside, CA

50 miles - Launching At Beach, Cycling With Biking Brian, Santa Ana River Trail - February 20, 2011

Bike Across America 2011. The First Day. Bike Across America 2011
Photo: Me at the beach in Huntington Beach, California.

It was an overcast Sunday morning upon our arrival in Huntington Beach, California at 8 a.m. Similar to my first trip, all of my feverish planning - maybe similar to the stresses a bride endures while planning a large wedding - was coming to an end. Until now, this trip was an abstraction, but soon it would change drastically. It would be about placing my butt on the bike and riding ... nearly everyday.

Of course, I felt nervous, but having done it once already seemed to keep my head clear. Also, the fact that Brian would be cycling with me for the first four days was a major benefit, as he would remove my worries about biking through the well-populated areas of Orange County and metropolitan Los Angeles.

Still, I was tense. It's hard not to when you're about to do something as grand as this. Also, I could attribute more anxiety thanks to not being in good riding shape on that chilly morning. In the mountains of Colorado, where winter's grip makes outdoor cycling a challenge from October through April, I only did cardiovascular workouts iat a gym in past months. But I forced myself to think only about today. "Just get to Riverside today, only 50 miles," I thought.

One suggestion: If you place your bike's wheels in the ocean, it's a good idea to take off your shoes and socks, because the waves will soak you. You would think I would have remembered this from my first bike across America tour in 2008, but no, not me. My shoes and socks got wet during my beach ceremony and I rode the first couple of hours with my feet cold and wet. Ah well. :)


Photos at the Beach

I'd like to introduce Biking Brian (left) and Cyndie (center) with me (right) before we started.

Originally, we hoped a number of people in our social circles would meet at the beach with some riding with us on the Santa Ana River Trail. Brian had a number of his fellow cyclist friends in Orange County who said they might ride with us. I also had some connections with people who said they might swing by. Among all of them, only sweet Cyndie from Long Beach drove approximately 20 miles to see us off before our ride. Adjacent is our photo with bad lighting.

Cycling Jersey Cycling Jersey Actually, more people did show up. In the left photo is Kevin, owner of Ark Collective, a backpack company based in Santa Ana. This is a nice story: Kevin's organization was searching to support someone on a bike across America ride, and they came upon this website while searching the Internet.

They helped greatly by providing new gear. They delivered a brand new custom cycling jersey with my web address on the front, my Twitter name on the back and their own logo and organization motto. They also gave me a red long sleeve cycling jersey that served as a second layer on colder days. I also received socks and a backpack that I didn't use for the trip, but that backpage became handy long after this bike tour would end. I encourage you to check out their website, www.arkcollective.com, to learn more about the backpacks they offer and the neat philanthropic things they are doing in the community.

The help of Ark Collective was so appreciated. Without their gift, I would have worn my old cycling clothing - my worn out red jersey and my long sleeve cotton Razorbacks shirt as a second layer. That would have been fine, but I can't deny that I would have felt sad knowing I was wearing old clothing, one of which I wore three years ago on my first tour. It just wasn't in the budget to dole out what would've easily have cost $200 to $250 for that kind of clothing. And so I must say it again: Thank you to Ark Collective!

Things became a major photo-op of sorts as Kevin and the two men with him took many photos and even did some video footage of me at the beach.
Steve Garufi More posing for photos.

As for my bike, I used my Trek 1.2 that I bought during my first bike across America ride in Phoenix, AZ after my first bike was stolen. On this morning, I did not have my back rack, truck box and two saddlebags in the back because I would be staying again at Brian's house in Orange, CA tonight. Lugging them on the bike was unnecessary.

Bicyclists I walked my bicycle to the edge of the pavement and posed with Brian. Nice shot! :)
Pacific Ocean

Huntington Beach, CA

Two pictures of the Pacific Ocean. Although I don't dislike beaches and the ocean, I'm not a huge lover of it either. Nonetheless, I took in all of the ocean scenery knowing that I wouldn't see another ocean until this tour, that would be 46 days long, would end.

Click any image to view it at a larger size.
Santa Ana River Trail

Santa Ana River Trail

The ride began on the Santa Ana Trail. I made Brian pose in front of the Pacific Coast Highway bridge (Highway 1) at the very beginning. I warned him that I take a lot of pictures! :)

Huntington Beach, California A section of the trail under the bridge was flooded, so we popped back up on the Pacific Coast Highway. I'm glad we did, because I captured this photo of Huntington Beach.
Santa Ana River Trail A wonderful trail for pedestrians and cyclists runs along the Santa Ana River for over 26 miles. This is a great route to the beach that avoids the hectic roads of Orange County.
Santa Ana River Trail Onward we cycled. The path crossed the river a few times on bridges like this one.
Santa Ana Bicycle Trail Five miles into our ride, we stopped to help a bicyclist with a mechanical problem. These three individuals were visiting Orange County on business and had borrowed the bikes from their hotel. Brian, who is very good with fixing and tinkering with them, helped do something to the metal guard that was causing a problem for one of the riders.

We talked and they learned I was bicycling across America. Of course, they marveled at what I was embarking on. No question it felt good to receive regonition, but come on, I had only gone five miles to this point and my body certainly hadn't warmed up yet. :)

Santa Ana River Trail Brian riding ahead of me. So much needs to be said about this good man. First of all, Brian is an influential advocate for cycling in southern California. When it comes to knowledge about the rights of cyclists, helping local communities build infrastructure and trails for cyclists, and posting/writing "must read" cycling articles on his blog, Brian proves himself to be an expert in this sport. I encourage you to join his Facebook page where you can read his latest thoughts: www.facebook.com/bikingbrian.

There's more. Not only did Brian lead me through the most populated area of Orange County, but he also biked with me for the first four days across California. The company was well-appreciated.

Oh and there's one last thing. Brian allowed me to park his car in his driveway, and he drove it around the block a few times to keep the battery charged during my journey. Even better, Brian and his wife decided to keep my car in their garage ... not just in their driveway. Now that's generosity!

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

The Santa Ana River Trail passed Angel Stadium of Anaheim!
Santa Ana River Trail The bike path continued through various towns in Orange County.
Palm Trees In Yorba Linda, I loved these large palm trees in the parking lot of a shopping mall. So pretty!
26.2 miles At 26.2 miles, I stopped.

Brian and I joked about mutual friends who are avid runners ... people who run marathons and all sorts of crazy triathalons. Aimee Spencer (who I'd meet in Arkansas on this ride) and Michael Sally were two people that immediately came to mind.

Come on guys, what's the point of running 26.2 miles when you can ride a bike that distance so much quicker?! :)

Santa Ana River Trail Plenty of mountain views are in the region of Orange and Yorba Linda. I've heard of novices who've attempted to bike across America who were shocked at all the mountains in California that made for grueling rides. Yes folks, you will get your butt kicked at least once if you cycle across California west to east, no matter where you are in the state. ;)
Near the 28 mile mark, the Santa Ana River Trail ended. Throughout our ride to this point, we had a gentle uphill much of the way. It was nothing terrible, but my out-of-shape legs certainly felt it.

We rode on a frontage road beside Highway 91 and were greeted to our first hard climb for about a half mile a short distance up the road from this point.

Biking Brian At a Carl's Jr. in Corona, we rested. Brian and I met this friendly cyclist in yellow named Jim. Like us, Jim also biked from Huntington Beach to here, and planned to ride the entire distance back. The good news for him was he enjoyed a descent much of the way as he rode in the same direction of the Santa Ana River's flow.
Corona, California

Corona, California

We enjoyed a few miles of modest downhill, a nice change of pace. Here's a shot of West 6th Street in Corona.

Palm Trees

Riverside, California

The downhill didn't last long, and in fact, we had a lot more climbing in Riverside. We biked up hills in suburban neighborhoods and eventually ascended onto Victoria Avenue, which seemed like a nicer part of Riverside with large and older homes, orange groves, and a median lush with flowers and tall palm trees.

Victoria Avenue was pretty, but ahhhh, it was all uphill. It seemed like any time I picked up speed, a stop sign with vehicular traffic would stop me. By now, we had biked 40-45 miles, and my legs and body were not enjoying this.

Palm Trees Victoria Avenue seemed to go on and on, at least from a tired cyclist's perspective. Eventually we turned left and sped downhill for about mile on this palm tree lined street. At a shopping area on Arlington Avenue, my first day of riding was over. 50 miles ... not bad. It was a rough day as expected, but I was in good spirits.
Lemon Tree Brian's wife transported us from Riverside back to their house in Orange, where we stayed for the night. I'd like to pay tribute to the lemon tree growing in Brian's yard. It was amazing to see various exotic fruit trees growing in Orange County! :)

If you're enjoying my trip journal, let's stay connected on Facebook ...

ALSO: I invite you to read my book about my first trip in 2008.

Brian's Helmet Cam
Riding through Corona. Entering Riverside. Riding on Victoria Avenue. And the finish.

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