50 miles - Launching At Beach, Cycling With Biking Brian, Santa Ana River Trail - February 20, 2011
Bike Across America 2011. The First Day. 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. :)
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.
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.
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.
I walked my bicycle to the edge of the pavement and posed with Brian. Nice shot! :)
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
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! :)
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.
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.
Onward we cycled. The path crossed the river a few times on bridges like this one.
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. :)
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:
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!
The Santa Ana River Trail passed Angel Stadium of Anaheim!
The bike path continued through various towns in Orange County.
In Yorba Linda, I loved these large
palm trees in the parking lot of a shopping mall. So pretty!
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?! :)
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.
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.
We enjoyed a few miles of modest downhill, a nice change of pace. Here's a shot of West 6th Street in Corona.
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.
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.
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.